Years ago, people would ask, “Why doesn’t your church have a website?” People were accustomed to finding anything online and were frustrated when a church was not.
Today, I find more people asking, “Why isn’t your church live streaming?” More people (and not just the younger generation) are used to finding live streams of everything else from their phones, ranging from sporting events to political elections to their favorite YouTuber. Live streaming is not just for cutting edge congregations, but is becoming an everyday tool used by millions of people each day worldwide.
Yes, Jesus and His disciples did just fine without live streaming (or even zip codes for that matter). But that doesn’t mean we should miss out on using technology to help better communicate His message to those beyond our local church campus.
Many providers and people can help you with the “How?” of live streaming, but first you should be convinced of the “Why?” Here are four reasons your church should consider live streaming weekly services.
Reason 1: Reach More People with Your Message
Whether your church serves 100 people or 1,000 people during a weekend service, your worship experience is limited to those in the building at that given moment. But imagine knocking out a wall (via technology) to allow many others to experience your service.
Some churches only use video to reach those who cannot attend that week’s service, such as shut-ins or military personnel. However, your live stream can also serve the purpose of evangelism, reaching those seeking an experience with God at that moment.
Reason 2: Reach More People in Your Community
A recent study on online church services debunked the myth that church attendance will decrease when you start live streaming. The clear majority of churches had grown in weekly attendance since streaming.
A surprising finding, however, was that 42 percent of viewers lived within an hour of the church’s location. In other words, nearly half the audience included people who could attend in person if they chose to do so.
This means more people are checking out your church service in advance. Instead of visiting in person, they visit online and then decide whether to show up in person.
Reason 3: Provide New Ministry Opportunities
A decade ago, it would be difficult to find someone called an Online Pastor. Today, this role is becoming increasingly common. You could even argue some people could be called Streaming Pastors, though this is only one aspect of an Online Pastor’s role.
Whether as a pastor, volunteer, or other moderator, real live people are needed to build community among those who view services online. An online only church called GodSquad now serves gamers (yes, video gamers) through an online church. It not only includes worship services, but virtual small groups, prayer groups, online giving, and volunteer opportunities for those involved.
When we begin to think of streaming church services as a ministry opportunity rather than as “another technology to add,” we can discover ways to both reach people and involve people from your church who are unengaged. You may not know what an encoder is or how to live stream on YouTube, but there are probably some people in your pews who do this for fun or for a living who would be glad to help.
Reason 4: Reach People Long After Your Service
Live streaming is great because it provides an opportunity for people to worship together at the same time. However, capturing a live worship experience can also be used in multiple settings and at multiple times.
For example, some churches now have an “online service” at an additional time that replays the previous service to reach additional people. An online moderator or pastor serves as host, connecting people, praying for requests, and guiding the experience. The live stream becomes a second service, reaching new people at new times.
Further, your archived video can change lives long into the future. When my church’s pastor passed away a couple of years ago, he left hundreds of his video sermons behind. We still receive messages from people touched by his teaching long after he is with the Lord in heaven.
It has been said, “If you know your why you can figure out your how.” If you’re convinced live streaming is important for your church, there is a way to discover how to make it happen where you are to change lives for eternity.