The world has changed.
2020 always seemed like this science-fiction type of year from afar but now we are here and the world is fighting a pandemic and economic impact of biblical proportions.
As the church navigates these uncharted waters, we are learning and adapting. It’s vital church leaders use this season to consider all methods of delivering the Good News so that we can meet people where they are in these unprecedented times.
As we adjust to a new normal and work our way through 2020, here are a few powerful lessons churches are learning.
A Polished Presentation is Not Mandatory Anymore
For years, the argument has been, “If you can’t do streaming well, don’t do it at all.” I am here to tell you, 2020 is the year that turned that idea upside down.
Streaming your service has been a novel for most smaller churches. The idea of spending thousands of dollars to have mediocre sound and video quality just to stream your service just seemed impractical. A lot of churches that did stream were typically larger organizations with greater financial capabilities so they had the infrastructure and resources to add that online polish.
Enter stage left, COVID-19.
With most of the world forced to abandon physical gatherings, church leaders rushed to get their services streaming online. I talked to many pastors who said they were busier than they had ever been. When I asked why, they said the planning and producing of an online service was exhausting. They secured private locations to film and produce their services so they could later be edited with precision and polish. One pastor told me, “We want to put our best foot forward during this pandemic.” For the record, I have no problem with this. It’s just unnecessary in 2020.
During the quarantine we have seen highly produced shows like The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon take a more practical approach and film a show completely from their phone or iPad. We also saw NBA superstar Steph Curry host a live worship service from his phone on Instagram with many artists. The production value was very low. But it didn’t matter. And it doesn’t matter to your congregation either so it shouldn’t matter to you.
Just be yourself, flaws and all. Your people and everyone for that matter will connect more with your authenticity than you staring at a camera preaching in an empty room for 45 minutes.
The old way thinking was “If you can’t do streaming well, don’t do it at all.”
Streaming Church is Not THE Solution
The way people consume content has changed dramatically over the last decade, and it isn’t slowing down anytime soon. Our culture is creating and consuming content at an ever-increasing pace while simultaneously, the availability and accessibility for that content is also increasing.
And yet, even though the way in which most of our people consume content has changed, the way we’ve approached our church services online hasn’t. Many of us are still publishing our services as if our culture hasn’t seen a seismic shift in their consumption habits.
For example, most people don’t watch hour long videos on Facebook or Instagram. They are watching short 2-3 minute clips as they scroll their feed. While I have seen some churches shorten their services during the quarantine, the average service length is still MUCH longer the what people are normally used to on social media. Does this mean we need to eliminate streaming altogether, of course not. But we do need to be aware that the content we are producing needs to be in alignment with the way people consume content on each respective platform. I talked to several pastors who said their live Q&A sessions from their phones was getting more traffic than the stream of their service. Again, the reason goes back to habits. It’s like trying to fit a square peg in a round hole. If all your church does is stream your service every week, you are essentially, going against the grain of people’s habits. The message remains the same. The way you deliver the message needs to be evaluated.
Whatever effects we may or may not be feeling, our job as pastors is to shepherd our people to the best of our ability. And to do that, we need to not only to recognize that there’s been a change, but we need to do something about that change. We have to adapt.
Our culture has seen a seismic shift in content consumption habits.
The Era of the Digital Pulpit is Here
Pastors spend on average, 10.5 hours every week preparing the sermon. That’s more time than they spend eating their meals in that same week.
Every week, pastors research, study, write, and deliver a sermon to their congregation or online. Every week. Then, just mere hours after they finish this process, they begin writing a new sermon for the very next Sunday. It’s a rinse and repeat cycle that can be greatly undervalued.
So much time is put into the sermon. It’s a dense piece of content.
For most churches, the pastor preaches the sermon, it gets recorded and then uploaded to their website to be viewed or listened to later.
And while there will always be a need for the physical gathering hearing of God’s Word, we must not allow the preaching to stop after it’s preached or streamed once. There is so much content your church can repurpose for blogs, social media posts, devotionals, video highlights, audio highlights and the list goes on. All from one sermon.
Don’t let all of that work be forgotten. Use your digital pulpit to continue to communicate the message throughout the week to your congregation and online following.
Pastors spend on average, 10.5 hours every week preparing the sermon.
2020 has changed us.
It’s changed the church too.
Maybe some of these changes are good though.
I am so inspired by the creativity and agility I have seen from church leaders in this unique season. Churches that are unafraid to try new things and new ways to communicate the Gospel are not only thriving in this season but will continue to see growth as our world finds its’ way back to normal.
The message never changes.
The way we communicate the hope of the world should always be evaluated and tweaked to meet people where they are at.