As the Service Programming Director for North Point Ministries, Elizabeth Lincoln is responsible for everything that happens in the auditorium on Sunday mornings at NPM’s eight Atlanta-area campuses.
But what happens when the auditoriums are empty—when the COVID-19 pandemic forces an overnight shift to only online services?
Elizabeth recently chatted with Jessica Duquette, who leads the NP Resources team, about the monumental shift her team has made and the new questions they’re asking about the future of Sunday services.
Elizabeth, let's go back to March for a minute, when all of this started. What were your first concerns?
There were several. Number one: Were we going to be able to record or stream services in a way that kept our staff safe?
Number two: How do we make sure that our campuses are resourced to make the pivots that we're all having to make? Some of our campuses already streamed their services every week, but some didn’t. We had to figure out whether we would all use one stream or each campus would create their own local iteration.
And then three: What is it that people really need right now? What are they feeling, and are we empathizing enough? I’ll give you Easter as an example. We’d been planning for four months, but as things in the world started changing, our plans went out the window.
The circumstances required that we shift our approach. We made the service fairly simple—beautiful, but simple—because I wanted to make sure that we were tangibly communicating empathy, and that our tone matched what was going on in the world. We knew that people would be joining us online who had never joined us in person, so we viewed everything through the lens of: "What might be a barrier for people?" "What might offend or distract them?" For example, it was the first time that we put the singers on the floor for our worship set. We didn't want people seeing a full band clustered together on the stage and get distracted wondering if they were six feet apart, or if they were in danger. We knew if that happened, people wouldn’t be able to engage in the service.