Digital Parish: Maximizing time and engagement in hybrid worship

Jason Moore brings insights for maximizing engagement both in-person and online during worship.

Jason has "secret shopped" hundreds of digital worship experiences. He shares his observations for what works and what doesn't. We'll get ideas for keeping our congregations engaged during hybrid worship experiences. We'll also get some ideas for streamlining our workflow in creating an online and in-person worship experience.

The Episode

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Show Notes

Here are a few of the churches doing interesting things with their hybrid worship experiences.

 

What are you up to? Share your hybrid or digital worship experience in our Pastoring in the Digital Parish Facebook Group.

Jason Moore:                   

I think that the key to sustainability for hybrid of worship is real relationship building. And I think that happens through the chat, when we engage people as they come in, greet them by name. We allow them to ask questions. We reinforce what the pastor is saying, or the leaders are saying.

Ryan Dunn:                       

That was the voice of Jason Moore, or adjunct professor, on this episode of Pastoring in the Digital Parish. Okay, pastor, you've made the jump to streaming a worship service. You were probably only doing that streaming worship experience through the beginning of the pandemic in 2020. But now you're challenged to host in person worship services, but you've seen the light. You know there's value to the streaming worship service as well. In fact, dig this, a large portion of our congregations are now digital converts. They're going to use our streamed services as their primary point of engagement. Now that may sound a little scary, but it doesn't have to.

We're kicking of season two of Pastoring in the Digital Parish by getting some solid tips from Jason about how we can streamline our workflow to balance both in person and digital worship services. And we're going to hear some great ideas regarding how we engage with our digital congregants. So let's meet Jason Moore. He has presented his Both And Worship Training for just about every United Methodist conference in the US. Jason runs Midnight Oil Productions and previously worked as a graphic and animation artist at the Ginghamsburg United Methodist Church in Ohio. He's co-authored several books including From Franchise to Local Dive, Multiplying Your Church by Discovering Your Contextual Flavor, and Digital Storytellers: The Art of Communicating the Gospel in Worship, as well as The Wired Church: Making Media Ministry. So let's meet our adjunct professor for this session of Pastoring in the Digital Paris, Jason Moore. Well, Jason Moore, you've been doing these Both And conference trainings. You have a really cool intro to your conference training. Where'd you get that Stranger Things theme from? How'd you put that together?

Jason Moore:                   

I can't take all the credit for it. I have access to a resource called Motion Array, that has a lot of templates and things. And while there was a lot of customization, I mean, I created a logo for it. And then my justification for it was that it feels like we've been living in the strangest time we've ever lived in, in the church. A lot of things feel really upside down right now. So if you know Stranger Things, you know all those references. And I thought it would be kind of a fun way for the people in the know, it'd be a fun way to kind of start. So actually, every time I share the training, I say, "Okay, what was my reference? Anybody know what my reference was?" And then I get some of those Stranger Things fans out there. But yes, it was a template that was heavily customized.

Ryan Dunn:                       

Yeah, for sure. Speaking practically, do you take a template like that and then you do it through some kind of Adobe software? Or what are you using?

Jason Moore:                   

Yes. So that was an Adobe Aftereffects template that I did all the design work, the logo, in Adobe Illustrator, and then brought it in and prepared all the backgrounds and stuff in Photoshop. But Aftereffects is sort of like Photoshop with a timeline. It allows you do to animation, motion graphic stuff. I spent a lot of my time living in that program. It just makes the right impression at the beginning, I think anyway.

Ryan Dunn:                       

Yeah. Do you think that's the kind of skill that increasingly people in pastoral ministry, or some kind of ministry, are going to need to learn?

Jason Moore:                   

I think building teams is really important. And I think sometimes when we try to live outside of our sweet spot, we end up robbing the part of us that is the sweet spot for time that something that is not our sweet spot. So think that if you have a little bit of aptitude for something like that, then giving a little bit of your time to something in that world would be fine, but I would hate to see pastor spending lots of time in Aftereffects, or Photoshop, or whatever. I've had so many pastors tell me over the last 18 months, "I did not go to seminary to become a video producer." You go to seminary to learn to exegete scripture and write sermons and learn sermons and offer them. And then having to add to your plate filming it, and editing it, and lighting and all of those kinds of things, and then graphics, if you do that.

So I think it's maybe good to understand what to look for, but I don't know that pastors need to get into production would be my advice. I guess one final thing I'll say here is that I've been saying a lot in this training that authenticity is more important than being slick or being perfect. A great model for that is what happened with late night television over the last 18 months when the pandemic hit. I show a clip in my training of Jimmy Fallon before the pandemic, highly produced, curtain opens, three piece suit, the band is jamming, all that. And then the next clip I show is Jimmy at home, and his wife is running the camera. His daughters have printed out graphics that they're holding up. His other daughter's running music off of an iPad. It's a mess, but it was super compelling.

Ryan Dunn:                       

It was.

Jason Moore:                   

So I think that at least for now, I think we can get away with being authentic and not worrying a ton about production value. I mean, I think that matters certainly to a degree, but pastors don't have to, I don't think they have to go too far down that path.

Ryan Dunn:                       

Well, you work in the intersection of these kind of two disparate worlds of kind of the pastoral world and this production world. Is your background in production? Or how did you learn some of those skills?

Jason Moore:                   

Yeah, so I got my start, first off, I went to art school. I went to a school specifically geared toward commercial art. In fact, the name of the school when I was there was The School of Advertising Art. You think a bunch of artists could come up with a better name than that.

Ryan Dunn:                       

It's practical.

Jason Moore:                   

Yes. A couple of years ago, they renamed the school, The School of Modern Art and Design, or Modern Design, I think. I'm like, "I want to tell people I went there." But interestingly enough, while I was a student there and learning how to do graphic design and all that, I became aware of Ginghamsburg United Methodist Church, which was for a time, a mega church, and one of kind of the flagship churches in the denomination, I think, back when I was there in the late '90s. And I joined the staff as, I think my original title was visual media. So I had come out of art school, we were using screens and projectors when that was still kind of a new thing. And outside of the church world, I've done a lot of work, done some work in Hollywood. I've done some book trailers and things, like if you're familiar with Arianna Huffington and Seth Godin. I've done book trailers for them and worked with clothing designer, Mark Ecko and things like that.

I'm not trying to name drop, but outside of this world in the church, I do production stuff. And then my dream as a kid was to go to Hollywood and work there and be a movie maker and special effects and all that stuff. And God got ahold of me, and I felt a call to ministry. And when I got to Ginghamsburg, I realized that I could be an artist in ministry. And so all my production skills really were used for helping communicate the gospel in worship. So when I left Ginghamsburg, I left to go to the now defunct United Methodist Reporter, which was the national newspaper, UMR Communications, based out of Dallas. And they could sort of see the end of the newspaper business coming, so they invested in myself and my former ministry partner, Lynn Wilson. They brought us down to start a resource house within their church, so a lot of Methodist churches across the connection were using resources we created for the revised common lectionary for screens and just what we would call creative worship.

And kind of catching you up to where I'm at now, what's happened in this last year and a half is that when the world shut down, everyone said, "How do we do worship?" And a United Methodist pastor friend of mine said, "You're our Esther right now. You were created for such a time as this." And I was like, "I guess that's maybe a way to put it," because I have production skills and I've also done a lot of coaching and consulting. I'm an author and things like that. It's all just sort of come together with this hybrid worship stuff. So that was probably a long way of saying that's what my background is.

Ryan Dunn:                       

Yeah. Now you're doing a lot of secret shopping. That's what you've called it, I think, a secret shop of people doing their online worship experiences. As you've come across all these different presentations of worship and virtual space, what are some of the key no nos that you're seeing repeated ofttimes?

Jason Moore:                   

Well, you are right. I'm doing a ton of that. Before the pandemic, I would do about 25 a year and person. And then when the pandemic hit, everyone wanted an evaluation. I'm actually working on a retainer with the Western North Carolina conference that I'm doing. I'm in the process right now of doing 60 of those, so I've been watching a ton of worship. I would say the number one no no is just to not go about business as usual and stick a camera in the back of the room. Some folks call what they're doing hybrid worship, but there's really nothing hybrid about it. They are capturing, they are streaming an in person experience, and not really thinking a lot about how that feels different at home.

So in my original training that I put together last year, and I can tell you more about that if it makes sense to at some point, I began with the idea that when you translate a book to film, there's a lot of adaptation that has to happen. You have to reimagine the story. You have to consolidate the story. You have to embrace the limits of the new way you're telling that story. And most of us don't like the film as much as we like the book, and I think that's true for online worship as well. So what I've been trying to help churches see is that simply putting a camera in the back of the room doesn't reimagine the story for people online.

So the number one no no is don't go about business as usual, so reimagine the story is a better way to say it. And watching about 30 worship services in the last couple weeks, and I think maybe we're friends on Facebook, you may have seen me post this. There are a few different pointers that I have for folks. The first is just to make sure that you introduce yourself. Introductions matter because everybody on an online worship is a mystery to an outsider. And what I've been finding over and over as I tune into someone's worship, and I don't know anyone at that church, so the first person that talks, I'm like, "Is that the pastor?" Oh, no, wait, I don't think that's the pastor. And then the next person talks, oh, that must be the pastor. No, that's not the pastor either.

And so you go through the whole experience and everyone's a mystery. So I think even our lay people that are involved in worship should, "Hey, I'm Jason, and I'm part of the men's ministry here. It's my privilege to share the scripture with you today. Let me share this moment with you." Or, "My name is Jason, of course, there's a lot happening in the life of our church. Let me tell you about some of those things." In the same way that we would introduce people if they came into our homes for the very first time, I think we need to do that in our online worship. And then I won't go through the whole list, but one more that I'll say, two more that I'll say, just because I think they're probably the most helpful.

Number one is eye contact really matters for people at home. And the challenge if we don't reimagine worship is that we spend all of our time really talking to the room. And if we talk to the room and the camera's sort of at the side of our face, that turns the people at home into observers of the experience, rather than feeling like they're participants. I don't know if you've ever been in a Zoom meeting, and somebody's typing on their keyboard, or they're looking at their phone while you're talking to them. It feels like they're not listening to you, or you're being ignored. And I think that we feel some of that I think in worship. So don't look at the camera all the time. We don't want the people in the room to feel like they're the studio audience. But looking at the camera and addressing people at home, so putting in your manuscript a camera icon in couple spots, a friend of mine came with that idea, is helpful, so that's thing one.

And the second thing is to just be really mindful of what I call both and language. And what I mean there is it's nothing about technology at all. It's really about be mindful that when you say, "Let's stand together and worship," that the people at home probably are not going to stand up if they're watching on their smart TV, or hold their smart phone, I'm going to stand up now. So our language gives us away sometimes that we're not thinking about people at home. So you can very easily say, "If you're worshiping with us here in the building, I'm going to invite you to stand. And if you're worshiping at home, find a posture that will allow you to fully participate in these moments."

I was just watching a service the other day, and the pastor said, "If you'd like to pray with someone today, you can pray with one of our care pastors in the back of the room." And I jokingly said to my wife, who was sitting next to me, "Well, I'm going to go jump in the car and drive 25 minutes over to the church so I can pray with someone," because we were worshiping at home that day. Instead you can say, "If you're in the room, there's a care pastor you can pray with. Or if you're worshiping with us online, come to the chat and someone will be happy to pray with you." So just watching our both and language and remembering that part of our congregation that matters just as much as the people that are in the room are worshiping from another place. And we've got to give them a way to participate as well.

Ryan Dunn:                       

Are you watching a lot of these kind of secret shop experiences in realtime?

Jason Moore:                   

A portion of them, yes. In fact, so when I'm doing it on kind of a retainer relationship, and they've bought a bulk number of them, I really can't do that. But I also have a number of churches that reach out to me individually, and I do it a little different. I will watch a worship in realtime, and what I'm trying to do is even interact in the chat. I think the key to sustainability for hybrid worship is real relationship building. And I think that happens through the chat when we engage people as they come in, greet them by name. We allow them to ask questions. We reinforce what the pastor is saying, or the leaders are saying. And so it's always important to me when I'm doing this for a church that's hired me to evaluate worship to come in and see what the experience is like.

If nobody talks to me, it's just like going to church in person, if nobody talks to you when you come in the door, you feel a little unwelcome. And we should position greeters, just like we do at our front door, we should position them in the chat as well to engage people, even as they come in digitally.

Ryan Dunn:                       

During those experiences, are you finding some churches employing some good practices that get people talking during their services?

Jason Moore:                   

Yes, absolutely. And it's really the churches that have re-imagined what worship looks like for a new time. One of my favorite experiences worshiping recently, I went to Columbia, South Carolina, Journey Church, which is Pastor George Ashford's church, largely African American congregation. George told me that right now, they've got about 20% of their people in the room and about 80% at home. And one of the things they have done at their church is they've created what they call the amen section. I absolutely love this. They have three high top tables over to the left, computers sitting on them. They have what they call social media ambassadors that sit at those tables.

And so what their job is, all throughout worship, when somebody pops up in the chat, they say, "Hello," they greet them, they talk to them. And occasionally, they will even give voice to the people in the chat. In the African American tradition, there is a call and response nature to it. So someone might put in the chat, "Preach it, Brother Ashford." And somebody might actually yell out, "Preach it, Brother Ashford," because they're giving voice to the people. One other thing they do that I think is so cool is they have a white board, four foot by four foot white board, and they write the number in realtime on the white board, of the people who are worshiping online, so that the people in the room can see it and the pastor can see it.

So when I was there, it started off 30. And then they erased that and it was 50. And then it was 80. And at one point, I think it got up to 120, 130. And so there's an intentionality about it. And at one point, George said, "I'm going to take a second to look at the chat. All right. Give me just a second here, friends. All right, I see Sister Betty. You have been going through it lately." And he began to speak specifically to her, started to quote scripture, took the sermon in a different direction. And what was exciting about that is that the people at home were helping shape the content. So when you do things like that, people at home want to participate. And they become, you've created an expectation that if you come to worship online, you're part of it.

Ryan Dunn:                       

Yeah. That's a really creative way of walking the aisle. I had a pastor who along the way would, at the end of her sermons, would go up and down the aisle and start delivering that individual challenge, a really cool way of kind of doing that in virtual space.

Jason Moore:                   

There's one other one. I was at a church, United Methodist Church in Wisconsin. They brought me in a couple months ago. And they do an in person service, but then they do a pre-recorded online. And this pastor's even leaving time when she records, pre-records a service, to ask reflection questions. So this morning, my question for you, just put it in the chat, is: What is something you're thankful for? And I sat there while it was premiering live, and she sits and interacts with people, even though they pre-recorded. And so someone said, "I love fresh strawberries." And someone else said, "I love fresh strawberries." And someone said, "I've got a great strawberry pie recipe." And the pastor said, "I'd like that. I would love to make that." And there was this great dialogue that was happening in realtime because she built it into the experience. So what I say in the training is that we've moved from monologue to dialogue if we truly embrace this moment we're in.

It used to be that you'd sit in church and you'd listen to one leader or leaders, and it was all sort of one way communication, except for you have a joy, or a concern, or communion. I mean, those were the ways that we participated. Now we get to participate in realtime, and you can ask a question and have real responses. Last one I'll share, and I'll be quick here, there's a pastor that I've been working with, coaching, from New Mexico, Kelly McCuaig, who is just incredible. And he just did a series, well, he did a series last year that I've been using in my training that was about questions. It was questions for God.

And at the beginning he says, "Now today, if you have a question you'd like to ask, I'm going to invite you to put that in the chat. You can text it to the number on the screen. If you're in the room, you can write it on a piece of paper that's coming around." And they left room in the end of the sermon for him to deal with those questions. So he's like, "Okay, here we go. Here comes the fun part. All right, first question." And he's looking at the questions that people asked in realtime during worship, and he is responding to them. And that sort of thing creates a moment where you don't favor one audience over another.

The people in the room are just as important as the people at home and vice versa. And that's where I'd really like to see us get to when we think about hybrid worship, that it's not just broadcasting the room to the people at home, but it's a back and forth, and everyone's a part of it.

Ryan Dunn:                       

Yeah. Well, and we've become accustomed to that in so many ways too, that kind of almost like ask me anything kind of experience when we are building relationship online. That's a key way for influencers, and pastors are influencers, to kind of assert their selves in that virtual space. You were talking about the church putting their realtime numbers up on the white board. That's kind of a hot seat moment too because at some point, you're going to start watching that number go down. Right? Have you found that there is really a time zone in which that really starts to happen, those numbers start to fall off before dropping away?

Jason Moore:                   

Well, I do think that the longer we go in worship, the more things tend to trail off. And actually, Path One did an event last year that they asked me to speak at. And one of the other speakers was Nona Jones, who is the director of faith based partnerships for Facebook. And her recommendation was that our worship online not go longer than 40 minutes. But she said 25 to 35 is really the sweet spot. Facebook, they've actually been studying the data and find when people tend to tune out. So I do think that you have to be careful. I mean, there is certainly a danger in putting the numbers up because the numbers can drop off. I will say though that when there's an intentionality about re-imagining the experience, the amazing thing about watching what happened at Journey Church with George Ashford is that people are engaged the whole time. And it's because they've taught them how to be engaged.

I've had a lot of churches tell me in this last few months, our online worship numbers have drooped, but that hasn't equaled the number of people that have come back. And I think part of that is that the novelty of this has worn off a little bit. People at first just showed up to see what we were going to do. And I think that part of why it's not working online as well as it used to is that we haven't continued to iterate and reimagine what the experience looks like for people at home. So the more people we get in the room, we more we tend to favor the room, the more we tend to talk to the room. And if you and I were having this conversation today, and I started talking to my room, and I stopped talking to you, a few minutes into it, you're going to be a little bit annoyed by the fact that you don't feel like you're in conversation anymore, and you might want to turn it off eventually. So it really is about remembering the people at home. And the more effort and energy we put into that, the better.

I think about four audiences. You have the people in the room. You have people at home that are connected to your church that are worshiping from home that know you. And then you have a third group that is people that are brand new, that don't know you at all. And they may be tuning in, or even come in the door the first time. How do you communicate for them? And then the fourth one that I think is the growing edge for us, is the people that watch on delay. There are a lot of people now that are watching worship or attending worship online after it's over. So how can we even think about them as we think about language? Rather than saying, "Good morning. Happy Sunday," saying, "Welcome to worship. Hope you're having a great day." That opens the language up a bit for folks like that.

Ryan Dunn:                       

How do you engage those people? How do you include them as part of the conversation? It's more prone to happen in realtime.

Jason Moore:                   

Yeah. We have to think in terms of asynchronous learning, which I think we kind of figured out how to do when it comes to things like higher education and things. Now you can be a part of chat rooms and things. So you can invite people in the worship, hey, if you're worshiping with us here in the room, we've got care pastors that will pray with you. If you're worshiping with us right now in realtime online, you can pray with somebody in the chat. And if you're worshiping with us a little later, you can send an email to the address that's on the screen below and we would love to pray with you. And if you send us an email, we will reach out.

Even things like that first time visitor gift that we often offer. Somebody comes into our building, hey, if you're new with us today, you can stop by and pick up a first time visitor gift. If you're worshiping online, we'd love to either drop one in the mail, or you can stop by the church and pick one up. And if you're worshiping with us a little later, we would love to get one of those to you. Send us your address and we would love to get that to you in the mail. So it's really thinking outside of the now when we're doing it on Sunday morning. It's almost crazy to think, and I know it's only been a year and a half, or just a little over, it's almost crazy to think that we put all this effort and energy into an hour on Sunday, and the only people that got to benefit from that were the people in the room. And then after that, it was over for the churches who were not doing it online before.

And now people can experience that sermon you preached six months later, and it can be just as powerful six months, if you talk to them in a way that you open the language up so they can understand. What you can't say is, "You all remember last week when I talked about X, Y, Z. It's just like that." Well, I don't know when last week was. I just found this sermon on YouTube. And I'm not going to go dig around and try and figure out when last week was. But you can use language that, last week, we talked about, and you explain it. And so it's sort of like that. So recap language becomes important as well. I also think that we can send people, hey, we've got a Facebook group, where if you'd like to discuss what you heard today in the sermon, even if you're watching this later, here's a link to do that.

Ryan Dunn:                       

Do you find that a lot of churches are concerned mostly with using their digital presence as a way to bringing people into their kind of physical space?

Jason Moore:                   

I wish that were the case. I think there are some that are. I think that more often than not, in fact, I did a poll a while back, where I gave people a few different options to consider. Option A was really, we stream our worship, but our worship is really for people in the building. It's almost like this is for the people who don't feel well, or are vacationing, or whatever. It's a way for people who couldn't make it here today to worship. It's not really about the outsiders. The second option I gave folks to consider was we create worship now that's meant for online and in person. And we think about both audiences equally. The third option was we really create worship just for online. We're not really concerned about the room so much. And then the last option was we're doing digital only and we don't have an audience in person.

And I'll tell you, the majority of churches, as I posted that poll, said that they are really creating experience meant for people in the room. And the people at home, it's fine if they tune in, but that's not really what it's for. About 40% of the people said we're doing kind of what I would call both and. And so I think churches have to make an intentional choice about: Who is our worship for? Is it for the people that are already in our community and here? Or is it for those who are on the outside? Now I do think that our online worship gives us the potential to connect with people for the first time, who would never walk into our buildings. I think the more we lean into that and language, and explaining our rituals and our practices so outsiders can understand it, the better. And I've been saying that online worship is sort of like the taster spoon of in person worship. I don't have to buy the whole cone. I can try it first and then decide, I think I like this flavor, and then go in person.

Ryan Dunn:                       

So a lot of the conversation that we have around the in person and the hybrid and the digital is that there are certain practices that are part of our traditional that are really geared to being towards in person. Right? Have you seen some ways that people are bringing some of those practices online? I mean, really as we talk about it, we can talk about sacrament.

Jason Moore:                   

Yeah, yeah.

Ryan Dunn:                       

How are people doing communion and baptism and that kind of thing in digital?

Jason Moore:                   

Yes. That is definitely above my pay grade. But I'm a layperson, and I haven't wrestled in the same way that a clergy person might. But I can tell you I've seen a lot of different things. When I first created this training that I did, and just real quick, it all was sort of ... It's just God's provision, the way it's worked. I had a pastor who had me come to a secret worshiper consultation in 2019 say, "Hey, we implemented everything you said, and then they just shut our churches down. Would you be willing to watch our online worship and tell us what we can do to make this work for outsiders?" And so I said, "Sure." I put together a little article.

Conferences started calling me saying, "Would you turn that article into a training?" And within five days, I had 14 annual conferences that wanted this training that was brand new to me. So I kind of just happened upon it a bit. But anyway, because I've worked with every annual conference now except for I've got two left in the United States who haven't done my both and training, I figured out pretty quickly that I can't make blanket statements about things like sacraments. Some bishops made allowances for digital communion. Others said, "That's not what we're going to do here, and so you can move to the love feast idea." And so I think everyone has to kind of wrestle through what that looks like for their own context.

I've seen a couple of creative things that I can throw out. One is I know churches that have been pre-blessing elements. And so you can come and pick up your little packets that you pull the top off and whatever. So they are pre-blessing those, and people can stop by the church and pick up enough for, we do communion once a month, grab enough for your whole family. We're blessing them ahead of time, and you can participate at home. I know another church that does a drive by communion after worship. So and the first Sunday when worship, if you don't want to come in person, but you want to worship online, you can still come and someone has physically blessed those elements.

Now again, I haven't wrestled through the theology of this in a deep, deep way. But I tend to be someone that thinks that if the Holy Spirit can move out of the temple and reside within us, then the Holy Spirit can be just as present when you bless those elements. The spirit is not limited by our physical space, and so I believe, and maybe I'm wrong on this, maybe I wouldn't pass the Board of Ordained Ministry quiz, but I am of the mind that the Holy Spirit can be just as present and bless those elements that you haven't physically touched. So one of the things that I really loved about ...

There's a pastor that I'm working with. In fact, I'm going to visit him later this month in Savannah. Ben Gosden is his name and he's a pastor at Trinity United Methodist Church in Savannah. He's doing something that's really creative. He calls it breaking the fourth wall. And so the downside of communion and online worship is that it's a moment where people at home start to become observers, and they're just waiting for it to be over because they're not participants, if we just do it the old way, where we serve the people in the room. They come, they receive communion.

So here's what he's doing. He's got a mic on that's his Countryman mic. And then he's got a mic that's clipped to his collar that is for the online community. He will go through and do the communion liturgy for those who are in the room and at home, really. I mean, they're filming the whole thing. Then he'll say, "Come now. The table is open. Come and receive this bounty," or whatever. And then they turn his Countryman off, and so he might be facing his room like this. And the camera that's next to him, he'll then turn to that, they turn this off, turn this on. And he'll say, "Friends, we are experiencing," and so somebody else is serving communion as the people come up. But he's breaking the fourth wall and talking directly to the audience at home.

And he says, "Friends, we are experiencing holy communion here in the building, and that's a sacrament. And here's what a sacrament is." And I don't know if Ben is doing this or not, and we didn't get this far into the conversation. But if doing communion at home is okay in his conference, then he might even say, "You can grab a cracker, some bread, some juice, and we're just going to bless it right now as you have that right in front of you," or whatever. But he basically talks to the folks at home, so they feel like they're a part of it. And then they turn this mic back off, and he says, "Let's continue together in worship," and everybody comes back in sync again. I was just watching another worship experience the other day. And this pastor had great both and language all throughout the whole experience until he got to communion.

And he said, "Today when you came in, you got one of these little packets. Everybody's got a packet. Grab your packet. Okay, take the lid off your packet." And I'm thinking, "Nobody handed me a packet when I came into my living room, and I'm watching this on my TV." So there are moments where we remove people with our language. And I just think if we can remember, if we can not rank people by where they sit.

And what I mean is that sometimes we give it away in our language. It's like the people that sit in the front are not more important than the people that sit in the back, or the people that sit in the balcony are not less important than the people on the floor. And the people who are sitting on their couches are not less important than the balcony or the people on the floor. They're all our congregation, they're just sitting in different places. So can we remember those people who are sitting at home so that they can be a part of those sacramental moments? I think the holy mystery can extend to those who are at home as well.

Ryan Dunn:                       

Did you say that was Ben Gosden at Trinity in Savannah, Georgia?

Jason Moore:                   

Yes.

Ryan Dunn:                       

All right. That's kind of a cool practice, worth checking out. I'd like to see how he's doing that.

Jason Moore:                   

Yeah. Definitely.

Ryan Dunn:                       

Well, our audience is mostly church leaders, pastors. As they're looking at what's next in worship for them, especially in light of what we've been talking about, the pandemic just keeps going. And we're going to for sure, for a long time, have some people who are concerned most with consuming or participating in our worship services digitally. And that will continue probably even after the pandemic is gone. For folks who want to continue to learn from you about that experience, where's probably the best spot for a church leader to get ahold of you?

Jason Moore:                   

Well, they can reach me at, I'm on Facebook at Facebook.com/midnightoilproductions. Or they can email me at mail, M-A-I-L, [email protected] I'm also about 85%, 90% with my Both And book that will come out at the beginning of the year next year. So I believe that what we have gained in this last year and a half is definitely worth continuing. I've had people say, "Can we stop now?" It's like, "No, we can't stop. We are fulfilling the great commission." It doesn't look the way we thought it would, but we're reaching more people than ever before. So those are all ways that you can reach out, and I'd be happy to help if I can.

I'm also continuing to do these trainings. I've got a second training called Both And: To Be Continued. And you could certainly advocate to your conference leadership. Every conference and the connection within the United States, except for a couple have hosted, and they might want to participate in that too because we're going to talk about the importance of why we have to continue.

Ryan Dunn:                       

Cool. Well, Jason, thank you so much.

Jason Moore:                   

No problem. Thank you, Ryan, for the opportunity.

Ryan Dunn:                       

Don't stop, good people. You heard the ways you can get ahold of Jason Moore with Midnight Oil Productions and the Both And Training. If you'd like to get ahold of me, the best way to do that is at [email protected] If you go to the site, pastoringinthedigitalparish.com, you'll find show notes for this episode, which includes links to some of the people Jason mentioned as doing some creative stuff in their hybrid worship. So check there for some video links.

We're off into a new season. All right. Check back next week for the newest episode of Pastoring in the Digital Parish. I want to thank United Methodist Communications for sponsoring this podcast. Also, a big shout out to Reed Gaines, our audio editor, who makes my sometimes rambling questions sound so succinct and on point. My name is Ryan Dunn. I'll talk with you again soon. Peace.

 

 

On this episode

Jason Moore on maximizing engagement in hybrid worship.

Jason Moore has presented his Both/And worship training for just about every United Methodist conference in the US.  Jason runs Midnight Oil Productions and previously worked as a graphic and animation artist at the Ginghamsburg United Methodist Church in Ohio. He’s co-authored several books, including From Franchise to Local Dive: Multiplying Your Church by Discovering Your Contextual Flavor

Ryan Dunn, co-host and producer of the Compass Podcast

Our proctor/host is the Rev. Ryan Dunn, a Minister of Online Engagement for United Methodist Communications. Ryan manages the digital brand presence of Rethink Church, co-hosts and produces the Compass Podcast, manages his personal brand, and obsesses with finding ways to offer new expression of grace.