How are you preparing for the potentially most-attended holiday service of the year?
According to Lifeway Research, half of U.S. pastors (48%) say Christmas Eve is their most-attended church service of the holiday season. Only 26% say their most attended service is the third Sunday of December, which is traditionally the Sunday before Christmas. This year, in 2023, the calendar has aligned in such a way that Christmas Eve falls on a Sunday, meaning your holiday services could get a super-sized boost in attendance.
To celebrate the season, delight their congregants, and capture the attention of visitors, many churches plan special programs and events for the holidays—like Nativity plays or candlelight services—that require a lot of pre-production and planning prior to execution.
Preparing yourself and your team beforehand can go a long way in mitigating (and avoiding) any serious mishaps or potential missteps . In this blog post, we’ll share 7 essential tips for an unforgettable Christmas Eve livestream.
Develop a comprehensive run-of-show checklist and schedule
We know it sounds old-fashioned, but writing something down is often the best place to start. A run-of-show list—sometimes referred to as a “run sheet” or “cue sheet”—is a living document that outlines every minute of an event from start to finish.
More than a schedule, however, a run-of-show sheet should also include a breakdown of the necessary equipment and the names of those responsible for each aspect of the production. The earlier you start on your run-of-show sheet for the Christmas Eve service the better, as you can always fill in or adapt as necessary any changes or specifics as the day approaches.
One of the great things about using Resi to stream your Christmas Eve service is our “set it and forget it” capabilities, meaning that, as long as there’s power, internet, and a video signal into a Resi encoder, all you have to do is schedule the livestream and you’re good to go. Just one less thing to worry about on the big day.
Organize and confirm your Christmas Eve volunteer core
As anyone who works in ministry knows, your busiest seasons tend to be the weekends when your staff and volunteers are most likely to take vacation or time off—and Christmas is no different.
That’s why it’s absolutely vital to nail down who will be available to work the Christmas Eve service weeks in advance. So, contact your staff and volunteer teams to see if anyone has any holiday plans and won’t be present on this day. Some people might have family coming in and will want to participate in the service rather than help run it behind the scenes. The last thing you need to be dealing with before your biggest services of the year is last-minute cancellations or drop-outs that’ll lead to frantic scrambling, phone calls, and overloaded volunteers.
Regardless, it’s essential to know who’s going to be available and to assign (or rearrange) responsibility as needed. And then, fill in that information on your run-of-show sheet.
Conduct a complete audit on your livestream equipment
Christmas services come with a lot of expectations. And some of those expectations come from church leadership and flow down to the media team. As we said above, Christmas Eve has the potential to be your church’s biggest in-person attendance service and the most viewed online service of the year.
First, you’re going to want to make sure you have all the proper equipment and systems in place to meet the lead pastor’s vision, and if not, you may need to upgrade your setup—or adjust expectations accordingly. However, while we don’t recommend testing a bunch of new equipment over the holidays, a Christmas Eve service could be a great opportunity to showcase new production features as a launching pad into the new year.
Additionally, instead of navigating last-minute technical glitches and hiccups, you should prioritize a proactive survey of all equipment being used to ensure that it’s working properly and up-to-date with any software or firmware updates.Need a little bit of help conducting that tech audit (or convincing your pastor you need to upgrade the current setup)? We highly recommend you check out our ebook, “A Comprehensive Guide to the Best Church Streaming Equipment.” You can download it for free here.
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Ensure Wi-Fi network reliability
Bigger attendance means more stress on your local wi-fi network, which means internet speeds and communications between production crew and volunteers could suffer—especially if you’re adding additional elements not typically used during a weekend service. Even if your church has a guest wi-fi network, temporarily restricting access to it could go a long way in freeing up some bandwidth during your Christmas Eve service.
Your biggest concern, however, will be ensuring a stable livestream connection. There’s nothing more aggravating than trying to watch a video online that’s blurry, out-of-sync, and constantly in need of buffering. Unfortunately, you don’t have any control of the internet quality in the homes of the people streaming your content online. Thankfully, Resi has you covered. Our patented Resilient Streaming Protocol (RSP) technology fully protects against video and audio loss during transmission—meaning you don’t have to worry about an unpredictable network on either end of the stream.
Make your livestream easy to find and access
Like the tree falling in the woods, if you have a great livestream setup but don’t let anyone know about it, then don’t be surprised when no one joins it come showtime.
That’s why it’s absolutely vital to make finding and accessing your livestream as easy as possible. If you’re going to do a direct mail campaign in your community, then include a QR code that links directly to the stream. Do the same on your social media channels, and place a can’t-miss banner on your church website. It should be incredibly clear to anyone who’s remotely curious about joining your livestream during the holiday how to do so. One easy way to do this is via Resi On Demand’s new feature, Media Sites, which allows for the creation and integration of your church’s content into a stand-alone personalized website or directly into your church’s current website.
Automate your post-production process
You and your team pour a lot of effort into producing a high-quality Christmas Eve service and what happens to it afterward? Because of the holiday schedule, it’s likely it won’t be uploaded to your website until next week—far after its relevance has passed. No one wants to be staying up late on Christmas Eve (or coming into the office on Christmas Day) to ensure the service has been fully produced and available for on-demand viewing. Thankfully, with our brand new product, Resi On Demand, you can easily utilize our Autosave to Library feature, you can automatically upload your livestream to your library as it’s streaming, so, by the time your livestream comes to a close, your content is instantly ready to post or share from your library.
These time-saving advantages extend beyond the holidays, as well—meaning your tech team will save hours of tedious work every single week.
Formalize your follow-up strategy for visitors
Despite the secularization of North America, attending a Christmas service during the holidays is still something many people place a high priority on—even people who don’t normally attend church. Another Lifeway Research study found that 61% of Americans at least plan on attending a church service around Christmastime, and—perhaps most importantly—57% of people who seldom or rarely attend church would go to a holiday service if invited by a friend or family member.
As we said in the introduction, your church is likely to see a big boost in attendance (both in-person and via livestream) over the holidays, and while it’s good to prepare for that influx, it’s more important to have a plan for what comes after the holidays. Obviously, you don’t want your visitors to remain visitors, but how are you going to motivate them to view church attendance as more than a seasonal checkbox?
This is why it’s so important to develop some clear “next steps” for both in-person attendees and livestream viewers. If not, your visitors will scatter to the wind at the end of the service, meaning your church will miss out on one of its biggest outreach opportunities of the year. We recommend including a segment of the service specifically designed to welcome visitors (Note: Never ever shame or even joke about people only coming to church on Christmas or Easter.
Simply express gratitude that they chose to include your church in their observation of the holidays). An easy way to encourage future participation would be to have a contact form they can access via a QR code or short vanity URL so you can let them know about any special upcoming events, sermon series, or small group opportunities. The important fact is to leave them with a clear path forward if they want to become more engaged with your church.
Streamline Your Christmas Eve celebration with Resi
Want to learn more about how Resi can improve your church’s livestream and on-demand experience in time for Christmas? Schedule a quick demo with one of our streaming experts to see our platform in action.