Comparing Zoom and Altar Live for Churches
For a quick replacement for in-person Zoom has saved the day. Months later, churches can tell that Zoom was designed for business meetings, not Sunday church gatherings.
Where would we be without Zoom? Without a doubt, Zoom has made many things easier during an otherwise long and difficult season. Especially, perhaps, for churches.
As good as Zoom has been, it is obvious to any churchgoer that it was designed for business meetings, not worship. Once a Zoom church gathering goes beyond 30 or so attendees, the design issues start to become apparent.
At Altar Live, we have worked alongside churches who have used Zoom to conduct their church services, and who have used it to complement their livestream broadcast on Facebook or YouTube. These collaborations have identified the gaps and rough edges of Zoom for church, and helped Altar Live produce something purpose-built for faith communities.
Almost every church is trying to balance the quality of delivering a church service to everyone typical of a livestream, while also including the intimacy of face-to-face interaction.
Here are the top issues we have heard, and how we have designed Altar to overcome them. Church leaders, tech teams and churchgoers alike will readily recognize some or all of these before-during-and-after behaviors of church online from personal experience.
Who knew that ‘mute’ and ‘unmute’ would become part of our daily vocabulary in 2020?
#2. One-to-one prayer
Does your church have a designated person who is available for private prayer after the service?
#3. Passing of the peace
#4. Bringing newcomers
One of the unexpected blessings during Covid restrictions is the ease with which unchurched family, friends and neighbors are open to considering attending church. They might “enter” a church online, even though they would never have entered the church building itself.
#5. Welcoming newcomers
And then there are the guests who found your church online on their own, and would like to check out your service.
#6. Mingling during coffee hour
Churches who livestream the service on Facebook or YouTube almost always include an invitation to “Come join us for fellowship on Zoom!” Yet, the drop off rate from “watching” church to gathering for fellowship is discouraging. The cognitive and social speed bump of switching modes from Facebook to Zoom just leads many people to the exit door, not to the online fellowship hall or church basement.
Even for those who make the transition, the experience has shortcomings.
#7. Early birds
Back in the ol’ days when we all gathered in person, some people showed up 10-20 minutes before the beginning of service (God love ‘em!). In the online world, these early birds still arrive ahead of time.