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More Information Technology
For The CRG Created For The CRG
Web Design: Major Mistakes to Avoid

With new technology capabilities and software changes, congregations redesign their websites more than ever. Learn from these common mistakes before you invest time and money.

No congregation should build their own website.  

Any tech savvy person can build a website, but do-it-yourself sites often result in bad functionality and poor design. If you must build your site in-house, at the very least use a template-based website provider like Sharefaith (formerly E-zekiel) or WordPress.

“Build it and they will come” is totally erroneous in the website world.

 If your congregation is building a website, you need to develop a communications strategy that includes marketing the website.

Technology is not the most important facet of developing a website.

Prioritize usability, layout and design instead.

Whatever length of time you think building a website will take, double it.

Planning and implementing a website takes far more time than anyone ever expects. 

If there’s a picture of your building on the front page of your website instead of pictures of people, do not pass go, do not collect $200, take the site down now!

Based on our experience, I recommend looking at Church Tech Today (https://thecrg.org/resources/church-tech-today-technology-for-today-s-church-churchtechtoday-com). Church Tech’s bloggers will help you take a holistic approach to your online presence and find the right 

 

book
The Distanced Church: Reflections on Doing Church Online
This e-book compiles experiences, tips, and advice from faith leaders who adapted to online worship during COVID-19.
web resource
Virtual Ministry Opportunities: Online Technology Resources
This resource page by The CME Church explains how and why to use online platforms during COVID-19 for streaming worship, online giving, and group meetings.
web resource
Helping Your Church Respond to the Coronavirus
This United Methodist resource page offers a variety of information and trainings to help churches continue congregational life online.
web resource
Being the Virtual Church: Resources for Churches during the COVID-19 Pandemic
This hub of information from the Texas Methodist Foundation offers innovative ways to create community and be the virtual church during social isolation.
book
How to Reach and Engage your Congregation in a Digital World: The Pastor's Guide to Live Video Streaming
Written by a live stream vendor, this short e-book explains how to easily stream worship and how it’ s beneficial.
article
Principles for Online Ritual Design
This practical guide helps congregants create their own sacred spaces and rituals from home or far away.
web resource
Seder2020
This clearinghouse for virtual seders allows you to create your own or join another.
article
How to Use Facebook Live: The Ultimate Guide
Written by marketers, this comprehensive article has step-by-step instructions to use Facebook Live and make compelling videos on your desktop or phone.
article
How to Livestream for Free: A Quick Solution for Churches
This short article outlines how to stream with Free Online Church and links to other important online worship information.
web resource
Introduction to Live Streaming
This engaging webpage offers simple steps and video tutorials to start streaming your worship service on Facebook.
For The CRG Created For The CRG
Creating a Good Virtual Worship Experience

I’ve “attended” several synagogue and church worship services over the last weeks and must report my disappointment. That’s a nice way of saying that most really stink. Live streaming a regular worship service just doesn’t work.



Remember that as soon as you put something on a screen, the viewer compares it to everything else they see on their screens. I’m not suggesting you need a full multicamera production, but sticking a laptop in front of the sanctuary does not cut it.



There are lots of churches which offer well done, live services online. Many are megachurches that do this weekly. You don’t have to match the professional productions of megachurches, but think about raising your standards of excellence.


Some things to keep in mind:




  • Is your sanctuary the best place to hold an online worship service? If it’s a large cavernous space, probably not since you’ll likely have audio and lighting issues.


  • Can people hear everything well? The microphone in a laptop or webcam isn’t adequate, especially if it’s not within 3-5 feet from the worship leader. Purchase a simple, inexpensive, USB microphone and move it close to your presenter. Better yet, get several lavalier type mics and a small mixer that feeds your computer.


  • Is the video clear and well lit? Even cheap, high definition webcams are better than most stock cameras in laptops (not necessarily true for some smart phones). And they’re inexpensive. A separate camera allows you to position the camera where it sees the best not where the computer sits best.


  • If you’re using one camera as a catch-all, keep the view tight. Have worship leaders stand close together. Most sanctuaries are too dark for video and lit to focus on certain spots that aren’t optimal for video casting.


  • Don’t ask people to download worship documents beforehand, include them in the experience. This is tougher to do since you’ll need a way to split the screen. If that’s not an option, an alternative is showing just the text during singing and responsive readings. Not only is it easier to view but helps break up the visuals and monotony.


  • If your worship service is boring it will be more boring on video. Consider modifying your normal service. Most importantly, make it shorter, focused and familiar. Remember, your audience is sitting in front of a computer or holding their phones. People want the familiar and the comfortable.


  • Form a team to help. That team may be two people, and that may be enough. Have someone else (not your worship leader) run the computer and handle technical issues.


  • Rehearse! Even if it’s 30 minutes before you go live, practice! You will find things you didn’t think about. Nothing kills the moment worse than congregants watching you mess around trying to fix stuff. Oh, and by the way, start on time!



Resources You Can Use
Here’s a great list of online church resources from PRC-Practical Resources for Churches.  
Using a cell phone and Facebook for livestreaming, check out https://thecrg.org/resources/introduction-to-live-streaming  
A guide to using Facebook Live can be found here: https://www.thecrg.org/resources/how-to-use-facebook-live-the-ultimate-guide

This article first appeared at https://ejewishphilanthropy.com/virtual-worship/

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