25 Jun 2020

Technology helps churches gather remotely to hear his word

Our churches
Like much of Australia, our churches helped to play their part in preventing the spread of COVID-19 by suspending their usual services

With buildings closed to meet social distancing requirements, our focus was on finding new and innovative ways to BE the church in our communities. We looked for ways to offer a form of inclusive worship and enable congregation members to keep in touch and maintain their wellbeing.

Gympie Church of Christ is just one example of how we adapted to these challenging circumstances, providing online and accessible services that maintained a sense of continuity and social connection.

“There’s a history of cooperation and trust in Gympie: six local churches were already working together informally, holding a combined church service at a neutral location every three months. Due to Covid-19 restrictions, we held one of the services online. It went so well, we decided to collaborate more often,” Kevin Dunn, Gympie Church of Christ Pastor said.

Gympie Church of Christ turned its building into a recording studio and began working with the other churches to produce a regular stream of content for all their members.

“At the start none of the churches had the expertise and the equipment needed to do this well. This was an opportunity to prove how together, we’re better,” Kevin said.

In addition to producing daily content, each church recorded a weekly Sunday Service according to a roster, which was upload onto a shared YouTube channel and Facebook page.

The initiative has developed a significant online audience, with followers as far away as the US, New Zealand and India. More than 2,000 people tuned in for the Easter Sunday service, five times more than the usual combined church reach.

Kevin has discovered some surprising insights, such as the popularity of the online content with younger people with children. The flexibility of YouTube meant families could gather at home to worship at times to suit them.
Of course, not everyone is online. To ensure all community members could still access services, the churches pre-recorded sessions for twice-weekly broadcasts by the local radio station.

“Rather than trying to be everything for everyone, we focused on having something for everyone. This meant we could have content tailored to children, people wanting more worship, even comedy! You can never have too much YouTube content, and with six churches involved we could produce far more than just me on my own,” Kevin said.

“Trust in the Lord, and what he wants. Prior to this, if you’d told me that six churches would be working in partnership to serve the Gympie community, I would have laughed. Although we’re unlikely to collaborate at this level in the future, we will continue to work together - this experience has been a great example of Christian unity.”