How Can we Pull This Off?

Here’s a post I wrote for The Church Multiplication Network …

By Todd Bishop, Pastor of The Point at Westbury in Long Island, New York.

On Friday, December 18 we got the weather report for Sunday. It was not good. The forecast was one of the most hated things any pastor wants to hear – “We are going to get about 12-18 inches of snow starting Saturday night into Sunday morning.” I hate that! I prepared a teaching. I was ready to go.

What were we going to do? Many churches started by cancelling their early services. Others cancelled all of them. “But I prepared a message,” I thought,  “I don’t want to be like every other church out there.” At that point, I made a decision. I was not sure how we were going to pull it off. But the decision was made. We decided to do a live stream of a teaching from my living room. We called it, “The Point: Blizzard Edition.”

I brought all the gear from our office to my house. It didn’t take much – a camera, microphone and a great computer. We staged an area in front of our fireplace. It looked tight (I even attempted to get the fire going). Then we started to spread the word. We used every form of non-print communication possible – social networks, email blast and blog posts.

We provided two stream times. I was nervous. Sounds crazy, but I was. It was the first time we were trying something like this.  Were there going to be any technical difficulties? What if we lose power due to the heavy snow? So many possible scenarios. My heart was pumping. My mind racing. Would this be a colossal failure or success?

Early on Sunday morning we did a trial run with the staff. We divided responsibilities. Our Assistant Pastor, Nick Osso, posted scriptures that we referenced in the 25-minute teaching. Our Worship Arts Pastor, Micki Barreto, threw out some “amens” in the chat room and referenced how to make a donation. Our Administrative Assistant, Katherine Woitko, chatted about upcoming kids’ events. It was a total team effort. We were ready!

What was the result? Fifty-seven people logged in to our first stream and 41 logged in to our second. Ninety-eight people were able to have a faith experience because we used the technology out there. On a side note, 98 does not include families that watched the service together. And there were many! We heard dozens of reports via email, Facebook and Twitter messages.

So our staff made a decision that anytime there is inclement weather we will live stream without hesitation. Here’s the deal. There were a few churches that attempted services. We had more than many did viewing from the comfort of their home. My priority during dangerous weather has to be the safety of our people.

Someone from our church commented, “How long will it be before other churches on Long Island do this, too?” They already started. Several churches from across New York State and even few from across the country have heard our story and asked, “How can we make this happen?”

I am so glad that The Point at Westbury is setting a standard and not just keeping up. There is so much technology out there for the church to use. We must embrace it.

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