Streaming church services
There has been much debate about the way our churches are functioning at the moment. Many feel that it is a mistake that they are closed so rigidly. Some other denominations are allowing people in – with social distancing, etc. If the Church of England thinks so little of its historic church buildings – so the argument goes – let’s not bother to try to keep them going. Someone wrote very sarcastically: “To what extent are our church buildings and their contents really essential to the life and future health of the church? The Archbishops seem to have solved the problem already.”
On the other hand, some people think that we are in the process of discovering a new way to be church. If services can be streamed, they are much more accessible. That could be how we do services in the future!
However, the apparent popularity of streamed services may be deceptive. You might get more people watching than would attend a normal service, but how long do they stay watching/listening?? The Rector of Nantwich has found that the average viewing time for Nantwich services has been – WAIT FOR IT! – one minute! So that means an awful lot of people watched for perhaps 20-30 seconds only. Others would have watched longer, of course.
Nevertheless, the Rector of Nantwich sees a future for streaming. Even a quick look is better than nothing and some people who can’t easily make it to church would benefit.
I think you need to factor in the present circumstances of the lock-down. If there isn’t anything else happening on a Sunday (or any day!) and you are stuck at home there is more likelihood that people will watch a streamed service. In normal times there is so much going on, on a Sunday that the church gets left out! So it would be risky in the future to expect streaming to remain so popular.
But what is missing in streamed services is Christian fellowship, and, no less important, the sharing of the bread and wine in the Eucharist or Holy Communion. These are massive, massive drawbacks. If people in the future settle for streamed services – well, I fear for the future! Easter communicants in Nantwich were 383 in 2019. In 2020 – guess! – ZERO!
This coming Sunday 17th May at St. Peters I will be celebrating the Eucharist in Church with Gail starting at 11am. The service we will be using will be on the website. I will also play the hymns.
I invite all of you to allocate about 30 minutes when, at least in spirit, you share the service. It won’t be a proper Communion for you at home (though it will in church), so I’m not claiming that it is. But it is perhaps the best we can do at the moment.
St. Mary's Church, Nantwich