Hi there, elephant in the room. Let’s talk about you . . .
“Live streaming church services on Facebook and YouTube is free. So why should we live stream from our church website?”
To be honest, before COVID, I wouldn’t have been sure what to say.
The reasons are clear for me now. By the end of this post, I hope they’ll be clear for you, too.
When you choose to embed your live stream directly on your church website, you’re accomplishing so much more than you might think . . .
1. People see you care.
Offering a church live stream is an important step, no doubt. (Read three compelling reasons here.)
But when a church live stream is set up fast, out of necessity, as a kind of temporary stand-in for when churches can meet in person again, people can tell.
When you not only have church live streaming but also put effort into making it as inviting as possible, people can tell that, too. And it makes a difference. It helps add greater possibility for participation in a way that bare-bones live streaming doesn’t.
Why’s that such a big deal?
When churches can’t meet in person, people need connection online. Without it, they miss encouragement and accountability. The result is sobering. According to Barna, a third of Christians have stopped watching church online—even their own church.1
Here are a few ideas for cultivating a warm online church experience:
- Digital bulletins. Include a digital bulletin on your website so people can follow along with your service, see what’s coming up at your church, and feel more connected.
- Onscreen lyrics. Singing together helps set the tone for the rest of the service. Make sure people can sing along at home!
- Live chat. Chatting before, during, and even after the service helps reproduce the feeling of fellowship you get when meeting together. You can ask questions, make comments, repost key verses, and more.
- Onscreen Bible. Including a digital Bible on your website means viewers can follow along and search the Scriptures without taking their eyes off the service.
- Connection cards. Don’t let visitors slip through the cracks just because they’re visiting you online. Get their information using an online form you share during your live stream, then follow up.
For more ideas, read 8 Lesser-Known Tips to Building Healthy Online Church Community.
2. You’re removing complications.
The harder something is, the less likely people are to do it. (That’s why countless fitness articles recommend you sleep in your workout clothes or lay them right next to your bed.)
You wouldn’t require a password for people entering your church building. You wouldn’t make it hard to find. So don’t do that when it comes to your online service.
Don’t gate it behind Zoom or a private group on Facebook. Even with public Facebook pages, people have to sort through x number of churches with similar names to find yours.
Open your digital doors. Make finding your online service as simple as finding your website. Typing in a website is one simple step anyone can take, even if they’ve never spent a second on social media. Even if they’re not comfortable with technology.
This simplicity is especially important for special services like Easter online. You want the web address on your church’s flyer/postcard to be THE place to go for service information and the service itself.
Give people only one action to take—go to your website. One choice to make—worship with you, or don’t.
3. You’re dedicating space for worship.
You treat the sanctuary differently from the fellowship hall or the church playground. It’s special, set apart for worship.
Have you ever thought about your online space that way?
When you integrate your live stream with your church website, you’re setting apart your website as a place for worship.
Contrast that with having a church live stream on Facebook or YouTube. People are watching church in the same places where they watch fail videos, makeup tutorials, and nuclear-level comment wars. (And you never know what video or ad will autoplay after the service.) The social media space is a modern marvel, but would anyone call it a sacred space?
Most of us who work from home dedicate a space for work, if we can. Church online deserves its own space, too.
Bestselling author James Clear writes, “Whenever you organize a space for its intended purpose, you are priming it to make the next action easy.”2 He’s writing about forming habits, but I’d argue the same truth applies here.
When you live stream from your church website, you’re priming the space for people to remain worshipful and take actions beneficial to their spiritual health. Which brings us to our next point . . .
4. You’re encouraging people to draw closer.
When you add your live stream to your church website, you’re putting ways to connect front and center.
- Connect to your church: Viewers can reach your About Us page, doctrinal statement, Contact Us page, church events calendar, and more with just a click.
- Connect to Christ: Your website is an extension of your church’s mission. The more time people spend on your website, the more opportunity they have to follow the paths you’ve created to study the Bible and learn more about the Lord (watching past sermons, reading your church’s blog, etc.).
- Connect to each other: Through live chat, people get to interact. And with visitor contact cards, you have the information you need to reach out and start growing a relationship.
5. You’re both seizing opportunity—and creating it.
You put a lot of work and a lot of prayer into each service. You have a mission that matters for eternity. You have tremendous opportunity.
While live streamed services can’t completely replace the fellowship of in-person services, online services give you new opportunities you don’t get when your worship is tied to a physical location.
- Anyone can join you from anywhere in the world.
- Members and visitors can start getting to know each other in a low-pressure environment, since people often feel more comfortable sharing online than they do in person.
- Your live stream service can live on to reach more people as a recorded service or sermon podcast.
- Through answering questions and making comments, people can participate at any point in your service.
- When you have an online giving option alongside your church live stream, people can give at any point in your service, too. (Some viewers will want to contribute to your church. Make it easy!)
You might now be asking “Okay, how do I integrate live streaming on my church website?”
The simplest solution is to embed the code for each service to the sermons page on your website. It’s pretty easy to do—here’s how you could embed a YouTube video, for example.
And when you use church presentation software like Faithlife Proclaim, you can stream your service from the same place where you create and run slides. Faithlife Proclaim integrates with streaming providers like YouTube, Facebook, Vimeo, and others, so you can focus on the service instead of the live stream.
However you integrate your live stream with your church website, start this week so you can start seeing the difference.