On Sunday 12th April 2020, the England Manchester Mission broadcast its first virtual devotional via the Facebook Live platform. This was in response to the limitations placed upon the mission by the effects of the Covid-19 Pandemic.
The “Why I Believe” devotionals have been a great resource in connecting Missionaries with their friends and members. The desire to continue in some form was addressed in a Mission Leaders discussion and the proposal to do a combined live devotional combined with pre-recorded segments was agreed on. There had been concerns voiced about how good the quality of the proposed devotional would be, the technical challenges that had to be addressed and if the people would come!
Solutions and the answers were found within the mission.
Plans were made, invitations were sent out via social media and the rest as they say is history!
When asked later about the devotional President McReynolds responded with the following statements.
- What was the goal of the devotional?
The purpose of the “Why I Believe” devotional is to strengthen one another’s faith in God our Heavenly Father and in His Son Jesus Christ.
We do that by listening to the stories and testimonies of some of the new members of the Church, along with some uplifting and inspirational music.
The Mission has held these monthly devotionals for a number of years – they began in the more intimate setting of the Mission Home but nowadays we usually meet in one of the many chapels across the North West of England, where we typically have 250-550 people in attendance.
We wanted to continue with our monthly devotional, despite the lockdown and so we orchestrated a ‘virtual’ version.
- What has the response been?
The response was much better than we expected, with almost 800 connected on the night and more than 3.6k views of the post.
We estimate that 1,750-2,500 individuals watched the devotional, knowing that there were multiple people in many of the homes.
The comments from those watching were great - they were positive and uplifting.
- Anything else you would like to add?
This first virtual devotional and the response to the posting of the missionary choir has opened our eyes to the possibilities of social media - the greater reach and diversity in the audience.
As usual we had non-member friends, returning members, local members and missionaries attend. However, we also had families and friends of the missionaries from back home, including non-member friends who also joined the broadcast.
As a footnote, the devotional became global and was viewed from at least 19 countries across 6 continents.
The song “He Sent His Son” that was sung by the full time missionaries as part of the devotional has been viewed 22000 times via Facebook and YouTube.
We think it is fair to say the devotional exceeded all expectations in regards to its outreach with the next devotional already planned and invitations given.
The Lord's work will not be frustrated and will continue to go forth.