Welp, just like everyone else and their moms, we had our first service all online, and it was really fun and exciting and exhausting and hard and amazing and… well, you get it.

I will for sure tell you it was a learning experience on all fronts, and I will tell you that I work with an amazing team of youth pastors and we have a killer tech and production team at Sandals Church backing us 100%.

I wanted to write a blog post immediately following the first service so it was fresh in my head, and I could remember what went well and what we can work on. I’m hoping I can 1) decompress and process for myself, and 2) maybe help others think through their online services right now.

Show Format:

This was a live broadcast, and I wanted (and it did feel like) to run it like a TV show. We went for an hour, and we had a host who walked through all the segments. We went for a talk show/YouTube show that you would see online. We had a few segments of games and fun with a few videos we used as commercials so we could switch between the segments. Then we had a sermon, then dismissed all of our groups which met digitally. (Click HERE to see the game plan we sent out to our leaders on how to do this.)

Things I loved about our service:

  • The streaming worked online. That’s a win.
  • I thought the flow of the service and transitions between the different segments went really, really well. We had a lot of great feedback from students immediately after saying this was really well done.
  • We got to highlight most of our youth leads from each campus. We thought it was important to make sure our students got to see their lead from their campus.
  • I thought our two segments were great for the first online service. Lots of questions and get-to-know-you type things. Our campuses get together only a few times a year, so it was cool for everyone to see everyone.
  • I thought the energy was really high and engaging.
  • It looked awesome. We had two ladies on our team own the set. The tech crew at our church is legit and it looked SOOOOO good on camera.
  • I loved the format, and I think we are going to keep it for the most part.
    • Welcome
    • 1st bit
    • Commercial
    • 2nd Bit
    • Commercial
    • Message
    • Dismiss

Things I would like to work on for next week:

  • The audio for the first part of the message was weird. That was my mic, but it was an easy fix.
  • The left side of the background needed more light. Felt like there was a missing spot.
  • Maybe too many people on camera at once? I think we can spread it out. As we move forward with the online approach, it’s okay if we don’t have everyone on stage at one time. We can spread it out a little bit and get people every other week.
  • We can plan out the live bits better. I liked it, but I think we can be a little cleaner and tighter on time to keep engagement super high.
  • I want to create commercials that fit specifically for the night, not using older clips we have previously made. We filmed a whole bunch today, so that should be fixed for next week’s service.
  • A bot or moderators (or both) for the online chat. It got a little spammy and nuts during the message. Even online there is “that kid.”
  • Better lighting for our faces. Felt a little dark, and you can see the shadows of glasses on my face during the message.
  • I should have preached from a bar table and not a stand. I think it would have looked better for the camera.
  • We talked about our social media, but we did not have the handles on the screen.

Overall, I give us a B+. Not bad for pulling off this whole thing in 36 hours. It just gets me excited to see what our team can do with a whole week of planning.

Drop a comment of tips and tricks you have learned this week by moving online? I would love to steal… I mean learn from you.