Where’s the best place to run online services?
Should I use a multiple-platform approach?
Should we stream where people are already gathered online, like social media? Or stream on a website?
As more churches are navigating online ministry, so many pastors are asking the question: Which is better for my online ministry—Church Online Platform, Facebook, or YouTube?
We believe the strongest church online experience is through the Church Online Platform, but there’s also tremendous value in running services through multiple platforms, including Facebook and YouTube. Check out the pros and cons of each.
Church Online Platform
The Church Online Platform is a free tool created by Life.Church to help churches launch their ministries online. With features like chat, live prayer, calls-to-action like the “Salvation Moment,” and high-powered analytics, this tool allows you to digitally lead attenders to next steps in their relationships with Jesus.
- A dedicated location for your church online experiences even if you don’t have a website
- Free tool for churches provided entirely by the Open Network team at Life.Church
- Easy to set up with support documentation, walk-throughs, and help from the support team
- Features like chat, live prayer, an integrated Bible, calls to action, language translation, and more built specifically to help churches lead people to next steps
- Live and off-line prayer features allows you to directly minister to and encourage attenders
- In-depth analytics that allow you to go beyond impressions and reach to measure engagement in your service
- Integrates with other products your ministry might be using like Google, HubSpot, Facebook Pixel, and others in the future
- Easy to attend, serve, and run on a mobile device
- Continuous improvements and updates that are specifically to help churches do online ministry
- Although the tool itself is free, churches will need a streaming provider (free options like YouTube are available)
- Attenders won’t be notified when your church is live like they are on Facebook. Churches will want to build a communications plan to let attenders and non-attenders know when and how to join them for online services.
Facebook or YouTube Live
- You can reach people where they are — on platforms that many use daily
- People who follow your page or subscribe to your channel will be notified when the service starts
- Sharing or inviting is easy from within Facebook, allowing attenders to easily invite their family or friends
- There’s no anonymity on social media platforms, so when you invite a friend on these services, it can be easy to find your friends
- On YouTube, it’s easy for attenders to watch via a smart TV
- On YouTube, your sermons are easily discoverable via search
- It’s harder to pray for people since there isn’t a direct chat feature or private one-to-one chat room for prayer conversations
- Follow-up is a bit more challenging since this is not an automated process
- If you post or pin a comment, there’s no dedicated place to see attenders’ response or give them next steps
- If multiple people are chatting, conversations and links can get lost in the chat
- Many churches experience copyright claims on worship music and can have services shut down by Facebook and YouTube
- Since there’s no anonymity on Facebook, people exploring faith may be hesitant to watch or ask questions
- There’s no auto-translation on many social networking platforms. This makes it harder to connect with people from around the world
Regardless of which platform you use, you’ll need equipment to capture and edit video of the church service. Here are a few options to help you get started.
You Don’t Have To Choose
As you can see, each platform has a list of pros and cons. But be encouraged: you don’t have to use only one platform! Social media platforms can help you reach a large number of people quickly, while Church Online Platform helps you engage with them in a much deeper way and lead them to next steps. Using a combination of both is a great way to build your online ministry on a variety of fronts.
At Life.Church, we record our church service once and use that video across as many platforms as possible. Our goal is to reach people where they are, leveraging the unique benefits of different tools and platforms to reach the world for Christ.
Let’s Celebrate Online Ministry
We love hearing stories of how the Church Online Platform has helped your church. Here are a few we’ve recently heard, and if you have a story to share, let us know on Twitter.
“We managed to get our first service up on three days notice as the platform was very easy to use. Our viewing statistics have increased each week in both numbers of people and devices watching along with their average viewing times.”St. Matthews Anglican Church, Manly, Australia
“We’ve been on Facebook Live for years but just added the Church Online Platform this week. It was so simple to set up, had a clean interface, branded colors, and great engagement tools. Well done Life.Church, and thank you!”Unity Church, Tulsa, Oklahoma
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