The church has learned more about its mission and ministry this past year than it did the past decade. Church leaders have been on an incredible growth journey. And this growth was accompanied with growing pains. We had to release outdated methods and mindsets so we could receive new ones. The need to pivot was most intensely felt within church online. So below are six things I learned about church online this past year.
- Content needs to be captivating because your guests are no longer captive. When guests are in the physical room the chances of their minds or bodies wondering off is minimized. When guests are in the digital room this likelihood increases dramatically. This means your content needs to be short an
d have no fluff. All killer no filler.
- If content is king then audio is queen. People's eyes can endure a subpar visual experience but their ears will not put up with a mediocre audio experience. In the past, Christ Fellowship Miami used to take the dry mix, a mix without any effects, from the soundboard and put that online. That no longer cuts it for our online audience. We therefore invested in a mixing station and a contract position just for the online audience. We, as all churches, have been hesitant to make additional investments during this season of uncertainty. But since online is here to stay and grow, we need to grow with it and invest in this area.
- In the past, both our in person and online experience were pretty siloed. What I mean by that is they didn’t reference each other much. During this season we’ve seen the benefit of referencing the other experience and funneling guests in both directions. We believe that a rising tide raises all ships and therefore give shoutouts to each platform from each platform.
- We started treating our first service on the weekend, which is Saturday night at 5pm, as a studio recording. So the host let guests know that the teaching pastor will primarily make eye contact with the camera during the message to better connect with our viewers online. In the past our teaching team communicated from the stage, now they are communicating for the screen.
- We’ve widen the appeal of our content by minimizing localized references and avoiding contextual cues about dates and times. So we don’t talk about local sports teams and always try to shoot indoors. We’ve also widened the appeal of our content with increased welcoming and normalizing language like, “one of the things we do at Christ Fellowship Miami each week is...” This quickly helps outsiders feel like insiders.
- We need to continue wrestling with questions next year because there is still much to learn. The biggest question for us is which is our primary and secondary audience. Because it can’t be 50/50 and because this foundational question frames how you answer all the additional questions. So is online campus our primary audience because we have more guests there? Or are our physical campuses our primary audience because we are better trained to minister in that context? These are great questions and I look forward to continuing to try to answer them come 2021.