Yesterday my hometown, south of Chicago, lost power due to ice and wet, heavy snow, which prevented us from holding our daily Morning Prayer webcast while I sat in my cold house. Now we have a backup system, allowing our volunteer Subdeacon Clint Gilliland of Texas to take over for me. Praise be!
You probably know Clint, who’s our designated worship leader for webcasts and my go-to guy for technology questions. His official title here is Subdeacon for Interesting Things (IT).
The fact that he’s now able to log in to GoToMeeting, our webcast provider, in my absence means (we think) that we can also designate other “presenters” and worship leaders – and maybe schedule more webcasts at convenient times.
Our current daily webcast starts at 9am Eastern Time, which is 6am on the West Coast. We very seldom get members from the Eastern Time Zone, but unfailingly have people from the West.
That says to me that 9am Eastern is too late for people in New York, Boston, Washington, Charlotte, etc. They might join in if we started earlier.
This makes me wonder if we should recruit an East Coast presenter – someone known to us, trained and experienced in conducting the Daily Office, whom we can also train in the webcast technology. (It isn’t difficult, but like anything it takes some getting used to.)
I picked our current 9am Eastern start time from guesswork, but it wasn’t the right guess. (I also chose it for my own convenience; I’m a night person, so I’ve had to retrain my body to get up in time to start at 8am Central. Our West Coast members are completely unimpressed by my sacrifice.) A much better idea is to find a volunteer (or several) who would be interested in offering an earlier webcast. We could offer an early service at 7am, and the later one at 9am with our present leaders.
If you’re interested in helping lead an earlier service, leave a comment below. Don’t commit to anything yet, just discuss it with me. You don’t have to be ordained to lead the worship; the Prayer Book says anyone can lead it. And you don’t have to commit to doing it five days a week for the rest of your life.
Experience has shown that the most likely candidates are people who are retired or otherwise at home. We do get participants who tune into us from work, but they’re subject to interruptions and schedule issues.
What about Evening Prayer?
Morning Prayer is more popular everywhere than Evening Prayer, but I am a big believer that praying twice a day, as the Prayer Book provides, is better for the soul than just once a day. So I’ve always promoted both for those who can do them (and most of us can).
The rhythm works like this. Wake up and start the day off right by acknowledging God in prayer. (Read MP while you eat breakfast, that’s fine.) Go to school or work, perform your volunteer job, play golf, be a lady who lunches – go out and live your life. Then at the end of the day, that’s another great time to turn to God, so you can talk over what happened.
Maybe you had stress at work or school; maybe something terrible happened, or something wonderful. Take it to God once you’re back home. No guilt if you don’t or won’t or can’t, but Daily Morning and Evening Prayer really are what’s best for your soul. That habit, if you can do it, makes disciples out of everyone who does it.
At dailyoffice.org we offer Evening Prayer every single day. On Friday nights we have a special Video Evensong, which some people like. But we have never webcast at night, so here’s my question: would you like us to?
We might start out with one evening a week, maybe Wednesdays; I can manage that. Or if there was more demand, we’d have to figure that out.
My point is this: we have 1600 members receiving every service by e-mail. We have an additional 1600 members on Facebook who get a link to our service, 150 Twitter followers and another 1000 people who land on our sites every day. There is some overlap in these numbers, of course, but the bottom line is that we ought to schedule our live services according to “demand” and “availability,” just like any church with 4400 members would do. Think of a cathedral (we’re actually busier than almost all of them); they might offer daily mass at 7am, 12:05 and 5:15pm; Saturdays at 5 and 10pm; Sundays at 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12, with Spanish or Korean language at 2pm and Evensong at 5. (That takes a cathedral-sized staff!)
That’s how this should work – while keeping the feature that makes us most valuable, which is that we never close. When you’re ready to pray, we’re here just like God is. (We’re her sidekicks.)
But there’s another thing of great value, which webcasting has taught us; it’s better to get together in person. We make friends with the people we see at our webcasts. We share joys and sorrows, births and deaths and everything in between. It’s easy for us to pray throughout the day for Clint’s new grandbaby and Debbie’s campaign in Idaho; they’re naturally on our minds.
I’m not going to run a poll about Evening Prayer, I’m asking you to leave comments below instead. Is one night better for you than another? When’s the best time?
We’re never going to please everyone, and we know that. But I’m also convinced that Average Sunday Attendance in physical churches would increase significantly if they offered more services timed for how we live now.
The single biggest reason people don’t go to Sunday services is because that’s their day to sleep. A majority of Americans are now sleep-deprived because of the fast pace of life; not sleeping is harmful to our health.
But of course clergy are overworked already, and they can’t be there 24/7 when you feel like showing up. So churches compromise, aim for the middle, do the best they can.
We’re trying to do the same, within our online and techno limitations, because with 4400 members, we’re a megachurch, and we ought to act like it.
Let me know. And thanks for praying with us.++