If you are like me, it was likely a big hustle to get your church live stream up and going. Before COVID-19, many small churches had not invested in a live stream setup. When shelter-in-place orders were issued, we had to figure it out and then set it up in a very short amount of time. I was thinking ahead with our setup and carefully planned out the design to make it something that we can continue to use. However, there is still the question of –if — churches should still live stream after things return to normal. That is what I want to talk about today.
Live streaming should be a ministry and means of pointing others to Christ.
The purpose of this article isn’t to determine if technology and live streaming is biblical or not; however, I believe that technology is a tool that can be used just like most things to the glory of Christ. Live streaming should be viewed as a ministry of the church. It is another tool to serve and reach your community.
Is There a Good Reason Not to Live Stream?
Some common hesitations to live streaming are the fears that people would stop coming and would refrain from committing to the church. The two responses that I have to these concerns are related to the culture of the church, as well as the research on the subject. Simply put, is the culture of your church inviting? Is there a sense of community and of being together? Believers should naturally desire to fellowship together as a family. Speak often, reminding your body that we are called to gather together as a church and cultivate a community of discipleship that welcomes and invites. Regarding the possible choice of preferring digital content over gathering, research actually shows that churches offering live streaming grow in attendance. People are more likely to visit a church in person if they have been able to view content online beforehand.
Benefits to Continuing Your Live Stream
First, most importantly on this topic and any that we do as a church, we need to seek God in prayer for wisdom and discernment. There may be a reason that God leads you to decide that church live streaming is not for your church. Pray that God will make that abundantly clear to you.
Seek the lost. Many churches send and support ministries and missions that reach outside our small communities and even outside our country. God calls us to love our neighbors. What greater love is there than sharing the gospel message of Christ every week to neighbors that would never step inside the church building? More than 49% of churches are growing due in part to live streaming.
In the first four weeks, 173,000 people visited the websites and more than 10,000 clicked a button indicating they made decisions for Christ, said Mark Appleton, BGEA’s director of internet evangelism. That was in addition to traffic on BGEA’s standard family of evangelistic websites, which includes SearchForJesus.net and PeaceWithGod.net and sees nearly 30,000 visitors per day. (CT reported in 2015 that online gospel presentations through BGEA were equivalent to a daily Billy Graham crusade.)Christianity Today – April 7th 2020 – David Roach
Virtual Visits. Live streaming allows potential new members a chance to virtually “visit” before stepping inside or waiting for Sunday to come around each week. Personally, when my wife and I were first married it took us months of searching to find a church home because we had to keep waiting for Sunday. If we would have had the chance to view a live stream to listen to the music, hear the sermon, and see the services, it would have drastically reduced the time in finding a church home. People can also feel more comfortable if they see beforehand how the service flows and know what they can expect.
Nourish the flock. During this time, even after the quarantine ends, there will always be times when members will not be able to physically attend the services. With live stream, those out of town and even homebound members can be part of the live community while not being able to meet. We are creatures of habit, so being able to still “gather” as the church as we are scattered helps us keep to the rhythm even though we may not be physically present. It can also help those who have not been able to attend in awhile (due to sickness, or caring for an elderly parent out of town, for example) to still feel connected and thus hurry back as soon as possible; instead of feeling like too much time has passed and they will not be missed. They can continue to be nourished in their absence and come back ready to serve and be involved.
Live Streaming is a ministry that works outside the 1 hour a week on Sunday. Once your live stream is over, the video can stay on social media so that even more people can be reached by the message. There are 168 hours in a week and at most, you gather for only a few of those hours. The recorded service can be played at anytime for anyone willing to listen.
Prayers to Continue
In conclusion, my hope and prayer is that God would continue to use this unfortunate experience with COVID-19 to awaken and revive the church; that He would allow the local churches’ live streaming to reach the lost and nourish the church in ways never imaginable. If you are called and able to continue to leverage this tool, I pray that you will do so, and that the Lord will bless your efforts.
In the comments below, share one thing that you are thankful for about the live streaming of your local church.