by Jonathan Howe
Live streaming of worship services has become rather commonplace in American churches, but with new apps like Periscope, the technology needed to live stream from the church is now available on virtually every smartphone.
However, who would want to sit and video a 75-minute worship gathering with their phone? Very few people. But shooting a quick 5- to 10-minute live update? Now, that could be useful on a number of fronts.
The key is to be strategic with what your church streams on Periscope. A random approach will provide random results. A strategic approach, however, can really make a difference. Here are six simple ways churches can use Periscope to actively engage church members and prospects:
- Church Announcements: This could be as simple as going through the bulletin and highlighting upcoming events. You could also hold a midweek update with the Wednesday night dinner menu included. Another possibility would be to broadcast live from staff meetings and have each ministry leader provide info on the most important thing happening in their area that week.
- Daily Devotionals: I could see this being very effective with student ministers. I know several who send out mass texts each morning with encouragement and a verse for students as they start their day. A daily periscope at 6:30 or 7 a.m. could replace the texts and make the devotional more interactive.
- Behind the Scenes Access: The possibilities here are limitless. You could show the baptistery being filled, bulletins being stuffed, rooms being cleaned, worship sound checks, and so much more. The benefit here is everyone in the church could see the work it takes to keep the church running from week to week. It would also highlight ministry opportunities that some in the church might not know exist and help you recruit new volunteers.
- Mission Trip Updates: What better way to find out what’s going on with your church mission trips than live, daily updates from the team? Imagine parents, friends, and others hearing and seeing current prayer needs and praise reports as the trip is taking place. The same could be done for youth and kids camps or even senior adult trips. When people see what they’re missing, it might encourage them to go on the next trip.
- Sermon Preview/Review: Pastors could provide a weekly preview of the sermon to whet the appetite as members prepare for corporate worship on Sunday. Also, a quick Monday morning recap of the previous day’s sermon could help remind church members to live out specific implications of the gospel in their daily lives throughout the week.
- Intercessory Prayer: This might be the most obvious and most beneficial use of Periscope. A dedicated time of prayer each week—possibly during staff meeting—would allow members to submit requests in real time as well as join in with the staff as they intercede on behalf of any requests that have been made throughout the week.
This is only the tip of the iceberg of how you can use Periscope at your church. The possibilities are endless. But to act on these, some best practices should be followed for maximum effectiveness.
- Schedule the broadcasts. While the intent of Periscope is to provide the opportunity to broadcast at any time, it’s best for churches to schedule the broadcasts to fit the viewing audience’s availability. Print or publish online a streaming schedule. It could be as simple as “Weekdays at 10 a.m.” or as detailed as a TV guide schedule. The key is to schedule times that both the audience and the broadcaster can consistently keep.
- Remind followers about upcoming broadcasts. Remind your followers a broadcast is coming. Tease it with a tweet like a local TV station would a news story coming up on the evening news.
- Remember the public nature of the broadcasts. Anyone can watch the broadcasts, so handle private matters and even the identity of any minors in the broadcast with the appropriate discretion. For example, it probably wouldn’t be best to broadcast live look-ins to the office as the weekly offering is counted. You should also keep in mind the regulations on broadcasting licensed music.
Is your church considering using Periscope? What other ways could Periscope be used in the church? Let us hear from you.
JONATHAN HOWE (@Jonathan_Howe) serves as the Director of Strategic Initiatives at Lifeway Christian Resources. He manages and consults for several blogs at Lifeway and hosts the popular podcast, Rainer on Leadership.