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It was surreal to lead worship in an empty building this past Sabbath morning. The physical absence of the community was palpable. Although I don't take gathering for granted, I was, in some ways, more aware of those with whom I was worshipping that I often am when we're in the same space. In a sense, we were more present to one another in our absence than we are when we're together. 

It's interesting how often the reverse is true - how frequently we share space without being fully present in it, much less to one another. Our portable, digital devices allow us to be physically present but mentally absent. Technology can, in this way, exacerbate what is already true: just being in the same space doesn't mean we're a community; simply being in the pews or chairs on Sabbath morning doesn't mean we're engaged in worshipping together; and merely being physically close to one another doesn't mean we're truly connecting. In practice, social proximity and social isolation often go hand in hand. 

So it is my hope and prayer that during this time of necessary social distancing, we can rehearse ways of being intentionally and inclusively present to our church and broader communities.
Digital Resources

We want our church to come back stronger and more unified from this experience. Normally we talk about how digital technologies are a powerful means to scale up traditional ministry and evangelism, but COVID-19 has pushed the need for digital to be the priority. Here are several resources we think you will find useful to help migrate your worship service and community online. We'll keep this page updated as we add more resources:

Digital Resources
The Adventist Giving App

As most churches will be going virtual this weekend we want to continue to give your congregation the opportunity to participate in the worship in giving including local church budget. The Adventist Giving App is a wonderful solution for your virtual services. The Apps are available in both iOS Appstore and Android's Google Play store.  Just search using keyword "AdventistGiving" to download the App to your phone or tablet.
Live Streaming Worship

Best Practices for Adventist Worship (BP): Most churches do not have a media staff to help them stream during these weeks of necessary social distancing. How were you able to stream this past Sabbath without a staff to support you?

Matthew Lucio (ML): We have fantastic volunteers in Peoria. When we made the call to close our church, it was late Friday afternoon. Our streaming tech lead, Gregg, lay awake that night excited about the challenge. We settled on a two-hour stream and had a basic schedule done before I went to bed. Three of us gathered Sabbath morning and came up with a logistical list of things that needed to get done before we started streaming. We expected Satan to cause trouble and he did. But God troubled our troubler.
Live Streaming Worship

Best Practices for Adventist Worship (BP): You were streaming your entire worship gathering at Crosswalk long before this pandemic. Were there any changes you made in light of having an empty building?

Isai Moran and Jay Wilson from Crosswalk (CW): Crosswalk was already doing something unprecedented in the Adventist tradition. We have groups meeting across the nation in a "multi-site" model that rely on the Redlands campus to provide content. Three of these groups are on the east coast - Chattanooga, TN, Northeast Atlanta, GA, and Clinton, MA - and because of the timezone difference they are not able to live-stream content into their services.

Because of this unique situation, we are forced to create content ahead of services. Pastor Tim goes into an empty room typically on Tuesday or Thursday of the weeks prior to any given service, and preaches his sermon to an empty room. Chattanooga is our oldest remote campus in the east coast timezone so we have been doing this empty-room model for over a year. That certainly gives Pastor Tim an unexpected advantage in this content delivery model during this crisis.
Live Streaming Worship 
Live Streaming Children's Programming: an Interview with Beverly Maravilla from La Sierra University Church

Best Practices for Adventist Worship (BP):  Many churches streamed their worship services on Sabbath. I noticed that you streamed children's sabbath school as well. When did you make the decision to do this and what was the thinking behind it?

Beverly Maravilla (BM): We decided Wednesday night after our church board took the vote to close church. The youth pastor at La Sierra University Church (Dave Toogood) and myself decided to put our energies together and create a family centered program knowing that families would be gathered and would appreciate something for the younger people in the room.
Live Streaming Worship
What It's Like to Watch at Home: an Interview with Jo Cordero from Loma Linda Academy

Best Practices for Adventist Worship (BP): In order to help flatten the curve of COVID-19's rapid spread, many churches across North America streamed worship services from largely empty buildings. Most people who tuned in probably watched one service. You watched 50. Were you surprised at the diversity of worship experiences you observed?

Jo Cordero (JC): This was the first time that I really got to be at home during Sabbath so I was quite excited to see what everyone was doing. I first opened up my social media feed and started seeing all of my local churches' streams. As I watched, I began to hop around the different churches and saw a variety of live streams. So I decided to open up around 5 services on my computer. Before I knew it, I was pulling up 7-10 new streams at a time throughout the day. I'm not confident it was a solid 50 but it was definitely around that number.

It was surprisingly interesting to see the variety of ways each church curated a worship experience for their congregation in the context that this was not a "normal" live stream.
Live Streaming Worship
As the pastor of three quite small churches (averaging fifteen, twenty-five, and forty, respectively), I try to use technology in the effort to reach the members in my district and to bring them together. While we've pulled off low-budget streaming at times for various events, regularly streaming services from any of our locations has proved to be a challenge we're not currently up for. But we also live in a part of the world where church closings due to severe weather is a reality.

Something I and my friend, and Milwaukee area colleague Pastor Sheldon Bryan have done during snow and ice storms is live streaming from home. We've co-led live Sabbath School streams, where he fields the questions from those tuning in live, and I do my best to teach the lesson and address those live questions. Afterward, I've prepared a sermon and preached on a separate solo stream. Typically for these streams we've simply used our built-in laptop webcams and a pair of headphones with a built-in mic.
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Staying Connected
Interactive Resources Available this Week 

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