How Southland Christian Church is Using Online Ministry to Foster Real Connections
Southland Christian Church, like many ministries, was forced to close the doors to their five campuses across Kentucky as the COVID-19 pandemic spread to the United States. However, the team at Southland Church has found a way to ensure that their congregation stays more connected than ever – even when they can’t be in the same room.
In this post, we will explore how Southland has been using online ministry and video streaming analytics to help foster engagement and develop real connections.
Learning and Sharing with Online Ministry
Southland first began working with Haivision in 2015 to stream video between their campuses for worship, ministry coaching, volunteer training, and to create a sense of connection between the campuses. Haivision’s technology has allowed them to stream their video over the public internet both between campuses and within campuses, in high quality and lower costs.
In Spring of 2019, just in time for Easter, Southland opened their newest campus – their online campus. Their reason for taking their message online was simple: they wanted to be able to share their message with a wider audience in an accessible manner. They began live streaming their services over the internet using Haivision encoders and the Haivision Video Cloud, with viewers being able to watch on their website and mobile apps.
As the COVID-19 pandemic forced the closure of ministries across the United States in Spring 2020, the Southland Christian Church team, with only a year of experience in online ministry, resolved to do their best for their congregation and community.
And although it has been a learning experience, Andrew Baker, Production Director at Southland, has been happy with the ease of use and reliability of Haivision’s tools. “I just love the simplicity of the whole ecosystem. The KB transcoder couldn’t be any easier from an interface standpoint. The Makitos have also been easy to use, and quite honestly, they just work.”
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Creating Online Connections
Currently, Southland is hosting several live online services on Sundays, with children’s programming as well as their more common worship services. They have been able to do this while maintaining physical distancing at their campuses, as their video streaming setup is fairly straightforward, minimizing the staff required on Sunday mornings.
And these services have been very popular with the Southland congregation. Their Easter 2020 service was the most-watched service they have streamed to date.
Even if they can’t physically see their congregation worship in the building, the online team at Southland has made sure that they are engaging with them as much as possible. They have sent a few surveys to their viewers, to learn more about their audience and their interests. Their website also features a quick question for viewers on how many people are watching from one device, (as many families do,) allowing them a better understanding of viewership habits and numbers.
These surveys have been helpful, but video streaming analytics have helped the team to gain a deeper understanding of their congregation and their services. The analytics tools in Haivision Video Cloud’s dashboard have allowed them to filter very granularly into how viewers attend and view online services, and how many are staying for the full service – this data can help ministry better understand the effectiveness of their messages and how best to thoroughly engage with their online congregation during and after services.
One of the ways that the team at Southland Christian Church has been measuring viewer engagement has been to filter to their viewer numbers, focusing on those who watch for more than 30 minutes.
Viewer insights don’t only affect the way that Southland’s services are shaped. An important aspect of Southland is their focus on fellowship, through their groups – these groups allow members of Southland’s congregation to connect with each other outside of regular services, both online and offline. Knowing more about their viewers has helped the team at Southland Church ensure that their group offerings meet their congregation’s needs.
Moving Forward, Together
As their state health guidelines have loosened, Southland has been able to open their doors again, although at limited capacity. They continue to encourage their congregation to join them online as things return to normal but to also protect the more vulnerable members of their congregation.
“We want to give those people who may not feel comfortable walking into a building the chance to participate,” said Andrew, of Southland’s different interactivity tools, including an online campus pastor who prays with the online congregants.
And while the future may be hard to predict, Andrew and the rest of the team at Southland believe that their online campus will continue to be a popular destination for those looking for connection – both spiritual and human. And they are happy to welcome and foster those connections.
To learn more about Southland Christian Church, click here.
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