To stream or not to stream? That’s a great question. Will livestreaming affect church attendance? Livestreaming can be a polarizing subject among ministries, as one of the primary reasons why churches ultimately decide for or against implementing it comes down to the subject of church growth. On the one hand, some believe that livestreaming will promote an increase in attendance while others are of the opinion that live broadcasting will keep a portion of their congregation away on Sunday mornings.
Perhaps a better question, then, is to ask if there is any definitive way to uncover whether or not livestreaming has anything to do with church growth, for better or for worse? We’ll attempt to tackle this overall question today.
EVERY CHURCH IS UNIQUE WITH LIVESTREAMING
Churches grow or decrease in size for a wide range of reasons. Some are measurable, like the grand opening of a new building or a focused community outreach effort that spans a number of months. Other seasons of growth or decline might occur with much less clarity around the reasons why.
To add to the wide range of circumstances that could cause a church to change in size it is worth noting that every ministry is unique, to some degree or another. Population makeup, physical climate, income levels, historical background, and the number of “competing” churches within close proximity are all just a few of the many factors that need to be taken into account when studying the subject of church growth.
With all of this in mind, it is important that we take the time to examine the detailed and specific narrative of churches that stream in order to draw a conclusion on how their live video ministry has affected their attendance, either positively or negatively. Below, we’ll dive into [three] specific stories of churches that are each in different stages of maturity in hopes to attain a number of general takeaways that can relate to churches of every size, denomination, and style who are considering livestreaming for the first time.
EASY CHURCH LIVE STREAMING
Before we begin, I’m not sure if you’ve heard the news but in recent days Easy Church Tech has teamed up with BoxCast, the live video streaming company, in order to offer a customized live video streaming solution for churches. With this as background, today we’ll be diving into the stories of three BoxCast churches and their experience with livestreaming and church growth. Let’s get right to it!
CHURCH #1: THE “START-UP”
Redeemer Church in Madison, Georgia is a church plant that was recently planted with a small group of believers just a few years ago. Their growth has been quite rapid and dramatic, and their Creative Arts Director Justin Kennedy credits live video streaming as one of the primary catalysts of their increase in size. Justin shared,
“BoxCast [streaming] has taken our small church of 7 people in a driveway and helped it grow to one of the fastest growing churches in the southeast with over 1,100 in attendance.”
What is it about livestreaming, specifically, that has helped Redeemer grow? Justin explains,
“It has also made it easy for people to get a feel for what we are about and remove the fear of trying a new church.”
The concept of fear when it comes to visiting a new church is one that is quite common, yet it is rarely spoken about in theological journals and church staff meetings, in my experience. What’s exciting, however, is the thought that something like embedded video on a ministries website can help prospective visitors feel more comfortable about attending when compared to merely reading about a church online. The live video certainly is a powerful medium, and many churches who stream would likely agree with Justin’s conclusions about how streaming can foster growth in church assimilation efforts.
DIVING INTO REDEEMER’S STREAMING DATA
“[Streaming] has helped us to grow from a few dozen to over 1,000 in just one year while expanding our viewership to over 17 countries.”
John Darsey, Senior Pastor of Redeemer Madison
When speaking on the subject of church growth, it is important to always remember that church growth can be achieved in ways that differ from Sunday morning in-person worship attendance. Church growth can also be measured by the online reach that can span from neighboring cities to countries an ocean away.
Madison, Georgia has a population of just under 4,000 people. Since adding streaming, however, Redeemer has been able to grow the reach of their church outside of their little town to surrounding states and countries. In-depth viewer maps, such as the one pictured above, shows the wide geographical impact that a small town church plant can have in our world today through a tool such as streaming.
A FINAL WORD FROM REDEEMER
“With one small device and five minutes of installation, your church can reach out literally across the globe. I cannot say enough about how BoxCast has blessed our church… BoxCast is the easiest thing we do!”
Even if streaming could help your church grow, it should only be implemented if it makes sense financially and operationally. Redeemer’s testimony is helpful here, showing that though their church started with a small budget with a handful of folks in a driveway, investing in live video streaming was a worthwhile cost and time investment for them. If your ministry is of a similar size with similar growth goals, perhaps streaming is something that your congregation should thoughtfully consider.