On Sunday, our church live stream went badly wrong. Lots of less than excellent things happened, but the low point was when YouTube AI decided to kick us off altogether for somehow breaching its terms and conditions. It is entirely unclear exactly what accounted for the breach given that it was just me talking and saying nothing problematic. We got it back up and running, but the whole thing descended into further farce from there. Live streaming is stressful enough at the best of times, but I am still getting over Sunday’s trash fire.
I came away from Sunday feeling the Lord had been dishonoured and, if anybody had been served through what went on at all, it was in spite of what was streamed. You can judge for yourself how bad it was by watching it here (though, it bears saying, the worst of it was in the video YouTube thankfully removed). But when we come away feel like this – and let’s be honest, it’s not unique to our live streams – what are we supposed to do when everything goes wrong?
In no particular order, here are three thoughts.
Remember God is sovereign
As Spurgeon so helpfully said, ‘the sovereignty of God is the pillow upon which you lay your head.’ That God is sovereign means that he is bigger than our total gnaws up. In fact, he ordained it. Bizarre as it may seem, God sovereignly determined it would go to pot because – and get this for a laugh – he decided that would glorify him more than if it didn’t!
Forget the well-wishers and comforters of Job who trot out the cliche that ‘God can use even our weak efforts’, they’re wrong. God doesn’t just use them, he ordains them. And he ensures he is more glorified, not less, as a result of it. So, your terrible farce, bizarrely enough, serves God’s glory more than had it not happened because he ordained it would be so. That’s worth getting in our heads before we go to sleep.
Remember people aren’t expecting perfection
Obviously, people aren’t tuning in to see what is purposefully rubbish. But, at the same time, most people realise that this live streaming malarkey is new to everybody. Most of us are feeling our way into it and it would be more surprising if we breezed into it with no problems whatsoever. Most of our people are not sitting in judgement waiting to see everything go wrong, they are grateful that they are able to receive any teaching at all under the circumstances. When things go wrong, let’s remember that our people are mainly pleased to be able to access teaching on a Sunday despite circumstances that would otherwise make it impossible.
Do your best next time
The Lord isn’t looking for perfection either. But that doesn’t mean we should aim to be terrible or the reason everything goes wrong is because we just haven’t bothered putting in the effort to make it work. The Lord may not be asking for perfect service, he is not honoured by slapdash lack of planning that causes your own problems. We ought to be rightly preparing and seeking to do our best to honour the Lord.
So, when everything goes wrong, whilst we shouldn’t spend an inordinate amount of time beating ourselves up about it (though, if you’re anything like me, you probably will), we should try to do better next time. It is worth identifying the things that did not work so well and figure out solutions to avoid them (so far as we’re able) next time. The Lord doesn’t mind when things go wrong – especially when they’re out of our hands altogether – but we should rightly want to honour him by putting in the effort to minimise the chances of it happening again if we’re able. He is much bigger than all that, of course, but what the Lord wants is our hearts and it says something about us if we just aren’t bothered about trying to sort it out for next time.