Creative LeadershipEngaging Culture

People Don’t Get Online Church – And Here’s How to Fix It

I received an interesting note from Joe Hayes, head of the TV and video ministry at Redemption World Outreach Center in Greenville, South Carolina. 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’s 4 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, 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 close-ups, and make sure the audience has plenty of microphones. You want the people at home to feel the power of the service.

3) The Redemption Communications Team call the online service “iChurch.”   They treat people that watch online just like members of the congregation.

4) Finally – 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.

Any other suggestions from your experience?

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  1. Happy to say that my home church, Wave church in Virginia Beach VA does this really well. The stream is great and they always do a very good job of welcoming and referring to the online audience, including during the offering talk.

  2. so really it’s the difference between theatre and film. I started my ‘career’ as a stage actor, only to discover years later, that when I went into film acting the ‘acting’ has to be completely different.

  3. Having worked in this space with 100’s of churches for nearly 6 years, I couldn’t agree more with these comments. Oh, and one more thing, let the leadership drive the vision not the bean counters nor the techies.

  4. I completely agree. I attend Lakewood Church and Pastor Joel and the rest of them treat the online audience the same as it they were sitting in the sanctuary. Great article!

    1. Interesting…I’m just the opposite! I see the chat as an annoyance and get it turned off faster than the stream can even get going…..

  5. I’m a camera operator at Redemption. We are aware of the importance of giving those who are watching online our best. We desire for them to have an opportunity to receive from God what they need. It is an honor to serve.

  6. Its a very new concept to me, live streaming. Explaining this a little more please or point me to where I can get a more trust worthy explanation.
    What stops the people who give time online from attending a real worship service?

    1. That’s a great question Anurag. Today it takes remarkably little to keep people from attending a local church. But others have legitimate reasons – sickness, the elderly, those traveling. Plus, who knows who might be surfing the web randomly and discover a live church services happening online. All good reasons to have an online worship experience.

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