Livestream Ministry Continues to Grow
By Angel Owens
On Jan. 1, 1939, WSTP radio began its first broadcast — the 11 am Sunday service at St. John’s — a broadcast that continued until the station closed in 2016. It shows a long-standing commitment to sharing our Sunday worship with an audience that reaches beyond the four walls of our sanctuary.
As the radio format was ending, staff members began to envision new ways of broadcasting our Sunday service. In September 2016, sermon audio was added to the St. John’s website, and in 2017 an app was developed that included a podcast of our Sunday sermons.
But the most dynamic change was yet to come.
Last December, Taylor Hutchins, St. John’s Production Manager, introduced a one-camera video livestream of the 11 am service. To further test our capabilities, we funded a full-scale video production of the Christmas Eve service, which quickly became a big hit.
By March of this year, and thanks to a generous donor, Taylor and Mike Agee installed two robotic cameras.
“With the new cameras, we can cover multiple angles and get a closer shot of the pastors or action on stage,” says Taylor. “It allows us to be more creative and cover everything that’s going on, which we weren’t able to do with the single camera system.”
Taylor says the church has been talking about implementing video livestream for several years, but they wanted to get it right.
“There is a growing need for us to be able to reach people who are not able to join us on Sunday mornings. We’ve also partnered with Trinity Oaks to show the service in their rec room on a large screen TV.”
Taylor says it has been a process from making sure the proper equipment is in place and helping people learn how to stream it.
Lifelong St. John’s member, Charles Heilig, loves the addition. He receives a bulletin from Wade Rouzer each week so he can have that in hand when he watches the livestream.
It wasn’t easy at first, but Heilig says Taylor came out to help him when he had some trouble. “Taylor had it figured out right away.”
Heilig enjoys the livestream because it brings St. John’s worship into his home, “I was baptized at St. John’s and have been there off and on my whole life. It’s a part of me.”
Livestream isn’t just for homebound members. Others have used it when they are out of town or on vacation, and archived worship and concerts are being used as an outreach tool for those wanting to learn more about St. John’s.
Although still in its early stages, the livestream ministry is growing. An average of 30 households tune in each Sunday, and an additional 30 users watch the archived videos throughout the week. 50+ households tuned into our Easter service.
“We are continually working to improve the streaming experience,” says Taylor. He acknowledges that with any new technology there will be challenges and opportunities for growth and asks that anyone who experiences any issues with the stream please let him know.
Want to help? Volunteers are needed to help with the ministry. If you would like to learn more about livestream and operating cameras on Sunday mornings, please contact Taylor, firstname.lastname@example.org.