Fast-forwarding?

Baptist TrainfanBaptist Trainfan Shipmate
edited May 15 in Ecclesiantics
In a recent Mystery Worshipper report of an online church service, the reviewer confesses (if that be the right word) to having "fast-forwarded" through certain sections. @Nick Tamen makes the comment, "What I was curious about was what parts of the service were fast-forwarded through, and how that might have affected the report on the service. I’ll confess that this taps into some of my concerns about streamed worship, and how we participate in it. Are we really participating in worship if we can fast-forward through bits, or are we more like spectators?"

That seems to me to be a very appropriate question to discuss (and, indeed, one that isn't confined to church services: I've certainly checked and written emails during Zoom meetings, and I'd be extremely surprised if I was alone in doing this!) Apart from anything else, an online service seems to go much more slowly than when one is present, even though streamed services are anecdotally shorter than live ones. Has this got to do with one's sense of engagement or lack of it? Is it because we are used to fast-moving TV shows and movies? Or what?
«1

Comments

  • BroJamesBroJames Purgatory Host, 8th Day Host
    Two factors, I think, play into this.

    Our liturgy lecturer at college, Michael Vasey of blessed memory, said about sermons that people in the congregation sometimes treat them as ‘a mental fag [cigarette] break’. I think he was right, and that it applies to other parts of the service too. When it happens on a large scale you can usually discern it in a congregation, but I suspect that in most services it happens to different individuals at different times in the service. But we are socialised to do it discreetly, so we don’t get our phone out, or the Sunday paper, or in other ways positively demonstrate our disengagement. If it’s boring we just endure it.

    Secondly, the in person experience is much richer in terms of engaging all our senses - even if it’s mainly just hymns and talking. This helps to keep us engaged by other means.

    Absent our desire not to be rude, and the more engaging nature of in-person worship it doesn’t surprise me that people fast forward through a hymn they don’t like, a boring sermon, badly read familiar scriptures, or other things which we might inwardly grumble about, but never give voice to in an in-person gathering.
  • NenyaNenya Shipmate
    I've had similar discussions recently with a couple of friends. One friend always listens in to their church service and loves to do it online as she and her husband can join in fully with the singing. A couple of other friends don't watch Our Place's online services at all now because it simply feels like watching at TV programme with people they know in it. When I said to one of these friends that Mr Nen and I always watch ours, usually over lunch, she was pretty strong in her opinion that we aren't engaging with it if that's how we do it. I'm of the opinion that we are still engaging with the life of the wider church and seeing people we wouldn't otherwise see and hearing church news.

    However, yes, we do fast forward some bits. There's the opportunity to skip over songs we don't especially like, or disagree with the theology of. The children's slot works if you have small children in the house but at present we don't so we tend to fast forward that as well - and in a real life service I really enjoy that slot and love a good action song ("My God is so BIG, so strong and so mighty...").

    In real life services there's ample opportunity to do the equivalent of fast-forwarding. So many people keep a Bible on their phones these days that you could look as though you're looking up the appropriate passage and actually be flicking through Facebook. I used to be an avid note-taker during the talk but who's to say I wasn't writing my journal during that time?
  • Alan29Alan29 Shipmate
    My view is that on-line services turn participants into passive viewers.
    Why would they not treat such offerings like something from Netflix?
  • ThunderBunkThunderBunk Shipmate
    That's not necessarily the case @Alan29 , but I do see how it could be, especially if it's a church one hasn't been to in person. Ironically, I found the youtube services that my parish put online during the first lockdown often more engaging than the Zoom services in the second, because it felt clearer that the prayer/worship was happening when I watched, as well as when it was filmed. On Zoom, the "real thing" can feel like it is happening elsewhere.
  • Alan29 wrote: »
    My view is that on-line services turn participants into passive viewers.
    Why would they not treat such offerings like something from Netflix?

    I think it varies depending on the content. If it's the Eucharist being broadcast by one of the SEC bishops, then I will stand, sit, kneel, bow, and give responses just as I would in person. If it's our local Kirk then I'll sit there and try to stay focussed and listen... just as I would in person ;) .
  • Our Place's main Sunday service is livestreamed via Facebook. I tend to catch up with it later in the afternoon or during the week (as do others, judging by the fact that the number of views increases each day).

    I therefore confess that I, too, fast-forward, missing out the sermon, the notices, and the SAID hymns :rage: , all of which seem to make the service as long as (or longer than) it was pre-Covid.

    I much prefer services which include hymns sung by choir or cantor(s), as I can at least warble/croak along with them!
  • BoogieBoogie Shipmate
    I fast forward the awful YouTube hymns.
  • What we do is that I record a simple service with prayers, reading(s) and a sermon, and post it on Facebook together with a short written introduction and links to two YouTube hymns. People can click on the hymns if they want, and this way of doing things avoids copyright issues.

    Personally I find watching a preacher online very difficult - "back in the day" I could never listen to those recorded sermons which circulated on cassette tapes as they invariably sent me to sleep. Part of it is that most of us speak in a "pulpit" way, whereas an online service probably requires more of a TV/radio announcer technique. Of course you don't have much choice if you're streaming a live service; and presenting in a "media" way diminishes the sense that one is participating in a real service - though the BBC have been doing broadcast services since 1928!
  • Boogie wrote: »
    I fast forward the awful YouTube hymns.

    Fair enough, though the services I usually watch include *real life* cantors!

    Some hymns on YouTube are OK, surely?
    What we do is that I record a simple service with prayers, reading(s) and a sermon, and post it on Facebook together with a short written introduction and links to two YouTube hymns. People can click on the hymns if they want, and this way of doing things avoids copyright issues.

    Personally I find watching a preacher online very difficult - "back in the day" I could never listen to those recorded sermons which circulated on cassette tapes as they invariably sent me to sleep. Part of it is that most of us speak in a "pulpit" way, whereas an online service probably requires more of a TV/radio announcer technique. Of course you don't have much choice if you're streaming a live service; and presenting in a "media" way diminishes the sense that one is participating in a real service - though the BBC have been doing broadcast services since 1928!

    Having watched/listened to myself preaching on a Facebook video was indeed salutary. I felt sorry for the congregation...

  • Baptist TrainfanBaptist Trainfan Shipmate
    edited May 15
    Some hymns on YouTube are OK, surely?
    Yes, they are. I choose very carefully, although I limit myself to ones which have lyrics displayed on the screen. The "Chet Valley churches" playlist has often proved useful.

    However, we digress ...

    [ Edit: code ]
  • I make my own hymn videos. Happy to share if anyone wants to see if they're an improvement over youtube. :D
  • Amanda B ReckondwythAmanda B Reckondwyth Mystery Worship Editor
    The phenomenon is not new to on-line presentations. Don't tell me that no one ever whips out their phone during a live church service, or a lecture, or a class, or any other in-person gathering. Or that they never let their minds wander from same in the days before smartphones existed.

    When I was a schoolteacher and played the organ at church, I confess to bringing students' homework papers to church with me and grading them during the sermon.
  • BoogieBoogie Shipmate
    edited May 15
    Some hymns on YouTube are OK, surely?

    Indeed.

    But imagine evangelical, sometimes charismatic handy wavy repetitive stuff and you’ll get what I mean.

    During RL services my puppies seem to get a sudden urge for the toilet during such hymns. 🤣
  • Boogie wrote: »
    Some hymns on YouTube are OK, surely?

    Indeed.

    But imagine evangelical, sometimes charismatic handy wavy repetitive stuff and you’ll get what I mean.

    During RL services my puppies seem to get a sudden urge for the toilet during such hymns. 🤣

    Yes, I wondered if you meant the handy-wavy Stuff, so ISWYM...
    :wink:

  • Boogie wrote: »
    Some hymns on YouTube are OK, surely?

    Indeed.

    But imagine evangelical, sometimes charismatic handy wavy repetitive stuff and you’ll get what I mean.

    See, I was assuming really bad recordings, because there are a heck of a lot of decent hymns recorded on youtube in a way that makes me nauseous.
  • Nick TamenNick Tamen Shipmate
    Thanks for starting this thread, @Baptist Trainfan. I had contemplated doing so today, but you were awake before I was. :smile:
    That seems to me to be a very appropriate question to discuss (and, indeed, one that isn't confined to church services: I've certainly checked and written emails during Zoom meetings, and I'd be extremely surprised if I was alone in doing this!)
    I certainly have, though I tend to think it’s somewhat expected in work meetings. It certainly is in my experience.

    Our place has had no in person services since March 2020, with the exception of services in our courtyard on Easter (which required getting city permission to close the street in front of the church for the morning) and a small Ascension Day service this past Thursday. Our services have been live-streamed on YouTube, and they remain available for watching later. Present in the church for the live-stream, across from the camera/sound operator are clergy (one or both), the organist and one “hymn singer.” We plan to return to in-person this summer, but will continue to live-stream.

    A link to a pdf of the bulletin for the service is emailed to everyone on the church’s email list first thing Sunday morning, and is also available on the YouTube page for the service. It includes all responses and unison prayers, as well as the words to hymns. The latter are also put on the screen during the live stream. Pre-pandemic, we had an average Sunday attendance of 150. During streaming, we have an average of 200+ views per service. We don’t know, of course, how many people are on the other side of the screen for any given “view.”

    Speaking only for myself and not pronouncing judgment on what “works” for anyone else, ion-line worship only “works” for me if it’s live. Only then do I actually feel like I’m worshipping, and worshipping with others—at the least, those in the church and those I know are also watching live because they’re posting in the live chat. I join in the hymns, prayers and responses, more or less like I would in person. (I’m also typically watching with my wife and mother-in-law, who are doing likewise.)

    If I watch it later, which to be honest I probably won’t do if I miss it when it’s live, I’m doing just that—“watching” it, just like I’d watch a TV show. I don’t engage in the same way, and I’m not worshipping.

    Yes, my mind sometimes wanders, whether in person or on-line. (I sing in the choir, though, so pulling out my phone or the like isn’t an option. Everyone could see.) But as @BroJames says, when you’re “in person,” all the senses are engaged in a way that they aren’t on-line.

    Maybe it’s just me, but if I’m in a position where I can fast-forward through any part of the service, then I’m not worshipping to start with.

  • BoogieBoogie Shipmate
    I enjoy our weekly Zoom Church meetings. They are ‘thought for the day’ style with prayers and a three minute ‘thought’ brought by a preacher.
  • ForthviewForthview Shipmate
    For 'worship' I much prefer to watch a live service from a church and then one cannot fastforward. I find it best to 'worship' at a church where there are several different views available,rather than one camera focussed all the time on the one scene.
    By far the best,well from my point of view, is St Augustine's,Coatbridge.It manages to incorporate a lively liturgy,an inspiring church building, good sincere preaching and a selection of different types of (recorded) music.
    All of their five Sunday services are live streamed,but can also be watched afterwards.

    Like others I do watch sometimes out of interest recorded services of many denominations,but usually fast forward simply to get an idea of the service.
  • Our livestreamed services are entered onto an online register (we use the C of E's A Church Near You facility as our default website), but it is, of course, hard to know how many of the (say) 40 views were of the whole Mass! Some no doubt miss out bits, if they're watching later, or go off and make some tea during the sermon if they're watching live...

    I tend to err on the side of discretion, and enter a total number of attendances consisting of all those actually in church, and half of those *viewing*.
  • mousethiefmousethief Shipmate
    Orthodox worship is such a multi-sensory experience that turning into TV pretty much drains all the life from it.
  • Alan29 wrote: »
    My view is that on-line services turn participants into passive viewers.
    Why would they not treat such offerings like something from Netflix?

    I'm not a fan of "watching" a service on facebook, or youtube, or whatever stream you have - or indeed on TV, for this reason.

    I do, however, enjoy our zoom services, because they are participatory - we have typically a dozen different people leading bits of the service, plus a free-for-all slot for people to offer their reflections on the sermon or scripture.
  • Nick TamenNick Tamen Shipmate
    Alan29 wrote: »
    My view is that on-line services turn participants into passive viewers.
    Why would they not treat such offerings like something from Netflix?

    I'm not a fan of "watching" a service on facebook, or youtube, or whatever stream you have - or indeed on TV, for this reason.
    Same here. I can deal with it only as a “the best we can do under the circumstances” option, never as an equally good substitute.

    mousethief wrote: »
    Orthodox worship is such a multi-sensory experience that turning into TV pretty much drains all the life from it.
    For my money, that’s true even of services that aren’t as multi-sensory as those of Orthodoxy.

    But fwiw, I’ve really enjoyed the opportunity that COVID has provided to watch some Orthodox liturgies and become at least a little more familiar with what I’d only read about before.

  • TelfordTelford Shipmate
    We should never complain about services. Remember that God has to listen to all of them
  • Amanda B ReckondwythAmanda B Reckondwyth Mystery Worship Editor
    I wouldn't be surprised if God fast-forwards through some of them. :open_mouth:
  • mousethiefmousethief Shipmate
    I wouldn't be surprised if God fast-forwards through some of them. :open_mouth:

    Excellent.
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    We surfed and found a couple of churches in Melbourne which we'd rather like to try in person. Forthview suggested Old St Paul's in Edinburgh. Despite the time difference, we could join in there about 90 minutes before the time we usually have dinner. A very good service, proper liturgy done with reverence and respect.
  • MaryLouiseMaryLouise Purgatory Host, Epiphanies Host
    Another contrary opinion. What I like about watching streamed services or Masses is that I can press pause if interrupted by barking dogs or phone calls, and then replay later. If I missed something and want to hear it again, I can listen at a time that suits me.

    I'd argue in fact that I listen to sermons, homilies or the liturgy more attentively than I did when seated in a draughty church distracted by the person fidgeting next to me in the pew. This might be because I often listen to podcasts or recorded lectures while preparing meals in the kitchen or on car journeys, so I'm used to going back and replaying something I might have missed. During the pandemic, I 've also found I can listen to services in French or German and understand them better than if I'm in a church with poor acoustics and no opportunity to hear something again.
  • Telford wrote: »
    We should never complain about services. Remember that God has to listen to all of them

    No, he doesn't. He has Free Will...
    :naughty:
  • @Bishops Finger - this comment above I took to Hell.
  • Noted, and replied to in the Nether Regions.
  • MaryLouise wrote: »
    This might be because I often listen to podcasts or recorded lectures while preparing meals in the kitchen or on car journeys, so I'm used to going back and replaying something I might have missed. During the pandemic, I 've also found I can listen to services in French or German and understand them better than if I'm in a church with poor acoustics and no opportunity to hear something again.

    Our place has for several years recorded the sermon, and made the audio recordings available on our website. I gather that a few of our parishioners do as you suggest, and go back and listen to a sermon again because they thought they missed a point.
  • ChoristerChorister Shipmate
    The advantage I've found is that I can visit several places - where I live now, where I used to live, the cathedral near where I live now, the cathedral where I used to live.... It would be a bit much to be in each one for the full service, but there are reasons why I listen to a little bit from one and a little bit from another - the music, the sermon, the prayers (if they are people I am likely to know, I want to know who is ill and even - as friends don't always let me know - which ones have died). In total, I listen for about 1 1/2 hours, but to three or four services rather than just the one. Do you remember when we used to dream about teleportation? Well now we can.
  • TelfordTelford Shipmate
    Telford wrote: »
    We should never complain about services. Remember that God has to listen to all of them

    No, he doesn't. He has Free Will...
    :naughty:
    According to Jesus he is present at every service
  • Amanda B ReckondwythAmanda B Reckondwyth Mystery Worship Editor
    Telford wrote: »
    According to Jesus he is present at every service
    But he never said what he'd be doing.
  • TelfordTelford Shipmate
    Telford wrote: »
    According to Jesus he is present at every service
    But he never said what he'd be doing.

    I doubt if he intended to be sleeping.
  • Amanda B ReckondwythAmanda B Reckondwyth Mystery Worship Editor
    Perhaps not intended . . . . :open_mouth:
  • Perhaps not intended . . . . :open_mouth:

    Wait... so that untraceable buzzing sound from the speakers during the sermon, sort of rhythmic? Think I have an explanation.
  • MaryLouiseMaryLouise Purgatory Host, Epiphanies Host
    edited May 17
    Chorister wrote: »
    The advantage I've found is that I can visit several places - where I live now, where I used to live, the cathedral near where I live now, the cathedral where I used to live.... It would be a bit much to be in each one for the full service, but there are reasons why I listen to a little bit from one and a little bit from another - the music, the sermon, the prayers (if they are people I am likely to know, I want to know who is ill and even - as friends don't always let me know - which ones have died). In total, I listen for about 1 1/2 hours, but to three or four services rather than just the one. Do you remember when we used to dream about teleportation? Well now we can.

    This reminds me that before the pandemic we had a thread running on what Shipmates had sung at church that Sunday and I could go through the hymns or choral arrangements listed (sometimes with links) and listen to music on YouTube I wouldn't be likely to hear in my own parish. Heavenly teleportation!
  • Alan29Alan29 Shipmate
    edited May 17
    As an RC I grew up in the 1950s as a passive observer at Mass. Stuff happened up at the holy end, and noise was made behind me in the organ/choir loft. And people mainly said the rosary or engaged in private devotions as a parallel activity.
    There is a very real fear among catholic parish musicians (of which I am one) that we are in danger of returning to that mentality as people forget what it means to actively participate in the liturgy.
  • KarlLBKarlLB Shipmate
    Over the years I've lost count of the number of times I dreamed I could fast forward through bits of the service...
  • Perhaps you effectively fast-forwarded while you were dreaming ...

  • KarlLBKarlLB Shipmate
    Perhaps you effectively fast-forwarded while you were dreaming ...

    More than once...
  • Bishops FingerBishops Finger Shipmate
    edited May 17
    I once fell asleep during the sermon at Evening Prayer, in the Church Of My Yoof.

    The sermon lasted 47 minutes - I know this, because I looked at my watch as the Vicar kicked off, and looked at it again when Mrs BF nudged me awake 47 minutes later as the Vicar wound up...

    There is also the old chestnut about a Bishop who dreamt he was preaching a sermon. When he woke up, he was preaching...
    Alan29 wrote: »
    As an RC I grew up in the 1950s as a passive observer at Mass. Stuff happened up at the holy end, and noise was made behind me in the organ/choir loft. And people mainly said the rosary or engaged in private devotions as a parallel activity.
    There is a very real fear among catholic parish musicians (of which I am one) that we are in danger of returning to that mentality as people forget what it means to actively participate in the liturgy.

    That's very much how it seems to have been prior to the Reformation, with folk maybe watching the priest (if they could see him) or else engrossed in private prayer (or not, as the case may be). The bell rung at the Consecration alerted all to the Elevation of the Host, so that due attention could be paid at that key moment. Some historians (Eamonn Duffy, for example) suggest that lay participation in the Mass was actually deeper and stronger than we may have supposed, despite the use of Latin.

    For me personally, the pandemic has sharply brought to my mind how very heavily burdened with words our worship can sometimes be, and how we must weary the Lord with our long sermons and tedious intercessions.

    Maybe, in the post-Covid church, we will value more highly times of silence, shorter Bible readings, and brief homilies - leavened with 2 or 3 good, solid, objective-theology hymns!
    :wink:
  • Alan29Alan29 Shipmate
    I once fell asleep during the sermon at Evening Prayer, in the Church Of My Yoof.

    The sermon lasted 47 minutes - I know this, because I looked at my watch as the Vicar kicked off, and looked at it again when Mrs BF nudged me awake 47 minutes later as the Vicar wound up...

    There is also the old chestnut about a Bishop who dreamt he was preaching a sermon. When he woke up, he was preaching...
    Alan29 wrote: »
    As an RC I grew up in the 1950s as a passive observer at Mass. Stuff happened up at the holy end, and noise was made behind me in the organ/choir loft. And people mainly said the rosary or engaged in private devotions as a parallel activity.
    There is a very real fear among catholic parish musicians (of which I am one) that we are in danger of returning to that mentality as people forget what it means to actively participate in the liturgy.

    That's very much how it seems to have been prior to the Reformation, with folk maybe watching the priest (if they could see him) or else engrossed in private prayer (or not, as the case may be). The bell rung at the Consecration alerted all to the Elevation of the Host, so that due attention could be paid at that key moment. Some historians (Eamonn Duffy, for example) suggest that lay participation in the Mass was actually deeper and stronger than we may have supposed, despite the use of Latin.

    For me personally, the pandemic has sharply brought to my mind how very heavily burdened with words our worship can sometimes be, and how we must weary the Lord with our long sermons and tedious intercessions.

    Maybe, in the post-Covid church, we will value more highly times of silence, shorter Bible readings, and brief homilies - leavened with 2 or 3 good, solid, objective-theology hymns!
    :wink:

    Too many words. Goodness YES.
    Covid has brought home to me that the shape of the Eucharist has taken 2000 years to reach a balance between the spoken word and singing, and between standing, sitting and kneeling. In our place we now sit for the whole thing and listen to mainly one voice apart from the Mass where I provide some appropriate organ music and a cantor sings the psalm. And it is tedious! We are used to worshipping though and with our entire bodies,. not just sitting and listening.
  • Same here.

    It's now The FatherInCharge Show, with minor supporting roles from whoever reads the Epistle. Sometimes, that same person will also lead the intercessions, but often FInC does it.

    No disrespect to FInC, who is doing his best, but the quality of our worship has greatly deteriorated. Fewer words, and a better use of our two organists, would help improve matters, but there's no sign of that happening.
  • Baptist TrainfanBaptist Trainfan Shipmate
    edited May 17
    It's now The FatherInCharge Show, with minor supporting roles from whoever reads the Epistle. Sometimes, that same person will also lead the intercessions, but often FInC does it.
    To a large degree that has often been true of Nonconformist worship: the person at the front doing everything and the congregation limited to singing the hymns.

    The liturgical thinking of the 1960s brought in responsive readings and prayers (i have to say that these are rarely encountered in Baptist circles) with readings and prayers led by members of the congregation (but by no means always); the Charismatic movement brought in greater informality (and, I have to say, verbosity) and, sometimes, spontaneous participation from the congregation (often impractical because of inaudibiliy) and even some movement; the 1980s brought in bands and "worship leaders". I suspect that congregants are more emotionally connected to "the front" today but it's still largely a spectator form of worship.

    I suppose the "extreme" form of the latter would be some Cathedral/great church worship where congregants may feel virtually barred from joining in lest they disturb the perfection of the choir.

  • It's now The FatherInCharge Show, with minor supporting roles from whoever reads the Epistle. Sometimes, that same person will also lead the intercessions, but often FInC does it.
    To a large degree that has often been true of Nonconformist worship: the person at the front doing everything and the congregation limited to singing the hymns.

    Heck, it's still true in at least parts of the Kirk.
  • As a Minister, I'm very much aware that the quality of my "performance" - I use the word deliberately - will make or mar the service. (However my assumption of "how things went" may be totally wrong!)
  • As a Minister, I'm very much aware that the quality of my "performance" - I use the word deliberately - will make or mar the service. (However my assumption of "how things went" may be totally wrong!)

    I know when I've led worship I've been aware that "performance" is at least as impactful as content.
  • Amanda B ReckondwythAmanda B Reckondwyth Mystery Worship Editor
    (However my assumption of "how things went" may be totally wrong!)
    Which is why God created Mystery Worship.
Sign In or Register to comment.