Online streaming
Online streaming for churches is an unperfected art. (© Pdiaz | Dreamstime Stock Photos)

I received an interesting note from Joe Hayes, head of the TV and video ministry at Redemption World Outreach Center in Greenville, S.C. At Redemption, the Sunday online worship service is succeeding way beyond expectations.

Since so many churches have an online video feed of their live service on Sunday—and yet very few do it well—here are four tips from Joe that might help:

1. Consider it just as important as your live event. Don’t do an online, streaming feed and treat the viewers like second-class citizens. Make sure it’s as high quality as you can afford, and make it available and easy to find.

2. Understand the online experience is different from the live service. In the live service, people are sitting with a large group. They can feel the excitement and see the preacher sweat, and it’s a visceral, physical experience. But with the online service, people are watching on a small screen, usually from across the room. They’re also probably distracted. So shoot more closeups, and make sure the audience has plenty of microphones. You want the people at home to feel the power of the service.

3. Consider calling the online service “iChurch.” This is what the Redemption communications team does. They treat people that watch online just like members of the congregation.

4. Talk to the “iChurch” congregation directly.  For instance, Joe says that once they explained to the streaming audience how to give online, it literally doubled the financial response.

Why they watch doesn’t matter as much as how much you welcome them. They can learn, participate in worship and support you financially. It’s time you took your online congregation seriously.

Do you have any other suggestions from your experience?

Phil Cooke is a filmmaker, media critic and adviser to some of the largest churches, ministries and nonprofit organizations in the world. He's the founder of the Influence Lab.

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