I showered and dressed in a pair of jeans and a tshirt, just like I was coming to church. It was a cool morning, so I got my coffee and plugged in my laptop and sat at the table on my front porch. It was a little weird, as neighbors walked by I wondered what they thought. "shouldn't he be in church right now?" they must have been asking. Little did they know: I WAS in church right now!
The first church I attended yesterday was Lifechurch.tv at 8am. They were doing a series called dinner & a movie, started with the campus pastor and a professional chef and a quick breakfast recipe (1 minute) - VERY creative! Went from there to live worship - they have such an awesome band - and really cool.
I really like how they put the CD cover under the viewer of the song that they are playing, so if you like it and want to click on it and buy it, you can easily do it.
I also really like the tabs to click on that are adjacent to the viewer. Because of this, you don't have to navigate away from the viewer in order to see message notes.
One of the things that jumped out to me was the REAL nature of the online community. As people entered into the chat room, the entire community welcomed them. And some spoke to each other much the same way as would happen in the hallway or atrium at a physical campus. Very cool and engaging. You aren't just watching, you are THERE.
The streaming was PERFECT! No delays, no jumping. (They use satellites and spent a gazillion dollars on it). The sound, lighting & camera work was stellar. The band encouraged you to participate in worship (sing and clap) no matter where you were - even if you are connected with a computer. I found it to be weird at first, but then, when the whole online community got involved, I found myself singing and worshiping with people all over the world. Some would even 'sing' the words as they typed them into the chat room. very cool. Very community.
The band was way cool, of course, and very good. But they also did 'old' music, with salsa. Like they did the song, "I Exalt Thee", but there was a break in it where they just cranked it up. Simple. Recognizable. But also attractive for those who are not used to church.
A tab gave you the option to 'watch in low quality' in case you don't have a lot of bandwidth.
When Craig Groeschel (Senior Pastor) came on, he briefly and gently invited folks to give, and under the viewer was a cool and soft giving tab. If I wasn't committed to PCC, I would have given right then and there. Craig also nudged folks to set up a regular giving (automatic). Didn't feel threatening at all (but I may be biased).
The movie they examined was "Walk the Line" about Johnny Cash.
He asked the question "How many of you like country music?" and under the viewer was a button to click to raise your hand and say 'I like it'. Incredibly engaging.
They played a long (7 minutes) clip from the movie. Some 1st timers at the church got upset and began to get vocal in the chatroom, started to say it wasn't really church. The community then kind of rallied to nudge and gently help those folks. One posted a link in the chatroom to help them see who Lifechurch.tv is and what they are trying to do.
There were several really powerful spiritual conversations happening in the chatroom. You had to multi-task in order to pay attention to the chatroom and watch and pay attention to the viewer at the same time. It was a new way to learn and 'go to church'.
At the end of the service, they gave an opportunity for folks to give their hearts to Jesus. After a prayer, they did a 'what's next' link. It was really cool. I clicked the link. We definitely need something like this. Check it out at http://whatsnextkit.tv/
I've always resisted a 'God in the Movies' series. But this message was very good, wove in and out of scenes in the movie, and Craig was shot 'on location' in various places - not on a stage. It felt a lot like a good summer church service. Maybe we should do a series like this next summer.