• Phil Wright

4 Ways to Host Your Church Service Online

We’re doing everything we can to help out churches during this really unique, really fast-changing season. Perhaps more than ever, people feel the need for the Hope the Church is offering—and more than ever, churches are finding media to be a crucial element in communicating that Hope. Our goal is to be a useful resource for all things media-related during this time. Have a question for us?  Reach out at info@ignitermedia.com.


Photo from Lightstock



Up until a couple of Sundays ago, most churches’ livestreaming experience was essentially just video coverage of the physical, in-person event. But during a season when there are no in-person meetings happening, what does livestreaming a church service look like?


Here are 4 approaches we’ve seen churches take:



#1

BUSINESS AS USUAL


Some churches (who were already set up to livestream), are relying on their established processes and teams to do the same thing they’ve always done, or close to it. It’s the least internally disruptive option, but can be really awkward if you just pretend like the room isn’t empty.


Things to consider: 

  • It’s surprising how hard it can be to directly address a camera, but now that your audience is 100% online, that’s exactly what you should be doing.

  • Consider setting things up differently. We’ve seen lot of churches have opted to flip their speaker around and shoot toward an empty room. A couple of weeks ago Saddleback Church set their worship team up in-the-round, rather than having them facing an empty room.



#2

BUSINESS AS USUAL (PRE-RECORDED)


Pre-recording your service offers the same familiarity as the first approach, but with a lot more flexibility. Plus, if you plan well, you can record multiple weeks worth of services at once. This is something that may be appealing, in anticipation of social distancing restrictions getting tighter.


A local church here in Dallas has even gone so far as to pre-record the music they’ll be using for their digital Easter services.


Things to consider: 

  • Same as above—don’t just pretend like your not in front of an empty room.

  • Both Facebook and Youtube have “premiere” features that allow you to show a prerecorded video at a scheduled time as if it were a livestream.



#3

CASUAL TALKING HEAD


A lot of churches are opting for message-only online services, and forgoing normal service programming elements like music altogether. We’ve seen pastors speak everywhere from their own kitchens to medical clinics. 


There are a lot of benefits here: it’s more personal/intimate, it can be accomplished with little more than a smartphone, and it gives a chance for people to engage directly with you directly.


Things to consider: 

  • Always strive for quality audio/video, but this method offers the most forgiveness for quality issues, since people are used to watching talking head videos recorded on cell phones.

  • Lighting is important. Make sure your face is being well lit by some light source, and avoid setting up in a place where you’ll be backlit (like in front of a window).

  • Assign someone (or multiple people) to be ready to engage with people in the comments section (if you’re streaming to Facebook, for example).



#4

EMAILED DEVOTIONAL


We serve a lot of lower-tech churches that don’t have the ability to stream their services at all. One approach that we thought was particularly creative was to email the service in outline form to your church. 

Things to consider: 

  • Create a YouTube playlist or a Spotify playlist with the songs you’d be singing during worship.

  • Include some direction on spending a few moments in prayer.

  • Share a Scripture passage they should read aloud.

  • Ask questions you’d like them to consider, and invite them to discuss and respond.

  • Send links to mini movies that illustate points you want to make. (You don’t need a membership to do that!)

  • Communicate about the week ahead.


Ultimately, what route you take depends a lot on what resources and abilities you already have, so figure out what works for you. We’d love to hear what your approach is in the comments below.



Our design team created 30 completely free social graphics specifically created for churches to use during this season. Download them here. Plus, we’ve curated a collection of media from our library that you’ll find useful during this season. Find the full collection here.



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