How to Coordinate the Production of a Virtual Church Service
Virtual church services have existed for a while, but the pandemic has made them skyrocket. Learn how you coordinate the production of a virtual church service.
With 96% of surveyed pastors reporting that their churches streamed services this past year—devotion is going digital.
Previously it was only the big and most tech-smart churches that broadcasted their church sermons online. Come 2020 however, and even the smallest churches are spreading the gospel via virtual church.
It’s now imperative that worshippers can have access to their church without having to physically attend services. What’s more, streaming services are not only good for the individual members of a church, but it’s also good for the church as a whole. According to reports, some church organizations experienced a rise in tithes of over 70% once they started streaming services.
However, if your church is busy learning the ropes of virtual services, it can be daunting at first. How can you make sure the service is a success, the message is felt, and there are no technical difficulties?
Fortunately, with the right planning and coordination, holding a virtual church event isn’t all that difficult, especially if you have the right tools and processes.
Are you ready to start coordinating a virtual service that will nourish the souls of the congregation and run without a glitch? Let’s jump in.
Establish a Team
If you are the pastor of your church, the first thing to do is establish a team to help you present your service and stream or upload it. If you are a helper, the same applies. You need to vet out a group of people that can assist with the coordination and technical side of broadcasting services.
If you’re wondering who to ask, this might be a great opportunity to involve some of the younger church members who are conversant with things like streaming, social media platforms, etc.
Test Drive Your Equipment
The next step is to assemble and test drive your church’s live streaming equipment. Equipment issues are one of the biggest reasons for virtual event holdups. For example, what if you find out on the Sunday morning that the preacher’s mic doesn’t work?
To avoid these kinds of surprises, get all the equipment together and hooked up ahead of time. Test each component to make sure everything is working.
If you are wondering what you’ll need for a virtual service, here are some of the basics:
If possible, try to go with decent quality microphones and cameras. This will ensure that the audio and image is crisp and clear.
Having a tripod is also invaluable, as it stops camera shake, something which can seriously impact the clarity of your video footage.
Lastly, having good lighting is key. Regular overhead lighting is generally too direct and harsh. If possible, try to get hold of some softboxes or ring lights. If this isn’t possible, you can also make use of a window and take advantage of the natural light coming in.
Whichever way, make sure you get the lighting figured out before it’s time to record the service. Good lighting is one of the top ways to improve your remote conferencing setup, so don’t skip this step.
Create a Rundown
Another key step in live event production is to create a rundown.
If you are wondering, “what is a rundown?” it’s basically a list of a show or presentation’s segments. A very simple rundown might be a spreadsheet with rows and columns. In each row, you would have different segments (such as Welcome, Praise, Sermon, etc.). In the columns, you would have additional information, notes on displayed media, the length of the segment, and so on.
For instance, the row dedicated to Praise might have notes on the duration, which mics the singers will be using, the chosen hymns, and any visual media that might be incorporated.
Planning out the segments like this can greatly assist with co-ordinating a virtual church service, and helps to keep the service on schedule.
While you can use a basic excel sheet to create a rundown, you can also choose to use an event software service such as ours that is specifically designed to make rundowns and virtual event coordination go like clockwork.
With our rundown solution, you will be able to see real-time calculations of event time. The rundown can also be edited by multiple people, based on permissions. When edits happen, a new copy of the rundown is automatically emailed to each team member. This puts a stop to version issues and keeps everyone (literally) on the same page.
Plan in Participation
One of the areas of worship that be challenging to incorporate into a virtual service is participation from the church congregation. Participation is important, but if it’s not planned carefully, it can disrupt a virtual church service.
For instance, when gathered for regular services, the congregation would join in with the hymns sung during praise. Unfortunately, when it comes to live virtual praise, if the entire congregation were to sing with their mics on, this could be very disruptive thanks to lags and interferences.
To guard against this, organizers should ensure everybody’s mics are off. (Hint, mics of attendees should also be off during the sermon segment to minimize audio interference.)
However, you should encourage the congregation to still sing. To help the congregation sing and make praise feel like it usually does, you can also have a few organizing team members sing on their own mics as the “congregation.”
Consider Catering for Fellowship
Fellowship is another component of regular services that can be tricky to incorporate into a virtual church service. Because of the challenges of facilitating fellowship online, some churches forgo it altogether.
To give your church congregation the fellowship it needs, plan in segments for it. If yours is a large congregation, you may need to split worshippers up into groups. Once again, make sure that not all mics are turned on at the same time.
Instead, request that members mute and unmute their mics as and when they wish to speak. Besides using a video call facility for fellowship, you can also encourage the use of any chat facilities your streaming/video conference software or service might have.
Get Clear on Time Slots
Once you have planned in your different segments, you might need to do a little time slot tweaking.
The main thing to avoid is going over time. A few minutes here and there isn’t likely to be a big deal, seeing as its the holy day of rest. However, some church members will have commitments, even on these days, so try to avoid going over time by more than 10 minutes.
Like we said above, Shoflo automatically recalculates your total time when you make changes to your rundown. If you are using MS Excel, then you will need to keep track of this manually.
Keep Team Members in the Loop on Changes to the Service
If there are any changes to the service and its segments, these need to be communicated to all team members involved.
Even small changes can cause confusion if everybody on the team doesn’t know about them. What’s more, changes can have a knock-on effect. For instance, if the pastor changes their sermon, this could affect the time slots.
To guard against running over time, another segment might need to be adjusted. For instance, to accommodate the preacher’s sermon change, praise might need to be shortened, which will affect which hymns are sung.
Consider Doing a Test Run
One of the best ways to ensure all goes well on the day of virtual worship is to do a test run, or what is also known as a “dry run.”
You don’t have to conduct the whole service. However, you should briefly test-drive each part, as well as transitioning from segment to segment.
It’s Time to Broadcast
Virtual church services have become essential, as people all over the world are, to varying degrees, unable to attend live services.
Besides catering to this current crisis, virtual church services are also a wonderful ongoing medium with which to spread the holy word. For congregation members who can’t come to church physically for whichever reason, virtual services can be invaluable.
If your church is planning to make virtual services a staple offering, we encourage you to take a look at our event coordination solutions, specifically designed for virtual worship services.
With Shoflo at your back, you’ll be able to run a seamless virtual service, free from common problems such as duplicated rundown versions, miscommunications, and time slot issues. What’s more, with Shoflo, your pastor and speakers can stream their segments from any device.
Want to see how our software works? Schedule a demo with a product specialist today to see Shoflo in action!