Local churches find ways to connect with congregations from afar
Community above isolation.
That has been a focus at Midway Church for more than a year, but it hits a new chord now, while the world faces the coronavirus pandemic, forcing churches to preach to their congregations remotely.
“The church is not a facility that we assemble in, but it is a body, that even disconnected, we’re just having to be creative about how we stay connected,” Lead Pastor John Theisen said.
While some churches are choosing to broadcast live sermons, John said, prerecording the church’s message seems to work better for Midway.
“So far this has been OK,” John said. “I’ve had friends at other churches that tried to do a live thing and actually had buffering issues, which was a surprise.”
Because most of the groups that regularly meet exceed the 10-person limit that was in place before the stay-at-home order went into effect, Midway’s pastoral staff was coming up with creative ways to connect the members from afar.
“Through Zoom and Facetime, they’ve gotten real creative, and we’ve heard from most of the groups that they’ve had good experiences over the last few weeks,” John said.
Religious freedom is a cornerstone right in the United States. It’s covered by the first amendment: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”
Meeting as a congregation is also covered by another segment of that amendment, which grants “the right of the people peaceably to assemble,” according to the text of the Bill of Rights.
“We should show deference, grace and patience, even when people interpret what they’re looking at differently and come to different conclusions,” John said. “Even within our congregation, we actually had people that were a little upset and managing that tension, we want to do all we can as leaders, knowing that you’re never going to keep everybody happy.
“That separation has nothing to do with control here; it has to do with cooperation.”
During the filming on March 24, John and Kim, his wife who is also the office manager and the women’s ministry director, were in a two week isolation following their return from the African nation of Tanzania.
“If we think it’s difficult managing coronavirus as a pandemic here, in a third-world environment in a city of 5 million people, everything’s public transportation—social distancing is a challenge here,” John said. “There, it was just getting started before we left.”
John had asked Worship and Creative Arts Pastor Scott Harrison and Young Adults Pastor Chris Todd, who were serving as the film crew, to bring a train whistle with them “for a little comic relief.”
“Make us feel a little bit more at home,” John said, referring to the train horn that blows regularly during Sunday services.
Figuring out how to have services available that reach all of the age ranges that Midway serves has been a bit of a challenge, John said.
The four were struggling with the social distancing requirement, too. Harrison and Todd gave Kim air hugs from across the back patio at the Theisens’ home.
Both Harrison and Todd talked about how strange it was to have to practice social distancing with the Theisens while seeing them for the first time since their trip.
“I think it’s good for people to see that we’re still living,” Harrison said.
He and Todd helped the couple prepare for the recording.
“Can I turn this way a little bit more?” Kim said as she got set up for the recording.
Soon afterward, the Theisens started speaking to their church family.
Those who are interested in seeing the video sermons from Midway, visit www.midwaychurch.org/join-service.
This is not an exhaustive list, but here are links to access some additional local services:
•St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church: facebook.com/St-Thomas-Aquinas-Catholic-Church-948558015211802/
•Grace Point Nazarene Church: facebook.com/gracepointnazchurch
•Covenant Church Cross Roads: covenantchurch.snappages.site/media
•First Rock Fellowship: firstrockfellowship.org/
•First Baptist Church, Krugerville: facebook.com/FBCKrugerville
•First United Methodist Church: facebook.com/pilotpointfumc
•Providence Village Church: facebook.com/pvc380
•Pilot Point Church of Christ: facebook.com/Pilot-Point-Church-of-Christ-957099940990735
•Aubrey Country Church: facebook.com/Aubrey-Country-Church-2043304452553644