Summer’s Slow Time Is a Perfect Time for Tech Upgrades
Summer slows things down in churches. Families take vacations, programs dial down, and staff members prepare for the next season of ministry. Summertime is a perfect time to invest in different areas of your church: too many pastors and ministry leaders burn out down the road because they don’t take time to rest and refocus. Two ways in particular are especially helpful to take care of during the summer months: giving your church website a facelift and live streaming your Sunday services.
Your church website probably isn’t the first thing that comes to your mind when you think of maintenance at your church. But the image you portray of your body of believers to potential visitors is just as important as the material image people see as they drive by your campus.
Simply having a presence online with a static website is no longer sufficient. You must take a deeper dive. The people who live in your community, whether they are church members or not, expect a certain level of visual appeal and ease-of-use when it comes to the websites they frequently visit, and that bar is set pretty high.
An appealing and well organized website can be a high-value asset to your church; an outdated or cluttered website can be the cause of much heartburn and detriment. The latter can portray a lack of concern for your church or show that you don’t put much of a priority in staying with current technology trends. Keep your website simple and clean. A disoriented or confusing site will often hurt more than it helps.
Your website should seek to appeal to two groups:
- Current members – Those within your church body should be able to use your website to find updates about your church, its ministries, a comprehensive calendar with detailed event information, ways to give online, and more. It should also provide current members with a link to the church management software you use so they can update information as needed.
- Potential Members – For those in your community who do not attend your church, think of your website as the face of your church. First time visitors should be able to easily access contact information, service times, a list of small groups, upcoming events, how to become actively involved in your church, and what you are all about.
When thinking about ways to make your existing church website better, or starting from scratch, you’ll need to consider a few steps.
Assess your current functionality.
Is all of your information (service times, address, mission, vision, values) well organized and easy to find? Is all information accurate and up to date? Is your calendar synched to your church management software? It’s always best to evaluate your existing site from the shoes of someone who has very little technology experience. Your website should be relatively easy for even the most technologically challenged person.
Fix any problems you identify.
Make sure you update out of date information. Fix any grammatical and spelling errors. If not already done, re-organize your home page and use a header, breaking down your church website into multiple areas, each with a clear focus.
Renovate the user experience onyour site.
This is key in terms of keeping people engaged on your site. Do you have pictures? If not, add some. Evaluate your color scheme and make sure it isn’t obnoxious. Use more modern fonts. (Yes, it’s time to do away with comic sans!) Consider adding links for online giving. Add pastor bios, pictures of the family and a way to get in touch with each staff member via email. Last, but not least, provide links to your social media channels. Many people will choose to engage with you there on a daily basis.
A fully functioning and engaging church website brings your congregation and potential members together in an organized fashion. There should be something for both groups of people on your site. A great site makes it easy on your members to become informed and stay involved. It also makes it easy for potential members to get a sense of your church culture and access important information at the click of a button.
Is It Time For Streaming?
In addition to your church website, here’s another way to think about updating your technology this summer. It’s summer time and people are on the move. Families are enjoying much-deserved family vacations across the country. Individual and couples are sneaking way for relaxing weekend experiences. And, some stay-cationers are simply sleeping in and taking it easy. And yet, many will miss (and feel the loss of) your weekend services. In addition to updating your website, this makes summer quite possibly the best time to start live-streaming your weekend service.
Live-streaming is an asset to your church no matter the season, but especially important during the summer months when members are on the go. And it doesn’t take much to get this up and running. You already have the website to house it. In fact, you probably already have most of what you need on hand. All you need is:
- A Camera: It doesn’t have to be fancy (but hopefully something a step up from a smartphone).
- Decent Lights: For the picture to come in clear people’s faces can’t be too dark.
- A Computer: Make sure you have the proper cables to hook it up to your camera.
- A Tech-Savvy Volunteer: Someone’s gotta hold the camera (or at least stand it up and turn it on) and make sure things are going smoothly. This person doesn’t need to be an expert, but at least have the ability to troubleshoot and learn best practices.
- A Live-streaming Service: This is the service that takes your video and broadcasts it to whoever is watching. You can use either a free social media platform for streaming, or a dedicated, paid service. oPeriscope and Facebook Live allow you to stream live video to your followers and fans for free. oOther free options include Ustream.tv and Google Hangouts, each with their own limitations. oGood dedicated services include WorshipChannels.com, MediaFusion.com, and ChurchStreaming.tv – all of which charge a fee.
- A Website or ChMS:Which you probably already have. This will make it easy for members to find the live streaming straight from your church’s online home base.
Whatever you decide to use for your streaming service, keep in mind that giving people access to the media is important. You’ll want to provide a link a few hours or even a day before the live streaming begins. Using your ChMS to send ongoing notifications and reminders of upcoming streams is a great way for people to stay connected.
And what if they can’t watch it live but still want to see it? You should host a library of past services on your Church Ministry Software or website so people can access service archives whenever they want.
Don’t be daunted by the technological hurdles and vague mysteries of live-streaming.It’s really not that hard, once you sink your teeth into it. Gather your resources, equip your people, and start streaming.
Focusing your summer months on updating the face of your church from technology with help you increase connections. It offers a great growth tool to those inside and outside your church. Take your ministry beyond Sunday by giving your members the insight into your church they need this summer through an updated church website and live streaming services.