If your church isn’t already streaming its services online, it certainly should be! With COVID-19, people need church now more than ever before to find hope, community, and feel connected in these challenging times. Just because your church’s physical building might be closed, or operating at a limited capacity, doesn’t mean that you can’t still have church.
By streaming your services online, you can reach more people than ever before and bring church right into people’s homes. Even if your church is already open, the elderly or immunocompromised may feel more comfortable watching from home.
As we work towards getting back to gathering safely together, streaming church online acts as a wonderful bridge until this time comes.
The good news is that you no longer have to be a tech expert or have fancy equipment to broadcast your church’s worship experiences to the world. When streaming your church’s services online, you’ll need to consider a few things. It’s important to think about how much time and budget your church actually has to dedicate to spending on streaming your services.
If your church is new to streaming with limited resources, you can stream on free platforms like Facebook Live or YouTube. All you’ll need is a tripod to keep the recording stable, iPad or phone with a great camera, social accounts, and a strong WiFi connection.
If your church is looking to take your streaming experience to the next level, there are some additional tips we suggest below.
Use High-Quality Audio
When it comes to streaming your church’s worship services online, one of the most important things to create a good user experience is having high-quality audio. If the audio isn’t working well for the worship music or during the sermon, people will usually become frustrated and exit out of the window. Even worse, they probably will not return to watch again the following week.
We recommend using an external microphone to ensure that you’re getting great quality audio. If you’re also wanting to stream your worship music in addition to the sermon, you’ll need to purchase the rights to those songs by adding the Streaming License to your CCLI Church Copyright License to avoid legal issues down the road.
Stream to Multiple Platforms
We recommend at a minimum that your church streams its Sunday services on Facebook and Youtube. These platforms make it easy for your members to share the sermon with the click of a button to reach even more new people and also include great features to boost engagement like live chat and quick reaction emoji buttons.
It’s also a great idea to stream your church’s services on your website. You can create a page dedicated specifically to online church and have the video embedded directly into the site. This makes watching church convenient for your existing members. Additionally, this will help to boost your church’s website engagement and site metrics, like time on site, which is great for search engine optimization.
Add Lyrics and Closed Captioning
Having your church services transcripted is a wonderful way to support your online streaming experience. By adding lyrics and captions to the sermons, the people watching the service are able to easily follow along, worship, and take notes. This is especially great for new people who might not know the words to your church’s favorite worship songs or for those detailed notetakers who don’t want to miss a single word!
Advertise Your Online Church Services for Growth
Even though COVID-19 has impacted our ability to meet in-person, it also has created a wonderful opportunity to reach more new people and even grow your congregation. By advertising your church’s online services on Google Ads or Facebook, you’ll be able to connect with new people by making your church easily discoverable online.
By advertising on Google Ads, your church can capture people searching for things like “online church happening now,” “watch church online,” or even their felt needs like “coping with loneliness during COVID” in your area.
If a new person enjoys the worship experience, they might eventually make an in-person visit to your church. Even if your church doesn’t have much budget to allocate to marketing, with a Google Ad Grant, your church could be eligible to receive up to $10,000 a month of free advertising money to help spread the Gospel online.
Create a Sermon Gallery
Just because your live stream is over, your videos don’t have to stop there! Once you’ve recorded and streamed a few of your worship services, a great way to continue to get value from them is by creating a sermon gallery. With a sermon gallery, your sermon videos will live in one central place on your website where people can stream them whenever they want with a Netflix-like viewing experience.
Not only are sermon galleries a great way to allow your congregation to go back and watch a sermon they might have missed or needed to refresh themselves on, but these videos can also be optimized for keywords to rank in search results on Google and other search engines when you properly leverage transcription and metadata.
This way, new people can easily find your past videos when searching for terms relevant to your sermon topics. If the new person finds the sermon helpful to them, they’ll be more likely to watch your next worship experience online, make an in-person visit, or eventually, give to your church.
Implement Online Giving
It’s important to continue to encourage your congregation to give and continue tithing during COVID-19. A great way to do this is by implementing online giving on your website so that people can easily make donations with the touch of a button.
With online giving, your members can safely make donations, set up recurring tithes, and even text to give. In your live streams, you can include links to gently remind your church to give while you have their attention.
This information is courtesy of Missional Marketing, a church-dedicated digital marketing agency that offers services in search engine optimization, Google grant management, paid advertising, and website development, www.missionalmarketing.com.