Changes to Live-Streaming
The elders of ACC have decided to make some changes to the online presentation of our Sunday worship services. I would like to outline these changes and explain our reasons for making them.
But first I want to express my gratitude to the valiant group of ACC members who have worked so hard to live-stream our worship services for the last two years. When we returned to in-person worship in the fall of 2020, we realized that a significant portion of our congregation were not yet prepared to participate in public gatherings. Like churches all over the world, we scrambled to figure out how to do something we had never done before – provide a way for people to view our worship services remotely. I am so grateful for those in our church whose hard work and ingenuity have made the live-streaming of our services possible.
Starting Sunday, December 18, our services will no longer be available to view online at 10:30 AM on Sundays. We will still record the services and post them on YouTube soon after the service is over although the service will be presented from only one camera angle and with limited sound quality.
We realize that this change may be disappointing to some who have grown accustomed to viewing the online worship service concurrently with those who are gathering in-person. Why are we making these changes?
One reason has to do with budget and personnel. This change in our online presentation will require less effort from church members on Sunday mornings, freeing up funds and volunteers for other important aspects of church life.
But the main reason for the change is theological. We believe that gathering physically with other believers to worship God, hear the Word, and participate in the sacraments is an irreplaceable part of the Christian life. Watching a worship service remotely certainly has some benefits, and may at times be one’s only option, but it is no substitute for gathering with brothers and sisters in the presence of the Lord.
I appreciate the way Pastor Andy Huette explains this idea. He writes:
“In the Bible, ‘church’ doesn’t refer to an event, but a people. The church is a family that you belong to by faith in Jesus Christ. When you trust him, you get his family, the church (for better or worse!). The event of Sunday morning worship with preaching, prayer, singing, and fellowship is what the church does when it gathers, but family is what the church is.
“As a family, the New Testament authors call believers to love one another, bear with one another, forgive one another, and more than 50 additional ‘one another’ commands. The author of Hebrews writes to Christians: ‘Let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another’ (Heb. 10:24–25). When we neglect to meet together—now easier than ever before with livestreaming—we’re missing out on the ‘one anothering’ that occurs when the church gathers as family.”
Changing the online presentation of our worship service was not an easy decision to make. We realize that some in our congregation still need to consider health concerns when they decide whether to attend public gatherings. For this reason, we require masks for those who sit in the balcony on Sunday mornings, and we will still provide a recording of our services online. But our services will no longer be available for simultaneous viewing, and we will not invest as much effort as we have in the quality of the video and sound.
We do not want to send mixed messages to the congregation. It seems inconsistent for us to encourage people to gather publicly for worship while providing them with a convenient way to worship in isolation if they prefer. We feel that it is vitally important for Christians to do whatever they can to gather with others in the body of Christ.
In his classic book Life Together, Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote, “The physical presence of other believers is a source of incomparable joy and strength to the believer.” My hope is that this change to our live-streaming practices will prompt people to experience this “incomparable joy and strength” by encouraging them to attend church.
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