Post COVID Worship Practices

Originally Posted on March 26, 2021

Webinar Transcript

– So it’s 10:01. So I’m going to go ahead and introduce Keith. Many of you know Keith Hibbs. He has faithfully served as the Office Director and our state missionary in the Worship Office. Office of Worship Leadership and Church Music, I should say that properly. And so we’re very thankful for him. He’ll be transitioning out of that and passing the reigns to Karen Goslin, and we’re excited about that. But Keith has served so well and we’re thankful that he’s going to serve us again this morning as he introduces Kenny and leads us into this discussion as we talk about post COVID worship practices.

– Thank you so much, Mitch. We appreciate our Communications Office and the great work that they’ve done as we’ve tried to adapt during the time of COVID. And Mitchell is a new a member of that office, and we appreciate his work this morning helping us get ready. I want to move quickly into introducing Kenny and let him get started. He’s got about 75 minutes, I think of material for us to talk about this morning and I’m just extremely excited about having Kenny. The best thing I can say about Kenny is, he’s a leader of worship leaders. He’s my counterpart in North Carolina Baptist Convention. Senior Consultant there and he’s a trailblazer, he’s innovative and he is the best versed in my opinion. Best versed person to lead our webinar this morning on our topics, and we’re excited about having him. I’ll remind you one more time, if you have a question, post it in the questions. Not in the chat room, but put it in the question and answer. And I’m going to be monitoring those questions as Kenny speaks and then we’ll have a time. He’ll sort of take a break after the first part of the webinar and we’ll address those questions at that time. Kenny, welcome to Alabama digitally, at least. And I appreciate your ministry and appreciate your time this morning. Thank you for being with us.

– Thank you. I want to say that it is a great honor and privilege to be able to come virtually and share with you some thoughts today. I’m especially delighted to partner with Keith Hibbs and Karen Goslin. Alabama is known for your outstanding music and worship leadership and your mission board. I’m excited to be with him today. Since COVID struck, Keith, Karen and other worship music consultants from the States have met several times a month to discuss what is going on in our churches, determine best ways to resource our churches. There’s some of my closest friends I think we’ve grown closer during the COVID period. It’s great to have a group of close people that we could bounce ideas off of and think through how we can best resource the church. But let me just add that much of my resourcing for worship leaders can be found on my blog, Some of you may be familiar with the post that’s I’ve seen on social media a lot of times called, “Nine Reasons People Aren’t Singing Worship.” That is also in your downloadable handout that you got in your chat there. Let me see. Your handout will have some things from the notes today particularly on page one and two. And then on the other pages are some additional resources that may be helpful for you related to some of the topics that we’re talking about today. With COVID, social distancing, positivity rates are among many new terms that have become commonly heard in the last months. I don’t remember ever hearing social distancing until this last 12 months or so. But COVID is up into the ways we do church in these last months. And we’ve had lots of protocols to follow to prevent the spreading of the Coronavirus. These last months have been a bit challenging when it comes to worship. Our training and experience did not prepare us for what has happened. And our flexibility and innovation have been keys to survival. I’ve seen churches in our country that sadly have essentially quit doing anything during the period of lockdown. Since they cannot do church the way they have for years they decided to just wait until normal returns to resume their ministries. In fact, we were calling a lot of pastors in our church especially after the first few months of COVID. And I asked one pastor, how are things going? He said, well, they’re not going. I said, what do you mean? He said, well, the Governor told us we can’t do anything so we’re not doing anything. And he really meant that they weren’t doing anything online. They weren’t doing any connection with their members. And many of these churches are really struggling to stay alive now. On the other hand, I’ve seen many churches that have repositioned themselves and leverage technology in ways to continue to disciple their people while offering great online worship experiences. Many of these churches have thrived and seeing many people develop a more mature faith in Christ and they’ve seen many new believers come to Christ. These churches are striving to find the best ways to engage with their people throughout the week and disciple them through methods they perhaps never thought of using in the past. You know, God’s church must respond to what’s happening around us to stay vital and impact this world. Now in this session today, I’m supposed to talk about the future of worship in our church after COVID restrictions are gone, whenever that may be. I have to say, I do not have a crystal ball to tell you what it will look like. Thom Rainer and others are making huge predictions, some which may be prophetic, some may be causative and perhaps damaging, and some which may be completely off-base. I just commented this weekend that meteorology is one profession who may be paid big bucks for poor accuracy a high percentage of the time. How many employers do you know that continue to employ people that miss the mark as often as they do? Yeah, this uncertainty all comes with predicting the future. So while we can’t totally rely on these predictions, we must look at them and the culture around us to be wise in the decisions we make, as we move forward with much prayer and seeking to find God’s heart and all of that. There are several paths we could go down in this short session, but the one I feel the strongest about is related to a shift that has happened during these last months to online worship and discipleship resources at first out of necessity. I remember, and it’s probably the same for Keith and Karen that in those first months, churches were struggling to get online. They had never thought about online stuff. And so many people were getting their phones out and shooting love to Facebook while holding their phones or maybe even a little better putting them on a tripod of some sort. But we have just rushed into this whole idea of online worship for a lot of folks, but now perhaps a symbiosis that could gain great emphasis is moving into this new era. I’m going to discuss this some first then I want to challenge you a little bit later today to consider a complete reboot of your worship ministries. Now, the way we do gathered or in-person worship and online worship during COVID has presented a number of challenges. So many churches today have embraced, or maybe I should say entered with fear and trembling, the world of streaming their services as I mentioned is out of necessity. But many places around the world churches are gathering again. And I’m not sure what percentage of your churches are gathering but I know that’s happening in lots of places. And I would say that our online presence needs to remain a point of prominence, not just a weekly point and shoot ministry but something that has great intentionality and purpose, giving it perhaps as much attention as your gathered worship. You see, culture around our world has changed in these months of COVID. Many have suggested it’s accelerated our cultural changes by as many as 10 years. And as a church, we must flex to engage today’s culture. One thing I think the church must realize is that our online services must be an integral part of the future of our churches not just something to bridge us during a pandemic and not just something to have as an add-on with little thought. As I’ll share with you today, I feel our online presence must be a priority in our worship ministries. It’s been said by many who seem to have their fingers on the pulse of today’s culture in the church, that our online services will be our front doors for reaching people for Christ, discipling them, and bringing them into the church to be on mission. Attractional models of gathered worship are seen as less authentic and will probably gain less traction in coming years while multi-generational worship seems to be more compelling and connecting with people better. I think one of our biggest takeaways from what we’re learning is how vitally important our online ministries have become and will perhaps gain prominence in the future as we find ways to leverage our online technology for worship and discipleship. Not as a substitute but as a wonderful relationship and one that will have a missional component of tremendous value. As you know, people today are much more comfortable online with personal interactions than they were pre-COVID. They have an ease of navigating platforms and so much more. Some people had never heard the word Zoom before. Now we’re all talking about Zoom fatigue because we’re at it so much. But Thom Rainer equated this new culture with first century Rome where internet is today’s culture what the Roman road was to the first century culture in facilitating exponential growth of gospel and discipleship. Carey Nieuwhof recently wrote this and I tend to agree with him. “In fact, many leaders realize that digital church will serve as much more a front door and side door than a back door. A front door to new people, a side door for existing people who want to engage more deeply or stay connected when they’re away. Everyone who’s wanted to leave your church is gone. That ship has sailed. Which means those who are left will use your online presence almost exclusively as a way to engage, not to disengage. A way to stay connected, not to disconnect. It also means that many people will discover your church for the first time through your online presence and want to engage physically with you whether that’s in your facilitate, in a micro gathering, in a group, or all of the above. The backdoor days of digital ministry are pretty much behind us. The front door and side door days are just beginning. If you see your physical presence and online presence is working hand in hand, your mission can move forward in more ways than you imagined.” You see, in the old days people may have discovered your church via the, now see if you remember this, the yellow pages. More recently it’s become so important that we have a great website that lets people know who we are, what we value, what we offer. Now, it seems people will spend time attending your church virtually before they ever walk through the door. What does that mean if our online presence is subpar or non-existent? What does that mean for the quality of our online presence that we should strive for? What does that mean for the ways we engage our online viewers? Lots of questions. So let’s unpack some of this. In the past months, many churches around the world moved to having online worship only out of government mandates were strong concern for the safety and health of those who would attend. It was the primary way our churches seem to be connecting with our congregations when we cannot gather for worship. Now, when we move into this post COVID world and we continue to have our online services along with our gathered worship, I ask this, should we treat online worship and gathered worship differently? Or should we merely video our gathered worship to send out on a livestream? I believe our approaches must be different and we must consider the unique needs of the two types of worship we may offer. So in thinking through that, I have these three options for your online worship service when you are having also gathered worship. In your handout it’s on page two on the bottom right. The first one you can do is to show only what is happening in your gathered worship service. That’s probably the common one that we see. You see too often church leaders think of their online worship ministry with the idea that they only need to point a camera at what’s happening in the gathered service and broadcast it to the world. But this approach does not promote engagement and active participation in worship. It becomes more of a feeling to the viewer of watching a television show with little or no personal investment. We need to do all we can to encourage active participation by the people watching the online service, the same things that we do in gathered worship. We don’t want people to just come in and fold their arms and watch while we’re singing music and listen to the pastor and have no personal involvement whatsoever. We also want to see that happening where people are actively engaged online. So this first one is just kind of pointing camera, showing what’s happening online. The second one is to create two separate services. The in-person service and a separately created online service that I’m going to talk about in a moment that can be produced ahead of time with a more at home intimate feel. Now this, of course if you’re producing two separate services, you’re gathered and you’re online is going to take much more time to be able to do this. But of course it does take more work but it might be the most effective in your setting. The online experience would be produced and uploaded to the streaming sites. So a play maybe at the same time as your live service as you premiere it on whatever site you’re using. The content could be pretty much the same but each would be specifically tailored to each of the two audiences; the online audience and the gathered audience for maximum impact. Now, there’s a third way, which I really encourage a lot of our churches. It may be more realistic for them. And that is what I’m calling a hybrid approach. This is where we use some prerecorded videos at the beginning and end of the online service with live video from the in-person service for most of the content. Now this is the option I’m recommending for most of our churches that don’t have the bandwidth to produce a separate online service as I will describe. Let me give you an example here. If you look at this, let me just make that a little larger for you. This top row here is your gathered worship service. The pre-service would be, maybe it’s a prelude, maybe you’re playing music, there’s a countdown on screen, whatever that happens. And then right at the time of your worship service you have your gathered service from opening to closing and then you have outro stuff, music playing, postlude whatever you want to call that section. Now, the first example I gave of the three kinds of service, where you’re just looking, and that’s what you would see online. But in this hybrid approach, what I would encourage is you could have some pre-service going on as probably many of you do, rotating slides, other kinds of information like that and music playing as people are gathering online. But then you would have this online introduction which would be a very personal, intimate kind of thing where your pastor or a church layperson or another staff member would come online and speak specifically to that person. It be more cozy and warm in its setting. The leader could encourage participation and point to downloadable resources to aid the worshiper in this service. And then the video will fate the lot service as it is opening. And this would be a way that you’ve engaged your congregation. You’ve invited them in, you’ve invited them to participate, you’ve given them some downloadable resources or other things to help them participate in this service. And then at some later point before the in-person service is over, you could go to an online outro. This video will come near the close of the service and would have action points. Perhaps the pastor will come on and say, and here’s some next steps you can do, an encouragement to help these people take those next steps, inviting them to get involved in the life of the church, showing them other online resources to help them in discipleship, invite them into some Zoom meetings to meet the pastor, come and ask questions. Some of the things we’ll talk about in a little while. But this will be shown instead of the closing of the live service. And these bumper videos can help make the online service seem more intentional and much better connect with the worshipers. Additionally, you would have people interacting on chat with the online worshipers. So in doing this hybrid approach, it doesn’t take as much work as producing a totally separate worship experience but it does help you to really engage your online worshipers in a way that just pointing a camera and shooting what’s happening in your service will not do. Now, I strongly recommend that you avoid well, that you consider the second or third. Create two separate services or create a hybrid approach. And I suggest you avoid the first approach of just showing what’s happening, even though that’s the easiest to do. The final two approaches will do a much better job of engaging the person in worship. Now, so let’s talk about how do we improve our online worship experiences so that we are really helping engaging our people, that we’re opening that front door as people come in and they’re wanting to get involved? Streaming to those that do not attend in person. How do we help that? So what things do we need to think about? On your handout this is on page two. In the left column I’ve got some bullet points there then we’ll talk through. Now, some churches in The US are still offering only online services. I was surprised I had a meeting with about 100 worship leaders the other day. I uphold them. And about 25%, I think of North Carolina churches that were represented at that, were still online only. I was really surprised. So first I want to talk about online worship when you’re not able to have gathered worship. In this case, all your efforts for engaging people in worship are focused on your online ministry. So if you went with option two, I mentioned a while ago where you’re just producing online service separately, these things will be important as well. So all your efforts are going to be focused on the online ministry and some of these things. I’m going to share with you now some areas our churches need to consider to make their online presence most effective. Now most of these concepts will carry over to your online ministry when you’re having in-person worship as well. These first concepts are a little more fitting when you have a separate service. The first thing I wanted to speak on is intimacy. When you can, consider using a more intimate setting rather than an empty sanctuary. I remember when churches had stopped meeting in person and the pastor would still be at this pulpit, in this sterile looking sanctuary with nobody sitting there, and he would be talking to the empty pews. And I want to say, hey, we’re up here, look at your camera. And this isn’t really helping to emphasize this big empty cavernous space that nobody is in but a more intimate setting can connect so much better. Use a living room or a prepared set at church that communicates a homier environment. Consider using an acoustic or small band setting for music. You can have a couple singing from their piano inside their home, leading a song. Musicians don’t have to be in the same setting as the pastor or other leaders of the service. Consider changing up your setting. Go outside if the weather is good, use another venue. Be creative. This feels warmer, more connecting to the online audience than a sterile empty sanctuary. It makes them feel more like you’re in their house with them. And then show community. Involve your families in your service. This will help provide a greater sense of community as people see and hear from one another, and it will help your people take a more active role in worship. Your church members want to see each other if they are in days of isolation or not feeling like they can be at church just yet. And then rather than the pastor or worship team member praying, ask families to provide videos of one of them praying to be included in the service. Have a family prepare a video of them welcoming the viewers. Have one or more members of the family read the scripture to include in your service. You see what you’re trying to do is show involvement of people in your church your families and all that. The church is made up of more than just your pastor, your worship team, and those folks. I saw one church that was showing people worshiping at home during the service. One church prerecorded their worship service and then had a few families agree to have a video camera capture them as they watched and interacted with the service. The videos from the families were included in the church’s premiered service to give a feel of people worshiping together wherever they are. I thought it was very effective. You can see that playing there on your screen. You could also have people take a picture of their family worshiping at home and have them share in social media, in their service. So consider these different things of ways to show your people being involved. And then condense. I think we found people have, we talked about Zoom fatigue and just the difficulty of staying engaged for long period of time. Most people won’t stay tuned to a 60 to 75-minute online service. Be succinct and impactful. Probably 40 to 50 minutes. Families are not in quiet sanctuaries. They’re home with many distractions. Maybe screaming babies, dogs running around you, all kinds of things. Consider reducing the number of songs and links to songs. Messages should be shorter than usual. People have shorter attention spans in viewing online services. So say it in fewer words and that’s soft and more impactful. And then prerecord. Consider premiering your services. We’re finding more than 75% of churches are pre-recording and premiering their services, and are much happier with this approach. Those who livestream felt they had better interaction and a heightened sense of community but also encountered increased internet problems like Facebook crashes, higher stress, and more. So be prepared with a backup plan if your primary plan fails. But premiering a service allows for you to make a better finished product. You can edit it ahead of time, get the sound levels right, get the transitions good, upload that, and then be able to show it to your people at designated time. Those things that I’ve just talked about apply a little more to when it’s online only and isn’t connected directly with your gathered service. But some of those pieces of that can also be involved for when you’re doing online and gathered. Now, these following ones really apply to all of those areas. And one of those is making eye contact. Remember, you’re speaking to your congregation through the camera. Even if you’re in the middle of gathered worship, take some time to look into the camera, speak to the people at home. Don’t pretend that the people are If you are speaking to the auditorium, don’t look around like there are people there. But be real with your people, let people into your life and let them see that you’re real. So make eye contact with your people. And the second one is to consider your audio. Your congregation is online, so mix your audio for them not the room. Your audio techs should put on headphones and make sure the sound going to the video is clear and balanced. You know, that might mean having a separate audio mixer just for that. Or at the very least, you’ve got a bus or sub-bus in your mixer that you can have a separate control of to mix those levels so it sounds good. Constantly monitor that, listen to what you put out there and make sure it’s great sound. People are much more forgiving a bad video than they are a bad audio. So make sure that is good. Then make sure your lighting is good. I’ve seen some pastors that were speaking I thought they were in a witness protection program because the back lighting was so bright. You could barely see their face. Make sure it’s not too bright. Make sure foreground lighting is good, you solve the light. Then you want close-ups. Close camera angles are best. They translate better on computers, cell phones and tablets. I’ve heard so many people that watch their worship services on their cell phones. And if you think about how small that screen is, you really want to have close-ups so the pastor’s face isn’t really tiny on there or the worship leaders or whatever so people can see that. It’s very important. And then interact. This is something we often don’t think about. If you livestream, assign someone to interact live with the folks that are watching. Engage in comments, open up dialogue. Many churches are reaching and engaging others by intentionally staffing their online chat rooms. Provide resources for your chat hosts, helping them know kind of how to do what they’re doing, questions to ask, resources to provide. Engage with people who are online for the service can bring an element of connection beyond just viewing the service as well. I encourage churches to have ways designed to make further connections with the people you engage online. Some churches provide a phone number. People can call if they need to talk to someone. I think that’s been a very valuable thing. If they want to call in and share a prayer request or they want to make a decision for Christ. You can plug people into an online Bible study fellowship for those seeking answers. There’s so much you can do in this area. I believe online interaction is essential for the church in the upcoming era. Online ministries may indeed become our front door, bringing people to Christ and to the church. Now, the next one is active participation. During the online service, encourage your people to sing at home, read scripture aloud, pray together and more. Often the viewers tendency is to treat the online service like another television program. Just watch it without really engaging. Obsessive ways to engage the people at home in active worship. Rather than praying prayers for them, guide them in prayer times where they’re asked to pray aloud as a family at home. Even if you’re having gathered worship, you may ask your online viewers to stand or to take hands. And one of the people in their family to lead in prayer. Do all you can to encourage participation. Encourage them to sing along with the songs as you provide the lyrics for them. Again, you’re giving them resources and you can speak directly to them even in times of gathered worship to say, we’d like you to join us at home in singing these songs. So then that takes us to song lyrics. If you want participation, provide lyrics. We don’t want people to be couch potatoes and just watch the service like they binge watch a TV program. We want them to be actively engaged in worship. And one of the best ways to do that is to show the lyrics in the video feed as lower thirds or an embedded picture and picture the video screen from your presentation computer and invite them to sing along whenever they can. If you do not have the technology to do this, some other things you could do, you could place the words in the chat or you could provide downloadable resources that are linked in your online platform or referenced in the video. The downloadable PDF resource could also be available via email, social media or embedded on the website. And the other thing you could include things like order of service if you wanted to sermon out lines, daily Bible readings, other ways that you can help that person in their life of worship and discipleship. Keep asking yourself how can we help people participate and grow? We must keep asking that question. We must obsess about that. And then frequency. Churches should increase the frequency of times they get online with quality content. Helping people realize the church is a daily thing not just a Sunday thing. Consider daily online prayer meetings with short message and perhaps some music and then invite people to online weekend services. Offer a time of singing sometime during the week as you sit at the piano or play guitar and lead songs in informal environment there again with downloadable song sheets. I’ve seen a number of a worship leaders in churches around North Carolina that will just have a Facebook Live time some night during the week where they’re just sitting around the piano or guitar and singing songs and people from their church are joining in. People are consuming more media now that they’re staying at home. And even now as we’re transitioning away from COVID, people are finding that maybe life is changing some and there might be more home time. People have seen what a craziness it is to be on the go all the time and there’s something to be said about more time at home. Give them wholesome media to set their hearts on God. Now another huge thing, and I really encourage you if you don’t have your services on Facebook to include Facebook as one of your outlets for your service. And then encourage your members to invite their friends to Facebook watch parties with your services. If you’ve got shut-ins at home or members that aren’t ready to come back to church yet, or even you can do this from church. I’ve seen people before the service starts that go on their phone and invite people to a watch party for that service. So I encourage all churches to have their online service on Facebook in addition to YouTube, your church website, other platforms. Because you realize this, Facebook is very social in nature and there’s an ease of sharing and outreach available on that platform. So churches can encourage their at-home members or even the ones again in the pews to share their service through watch parties. And then if possible, engage in dialogue with friends that attend. Some churches do a great job of providing resources for these hosts to give them talking points and ways to engage non-believers. You can even have a watch party later, you know, say on Sunday evening for your Sunday morning service that’s archived there. Do a watch party, and then use these resources to help engage non-believers. It’s a wonderful way of outreach. It’s simple for people to do. It’s just the click of a button. This is a great way for outreach. And like I say, it’s really easy to invite friends to church, the virtual church. And that can be a front door to getting them involved, to getting them discipled, to get them to be believers. The next thing is to connect. Find ways to connect with seekers and members that are watching your services. Some ideas, you could offer a Zoom meeting for guests to meet the pastor after the service. Just give them a link and they can come in and talk to the pastor. Provide online forums for people to connect with virtual small groups. Help your church members find ways to connect with others online, to invite them to services and follow up with them such as the watch parties I mentioned. You could offer a online chat time, 15, 20 minutes before or after the service for people to just come in and socialize and talk. We want to create intentional paths for people to take next steps after this service. Again, we want to engage our people all that we can. You could offer a chat session after the video ends where people can comment and ask questions about the service, and you could engage them even further. And then another thing is, as worship leaders, we often want to lean in and help our families to worship. And I think COVID has been great for family worship because we’re finding parents and kids are all at home together more. And it’s not like I say, craziness, where you’re going from one soccer game to a recital and all this kind of stuff where you just can’t ever seem to be together. So it’s been a time that we’ve been able to create a culture of family worship in the home. So do all you can to equip your families with resources to be successful in this area. Pointing in the resources for discipling their families and for leading family worship times. And then another thing, families really need, excuse me. Many churches need a web rejuvenation. If you have a church website, it needs to reflect your new approach to ministry. It probably needs a make-over. Even 12 months into COVID, I have looked at so many church websites that are unchanged since before COVID. It looks like life is as it was before even their schedules had drastically changed. But here are some important considerations. One thing you want to have an obvious button of how to view your online services. I’ve gone to some church websites who I know are online and I search their website and there wasn’t a word about their online services. Include clear places for children, student and adult ministries with online age specific resources for worship and discipleship. You want to keep these things as very easy and accessible to your people that are specifically online only folks but also your folks who have gathered for worship to be able to find those additional digital resources. Look at your site with eyes as someone who is visiting for the first time and wants to connect. Look at it from the perspective of your church members who are coming for today’s resources. A lot to do, but make sure your website is meeting the needs of your church very well. And then we also need to think retro. I’m talking a lot about technology stuff, but we need to think retro. There’s some people in your congregation who, this is hard to believe, perhaps aren’t connected with the internet. Think through how to reach them by telephone, you remember that, and other creative ways. Some churches are preparing DVDs and delivering those people. It used to be done a long time ago and still needs to continue to some folks. Connect them to the online services through a call-in service. There’s call-in services where they can dial a number and hear the service. Radio broadcast might be another possibility. Facebook Live has the ability to have a toll free call-in number for people to connect to the audio by phone with that number. You can also use a service like But whatever, think about everybody in your congregation. Makes sure everyone has access to your worship. And then one of the most important things is evaluate. Watch the video of your service and see what went well, what needs improvement. Was the audio awful? Was the video bad? Were people that were on camera not aware they were on camera and doing things you wouldn’t want them to do during broadcast? You know, all of those things. Watch it every week, evaluate it, talk through it with your team. Constantly obsess over improving what we’re doing. How engaging was it to your online audience? Or was it something that just makes them into a couch potato? Keep working to be the most engaging and compelling you can be, with the greatest story ever told. And then one other thought on this topic is, focus on your strengths. Do the things you can do best. In today’s online church world, there can seem to be so much competition. I was talking to a worship leader yesterday and she says she’s been binge watching online worship. So I think she has watched 15 services in one day. You know, we can get in that competitive mode or oh my, ours isn’t as good as this one or this one is better than that. And yes, we can see things and that weekend help improve but don’t get pulled into a competitive nature. Focus on your strengths and do them with excellence. Some churches have great production, some have great community. Some find a great balance. Don’t try to compete. Be faithful to shepherd those whom God has entrusted to you and do the best you can and quality. Okay, now I’ve talked a lot about online worship. As I mentioned before, I strongly believe as do many people that our online ministries are becoming vitally important in the post COVID days. They will likely be more of a front door to our churches, getting people discipled and bringing them into our churches to grow and serve. Putting great emphasis on our online worship and ways to disciple others virtually is something we cannot ignore. Rather, we must lean into these areas strongly in the present, and especially in this coming era. So I will pause for a moment now and see if you have any questions.

– We have four questions that have come up in the Q&A. First one is a good question from Kevin Brandon. I wonder what plot platforms we should be migrating to for livestream. I say this because I foresee the cancel culture hitting conservative churches soon on major liberal platforms like Facebook and YouTube. Any suggestions?

– Depending upon cost, one that seems very reliable that a lot of churches are using is Vimeo. And the advantage with Vimeo, in fact, the church that my wife and I are members of uses Vimeo. And we stream to Vimeo and then Vimeo will stream out to any other sources like Facebook, which we’re also showing on Facebook. And it’ll also stream directly to your church website. But as you research, you’ll find a number of platforms like that. But I would encourage you to use a service that can stream to your church website so people will naturally be able to go there. And to continue as long as we can, and your comment is very good about the potential of what the future is going to hold, but continue to go to Facebook just because of the social ability that it has for people to connect easy, to share easily and to encourage others to be pulling. Much more evangelistic than just having it on your church website.

– Okay. Sort of a comment following up on that. Tim Hall says, I heard they’re doing away with Facebook Watch Party on April 16th.

– Ah, I have not heard that, but thank you. I will research that too. I’m curious why they’re doing that.

– Okay, I think you’ve already answered this in part of your presentation. But just to clarify, should the online intro be live or recorded?

– Recorded. Recorded is going to be the easiest. And probably the easiest way to do that is, I don’t know what you use to broadcast, but many many churches are using OBS, which is free software. And in OBS you can load those videos. You can fire those videos to the livestream and then when they’re done, you can just fade into the stream coming from your cameras to the church. Makes it very simple just to set that up and to be able to send that to your viewers at home.

– Okay. This question is also from Tommy, well at least the previous one was too. A normal online post from the watchers is good morning. How would you suggest we interact with the post?

– For instance, if you have some online resources that you could share that could be sermon notes, next steps, you know, those variety of things, you could point those out. You could also, if your church does a good job then encourage them to give you some resources for your chat host. You may have some of the sermon text, or outline or something ahead of time and you could even some of the things in the sermon or put something out there that could prompt some comments. Some people today really thrive in a situation where you’re watching someone speaking and making comments while that’s going on. Others, that seems distracting and they can of course cut the comments off. But I would try to find ways to engage if you can. If you see somebody viewing that is not somebody you know, you could ask them, or even at the beginning ask people where they’re from. And try to engage new people even more and say, you know, we’ve got this prayer session that you can call in for, or, you know, any of these other resources. But again, you’re having to think ahead of time intentionally what are these resources that I can use and how can I make this work out well for our people and share that in the chat? Honestly, a lot of times people will not respond back but if you can put out a few things to them that could encourage them, that would be helpful

– Sort of like a digital greeting committee, I guess.

– Yes. And some churches actually have people that they’ve kind of trained to do that, provide resources for them and have a rotation of those people just like you would have ushers rotating in in-person worship. Some churches have a large enough staff that they have a different staff person to do it as well that’s not involved in the live worship service.

– Okay. Rick Robertson says, “I’ve been following your site for years. Thanks for the resources you provide. Great job today. Wondering about Gab, G-A-B instead of Facebook for streaming.”

– I’ll be honest. I’m not familiar with that.

– Okay.

– But I will be glad to look into that a little more for you. If you want to, send me an email. I’m learning things, that’s good.

– Good interaction here. John Sparks asked a question. I guess it’s more for me. Is there help available from alsbom for this technology? And the answer is yes. Mitchell can help you in some ways. Our director of the communications office, Doug Rogers, is also available for help. You can contact him by phone or online. All of our emails have the first letter of the first name and then the full last name. So Mitchell Bruce would be Mitchell could probably post that. And also Doug Rogers would be And I’ll ask Mitchell to post those in the chat room if he can. That’s all of the questions from that part of the presentation. Kenny, great job with that, man. So many things to think about and also very practical suggestions. I think we’re ready to go to the next section, if you are.

– Okay. Yes, I’m going to talk about copyright some. And some of these parts I’m going to kind of speed through but I’ve got resources. And on page one on the left, you’ll see just some bullet points that are kind of some summary things I’m going to make here at the end. But I want to kind of give you a quick overview of some things so you can understand how copyright works. Especially now that we’ve gone into livestreaming it’s much more of a interesting thing to deal with. But realize, first of all there’s basically five different kinds of licenses. Now, I’m not talking blanket license here. I’m talking about things that you have to have a copyright. Excuse me, have to have a license for, to do legally. One is a print license, which allows you to print lyrics, music or a combination of the two. So for instance, if we take the song “How Great Is Our God,” which is a copyrighted song, if you want to put those lyrics on a screen or if you want to put them, print them in a bulletin or song sheet or something, you would need a print license to do that. The second one is a mechanical license that allows you to reproduce and make an audio recording of the copyright composition and distribute it. So for instance, if you want to make a recording of your group singing “How Great Is Our God” you would need a mechanical license to make that recording legally. That’s the audio part of it. Now, if you wanted to take “How Great Is Our God” and record it on a video to make a DVD, or this also involves with livestreaming because it’s video, you would need what’s called a sync license or a video synchronization license. It allows you to make copies of a song within a video. It covers a specific song and not any recording of it. And a recording of it would be for instance, Chris Tomlin singing “How Great Is Our God.” But it allows you to do your team singing “How Great Is Our God,” you need the video sync license. Now, if you wanted to involve Chris Tomlin’s recording or if you wanted to record something that has stem tracks, backing tracks, any of those professionally produced recordings, then you have to have a master recording license. And you see, it’s getting more and more complex. So if you have a preexisting recording, if your choir is singing with a backing track, you cannot legally stream that without a license because that gets where you would actually need. Excuse me, I didn’t mean to change that. You would actually need, and if you’re putting words on screen, you need a print license, mechanical license, video sync license, and a master recording license which is a bunch of stuff. The last one is a public performance license which allows you to perform the musical in public gatherings. Now the church has some exemptions, and I really won’t go through all of that, but it allows you to do a lot of this with limited license within the four walls of your church. But once you start streaming, you get into much more complexities. Now, there’s two companies that have blanket license. One is CCLI, Christian Copyright Licensing International, and one is CCS, Christian Copyright Solutions. Now, these two companies are very different in what they cover. And some people think that oh, it’s just two competitors but they’re really very different. CCLI mainly covers reproduction rights. Think print, think mechanical, think video sync. And CCS covers performance rights, which as a church in worship you’ve have a lot of performance rights already but we’ll talk about more as I go into the specific things. First of all, CCLI offers four kinds of blanket license. The first one is their basic license, the church copyright license. It covers most everything that you need in in-person worship. You probably already have this license or at least I hope you already have this license. Most churches need it, majority already have it. It does not cover streaming your service. It includes things like printing lyrics in your bullets and displaying lyrics on screen, copying songs from a hymnal, websites, and other sources for congregational use. Recording songs in your worship service by audio or video for limited distribution, meaning no more than 15% of your attendance. Making customized vocal instrumental arrangements of songs, translating songs into another language. All that is covered under your basic CCLI license. Now the second license is the streaming license. Now, once our church has started streaming, we have to have this license. It allows us to stream our service with the exception of using master recordings. I’ll talk about in a moment or other professionally copyrighted video or audio products such as backing tracks or artists recordings. But it allows you, your team with a basic streaming license. Anything that you’re playing is copyrighted from their list of publishers, which is pretty extensive. You can go to their site and see who they are. You can play that music, put those lyrics on screen and you’re covered. And I’ll talk about that more in a moment. Now, they have just come out this January with what’s called the Streaming Plus. And this is such a wonderful thing because in the past you could not have a choir complement or a solo accompaniment track or backing tracks, stem tracks, multi-tracks, whatever you want to call that. You could not use those in streaming without going for every individual song every time you’re doing it and getting a special license for it. But now with the Streaming Plus, it allows you to use these master recordings. And it has made life so much easier for the streaming church. I know of one church that was trying to stay legal but they just couldn’t go through all the hoops they had to go through to get permission on backing tracks. So they would literally have their stream. And when the soloist would come up, there would be a blank screen that said, we’ll be back shortly while they did the streaming without that music and then they came back in because they didn’t have legality to do that. But now with the Streaming Plus you can. And then there’s the church video license which provides legal coverage to publicly shown motion pictures and movie scenes in person. This is for use in your church building only. And then, excuse me, another wonderful thing is the rehearsal license which allows you to distribute professional recordings for the sole purpose of learning and rehearsal. It’s a great license to have for your worship team. You can distribute MP3s to them for practice and preparation. I can talk a lot more about that, but we don’t have time. You can find clear definitions of what they do on the CCLI site. And I’ll give you some links on my blog too that will talk a little more about that. Now, CCS, they have two blanket license which cover performance rights. They cover sacred publishers like CCLI but they also cover all the secular labels like ASCAP, BMI, SESAC. So if you’re wanting to do a non-sacred music for any reason in your worship service, you would need that kind of license for that. Now CCS license cover you for all performances outside the worship service. As I mentioned, the religious service exemption I didn’t call it that, but that does allow you to perform your sacred music in the worship service. But if you were to have other things like, well, let me talk about this, specifically to perform music on site facilities. If you play music in the hallway, your bookstore if you have one or in your offices, music-on-hold or have fitness classes, your CCLI license does not cover that. Perform music does cover that. Also, WORSHIPcast is an online streaming license. Some people think, well, I’ll just have that instead of CCLI. But just like the CCLI streaming license, it allows you to webcast or stream music, but the catalog of songs is larger. But lyrics showing on screen may not be covered. Best I can determine in my investigation is, you have to have the CCLI products in order to cover the streaming on screen since CCS is basically a performance kind of license, a performance rights, and not all these other rights that we’ve talked about with CCLI. So what licenses do you need for standard worship service? Or first of all, if you are not streaming and if you do not project or print words or engage in any other permissions I mentioned license agreement, you don’t need a license at all. And I don’t know many churches that are in that but there are some. For example, if your service is just using music out of your handle for your congregation, everyone Is reading from the books and your church owns, and you’re not recording your services for shut-ins you probably do not need any kind of copyright license. Most churches today are doing some of those things I mentioned that the CCLI basic license covers. Such as showing lyrics on screen or in the bulletin or making service recordings. For any of those activities mentioned earlier, you must have a basic CCLI license to remain compliant with the law. By the way, all these licenses require reporting your songs usage some just 25% of the time. Now, if you are streaming your worship service, oops! If you’re streaming your worship service, the streaming license allows you to livestream and archive these videos. This is an add-on. You need your basic license and your streaming license. And then in addition to that, if you are using these master recordings such as backing tracks, all those things I mentioned before, multi-track, stems, you must also have the new Streaming Plus license, which is an upgrade from the basic streaming license. Now, that’s pointed out on the website I’m gonna show you as well as in your notes there. Just a very quick thing, YouTube and Facebook, you will find copyright strikes a lot of times where they will come and tell you you’re out of compliance. They will mute your audio, they might pull your video down. Notice the box here says, “you can upload videos to YouTube and similar services provided that copyright owners have the right to monetize and place ads on videos containing their own copyrights. These terms of agreements do not override those other streaming platforms.” That comes directly from CCLI. And so that’s basically saying, Facebook and YouTube can do what they want to. If you do get striked by either of them, you can send them information about your licenses and sometimes they will make everything right there but you may get another strike later. YouTube is much worse than Facebook is, at that. A lot of those resources you’ll find is I did a copyright seminar. It goes into a lot more detail. Since that, the plus license has come out. I’ve got information on that page about that as well. I have time to take just a few questions but I need probably about five minutes to take questions. But I need about 10 minutes to do some final closing things.

– Hey, Kenny, I only see one question. It’s from Chris Cuenn. Would a church use Streaming Plus for virtual VBS?

– Yes, they would assuming you’re using the tracks with VBS and not your own musicians. So if you’re using the accompaniment tracks of VBS you would need the Streaming Plus license. Yes.

– Okay. From Tommy Willis, do you suggest both CCLI and CSS?

– Not unless you are doing any of those performance things that CSS, such as music-on-hold, music for a Zumba class or you’re doing Three Dog Night covers in your worship services. But generally CCLI covers most people unless there’s those things that they’re using music out of a worship kind of setting.

– I don’t know how many of our participants know Three Dog Night?

– I don’t know where that came from.

– Well, it came from the depths of your soul, I feel like.

– No, I don’t think so.

– I appreciate very deeply.

– I’ve used one of their tunes one time, but anyway. Tommy laughs out loud at that. Any other question? All right, jump into the last segment here, Kenny.

– Okay. Finally, I want to suggest to you it’s probably time to reboot the worship ministry in your church. And for purpose of illustration, I first want to ask you this, which package delivery service will your church emulate in the post-COVID world? With all the COVID restrictions, I believe we’re probably, this past Christmas we probably made more online purchases than ever. My family personally had packages delivered from UPS, FedEx, USPS, and Amazon. I was particularly interested in the way each carrier responded to increased volume of packages, which was so much more this year, and how they dealt with COVID restrictions to keep timely deliveries going. Now, hang with me here. One of the players seem to do quite poorly while they made excuses about the volume being too high or employees having COVID. I ordered an item that I desperately needed in just a few days. USPS said the package would arrive in three days. To make the long story short, it took them over three weeks to deliver the package from Ohio to North Carolina. When we realized the product was not going to arrive on time we ordered a similar item on Amazon, which arrived two days later. And I noticed everything that we ordered well, most things we ordered that were shipped by UPS or FedEx also arrived in a timely manner. So those three carriers were doing things really well. But this one postal service package was not an outlier in our experience this season with that carrier. It happened multiple times. But if you visited their website, it displayed prominently that delays are expected because volume is too high and workers are getting sick from COVID. Now on the other hand, in response to high demand and restrictions this year, FedEx hired 70,000 additional workers for the holiday season. UPS hired more than 100,000 workers to aid with the rush. UPS added an additional 5 million square feet of space to sort parcels to handle the demand. That’s just a few examples of how these carriers adapted and performed well. So what does that have to do with the church, you may ask. We can choose to ignore how the world is changing around us and continue to do business as usual. Or we can adapt to the times and determine how we can best make disciples with a change culture and new ways of doing things. Whether we like it or not, the world will not be returning to life as it was in the last decade. This is not a new problem in the church. We can see how many churches settled into the way they did ministry in the 70s and refused to change with the time. Many of those churches are now closed or struggling. Other churches adapted to the times. They understood the cultural shifts and found ways to engage the loss and strengthened believers and many were able to thrive. So now I ask you, what will your church do in the weeks and years ahead? The world, whether we like it or not has changed in the last year and will most likely not return to the place we were before. Now is a great time to reboot the ministries of your church. It’s a time to get rid of some legacy ministries that no longer help our church in its mission. It’s a time to put everything we do under a microscope and determine if it should be eliminated, kept or changed. The future of our churches depend on this. Before COVID, I was saddened to see that so many of the churches around the world had lost sight of true worship. Many had begun to worship the worship event, the band, the singers, the songs, the pastor and not the One to whom we owe our all. Sometimes we get so caught up in the greatest newest songs and achieving certain guitar or drum riffs or sounding like a worship leader superstar. In ways I can see Jesus clearing the temple of all of this. Perhaps COVID is God’s way of overturning our tables of misdirected worship and old useless practices of the church. Just perhaps, God is using COVID-19 to strip us of all the church was doing so we can carefully put it all together the right way this time. That we simply come with hearts open and ready to hear from God. I don’t know what that means for your church. It’s a great time to seek The Father’s heart and see what’s most effective in connecting with your gathered worshipers and your online worshipers. What does the future need to look like in your worship ministry? In closing, I want to encourage you to stay committed and faithful to the Lord’s calling in your life. 1st Chronicles 16:11 says, “look to the Lord and His strength, seek his face always.” Webinars are not going to tell us what we need to do. We need to seek God’s heart. Webinars can equip us with all kinds of knowledge and reading books and how to do things, but ultimately we need to seek God’s face. I’ve seen many church leaders burn out during these days. Many have turned their back on their calling and they’ve left church leadership completely. We all feel unequipped for these times. The people in our churches have different views of what we should and should not do. And unfortunately, those opinions differ widely within the church. It seems whatever decision we make we offend some of the people in the church. This puts a lot of stress on church leaders and their families. Well, let me just say this. God will sustain you and bring you through this. Deuteronomy 31:6 says, “be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.” As you seek His heart, He will provide the wisdom you need to lead your church. He will give you strength and peace. Indeed, your church can thrive as you flex and find ways to reach both the people of your church and those seeking answers to life right now. Now more than ever, you need to spend time in God’s word and seek His heart and prayer. Psalm 37:23-24 says, “the Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in Him. Though he may stumble, he will not fall for the Lord upholds him with His hand.” What a promise! And Psalm 46:1-3 says, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.” One more thing I want to add, you also need to keep an open mind when it comes to how you do ministry. Restrictions due to Coronavirus and cultural changes have up-ended traditional ways of doing much in the ministry we engage in. But rather than mourning that loss, let’s discover and celebrate the new ways God has opened up for us to impact this world. Embrace technologies when needed, think outside the box, find ways to engage the world with the gospel message. I want to thank you all for taking the time to let me speak into your life and ministry day. I am passionate about helping churches disciple their congregations through transformational worship. As I mentioned, be sure to check out our multitude of resources to help you renew the worship of your church in my blog, My prayer for you is Romans 15:13. “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” And here are some contacts for me. And you’ve already had my email address. And that is, yeah, and I’ll turn it back over to Keith with one minute left.

– Thank you. I appreciate it so much, Kenny. You’ve done a great job today. We do have one parting question if you have time.

– Sure.

– If we have Streaming Plus, is there a way to inform Facebook or will we have to inform them every time they mute a track song?

– Yes. They don’t seem to keep up with that. I’ve had a lot of churches who have given them that information and they might have forgiven them for that time but then they turn around and strike them and they have to do it again. And so it’s not like they have a little button that they click and say, these people are good.

– Okay.

– All right.

– Thank you. Super job!

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