Shawn West offers ideas to help your church stay connected in the digital age.
“Why should we stream our church services?” People often ask me this question, usually followed by a quote from their pastor saying, “If people can stay at home and watch church in their pajamas & slippers, why would they come back to church? There are many ways to answer to this question. Inmy research and polls,taken since I started live streaming in 2009, I have found that the driving force behind people’s desire to view church online is wide and varied. And I’m happy to share with you the TOP 10 reasons churches have decided to invest in live streaming.
TOP 10 REASONS TO LIVE STREAM YOUR CHURCH SERVICES:
1. To show potential new members (those who visit your church website online) what your church is really like.
FACTOID: Young married couples (ages 24-34) who have recently moved into a town, will watch a live streamed church service an average of 6 times before stepping foot in the church building.
2. Providing an alternative for those who have odd work schedules or who travel frequently for work and/or play (such as snow birdsand those glued-to-the-tube during football season).
3.To provide a convenient means to attend worship for those who can’t make it to church due to illness or being infirmed; if folks are like me, when a child in the family gets sick it is impossible to bring them to church or drop them off at the nursery because you don’t want other children to get sick too. So, the most likely situation is that one (or both) of the parents must stay home from church to take care of the little one. With a live stream of the church services, the parents can keep up with what’s with going on in the church family as well as enjoy the sermon from the convenience of their home computer or mobile devices (iPhone, iPad, Droid, etc.).
4. For the elderly who can’t leave home (shut ins) or those living in an assisted living environment.
5. To extend church membership beyond the walls of your church (think multi-state membership).
6. For special events, music concerts, pageants (Grandma in Kentucky wants to see little Suzy sing in the Easter program!)
7. For district conferences; now, more church members can participate in the District Conference and be part of the discussions about the direction of the church as a whole.
8. For fund raising; there are many groups within the church (women’s ministry, youth ministries) who could take advantage of this technology and use it to raise money and awareness of their mission activities.
9. To live stream your Pastor’s sermon across campus, or across town where the church has planted a new church; this decreases the cost of having 2 pastors serve locations that are sharing resources.
10. As outreach, evangelism and to fulfill the Great Commission (Acts 1:8).
So, as you can see, there are a lot of reasons churches are considering this new technology. Not the least of which is that live streaming also makes fiscal sense, especially for small or mid-sized churches. Examine the dollar-cost-average of ministering to an extra 100 people per week. There are many added cost considerations such as, parking, bulletins, water, lights, heat and refreshments. It’s often a more effective use of financial resources to reach people via online streaming. And when you consider that the average cost of live streaming is cheaper than a typical monthly cell phone bill, you can begin to see how offering live streaming just makes sense (cents).
For many churches nowadays, the reasons areclear. In my opinion, the most compelling reason to provide live streaming technology is that it’s the most effective way for existing church members to stay connectedto the church when life prohibits your physical attendance at church. Ever notice that even one Sunday away from church often feels like you have to start all over again with building those relationships from scratch? Once a week handshakes, nods across the room and sudo-hugs just don’t cut it in the long-term. It takes a commitment to learn, lean-in and participate in every way the church offers, both in person and online. Technology can be your friend and help keep you connected to your church when life gets in the way.
Shawn West is a technology adviser for churches and president of www.WorshipChannels.com