Ashley Baptist Church, New Milton

Hundreds of online daily devotions were produced by the team at Ashley Baptist Church – which helped many people even outside their congregation.

Before the pandemic, Ashley Baptist Church didn’t use technology at all, apart from projecting words and recording sermons on CD. 
When the pandemic hit, everything changed. 
‘We recorded services on a phone at first’, said Pastor Jon White, ‘then invested in cameras, streaming equipment and better sound technology to broadcast our services. Our preachers spoke from different locations such as the forest or the beach, employed new preaching techniques such as participative drawings and practical illustrations, recording using their own phones and cameras. We recorded different types of services, such as all-age, accessible and silver services. Three volunteers spent 14 hours every week putting together the content for the services, learning how to use new editing software to achieve this.
Lots of people with no connection to Ashley Baptist Church came across our daily devotions on Facebook or YouTube and, got in touch to say they’d been helped greatly, that they felt God had spoken to them that day.
‘Our home groups met via Zoom and WhatsApp, with old and young alike joining in. Our diaconate worked tirelessly on Zoom to address the pastoral and practical issues we were facing, and we kept our youth and children’s groups going online, with teaching materials hand-delivered to their homes.
‘Perhaps the biggest impact was in our daily devotions – short videos we produced every day bar Sundays, with meditations on an appropriate verse or two of the Bible and messages of encouragement and hope. In all, we did some 400 of these – for instance, I did one on each of the Psalms – all uploaded to social media, and emailed around. Lots of people with no connection to us came across them on Facebook or YouTube and, got in touch to say they’d been helped greatly, that they felt God had spoken to them that day.
‘Covid was horrible, but there was an excitement about what we could do to reach out to people, and a sense of compassion and a feeling that we could think mesh the online and real world together.
‘I think the money might go on better cameras,’ he said. ‘It was tremendous to win and I know the church is ever so grateful.’
Feedback from life-long members and those who discovered us during lockdown has been hugely positive. Much about our future is unknown but it will certainly involve a hybrid presence, embracing technology, for ministry and mission’.