Like many countries, South Africa's response to the COVID-19 pandemic saw a national lockdown and the suspension of large social gatherings - including any places of worship.
LINC Church, based in Salt Rock, would generally see an average weekly congregation of around 1,000 people. However, with that now not being possible, the Church made a swift decision to take everything online.
Video has become an invaluable part of LINC's worship on campus, and the Church wanted to continue offering good quality content in a style and format that felt familiar. The aim was also to ensure attendees could access live messages and sermons from pastors.
"Total lockdown came at midnight on the 26th March, but we did get a couple of days notice," begins Simon Wilkes, media director. "We gathered a group of people at the church and used the time to record as much content as we could - both preaching and worship."
The pre-recorded material is edited by Simon from his home and mixed in with new smartphone videos supplied by pastors. “Then we export a final cut, and provide a copy of that to a colleague who lives on-site at the Church,” he adds.
"Those files are then loaded on to the ProPresenter which feeds an ATEM Production Studio 4K," explains Simon. "A Teranex Mini converts the feed to HDMI which goes into the Living As One encoder - this enables us to go out to whatever platform we want to by creating an embedded link."
Broadcasting to both its own platform linc.tv and Facebook Live, the Church has been blown away by the response from the community. “Our online viewership is now double the size of our weekly congregation!”
He continues: ”It's all we can do right now, but the community around us has embraced it. A lot of people look to their faith in times of crisis, so we had to continue providing what support we could. About 80% of our viewers are local to South Africa, but the rest are from all over the world."
Simon explains that linc.tv also has various interactive features. "There is a chat function that runs on the side, a schedule, a Bible app and also prayer buttons. If anyone wants prayer or is having a challenging time, we have a team of between five and ten volunteers on the backend who are available to talk privately and provide counsel."
For midweek activities, whether that’s Bible studies or prayers and worship, group leaders set up Zoom hangouts. "It's important to keep that regular communication going to remove the sense of isolation," adds Simon. "Just because we can't physically meet, doesn't mean any of this has to stop."