Even as churches open up around the world and we start transitioning back to gathering in a physical building, this isn’t the time to ease up on our live streaming services. Now as much as ever, we need to continue connecting with people who are slow to come back because of health concerns, plus, the new viewers that have started watching outside your local area. During the entire lockdown experience, one of the most frequent questions I’ve been receiving from pastors is about the live streaming platform. Should they be on Facebook? YouTube? On their church site?
The answer is yes to all. We should be on as many platforms as possible, because it’s not how we want to reach them, it’s how they want to reach us.
I’d said in earlier posts that we’re in uncharted territory so we have no real benchmarks for comparison. This is the first time in my lifetime that 100% of the congregation has been on the other side of a camera, so we just don’t have much to compare it to – yet.
However, one thing I’m seeing is the importance of platforms – not just which platform, but why each matters:
With most churches to date, Facebook has the largest audience because it has so many users, plus it sends notifications to your followers the second you go live. There’s no question that it’s the window in for most people. However, there’s also plenty of other things to do on Facebook, so it’s difficult to keep the audience’s attention focused on your live stream service. As a result, lots of people start on Facebook, but most start getting distracted and don’t seem to watch for very long.
YouTube is good because it’s a simple playback, it’s good quality, and it’s easy to archive later on your channel. Plus, it’s the go-to platform for a younger generation of viewers.
The Church Online Platform from Life.Church is the most widely used platform that resides on a church’s website. In most cases, it doesn’t necessarily have the largest audience, but it has by far the best chance of people engaging and watching the entire service. Plus, because the site also includes a Bible, a place to download your sermon notes, and a chat room, all those features help keep the audience engaged longer with your service.
So it’s not “either/or” it’s “both/and.” Get your live stream on all three platforms if possible, and you’ll see the best results.