Calm. That’s how I felt this past Sunday morning, the day of the Online Campus (OC) launch. I was sitting in the kitchen with Duncan (age three) and Gideon (age ten months), and thinking it was weird how calm I felt. This brought a smile to my face. I thought I had done everything I could to be prepared for the launch. It was out of my hands now.
The days leading up to the launch had been productive. A successful run through Thursday evening had put me at ease. The OC Welcome video was in the can. The OC Introduction video, to be played in service, was well-received. The OC live stream page had received the necessary edits. Online giving was up and running. The Volunteers were ready to serve. A snowstorm on Saturday had brought more attention to the OC launch, and allowed me to film a makeshift promo that was fun.
As I was getting ready, that Sunday morning, texts and messages were coming in from friends encouraging me about the launch. When walking in and around the church, everyone was wishing me well. Everything seemed prime and ready.
The service was to start at 10:45 AM, with chat beginning fifteen minutes before the start of service at 10:30. When 10:30 hit, the campus went live, but I didn’t have access to chat. I checked with a few other volunteers. None of them had access to it either. Calm? Quickly exiting and panic is taking its place. I’m frantically messaging our people in charge of IT and web. I’m wondering what happened between Thursday night and now. I’m hoping something can get fixed. I remember that Koob Vang (friend, coworker and volunteer) is stuck in Wisconsin due to weather. He was going to help me steer the discussion in the chat. I text him and tell him the predicament and say he needs to run the show with chat. I consider it providential that he was stuck in Wisconsin.
One of the volunteers, Troy Rader, also brought his 3G enabled iPad. He pulls it out and we’re able to access the OC page. Chat is working. We can see that numerous people are accessing the page. People are chatting away quickly. Quickly, I try to engage with the conversation. Simultaneously, I’m trying to think about what to do and how to keep volunteers active. Then, my phone rings and its our IT guy. He’s asking me questions about chat protocols, and unfortunately I don’t the answers to the technical questions.
And then someone ushers up a videographer from KETV to interview me.
I was not in the frame of mind to do an interview at that moment. Everything was falling apart, it seemed, and here was the local ABC affiliate ready to film it for the evening news. I agreed to do the interview. Why? No idea. I thought it was the best option in the moment.
For the next 15-20 minutes I’m being interviewed for a news piece. Some would consider this good publicity, but I was not into it at all. My mind was elsewhere. Because of that, I was then concerned about what I was saying. I couldn’t remember what I was even saying. I was hoping I didn’t say anything stupid and get myself in trouble, or Christ Community Church in trouble. This was my mindset. Especially when the videographer asked me pointed questions that were in hopes of me answering in a way to takedown other people/churches who criticized online church. Interview ended, and I just hoped I wouldn’t be fired.
One of the leaders at CCC came up and asked what KETV was doing here interviewing me, and I responded, “I have no idea.” Thankfully, they connected the videographer who was setting up shots around the church. I had offered to escort them around, but I really couldn’t.
At this point, the service is almost two-thirds done, and I’m just trying to figure out what the heck is going on. I think the morning has been a failure, and that the launch has backfired.
The service wraps up, and I’m standing there unsure of what to do. I’m shaking my head at one point. Troy tells me, “Hey, to everyone who was watching the Online Campus, outside the church, they thought it was fantastic.” The words wash over me and then I think about the morning. People were conversing with one another in the chat. They were engaged with the music. They learned from the message. Over 200 people were in attendance from 28 states and 4 countries. The feedback on Facebook, Twitter and more was overwhelmingly positive. People were telling the friends they needed to check out the church online. That afternoon I spent over an hour responding to people’s positive feedback to the service. It was a huge blessing to me.
On the drive home, Liam says, “We are the Online Campus family!” Amen. Couldn’t have done it without any of them.
The Online Campus launch? It went nothing like I expected. The result was beyond expectations.
By God’s grace, this thing is up and running.