As a pastor, I am professionally trained to study the bible, understand theology (some), preach, and offer pastoral care. However, there is one area where most pastors… maybe even most Jesus-followers are under trained in. This area is in trying to figure out what God is doing in our own life.

The other day I was listening to a podcast where my mentor, Brian Russell, was interviewing another pastor/author, Marc Alan Schelske. Marc was talking about his own spiritual formation and struggles as a pastor.

Marc also shared a tool he uses to help him process what God is doing in his life. He gave three questions he asked that are inspired by an ancient church father, St. Ignatius.

I found them so helpful I tweeted, blogged about, and made it the cover of the church newsletter. Marc offered the practice of time daily journaling through these questions.

#1 What happened in my life yesterday?

#2 Why did I respond or choose the way that I did?

#3 Who is God inviting me to be?

These questions have added value to my processing time with the Lord. 

What practices do you find helpful in addition to your prayer and scripture reading?

I Kissed Facebook Live Goodbye

I have been part of the recent influx of pastors cramming on doing worship online like a student at the end of the semester. All the early articles and resources I read were about how pastors should live stream their worship services. We decided to go in a different direction. I wanted to give you six reasons why we kissed Facebook live goodbye.

#1. It is easier to upload to Facebook and YouTube before hand. I have seen several pastors who have problems with their live stream freezing. One of the easier ways to avoid this is to record your service earlier in the week and have it already uploaded to Facebook or YouTube. This way once Sunday rolls around people can just click the link and see it already uploaded.

#2. Facebook and YouTube have great “premiere” features. Both streaming platforms let you create a time the video will be available. This allows you to tell your church to tune in at a certain time and watch together. The premiere will show the video straight through. Also YouTube has a cool two minute countdown before it begins. It is a great way to jump online and comment with the church family watching. It is really neat to see people interacting with your sermon especially if you are giving them something to type.

Tools of Grace

During the sermon we asked viewers to comment with #ToolsOfGrace. See the moment in the sermon here.

#3. Recording beforehand gives you better lighting. I’ve had two preachers contact me in a 24 hour span about what lights to purchase. My advice is “do not buy lights.” If you record before hand you can almost always lighten up the video. Here are two sermons I preached in a church with lighting that looked horrible on video. One video I did not lighten up before uploading and in one I did. Can you tell the difference?

I used the free Microsoft movie maker to edit the lighting.

#4. Recording beforehand gives you better audio. This is a little more of a technical tasks, but if you record your audio with a separate microphone you can get significantly better audio. I almost always use my iPhone as a recording device. I put it on the pulpit in airplane mode and record in the voice memo app.

iPhone Recording

See my iPhone on the hymnal beside me.

For my online worship services I am using a cheap lapel mic and plugging it into my iPhone. It is a little loud but I can turn it down when I edit the video.

Mic into iPhone

Microphone on my tie that goes into the headphone jack on my iPhone 5s.

Either way, if you want to record the audio separate or straight from the camera, recording beforehand can give you an idea of the adjustments that need to be made.

#5. It is easier to add other videos into the worship service. We have been asking people to record themselves saying prayers, creeds, scriptures, and singing onto their phones and send it to me. This would be possible to incorporate into a live stream but much more difficult. Recording and editing beforehand makes this much more possible.

Grapich for Cell Phone Worship

Here is the graphic we are using to invite people to participate.

#6. It’s what I could do the best. At the end of the day I am open to learning more about different ways to stream. If you do Facebook live great! We just feel like, for us, the best quality worship service is one that is recorded and uploaded before hand.

Just getting something out there the first few times is a huge achievement! Do not worry about comparing yourself to others but always ask, “what I can do the best?”

What do ya’ll think? Should I reconsider Facebook live or stick to the premiere feature for worship?

This is post number #11 in my 40 posts of Lent challenge.

This post is post #5 in my 40 Posts of Lent Challenge.