Yesterday I received several calls and direct e-mails from a variety of Christian organizations encouraging me to send my congregation to other churches’ livestreams. The rationale went something like this:
Because you are a small church and not able to match the production quality of larger churches, you should send your people to one of these large churches, so they have a good online-church experience.
The truth of the matter is that, no, I cannot match the production quality of larger churches. But, in the same respects, larger churches cannot match the production quality of Netflix. So, if church wins on production quality, we all lose.
But I firmly believe small churches are better positioned to have a better livestream experience than anyone else. It’s true that I can’t beat production quality, but I can beat the larger churches and even Netflix in interaction every single time.
Small churches excel in relationships. Our strength is in our size – we know everyone.
So, as churches shift to online-only services during the Covid-19 pandemic, I think small churches can give their congregations a very fulfilling service for not a lot of money or technology.
Because I’m crunched for time (as are you) let me give you the bullet points:
1. Livestream your service or sermon via Facebook Live (it’s free).
2. Mount your smartphone on a tripod and keep the phone close to the action.
- No wide shots (so the microphone can pick up the audio)
- Move the tripod during the livestream to the musician if you need to.
- (Search for Cell Phone Tripod on Amazon for lots of inexpensive options)
3. Use a separate tablet or cell phone for the preacher to monitor the livestream.
- Remember to mute the audio on this device.
- Remember to change your settings, so this screen is always on.
4. During the service/sermon interact with those watching.
- Tell the audience you will be interacting with their comments.
- As you stream, you will see the names of people watching pop up. Say hello to them on
- Ask open-ended questions that you will later come back to
(i.e. what are your prayer requests?)
- Ask open ended questions during the sermon that you will read later on – keeping in mind that there’s a 20 second delay between what you say and the stream your audience is watching. (i.e. “When do you do your devotional time? What are some things that distract you from praying? If you could travel with anyone, who would it be? How will you apply the truth of God’s Word today?)
My friend Francisco Ruiz hosts the Retro Rewind Podcast. Part of that show involves livestreaming video game playthroughs on Twitch. Watching game streams is not my jam. But I watch Francisco because he is my friend and because he interacts with me when I interact with him. It is very engaging. I suggest you go watch one of his shows to see how it’s done.
And if you want to see how we handled our imperfect livestream last week, you can watch it here. Note that we have a Mevo Plus – but if we did not, I would go ahead and stick my phone on a tripod and do service like I have suggested above.
Our broadcast last weekend was awesome… because the people I served loved having an opportunity to connect with the people they already know and love.
I can’t compete with production quality – but no one can compete with me in relationships at The Orchard Church.