There is a healthy balance between presenting an excellent product and giving your audience what they want.

Right now the church is attempting to figure out a healthy way forward for church. Livestreaming services have saturated the market and each present the best way forward … according to them. In order to determine the best way forward, we need to flip the script and look at things from the user’s perspective, and not what we think we want or what we perceive people desire.

Data informs decisions, it does not determine them.

Everything has a context, including data. It’s one thing to have access to an analytics dashboard, but it’s an entirely other thing to have access, understand what the data means according to your context, and interpret a way forward that may work for your audience.

If you are working together as a team trying to figure out what to do through the Coronavirus crisis and meeting together as a church, you are trying your best to interpret what an average 25% dip in online engagement means, what live-streaming platform works best for you and your audience, and how to build a cohesive team around am identity in a Covid context.

These are all good and needed things, but your audience is not on the same page as you. You audience has basic needs that need to be met, and your job is to meet those needs in a simple and easily accessible package.

  • Churches are food at a table.
  • Your audience chooses what they want to eat.
  • If they don’t like what you are serving, they either won’t eat at that table, eat and not like it, or find another table that has the food they are looking for.

The worst thing you can do is take good food off your table.

If something is working for your church and you have the capacity to fund it (in people and finances), then you need need to continue to lean into it, even if you would rather move on.

Here’s an example: 

  • Your church has been using Facebook Live and YouTube Premiere to give people options to engage with your content in real-time on their own or via Watch Parties with their family and friends (my church utilizes this). This was a default for most churches as the crisis hit in the early months of Covid-19.
  • You make a decision to add on Church Online Platform by LifeChurch, because it allows you to have a more polished presentation with more options for audience engagement.
  • Over time, you decide to remove the social media aspect of things and only use the Church Online Platform. While this may be a good call, it may not be a great call (there is a difference between good and great). Your audience may have grown accustomed to Facebook or YouTube, as it’s a more natural platform that consumes most of a user’s time on their phone’s activity logs.

If you give your audience something they aren’t asking for, then you are only asking them to make a decision they did not want to make in the first place.

Your goal is to help your audience engage with your content on their terms, in order to journey together and meet Jesus. Whatever your context dictates, you job is to find a way to make that happen. If 60% of your audience is on Facebook, then use Facebook. If 25% subscribe to your channel on YouTube, then use YouTube. Moving only to Church Online Platform will only force people to make a decision they did not ask to make.

  • Removing something just because it’s “better” is subjective.
  • Your audience drives the data, but you determine the process.
  • It’s better to add on a meal than take it away.

Over time, your audience will tell you what they want. Through posts on your walls, emails or messages to your accounts, or through engagement on specific platforms, they will help you make the hard decisions. But here’s the thing: if you offer them the options they are already using as well as present a new option that may work better for them and does work better for you, then you are adding a meal to the table and giving everyone an opportunity to walk away full.