Online Church: Our connection is stronger than wi-fi

Dripping Springs First Methodist Church Pastor Adam Thorton looks to the few people helping him with Sunday service, then looks at empty aisles and the tiny open camera lens staring back at him. He has never been
nervous before a Sunday service, but something is eerie about talking to an empty room.

The room only felt empty, however. On the other side of that camera lens are hundreds of people sitting with their phone at home, or a family watching on their smart TV, or someone who hasn’t had the time in the past is now going to a Youtube page for the Sunday livestream.

Thorton knew his congregation was waiting for him to spread God’s love
and word. His message is simple and something everyone around the world needs to hear.

Hang tight. Trust God. Help each other.

That’s exactly what he did as he began his first-ever livestream Sunday service. Despite re-orienting his usual routine, he did what he had to because it won’t be like this forever.

“Sunday morning, I am not even nervous. In fact, I look forward to it, but this was a real learning
curve. I was giving a truncated service. It’s especially difficult inviting people to sing and not hearing anyone,” Thorton said.

Although viewing stats can’t report how many people actually sang along, it did report that the service had at least 156 concurrent viewers.

Afterwards, Thorton and his team began calling and checking in
on people from a list of congregation members. They called each person asking about their health, their lives, offering prayer over the phone, asking if they or their neighbors need items delivered, anything to provide a voice of reassurance and connection.

Thorton said that connection is fundamental to us as humans.

“Religious or not, we need to share connection. In the church it’s magnified because it’s about gathering and coming together. Deep down, we all have this great need to come together. Having a phone call is some level that appeases that need for connection,” Thorton said.

As his team continues to find ways to conduct Sunday school online and youth programs provide Google hang-out sessions, Thorton continuously asks everyone to find creative ways to help your neighbors. “In little ways, we can be incredible,” he said.

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