Jim Sweeney • March 02, 2017
As wonderful a tool as live streaming is, watching a worship service online is not the same as attending one.
So much of the worship experience is enhanced by connecting with fellow members and the greater church family.
Those aspects are harder to achieve from a distance.
The thing is, watching services at home on a laptop or tablet cannot offer that same powerful experience, no matter how good the production value is. Still, live streaming allows those that are physically away from the church to continue to experience the ministry.
Below are a few things you can add to help viewers feel more connected to the services they’re watching.
The worshippers in the seats might be unaware that you’re live streaming, despite the presence of a video camera. Let them know that there are others participating in their community from afar - those who can’t attend in person because of health, distance or other circumstances.
This can be an opportunity to educate members of your church about live streaming and let them know how easy it is. That way, they’re more likely to watch the next time they can’t attend in person.
It’s natural to pay more attention to the people in front of you than to an audience you can’t see, but ignoring the live stream audience can leave them feeling disconnected from the service and the community. Let the viewing audience know that you’re aware of them and that you’re glad they’re watching.
This doesn’t mean playing to the camera, but the person behind the camera should make an effort to deliver shots of the worshippers, the choir and musicians, and all the people the home viewers would see if they were in church.
Before or after services, consider inviting attendees to say hello on camera to those watching. If a member of the congregation is at home recuperating, on-camera ‘Get Well’ messages can mean a lot.
Ask people who regularly watch the live streams for their reactions. Did they feel a part of the worship community or were they just watching a video? Do they have any suggestions for how to make the live stream more engaging? They are the best judges for how effective the live streaming is.
Live streamed services can’t ever truly compete with the experience of being there in person. Still, making small efforts to engage with your members from afar can make a big difference to helping them stay connected.
If you've decided to stream but aren't sure which streaming provider is right for your organization, you're not alone.
The free Buyer's Guide to Live Video Streaming highlights key features to consider when evaluating your different options.
Here are a few other resources you might find helpful: