Live streaming is a powerful tool for digital discipleship, yet many churches are making common live stream mistakes without even knowing it.
Let’s walk through the most common mistakes—and what to do about them—so you can make sure your live stream is taking every opportunity to draw people closer.
3 Common Live Stream Mistakes Your Church Can Avoid
Live stream mistake #1: Not paying enough attention to sound
It’s natural to prioritize video. After all, people are watching, and everyone wants to look their best on camera.
But think about it—how annoying are those phone calls or virtual meetings where the sound keeps cutting out? Conversations interrupted by “What was that?” and “Sorry, I couldn’t hear you. Can you repeat that?” don’t tend to be very productive or enjoyable.
And when it comes to your church’s live stream, if people can’t hear your service well, they’ll likely just click to exit—perhaps never to return. That’s why even very talented, very dedicated video creators say that poor video quality is admittedly not the best thing, but poor audio quality is worse.In your church's live stream, it's easy to prioritize video. But it's poor sound that deters listeners. Check the broadcast for noise and unregulated volume, and strive for a balanced music mix. Then test, test, test. Click To Tweet
What to do instead
So that everyone can hear your church’s music and message loud and clear, take just as much care with the sound for your live stream as you do for the sound in your sanctuary.
Listen to your live stream and ask “Is there echo, hum, or ringing? Is the volume low? How’s the mix on the music? Is one voice overpowering all the others? Should it be?”
Once you’ve identified any issues with your live stream sound, consider whether you have the right equipment to give you the mix you need. Church sound pros recommend you either have 1) a sound board that has a sub-mix or 2) a smaller mixer.
Once you’ve got your equipment, then you’ve reached the best part—improving your live stream’s sound. How do you do that?
- Start with signal levels.
- Mix for the room (the sanctuary) first.
- Set up an aux mix if possible.
- Use a limiter or compressor for the live stream mix.
- Test, test, test.
You might assume your tech staff is aware of these steps, but use these live stream mistakes as a touchpoint to ensure everyone agrees on the standards you're working to achieve.
(For mixer recommendations and more details on the steps above, take a look at this blog post.)
Live stream mistake #2: Not putting your live stream where online visitors go first
Many churches put their live stream on YouTube or Facebook and leave it at that. They overlook the most important place—their church website. Even though they may link to their live stream from their church website, visitors are forced to go somewhere else to watch.
What to do instead
Add your live stream to your church’s website as soon as you can. Here’s one big reason that’s vital (and there are others): live streaming from your church website maintains a worshipful atmosphere.
I remember watching one church’s live stream on Facebook. It included a great sermon on prayer. But as soon as the live stream ended, I heard someone saying, “She thinks I’m a witch!” on the random video that started autoplaying next. Needless to say, that interrupted my thoughts on prayer.
That kind of thing happens with church live streaming on social media all the time, even if the interruptions aren’t as jarring.
Your church website, on the other hand, gives visitors the ideal opportunity to draw closer to your church—to see what events are coming up, to read your church’s blog, to sign up to visit you in person. There are no notifications at the top of the screen to distract visitors, no cute animal videos to go watch, or vacation photos to scroll through. Your website is all about your church, your people, and bringing souls to Jesus.
Live stream mistake #3: Not engaging your viewers
Just watching a church’s live stream isn’t what makes the difference in someone’s life. It’s paying attention to the service, truly listening, and allowing God to work.
Live stream viewers know that and try to focus, but they also need help paying attention. A notable 33% of adults without children have trouble focusing during a church’s live stream, and that number is even higher for adults with children (41%).
Yet for many churches, watching a live stream is the same as watching a recording. There’s nothing added to help engage those watching.
What to do instead
Actively work on building engagement and community, both for members and for visitors.
Of course, viewers are more likely to come back to your church live stream or visit your church in person if they feel noticed, important—even online.
One big way to grow engagement? Chatting.
- Ask for prayer requests.
- Encourage interaction between your members.
- Have a couple of designated greeters for your live stream chat who can help get the conversation rolling and then respond to people as they join in.
These are other important ways to keep people focused and attentive:
- Ask your first-time viewers to fill out a visitor card online.
- Show lyrics on your live stream so everyone can sing along.
- Provide a digital bulletin so everyone can follow along.
- Provide an opportunity to give.
There you have it! Three live stream mistakes that your tech staff and volunteers can avoid, and in the meantime, create a better worship experience for the dedicated online attendees and visitors alike.
When you take the steps above, live streaming can become a healthy, active part of your church’s digital discipleship journey. You don’t have to implement everything at once, but pick one thing to start this week. Then keep making small changes that add up.
In the free Ultimate Guide to Church Live Streaming, you can find equipment suggestions for churches of all sizes, ideas to spark deeper engagement, and strategies to help you reach visitors through your online service.