I want to give you all a peek behind the camera. I want to share with you some basic tenets of why we make our online services the way we do and how we do it each week. First I will share with you the overview, and then I will break it down into the worship service components of liturgy readings, music, and the rest.
I hope that this will help you understand some more of what is going on and draw you into worshiping our good God together as one, even though we are distanced from one another.
There are two main rules that we have employed as a team when making these videos:
This is really important for a few reasons. First we want to make sure that what we are trying to communicate, whether that is a welcome or a sermon, can be heard clearly and easily. There is nothing worse than watching a video that is hard to listen to. It is much easier to watch a video that is difficult to watch but easy to listen to. Secondly, because much of what is happening on a Sunday is primarily auditory, the the video quality is secondary. We need to hear the Gospel preached, not see the preacher; we need to worship along with the worship leaders, not just watch them sing and play; and we need to hear God greet us and send us, not only see it.
You may have noticed in the first and second weeks of online services that we recorded very much like a talk show or a podcast. We did that very intentionally because we wanted to add some normalcy and comfort to a tumultuous time in the life of the church and parishioners. The circle of chairs was designed to match the circle you were sitting in, so it felt like we were all doing this together. That motive was clear, defined, and well intentioned; but as you may have noticed, our services shifted along with our theology. Increased physical distancing measures were also partly to blame for this.
All that to say, we wanted to use the medium of video to remind us that we are not gathered in the sanctuary together each week for worship, but separated in our homes. This is why we started recording more by ourselves at homes, and when do record in the church, we want to show the emptiness of the pews and the building.
The empty pews are a reminder that we are not there together as we long to be.
These two tenets of online services are most complex when it comes to worship. To keep quality audio that is easy to sing to and listen to, our worship leaders record their audio digitally on a computer and use their phones to record the video. This ensures that all the audio is mastered well enough for worship and consistent.
The video in the homes is simply a reminder that we are not together. You may notice that some of the videos are clearer than others, and that is for two reasons: one, not everyone has a great camera to record the video, and two, we would rather spend time making sure it sounds good before it looks good.
Recording audio is where things get a little tricky. Not everyone knows the nuance of audio recording and the best practices for recording with their iphone. We try to send out directives to the volunteers to ensure a quality recording, but it is not always ensured.
We want videos of peoples' homes and backyards again for the constant reminder on the screen that we are not together.
The best way to ensure quality is keep a tight group of people who know what they’re doing when it comes to recording audio and video, but that isn't very much fun. As we have more people involved in our online worship services, the quality gets sacrificed a little bit. We work hard to make sure everything is as good as possible for two main reasons. First, as mentioned earlier, it needs to be easy to listen to if we are expecting families to sit and worship together in their homes. Secondly, many volunteers are giving up hours of their weeks to record worship songs and readings for our services each week, and we want them to sound as good as possible to honour their service to the body of Christ.
Most importantly, we want to continue singing praises to our good God, together, in whatever way that looks, but while also reminding each one of us that this is not normal, and we long for the day when we can gather together again as a congregation.