contributed by David Malone, Cherokee Village UMC Lay Leader and technical team coordinator
Like many churches, Cherokee Village United Methodist Church did not have an active online presence prior to the pandemic. We used Facebook to post about special events, but we were limited to posting pictures with an occasional video. That all changed with the COVID pandemic. We found our sanctuary and classrooms empty. That’s when we decided we wouldn’t stop getting the message of Jesus Christ into the world.
We were complete novices at streaming worship. Often our pastor would record a message, add in prerecorded music, then schedule a post on Facebook. We kept thinking of how we could grow our outreach and a team of volunteers working with the pastors developed a plan.
First, we imagined just what we needed to share each week. The message on Sunday was a given, but what about Bible study, Wednesday evening service, Sunday School, and children’s ministry. Our administrative board meetings and others needed to be shared as well.
The team of volunteers developed a children’s ministry based on a Toucan. The theme is “if Toucan, you can.” Each week a video message and craft are presented by our children’s coordinator. Crafts are mailed a month in advance so the children can pull out a week’s craft and watch the message and prayer online. We now have kits being mailed across the country as word spreads about this wonderful ministry.
We live stream two worship services on Sunday as well as on Wednesday evening. People all over the community and in several states from Florida, Texas, Indiana, Iowa, California, and others join us. Our adult Sunday School class is offered via Zoom and Facebook live. Our classmates join us from their homes in the community, hotel rooms, campgrounds, and cars.
Our homebound members also find they can feel a part of worship as well. We strive to give everyone online a full worship experience, not just a video of a sermon. We have ways they can safely give electronically and truly be an active member.
We continue to work on improvements as the ministries grow. We are not perfect and sometimes technical issues happen. We try to keep improving and growing through our online presence. Our call to make disciples has grown from our church into the world. God is Great!