This past year we have learned to worship, serve one another, and meet the needs of our community in all kinds of new ways. Many of us have felt the loss of being physically present together. Others of us may have found some unexpected benefits to our new ways of gathering – online services have actually “opened doors” for some: those who are physically disabled, have to coordinate rides to get to church, introverts, family or friends who were not previously a part of our church community, and seekers who now get to see what our church is all about. We have found some unexpected light in the darkness of this season of disruption.
The church has always been bigger than a building. Church is about learning to follow Jesus in community. We believe our online ministry will be more like a front door than a back door to our gatherings. Even so, there are many things we still miss about gathering together: the hellos, sharing of news, organic discussion about the sermon, and praying with and for one another.
We’ve tried many different platforms for engagement, and we are excited to share that we have found a way to make our online gathering even better, more engaging. A number of us have tried it a few times, and we think it is a great way to deepen engagement with each other. It’s easy to use — if you’ve already mastered videoconferencing, you’ll find this about the same level.
The platform is called Altar Live. Imagine bringing the Facebook, YouTube, and Zoom all into the same platform, designed for churches. Here are the things we’’ll be able to do:
- Watch church with other people! You can pick up to a group of 4 people with whom to “sit,” and have a watch party. The group of you can view the livestream together, see each other, and talk among yourselves. If you prefer to watch on your own and just see who else is around, that is fine too! Utilize the private mode to
- Freely mix and mingle with others in a social lobby. After service, find friends and acquaintances, pick a table, and have a casual conversation over video conference. Then “get up” and go to another table to talk with others. Yes, it’s okay to leave one conversation and drop in on another.
- Find a prayer partner. One of the things we miss most is the chance to sit quietly aside with someone to pray with or for them. We’ll assign some folks to be available for prayer, and you can just find them in a designated table on screen and have a private space for prayer.
- Welcome newcomers. We think this platform will make it easier for many of us to invite a friend or family member to “come to church with you” in a way that is easy, non-threatening, and where you can be part of the experience with them. We will also have a virtual Welcome Table where your newcomer friend or family can ask questions and learn about next steps.
And there are many more parts of the platform we are excited to utilize as a community.
Our first event on Altar Live will be Sunday 13 June. We are sending instructions out on how to set up an account (it is easy), and where to connect online