Worship & Preaching Ministries during COVID-19

April 17, 2020
Worship & Preaching Ministries during COVID-19

This article is one part of a complete guide for church ministry during COVID-19.

Find the rest of the guide here


While there may be aspects of church life less impacted by this season of virtual assembling, being unable to worship together in Christian community has been a tough adjustment. Although this situation is neither ideal nor easy, we can worship with sincerity and confidence knowing worship is not confined to any one place. Below are a few considerations for worship and preaching ministries:       


    1. Consider the legalities of your online worship and preaching.


      1. Proper licensure is required to publicly broadcast certain songs and display certain videos.
        1. Churches may need to secure a CCLI License, CVLI License and CCLI Streaming License in order to broadcast music or videos with copyrights.
          1. You can view Christian Copyright Licensure information by clicking here.
        2. A streaming license does not give permission to use any solo trax or any backing/stem trax. Most companies are temporarily allowing use of backing/stem tracks during these days, but solo trax usage has not changed. Permission must be obtained.
        3. If church members are gathering in groups to view the service together, church leaders need to emphasize the importance of Christians demonstrating respect and obedience to our civil leaders by complying with all recommendations and mandates for groups.


    1. Consider the best platform for your online worship and preaching.


      1. Will your worship service be live or prerecorded?
        1. Live Streaming Options: Church Website, FB Live, Instagram Live, YouTube Live, Living as One, The Church Online, Box Cast, Television Broadcast, Radio Broadcast, Local FM Transmitter  
        2. Prerecorded Options: Church Website, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube Channel, Television Broadcast, Radio Broadcast


    1. Consider the content of your online worship and preaching.


      1. Create the highest quality experience you can in your context. Your service might not be the same as another church in town, but don’t settle for less than your personal best. Your best might not be the same as their best, but you know your best and online viewers will notice it as well.
      2. Stay true to who you are. Don’t try to take on a different personality now that serves are online. People can spot a fake. If there are legitimate changes that can be made and done well, go for it. However, don’t entirely flip the script just for the sake of change. Don’t try and keep pace with another church in the community you think might be outpacing you. They will always outpace you if you are both trying to be them.  
      3. Test your streaming plan or prerecording ahead of time. In many cases, prerecording might help produce a better-quality service. This allows for edits and redoes.   
      4. If you are prerecording your service, consider using multiple cameras or taping the service more than once from different angles. Changing camera angles keeps the mind engaged. Recording the service twice would also allow for editing and redoes of something possibly not done well the first recording.


    1. Consider the audience of your online worship and preaching.


      1. Provide a way for people to respond to whatever is going on in the worship service.  You should consider a way for people to respond both publicly and privately. Someone who knows how to communicate both technically and personally should be responsible for this area of worship ministry. 
      2. Shorten the worship set, sermon length, and announcements in order to keep your participants engaged until the end. The average YouTube video lasts 4 minutes and 20 seconds and the average watch time of those videos is 2 minutes. The entire service should ideally be 45 minutes or less, with the sermon being 25 minutes or less.
      3. Increase personal connection with those who are watching through proper setup, maintaining eye contact with the camera, using conversational language, and appropriate body language. If at all possible, avoid dialogue with those who are in the room, yet off camera, as this will result in those not in the room quickly becoming unengaged.
      4. Continuously engage people during service by thinking through every aspect. For example, how will the music be done? What music will be led? Consider cutting away to a video story during the sermon, or perhaps putting the sermon at the beginning or middle of the service.
      5. Pay special attention to planning the beginning and ending of the service.


    1. Consider the results of your online worship and preaching.


      1. As mentioned in the previous section, special attention should be given to how the service starts and ends. This planning will include providing designated ways for participants to respond. Early in the service, there may be announcements inviting people to sign up or to take part in something coming up. At the end of the service, there may be a designated time for responding to the sermon. A few considerations should be given to these invitations.
      2. Making announcements and inviting participation.
        1. In line with the idea to keep worship services to 45 minutes or less, lengthy announcements can potentially cause participants to lose interest or log off entirely.
        2. Announcements should be concise, and they should only include exactly what people need to know that week. More thought should be given to directing people to a centralized location where detailed information regarding the announcements is given rather than an exhaustive list of announcements that would take up valuable time in the worship service.
        3. Consider what you are inviting them to take part in, and then streamline the process of response.
      3. Giving an invitation to respond to the sermon.
        1. Careful consideration should be given to clarity during the time of decision. How do you best communicate exactly what you are inviting them to do, and how do you communicate an easy and appropriate way for them to respond?
          1. Should those wanting to make a decision for salvation, for baptism, for church membership, for surrender to ministry leadership, etc.…
            1. Call the church office?
            2. Correspond to the church email?
            3. Text in a response to a designated staff member, burner phone, or text response service (i.e. Text in Church)? 
            4. Visit a website with a clear explanation of the gospel and how to be saved?
        2. Follow up ministry.
          1. The option(s) selected from the list above will dictate the preparedness actions required to be ready for follow up with those making decisions, engaging in livestream chat, or registering for an upcoming event.
          2. If the response is participation during a live stream through an available chat feature or social media post, a capable and designated staff person or lay leader should perhaps filter, share or respond to those comments, questions, etc.
          3. If the response is to a sign up or registration, a designated plan of correspondence should be preselected. If it is via email response, manual or automatic reply should be in place, letting the individual know they are registered. Personal phone call or text from the staff member or lay leader directly responsible for this ministry, activity or event should also be in place.
          4. If the response is submitting a prayer request, personal contact (email, phone call, text, Facebook message, etc.) from a staff member or lay leader informing the person their request has been received and prayed for.
          5. If the response is to a sermon invitation, staff members or lay leaders should be equipped and available to make immediate personal contact with the individual to offer spiritual guidance and lead the individual in making the appropriate decision.