I get a lot of calls, texts, emails, and Facebook messages from churches needing help. Often the help is needed right away. I don’t track this but one of the most common last-minute needs has to do with live streaming. There are two main reasons churches find it important to be able to stream live video and audio at the last minute: baptisms and funerals.
This is not unexpected. If you haven’t had a chance, read my series on Technology and Pastoral Care. In part 2, I wrote about the issues of mobility and immobility that make it more difficult for the people of the church to be in the church on any specific day. I want to add to that another issue: general mobility. When I was a kid, it wasn’t unusual for my friends to have most of their grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins living in the same town or within a few miles. My kids have one grandparent living with them, but they have grandparents in Florida. They also have aunts and uncles in Florida, Dallas, and Austin. I have aunts and uncles in Dallas, Corpus Christi, Buffalo, Rochester. At one point, when I lived in Allentown, Pennsylvania, I had my parents outside of Buffalo, NY, a sister in Dallas, a sister in Austin, and a sister in Paris.
For our family, long distance phone calls became a way of life and, with the advance of technology, that turned into video conferencing. Today, Facetime, Skype, Google Hangouts and other platforms are widely used, not just by young people, but by everyone. While millennials have been early adopters of video calling, it has been widely adopted by older generations as a way to stay in touch with children and grandchildren. Grandparents love the chance to talk face to face with their grandchildren who live far away and parents enjoy being able to stay in touch with their children in college or say goodnight to their kids when they are away on business.
As the ability to connect via video becomes part of our daily lives, more and more people are asking if they can connect for important events in their life of faith: the welcoming of a child into the faith and the celebration of life. Most churches don’t think of this until it is too late.
We have come up with some last minute approaches to make this happen. Many an iPad has been held in the pew so that someone could see a baptism via Facetime. Recently, I helped a church stream a memorial service on Facebook Live via an iPhone.
These work in a pinch. However, as this need becomes more frequent, it is time for your church to think seriously about getting equipped to stream live. Why not be able to share worship services with your people who are homebound or out of town? Once you are, it will be easy for people to tune in for baptisms and it will be easy to turn it on for memorial services. I haven’t had a request yet, but I imagine requests will begin coming in for weddings.
See what you need to get started in my Getting Started Guides section of the blog. And, stay tuned for two posts on getting started with Live Streaming using YouTube Live. The service is free, and the equipment is more inexpensive than ever.