Co-written by Pastor Austin and Matt Fahnestock
At Aldersgate Church, our goal is to design Sunday morning worship services that will help us to see God revealed in the world, in each other, and in our own lives – compelling us to respond to God in the world, and to each other, with our lives. We offer our best to make sure our gathered times of worship are focused and approached with passion and excellence, always remembering it is not by our own strength, but only by God’s acceptance and by the power of the Holy Spirit that we are able to worship.
For the past year, we have had a small, yet dedicated, group of volunteers who have given undefinable energy, countless hours, and physical labor that enables us to worship together as a church family every week. Thanks to their creative work, we have been able to remain connected as a body of believers through worship during these trying times.
This effort has even allowed us to open our doors to people from other parts of the world who would not have otherwise been able to attend Aldersgate Church. Over the past few months, this team of volunteers has pulled together and used our new livestreaming to make our online worship experiences as close to a typical “in-person” worship service as possible. Operating this equipment and accomplishing other behind-the-scenes work is an essential part of continuing to have the opportunity to worship together on a Sunday morning.
Here’s where we are now…
Navigating the countless changes during the global pandemic has demanded more from our team of volunteers than one could even imagine. We have come to realize that livestreaming two separate services on a Sunday morning is unsustainable with the limited volunteers we have; which would essentially cause them to burnout. Not to mention, relying on the same small team of people from week to week does not set us up for success. If just one or two of those volunteers were to be unavailable or have an unexpected emergency, the challenges would be too great to manage and might lead to a cancelation of online services that week.
Furthermore, we have learned so much about online worship from our experiences during the pandemic: some has come from “baptism by fire,” some from helpful webinars and trainings, but much of our education has come from the helpful feedback of those watching and participating in online worship services. This feedback has proven to be invaluable, leading to the increased creativity of our team and propelling us into offering a renewed worship experience each week.
It is true, online worship is not the same as in-person. However, leaning into this difference has taught us the importance of not only replicating what happens during in-person worship, but more importantly, embracing the unique opportunities online worship presents. Since online worship is distinctly different from worshipping in the same room, it must be approached differently. This adjustment has inspired us to discover new ways of worshipping together.
Therefore, we have decided to take advantage of this situation and worship God in a new way at Aldersgate Church. From now on, whenever online worship is the only option available, we will livestream one church service for online worship at 10am on Sunday mornings. This will be in place of our current Traditional and Contemporary services until we are able to resume in- person worship. Hence, the reason we will call it One Church: Online Worship.
This new One Church: Online Worship Service will provide us the opportunity to apply what has been learned during the pandemic while intentionally developing it into an even more meaningful experience for everyone. This new format will also allow our faithful volunteers the necessary space to breathe and rejuvenate, so that when we return to in-person worship services, they will have the stamina needed to continue providing an online option.
Here’s how you can serve…
First and most importantly, join us in prayer.
– Pray for the continued safety of our congregation, especially those who spend extra time physically present on Sunday mornings and throughout the week.
– Pray for God to reveal new things to you – new things about yourself, about God, or about worship.
Second, if you feel comfortable being physically present on a Sunday morning and have even the slightest willingness or interest to learn more about how our technology works and where you may be able to help, contact our new Worship Arts Coordinator, Matt Fahnestock. Remember, the key factor for Aldersgate Church to sustain online worship is within our volunteers who have filled a variety of roles with a variety of skill levels. All are welcome!
In closing, let us remember the words from Isaiah 43… “Do not call to mind the former things, or ponder things of the past. Behold, I will do something new.” One Church: Online Worship is new and God is at work among us. Friend, which role will you help fill as God does something new in and through you?