For most of 2020, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, church leaders did the best they could to pivot their regular in-person worship services and other ministry activities to online experiences. Pastors and worship leaders did everything in their power to create connection with their parishioners. Some were able to do it well. Others struggled. But God was in everything they did and continued His work in and among His people.
As we all embrace 2021, with no end in sight for the online material requirement, it’s time to evaluate what mode of online material will best reach our church members and their spiritual and emotional needs. This may require additional investment in technology equipment and personnel who have the expertise needed to meet these needs in the best way possible.
In evaluating what might be most effective to minister to their people, church leaders should consider that live streaming might be better than using some kind of video conferencing platform or other pre-recorded replay of their service. There are benefits to making the financial and human investment to producing live streamed services that will help make the overall experience for parishioners more authentic and meaningful.
Here are some of the benefits of live streaming that will help you evaluate what might be best for your congregation in this new year.
Live Streaming vs. Video Conferencing or Pre-Recording
No commitment necessary. Video Conferencing requires worshipers to sign up ahead of time and be confirmed to attend. If they don’t join at the beginning of the event, they may be locked out completely. Live streaming only requires worshipers to go to the church website at the appointed service time and participate. If they are late or early, that is fine. If they need to leave early, that is OK, too. If they can’t make it, no one will know and there is no guilt factor to be applied (intentionally or unintentionally!).
No code or password to find or remember. When church members are seeking out a worshiping experience, they want it to be simple and easy to access. Live streaming offers that. They can click once and start participating in the service. Video conferencing platforms require passwords, links, and codes that can be challenging to find, remember, or access when people need them. Avoid any roadblocks that will keep people from making connections with your church. Easy access helps people join. Complicated access creates unnecessary disruptions.
Spend as much or as little time as you have. Live streaming allows people to come and go as their schedules permit. Despite events largely being cancelled due to the pandemic, people are still busy but are eager to fit worship services into their schedules as much as is possible. When you live-stream services they can “pop in” when they are able without having to arrive on time or stay until the end. They can come for the sermon or they can arrive just in time for the worship. Whatever their schedule allows, they can enjoy and participate.
Anonymity if Desired. Some people joining an online service are not yet ready to participate personally. Video conferencing platforms require people to present themselves and identify themselves to the group. This may be intimidating to some. Live-streaming the service allows churchgoers of all levels to come and go without notifying anyone that they’re online joining in the service. While church leaders want to know who is attending and pray that eventually everyone will willingly open up to church staff and other parishioners, the live stream format gives the gentle anonymity that some people desire.
Viewers feel like they’re actively participating. Some churches have been pre-recording services and playing them on Sunday at the regular worship service times. This has helped them to “get things right” which is a value to some churches without the technical capabilities to produce a live show. If at all possible, however, offering a live stream can help people who are watching from home feel more like they’re a part of the action, participating in what’s going on live in the church auditorium with all those who are attending in-person. For churches that are seeking to create connection, the live stream can help those at home feel connected to those who are sitting in the seats on campus.
While not possible for everyone, anyone who has the resources should consider live-streaming their services to create connection with their people and provide the much-needed interaction that church members need for their spiritual and emotional health in these unprecedented times. Make the investment today that will reap eternal benefits for tomorrow.