Online worship grows into church's second campus

August 10, 2020

Pastor Clint Brake serves Lyndonville UMC in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont. In March, when COVID-19 meant locking the church doors, equipped with his Mac, a smartphone and a Facebook page, he started livestreaming worship and doing a daily vlog. 
 
With those simple tools and not a lot of technical experience, Pastor Brake has created what he sees as a new church.
 
“First, it established an online campus for us. It was a completely different campus for us, and then it moved from an online campus to actually planting a church,” Pastor Brake said. “For all intents and purposes, we planted a second congregation. I have people commenting every week from Georgia, and [it’s] the same people; from Maryland, there's another person from New York State, someone from California … we receive notes from them, we receive gifts from them.”
 
It started with the vlog, “Pastor Clint’s Good News,” that he posts Tuesday through Friday; it’s pre-recorded on his Mac. He also does a Thursday morning live prayer time call “Lifestream.” (An apt title that came about from a fortuitous typo, he said). 
 
The vlogs and the weekly worship service can now be found on the church’s YouTube channel. The vlogs, Lifestream prayer room, and livestream church services are also available on the Lyndonville UMC Online Facebook page  The only new equipment he’s added since March is a new wireless microphone. 
 
And, since early June, the Vermont congregation has been coming back together to worship outdoors. They will bring groups back into the building this month, and plan to go back into the sanctuary on Sept. 6. 
 
But, Pastor Brake said, that won’t be the end of the online church, which on average attracts 288 people on a Sunday, and with boosted post on Facebook, reaches 1,200-1300, and once had 4,000 viewers. The church has seen a significant increase in traffic on its website as well; 20 to 40 percent higher than before the vlogs and online services. 
 
“My goal wasn’t to amass people,” he said. “My goal is to get the gospel out to as many people as we could; that's what we're here for. And each and every one of those numbers, those clicks, is a living and loving being … is child of God. And I look at these people in the sense that they are our family, so it's not just a number.”
 
Pastor Brake creates in vlog in his office, and that’s where he was when we spoke in late July via Zoom. Watch excerpts from that interview below:
 

'Pastor Clint's Good News:' The start of an online church from New England Conference UMC on Vimeo.