Should We Go Live?
It's amazing how much can change in just a few short days. Less than a week ago, I was still preparing to lead an in-person worship service. But all of that happened before the government recommended that churches cease meeting in-person to help slow the spread of the coronavirus.
So now every pastor and every church is scrambling to try to figure out how to be the church and how to worship together when we can't meet in-person.
For most of us, that means that we will be turning to online platforms to broadcast our services to the members and regular attenders of our church...and whoever else might be out there watching in cyberspace (do you remember when we still called the internet cyberspace? I kinda miss it). And the biggest online platform that we all have access to is Facebook.
We all have Facebook accounts. Our church members all have Facebook accounts. Our churches all have Facebook accounts. So it just makes sense to turn to Facebook. And the best part is that Facebook makes it really easy to broadcast on their platform--all you have to do is click the "Go Live" button.
But I gotta tell you, that won't be what my church does. We won't be using Facebook live to broadcast our services, and there are a few reasons why.
Going Live Requires A Lot of Internet Speed
That subheading says it all. Going live on Facebook requires a lot of bandwidth...and if you don't have a lot of bandwidth, you're going to run into problems trying to go live. Your video will be fuzzy, your audio will cut in and out, and everyone that wants to watch your service is going to be stuck buffering the whole time you're online.
And, right now, I know that my church building doesn't have high enough speed when it comes to our internet service to go live on Facebook (or any other platform).
You Won't Be the Only One Going Live
Remember what I just said about needing a lot of internet speed to go live? Well, that's not just true for you. With more churches trying to go online than ever before, there are going to be a lot of churches that are using a lot of bandwidth to broadcast their services.
And that means that sites like Facebook and Youtube are going to run into speed issues of their own. So even if you have fiber internet that allows you to upload at the speed of light, other churches are going to be slowing down Facebook's ability to send your content out. So, you'll end up with fuzzy video, audio that cuts out, and a lot of people watching your live service buffer.
When You're Live You Get One Take
When you go live, your congregation/audience is going to see and hear everything you do and say. And you might think that's not a big deal because you go live every Sunday morning anyway. But we're entering into a whole new world right now.
I've never had to pastor a church online, so I know that there is going to be a learning curve. So I'd rather take the extra time to record a video (and have the chance to edit or re-record) to work out whatever problems will arise.
What We'll Be Doing Instead
Now, just because my church won't be going live on Facebook, that doesn't mean that we won't be using Facebook to broadcast our worship services. Like I already said, everyone is on Facebook...so if you want to reach your congregation, you better be using it too.
But there's more than one way to broadcast on Facebook. You can simply upload a video and let the people who like your Facebook page stumble upon it when their scrolling through their Facebook feed. Or you can take advantage of Facebook's Premiere feature.
Facebook Premiere allows you to schedule a time when your video will premiere to the public...just like Hollywood does for all of its movies. So, by using Facebook Premiere, you can record ahead of time and then tell Facebook when you want that video to go live on their site.
This is great for churches because it eliminates a lot of the problems you'll run into if you try to do live services...while still having many of the same advantages of doing a live service. By Premiering a video, you'll be able to start it at the exact time your worship service usually begins (for my church that's at 10:30 AM on Sundays). But since your video is already uploaded to Facebook site, you don't have to worry about as many of the bandwidth problems I wrote about earlier.
On top of that, Facebook treats premier videos just like live videos. They push them to the top of your Facebook followers news feeds, and they give notifications when a service is about to start.