Why Some Churches Struggle with Live Streaming Attendance

Why don’t more people watch our live stream? That’s a common question I hear from some churches.

If I dig a little deeper with the person telling me this, I also begin to learn their in-house attendance is not very good either in many cases. I’ll get into the in-house thing later but let’s explore why some churches struggle with their online attendance.

Of course there can be the obvious:

  • Technical Issues: Poor audio or video quality can be a major turn-off for viewers.
  • Limited Resources: Smaller churches might struggle with the cost and effort of maintaining a quality live stream.
  • Misunderstanding the role of live streaming: It might be seen as a replacement for in-person attendance, rather than a tool for outreach or accessibility.
  • Limited Reach: Not promoting the live stream effectively.

But here is the issue many leaders overlook when it comes to their live streaming:

It’s a Passive Experience! Live streams replicate the in-person experience without the interaction and connection. There is a serious lack of interaction. Viewers feel isolated is a common complaint. Can viewers ask questions or participate in some way? In many cases no.  Because of this, live streaming might compete with the convenience of recorded sermons people can watch on their own time.

Here’s are a few suggestions:

  • Encourage chat features, prayer requests, polls, or Q&A sessions during the live stream.
  • Do live breakaways from the sanctuary to a church online pastor or host and have them address the online viewers directly.
  • Consider creating content specifically for online viewers, like shorter, focused messages or behind-the-scenes glimpses.
  • Create opportunities for online viewers to connect with each other and church members. Like online small groups or other onlive events that could lead to in-house attending.
  • Track viewer demographics and preferences to tailor content and improve the experience.
  • Consider who you are trying to reach with the live stream (existing members, newcomers, etc.) and tailor content accordingly.
  • Ensure captions and transcripts are available for viewers with hearing impairments.
  • Offer recordings of the service or key moments for later viewing.
  • As the pastor, always address the online viewers during the service, even though you are speaking to the in-house crowd. By recognizing your online viewers, you communicate value to them and remind the people in the pews, it’s bigger world out there.

What’s most important is…you need a digital ministry strategy!

Stop Streaming to the Lazy – Rethinking your digital ministry strategy (webinar) July 16th 12:00 Eastern

Live streaming isn’t a replacement for in-person connection. It can be a bridge for those who can’t attend in person or a way to reach a wider audience. Focus on the unique strengths of both online and in-person experiences.

Live streaming can be a powerful tool for churches, but it requires careful planning and execution. By focusing on engagement, interactivity, and building a strong online community, churches can use live streaming to expand their reach and connect with a wider audience.

We are here to partner with you. StreamingChurch.tv is here for you in the summertime and beyond! Reach out to us, since 2001 our seasoned ministry staff has worked exclusively with churches and ministries around the world. We have monthly webinars to equip you for ministry. Click here to learn more.

Check out our Church Solutions Podcast today and reach out to us anytime, at [email protected] or use live chat at the bottom right of your page.

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