One Year Of Online Church: looking back and looking forwards

Today marks the one year anniversary of Welcome Church moving online, and looking back we can see that God has been faithful to us all the way. This week I’m going to create some blog posts to talk about where we’ve been and our thoughts for the future as a church.

On this day last year – March 22nd – we streamed our Sunday meeting for the first time because of Coronavirus. Little did we know what the following year would bring when we set out on what we believed would be a short period of not meeting together in person.

During that week – with me in a slight panic – Jo and Owen produced two worship songs for us, Darren worked out a thousand technical issues and made it all work, and Simon Field did the filming and editing. When we finished filming the preach I asked Simon what he thought and he replied,

“I dunno. I guess I was hoping for something that would bring people a bit of hope.

OUCH!

Simon wasn’t wrong though, so we scrapped it on the spot and started again. You can hear the final (positive!) result here if you’re interested. We streamed the meeting though Facebook Live and You Tube because we didn’t have the excellent online platform we use now. I remember sitting at home watching it and feeling pretty emotional.

Let’s take this opportunity to say thank you

There are so many people in our church who’ve worked incredibly hard this year to make online church life possible. Some of the things they’ve done include:

  • Filming
  • Editing & mixing
  • Subtitling
  • Preaching
  • Leading worship
  • Recording songs
  • Hosting meetings
  • Designing graphics
  • Redesigning our website for online church life
  • Learning to use Zoom
  • Setting up WelcomeChurch.Online
  • Signing (for the deaf community)
  • Creating, editing and posting daily encouragement videos
  • Running Life Groups online
  • Launching Forerunners online
  • Running Alpha online
  • Running courses online including the Bible course, Prayer course, Marriage Course, Marriage preparation, Belonging, Believing and more
  • Leading prayer meetings online
  • Leading communion online
  • Delivering kids work online
  • Delivering youth work online, including the much appreciated Youth Alpha
  • Continuing to serve the poor and those in need of support through various Welcome Works, including Debt counselling, Life Skills, Fresh Start, the Money Course, Welcome Families Together, Go Rendang, Useful Wood, and more
  • Delivering hampers and gifts to many at Christmas
  • Delivering vouchers to families in need during the national free school meals ‘debacle’
  • Delivering pastoral care online (four words that describe a ridiculously huge task including – amongst many other things – helping the struggling, the worried, the bereaved, the sick, the dying, the anxious, the depressed, the suicidal, those with marriage issues, the unemployed and those in debt or distress in so many different ways, in addition to the many who were simply needing a bit of godly spiritual advice or direction)
  • Phoning the vulnerable to keep in touch
  • Running Covid secure weddings
  • Running Covid secure funerals
  • Running our social media
  • Running our finances
  • Running around the world (and raising £32,000 for Your Sanctuary)
  • Setting up our live stream (again, four words to describe a ridiculous amount of work and a crazy amount of cable)
  • Delivering live stream meetings technically each week
  • Helping new people connect and integrate with the church
  • Helping us to stay covid secure
  • Maintaining our buildings inside and out

And a whole lot more I haven’t mentioned … including the unforgettable ‘Straight from the heart fruit challenge’

Let’s all say thank you

You probably know at least one person who’s worked hard this year to make Welcome Church possible during the pandemic. Why not take a moment to show them your appreciation this week somehow?

Personally I want to take this opportunity to say thank you myself to everyone involved.

I also want to thank everyone who’s given generously so we could continue to function and exist as a church.

And most of all, let’s give thanks to God who has been our strength and help all along the way.

“Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from him. 

Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken” (Psalm 62v1-2)

The Future

Tomorrow I’ll say a bit more about what’s likely to be ahead for us