Local churches make huge success with online activities
By Beatriz Abreu Ferreira
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced everyone to change the way they socialise and interact with others, and the religious communities are no exemption.
Churches all over the world have moved sermons from the pulpit to the screen, relying on Youtube or Facebook to live the traditional Sunday service.
Phil Chapman, one of the leaders at Living Rock Church in Market Harborough, said: “What we try to do online on a Sunday morning is almost the same as if we were together.
“There is some music, there is worship, reading of the Bible and then somebody will speak based on something we read of the Bible. Those online activities last about an hour and we use Youtube to broadcast it live, but people can also watch it later.”
The pandemic has helped religious communities gather pace to improve their online presence, and it seems to have been a success.
At Living Rock Church, in addition to the digital Sunday celebrations with an integrated Bible app, there are also weekly Youtube videos and a podcast.
Leicester’s St John the Baptist Church has also invested in a stronger online presence, and has recently become famous for its creative lessons using Minecraft to teach the Bible to teenagers.
And around the world membership in spiritual apps have gained popularity.
“People on the whole have engaged really well, it seems we are reaching more people online than would normally come on a Sunday. People quite like it that they can watch it in their own time,” explained Mr Chapman.
“It varies from week to week but around 15,000 people watched our Sunday celebration last week. For some people who wouldn’t normally come to the church, watching online is a bit easier. And there is also an aspect of what has happened this year which has made people think about spiritual matters,” he added.
Although the team ensure online sessions are no replacement for being physically together, for the Living Rock Church it is definitely something to continue after the pandemic.
“I expect what we will do when the pandemic is over is maintain a really strong online presence. Not as a primary thing. The primary way will be physically when the pandemic is over, but we might well live stream our Sunday mornings because we know there are people who watch that who probably wouldn’t come and gather in the church,” he said.
“We are just longing to be together again, physically, gathering on a Sunday. But while it can’t happen, being able to do what we are doing online is really good and we are pleased with the response we had.”