To Live Stream or Not to Live Stream...
Updated: Sep 1, 2022
COVID was a crazy time for the world, not just churches. We were all learning how to keep the wheels of the world turning while keeping our distance. Restaurants had to find creative ways to get us food without somehow ever coming into contact with each other. Offices and schools had to find a way to transition to a virtual format. And churches scrambled to find a way to continue doing what we were doing–virtually. Some of us were prepared, and some of us were not. But now that most churches have figured out some kind of system for live-streaming their services, the question becomes, "Do we continue?" Here are a few considerations when making the decision for your church.
How many people tune in live each week?
Maybe you have a large number of people who tune in live each week, and if so, that's awesome and it's probably something worth investing in! But maybe you only have a few each week... While live-streaming is great for people who are sick or out of town, is it necessary to have an entire operation and team just to catch those few? If numbers are small, your next question should be...
How many total views are we getting on our service recordings?
You may not have many tuning in at 10AM on Sunday morning, but you may rack up a significant amount of views during the week. If so, you may want to consider moving to a recording of service rather than a live stream. A few things to consider: Is it more work to live-stream or to record and then upload? Who does the work fall on, our volunteers or our leaders? Is live-streaming burning out our tech team?
What are our other options?
If you find live-streaming your service too taxing on your team, but still want to offer an online experience, there are lots of options! You can just do an audio recording. The podcast world is huge right now, and lots of people find simply listening easier than watching. You could record and upload your service later. This could take pressure off of your volunteers. You could also pre-record an abbreviated service experience during the week (e.g. One worship song and a short message) and post it Sunday morning. Shorter videos tend to be easier to watch thanks to our tiny attention spans...
Are you equipped to produce a quality live-stream?
Live-streaming a church service is no walk in the park. If you're not equipped to produce a quality live-stream, maybe it's time to turn off the cameras and focus more energy into your in-person experience, and that's totally ok! It requires a lot of time, expense and training to put out a professional-quality live-streamed event. Maybe you're close, but need some help dialing things in. Again, first consider the size of your audience before investing more time and energy. If you decide it's worth it, that's great! If you decide it's time to stop, you don't have to feel guilty.
The Good News
There are SO many large churches with incredible tech teams that are putting out great live streams each Sunday, so don't feel like you're letting people down if you stop live-streaming and/or video recording your service. Because of churches having to make this leap, the Gospel and hope of Jesus are more accessible than EVER, and that's an amazing thing.