Bayside Church Pastor Ray Johnston admits he was a little worried the weekend of March 15th when the Sacramento-area mega church decided to close its eight campuses and offer online services instead due to the coronavirus pandemic.
"I was kind of depressed, to be honest with you," Pastor Johnston said in an Instagram message to church members, "This is going to be a disaster."
He said Bayside typically gets 18,000-20,000 visitors to its eight campuses each weekend. But he feared only 3,000 would tune in to the first online service. But when he got the analytics back the next day, he was stunned. 40,000 people watched Bayside's services online. Each church kept their regular church service schedule so you could tune in at the time you regularly attended church.
It was the largest attendance in the history of the church, Johnston said.
Bayside continued online services this Sunday. Dozens of other churches, mosques and synagogues also began to offer online services as Gov. Gavin Newsom's shelter-at-home order went into place last week.