Dear St. Lukers,
In the last year and a half, if there’s one thing we have come to both appreciate more than ever and depend on more than ever, it’s technology. Online worship in particular is something many of us never thought we would find meaningful, or even participate in. And yet – we were all swiftly whisked into a world where we are finding God through TV, phones, and computer screens in ways we had never anticipated. And while many of us are choosing to participate in on-campus worship, we will never again find online worship to be a less-than or un-valuable experience because we know how vital it is in this season, and in seasons to come.
Which is why when weeks like last week happen, there is no one more anxious or devastated than me, and your entire worship and tech staff, as well as our volunteers. Last Sunday, September 19, the website that provides our livestream capabilities (in super-technological terms, the magic online thing that takes all our cameras and microphones and projectors are taking in and makes it happen on your screen at home) had major issues across the nation. Churches all around were affected and it prevented our Contemporary service from being broadcast correctly, and prevented our Traditional service from being broadcast at all.
In the last year and a half, we’ve had a number of these days. Remember when our internet service provider had an outage, or the construction crew accidentally cut the line across the street that provided internet to the campus? You’ve never seen a room so full of anxiety or stress – knowing how valuable and vital those experiences are for our community each week. What an impact those challenges have on you as a worshiper, looking forward to the inspiring worship and connection St. Luke’s is known for.
In the last few months, we’ve been in a lot of transition in our church’s life, but especially in our worship and tech department. During the first year of the pandemic, we dramatically ramped up the quality of our online worship, as well as all of our audio-visual equipment for livestreams (you can see the difference in the same song led in Contemporary worship from 2019, 2020, and 2021 in the video below).
We made a significant investment in new cameras, video switchers, audio mixers, lighting – you name it, we’ve upgraded it through your generous giving. In addition to upgrading our livestream capabilities, we also took a big leap in our video production realm. Never before had we given so much staff and volunteer time to CREATING video content, like the virtual choir that have allowed our choir to continue to lead us even when singing together was unsafe.
We were blessed with some incredible volunteers who gave hundreds and hundreds of hours to help us get our new systems up and running. Many of those volunteers had found themselves furloughed during the pandemic, and chose to give their time to this ministry. Thankfully, as things have progressed, many of those key pioneers in our new production landscape have found their way back to work. In addition, our two full-time tech and video staff, Steven Leonard and Patrick Tyler, both were called into different vocations earlier this year.
We are so excited to introduce you to our brand new Technical Director, Tommy Atkinson, and our Director of Video Production, Sarah Tice, who joined us in late summer. Their focus is learning the St. Luke’s ropes themselves, and continuing to grow and train a newly necessary volunteer base that can make our new forms of online worship sustainable, while continuing to bring back more of the live experiences you are looking forward to, like our theatre ministry (did you know the worship team is also the primary leader of our theatre ministry too?).
Prior to the pandemic, the maximum number of volunteers needed in either worship space was 6 in total; we’ve nearly doubled that to be able to provide the level of quality you’re able to experience from our online services. We have exponentially increased the amount of staff and volunteer time needed to create our worship, events, and special services that are fully inclusive of our worshipers in the room and online. So, now that I’ve given you a part of the picture of what’s happening behind the scenes, I want to answer a question that so many of you have asked: how can I help? Three ways!
First, you can keep your worship and tech teams and volunteers in your prayers. The prayerfulness with which every one of them cares for and takes seriously their roles and service each week is awe-inspiring. If something you see or hear is of concern to you, I can assure you there’s a volunteer or staffer already moving to address it with equal or even more concern.
Second, you can volunteer! The incredible thing about how our former and current staff have shaped this ministry is that it is incredibly easy to join! If you think “I’m not really that tech-y” – that’s okay! Our volunteers are, by and large, far from “tech gurus.” You don’t have to have previous experience or knowledge to jump in and serve (although if you do, we’d love to have you, too!). It’s not an every-week commitment; most of our volunteers serve about once a month! If you’re wondering what it’s like being part of our team, check out the video below to hear from our volunteers themselves.
And third, if volunteering with our tech team is not where God is calling you right now, I bet you know someone who might be a great fit! Would you seek out a friend, another St. Luker, or someone you know who loves to learn and work with technology who might not even be a St. Luker yet, and invite them to be a part of the team? Sometimes serving in tech can actually be a great way to engage new people with an interest they already have.
Our tech ministry is going to continue to be a vital part of the ministry at St. Luke’s for generations to come; and we are so grateful for all the talent in our staff and volunteers that allows us to create online worship as another expression of acceptance, hospitality, and community to engage even more people and reveal the Kingdom in ways we may not even have yet imagined.
But we can’t do it without you – so I hope if you’re hearing the call, you’ll answer!
Grace and peace,