The COVID-19 crisis has illuminated a new path for worship leaders.
Happy New Year! I’m grateful that we have put 2020 in the rearview mirror and that, now, we have the opportunity to create new business this year. My focus for 2021 is to keep moving forward. I assure you that forward-looking worship leaders—and, really, all leaders—are zeroing in on purchasing new technologies to enhance their in-house worship experience, their online worship experience and their online communication. Thus, we, as integrators, have opportunities to help these great people and benefit ourselves financially.
As we leave 2020 behind, we’ve had our share of sad news. One very unfortunate fact is that too many houses of worship (HoWs) have closed. As we’ve learned about the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, we’ve learned that many of the people who succumbed to it suffered from underlying illnesses. The same could be said about the HoWs that closed: They had underlying weaknesses, such as a lack of income and other resources, which led to their demise. The Good News is that most, if not all, remaining HoWs were forced to restructure and streamline their ministries. That, I believe, will enable them to be more focused and more effective in sharing their faith both with people in their congregation and with new audiences online.
The question for those of us who work in the HoW market is this: What impact will the ongoing pandemic have on HoWs and our industry as we begin to move forward this year? In trying to answer that question, I’ve drawn responses from numerous leaders who, thus far, have successfully navigated their HoW through the treacherous, troubled waters that this vigorous virus has unleashed. I learned that most of these HoW leaders believe the virus will continue to be a challenge for their HoWs and them through at least this summer— and possibly longer. They recognize that there’s hope that the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines will mitigate the virus to some degree, but we don’t yet know how effective the vaccine campaign will be. Plus, many people remain skeptical about the vaccines, and they might refuse to be inoculated.
Adding together those factors, these worship leaders generally conclude that it will be months—even many months—until a majority of their congregants feel comfortable returning to worship inside a physical space. In the meantime, the leaders will continue to ask people who do enter the facility for corporate worship to wear a mask, wash their hands and practice social distancing. Moreover, they’ll limit the number of individuals inside.
This prognosis might seem a bit dire and dark, but there’s light within the gloom: These leaders will heavily rely on communication technologies to enhance all aspects of their ministry. We saw in 2020 that livestreaming and content creation for social media were lifelines that connected people during COVID-19 lockdowns. And, when we look back, we can see that the innovators and early adopters were already producing creative and effective worship experiences, even before the virus shook our society.
The COVID-19 crisis shut down our world very quickly. That makes me believe that we might have skipped over the early-majority category and jumped right into the late-majority category. Many in this large group of people rapidly adopted the technologies necessary to enable them to livestream their worship experience once it became clear that corporate worship would be impossible. The challenge that the late majority—and probably all groups—faced was finding a way to engage a viewing audience that was sitting at home, in their pajamas, surrounded by a host of potential distractions.
A significant potential distraction is flipping through social media and looking at other HoWs that might be delivering a better worship experience online. Worship leaders recognize that potential distraction. Thus, now, early this year, the back half of the late majority will purchase equipment to enhance the worship experience they deliver online and in person. The laggards, finally, will follow them.
Nearly ever y worship leader recognizes that, from now on, livestreamed worship experiences and content creation for social media will be integral—I would say vital—parts of their worship and teaching, and central to communication between HoW leaders and their congregants. Thus, I believe that worship leaders will continue to purchase better cameras, lights, audio consoles, microphones, video switchers and more in order to remain relevant within our highly mediated society.
As we begin to move forward this year, I believe that we have many opportunities to experience success. I hope and pray that each one of you has a safe and prosperous 2021. Keep moving forward!
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