Vineyard Churches UK & Ireland

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Virtual Church “Felt like a big hug”

Harrogate Vineyard

Over the past couple of weeks, a new reality has started to set in. We are becoming accustomed to meetings via video-call, online school lessons and catching up with friends over the phone. And it’s not surprising that church has changed too! Social distancing measures mean that we can’t gather together in person, and so for many Vineyard churches across the UK and Ireland Live-streaming has been a route to stay connected with their communities!

We chatted to Nik and Maggie Gee to find out how live streaming is going at Harrogate Vineyard.

 “We used Facebook Live to stream our church service because it was simple to run and easy for people to invite friends to join using the virtual ‘watch party’ feature. We set up a simple tripod and an iPhone and after a few practices, (one where we videoed ourselves sideways by accident!!) we were ready to go. The service itself was concise, with three simple live worship songs led by Nik on his guitar and a 15 minute talk from Maggie. We emailed out the song words to our church beforehand so they could sing along. 

The response we had was a bit mind blowing! Over 1,100 people viewed the first video and we had some fantastic responses from all over the country, and abroad! One member of our church set up a new Facebook group to invite old school friends who don’t currently go to church, and lots of them tuned in and watched. Another guy felt confident enough to share the link to the Times Online comments page. We’ve had a big increase in people from church inviting their friends and work colleagues who don’t know Jesus to ‘church’, because they found it so easy to share the video, and lots of their friends have responded so positively. Nurses and NHS workers who felt busy, distant and alone were able to connect, even from their workplace, and people isolated due to disability or illness were joining in.  We have had connections from those who have been afraid to go to church and returned the following week too! We’ve had contacts through social media and have been able to pray for people who are anxious, ill and afraid. One person commented, “it’s like a big hug just happened!”.

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