57 days and counting: Kentucky church has online service streak
LOUISA, Ky. (BP) -- Louisa First Baptist Church Pastor Chuck Price didn't set out to break any records when he committed to doing daily online services when the coronavirus pandemic first arrived.
Every day at 6 p.m., First Baptist Church Louisa broadcasts a service via Facebook Live and YouTube. The services usually last about 45 minutes, Price said, and have involved 25 different speakers over the past two months. An estimated 80 volunteers from the church have participated in one way or another.
Price said the church will open to in-person services on Wednesday, May 20, to "slow ourselves into it" before having a bigger crowd on Sunday, May 24. Online services will continue daily through May 24, bringing the total number to 66 at the finish line.
Price said the church has bought into the commitment.
"We have different live music every night," he said. "We're all in quarantine and can't do anything anyway. We can't leave the great state of Kentucky or visit the hospitals or nursing homes. I just saw this as a great opportunity to reach our church and our community."
The services have a daily watching audience of more than 1,000 and have had 50,000 total views on Facebook during the streak. The YouTube numbers are about 7,000, Price said.
"[A service at First Baptist] was the last in-service church worship I attended before the shutdown," said Brian Horton, the associational mission strategist for the Greenup Baptist Association. "We've had people concerned about being a weekly presence on Facebook and they're doing it every night. The commitment to stay visible every day is unbelievable. They've done over a year's worth of services during the quarantine."
Price has been able to do the Sunday morning and evening services and the Wednesday night service. Friday is for youth with the youth pastor bringing a message, and Saturday night is worship night for children. Monday, Tuesday and Thursday have had different speakers from within the church each week.
"It's a great way to involve so many leaders in the church," Horton said. "It took some organization ... to make sure you don't have the same message preached five times in a row."
The church always offered its services online, but the recordings were done with an iPad and were "not a very high quality," Price said. "I'd rather people come to church than watch it online."
But when the pandemic forced churches to move to online-only services, First Baptist upgraded to one webcam, then a second webcam and now an optics camera that streams on Facebook and YouTube.
"We've grown in technology," Price said. "I have some good people working with me as far as that's concerned."
When the streak reaches 66 on May 24, the pastor said they will return to a normal schedule of services. But the church isn't likely to forget the commitment that was made to provide encouragement and instruction during the difficult days of the coronavirus.
"Too many times we focus on what we can't and this is something we can do," Horton said.