In just a few short years, digital video technology has evolved so dramatically we now carry around high definition cameras in our smartphones. And all our social media platforms offer a live video streaming capability (even LinkedIn is about to offer a beta version of LinkedIn Live!). So, we should all be live streaming our Sunday worship on the world wide web, right?
Theoretically, the answer is yes, we all have the basic capability to stream our worship. I would strongly recommend you invest a small amount of money to build a video system to produce a quality viewing experience. But that’s not what this post is addressing (seriously spend a little money and get professional help before you go live).
Let’s get back to the question of the day: assuming you have a quality system, what is the best platform to stream worship?
There are several important questions that factor into determining a streaming strategy. Let’s examine the questions you need to ask first.
What do you want to accomplish by streaming your service? Some churches have congregations that are migratory, their people travel during winter or summer months. Their goal might be to provide a way to stay connected with their travelling congregation. Other churches might view the streaming service as a way for prospective guests to experience the church before they commit to visiting. Some churches might even view the online worship experience as a way to spread the Gospel throughout the world. Defining your purpose, as you would for any other new ministry idea, is the critical first step.
How do you want to interact with your digital worshipers? No matter what your purpose is for providing an online worship experience, you should provide a means for your audience to respond. Prayer requests, questions about the message, responding to a call to action, maybe even giving all require mechanisms for interacting, a degree of privacy, and even a high level of web security.
Once you define your intended purpose for streaming worship and identified the level of interaction you want to provide for you audience, then the selection between Facebook and an online campus will be clear.
My recommendation is to use both of them and here are some of my reasons why and some advice:
- Facebook is a public platform that makes it easy for your service to be found via search engine and for your people to share it with their friends. But since it is a public platform, it doesn’t offer privacy for personal interaction.
- Building an online campus is not as hard as it sounds. As a matter of fact, Life.Church has offered a free platform that you can link to your website (https://churchonlineplatform.com/). I know what you’re thinking, “you get what you pay for,” but some of the largest churches in the country that can afford to build their own campus use this platform. An online campus gives you more capabilities for interacting with your digital audience, channels for private communication, and mechanisms to build relationships even at a distance.
- No matter which platform you use or even both, the most critical component, even if you are streaming with an iPad onto your Facebook page, is to make sure you have online hosts to interact with your guests in the comments or chatroom. It’s important to build a team of people with the gift of hospitality that understand communicating in the online world.
- Another key to engaging with an online audience is to acknowledge and welcome them. And it’s more than just remembering them at the welcome, but also giving them instructions for participating in service opportunities announced or how to give at the offering, and even how then can respond to a sermon call to action. Online worship is more than just broadcasting your service online, it’s helping the people in the room and the people online experience God through worship
Streaming worship is extremely accessible for any size church. But as you can see, we have to understand the purpose driving this digital ministry and build a ministry team to engage and build relationships with your guests, no matter where they are located.
If you would like help designing a strategy for an online campus, go to our website and schedule a free consultation: ChurchCMO.