When your church considers any new ministry or seeks to evaluate the effectiveness of an existing ministry, it is important to have an understanding of who that ministry is likely to reach. Failure to do so will almost certainly result in your effort being less effective than it could be. In Luke 14 Jesus spoke about the importance of “counting the cost” when beginning a new undertaking, whether that undertaking is building a tower or becoming a follower of Jesus.
If your church is considering live streaming your services, it is important to know there are essentially three types of people who will watch. It is also vitally important that you carefully and prayerfully consider how to minister to each of these groups as a part of your digital media strategy.
Here’s a profile of the three types of people who will make up the audience for your live stream:
1. Faithful church members who cannot be present this week. For most ministries, this will be the largest group that will watch your live services online – people who are already a vital part of your church, but for a variety of reasons they cannot be there on this date. Maybe they are sick or have sick children, maybe they are traveling or on vacation. Streaming your services live allows them to “come to church when they cannot go to church.” They can be a part of your service even though they cannot be present in person.
2. People who are looking for a church home. Today, people begin their search for a church to call home the same way they “shop” for anything else – online. Live streaming your services allows them to get a feel for the personality and character of your church before they actually visit in person. In fact, people searching for a new church decide on the “short list” of churches that they want to visit based on information gathered from your website and your social media postings. Your streaming content is an important part of that process. Think of it as a way for them to virtually come and lurk on the back row to check out your services.
3. People who will find your service on the Internet and be impacted by your message. While this is typically the statistically smallest of the three groups numerically, it represents a wonderful opportunity for ministry. You may never know this side of heaven the people who listened to your sermon and were touched, comforted, or challenged. These people might be across the street or halfway around the world. They might never have the opportunity to meet you or hear you in person, but because of the power of the Internet, you were able to speak truth into their lives and minister to them.
How are you structuring your online services to intentionally minister to each of these groups?
Are you acknowledging church members and regular attenders who are participating via your live stream? It is a comfort to those who can’t be there today when you let them know their presence is missed but you are glad they are attending online.
Are you inviting those who live in your area to come visit your church in person? Assuring them of a warm welcome may be what they need to decide to come visit your church in person.
Are you recognizing those around the world who are watching? Many of our churches pass info to the pastor about where folks are watching from while the service is in progress. It is a powerful thing when they hear the pastor or worship leader state “We welcome those who are joining us today from South Africa, England, and Australia.”
At Piksel Faith, we have been partnering with hundreds of churches around the world for more than 12 years to provide them with world-class technology, best in the industry support, and proactive consultation to maximize your reach and effectiveness in digital media ministry.
About the author
Alan Riley is the General Manager of Piksel Faith, committed to working with church leaders to master new digital mediums. A self-confessed nerd, photographer, writer and guitarist, Alan also currently serves as the Interim Worship Pastor at Towne View Church in Metro Atlanta. Connect with him on Twitter @AlanRiley or on Facebook at Facebook.com/alanriley