February 6, 2010 Tony Morgan

Will Social Media Impact Delayed Messages?

As more and more churches embrace multi-site, one of the first issues that ministries have to wrestle with is whether to invest in technology to deliver messages live or to consider the cheaper (and sometimes more reliable) option of just using a DVD of the message. For those churches that choose the latter and don’t have a Saturday evening service for recording the message, that often means they’re operating on a week-delay at their remote campuses.

Before folks began to embrace social media, the option of week-delay was very viable. In fact, in many respects it could be preferable because you have much more flexibility with the timing of the services and the length of the service elements leading up to the message.

Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on how you view it), social media changes the game. Now folks are sharing thoughts and reactions about their experiences as the services are taking place. People are using Facebook and Twitter to let their friends know what’s happening as the service unfolds. Then it’s not uncommon for someone, possibly even the teaching pastor, to summarize the highlights of the service including the message. That potentially creates a challenge for campuses who won’t be viewing that message for another week.

Ironically, the television networks are wrestling with this same issue. In years past, events like award shows were delayed on the west coast to make sure the programming took place in prime time. With the increase in social media, though, folks on the west coast were seeing the results before the programs were televised. As a result, viewers declined. Christina Warren, a blogger for Mashable, recently wrote:

Social media has only made the need for live programming even more clear. In the old days, web forums or IM chats or liveblogs could give people the play-by-play, but people had to know where to look. Now, live events immediately take over Twitter and Facebook streams. If you don’t want the surprise to be spoiled, you pretty much have to stay off any social network during the live telecast.

So the question is will this same dynamic impact churches? Will the increasing use of social media make week-delayed messages a thing of the past? For those of you who are engaged in multi-site and multi-service settings, have you noticed any negative reaction?

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Tony Morgan

Tony Morgan

Tony is the Chief Strategic Officer and founder of The Unstuck Group. For 14 years, Tony served on the senior leadership teams at West Ridge Church (Dallas, GA), NewSpring Church (Anderson, SC) and Granger Community Church (Granger, IN). He's written several books and articles that have been featured with the Willow Creek Association, Catalyst and Pastors.com.
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