Live Streaming Trends & Predictions

Live Streaming Trends & Predictions

We don’t have a crystal ball here at Stretch (or maybe we do… in storage somewhere?), but what we do have is a keen understanding of the live streaming industry. All of us are passionate about our trade and make it our business to keep a finger on the pulse, so to speak. Knowing what might be coming around the bend helps us serve our clients better, and drives our business forward. (Plus, we admit it—we just can’t get enough.)

Based on our observations of live streaming trends already in the making, here are our musings about what we think is coming down the pike.

Live Streaming Trends & Predictions

First, we think the live streaming process will become more standardized.

The soaring popularity for live streaming as of late is a testament to the fact that there are certain things that are just better to watch live: that wedding you couldn’t afford to fly to, that sporting event that sold out before you could get a ticket, and that business conference you wished you could go to but couldn’t find the time. As a result, live streaming can’t be ignored. People are starting to expect it, and they want it to look flawless—like video on demand (VOD).

Not live streaming yet? Prepare your organization for the future with this extensive guide to live streaming—it includes everything you need to know to get started!

But compared to VOD, live streaming is harder to pull off correctly. It will never be as easy as VOD, and while it might never reach the same level of simplicity, there’s plenty of room for improvement. With both demand and expectations skyrocketing, this is where we’ll be seeing huge progress in the near future. As more companies enter the live streaming space, their research and work will help set the standard for best practices that make live streaming easier. This leads us to our second prediction….

Live streaming providers will turn to middleware solutions to make live streaming production easier.

End users want excellent live streaming video quality—period. To make that happen, companies will have to look to outside vendors and solutions for help.

We expect that big companies experimenting with live streaming will realize they need to be just as agile as small companies, which means that sometimes they will have to step outside the box and partner with a small company, or take advantage of alternative solutions (like open source software) that help them solve a specific problem.

Similarly, small companies hoping to compete in the same space as larger companies may need to partner with larger players who can help reduce their workflow. Why create something new on your own when someone else’s solution will do the trick? Streaming provider Wowza, for instance, offers organizations the ability to deploy its streaming engine using servers built by Amazon. We’ll see more of this sharing economy as companies of all sizes realize they don’t need to build everything themselves if someone has already done it well. Partnerships like these will propel live streaming forward.

As live streaming progresses technically, other issues will become more important. This leads us to our third prediction…

Live streaming providers will increasingly put more emphasis on differentiating features.  

History repeats itself. VOD has advanced to the point where a video on its own is no longer enough—there has to be some additional value-add. The same will happen eventually with live streaming as it becomes more commonplace. YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter are all entering the live streaming space, and people will inevitably demand more. Simply providing a live streaming solution won’t be sufficient in the future, so providers will have to be creative to stand out from the pack.

For instance, it’s great if you can see this event or that game, but it won’t be long before you start wanting relevant information alongside the live stream. Examples of this and other differentiating features that are already on the live streaming horizon:

We’re curious to know about the live streaming trends you’re seeing, and where you think live streaming is headed! Leave us a message in the comments below.

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4 Top-Notch Leadership Books Pastors Are Reading Today

4 Top-Notch Leadership Books Pastors Are Reading Today

We asked Tim Ahlman, senior pastor at Christ’s Greenfield Lutheran Church in Gilbert, Arizona, to share with us his thoughts about the best leadership books for the modern pastor. Here’s what he had to say!

Most pastors are in this business because they love people and love Jesus. But despite those genuine intentions, some pastors really struggle with leadership skills. I strongly believe that pastors need to invest in leadership books that are both sacred and secular, so they can grow in their ability to connect with their congregants and with the community.

There are so many great leadership books out there I could recommend—but these four (organized alphabetically by last name) are worth checking out as soon as possible.

1. The Four Disciplines Of Execution

By Sean Covey, Jim Huling, & Chris McChesney

The Four Disciplines of Execution” is an excellent book for those who want to become better leaders. It walks through four distinct rules good leaders tap into: focus, leverage, engagement, and accountability.

While this book is written from a secular business perspective, its themes can easily be applied in a church setting. Many churches strategize well, but when the rubber meets the road and it comes time to carry out a plan, they get stuck in what this book calls the “whirlwind”—or the day-to-day grind. This is a very helpful read for anyone who feels like they may be stuck.

(If you want a sneak peak into the theme of the book, check out this Q&A with Forbes contributor Dan Schawbel and the three authors.)

2. Simplify: 10 Practices To Unclutter Your Soul

By Bill Hybels

Bill Hybels is a long-time pastor from Willow Creek Community Church in the Chicago area. He is one of my favorite authors in the Christian leadership genre because his work is so practical and applicable. “Simplify” talks about how the exhausting pace we live at can leave us spiritually drained—and offers advice on how you can break free from this harmful pattern.

3. The Ideal Team Player

By Patrick Lencioni

Patrick Lencioni is a best-selling author of many business leadership books, including “Death by Meeting” and “The Four Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executive.” In his most recent book “The Ideal Team Player,” Patrick identifies three different values or characteristics that define a key teammate: someone who is humble, hungry, and smart. This has been instrumental in helping me identify ways to interact with my non-paid and paid leadership staff.

You can learn more about Patrick and his work on his website.  

4. Communicating For A Change: 7 Keys To Irresistible Communication

By Andy Stanley & Lane Jones

Andy Stanley is the pastor of North Point Community Church in the Atlanta area, and Lane Jones is the executive director of membership development there. Together, they created “Communicating for a Change,” which is a must-read for pastors today. In it, you’ll learn seven critical methods to connect with your congregants, like moving them through a “one point” sermon.

(Also, check out Andy Stanley’s website—he hosts a wonderful monthly podcast!)

What leadership book are you reading today?

Tweet us @strechinternet and let us know, and your recommendation might end up in an upcoming article!

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How To Increase Church Attendance & Membership (With The Internet’s Help)

How To Increase Church Attendance & Membership (With The Internet's Help)

We asked Tim Ahlman, senior pastor at Christ’s Greenfield Lutheran Church in Gilbert, Arizona, to share with us his thoughts on how to increase church attendance and membership—check out his insight below.

Is church attendance and membership dwindling? If so, why?

The macro Christian church—both Catholic and Protestant traditions together—is losing traction. Smaller churches are getting smaller, and larger churches are getting larger, but the net result is a decrease in weekly church attendance.

Consistent average attendance for someone who says they are engaged in a church body is attending a weekend worship service roughly once every three weeks. In previous generations, engaged members of the church body would attend far more regularly.

But today, there are so many other things competing for people’s attention. Additionally, churchgoers want to know that a particular church will meet their needs:

  • Is the church making a difference in the community?
  • Are they going to meet my ministry needs?
  • Do they care about societal ills?
  • Will the church be judgmental and focused only on filling its pockets?
  • Will the church have the things my family and I need?

Today, if the programs for a smaller church are not what people think they should be, they will go elsewhere.

Our congregation has experienced pretty rapid growth—we’ve gone from about 450 people at Sunday worship to over 1,000 in about three years’ time. We feel that God is helping us look outside of ourselves and is leading us into creative ways to engage our community.

How did Christ’s Greenfield Lutheran increase church attendance and membership with the internet’s help?

Video

Our culture is so visual. Spoken word is one thing, but to see people share their testimony and message in real time is very compelling. Therefore, video has been a major part of our ministry. Two years ago, we came up with our “3E” church mission and our tagline “Experience, Empower, Expand—Join the Journey.” We wanted to get that message out through in-service and online videos, so we invested in a professional videographer. He produced about 10 really compelling videos for us, which had great results.

Social Media

It’s critical to meet people where they’re at, and our congregation lives on social media. Two years ago, we weren’t engaged consistently and intentionally on social media—but today, we utilize it frequently. Our primary social outlet is Facebook, but we’re beginning to put more effort into Snapchat, Instagram, and Twitter. All of our sermons, special videos, event information, and weekly announcements are shared across social media platforms.

If we just post a video on our website, it doesn’t have near the amount of views as when we promote it on social media. Facebook and other social platforms allow individuals to have a digital conversation with me or other church leaders, which is great for community engagement.

Live Streaming

We’re not yet doing live streaming—but it’s something we’re in the process of setting up in the next couple of months. We see live streaming as a way for our church body to stay connected to the message from afar as well as an evangelical tool to reach members of the community who are disenfranchised from church.

Being in Arizona, some of our congregants are “snowbirds,” or winter visitors. They love staying connected with us and worshiping with us from their summer homes, so live streaming will be an ideal option for them. Millennials and community members outside of the church body are also more likely to engage with us online and check out the vibe of the church before attending physically. We see it as a huge value-add.

What advice would you offer other churches that are looking to increase church membership and attendance?

If you want to increase your church attendance or church membership using the internet, you have to start somewhere. Sometimes I think church leaders don’t think incrementally enough! If you’re not doing anything online, ask tech-savvy members for their help. If you want to reach youth and millennials, ask them where they’re hanging out online and then as a church leader, meet them there.

We started out simply putting our videos on YouTube—then we progressively started  doing more and more. It doesn’t mean your first foray into using the internet to increase church attendance has to be live streaming—just think incrementally. If pastors and leaders of other churches would just start sharing their messages via social media and video—even prior to having the resources to do anything dramatic—it will really set the stage. So just start doing it!

Even if live streaming sounds daunting to you, consider looking into it. Stretch is very cost effective—even for smaller congregations—which means churches of all sizes can start soon.

A big thanks to Tim Ahlman for discussing this with us!


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