We're a long way from 'ideal'. COVID-19 has put pay to that. Gatherings of more than 2 people are now outlawed in the UK. Church meetings as we know them are, for the time being, no longer possible.
But the church has often thrived in times of adversity. And I, for one, am hopeful that this too will be one of those times. I pray that we will look back on this time with gladness. We will delcare that for "those who love God all things work together for good."
With these restrictions in place, a week ago I started building this website. It's a tool for churches. It provides a quick and simple way to put together online services from a variety of online content.
In these days of Zoom, YouTube and Facebook Live (to name a few), why bother using Church Service Planner?
Well, here are a few reasons for you to consider.
Share a Single Link
This week many churches have relied on YouTube playlists or individual videos to share online services. If you're able to create a playlist of videos for the entire service then this can work well. But what if your service includes video as well as other content? What if you want to include Bible study notes, questions, time for response, for example?
Sending links to various YouTube videos can be confusing and is difficult to follow. It is particularly difficult for older people who may not be particularly tech-savvy.
And what about being able to share your entire service with others. Can you share your service via social media, text message or WhatsApp, for example?
Church Service Planner provides you with a single, shareable URL. You can send it to others via email, WhatsApp, post to Facebook or Twitter or link from your own website.
No Distractions or Advertising
Unlike social networks, this website does not display advertising of any kind. Nor does it display content which competes for your attention.
If you were meeting physically, you would not expose your church family to a barrage of ads. Nor would you allow pop-ups or auto-playing videos from unknown sources, during your services, would you? So why settle for that online?
Church Service Planner is designed to be distraction free. It gives those who use it the best opportunity to focus on God's word and prayer.
Your Service Can Be Structured However You Like
In the physical world, your church meetings will include a variety of content, delivered by different people. Church Service Planner allows you to create an online version of your normal service. With various kinds of content available, you can use what works best for you.
Want to include a written welcome and notices section? You can do that. Want to include a sermon live-streamed via YouTube? You can do that. Want to include pre-recored videos, teaching, children's talks or music? You can do that.
And alongside all this you can link to other websites. You can even invite your church to join a Zoom chat directly within your service plan.
Best of all, you can re-order your service by dragging and dropping the content within the list. It really is that simple.
No Accounts, No Passwords, No Fees
I wanted Church Service Planner to be quick. Really quick. As a result, you don't need an account to use it. Just click the 'Get Started!' button on the home page and begin building your service.
I am planning a 'Pro' version for the future - but all that is available now will be free to use for as long as the site is online.
It's free to try, free to use, free to share. Give it a go, you've nothing to lose!
Built For The Church, From The Ground Up
Church Service Planner is brand new. It's been online for less than a week (at time of writing). And yet, in its first week of life it's been visited by over 1,000 people from all corners of the globe. During its first weekend in operation, it delivered Sunday Services for 8 churches around the UK. These services were watched by reaching over 500 people worldwide.
I've got big plans for the platform and truly want to see it grow into something which delivers real value for the church.
And so, I want your feedback! Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Tell me what you like, what you don't, what works and what you'd like adding. I'm listening and take all comments on board.
In an ideal world this website would not exist. But we're living in a fallen world, so we have to adapt, and by God's grace, overcome.
Let's build something great together, and help spread some light in the darkness.