News

Churches turn to Instagram, YouTube to spread holiday gospel

Churches turn to Instagram, YouTube to spread holiday gospel

HIGH TECH HOLIDAY: Churches are increasingly turning to social media to spread the gospel. Photo: clipart.com

By Elizabeth Dilts

(Reuters) – The Christmas holiday brings peak attendance for most churches, and an increasing number of U.S. religious groups are using the boom time to wow parishioners with virtual choirs on YouTube and Instagram advent calendars.

More than 500 churches will stream Christmas sermons online this year, up from just a handful in 2007, said DJ Chuang, host of the Social Media Church, a podcast with church leaders about social media. Hundreds more started Instagram and Pinterest accounts this year to post photos of baptisms and quotes from the gospel, he said.

“Instagram is like the modern day stained glass window,” Chuang said. “They use it to tell the stories of the church.”

The online churches appeal to those who have moved away from their own parish, people who may be reticent to walk into an actual church and people who wish to attend a service outside normal times.

The New Jersey-based Liquid Church has had an online pastor since 2009, and took to YouTube last Christmas to share a virtual choir using videos from roughly 500 church members who attend services remotely.

A technician overlayed the voices from each of the videos to create a cohesive song and video of individuals in front of their computers at home singing “Silent Night” in three-part harmony, said pastor Kenny Jahng.

This year, the church will hold virtual communion, the religious sacrament where worshipers drink grape juice and eat bread. When members log on to the service, the pastor will tell them to get a glass of grape juice and any household bread.

Evangelical pastor Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church, which is based in California, is exploring how to get a PlayStation channel to stream its church services similar to the way Netflix streams movies.

The California megachurch, which was a pioneer in digital worship, already streams 168 services on its website every week, and will have services every hour on the hour the week of Christmas.

“Imagine church services on a Wii,” said Jay Kranda, the lead pastor for Saddleback’s online services.

The practice is not popular with all churches, however.

In November, the United Methodist Church declared a moratorium on all online sacraments, and said in a statement that communion must be administered with a “physically gathered community.”

(Reporting by Elizabeth Dilts; editing by Edith Honan and Andrew Hay)

Latest Headlines

in Local

Police: Handcuffed Man Escapes From Cruiser

Fresh
GENERIC HANDCUFFS-LARGE

CHELSEA, Maine (AP) Police are asking for the public's help in finding a man who jumped out of a state police cruiser and escaped into the woods after his arrest in Chelsea earlier this week.

in Local

Maine CDC Issues Hepatitis A Alert

GENERIC RESTAURANT

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) - The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention says a worker at a Cumberland County restaurant infected with hepatitis A may have exposed customers.

in Trending, Viral Videos

TODAY’S MUST SEE: ‘Scaring’ with the ‘Stars’

11-overlay3

Halloween is alive and well on the set of the hit ABC show "Dancing With the Stars."

in Local

Obama Energizes Maine Democrats For Michaud

Photo: Associated Press/Charles Dharapak

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) - With less than a week until Election Day, Democrats are hoping President Barack Obama's visit to Maine will energize their base and get supporters to get out and vote to unseat Republican Gov. Paul LePage.

in Local

No Timetable For Hayride Death Investigation

Hayride Jeep 101714

MECHANIC FALLS, Maine (AP) - Maine police say there is no timetable for wrapping up an investigation into a fatal Halloween-themed hayride accident.

Tweets

  • 2m
  • 1h
  • 1h
  • 1h
  • 1h
  • 1h
  • 1h