Live streaming isn’t right for every church. In an ideal world, equipment would be cheap and every church would have the infrastructure to host their own service via live stream. Now, many churches are struggling to make something work in a short amount of time because of COVID-19. Chances are you may be looking for live streaming alternatives to help your church through this difficult time.
This isn’t a perfect world and while God isn’t surprised, many churches have been. So, with that thought in mind, what are some things you can do today to maintain community and meet other than live streaming?
Here are ten live streaming alternatives to help you stay connected with your congregation:
#1 – Simulated Live (Watch Parties and Premieres)
There are a lot of churches trying to figure out how to live stream right now. Some are coming to the realization that it’s easier said than done. They can’t get capture cards or encoders, or maybe their internet quality isn’t up to the job.
A simple solution is to record the service ahead of time and upload it to YouTube or Facebook. Then you can schedule a premiere, or watch party, and invite your church community to join online. Make sure everyone shows up at the same time so you can watch together by announcing the information well in advance. If your church has Church Online Platform (which is not a live-streaming host), you can upload a video to YouTube and schedule a service simulated live. It’s basically the same as doing it on YouTube or Facebook, but with tools and analytics designed for the church.
#2 – Repurpose Your Best Content
If you can’t record a new message, why not curate old ones? Maybe your pastor has already preached sermons about topics that are appropriate to this time. If you have them recorded and available, make a list and have everyone watch the same one each week and discuss it on your church’s website, Facebook page, or if it’s on YouTube, under the video there.
#3 – Other YouTube Videos
Speaking of YouTube videos, the sermons you watch don’t have to be from your pastor. Instead, consider finding other sermons and resources that you can share. Maybe even make a playlist of music videos and a sermon so that people can watch a “service” consisting of the same songs and message, discussing them elsewhere. Think of it like having a guest speaker and guest musicians in.
#4 – RightNow Media and Other Christian Ministry Materials
Speaking of well-known speakers and teachers, consider finding something on RightNow Media. Churches who subscribe get access to their library of teaching and preaching for the whole church. Maybe your pastor is a fan of Andy Stanley or Greg Surratt. Go through a series together and have people call or text each other to discuss.
Also, consider finding resources to train your volunteers in their area of ministry. Sound people can do online training to get better. Children’s ministry workers could learn more about child development and best practices. People in the visual areas of production could even learn from my own program ChurchTechU.com which teaches about ProPresenter, live streaming, YouTube, podcasting, and video production.
#5 – CDs and DVDs
For older people, maybe audio and video online is too much of a struggle to overcome. Instead, consider recording audio CDs or DVDs and mailing them out to people you know won’t be able to watch online resources.
#6 – Video Calls
Consider doing pastoral care by doing video calls with Skype, Facebook Messenger, or FaceTime. Maybe you can’t get to everyone, but a video call might be fun in a time when people aren’t seeing a lot of faces outside of their immediate families. Regular telephone calls work for those who can’t do video calls, too.
#7 – Multi-Participant Meetings
For small groups and meetings, consider using video conference platforms. It might not be quite the same as meeting in-person, but it will be nice to see people face-to-face in a group setting. Check out the full list of Video Conferencing Platform options here.
#8 – Conference Calls
Consider piping the audio from your church service through a conference call system. If you have people who would have trouble joining such a call, consider having volunteers call the person, do a three-way call and add in the conference call and then hang up so they can listen without having to type in all the numbers on their phones.
#9 – Correspondence (Newsletters and Personal)
Whether they’re via paper or email, getting a newsletter or even a personal message might help connect people who you can’t reach other ways. Maybe recruit younger people to write notes to older people to let them know they’re praying for them and look forward to seeing them in church again after this is all over.
#10 – Podcasts and Video Podcasts
Consider starting either an audio or video podcast. Unlike YouTube, this content can show up automatically every time a new “episode” is uploaded. It’s kind of like a newspaper or magazine subscription that way, only you’re in charge of what goes out.
These are just some of the ideas that your church can use while we’re all apart for longer than anticipated. Maybe there are others, but maybe this opens your eyes to possibilities you hadn’t considered before.