I had the pleasure of visiting the Darkwood Brew online-interactive faith service last weekend.
The service is a mix of a real face-to-face church service in a coffee shop, online web streaming of a live “show”, and an interactive social-media experience via Facebook at the streaming site.
Very impressive. Much like a live TV show, the coffee shop is buzzing with a floor manager, two handheld cameras, two fixed mount cameras, cable handlers, technical producers, etc. The backroom is a fairly sophisticated media studio where the director and a technician call the show with all the necessary goodies.
On the other hand, it is a real church service held at Countryside Community UCC in Omaha, Neb. Real people are there participating with a real pastor, the Rev. Eric Elnes. It’s a casual environment with lounge chairs, tall tables and an espresso bar. Live (excellent) jazz music is interwoven through the service, prayers are said, scripture is read and reflected upon, a sermon is given, guest speakers appear and communion is shared.
What is completely different though is the online and interactive nature of Darkwood Brew. The special guest speaker was live via Skype. Prayers and questions came through social-media chats. Video introduction and examples were delivered on flat-screen TVs throughout the seating area and via the live stream.
It is a great experiment in what church might look like in a social-media driven world. Not abandoning tradition – in some cases restoring ancient traditions – while embracing our current realities and looking toward the future. It seems to me this is something that courageous Christians have been doing through each phase of “reformation” the church has experienced.
We’ll be doing a story on the service in the upcoming issue of StillSpeaking Magazine so, if you haven’t already, be sure to subscribe so you get this great story.
The trip was also personally rewarding. I’ve known Eric Elnes for several years though we’ve never met. The Darkwood Brew technical producer, Scott Griessel, and I have been working together for some time too – he’s a regular photo and story contributor to StillSpeaking Magazine and has done some video assignments for me in Arizona – though we’d never met either.
It was great to have face-time with these friends. We all commented that, though our first time meeting, we were so familiar with one another that it didn’t seem that way. Pretty cool – and a testimony to the power of social media that has enabled us to be friends prior to meeting.