Technically Speaking: Congregational Connection in a Covid World…and Beyond
It’s one thing to successfully livestream a church service, but quite another to secure connectivity with the congregation. In a live service with people present, their feedback and response are immediate and unequivocal. This process is how the church has functioned for two thousand years. Today, online church services have a tendency to look and feel isolated. However, even when the congregation is remote, is there a way to see and hear their reaction? Are there techniques to use in order to create a more immersive experience? Yes, there are some tools we can use to restore the two-way communication between the servers and those we serve and thus thrive, not just survive, today’s challenges.
Ways to Connect
Additionally, the comments allow the administrator to immediately direct inquiries to counselors in waiting, while a simple “text Jesus to 44615” or similar banner across the lower third of the image provides a safe and private method of engagement. For the giving portion of the service, many churches have found it beneficial to provide a giving box on the church website homepage and reference it on camera as the service stream closes out.
Since live services happen in full scale, it makes sense to encourage viewers to experience the livestream on as large a device as they own. The engagement difference between watching a service on a five-inch phone screen and a sixty-five inch flat panel display is immense. The near one-to-one scale mentally allows the viewer to cross the line from observer to participant.
As socially-distanced events and drive-in services are becoming acceptable, the narrative of places that constitute worship services has expanded to include parking lots and lawns. With the ability for people to see each other, yet not be able to hug or greet one another physically, it is vital to find ways to connect. One thought is to video record members as they arrive (safely distanced, of course) and play back their greetings on the video display in the ten minutes leading up to the service launch. Another option is to use the church’s plexiglass drum shield as a see-through barrier to allow friends to chat after service in a health compliant manner.
Technology to Bridge the Gap
When barriers, face masks and distancing make it impossible to communicate unaided, Listen Technologies has the answer with their new ListenTALK system. Essentially a mobile two-way radio system, ListenTALK combines a compact transceiver with the wearer’s own earbuds or loop mic to create a safe, simple and effective means of communication. With a range of 300’ indoors and 600’ outdoors, now drive-in service ushers can talk with parking lot attendants, while lighting techs can confirm angles and brightness of stage lights with one another without the need to shout or make a phone call.
Listen Technologies also offers their Listen Everywhere wireless audio streaming system designed to operate via an app on the user’s phone. Up to one thousand devices can be supported, and the product now supports a QR code interface to make the connection even easier.
Livestreaming has a tendency to be isolating, but it can be nearly as engaging and fulfilling as an in-person service. By adapting technology to function in natural ways and using responsive tools, a church’s livestream service can fulfill the Great Commission in a safe and healthy manner.
Turn on comments and reaction points during livestream so listeners can participate.
Have a seasoned administrator immediately direct inquiries to counselors and also screen for comments that need to be filtered.
Supply a text where those watching can directly initiate engagement if desired.
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Kent Morris is a 40-year veteran of the AVL arena driven by passion for excellence tempered by the knowledge digital is a temporary state.