Live streaming services at Christ Church East Greenwich

Margaret Cave from Christ Church, East Greenwich shares some of her learning from the last few weeks live streaming services and their weekly Praise and Play pre school fun time.

I encourage you to see technology as your friend and not your enemy because it can work hard for you to make shared worship possible in this challenging time. I am a technophile, so I have enjoyed the challenge of leading the change to become virtual church for a season even though it has been demanding and extremely hard work.

Last week someone said to me the world is going to change forever and if we don’t keep up, we will be in danger of being left behind. In these fast-changing times, we need to be agile and take seriously the challenge of how the church is to proclaim afresh our faith in each generation.

So, how have we gone about it at Christ Church, Greenwich?

We have live-streamed via Facebook which also allows us to stream onto Facebook and put a link on the Church website.There are a couple of things that have given us real encouragement:

  • It is really encouraging to live stream on Facebook where you can see the hearts and thumbs up floating up the screen and everyone’s comments, good mornings and Amens.
  • I have had really good feedback particularly around including lots of other people making contributions to the service. There have been lots of views, comments, sharing and people putting on Facebook ‘watch’ parties.

The software:

We use Macs at Christ Church East Greenwich and have been using Ecamm Live to enable our live streaming. Ecamm Live is flexible with loads of functionality and it works for streaming on Facebook, YouTube and other platforms. It is available for a 14 day free trial and costs $12 per month and has great tutorial on YouTube so you can get to grips with it quickly and easily. If you want to buy it please use this link so I can receive commission which I will give back to the church https://www.ecamm.com/mac/ecammlive/?fp_ref=margaret84

Good preparation is key:

We have found that preparing in advance has really helped us in seeing what we can do and to do it as well as we can.

  • Think about your background view – what is on the wall behind you – move your furniture and make a good set – for example daffodils for Mothering Sunday or white lilies for Easter, a candle, an image on the wall
  • Use the YouTube tutorials to learn how to use overlays, add in pre-recorded videos and to switch between sources
  • Practice in advance – think about where to look so it is natural and where to have your notes – practice your voice too as its different talking to a screen and mic
  • Have all the pre-recorded videos ready in an open folder so you can drag them on quickly and easily
  • Quit all the other applications on your Mac so you don’t get any rogue noises when you are broadcasting AND put your phone onto ‘do not disturb’ or ‘aeroplane mode’

So far, I have used:

  • Background slide show with slides of the liturgy (PowerPoint saved as pdf and then added in as an overlay)
  • Foreground live camera feed in the corner of the screen in a circle
  • Dragged in pre-recorded videos of people reading, praying, doing ‘This Time Tomorrow’ and preaching – great way to engage members of the congregation
  • Dragged in pre-recorded songs and hymns from our own worship band which have been put together on garage band after sending round files and each person uploading their tracks
  • Scheduling the livestream from the software and sharing widely on Facebook and Twitter
  • The recording is automatically saved to Facebook and is saved to our YouTube channel – it is also embedded in the church website

Going forward, I will try:

  • Second camera  on a swan neck mini tripod for view of hands for Holy Communion (planned for Easter Sunday) or a craft demo (for Praise & Play) using the £2.99 app ‘Shoot’ which allows for filming from the back camera of an iPhone plugged into the Mac using a normal charging cable – easy to switch between Mac camera and iPhone camera feeds
  • Interviewing or including another person live in the service by skyping them into the live stream – planning to use for ‘This Time Tomorrow’.

I think it’s important to keep the live stream fresh with different faces, voices and using the technology to maximum effect.

See the Christ Church East Greenwich live stream services on Facebook https://tinyurl.com/CCEGfacebookvideos OR YouTube https://tinyurl.com/CCEGyoutubechannel OR from our website www.christchurcheastgreenwich.org.uk.

Pyjama Prayers – Jesus-centred fun from the comfort of home

What do you do when children are confined to home during this lockdown? How can we alleviate the strain on parents and families to provide round-the-clock supervision, home tutoring and entertainment?

At Ascension, we have developed Pyjama Prayers, a series of video clips for children which air every weekday at 5pm. We saw this crisis not as forcing us to reduce our output as a church, but as a chance to increase it. A chance for us to engage with young families in Balham and beyond and deliver fun and free worship right to your front room.

Families view the episodes live on YouTube. A great aspect of these videos is that they air live as it allows families to integrate it as a fixed part of their daily schedule. Routine and familiarity is an important aspect for helping small children learn. This live-ness has also acted to help build a strong community of families who log on each day and interact with each other in the chat box. It is amazing to see that the community-aspect of weekly church life can be replicated at home, even when families are physically isolated from one another.

Isaac hosts each episode along with his trusty puppet friend José. Each video contains some songs (which families are encouraged to sing along to), a bible story and some ‘chat time’ where parents and children can discuss the bible story and its meaning together. This is a really rich time where parents and children can take time out of their busy and often unpredictable schedule to connect with each other through the bible.

We have received some amazing feedback from both regular church families and families who are connecting with us for the first time. Parents say they love what we are doing and how we are drawing the whole family together in the midst of such an erratic time. Children are really loving it and we are seeing it help deepen their relationship with God. A comment from a child after watching a recent episode was; “I love God because he made the world, and the stars.”

We would so love for you to join us too! Pyjama Prayers airs every weekday on YouTube at 5pm, Just click on the link for Pyjama Prayers, Ascension Balham in YouTube to join in!

Revd Marcus Gibbs, Vicar Ascension, Balham

The changing nature of Timperley Church

“We want them to meet Jesus!”

This is not our vision statement, but it wouldn’t be a bad one for Timperley Church Redhill (TCR).  From it’s genesis, this has been our driving force.  Not to get people into “church” though that would be nice, but to create opportunities for people to meet Jesus, through His holy and life giving Spirit, by His Word.

The problem is, how do we do that?  How does the amazing message of the Gospel get behind the closed doors?  How is our proclamation heard when the streets are empty?  How do we share God’s love with the people we meet when there is no marketplace?  For TCR this last question is key, but we’ll come back to that.

First things

Let me introduce myself, my name is Aneal Appadoo and I am a curate in my fourth year of ordained ministry at Holy Trinity (HT) Church in Redhill, Surrey.  As part of my role I have the great privilege of leading a fresh expression congregational plant (TCR) down on the Timperley Gardens estate, located about 10 mins walk from the church, and in what follows I am going to give you a rough overview of the life of our plant, to give a bit of a case study to how a fresh expression of church might come into being, under three brief headings, Seeking, Finding, and Serving.

Seeking

Generally our church and parish feature well in most census and deprivation indexes, we are not a wealthy parish by any means, but we are not necessarily poor, however, there are a couple of pockets within our parish which are among the more deprived in Surrey, one of which is the Timperley Gardens estate

Going way back to before 2001, our PCC had a great heart for this area of our parish, and asked how we could best minister to this area of our parish, forming part of parish profile at the time.  Members of the congregation had been prayer walking around the estate, intentionally asking God what they should do there, feeling a burden for the people of the estate.

Under a new vicar, a curate joined the church in 2002, and, along with a large number of volunteers from the church knocked on every door around the estate with a survey, asking the residents how long they had lived here, what they liked about it – what was good, what could be better, and what the local church might do for them.  They also offered a Jesus video to anyone who wanted one – so the survey sought to understand both social, and spiritual needs.

These questionnaires were collated and interrogated, and they revealed that predominantly the estate had two main demographics: 1. An ageing population who felt isolated and had poor mobility; 2. A great number of young families, with a high number of young mothers.  It also flagged up that the residents felt there was no community space on the estate.

The church investigated this and found that in the heart of the estate, there was a scout hut that had little contact with the estate itself – and after positive conversations with the scouts, this became the hub for what HT would do.

Finding

Having established what the needs of this community might be, HT began initially by pulling together a team that started with a coffee morning with board games and a soft toy area.  The hope was that this might meet all three needs – serving the elderly, and young families in a community space.  In reality though, this service was only taken up by the elderly who really enjoyed it, it was a wonderful service into the community, but it wasn’t church.

Serving

Over the years a new curate joined HT who invested a great deal of time into the estate.  Under her leadership an Under 5’s group was started in 2007, with a Saturday service, Timperley Family Church, starting a little later that year.  This was a model of “café” style church that sought to be accessible to the people of the estate.

Under the next curate they sought to engage with a great number of young people that congregated around the estate, and so started a youth club.  But as one ministry starts, sadly another ends, and the coffee morning was soon stopped.  Also, they began an annual summer party around this time, to be a blessing to the community.

Around 2014 the service moved to a Sunday, and midweek social evening outreach service was also started up.

“We want them to meet Jesus?”

I began to lead the team around September 2015, and a big part of my role has been to think through how the church, now called Timperley Church Redhill (TCR), serves the community it is in now.  How do we get them to meet Jesus?

My focus initially was on discipling those who come to the church from the estate, so I changed the look and feel of the service and brought the bible teaching to the forefront – with discussions after the teaching and small group prayer.  This was a change from the more child focused service we had become due to who God was sending us at the time.  We have undertaken 1:1 bible studies, and our first evangelistic course.

Around early 2017 we noticed a large decline in numbers as key families moved away, and people lost the vision for the plant, or perhaps in truth, we became a little vision-less.  After some analysis and reflection, I came to see, that for the last few years TCR had failed to attract, and them retain people who were coming on a Sunday morning.  The loss of key families was hurting us, but almost everyone who was coming at the time was also worshipping at another church.  We actually had very few indigenous members.

This brings us back to our initial findings of that first survey, and the lack of a community space on the estate.  Looking at the growth of the early church in the bible, it was often the strategy that the apostles would go to the busy centres of life where the people gathered,  starting with the synagogues, and then the market place.  They would then proclaim the gospel and perform miracles, before gathering as church with those who the Lord was adding to their number.  So where is the market place within which we can proclaim?

In short, there isn’t one.  We’d played with Facebook, played with our Sunday service, offered bacon sandwiches, all the time trying to get people into church.  But in the summer of 2017 we changed our methods.  With the help of a diocesan mission grant we had a year of events – quiz nights, family movies, pray spaces – all geared around creating that market place where we could come into contact with the community, and introduce them to our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.  And our numbers have been good, with over 160 people joining us for our annual summer party, up to 50 coming along for a family movie, 60 at a community lunch, and 4 ladies joining a recent cookery course initiative.

In addition to this, through another mission grant we have been able to appoint a part time Community Outreach Worker for the next few years, whose job is simply to have coffee with people and share Jesus.  This post-holder, Jan, actually has been a core member of TCR since its inception, and has made a great start in her first few months.

TCR on Sundays no longer meets the needs of the estate, and so again we have spent a long time in prayer and discussion, and listening to people living on the estate, trying to understand what God would have us do next.  And it seems good to us to begin a new monthly “messy church-esque” service on a midweek afternoon.  We are confident that this is where God is currently leading us.  In addition, 3 of the women we have been reaching over the last 3 years are moving ever closer to the centre of church life, to a point where we are hoping to be able to more closely disciple them.

There is much more we have done, including a children’s bible study, children’s camps, helping a member of our church with her benefits, and so on.

I guess the key thing to say through all of this, is that the church has constantly re-evaluated what it is doing, working hard to think through how we interact with the community God has called us to live amongst. Listening to people who live in the community is key.

We have constantly wrestled with how we live out what means to be like Paul, when he says that he was “a Greek to the Greeks” – and actually this involves great pain, toil and sacrifice.  Letting go of the things we’d like to do, how we’d rather spend our Sunday’s or midweek evenings – so that we can minister the Gospel to those who live on the estate, so that we can proclaim the love of God, through his Son, by His Spirit to every resident.

It’s hard work, and we would greatly value your prayers, but it’s also such a joyful privilege!  I would strongly encourage each of you to think this through in your own church context, and hope what I have said might help you in that.

Rev. Aneal Appadoo