On September 4th St Mary’s will play host to @ChurchLive – a year-long initiative by the Church of England to stream services from different churches each week. Our 10:30am and 4:30pm services will be sent out into the ether. It’s been running for a while now and we can probably expect around 500 people to take a look.
It’s been an interesting exercise in self-reflection, thinking about how we will respond to this opportunity. What’s the purpose of interacting with people in this way on Twitter, using an app called Periscope. Are we seeking to connect with those who do not go to church? Are we sharing our church with the wider church? Are we just trying to be ‘with in’ in some excrutiatingly embarrassing churchy way – inevitably proving the exact opposite.
We’ve decided to go with the services planned before we were allocated this date by the Church of England media team and try to share a good example of what we usually do. Inevitably there will be some extra internal pressure by those involved in the services that week – aware of the larger congregations. But we hope that anyone coming along in the weeks following will not find it all that different.
For us, one of the potential outcomes may be regular streaming of services for the benefit of church members stuck at home. We have a number of house-bound people unable to make it to the church building each week. One of my ideas is that we could provide each of them with a tablet computer each week, connecting them with us. But can we make it simple enough for everyone to be able to access it. We also have a few church members who live abroad for significant parts of the year, others on holiday. Wouldn’t it be great for them to remain more connected. It may be simply that video becomes part of our sharing – delivering DVDs of the Sunday service to the housebound during the week.
So watch this space, or better, visit www.periscope.tv/ChurchLive on the morning of Sunday 4th September.