Missoula church uses social media to interact with congregation

Posted at 5:51 PM, May 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-03 19:51:49-04

Last week Governor Bullock gave the “go ahead” for churches across the state to reopen, but with strict social distancing requirements, some have chosen to continue their online services.

Each week, Zootown Church welcomes anywhere from 1,200 to 1,500 people into its home on on Brooks Street.

Although they’re allowed to reopen their doors, church leaders say to maintain social distancing and sanitization for over a thousand people just isn’t realistic.

Thaiv Armerding is the church's manager and says that the church leaders are doing their best to remain safe.

"Obviously people want to be back. We want people back, and they want to come back. But I think everybody that I've talked to just recognizes that for the time being the safest thing to do is to continue the online services," said Armerding.

Their online services will continue until at least the end of May.

But truth be told, pivoting to an online form of worship has provided a new element for their already enthusiastic congregation.

"So social Media is a big thing for our church we try to, you know, have a pretty strong social media presence, trying to release new content almost daily," said Armerding, "we've been doing a lot of zoom calls, which is kind of new and provides an interactive element but everything from what we've called pub theology our podcasts, you know, various worship services online, things like that."

And they’ve even embraced their newfound flexibility by recording their services in different locations.

Just last week you would’ve found them on the rooftop of the Florence Building in Missoula.

"We know that meeting in a building is only a small element of what we're trying to do and, and the relationships we're trying to create," said Armerding.

By embracing these unusual circumstances, Zootown Church has been able to spread their message far beyond the city limits of Missoula, Montana.

"I think we'll retain a lot of what we've been doing just because we've seen people connect with it, not just in Missoula but all across Montana in the US and even outside of the US," said Armerding.

You can watch Zootown's online services on their website each Sunday at 9am, 11am, or 7pm.