I want to address something that has been nagging at me for a while. Please don’t get mad at me, I am not condemning anyone that does this or saying it is wrong but I want to share my personal thoughts on sharing live streaming Church services.
First let me say this; I understand it is great that someone can watch the Church service on days they are not physically able to be at the Church. I understand there are those that are homebound and shut-in that cannot come to the services but can watch it on Facebook or livestream. There are also those in other parts of the country or even in other countries that now have the ability to watch Church services online whereas they would not be able to personally attend the Church building. I get all that…
Having said the above, I want you to consider for a moment that in all of the cases I mentioned those folks could still watch the services after they have been recorded, edited, and then uploaded. It is not a requirement that they watch them live.
Perhaps you are wondering why on earth I would not want people to watch the service live? It’s not that I don’t want them to see it, but there are other things to consider here that come into play when streaming live. Let me give you some examples:
As a Pastor, there are times that I am personally addressing the flock that God has trusted me with. Some of the things that I say are only meant for my people and no one else. Occasionally prayer requests are made out loud and names are mentioned that the whole world does not need to be privy to for confidential reasons. Sometimes I may say something that only someone physically being there would understand. Some facial expressions or hand gestures may not be perceived correctly watching over the internet but if you were there in person you would fully understand. I also might accidentally say something stupid while preaching and not want the whole world to hear my blunder, you can’t edit a live stream…
Some members feel uncomfortable knowing that every word and action is being watched by someone outside of the Church. They have to stay constantly on guard to “perform” for the camera or avoid the camera altogether. I’ve even been watching services where a preacher or evangelist is preaching and stops and asks if they are being streamed live and then decide not to share something with the Church he is preaching in because of it.
There is the Spiritual aspect of the service. While I may enjoy watching Church services online and hearing preaching online, it in no way compares spiritually to being present in the service. The nuisance of people commenting and liking during the service, people talking about random things in the comment section, even some arguing back and forth, it just takes the reverence out of the service. It is easy enough to be distracted sitting on the pew let alone sitting at home in front of a computer with other people going about their business around you.
There is the matter of copyright infringement as well. While you may pay a standard CCLI license fee for making copies of copyrighted material in your Church service, that license does not cover broadcasting or streaming a copyrighted song. Unless you pay for an additional Streaming license, you are actually breaking the law when you live stream copyrighted material. Some Churches have already faced legal problems due to this and Facebook is beginning to ban some from livestreaming because of it. This has led to some Churches opting to not share the music part of their services and only the preaching. I don’t think that would help in my case because I often break out in song while preaching and would probably violate someone’s copyright without even thinking about it.
Lastly there is the problem with some folks nowadays just opting to stay at home and watch Facebook Church instead of physically congregating together with other believers. I’ve heard statements such as, “well, I just didn’t feel like getting ready today so I just sat at home in my pj’s and watched Church on the computer.” It doesn’t take many times missing Church for it to become a habit and the next thing you know you just stop going altogether. If the service was recorded and then shared later it would probably deter people from the temptation of using the excuse that since it’s live it’s almost like being there.
I’m sure there are other things I could share concerning this (like those that spend time “waiting for more people to sign on before I start”) but I believe I have gotten my point across. I’m not asking for you to agree with me and I’m not condemning you for live streaming but I would like for you to at least consider what I have said.