Church Communications resources and tips from Justin Dean

Why You Shouldn’t Live Stream a “Normal” Service This Weekend

Don’t continue with business as normal. Adapt and serve people the way they need you to right now.

Church has moved online, and everyone has been asking the same question…

“How do I stream my services?”

But here’s the thing. That is absolutely the wrong question to be asking. 

Everyone in the country has moved inside their homes. They are likely glued to their phones now more than ever before. Social Distancing has turned into Social Media gorging. 

But there’s something you should know about Social Media. It’s not built for watching live versions of in-person events. We are all trying to live stream services like they are happening just like normal. 

Social media just isn’t the place for that.

Here are some of the dangers of streaming your services just like “normal” and what to do instead:


Streaming a “Normal” Sermon

Streaming a normal sermon to an empty auditorium is coming across to your people as fake and unrealistic. During this time of at-home life, people are already feeling down and beaten up. Seeing their home churches empty of people isn’t going to help them.


Pastors, do a live “talking head” interactive video at least weekly

Social media is built on the goal of interactive discussions. Sunday sermons, by design, are lecture format. However, with our churches being moved to homes and social we have a unique opportunity to connect closer with our people.

Pastor, do a live video on your phone or laptop camera and talk with your people. You can even give your sermon for the week. However, make sure you tackle questions that come through the comments live. This will be a change, but don’t do a lecture style talk live on social media. Make it interactive as much as possible. 


Streaming live music from your church building

In order to stream live performances to begin with you actually need proper licensing. For most churches, we don’t have the proper licening to stream live music, so we need to find another way. Again, the ‘empty church’ syndrom is going to bring folks down. 


No-License Churches: Provide Spotify Worship Playlists

Create weekly Worship Setlists that you can share with your people on social. Use Spotify or YouTube to create playlists to share. Send new ones out every week or even every day if you can. This gets people singing and listening to all the same songs. 

Licensed Churches: One-Person Music Streaming

If you have proper licensing (please don’t do this if you don’t), just have someone from the worship team grab a guitar, get in front of a computer or phone, and start singing worship songs. Your people can then follow along at home and sing together. No lyrics needed.


Telling People You Need Money and to Give Online

Right now, everyone is struggling. Everyone is hurting. Everyone is wondering what their near future holds. Asking for money without any kind of background will push your people even further away from you. 


Talk About the Work Your Church Does

Post videos, picture, or text stories about how your church is taking action to serve those in your church body and larger community. Stories have a powerful way of connecting with people. We can see ourselves as a part of any story we hear. 

Talk about the work your church is doing and ask people to come alongside that work. Put together a landing page on your website for ways people can help. Both in time, resources, and money.  


Keeping everything “the same” when everything else is not will hurt your church when life goes “back to normal”

Church, if you keep streaming a “normal” service to your people, I fear you are setting them up for something none of us want. We are in this for the long haul, somewhere around eight or more weeks. If you keep streaming a normal service over that period of time your people are going to get use to it.

When life returns to normal and you keep streaming your services, some people are just going to default to streaming on Sundays. There won’t be a felt need to go in to the church buidling because they can get the same thing there that they can get online. 

I fear for a drop in attendance if we continue on this path. 

Shift your digital strategy to be truly ready for social media. Don’t take something meant to be experienced in-person and just throw it online. 

Make a unique experience that is special for this time in history. Made just for social media. Created to reach and serve your people in their time of need.

Don’t continue with business as normal. Adapt and serve people the way they need you to right now.

Share This Post

More #ChurchComm Tips