SPRING HILL — Last month, Northcliffe Baptist Church broadened the scope of its ministry by launching Northcliffe.TV on the Internet.
Now members, or anyone else who is interested, can tune in to see the church's Sunday morning services, both traditional and contemporary, and other special events, both live and archived.
The entire service is broadcast, including the music and message.
"Anyone, anytime, anywhere can share Christmas Day with us live or view it later," said Senior Pastor Jerry Waugh. "We will also broadcast on New Year's Day and each Sunday in 2012."
The church's Christmas musical, Hope Has Come, and its Christmas special, The Sounds of Christmas with Tim Kaufman and Friends, both performed this month, are available, as are services from the past six weeks.
The response has been good, with an average of more than 400 viewers tuning in each week for the live program. The largest viewing thus far has been 974 viewers, including a couple who watched a service while on a three-day cruise and a mission trip in Guatemala.
One couple that has benefited from the ministry is Mac and Linda McHugh. Watching their church's service live last Sunday while visiting their seriously ill adult daughter in Perkins, Okla., was "just what we needed," they reported to their pastor.
"It was just great to be able to tune in and have the blessing of seeing familiar faces and have the ability to 'touch' people we know in the church with the Internet while we're up here dealing with some personal challenges," Mr. McHugh said in an interview.
They also watched the service the previous Sunday while visiting with their son in Richmond, Va.
Using the Internet as a tool is a contemporary idea, Waugh said.
"God has spoken to people in every generation in many different ways," he said. "For this generation, one way God will speak to others is online."
Waugh is encouraging members to use the webcasts as a way to introduce people to the church and its message.
"The mission of Northcliffe.TV is to provide the easiest possible access to a meaningful message from the Bible and to provide the easiest possible way for others to share it with someone else," Waugh said. "People can easily share a link to a meaningful message via social networks like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, or even by a simple email."
Another benefit to broadcasting the services is for those limited to being at home, Waugh said.
"If they can't come to the church service, via webcasting, the church service can now come to them."
One audience Waugh hopes to reach is those who have given up on church.
"There are people who have been there, done that and are not interested in what they call the organized church," Waugh said. "They have lost confidence in the church. Through our online music and messages, I hope we can reconnect with this generation through the biggest way they are connected — the Internet."
Messages can also be used to share one's faith, Waugh said.
"Since I believe in sharing, not shoving, your faith, Northcliffe.TV gives people the opportunity to watch something that can enhance or even change their life, yet in the comfort of their home," Waugh said.
If the webcast doesn't make a connection with someone, the person can always pull the plug, he said.
"They also have the opportunity to put me on pause — a feature I'm sure people will love," Waugh said jokingly. "They can come back and finish what they were watching when it's most convenient."
The church's worship leader, Aaron Odom, did the preparation work for the cameras, lighting and other technical aspects.
"Two other vital helpers have been our sound technician, Chris Chinni, and our video technician, Leigh Clark," Waugh said. "There are nine camera volunteers and many other behind-the-scenes helpers that make these broadcasts possible."
Messages will be available online for about three months. Sunday services are archived by Sunday afternoon. "Message only" archives are available by noon each Monday.
Waugh said he expects the webcasts to meet a need for people.
"Some people believe church is boring, redundant and not relevant for real life," he said. "The online messages we share don't compromise the message of the Bible, but we do communicate its truths in very practical ways. With truth shared in a simple way, people can take away something each week that will help, encourage, comfort or challenge their life."