An upcoming webinar as well as a newly released publication will serve as tools for ministry, offering examples of good practices from churches across the world that are taking their ministry and services online because of COVID-19.
Webinar: new ways of being the church
Responding to the needs expressed by the fellowship to explore what it means to be church in this unusual time, the World Council of Churches (WCC) is coordinating a webinar on 29 April at 15:00 CET. The webinar will bring inspiration and knowledge to churches who want to develop their ministry online, discovering how churches continue to pray and worship together. Via livestreamed speakers, the hour-long webinar will also offer time for questions and discussion. A video will be available for replay as well.
Speakers will include pastors and communication experts from around the world who will explore the new challenges and opportunities for churches, sharing the good practices of online ministry.
The webinar is organized by the World Council of Churches in partnership with the Lutheran World Federation, World Communion of Reformed Churches, Global Christian Forum, World Association for Christian Communication and European Christian Internet Conference.
Topics will include online experience of churches during lock-down, achieving engagement and participation online, planning the Churches’ interactive digital presence and Orthodox perspective on the ministry of the Church online.
Ivars Kupcis, WCC communication officer, has been coordinating the webinar and said it is exciting to hear the speakers’ insights and practices that have led to successful and inspiring online ministry, often reaching even more people than usual.
“As churches have had to adapt quickly amid the COVID-19 pandemic, they have proven that genuine connection between people matters more than physical church building in their ministry,” said Kupcis, adding that he hopes the webinar will inspire more churches to create meaningful online services and creative ministry practices that could be sustained even beyond the pandemic.
The distanced church
One of the featured speakers at the upcoming webinar, Prof. Heidi Campbell, just launched a new publication providing valuable additional resources. The publication, “The Distanced Church: Reflections on Doing Church Online,” an e-book, features input from 30 practitioners and researchers sharing their current experiences and observations.
Campbell is professor of communication at Texas A&M University and director of the Network for New Media, Religion and Digital Culture Studies.
The book’s contributors come from ten different countries—within North America, Europe, and the Antipodes—and represent 12 different Christian denominations including mainline, Catholic, and nondenominational churches.
Campbell said her goal was to collect key stories and research expertise reflecting on the response of churches to the pandemic, and to publish them in a timely manner. “The goal is to get this material out to those who will most benefit from a project of this nature—religious communities wrestling with the sudden move from offline to online ministry through digitally-mediated contexts,” said Campbell.