Some Thoughts on Live-streaming Your Service

One priority I’ve had in every church I’ve pastored is starting live-streaming of their worship services. I began this at my last two churches, and I’m sure now they are happy I did. What some churches believed before to be overkill is now their saving grace, with social distancing in place.

However, it would be better to have limited or no live-streaming than bad live-streaming. And over the past couple of weeks, I’ve witnessed a lot of the bad.

So here’s some things to consider when live-streaming your worship. And right now, with many other church responsibilities at a standstill, it’s a great time to “up your game.”

1. Kill the Haunted Sanctuary – Folks, there is nothing creepier than an empty sanctuary. Nothing. I’ve been in too many of them alone late on a Saturday night, preparing for Sunday. To go to a place made for lots of people, but to find no one there, feels like the rapture took place and you’ve been left behind!

If possible, move the service outside the sanctuary. Outdoors looks a lot better than most church’s indoor lighting anyway. Find unique places on your campus to set up. But stop pretending people are in the auditorium – they’re not. And preaching to empty seats makes you look like the pastor’s 5 year-old son, pretending to be Daddy when everyone’s gone home.

2. Talk to the Camera – Since you’re talking to most people now one on one, you should shift to a more conversational tone. This is a great opportunity for people to experience their pastor in a less formal setting. Show them you’re a human being and cut the “preacherly tone.” Shift from proclaimer to encourager for a while.

3.Consider Downsizing the Band – Since most of us have made the live in-person experience of church the priority, some pastors have never listened to what their worship actually sounds like online. In person, that band and those voices are ringing off the walls a few thousand times, and that echo/reverb covers over a multitude of sins. But online, we’re hearing their out of tune voices and amateurish playing clear as a bell, and it’s pretty frightening unless you’ve got a band full of professionals.

So think about just a guitar and vocalist this week, to match your more intimate preaching style. Pick people who actually sound good as well as have good hearts to feature during this season. Let you inferior players stay home, citing your desire to keep possible virus spread at a minimum.

4. Do a Seperate Online Sound Mix – Also, know that the sound mix that sounds good in your sanctuary may not sound good on camera. Tell your sound guy to mix the next few weeks with his headphones on, and create a unique sound mix just for broadcasting. You might be surprised at the instruments you hear predominantly in the house (drums, acoustic piano) that are completely missing in your online mix.

7 Tips on Social Media

A lot of friends are getting into social media due to the corona virus. This is great, but you need to do it well to keep people engaged. Here are some quick tips.

1. Try to stand no further than 3 feet from your phone’s camera when doing a video. People need to see expression on your face, and this will also keep your voice from sounding distant.

2. Don’t look down at camera, but put camera slightly above you and look up. This will improve the general look of your face and avoid accentuating double chins

3. Avoid backlighting from windows behind you. Most light should be on your face. And outdoors shots generally look better than indoor lighting, unless you really know what you’re doing.

4. Your graphics need to be sharp. Consider a free online service like Canva.com with templates available for everything from Facebook posts to Instagram.

5. If you’re writing longer posts, learn to use paragraph breaks. No one will read 50 lines of text that are not segmented occasionally.

6. For heaven’s sake, use the spellcheck feature on your phone!

7. Videos need to be longer than 3 minutes for Facebook to show them to your friends. But keep it under 10 if you don’t want people to leave in the middle of your message.