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More churches offer live streaming services

Technology helps reach homebound resident experience Sunday morning and other special services

POSTED: April 17, 2017 12:23 a.m.
ERIN O. SMITH/The Times

Mac McCahan, volunteer videographer for the First Baptist Church of Gainesville, and Sean Thomas, technical director, set up a video camera to live stream Thursday night at the First Baptist Church of Gainesville. Every Sunday service is live streamed as well as some special events.

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4-year-old Kaydence McQueen is dancing around in her pajamas. It’s Sunday morning, and she’s attending church from her living room with her mother, Krystina McQueen. The McQueens are live streaming the 11 a.m. service from Lakewood Baptist Church.

“She loves watching,” said McQueen. Her father, Zak McQueen, is the associate pastor of worship at the church and is often on the broadcast, too. “She actually stands by the fireplace and she’ll sing. We call it ‘having church.’”

Lakewood Baptist Church is one of many local churches that offer a live streaming option so people can watch the service from their homes while it is happening.

“Kaydence is not normally in that service,” Krystina said. “She’s part of Kids Cove and the children's church. She does love getting an opportunity to be a part of that service through the live stream.

Krystina said sometimes it’s hard to get to church on Sunday mornings so watching it on the internet is a good option.

“I have children and they get sick,” she said. “And I recently had a baby so I was out a lot with the pregnancy and while I was recovering.”

Krystina also was able to tune in when she traveled to Washington for a weekend.

“We still have church on Sunday mornings whether we can be there or not,” she said, adding that livestreaming is a good way to still feel connected to the church.

While live streaming is a convenient option to some church-goers, Krystina said it doesn’t replace physically attending church.

“I”m very grateful we have live stream but I don’t think it’s to replace Sunday morning or replace corporate worship,” she said. “It’s very vital to be there during corporate worship Sunday morning.”

Lakewood streams the 11 a.m. contemporary service every Sunday morning.

Joy Willis, marketing director at Lakewood, said she thinks that’s how a lot of people get a feel for the church before they come to visit.

“It’s a great way for people to check out the church,” she said. “It helps them know what to expect when they come for that first visit.”

Free Chapel live-streams all three of its services each week — two on Sunday mornings and one on Wednesday nights.

Brian Smith, chief of strategic opportunities at Free Chapel, said Pastor Jentezen Franklin had a history in broadcasting, media and delivering the Gospel, so when the technology became available the church took advantage of it.

Livestreaming has helped the church reach more people than the church building can physically hold.

In addition to people who can’t make it to church because of medical reasons or weather, live streaming allows the church to reach people in other countries, such as India, Canada, Australia, Kuwait and Jamaica.

“I think it’s just part of the mission of the church, which is to go into all the world,” Smith said. “Streaming media is one way we are able to do it. It’s kind of a ‘meet people where they are.’”

Lydia Fields, who does communications for First Baptist, said the church streams its 10:50 a.m. service and any other special service that happens in the sanctuary, such as children’s music programs, special concerts and its Maundy Thursday service.

Fields said a lot of homebound people as well as people checking out the church before visiting it watch the livestream. She’s also heard of people who have moved away from Gainesville still  tuning in.

“The live streaming for (First Baptist) was never intended to create a mass group of people that only watch online. It was to set up as a service for those who can’t be there in person for a particular reason,” she said. Analog continues to be the favored choice.

“Most people still come through the doors.”



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