by Nils Smith, Chief Strategist Social Media+Innovation
Now more than ever, the world needs the church to be present and active. But if you and your church were caught off guard by the recent push to forgo in-person services and move online, you’re certainly not alone.
I want to offer you some encouragement and advice as you continue this journey, because you can do it – and do it well! From my 12 years of helping church streams get off the ground, here are three things to keep in mind when establishing your online presence.
Think about your online experience first.
Before you jump ahead, think about the end user – your audience. Who are they? Why are they watching church online? Where are they physically, emotionally, or spiritually? What do they expect to get out of this experience?
Put yourself in the shoes of the “average” person watching your online service and consider how to meet their needs. Don’t just copy your regular Sunday services – really think about how you can tweak your setup to show you’re considering this online audience specifically.
Prioritize your audio quality.
The truth is live music is difficult to translate online. The way you mix sound for a live, in-person performance is different than the way you would for a recording, which is also sometimes different from a live stream.
The same rule applies to the sermon. High-quality video and good lighting are nice, but people are tuning in to hear what you have to say, not to admire your pretty stage. If your audience can’t hear you effectively, they will disengage with your stream. It’s that simple.
Make sure you understand the way your sound – especially your music – is mixed for the stream. A separate soundboard for streaming use is preferred, but many online churches have found success by simply scaling back. Shortening the worship set to one or two songs and simplifying the music makes the experience more intimate – and thus easier to engage with online.
Don’t forget to have fun!
Why should church be boring now that it’s online? Don’t apologize for this “new normal” – make it a party! Do things you otherwise couldn’t do. Make your videos memorable and take advantage of chat opportunities. Think outside the box. Your site is your stage – use what you’ve got and make it interactive for members and visitors alike.
Remember: there is no turnkey solution for all churches when it comes to broadcasting online. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Your online experience will be – and should be – as unique as you are. So don’t be frightened – set yourself up for success and seize the opportunity to reach a whole new audience with your message of hope!
If you would like more tips for effectively engaging with your congregation online, check out my FREE Dunham Institute course, Online Church – Providing the Best Experience.
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