Volume No. 17 Issue No. 5 May 2020  

  Churches finding new ways to worship

     “Let us not give up meeting together,” Hebrews 10:25 NIV (New International Version)
   With today's regulations against public gatherings, churches in the area are coming up with innovative ways to safely meet together while keeping a distance. Some churches are using the internet and others are going back to the 1950s, when drive-in theaters were popular. They are hosting their own drive-in services.
   Meridian Point Church has opted for drive-in worship services. At first, they used outdoor speakers, then they got a small FM transmitter so people could hear the service through their car radios. After three Sundays of drive-in services, Pastor Barry Zimmerman said that attendance was almost up to what it had been with normal church services.
   He said before the pandemic, they had about 400 people; now they are up to 340. The praise team performs from a stage, and Zimmerman preaches from a balcony. The attendees greet each other by honking their horns. And donations are about the same as they are with traditional worship services, he said. Zimmerman said the people who have not been laid off are giving more to make up for those who have been laid off.
   They also have online devotional services each day with 25 to 40 participants, along with online classes during the week, and the youth group is meeting online. Zimmerman said it was a bit different preaching to people in cars, but he asks attendees to honk their horns at appropriate times in the sermon; and he also has things for kids to do. “It's been a different experience,” he said. “But it's been great to preach to actual people.”
   What used to be First Baptist Church of Black Forest is now the Black Forest Campus of Cross Fellowship Church. Michelle Kate, executive assistant at the church, said they have online services and online giving.
   Foundation Lutheran Church met at Meridian Ranch Elementary School before the pandemic. Pastor Steven Prahl said they were not live-streaming previously because of the lack of internet access at the school. Now, services are video recorded and available on the church website each Sunday. They accept online donations. Church leadership is staying in contact with members, and several church members have taken it upon themselves to contact as many members as possible.
   Unlike some churches that had been live-streaming before the coronavirus, Grace Community Church started live-streaming when public gatherings were banned. A spokesperson for the church said the response has been so great they will probably continue the practice after normal worship services have resumed. The practice has been especially well-received by elderly members who cannot attend in person.
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