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You don’t have to be a megachurch to stream.
Livestreaming can range from the simple to the complex, but 29 of the 30 largest churches in the US livestream their services. We contacted the one that didn’t have livestreaming and their response was, “There are discussions to offer it later this year, so keep watching their newsletter for the announcement”.
If livestreaming didn’t bring people to the church, large US churches wouldn’t be putting so much effort into it.
So, what motivates a church to live stream their services?
The two biggest reasons are the following:
1) To keep connected to their members
2) Grow their church.
Let’s start with staying connected. There are times when everyone misses church. When they, or one of their children are ill and can’t attend, when someone is deployed in the military, or when the family is out of town.
I was watching the livestream from Montview Presbyterian Church in Denver, CO on Palm Sunday (my sister is in the choir) to see how they used their single camera set-up.
Look below at the chat comment to the right of the stream from Clover B.: “I am so sad to miss Palm Sunday! Watching from Seattle.”
This is why churches livestream! To keep their members connected.
But, you say, “We don’t have a full-time of paid staff to run our live streaming!” Well, most churches don’t. How complex does your church streaming set-up have to be? Not very complex at all. You can do it with a single camera if that allows your church to fulfill their mission. You don’t need multiple cameras and a switcher with a team of audio-visual people to do it.
A simple single camera set-up can capture the service in a variety of ways that aren’t stagnant. The camera can pan left and right, as well as zoom and pull back according to the service. You don’t need multiple cameras to provide an inclusive experience for viewers.
For those with grandchildren that live in a different city, this is an opportunity to be a part of your family’s life and not miss those special events when your grandchild is singing in the children’s choir. As long as that one camera can send a picture of their grandchild singing at church, they’re hooked.
And though the viewer may not be your church member, their family is. It’s important to help families stay connected and supporting one another, whether it’s a church family, or the family of someone in your church.
By zooming in and panning out, the viewers aren’t watching some stagnant image, but experiencing a live service. A service they’re experiencing it along with their church family.
Don’t shy away if a single-camera is your only solution. You can do wonders with a simple set-up.
Growing the Church
Other churches are focused on growing their church and put considerable effort into attracting worshipers. You may see multi-camera set-ups, complex switching equipment and a more interactive experience on the streaming site.
The reality is that in today’s world, people are technologically savvy and research their choices online, including their church options. They start at the church’s web site and if they livestream.
An article on the Worship Ideas website stated that “Young married couples (ages 24-34) who have recently moved into a town, will watch a live streamed church service an average of 6 times before stepping foot in the church building.”
Are they able to check you out?
Central Church in Ohio certainly is a great example of focusing on growing the church and bringing the gospel to those currently outside the church. I started watching and there was a chat room, like Montview Presbyterian Church used, but they manned their chat room with people responding live to viewer comments.
Many churches are adding pastors and volunteers specifically for online outreach, to focus on attracting and engaging people online. That sounds like a good idea for an article in the future, hmmmm, stay tuned.
Back to Central Church. They have a live host does a shout out to those who have engaged and share their information. TV show, including technical difficulties. The morning I was watching, the sound went out on the pastor during the offering for a couple of minutes and the host picked it up and did a call-to-action for donating online until the audio resumed.
As for glitches, they happen. It’s how you handle them that counts. I have watched dozens and dozens of services, and things happen. Bad weather, unknown bandwidth issues causing buffering issues, you name it. They happen. But the way Central Church handled it was a truly professional.
Every church has its own mission and vision for where they want to take their church, and how best to do so. Look into livestreaming and see if it’s something that will benefit your church and church community.
Set aside a Sunday and check out the livestreams of some other churches in your area and nationwide to see what’s happening. Is livestreaming for your church? Maybe.
Mountview Presbyterian Church: https://www.montview.org/
Central Church: https://www.centralonline.tv/