If you are interested in how we run our Encounter Worship nights then read on. Some of the details will get technical, but the hope is that you will find the information helpful and that you might be able to use this enhance your own online meetings. We are constantly learning and growing in what we can do so will endeavour to periodically update these pages.
How We Started
Encounter Worship started on the back of the housechurch we were running at the time. As part of the housechurch we would have times of worship with the words displayed on a TV screen in our lounge using some free software called SongManager which had been developed by Simon over many years.
When the COVID lockdowns were imposed on us we, like so many churches, had to adapt to an online format. We quickly settled on the Zoom platform and initially used worship videos for the first few weeks. However we found these somewhat impersonal and as we had a long background in leading worship we decided to try doing live in-person worship over Zoom.
In order to achieve this we used a Behringer XR18 digital mixer, setup a spare computer to run the worship from with a single fixed webcam. We used OBS Studio to overlay the webcam onto a screen with the words coming from the song software. The sound from the XR18 mixer was sent to the computer via the built-in USB link. We then used a second “Worship Team” connection to our house church Zoom meeting and during our worship time we would “Spotlight” the Worship Team so that everyone could see us and read the words. The change of words would be managed by Simon using a 3-pedal USB footswitch which had been configured to work with the SongLeader software.
Evolving to become Encounter Worship
As the lockdown continued we felt in our hearts a desire to open the possibility of worship to others so decided to use the Zoom platform to hold a worship evening using the technology we had already in place for our housechurch meetings. Our first meeting consisted of pretty much just our housechurch, but the second one we invite Tim and Barbara Finch to connect in. It was after their initial connection that they wanted to support us and became a fundamental part of what we have gone on to do.
Tim and Simon are both IT professionals and musicians, and had previously worked on a joint project for a concert a couple of years prior to the COVID outbreak. They combined their skills and knowledge to help develop and enhance the technology used to run Encounter Worship along with some input from others in the area.
The Encounter Worship evenings were initially held every three weeks during lockdown and were initially on a Thursday night. This was later changed to a Saturday to avoid the clash that several potential attendees had with their own church activities.
The meeting platform is a fundamental part of the Encounter Worship experience as the heart of Encounter Worship is to bring people together to worship together and in doing so to encounter the presence of the Holy Spirit. We didn’t want something where the worship is passively watched but rather a place where we can join together, interact with each other and actively engage in worship together. We also wanted to bring people together with a sense of a wider community.
One of our prayers before each meeting has been that the Lord will bring a sense of being together despite being geographically spread. This He seems to have graciously answered every time.
The use of the Zoom platform enables us to do this effectively as it allows us to
- Connect multiple people simultaneously
- Have quality audio and video
It was also easy to continue to use what we had started within the housechurch setup.
After a few gatherings we began to get the occasional request to record the meeting so that they could catch up on a meeting they could not attend. So we decided to setup our YouTube channel.
The channel primarily contains full live recordings of recent worship nights plus other promotional videos.