The Internet has had quite an impact on the Church. According to a Faith Communities Today survey, the number of congregations across America using email more than doubled between 2000 and 2010. Ninety percent of congregations had embraced this technology, while just 35 percent had done the same a decade earlier.
On top of this, the number of congregations employing websites in their daily operations had jumped from 33 percent to 69 percent in the same space of time. As with many other groups and organizations, the Internet allows members of the Church to share their message and maintain contact at any time, any place.
Social media is, of course, a key method of marketing and building online presences today. Statistics show that over 20 percent of pastors use Twitter, while over 65 percent employ Facebook. For younger members of the Church, social media and wider Internet usage plays a significant role in the everyday world, and pastors looking to engage with millennials have various free or cost-effective platforms at their disposal.
Likewise, older generations are active online, with smartphones and tablets allowing even the most computer-phobic man or woman to connect with others at their own leisure.
A major advantage the Internet offers churches? Streaming video.
The Power of Video
More and more churches are adopting video streaming as part of their regular activities. Outside of the Church itself, those with their own messages of hope and inspiration can spread the word using a variety of video platforms. While we all know about YouTube, of course, there are alternatives which allow for a more bespoke, personalized experience. Maintaining a strong, engaging web presence is vital to get your words heard, and other platforms provide you with wider resources to do so.
One inspirational website is Messenger Streaming International. This is a colorful, transparent, motivational domain aiming to transform the lives of anyone and everyone who subscribes, exploring the powerful lessons one can learn following God’s way. Their own self-described mission is to:
“Help individuals, families, churches, and nations realize and experience the transforming power of God’s Word. This realization will result in lives empowered, communities transformed, and a dynamic response to the injustices plaguing our world.”
This is no small feat, but the website offers subscribers a wealth of deep, engaging material tailor-made for the modern viewer. Messenger Streaming International was built using Uscreen, a video hosting service which allows organizations, individuals, and businesses to create a unique online hub for their materials. View Uscreen’s Pricing to learn more.
While this is primarily a video-hosting platform, a variety of other resources can be uploaded, including documents, podcasts, and more. If Messenger Streaming International were to have their own YouTube channel, for example, they would be entrenched within the platform’s rigid layout, rather than having their own independent presence. This platform is completely white label, empowering Messenger Streaming International to use the service’s technology as they see fit without having to carry any of its branding.
Messenger Streaming International is using video streaming to reach a wide demographic and connect with people through one of the most engaging formats available. While textual and audio materials have their own power, video is a more personal, intimate medium. Research shows that Internet users are attracted to videos, and websites or organizations employing this format can enjoy improved visibility.
For example, including a video on a landing page can lead to an 80 percent conversion increase, while 90 percent of users claim that watching a video based around a specific product is a major help in making a decision to buy.
There are several ways in which churches can benefit from bringing their services and message online using video-streaming technology.
Video Streaming Boosts Your Local Reach
As Messenger Streaming International illustrates, video streaming allows churches to expand their local reach first and foremost. John Bevere, co-founder of Messenger Streaming International (along with wife, Lisa) has considerable experience as a minister, but started this online presence to help support local churches and leaders around the world.
By embracing video technology, churches can connect with:
- Homebound individuals who want to become, or remain, members of the congregation despite being unable to leave their house or apartment
- People struggling to commit to visiting a church in person, or those looking to deal with social issues
- Members of the congregation who have moved away from the local area but wish to remain in contact with their fellow church-goers, leaders, and others wherever they are
Being able to reach the above individuals can be incredibly helpful for any church. Keeping attendance up is, of course, a driving concern, but nurturing strong relationships with each and every member of the congregation is paramount. Video streaming allows any church in any area to transcend borders and boundaries (provided they have an internet connection), spreading the word well beyond their own doors.
Video Streaming Allows For Repeat or Delayed Viewings of Services
No matter how much we want to attend that Sunday-morning service or guest-speaker, life can get in the way. Whether it is a child with a cold, a car problem, or an issue within the home demanding immediate attention, you may have to give your trip to church a miss.
As many of us know, this can have a negative impact on your mood, your sense of well-being, and the sense of responsibility you feel towards the Lord. With video streaming, churches can ensure people at home, on the road, or in hospital can still enjoy the comfort and community of their local house of worship. Real-time video technology is generally of a high-quality today, with crisp, clear visuals and audio. This puts viewers right in the church, no matter how many miles lie between them.
Recording services gives people the power to enjoy them again and again, listening to their favorite sections at their own leisure. This creates a cutting-edge form of ‘on-demand worship’, perfectly suited to the public’s modern demands – we want the information and the entertainment we want now, not when it suits someone else.
To maximize the effect of on-demand worship, however, a church should ensure its website is arranged for the most convenient navigation. Keep videos separated into relevant categories, with short descriptions and eye-catching titles. You should also include the date on which the video was recorded, which helps those in attendance find their favorite services for repeat viewings.
Messenger Streaming International is a fine example of effective layout. Their videos are well described, broken down into sections, and presented professionally.
Cultivate a Wider Sense of Community with Other Churches
Churches can work together using video-streaming technology, fostering a sense of community among congregations. For example, an afternoon worship may be enhanced with hundreds of people across various states, or even countries, taking part.
This is a major help to churches where the usual pastor is ill or unable to lead services, as congregations may still attend and enjoy the words from a distant service over a television screen. This can enable churches to attract more donations from people who attend through video feeds rather than in-person, leading to greater economic strength.
A smaller, but no less important, advantage? The relief of financial pressure certain individuals may feel. Video is an aid to those who would like to donate but cannot afford to, and removes the feeling of shame they may needlessly feel when they attend church. This helps them to enjoy the service without feeling the pressure (even if it is only imaginary) to donate large amounts. This is a powerful aid in areas with high numbers of low-income households.
Offer Deeper Resources to More Devout Members of the Congregation
For those who attend church multiple times a week but still crave a deeper connection with their church, their pastor, and the Lord, video streaming enables them to enjoy more from the comfort of their own home.
A pastor can lead an in-depth service during their free time, perhaps discussing wider aspects of theology they may not have room to explore in their usual services. This could be a more intimate, personal experience, akin to a quiet conversation between the viewer and the pastor, without other members of the congregation around.
Again, churches may use this ‘extra-curricular’ form of service as a way to boost donations. Requesting funds in exchange for watching the videos is fairly quick and simple to set up, with various widgets available.
Video streaming can also give people from the congregation the freedom to host their own videos, discussing their own beliefs, ideas, and experiences. Not only does this help to give the church more of a unique identity, showing the strength of worship found within its walls, but also gives the congregation an opportunity to have their own voice heard.
To return to our example, Messenger Streaming International gives John and Lisa Bevere the power to educate people inside and outside the Church on a matter they feel incredibly passionate about, and this is a mission others can emulate with surprising ease. Though setting up a video-streaming website may seem like a daunting prospect, it is actually easier to achieve today than ever. The more advanced Internet technology becomes, the more accessible it tends to be.
Carry the Church with You
Using a reliable video-hosting platform enables your subscribers or followers to watch their church’s releases on any device. The latest smartphones and tablets are capable of streaming high-definition video without noticeable dips in quality, so long as the bandwidth is up to the task. By ensuring your website is optimized for mobile performance, you can allow your followers to take the Church with them wherever they go.
Messenger Streaming International offers full mobile support, with their complete portfolio viewable on a phone or tablet. This is no less than modern audiences expect, with more than half of videos watched on mobile technology. For churches targeting millennials, mobile-compatibility is key.
The more the Church embraces the wonders of modern technology, the easier attracting fresh worshippers and visitors will become. For churches which have seen a decline in attendance in recent years, offering a streaming service may well help to revitalize their image and standing within their community.
Help to Attract Guest Speakers and Celebrity Visitors
Bringing guest speakers into your church is a powerful tactic for encouraging more visitors, raising the church’s profile and attracting more donations. Notable figures within the world of religion, either in your local area or from further afield, may be more willing to visit your church if they have permission to stream video footage of their appearance for their followers to enjoy. They can also share a link to the recorded version on their website, raising interest in your church for days, weeks, possibly even years following the event itself.
Celebrities of faith may also be invited to visit your church, especially if they grew up locally. This may take the form of sharing their own religious experiences and insights, or singers might well be willing to perform a special set. Streaming this for people in the local area makes a powerful charity fund-raising event, and is the ideal opportunity to generate wider interest beyond the usual congregation. Anyone watching the video online may be asked to make a donation, or to visit the church to give thanks if they enjoy the event.
As you can see, video streaming offers significant potential for churches to expand, attract new worshippers, and target wider a demographic of age-groups. Video continues to account for more and more video traffic, and is playing a more important role in marketing. To achieve greater standing in their local community, churches can integrate streaming and on-demand to transcend the limitations imposed by distance, time, and mobility.
People no longer need to leave their home to become part of the Church. Now, they can worship with their congregation wherever they are.