It was good to hear everyone’s input on our initial foray into hybrid ministry! I think your ideas will be really helpful. I have asked Devan to pool the responses we captured and share them here. They are unedited, and maybe not always completely clear. But they are the data we collected. I believe that both the Worship SLG and the Community Life SLGs will want to begin working with this information as they figure out how to move us forward in our hybrid times.
I do have two immediate responses.
First, I was startled how everyone who has mostly been online began their comments with some version of “I hope we will continue the hybrid ministry…” I guess I want to make it clear. Our discussion WAS NOT because there is any thought of discontinuing our hybrid efforts. Instead, it was just our effort to begin collecting input so we can make our hybrid efforts more effective, successful, better.
I hope that you will keep thinking and keep telling us any ideas you have about how we can strengthen our ministries.
Second, I was really amazed by the percentage of your suggestions that are not about the actual technology of our “broadcasts.” Instead, you all are mostly talking about other changes in our rituals, procedures or habits that might make those broadcasts more effective.
One of the new realities of our hybrid life is that it’s harder to know what others are experiencing. That was, of course, always true. There is an old joke that if you have 3 congregationalists in a room, there will be as many as 6 different realities and 12 different opinions.
Every time I am in front of a congregation, I know we all are of “different sorts and conditions,” and that means I’m trying to lead worship for some who are mourning while others are thankful or fearful or jubilant. And many of us – most of us?– can be in different (even contradictory!) sorts and conditions within ourselves on any Sunday morning!
We realized quickly during the pandemic that people were having different experiences of zoom because they were on a pc or a tablet or their phone. I have two Hewlett Packard laptops, and there are things on zoom that I cannot do on the Chromebook that the bigger computer handles fine.
It’s a new fact, we don’t always know the experiences of people sharing in our worship since we are no longer in the same room. For example, I hadn’t known that Skip and Vicky have had sound problems that, I believe, are at their end, and they had tried to let us know via chat to computers where no one is checking the chat! We can figure out how to set up a Tech Support Person for such situations.
But what I did hear from our hybrid discussion on Sunday that was good news – for the most part, the basic technology is working! We know there are some tricks we need to figure out still (like how to do a split screen so you can see the words of a hymn and people in the Sanctuary singing it simultaneously). But the tech team and I feel our struggles with our capabilities more than you do. I have tried to reassure them and myself that this is true. You confirmed it. Thanks again to Tony, Woody and Adam. Soon we hope to be adding to their ranks.
Third, I am wondering if in this new hybrid world, where we are not regularly gathering together in one room, maybe we need to develop some new disciplines or habits for staying in touch. We certainly did this effectively during the pandemic lockdowns with our companionship groups. I’m not sure what might work best. But, as an example, what if everyone took on a commitment to contact one person a week from church during the week, a different person each week. Over time that could strengthen and reinforce the web of grace that holds us together and supports us. It’s just an example. Maybe Community Life SLG can work on this too!
It’s strange and new times. But it’s exciting to figure out together…
Notes from Break-out Groups – Hybrid Worship Reflections
-We need a person to contact during the service for individual technical support. Not sure who to PM with issues. Skip spoke to feeling “disempowered” due to a lack of technical skills. Jane suggested a designated “tech support” person.
-We spoke about different quality of sound depending on device used to access.
-Bobbie said it would be nice to see more views of the congregation. Also noted that when the bulletin or hymns were being shared, it takes up most of the screen, so we can’t see the congregation or speaker.
-Ibidun made a suggestion of some indication that service was over. Sometimes online, it is unclear when the service has ended and they can log off.
-Mostly, people were very positive about their experiences and very appreciative of the tech efforts.
-Transportation like in Star Trek?
-Worry how the community feels to visitors when they come in person, because we’re wearing masks and still figuring out tech. We might be less welcoming and the demographic of those who are coming in person is not the full broad range in diversity (a lot more grey hair as a percentage of the total in person than there used to be.)
-To be a zoom visitor is even harder than to be an in-person visitor. Are the zoom visitors the older demographic? Younger people might like zoom worship better, but they might not know it exists.
-Impression that younger women have been visiting on zoom, but it’s hard to tell because a lot of them aren’t showing their faces.
-Not unusual for someone to welcome them in the chat, if they’re visitors.
-Everyone should have their camera on if possible for a portion of service.
-In person people: remember the habits of pre-covid times of how to welcome people and make sure they feel at ease, despite the masks. Bringing back hospitality is a big step.
-One thing that might help for people on zoom can see people who are reading Scripture and presenting, but thought given to get other people on camera who don’t have a formal role in the worship service, so that those on zoom see up close and personal other people who are physically present in the sanctuary.
-Not seeing just the back of people’s heads, see the people from the front to see people better.
-When they started working with setting up the tech, Billi had suggestions— fix the way we see people, whether they’re in the front or in the seat, have an “owl” to get a 360 view
-Freedom to go all the way around, to see full picture of what’s happening all the time
-One of the nice things was that when everyone was on zoom people would stick around after the service, so it would be nice if there was a set up in the sanctuary, or in the narthex or in the living room so that people in person could talk directly to the people on zoom after church, kind of like we’re doing now with this meeting.
-One of the things we used to be known for is that no one would leave without feeling welcome, and we need to think about how to do that on zoom, we need to communicate to the world that comes to see us is making people feel like they’re meant to be here, extend and accept who people are to be friendly with them. Might not pick that up in zoom.
- “Impersonalize” of zoom. “Feel separated” when in Sanctuary from folks on Zoom.
- Can we use a phone in Sanctuary?
- “Miss folks on Zoom”
- Zoom is a great opportunity, e.g. folks from a distance or in hospital.
- Mid-day meeting and other Zoom-only meetings are great.
- Computer terminal in fellowship hour?
- Periodic ‘all church’ Zoom
-Hard to understand what someone wearing a mask is saying.
-Music is hard to head on Zoom
-Hope tech continues to improve for those on Zoom.
-Masks should be optional because not consistent to take them off downstairs to eat, etc.
-Would like to be able to broadcast worship service on Facebook.
-Would like church’s website to offer weekly video clips of service, especially the sermon.
-Liturgical banners/ colors for space where the flying Bible was formerly located, or historical collage wallpaper.