Ministering with technology
Outreach efforts include online streaming of services
In the last decade, many churches have begun to use the Internet to reach out to current and potential members, and today, most families looking for a new church community do their “shopping” online.
Fredericksburg United Methodist Church is using technology to reach these “shoppers,” said Don Doss, FUMC director of music ministries.
“About 70 percent of a congregation’s first-time visitors find the church’s website before they attend a service,” Doss said. “Given today’s digital generation, an online presence isn’t just an option, it’s a necessity.”
Doss said FUMC has a history of new approaches to ministry. In the early 1990s, the church was one of the first local congregations to add an “alternative” or “contemporary” style of worship to its Sunday morning schedule. Now it is one of the first to add an online, live-streaming capability for sermons and beyond.
Using robotic-controlled high-definition cameras and Wirecast computer software, FUMC records services each Sunday, which are then uploaded online to Vimeo where they can be viewed anytime via computer, tablet or phone by accessing the video list on the church’s website. The church currently has over 120 services available to view, including some special choral and musical presentations.
Telestream’s Wirecast software also enables the church to stream worship services every Sunday online. The contemporary 9:30 a.m. and traditional 11 a.m. services are now streamed every week through Justin.tv, a live-streaming website.
Doss said statistics from the FUMC website indicate that as many as 2,000 viewers per month have visited the church’s site and around 100 viewers either watch the live-stream or view a video recording each week.
“This Internet ministry isn’t just for current members of the church, but also for future members in the digital generation who are looking to the Internet to find their church homes,” he said.
Doss said people in other states and countries have contacted the church to express thanks for the opportunity to worship with the church from their homes.
Along with its website, FUMC is also building its social media presence through Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and an RSS feed.
The church is located at 1800 N. Llano St. (Texas 16) and can be reached through its website (fredumc.org) or by calling the church office at 830-997-7679.
“We invite everyone to join our worship, whether in person or from wherever you are, via computer, tablet or phone,” Doss said.