Covid 19 really changed the game for churches over the last 3 months or so. We’ve seen churches that have never even thought about online services master getting online and presenting their weekly sermon, or in some cases their entire service, online through YouTube, Facebook, or other streaming service. This has been a paradigm shift of Biblical proportion. Now though, things are starting to move back towards normality. So you can do away with the online stuff again can’t we? It’s served its purpose after all. Is it time to go back to life as it was before, or do you need to seriously consider keeping going with our live streams after we get back into our buildings?
In my opinion you should definitely continue to use livestreaming as another tool in your ministry kit. Live streaming is fast becoming an essential for any ministry if they want to reach out into the community and beyond. Think about it. There are so many people out in our communities that wouldn’t even begin to step through a church door. Maybe they can’t physically get out and about because of illness or disability, maybe they just don’t like churches. These people may still tune in to what you have to offer if they can do it from the comfort of their home. What about people who cannot attend due to other commitments at the time of your services? For example, emergency workers on shift rotas. They may be able to tune in online or even catch up at a later point.
You could even be reaching people beyond your immediate community. When our church live streams we pick up people from all ends of the country but also from the other side of the Atlantic. It is phenomenal the impact you can have once you get your message online. You never know just who may be watching. If your message is timely and impactful then you could find it reaches to the far corners of the globe.
Once you have decided to continue to live stream what next? You have been live streaming from your lounge using your phone. Will that still work? The answer, as with most things is it depends. If you are going to record from home and simply upload to YouTube for later viewing, then it might. If you want to record your whole service, then again it might, but probably not. And what about those of you who haven’t even thought about live streaming. You just closed your doors and waited it out. Where do you go from here?
The next step.
Firstly, you have to decide on what you want to achieve, and how much your budget is. Yes, to continue livestreaming after lockdown you are going to need to invest some money in equipment. Sorry to say that but it just will not cut it to continue with ropey videos recorded by hand on a phone. You can and need to do better. At the very least you will need a better mic and a tripod.
Do you want to record the service beforehand and just put it out on YouTube, or do you want to do a full live stream where people can interact with your volunteers?
Obviously, we’d all love to do the whole Hillsong or Elevation bit. You know, multiple cameras, full tv operations etc. (No? It must be just me then!), however, most of us don’t have the money or resources (personnel or equipment) to pull that off and to be honest it wouldn’t work for 95% of the churches in the UK. We just aren’t there. Yet. You can, however, produce something that is specifically you. It is your church, your vision, your style. You can make a difference online. You can reach people who you never thought you could before. So grab hold of it and run with it. Work out your budget. Work out your needs and wishes. Then go with the best that you can for that point and get it done. Get online. Get broadcasting. Get reaching people. As a famous brand says, “Just do it”. Don’t let fear or discouragement hold you back. Realise that for a while your viewing figures may well be stuck in the single figures (if that), but they will grow as your congregation starts to get behind your vision and starts to understand the value of this project. Who knows where this could take your church? Maybe YOU will be the next Bethel or the next Hillsong or maybe, just maybe, you will find your true calling as a church and fill a need in peoples lives who have been desperately waiting for you to turn up and show them Christ.