Livestreaming widens audience for discussion of church vitality


Whether it was in person at First United Methodist Church in Wichita or through a screen throughout the Great Plains Conference and beyond, clergy and laypersons heard the plans of Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr. on Feb. 25.

While Bishop Saenz laid out plans for “Leading Vital Congregations” in front of about 200 people at First Wichita, many others in the two-state region joined in the viewing and discussion during the live-streamed workshop.

“This is kind of the reality of where we are today,” Bishop Saenz said as he began a two-hour, 15-minute session.

Bishop Saenz, whose children and grandchild live in Texas, said the technology has become more of a reality to him after he moved to the Great Plains this summer. The bishop and his wife, Maye, gather their family for virtual get-togethers online.

“It kind of fills the heart to see somebody’s face,” said Saenz, who began his session by taking a selfie with the audience at First Wichita and checking in through social media.

Bishop Saenz said he wanted to give clergy and laity an “awareness of the current reality,” as well as discussions of church vitality and “courage to take the next steps.”

Those watching from outside Wichita were invited to create dialogue through email and texting.

Among those watching online were the Rev. Patrick Broz of Kingman United Methodist Church in Kansas, who invited United Methodists from Kingman County and nearby to his church to watch.

“Through technology now we can regionalize,” Broz said.

After the Wichita session, those gathered at Kingman stayed to discuss issues in churches and how each could work alongside each other, Broz said.

“How do we work together to build up the kingdom of God in the Kingman area?” he asked.

The Rev. Linda Louderback, Wichita West superintendent, said she was pleased with both the content and the communication of the bishop’s discussion.

“He laid out some beginnings on how to build a vital congregation,” she said.

The distance learning will continue Saturday, April 29, with a session on attracting and retaining young people, with the live presentation taking place at another joint Wichita East-Wichita West districts training event in Wichita. This fall, conference communications director Todd Seifert will lead a session on communicating and marketing for local churches.
Contact David Burke, communications coordinator, at

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