Monday, April 18, 2016

Around The World In 80 Sundays

This past weekend was Mission Street Church's 80th worship service in the Edwards Movie Theater in Camarillo.  It will also be our last in that location.  Next week, we will be moving to a temporary summer location that is less expensive in Newbury Park (a town just south of Camarillo), at the Monte Vista Presbyterian Church.  And so this is a bit of a reflective moment for all of us, a culminating event, a transition place, a temporary seat on a log by the side of a hiking trail.  And it is an opportunity to reflect upon some of what God has done in the movie theater.

When the ministry began, some 80 Sundays ago (Oct. 26, 2014), we began with an an out of the box idea.  What if we video record all of our services, and post those recordings on the web (Facebook, Vimeo, Website)?  We didn't know if anyone would be interested in watching them, or worshipping with us, but we figured that it was at least worth a try.  The theater was not ideal for worship in many ways (pink neon lights outside, no time to talk to people after worship because of tear down needs).  But it WAS ideal for another purpose - video and music recording.  The walls of most theaters are lined with thousands of dollars of sound treatments, so it is very much like a professional recording studio.  A professional videographer named Robb Klein from Orangetree Productions (and who has done work at Universal Studios), offered his services for the endeavor.  What we discovered was remarkable.  Quite literally, we went...

Around the World in 80 Sundays

Because of modern day computer analytics, we are able to know the countries and the states of where people watch videos from.  We also know the amount of time that people log onto our website from.  This last detail is important because if a person was logging on for, say, one minute, chances are they were just looking at the times of our services.  If they were logging on for 30 minutes or more, they were most likely watching a weekend message (sermon).  Within a week of putting our worship videos on the web, we found that people were logging on for 30 minutes or more from the following countries...


And many more countries around the world, and states within the United States.  And so, each week as I have begun my message, I have looked into the camera and welcomed those who were watching, from whatever country they were watching from:  "This morning we want to say hello to our video watchers from Romania, we pray that you sense the Holy Spirit where you are, the way we do here in Camarillo, California).   This international focus at the beginning of the message has also helped our own congregation's growth in several ways.  First, it signals to all who are in the room (theater), that there are others watching and that they are a part of a larger worldwide congregation.  It also focusses our church on mission without ever having to say the word "mission".  The third thing it does, and this is kind of funny, is that it keeps everyone on best behavior.  It's like inviting an outsider to a dinner party - nobody tends to tell as many bad jokes when the turkey is passed.

God has done many more great things in our 80 weeks of ministry in the movie theater (baptisms, communions, memorial services, services of healing).  But the video ministry of Mission Street Church will always loom large in my fond memory and appreciation.  We went

Around the World in 80 Sundays.

I recommend that your church try the same idea.  It doesn't cost much but it reaches many.  We will continue next week at the Monte Vista Presbyterian Church in Newbury Park (3797 Lynn Rd) at 4:45 on Sunday afternoons.  And we will continue the video ministry;-).

All For Now,


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