Whether you have occupied the Lecture Chair for years, or have been elected to the position for the first time, this page is dedicated to support you at every step of hosting a lecture, metaphysically and technically. Consider this page a guideline and any resources mentioned as suggestions—able to be adjusted to your lecture and your community. Do not hesitate to contact the Board of Lectureship office with questions.
In an effort to help branches navigate hybrid in-person/online lectures, we have added resources to this page. As we learn more about the technologies and best practices, we will continue to update and organize this page.
To get started preparing for a lecture, it’s helpful to consider the by-laws that establish Christian Science lectures in the Manual of the Mother Church, pages 93 to 96, and how they apply to the unique demonstration of your lecture. Here are two bylaws on lecture activity from the Manual, by Mary Baker Eddy.
As you prepare to host a lecture, we recommend starting with prayerful consideration among your lecture committee and church membership. Some supportive resources are provided below, but, of course, you’ll find additional resources through your own prayers and study.
Church Manual by-laws about lectures (Article XXXI)
Letter from Mrs. Eddy to the Board of Lectureship printed in The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, p. 248-249
Recent articles about lectures on JSH-Online
Asking all of your branch church members for ongoing prayerful support of the lecture activity early on in the preparations can also prove helpful, especially when continued all year long!
You might also consider:
A metaphysical preparatory meeting. You can discuss with the lecturer the best way for her or him to participate in the meeting: in person, by phone, or video call.
A fruitage meeting after the lecture with the membership. Please share your comments and news of healings with the lecturer, or with the BoL office, too!
What kind of audience would you like to reach with your lecture (general, classroom, college organization, youth groups, jails and prisons, community organizations, health or book fairs, interfaith groups, etc.)? What are ways to effectively reach before the lecture and follow up after the lecture with this audience?
Lecturers are eager to know and discuss what you feel God is calling you to accomplish with this lecture—issues within the community about which the branch membership is praying, the goals for the event and thoughts about how it will be accessible to the community, as well as discussing the location (in-person perhaps, with a livestream option), date, any charge for attending, etc. The lecturer will appreciate knowing about any new developments, concerns, or needs that come up during planning. They’re praying with you every day!
The initial conversation with the lecturer is a good time to ask about the lecturer’s fee and expenses and to find out what the lecturer expects you to provide.
Setting up a webpage and preparing publicity for the lecture is important. Whether the lecture is in-person or online in some form, a simple online event page can go a long way to help the community find more information and feel more comfortable participating. See the “Publicity and Advertising - all lectures” accordion below for more information.
You may want to invite a local CSO (Christian Science Organization) at a nearby college or university to be involved. CSO members might promote the lecture on campus or even schedule a lecture of their own while the lecturer is in town.
Other branches or societies in your area / region may also be benefitted by knowing well in advance of your plan to bring in a lecturer, so that they might plan their own event with the same lecturer and benefit from sharing the travel costs with you.
What literature do you plan to sell or give away at the lecture? If there will be an online audience, how will you share literature with them? Whether for an online or an in-person lecture, there may be bulk rates for buying multiple copies of the Bible, Science and Health, and periodicals through your Reading Room or by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org.
Who will introduce the lecturer? The lecturer will happily work with you in advance of the lecture day to develop an appropriate introduction.
Options to consider
Lecturers will be primarily providing in-person lectures this year. As countries begin to open after more than a year of social restrictions, society is looking to connect with one another in tangible ways. Branches are well-poised to respond to this demand within their individual communities through their healing ministries.
The value and vision behind the focus on in-person lectures is discussed in more detail in a replay of the Board of Lectureship’s June 22, 2021 webinar, particularly at time 20:54-33:10, and again at 37:50. To watch the recording, see the “June 22, 2021 Webinar: Recording and Q&A” accordion near the bottom of this page.
Branches and lecturers may decide to also offer some kind of online way to access lectures, for example, by providing a high quality livestream of the in-person lecture or by posting a video recording of the live in-person lecture on the branch’s website a few days afterwards. See the “Livestream” accordion below for more information on providing this option to your community.
When thinking about a venue for the lecture, consider where the community might feel most comfortable. When given in public locations, the event tends to be of more general interest in the community, and it’s more obvious that its intent is informational. So, although hosting a lecture in the branch’s edifice may be more convenient for the branch members, or seem like a way to introduce the branch and all its functions to the community, members of the public may get the impression that the purpose of the lecture is to convert. Since that’s not true, a location like a hotel conference room, public park, or community center might be less of an obstacle for the public.
When selecting a location for your event(s), you’ll want to visit the facility, even if you’re familiar with it, to assess how easy it will be for attendees to find the location, the conference room within the building, and what kind of parking accommodations are available. How might attendees find the location via public transportation? Does the facility allow signs or sandwich boards at entrances to guide attendees? What kind of sound system and internet connection are available? Is there any way the lecture activity can be a direct support to the facility / organization in the process?
If not already provided at the venue, renting a portable sound system can be very useful. Make sure to test the wireless microphone before the day of the lecture and bring extra microphone batteries!
Types of in-person lectures
Perhaps a branch has an opportunity to participate in a broader community event by offering a lecture in a format different from a stand-up one-hour talk. Lecturers are open to exploring this idea with you.
Over the past years, we’ve seen branches and lecturers coordinate to give institutional lectures, lectures broadcast over radio and TV, participate on panels with other local thought leaders, and give classroom lectures. Often, these kinds of opportunities—which can vary widely, including in overall length—develop because a branch has been nurturing particular relationships with fellow community organizations. Sometimes, however, a certain opportunity might be better served by a talk from the local Committee on Publication rather than a lecturer.
If you’d like to offer a way for attendees to share their contact information to receive news about the branch and upcoming events, be aware that new laws exist in many countries, states, and cities that require an organization to have specific policies for the collection and management of personal data. Before setting out a sign-in book or requiring registration to attend a lecture, research the specific laws in your area.
Although lecturers will be primarily providing in-person lectures, branches may want to offer some kind of online way to access the in-person lectures. For example, branches can provide a high quality livestream or post a recording of the in-person lecture on the branch’s website. Talk to your lecturer first about the idea of livestreaming, since there are some technical pieces they will need to provide.
Because many branches have become accustomed to offering their communities an online way to attend Sunday services and Wednesday evening testimony meetings, it can make sense to have a similar option for lectures. Zoom (and other video conference platforms) may be a right method for streaming hybrid branch services (see Resources for blended services and activities for more information).
When it comes to streaming hybrid lectures, though, there are additional elements to consider, which are best met using a branch’s website instead. A website can provide informational resources to the local community as well as context about the lecture, the lecturer, Christian Science, and the branch. This context acts as stepping stones for the public, helping to fill gaps of information so people may feel more comfortable attending, either online or in person, or in contacting you at a later time about all the activity that you provide.
Another benefit to streaming the lecture over a branch’s website is that anyone can easily attend the live event or watch the replay later, without needing to register. (For more in-depth discussion about setting up a website, visit Hosting a live online lecture on a branch website.)
Care for two venues and two audiences
When live streaming a lecture, it’s important to realize that you are now hosting the lecture in two separate venues: in-person and online. Both locations need to receive equal attention in preparing to receive attendees graciously and warmly. For both, it’s helpful to ask, “How can we remove distractions or stumbling blocks so that attendees can receive the message clearly?”
For the in-person lecture location, you would naturally give consideration to the cleanliness, overall comfort, the sound system, the public’s ease in finding the hall, etc. Likewise, the online location should be designed and presented professionally, with a welcoming appearance and easy-to-navigate information about the lecture, lecturer, Christian Science and the hosting branch.
Costs for providing livestream
To think through some solutions with you, the Board of Lectureship office has been researching different livestream options. Technology changes quickly, so you will find what works specifically for your event and your local communities, but we can share some of our findings to provide you a few options to consider.
Just like budgeting for renting a public hall for an in-person lecture, the same consideration is needed for providing a livestream of an in-person lecture.
Set up a webpage for the lecture
The way we’ve found most effective to graciously welcome an online audience to an in-person lecture is to stream the video of the lecture to your branch’s website. Visit the “Publicity and Advertising - All Lectures” accordion below and Hosting a live online lecture on a website for more information.
If your branch already has a website, talk to the person who maintains it about the ability to embed a livestream link. If your branch doesn’t have a website, a simple yet professional site is possible to set up for under $200/year. Contact the Board of Lectureship office for more information at bolpublicity@ChristianScience.com.
Evaluating the streaming possibilities
The webpage is how you will deliver the lecture to your livestream audience, but how will the livestream actually get to that page? Below are three technical options to consider. According to our research, audio-only options can cost under $100. Video options often range from $500-$5,000.
Audio only. This is the lowest-tech and least expensive option, but a very good possibility that is still publicly accessible and well accepted. Audiences simply call a phone number to attend. You set up the call-in number.
Hire local professionals to manage the whole activity. This option is the most reliable in terms of highest quality for your online audience, plus it is always a benefit to develop a relationship with local companies. Depending on the range of services needed, this could have additional costs.
Ask if the church membership might want to conduct the livestream themselves. This might be an option for those branches with members who may be somewhat skilled in setting up audio/visual equipment. Depending on the types of equipment you might need, this option can be in the mid-range of cost, but requires an investment of time to become proficient. See the following documents for additional information when considering this possibility:
If it becomes clear that a livestream will not be possible for whatever reasons, there is still the tried and true option of hiring professional videographers to record the in-person event and post that recording to your website afterwards. This option can be less expensive than livestreaming; it is not subject to sudden internet connectivity problems; and the video quality is superior, even to HD livestreaming. Of course, the disadvantage is that your online audience cannot attend the live event, but they will be able to watch the replay posted to your website within a day or two. This still gives people a way to see the lecture and interact with your website. See the Board of Lectureship Video Guidelines for additional information.
Discuss with lecturer
There is one more step—talk to your lecturer about the idea. They may have additional questions for you to think through and tips they’ve learned.
Lecturers will primarily provide in-person lectures rather than online-only lectures. If an online option is desired, branches may decide to offer a high quality livestream or post a video recording of an in-person lecture on the branch’s website.
Online-only lectures can be an option for unique circumstances where it is not possible for the branch to host an in-person lecture with any of the members of the Board of Lectureship. Such as, if there is some sort of emergency and a timely response is needed which precludes the ability of any lecturer to get to the community for the lecture; the branch’s or the lecturer’s local government has restricted public gatherings or travel, or the branch’s community is not yet comfortable with in-person gatherings.
Please see the Board of Lecturship’s June 22, 2021, webinar about the value and vision behind the focus on in-person lectures this year. See the video replay in the accordion below, particularly at time 20:54 – 33:10, and again at 37:50.
Set up a website
If an online-only lecture proves to be the best way to call for a lecture at this time, online lectures are more accessible to the public when hosted on a branch’s website. A simple event page can go a long way to help the community find more information and feel more comfortable participating. Whether your branch already has a website or would need to set one up in order to host an online lecture in this manner, see the “Publicity and Advertising - all lectures” accordion below for more information.
To proceed with an online lecture, please speak with your lecturer directly about web technology to ensure both parties are clear about who is responsible for managing the technical aspects of the lecture. Here are some points to consider as you prepare for this discussion:
Does the lecturer provide an online-only lecture? Not all lecturers do. If so, what are the associated costs that a branch will need to cover?
Does the lecturer work with a technical assistant? If so, what expenses might a branch church expect to incur for both the lecturer’s livestream platform and the assistant’s services?
Does the branch church have its own website or social media account? If so, what would you need to do to prepare your website to host the live lecture and replay, as well as link to your social media page? Talk to your lecturer to coordinate this activity. If not, see Hosting a live online lecture on a website for more information.
Will the lecturer provide a recording of the lecture? How long will the lecturer allow the recording to be available online?
Frequently asked questions:
What is the experience of an online-only lecture?
The lecturer conducts the lecture online from a computer in their own home or other remote location over a platform like YouTube or Vimeo.
The live video of the lecture is streamed to the branch’s website.
The audience can see and hear the lecturer, but not each other. The lecturer cannot hear or see the audience. Talk to your lecturer about their preferred way to handle audience questions.
Telephone call-in service may be available. Talk with your lecturer about this option and see Adding a simple call-in number for a lecture.
A post-lecture video replay is often available to stay on the branch’s web page for a period of time.
How is preparing for a web lecture different from an in-person one?
Both require the same metaphysical engagement from the entire branch membership, for advertising and working with the lecturer to prepare for and welcome attendees to the venue—whether that is in person or online.
What is the cost of a live web lecture?
The overall cost can be similar to an in-person lecture.
The speaker’s fee will be the same as for an in-person lecture.
Talk with the lecturer about web technology expenses, the fees associated with a technical assistant (if the lecturer works with one), and whether the lecturer may need to stay at a hotel to ensure a more reliable internet connection and/or to avoid interruptions and distractions that might occur in the home environment.
Which lecturers are available to give online-only lectures?
With the changing technologies, not all lecturers are available to lecture online.
Until we've updated each lecturer's profile page to include this information, simply ask them — though they will explore with you first the possibility of having an in-person lecture.
While no special visa is needed if the lecturer gives the online lecture from outside your country, please discuss in detail with your lecturer your specific community’s needs, any possible cultural differences between the lecturer’s and the branch’s home countries, the logistical needs to ensure the lecturer has a reliable internet connection, and payment methods.
The lecturer may need to discuss your invitation with the Board of Lectureship office before accepting.
How far in advance should we plan a live web lecture?
While lectures can be put together very quickly under special circumstances, several months of preparation is ideal. A web lecture needs as much advance planning as an in-person lecture.
Submit a lecture application form once you and your lecturer have settled on a date.
Contact the Board of Lectureship office at lecture@ChristianScience.com with any updates or edits to your lecture application, including sharing the link to attend the live web lecture.
Do lecturers provide advertising materials?
Some lecturers have publicity materials available for you to use. See the lecturer’s specific lecturer profile page at Meet the Lecturers. For more information, see the Publicity Program section under the “Publicity and Advertising - All Lectures” accordion below.
If you decide to design your own, see this helpful design tips page. You can also look through the designs available on other lecturers’ pages to get some ideas.
Be sure to share your designs with the lecturer for approval before distributing them. Leave yourself time to make edits.
Our lecturer lives outside our country. How should we pay them and what are the tax implications?
Often, it’s via direct wire transfer from the branch's bank to the lecturer’s bank, or via Western Union, but confirm with your lecturer.
If your branch is in the UK and hosting an in-person lecture, there are specific methods for payment already in place through The Mother Church’s Treasurer’s Office. Your clerk or treasurer should already know the method. Talk with your lecturer about the specifics.
Please be aware of filing tax information appropriate for your branch’s country.
For example, when a US church invites a non-US citizen lecturer:
No 1099-NEC is needed
If the lecturer’s home country has a tax treaty with the US, the lecturer completes the W-8BEN form and the church keeps it on file along with a record of payment to the lecturer.
The branch church will need to do additional research on a case-by-case basis
Can we post the recording of our lecture on our website?
Discuss this option with your lecturer. Please be aware that lecturers retain the copyright to all versions of their lectures: live, video, audio, print, etc. The branch and any videographers, technicians or other contributors must sign an agreement acknowledging this. If you have questions, please contact the Board of Lectureship office at lecture@ChristianScience.com.
Some lecturers may provide a link to the replay of the lecture, which churches can embed on their own website or social media page(s). Note that lecturers will establish a limited period of time the video can be available, after which the video will be taken down.
Supplies to help get you going
At the heart of all publicity about Christian Science lectures is healing—healing already going on within your branch’s membership, families, and community. The Christian Science movement is known as the church that relies on prayer for healing. Communities feel that healing work among your membership. Healing is the light of Christ shining in the community, leading hungering hearts on their search for Truth.
You may be wondering how, when, and to whom you should publicize the event details of your lecture.
In addition to the general community, other special audiences may include classrooms, youth groups, jails and prisons, community organizations, health or book fairs, interfaith groups, etc.
You'll want to finalize these details as soon as possible, such as the exact in-person venue or website address to livestream the in-person event.
The design and publishing of publicity should be settled at least six weeks before the event, if possible.
Please also make sure to inform the Board of Lectureship office of your lecture details, so the notice on Find a Lecture on ChristianScience.com is up to date.
Since Christian Science lectures are meant to address misconceptions and ignorance about Christian Science and Mary Baker Eddy within the branch’s local community, the majority of advertising should be focused on reaching local audiences. Each branch has its own unique niche, and a lecture helps the local community understand the public resources the branch provides to the area. Some possible avenues of promotion are:
One-to-one invitations—such as emails, texts, phone calls—continue to be the single most effective method
Branch website with dedicated lecture page with more background on the lecture content, lecturer, and Christian Science; perhaps even a video clip from the lecture. This is a great, even essential, resource to point people to, whether through print or online advertising, or personal sharing.
Print publications, such as local newspapers or magazines
Local community calendars and billboards in print or online
Contact the Board of Lectureship office at email@example.com or +1 617 450 3669 to learn more about setting up interviews with the lecturer and local media before the event.
Facebook Events that your branch can share via social media
Online event registration platforms
Used for optional RSVPs, setting up reminder and follow-up emails for registrants, and sharing information about the lecture.
If you’d like to offer a way for attendees to share their contact information to receive news about the branch and upcoming events, be aware that new laws exist in many countries, states, and cities that require an organization to have specific policies for the collection and management of personal data. Before requiring registration to attend a lecture, research the specific laws in your area.
Some lecturers have publicity materials already available to share with branches. If these are available through the BoL publicity program, you’ll find links to samples at the bottom of the lecturer’s profile page. See below for more information about this program.
Board of Lectureship Publicity Program
The Board of Lectureship publicity program provides professionally pre-designed promotions to branches for certain kinds of lecture publicity. If the lecture title you’ve selected has publicity materials available, you will see links to samples of promotional designs on the lecturer’s profile page under Meet the Lecturers. Please note that the samples are different from what you may be familiar with: instead of downloading Word documents or editable PDFs, you contact the BoL office at firstname.lastname@example.org directly. The Board of Lectureship’s automated system will use the data you've provided in your lecture application to generate your publicity files for you.**
The Board of Lectureship will email the electronic files to you, at no charge or cost, as soon as they are ready. Your branch is then responsible for the costs of printing and communicating the files to a printer.
Currently included in the publicity designs are:
horizontal banner designed specifically for web ads (about a 1x2 proportion) that can be proportionately resized for physical printing, up to about 3’ x 6’ / 1m x 2m
8-1/2x11" flyer (standard US/Canada letter size), which can be increased or decreased proportionately up to the size of a poster or down to a size for a print ad in newspapers or magazines
4-1/4x6" postcard, which is also compatible to an A6 size postcard 105mm x 148mm
A4 standard size large flyer/poster 210mm x 297mm (size not common in US/Canada)
A5 standard hand-flyer 148mm x 210mm (size not common in US/Canada)
Together, these publicity items are called "collateral."
To use the collateral as part of online advertising, we recommend using JPG files.
You can proportionately size the banner to fit the dimensions allowed for an online ad.
As a JPG file, the banner has the ability to become a click-through link to a website of your choosing, most likely to your branch's website where there would be more information about the lecture.
We recommend placing the flyer or A4 JPG on this website so that people who click on the banner will know that they've landed on the right page.
For print ads, there is currently no design specifically provided because sizes vary so widely.
Should your branch want print ads, you can use any of the sizes you feel would best fit the ad space.
However, the promotional design cannot be cropped or altered in any way except to proportionately reduce it to fit the ad space.
If these sizes are not compatible with the ad space, you will need to create your own. We recommend patterning it after the predesigned piece so that they are similar.
Do note that The Mother Church, including the Board of Lectureship office, does not provide design services to customize or alter the design. The purpose of this program is to generate digital files from an automated system and, as a result, wording or design changes will not be possible.
**If you are not interested in using the collateral, that’s okay too! Branches are not obligated to use these designs. They are provided as an option, but you are also welcome to design your own fliers and publicity instead. Should you do this, please be sure to show your designs to the lecturer for approval before you finalize them. View our brief design tips.
Many attendees are so grateful to have the opportunity to buy or receive copies of the Bible and Science and Health, or other materials like Christian Science periodicals after lectures, whether at an in-person or online lecture. (If copies of Science and Health will be available, we recommend having copies of the Bible as well. Some people don’t have one, and it’s natural for our Christian denomination to make them available along with Science and Health.)
If you would like to share a specific article from one of the periodicals, check the Permissions section in the issue. Usually, up to 100 reprints of any article are allowed without permission. All credits must be preserved. If you want to make more than 100 copies or need more information, email email@example.com for permission.
You may want to consider providing handouts or a slide (at some point during the lecture) about local Christian Science resources: information about the branch, Reading Room, ChristianScience.com, the branch’s website, and future lectures. Many attendees who are new to Christian Science appreciate knowing how they can contact the branch with questions or research more online at home.
Logistics to keep in mind
On the day of the lecture, there may be many logistics to keep in mind. Active prayerful support for the day will set everything on the right track, helping to focus on the one and only true cause of all that is good. The whole community is embraced in the healing message of the lecture, with every attendee or passer-by, either virtual or in person, feeling this loving prayer. The following are suggestions that may be beneficial reminders.
For an in-person lecture, it may be helpful to have church members assigned to:
Preparing and closing the meeting facility.
Transporting the lecturer to and from the event, if they don’t have their own transportation.
Ushering during the lecture. Have ushers stationed at entrances to the facility, in the parking area, and even at the closest public transportation points. Perhaps even hand out flyers and invite people to attend, while ushering at these posts.
Thoroughly testing the sound system with the lecturer, checking you have spare batteries.
Providing child care.
Staff a literature table.
Introducing the lecturer with an introduction approved by the lecturer.
Paying the lecturer their lecture fee.
For a livestream of an in-person lecture or an online-only lecture:
While the event may have concluded, the sharing and healing continues! After the lecture, you may want to consider:
Following up with new visitors who have shared their contact information, or with other members of the community with whom you were in touch during your lecture preparations.
Holding a membership-wide fruitage meeting and to share that fruitage with the lecturer.
Continue actively supporting the community’s receptivity to the lecture’s healing message, especially if a replay will be posted on your website.
With all the prayer, planning, and love expressed, you’ve laid a strong foundation for the blessings to come in your ongoing branch activities, including the next lecture! Thank you!
The Board of Lectureship office hosted a webinar on June 22, 2021, addressing topics such as the purpose of Christian Science Lectures, how a lecture supports a branch church or society’s community, and what lectures could look like in the future.
View additional answers to questions from the webinar’s Q&A session.