For those who have not seen the advantages and extraordinary outcomes of what live streaming can do for a church, we understand when someone may question “why.”
In a time when some churches worry about keeping active congregants and watching the bottom line, it’s very reasonable to hear questions when live streaming is a somewhat new form of media for houses of worship.
Based on our experience and research, here’s some common benefits to live streaming your church services:
Grow Your Audience in So Many Ways
The No. 1 question a streaming provider is typically asked is, “Why would I want to use a service that will keep my congregants from attending my church?” The answer, of course, is that streaming does not hinder attendance for services.
In fact, many churches report an increase in attendance because of the additional services congregants can view via live stream when they cannot physically attend.
Some of our older parishes are finding a portion of their congregation is no longer able to attend services on a regular basis. This may include the elderly, ill, and disabled. This group is arguably a segment that needs continued support, and being able to live stream allows the feelings of connection to God’s words and that of His church.
Also, in today’s digital age, people will more often visit a church’s website before attending in person. Research supports this. According to Grey Matter Research, an estimated 17 million American adults who don’t regularly attend worship services visited the website of a local church or place of worship. Of those surveyed, 20 percent reported that they were watched to streamed video and 22 percent listened to streamed audio.
You likely already have the other information people were reported to be looking for: service times (43 percent, activities offered (29 percent, and map/directions (28 percent). Therefore, doesn’t it make sense to also showcase your church’s style and sermons, so they feel comfortable to come into your doors?
Have Your Message Available 24/7
A natural extension of extending the reach of your message is providing the ability for viewers to watch/listen to your sermons on demand, on their schedule. Let’s not forget about those who travel, are on vacation, and are away serving in the military.
Allowing them to stay connected can be priceless, and it can extend God’s word beyond the walls of your church. This will be another way to keep the lines of communication, and the arms of your church, open for those that are unable to attend during your service hours.
Create Additional Funding
Christians are asked to give “according to their ability” (Acts 11:29). One way for your viewers to provide tithes or offer additional monetary support is through your live streaming player. It can be as easy as giving the option to utilize PayPal, PledgeConnect, PayQuiq Online, or other services.
Did you know you could make additional income for your church by offering a DVD or archive link available from a special events recording? Many of our churches report they offer this benefit at a premium, even allowing the bride to watch a recording of her event on the way to the reception! If done well, this can be a green item of your financial records, and may even pay for your monthly streaming subscription.
Now that you’re live streaming, be successful with these best practices.
1. Technical considerations
We polled our support team experts, and these are the top three recommendations for technical best practices:
- Always test before going live – Ensuring that all of your equipment (video, audio, and all devices) are online and operational prior to going live is a big piece of advice that veterans recommend. This allows you the flexibility and breathing room to fix any issues ahead of time and allowing the best end-user experience possible.
- Schedule adequate time – When using automated streaming software, it’s best to make sure to allow enough time before and after your stream to ensure that the entire broadcast is captured. It’s very easy to go back through your archives and cut off any unnecessary footage if needed.
- Limit access and usage of computer used for streaming – If you decide to utilize a computer for streaming purposes, it’s recommended to limit both the access and needs of the computer. This will ensure that the settings and programs used for streaming are not accidentally altered or changed. We get several support calls when streaming equipment is not working correctly, and this is the main cause.
2. Consider your online audience
Hands down, the best services we’ve watched (and believe us, we’ve watched A LOT) are those when the church considers their online audience into the event program. It will likely take some practice, but over time can be a natural way to plan out your services and events.
- Include the online audience as part of your ‘Welcome’ greeting during every service – Our most successful priests, pastors, elders, clergyman, and all service readers and participants even look at the camera and acknowledge their viewing audience as part of this message.
- Walk through the typical service program and watch out for times that may be problematic or difficult for your online audience to follow – This may be as simple as making sure that everyone who will be speaking has a microphone.
- Consider offering a “camera-free” zone for those who may not want to be on camera – This will help ensure that those who do come to church will stay comfortable in doing so.
- For special events like weddings, baptisms, and first communions, your streaming experience can be remarkably improved by focusing in and getting close-up shots of participants – These participants love to watch the event archives and feel the day was even more special by adding this extra touch.
3. Get the word out
Improve your chances to boost traffic both online and through your church’s doors by following these additional steps:
- Include the online audience as part of your ‘Welcome’ greeting during every service – As mentioned, promoting your live streaming services during your service will educate church members who may want to re-watch the service again or tune in for more church events.
- Add your live stream to your website – Make your streamed services easy to find on your website; have the player visible on your homepage or include a link to your live stream player and archives as part of your main navigation.
- Be social – Many of our customers use social media, like Facebook and Twitter, to spread the word. Promoting your live and on-demand content on these players, both before and after an event, can help bring more visitors to your website and share the Word with your followers.
- Include mention in your bulletin and during events – Don’t be afraid to use your bulletin to promote how visitors can go online to find your regular services and special events. Try to incorporate in signage within your organization as well.
This information is courtesy of StreamSpot, an all-inclusive streaming solution designed with simplicity in mind, www.streamspot.com.