Oklahoma Conference of the United Methodist Church

Church takes steps to be a fully online community

2/8/2021

Do Church is the digital campus for Dewey UMC. The combination app and website offer ways to interact with others, attend meetings, take attendance, split into devotional groups, and giving. Rev. Jinx Barber used Subsplash to create a user interface that their community has largely adapted. “We don’t even know what the model will be, but something’s gotta change,” Barber said. Photo by Meagan Ewton.

When the pandemic hit, Dewey UMC was quick to suspend in-person worship. When they came back, they started a drive-in worship service with an FM radio signal and strict safety protocols. But Rev. Jinx Barber didn’t focus on how to get back to in-person services. Rather, he turned his eye toward what would inevitably come next: the capability to be a fully digital church.

“The next ministry has to be both,” Barber said, referring to in person and online worship. “Church isn’t just for worship; it’s fellowship, Bible study, making friends, and we have to find out how to get people involved like that online.”

Do Church is a fully digital church campus complete with small groups, volunteer and mission opportunities, and ways for people to interact, including committee meetings, prayer requests, and messaging other members. The campus is made up of two coordinating parts: the website DoChurchWithUs.com, and the Do Church app. Both products were designed by Subsplash, a company specializing in creating immersive technology platforms for churches and others. 

Barber said it took two years of back-end work to get the church into a place where it had the infrastructure necessary for a digital campus to be feasible. 

One priority was finding a way to ensure that older congregants would also benefit from technology change. The church chose to purchase plug-in streaming devices for home televisions that would allow their older members to watch the services and participate using their TV at home. 

“One of my biggest things is we won’t leave our older people behind,” Barber said. “We can buy our folks a (streaming device), set it up in their home, and that lets us build our relationship up with them.”

Barber believes that offering livestream worship services will be a necessity for churches in the near future. He’s thankful that the congregation has been largely supportive of the effort to have a fully digital campus.

“We can’t keep doing ‘worship and give,’ ‘worship and give,’ ‘worship and give,’” Barber said. “Something’s gotta change. We don’t even know what the model will be, but something’s gotta change.”

 

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