• By Ziad Amir
  • Last updated: March 5, 2021
  • 5 minute read

Reach Worshippers Online By Live Streaming Religious Services

Houses of worship are taking religious services online for worshipers who can’t attend in person. They can up their game using platforms like VIDIZMO.

In the digital age, there’s almost nothing you can’t find on the web. Since people spend a significant bit of time online, every organization – business and government alike – is making its presence felt in the digital realm. And religion is no exception. We have officially entered the era where live streaming religious services is becomingly an increasingly popular phenomenon.

While religious communities have had a social media presence and & web sites presence for a while now, but houses of worship – churches, synagogues and mosques alike – are now also making the best most of live streaming technology to reach worshippers everywhere, be it for daily sermons, weekly prayers and services, or for special religious occasions, like Easter or Purim.

Taking Religion Online

People can revitalize their faiths now that all kinds of religious leaders, sermons and services are accessible online. Church streaming, as well as Jewish and Muslim prayers and services have all seen a consistent rise in viewers. In fact, according to ABC News, the number of viewers that watched the Pope’s daily live streams suggests that even people who wouldn’t normally participate in church services attended the daily mass. That says a lot about religion’s place on the internet.

There are plenty of reasons why houses of worship want to live stream religious services. To begin with, It accommodates the worshipers that might not be able to attend the service for many reasons. Even with all the wheelchair ramps and parking spots, it is much more convenient and much less painful for the disabled to attend services online from the comfort of their home, or even their bed.

Similarly, the elderly may also not prefer to move around too much. They find it easier to reinvigorate their faiths by watching and listening to sermons online through their personal devices, like smartphones and tablets. This is especially helpful when they has to choose between attending church online and not attending church at all. For the elderly residing in retirement homes, it’s a no-brainer.

Live streaming is also a convenient way for people with a tough schedule to attend religious services. Remotely, sure, but attend, nonetheless. There are plenty of new parents out there who have to look after their toddlers while they both earn a living. Their busy, worldly schedules don’t let them take out time for church. These parents prefer to participate in religious services during their commutes or at home, whenever they have the time, rather than rushing back and forth, leaving their children at daycares and then making their way to the church just in time.

Live streaming is an easy way to attract curious individuals and spread the truth among those who seek it. Anyone even remotely interested in a certain religion can easily find sermons and services to watch online and receive the message. They can find details of the religion, get a feel of the services and be guided to the righteous path. It will be easy, particularly for young people, to find the religion that they believe in and identify with.

Now let’s address the elephant in the room. During the COVID-19 pandemic, houses of worships closed their doors for the sake of public safety and encourage social distancing. When governments mandated that public places of gatherings be closed until the COVID-19 threat blows over, houses of worship had to find another way to engage worshippers. They found live streaming religious services to be that way.

Religious leaders have a responsibility on their shoulders. The last thing they want is to put the health of the worshippers and parishioners on the line. That’s why even when some states have begun to ease restrictions, many religious leaders are still hesitant to reopen their houses of worship. They figure that people would still be wary and cautious of congregating, especially until a vaccine has been developed and maybe even after. This is why pastors, rabis and imams are finding ways to reach worshipers while they are confined to their homes.

Synagogues across New York held Megillah readings for the Jewish holiday of Purim over live streams with remote congregations. Children were prompted to get their graggers out whenever the name “Haman” was mentioned, while the synagogues remained silent and nearly, or completely, empty.

The Imam of the Finnish Islamic Community in Helsinki led online Friday prayers through live streams while people were advised to pray at home. Similarly, Easter services were held online as well. Regardless, many worshippers say that their faith was further strengthened during the pandemic. It’s very likely because of the online religious services as people who normally didn’t, or couldn’t, attend religious services took part in them when they had the chance to do it remotely.

Social Media Doesn't Cut It

Religious Services

Social media is a great way to reach and communicate with a large group of people. Worshipers follow their houses of worship online for bite-sized spirituality while scrolling through their Facebook, Twitter or Instagram feed. It makes sense that social media would be your first choice when deciding where to live stream your religious services, especially if your church already has a social media presence and following. However, considering that social media platforms were not designed particularly for live streams, they have their shortcomings.

Facebook Live is a popular platform for live streaming. You’ll find it easy and useful for testing waters when you’re live streaming for the first time. But it won’t prove to serve a lot of value beyond that. For starters, you can’t track the accurate number of attendees owing to Facebook’s 3-second video plays rule. If someone watches your Facebook Live stream for 3 seconds, it’s counted as a view. You may think that a lot of people are interested in your live stream on Facebook when you see that you clocked in a 1,000 views but many of these viewers may just have been scrolling through their feed slowly enough to get counted as view. That’s very misleading and you’ll end up overestimating the number viewers for your next stream.

Another problem with Facebook is that they don’t let you ask your viewers to like or share. They call that “like farming” and can penalize you for it. In certain cases, you may be penalized for like farming even when your viewers share your live stream with their friends, making it difficult for you to reach new audiences.

That’s not all. There have been multiple occasions where Facebook stopped live streams and banned churches from using certain music even though they had permissions. Recently, Facebook incorrectly attributed all countdown videos to the International Olympic Committee. These problems represent a problem bigger than algorithm mistakes. These pains go could easily be resolved if content creators could just talk to someone to resolve their issues. Unfortunately, Facebook Live doesn't do customer support.

Here's How VIDIZMO Helps

VIDIZMO is a Gartner recognized enterprise video content management platform with comprehensive live streaming capabilities and features. None of the issues you run into on social media, as mentioned above, are a problem on VIDIZMO. The difference is that videos, live and on-demand, are VIDIZMO’s entire bread and butter, so you can bet that we have covered every angle to give you a complete video experience.

VIDIZMO offers low-latency live streaming that can be viewed on any device and on any network, regardless of bandwidth capacity, allowing worshippers to be a part of the live religious services regardless of where they are and what device they use. With adaptive bitrate streaming, parishioners will stay engaged with church live streams on VIDIZMO smoothly, without buffering.

With VIDIZMO’s expansive CDNs, houses of worship can easily scale their services as the number of viewers grows. Statistics suggest that the number of attendees in live religious streaming has been steadily growing throughout the pandemic. A quarter of adults in the US said that their faith grew stronger during the pandemic. It’s safe to assume that these adults will be attending live religious services more regularly.

VIDIZMO comes packed with interactivity features. Your viewers can interact with each other through the live chat, ask the presenter – the pastor, the rabi, the imam, or any other religious leader presenting the live stream – questions in the Q&A section. The presenter can insert surveys or quizzes at any point in the live stream to collect the viewers’ feedback or test their knowledge, effectively engaging them in the live stream.

You can easily schedule your live streams on VIDIZMO in advance and even display a countdown. The live stream can be embedded on your church’s website and social media to allow anyone who visits the page to view it. You can also easily share the live stream with the contacts you have via social media and email.

With comprehensive analytics, you can gauge how many viewers you had on a stream, including unique viewers. These analytics enable you to analyze how popular your videos were and what kind of content was more popular with your viewers.

Finally, after you finish streaming your service live, you can publish it as an on-demand video on your VIDIZMO portal. People can come back and watch it later in case they missed the live service or want a quick refresher. VIDIZMO publishes live streams as on-demand videos automatically, unless you don’t want that, and the content within can be made searchable using VIDIZMO’s AI capabilities that can detect faces, speech, objects and text. Using these insights, viewers can jump to the part that they are particularly interested in.

To learn more about VIDIZMO’s live streaming capabilities

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Posted by Ziad Amir

Ziad Aamir is Technology Content Strategist at VIDIZMO which is a Gartner recognized enterprise video content management system, to stream live/on-demand media to both internal and external audiences, on-premise, Azure or AWS cloud. VIDIZMO solutions are used by enterprises, government, local, state government, healthcare, law enforcement agencies, justice, public safety, manufacturing, financial & banking industry.

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