Church ministry is going more online than ever before due to the Covid-19 season. Ministries are live-streaming services, digitizing small group meetings, and planning remotely through platforms such as Google Hangouts and Zoom.
But another useful ministry tool is Facebook Live (FBL).
I’m not an expert, but I personally love FBL due to its personal nature and engagement capabilities as a platform (why I love Instagram Live as well). During the next 7 weeks (at least), I’ll be doing a weekly teaching series through FBL.
And as I’ve been preparing for this, I had the privilege of having a conversation with an Oscars producer (25 years of experience) who attends my church and she gave me some helpful things to think through.
With her permission to share, here were three things I gleaned from our conversation:
1. Remove as Many Distractions as Possible
Remember that viral video of the BBC interview of Professor Robert Kelly when his two children walk in mid-interview? It’s hilarious because the “distractions” (cute kids) were a stark contrast to the formal tone of the interview.
But, if you look at the picture of the scene, do you notice the stack of papers and the book on the left? What about that big map in the back? The entire setting of the room is actually a distraction.
The producer encouraged me to limit as many distractions as possible for the sake of the viewer. Create a clean background with no clutter. Wear a shirt that doesn’t tire the eyes. Keep the forehead from shining too brightly (!). In other words, be intentional for the sake of the viewer.
2. Aim for the 45-Minute Mark
The producer said studies have shown that 45 minutes is the magic number for adult viewership. While I’m unaware of the origins of this study, it sort of makes sense.
Breaking Bad? Mad Men? These shows were about 45-47 minutes per episode. Comedy sit-coms (20-25 minutes) aren’t trying to develop deeper plot lines, but a TV drama that’s not trying to go full-blown movie every episode? Forty five minutes did the job (and the audience couldn’t get enough).
Whether your FBL elements are a monologue, a panel discussion, interaction with the audience, live music, or a combination—aim for 45 minutes.
3. Supplement by Re-Purposing Existing Content
When someone is live teaching, the speaker can supplement the teaching through a video clip of some sort. And it usually needs to be fresh, new, or something the teacher hasn’t shown before. But the rules change when the new normal is live-streaming (and there’s a global pandemic).
The producer encouraged me to take previous content and find ways to plug it in by showing it on a screen behind me. In this way, it gives me a break, provides 2-3 minutes of content, while connecting the dots for the viewer to the larger vision and mission of the church.
I don’t think this is easy (or right depending on the context), but I think this could be the difference between a decent FBL session as opposed to a great one.
Let’s be honest, no one prepared us for this.
I definitely don’t remember a class in seminary on how to best utilize Facebook Live for ministry.
So, don’t be so hard on yourself. There may be some rough moments, but laugh at yourself and keep going. I also encourage you to have fun with it.
Remember, this is just a means to shepherd our people during this time. And that makes it an opportunity.
STEVE BANG LEE is a husband, father, and Pastor of College Ministry at Mariners Church in Irvine, California. Steve has ministered in Asian immigrant, Asian-American, and multi-ethnic church contexts and enjoys speaking, writing, strategizing, vision casting, and mobilizing teams.