Recently on our Church Solutions Podcast, we interviewed Jason Moore, author of the book, Both/And: Maximizing Hybrid Worship Experiences for In-Person and Online Engagement.
Jason Moore shared how simple changes can make your worship more meaningful and participatory for online viewers in the moment and relevant and accessible to anyone at any time.
According to Jason, it seems people’s attention spans are shorter when they’re at home than when they’re physically present in a worship space. And part of that is because when people are gathered physically we get to control the lighting, the seating, and the symbols in the room. You can’t really control those things when someone is worshiping at home. You can’t prevent the doorbell from ringing or the dog needing to go out or the constant dripping of the coffee maker.
Listen to the Church Solutions Podcast here.
Nona Jones (the director of Global Faith-Based Partnerships for Facebook, now Meta, has studied the data and found that most people will only stay tuned to an online broadcast for about 40 minutes. Yet most of us do worship that is around an hour or even a little bit more.
One suggestion is to alter the length of your hybrid worship. There are ways to do this in real time.
For example, you might invite your online congregation to come in partway into your worship and/or dismiss them early.
There are also ways to do it after the fact. You can take that full Sunday morning worship experience that you broadcast or stream, and then create a shorter, curated version. Perhaps edit it down to a 30-minute worship experience which may have a little less in the way of singing.
In doing hundreds of seminars on hybrid worship over the last couple years, Jason says most people tell him they don’t sing at home. And there are other aspects of worship that don’t transfer so well at home. He encourages churches to think about how they might create a full worship experience for those in the room on Sunday — the full hour, hour and a half, or whatever it is. And then maybe create an online experience that’s a little shorter.
A curated online experience can become kind of a side door entrance into your church if you continually invite to people to come be with you in the building to get the complete experience, as well.
In the world of entertainment, you stream movies from home. Rarely ever do you tune in to watch your favorite TV show when it airs live unless it’s a sporting event. A lot of us binge-watch our shows, or we fast-forward them. Why would we think that worship would be any different?
Now, Jason is not suggesting that worshiping is the same thing as consuming entertainment. But our practices, our habits, the way that we consume information, and the way we participate in experiences have changed quite a bit.
Jason Moore goes on to say that some people may choose to worship on Sunday evening or Monday afternoon. Maybe they work on Sundays. Maybe they are not early risers. Maybe they’re third-shift workers that can’t get up on a Sunday morning. Maybe they are nursing home residents who gather in a common space and worship at a later time.
Over the years, Jason has worked with hundreds of pastors and for maybe three quarters of them their on-delay or on-demand worship numbers are much greater than their Sunday morning live numbers. We don’t want to take attendance anymore just on Sunday. We want to take it all throughout the week. Those numbers accumulate.
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