There are now over 2.2 billion Facebook users across the world. A staggering number, and one that continues to grow year after year. If you’re doing ministry in a small town or rural setting, it may have taken a little longer for the Facebook craze to hit, but at this point I think we can all assume that it is here to stay. So, one of the questions we should be asking ourselves is, how can we be using it to grow the Kingdom of God? Many churches have answered that question by live streaming their church services through Facebook Live. And many of those churches in my opinion are making a mistake.
I realize that all of us want to share the gospel message with as many people as possible, and Facebook Live gives us the ability to do this at a relatively small cost.
But the truth is, to do Facebook Live well costs more than you think, and doing Facebook Live poorly has an even higher cost.
So, one of the first questions you should ask yourselves is, can we afford to do Facebook Live well? By most estimates and averages that cost is around $5,000 for a one camera shot, not a small chunk of change for most small town churches.
And even if you have that type of money lying around, is Facebook Live the best use of it? I would say, in most cases, it is not.
The church I serve uses Facebook Live, and on average less than twenty people a week watch the entire service. Sure, Facebook will tell you a video has hundreds of views, but in most cases those are people just scrolling through or who may watch for just a couple minutes.
My church has two locations, and on average 800 people attending. We’re talking about an investment of $5,000+ so that 20 people can watch while they’re out of town or home sick. If views on Facebook were the goal, we would’ve never spent the money.
The real value is in people seeing what your service looks and sounds like before they show up to your church. We’ve had lots of people who said they watched before they attended. This is the real win for us.
However, Facebook Live may have the opposite effect on your attendance. Depending on your church the looks and sounds may actually be keeping people from ever attending. This is the case for many small town rural churches.
If your auditorium looks old and dated, why would you broadcast that to your community?
If you have people singing worship, who deep down you know can’t sing, why put that on the internet for everyone to see? People who are good singers don’t even sound good through Facebook Live unless you have the right recording equipment.
If you know prayer request time often turns into a gossip session, don’t record it. Use some common sense.
Just because a lot of churches are offering Facebook Live doesn’t mean you should. Most of you shouldn’t. That $5,000 can go to much more important areas of the church that need to be addressed.
And if you’re set on doing Facebook Live because you have people who are part of your church that just can’t attend, then create a private Facebook group just for those people to watch. It’s an easy solution.
But seriously, if you can’t do it well, stop doing it, because you’re doing more harm than good.