If you’ve found your way to this article, chances are your church has an online service option and you want to make it better. Stewarding resources well is a responsibility of any church leader or pastor, and that includes modern technology like online services. First, we think every pastor and leader who made it through the initial stages of the pandemic with all its pivots and untested waters deserves all the peanut butter cups in the world. Or whatever it is you like. We just happen to like peanut butter cups. We hope this article is a resource for you and encourages you! You’ve done incredible things under extraordinary circumstances.
Now let’s give the people what they came for - three reasons why your online views are dropping, and how to fix it.
Reason 1: Your Core Membership Has Come Back in Person
This is actually a great thing. If your community is open and deemed safe for in-person services, there’s a good chance you have people trickling back in. This also means that views have dropped for your online services. However, we don’t know what the future holds and it would be prudent to continue cultivating a healthy online service instead of letting it suffer a slow death. Especially after all the work and resources you put into it. Remember that part about stewardship? It’s time to get creative and keep this thing working for the Kingdom.
How to Fix It: Think Outside the Box
You need to get the word out and generate excitement about your online service. Your members are going to be the best avenue to do this. Begin encouraging them to invite friends and family to schedule their first visit to church online. There are swaths of people who feel uncomfortable visiting churches, even with people they know. They need a low-pressure way to decide if your church is right for them. Welcome to church online!
Another tip is to get intentional on your video title and description. You want people to hit play after all. So instead of just naming it by date and church name, use the sermon series or title to entice people to click.
Apart from a strategized approach, use all social media platforms to promote your church service. Ask members to post about it too so you widen the net. Read about some helpful social media tips here.
Reason 2: Things Feel Stale on Your Recorded Service
Pre-recorded services were a much-welcomed lifesaver at the beginning of the pandemic. Few churches had the capability to stream live, so recording the worship service was the best we could do. However, the clicks are dropping and you can’t figure out why.
How to Fix It: Get Ready to Go Live
If you are still only making your services available as recordings, it’s time to try live streaming. The good news is this doesn’t have to be a huge investment. Platforms like Facebook, Youtube, and Vimeo offer their streaming services for free. We suggest having multiple ways to stream to increase your audience. Live streaming also improves your search rank so more people find your website.
Are you live streaming and views are still dropping? One solution is to ask people to pre-register for your event so you can send reminders and start a countdown for the service. This also gives you a great opportunity to go the extra mile (literally) and drop off or mail a mini welcome package to first-time guests or even faithful members. Include the typical print materials you would have available at church (newsletter, giving card, membership card, etc.). Add in a handwritten note and you’ll have people counting down the days until Sunday.
Reason 3: You’re Missing That Personal Touch
Online church members want to feel connected even though they are joining from home. If it feels like no one will miss them, they might be inclined to skip the service altogether.
How to Fix It: Small Changes with Big Impact
One change you can incorporate that will cost you nothing is to address the online audience from the stage. The worship leader should shout out the online viewers as well as the pastor. They need to look into the camera, welcome them, and make them feel that they are part of the church family. We get it, it feels weird and the in-person people might look a little confused. They’ll catch on and it will be fine.
There are a couple of tech tips that can help personalize your service. If you aren’t already, start including shots of the auditorium and people at their seats. This helps viewers feel more immersed in the experience and likely to join in. You can also add in-room mics to your post-fader audio mix which will add to that effect. Have someone who knows what they’re doing help you with this so you don’t broadcast a dad sneeze by accident.
Add Problem Solving Expert to Your List of Skills
We hope you feel equipped, excited, and motivated to make your online service the best it can be. Behind every number, every video view is a person waiting to hear the Good News. Keep up the good work and stay encouraged!
Want a shortcut to great online services? Check out Tithe.ly All Access. This is your ticket to enhancing your visitor’s experience without overloading your staff. Our church site builder is easy, intuitive, and best of all - integrates streaming to multiple platforms. Click here to learn more and chat with the friendliest people you’ll find this side of reality!
And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished (Philippians 1:6)