Florida United Methodists responding well to online worship servicesMissions and Outreach
About 77 percent of people responding to a survey on flumc.org said that having Sunday church services online did not negatively affect their worship experience.
More than 35 percent of respondents completely agreed with that statement, while 45 percent somewhat agree.
Only 8 percent completely disagreed.
The online survey has been available to respondents since the Florida Conference of the United Methodist Church asked churches two weeks ago to suspend in-person worship because of the COVID-19 virus.
“We are in the midst of a profound shift. In the language of the Fresh Expressions movement, digital culture is a profound “third place”. We are adapting from ministry mostly inside our buildings to significant presence in this new world of social media, not as an add-on but as something primary and fundamental. This is a more hybrid, mixed ecology of sharing in the gospel, which is already present in the lives of those searching for a spiritual home,” Florida Conference Resident Bishop Ken Carter said.
”I’m deeply grateful to all who have found a way to bear witness through word and music. I’ve encouraged our pastors not to sweat the technical glitches—we are all taking the next faithful steps. My word of encouragement is to trust that God will use our efforts, speak in spite of our words, and give all of us what we need in this season of worship in ways we had not imagined.”
Respondents to the survey were also invited to give personal comments.
“In some ways, I was able to concentrate on music and the message because I was not surrounded by distractions,” one person wrote. “In other ways, I miss those distractions.”
Another wrote, “Hope UMC in Cape Coral, Pastor Paul was inspiring. He did an incredible job participating in a prerecorded prelude to the service. He sang the worship songs and gave the sermon. Such a terrific effort to bring all of us a meaningful service.”
While some churches have reported technical issues with live-streaming, 59 percent of survey respondents completely agreed that the video quality was for their service was good. Another 29 percent somewhat agreed with that, while 4 percent completely disagreed.
There were similar percentages of approval for the audio and internet quality.
“The live feed tended to freeze once in a while, and I had to sign out and sign back in. I loved the real time chat with other members who were viewing online. A pastor or ministry leader ought to be hosting this chat and encouraging communication,” one person wrote.
Seventy-three percent completely agreed they would recommend their online service to others, while 21 somewhat agreed.
“Christ Church St Petersburg's service was both spiritually and technically a beautiful experience,” one commenter said. “We are so grateful for the abilities of our church staff/tech crew to create such a masterful and thoughtful worship service.”
Churches have been asked to follow CDC and state guidelines by avoiding large gatherings, including Sunday worship. That likely will continue for several more weeks, including Easter Sunday.
“There is nothing quite like the church service in the sanctuary,” one person said. “But in times like this it is good to
worship, knowing that others are watching too, and that we are all praying together.”
The survey is available for further comment on the special COVID-19 page on flumc.org.
--Joe Henderson is News Content Editor for flumc.org.
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