CATALYST BLOG

Live Streaming for Jesus

Are you relying on the Devil for your message?

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It’s been more than a year since the unprecedented happened… across the nation, most churches closed their doors and many shifted to online streaming church services.

The ‘free’ option of Facebook and YouTube Live became the default live streaming tool for the majority of churches that hadn’t already been streaming regularly. Unfortunately, some discovered the hard way that the ‘free’ service cost them dearly.

sermon.net, Catalyst’s streaming service, recorded hundreds of complaints from churches whose re-streams to Facebook or YouTube were inexplicably shut off, many during Easter 2020 services as streaming hit an all-time high. For the most part, there wasn’t anything diabolical to the free services shutting down these streams. Because of their size, Facebook and YouTube created AI Bots that search for potentially illegal or unlicensed use of music or videos and they froze those streams. Most church’s channels were reinstated without any issues, but not until after their Easter was long over. A hard lesson was learned…You don’t control Your content distribution on Facebook or YouTube—they do.Test Drive Sermon.net

A small Christian radio station in Oregon learned this hard lesson when YouTube permanently shut down their access to streaming and deleted the 15,000+ videos they had housed there. (read more here: https://www.kdrv.com/content/news/YouTube-takes-down-all-videos-by-local-Christian-media-theDove-574074891.html#:~:text=%E2%80%94%20Thousands%20of%20videos%20posted%20by,violations%20of%20its%20Community%20Guidelines.)

Their “sin” was that they were discussing the election,  COVID-19, and other hot button issues. Whether their discussions were right or wrong, YouTube served notice that THEY were the ultimate decision-makers in what was allowed on their service. 

No one would argue that society continues to careen into the abyss of moral and spiritual relativism so this type of action from a secular organization shouldn’t surprise any Bible-believing Christian. However, the fact that so many churches rely on these secular companies to provide the singular power to their message of the Cross is a recipe for evangelistic disaster.

sermon.net provides every church with their own online studio dashboard, which allows a church to embed the live stream on their church website or own private video domain (see http://belairpres.sermon.net as an example).  

You control your content’s distribution. You self-determine what rights you have in posting your video and/or audio content.  Sermon.net does create bots that police your every action.

Though we provide restreaming to Facebook and YouTube as an evangelism tool, every church SHOULD encourage all congregation members to view their church service on their church website.  

WHY?  Because Facebook and YouTube are:

    1. Built to distract viewers into watching other content
      1. Why would pastors encourage congregation members to go to a site that distracts them from the message? Should ESPN or HBO play on TVs posted in your sanctuary during Sunday service?
    2. Built to Data-mine your viewers
      1. Why would a church willing allow a secular organization to profile, data mine, and then sell products to its own congregation members?
    3. Focused on using a viewer’s viewing habits to entice them to watch other videos.
      1. YouTube and Facebook are masters at getting a viewer’s attention, and if that viewer struggles with inappropriate content, they bring those videos up…often. If a church member is struggling with watching scantily clad women on YouTube, guess which videos will come up the most when they’re on the channel…even when they are listening to your sermon on holiness.  
  • A pastor that only posts church services on Facebook or YouTube for their church members is the equivalent of an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting in a bar while a bartender pushes various drinks in front of them for free.

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Kyle Thompson

As the President at Catalyst Resource Group, Kyle Thompson helps engage an audience of thousands of leaders at churches and other non-profit groups with streaming services and ministry resources. Since 1994, Kyle has worked to bring messages and stories of faith in movies and tv through over 50 feature films and documentaries, including I Can Only Imagine, Breakthrough, Just Mercy, Heaven is for Real, The Passion of The Christ, Fireproof and Hacksaw Ridge.