After the height of the pandemic, many communities resolved to shifting completely back online, giving up their online church services.
And many have actually argued reasons why churches should drop online services.
But what exactly are those reasons?
Why Churches Drop Their Online Services
Churches that host online services may face a number of challenges, including low attendance, technology issues, and difficulties in engaging with their congregations.
Reason #1 Why Churches Drop Their Online Services: Lack of Real Engagement
There are several reasons why a church may choose to discontinue online services. Many online churches services may not be able to replicate the sense of community and engagement that in-person services provide. This can lead to a lack of participation and interest among congregants. The obstacle is difficulties in engaging with the congregation, seen in lack of participation in virtual activities and limited opportunities for fellowship. These challenges can cause some churches to abandon online services altogether, in favor of returning to in-person services.
Reason #2 Why Churches Drop Their Online Services: Technical Difficulties
Along these same lines, some churches may feel that their online services are inadequate substitutes for in-person gatherings and that they do not provide the same personal and engaging worship experience. This can be due to technical difficulties or simply the digital format of the service. Technology issues such as poor video or audio quality, technical difficulties with streaming platforms, and problems with internet connectivity can continually cause disruptions during online services.
Reason #3 Why Churches Drop Their Online Services: Low Attendance
Lack of engagement then comes hand-in-hand with low attendance and technical difficulties.
One of the main challenges that cause most churches to drop their online church services is simply that they're just not seeing the numbers. Low attendance can cause an exponential decline in engagement as it becomes difficult to get people to tune in to an online service when they are no other people present with them in doing church.
With low attendance, technical difficulties, and lack of engagement, you may not reach as many people as in-person services. It may not feel worth your time and resources to continue hosting online services.
However, the root of the problem often lies in the limitations of the tools and resources being used. Let's take a closer look at why.
The Problem With Most Church Streaming Platforms
So why do these issues come up... really?
As we observe this reality, we note that many of these issues can either be attributed to the streaming platform that is being used.
In the same way, the above obstacles can likewise be addressed by switching to the correct streaming platform. Not all platforms cater to those deeply personal touches, ones that are necessary when working to build a community.
Low attendance: Many platforms do not allow for tracking attendance, making it diifcult to connect and follow up with new comers.
Technical Difficulties: It's easy to disengage from service when the message of the service is simply not translating digitally. Bad quality screen share on Zoom, muffled or low-quality audio make it hard to really feel present and connected within a worship experience.
Lack of Engagement: Simply just watching a live stream service be broadcasted cheapens what church is truly about. Without face to face, person-to-person interaction, what's meant to be deep fellowship and worship becomes just watching a message online.
Why Churches Should Drop Online Services With Lesser Platforms
If you're asking ,"Why is my church's online presence struggling?" Here are a few things we've seen with many of the online churches we've worked with who were using church platforms that weren't quite the right fit for them.
- No interaction: Many platforms don't have features that allow for congregants to really engage and interact with one another. Nor do they have real opportunities for the attendees to engage with the pastor.
- Low-quality audio and video: Video conferencing platforms deliver a video and audio quality through screenshare that is unclear and can be difficult to hear. This can distract from allowing attendees to feel engaged and connected to the service.
- Disengaged content: Many platforms prevent the service from truly engaging with the attendees. Services lack interactive elements or content for further reflection or engagement.
- Tech is difficult to navigate or inaccessible: Online services on some platforms are tricky to access, navigate, or participate in. Difficult-to-use interfaces, and the lack of compatibility on certain devices interfere with the worship experience.
- Meeting inconsistency: The inability of certain platforms to schedule simultaneous events, causing you to use multiple platforms can cause confusion, inconsistency and decrease attendance. The online service should be consistent in terms of the time and schedule, as this helps congregants to plan and attend the service.
- No way to follow up with Attendees: Most online church platforms have no way of really tracking attendance of participants and provide no way for you to engage and follow up with newcomers.
- Not cost-effective: Many online church platforms can cost time, money, and energy that you have no way of measuring if the growth is really there. This leads to frustration and burnout and uncertainty about whether online services are really worth it.
How To Choose The Right Livestream Platforms For Churches
In order to successfully launch an online ministry, online services must be mindful of these aspects. All these factors come into play in order to ensure engagement with your community. All churches want to see real engagement and growth through their investment into online church, and this may require investing into the correct tools to make this happen.
Are you using the wrong online church platform for your community? You may be realizing that the platform you are using may not be the right fit. Moving from one online church platform to a new one can be a complex process, but it is possible to do so with proper planning and execution. Here are six major steps to consider as you make your transition:
- Research: Research different online church platforms and find one that meets the needs of your church. Consider features, pricing, and compatibility with the systems you're already using.
- Plan: Create a plan for the move, including a timeline of processes.
- Communicate: Communicate the change to the congregation, including the reasons for the move, the timeline, and the benefits of the new platform.
- Training: Provide training for your host and greeter teams on how to use the new platform and its features.
- Go for a test drive: Test the new platform before the move, to ensure that your team can navigate everything smoothly.
- Go live!: Go live with the new platform on the launch date, providing support to congregants as they adjust to the new setting.
- Track your growth: Track the analytics of the new platform after the move, and make any necessary adjustments.
It is important to note that the process of moving from one platform to another can be time-consuming and may require a significant amount of resources. However, if done correctly, it can lead to improved engagement, attendance, and overall satisfaction with the online church experience for the congregation.
Altar Live: More Than Church Streaming
As you begin the process of researching and looking for the platform that’s the best fit for your church, it’s important to note that not all platforms are created equal. Different platforms may meet the needs of different churches with the features they offer.
Here are several characteristics that online church services need in order to succeed, and churches should be mindful of these when deciding to launch an online presence:
- Real, Personal Interaction: Online services should provide opportunities for congregants to interact with one another and with the pastor. Altar makes this possible through chat, Rows, Tables, Meeting Rooms and more.
- High-quality audio and video: High Quality video and audio in church services should be a priority to engagement. This will help congregants be present and engage.
- Engaging content: The content of the online service should be engaging and relevant to congregants. This includes incorporating interactive elements to services such as relevant information, links and participatory polls.
- Easy to Use: Online services should be a stress-free experience. Altar creates an online experience that is easy to access and participate in. This includes a quick walkthrough, an easy-to-use interface, and the ability to participate on various devices.
- Consistently Scheduled Meetings: Altar Live's platform enables you to schedule the meetings you need, even if there are multiple going on at the same time! Schedule in recurring times for services and church-wide events to help congregants to plan and attend the service ahead of time.
- Secure Tracking: Altar tracks the attendance of new comers, while protecting the privacy of those who wish to stay anonymous. Once they choose to create a profile, follow up and engagement with your community has never been easier.
- Analytics: Altar Live provides your community with a metrics dashboard to measure engagement, attendance, and other key performance indicators.Track and pull reports with ease, understanding your attendance and ROI.
When launching an online presence, churches should take into consideration the needs of their congregation and the demographics of the area they serve, to provide an online service that is tailored to meet the needs of their congregants.
That said, we believe that finding a platform specifically designed for online church services creates deeper and broader opportunities for needs of churches to be addressed.
That’s why we created Altar Live, built with churches, for churches. As you explore an Altar Live, you can note how each of these obstacles are addressed to maximize engagement and real connection within your community.