By Aaron Wilson
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Drew Porterfield spent last Christmas sick in bed—unable to attend his church’s traditional service. Since he couldn’t worship with his local church family, Porterfield tried to find a virtual Christmas service online. That was more difficult than he expected, however.
“This sparked an idea,” he said. “What if someone were to offer programming of churches’ Christmas worship services and stream those to virtual audiences so they can experience services at home?”
A few months later, as the coronavirus pandemic began sweeping the globe and making its way across the U.S., Porterfield’s idea had bigger implications than he first envisioned.
“We now have a vast population at home this Christmas unable to participate in person for worship services,” said Porterfield, a broadcast engineer at Lifeway Christian Resources. “Through ‘A Lifeway Digital Christmas,’ we want to expand the reach of local churches and enable people around the world to worship and celebrate the gospel wherever they find themselves this season.”
Lifeway will host virtual Christmas worship services this season for the following churches. For live service times, visit DigitalPass.LifeWay.com.
- “Hope is Alive!” | Shades Mountain Baptist Church (Birmingham, Alabama)
- “Celebrate Christmas with Ingleside” | Ingleside Baptist Church (Macon, Georgia)
- “Christmas at Brentwood” | Brentwood Baptist Church (Tennessee)
- “Handel’s Messiah” | First Baptist Church of Newnan (Georgia)
- “Now All is Well” | First Baptist Church of Jackson (Mississippi)
- Thomas Road Baptist Church’s Christmas service (Lynchburg, Virginia)
- “A December to Remember”| First Baptist Church Indian Trail (North Carolina)
In addition to airing live broadcasts of each event, Lifeway will provide around-the-clock loops of each program from December 15-26, 2020.
“It is our privilege to be able to partner with Lifeway Digital Pass as we present our special guests artists, Drew and Ellie Holcomb, some stellar Birmingham musicians and the creative ministries of Shades Mountain Baptist Church for ‘Hope is Alive,’ filmed on seven stellar locations including the historic Alabama Theater,” said Michael Adler, worship arts pastor.
Porterfield said he sees individuals and families incorporating “A Lifeway Digital Christmas” into their holiday activities by watching a service together during a dedicated time, having worship music playing in the background during mealtimes, while opening presents and singing along as a family in worship from home.
“I’ll personally have it on at my house and plan on watching a candlelight service on Christmas Eve,” he said.
To access “A Lifeway Digital Christmas,” users can visit DigitalPass.LifeWay.com on a computer, web browser on a smart TV or any mobile device. Sign in using a Lifeway ID or register and create an ID for first time users.
Viewers can then watch the live schedule of events or an ongoing loop of any service that has already aired. All Christmas services are available to watch for free.
Lifeway provided a similar online worship experience this past Easter for people who couldn’t gather in person at church due to COVID. While Porterfield believes virtual services shouldn’t permanently replace in-person church gatherings, he said they serve as a helpful tool during this unique season and going forward.
“This medium is here at the right time and is presenting the gospel in mass in one of the largest times of need for the church,” he said. “Streaming has become a norm due to COVID. It’s another medium through which we can fulfill the Great Commission and take the truth of Jesus to the world.”
Aaron Wilson is a writer for Lifeway Christian Resources.