By Donnie Brawner

Digital Expectations Are Higher Than Ever

2020 was a tipping point for digital communication and 2021 has accelerated it. Organizations had to evolve to find ways to do business online and now the next wave of digital transformation is before us. If we want to be valued by our audiences, we must find ways to improve connection and engagement.

The only way to do this is to provide more relevant experiences by elevating digital content. If digital transformation isn’t part of an organization’s 2022 plan, they will lose out on relationship building with their audience. If digital transformation is a priority, they have the potential to grow their audience.

Online Content Reaches People in a New Way

Several key areas have created challenges during the shift to online content. One of the most glaring changes was the lack of face-to-face engagement. Services just weren’t the same digitally as they were in person. Another factor was accommodating many different usage needs. Digital communication isn’t one-size-fits-all, so adjustments have to be made for each audience.

In many ways, Covid has given churches permission to reach people in a new way, by entering their home through their devices before people ever step a foot in the door of a church. Despite the challenges, it is a unique opportunity to share an organization’s mission in a medium that is more convenient.

Many are predicting that the future of church will be forever changed by Covid. We could see a hybrid between macro-large-group gatherings and micro-small-group gatherings. Some people may prefer church online. The data shows that almost 60% of Gen Z and Millennials would rather continue at-home worship vs. in-person worship when Covid is over. It’s a number that should get church leaders’ attention.

How digital studios can be used for church media:

  • Post-service connections for anyone watching online
  • Kids ministry lessons with green screens
  • Introduction to new worship songs
  • Weekly announcements
  • Studios can be used to deliver the message to micro-campus or sending content to a second campus
  • Ancillary ministries such as schools within the church, fundraisers, panel discussions, church board meetings

Strategically Engage Your Audience

A recent study by The Unstuck Group indicated 80% of church leaders don’t have a well-defined digital strategy to engage with people who are outside the church and outside the faith. It’s about rethinking the approach while maintaining the mission.

As church leaders shift their focus to digital, they also need to shift their budgets. If the way to connect and engage with your audience is through digital, then you need to allocate time, staffing, money and focus on this, just as you would any in-person ministry. And we are seeing churches do this. They are rethinking their spaces to create mix-use areas for broadcast studios that can be used as recording studios. These broadcast studios are helping churches create relevant content for diverse audiences, well beyond the Sunday sermon.

Higher quality content results in better engagement, longer video views, a greater connection to the church body. It actually becomes possible to build relationships with the online community by creating content that is created with them in mind.

Other Benefits of a Studio Space

The other residual benefit for the church is many businesses could use a studio for one thing or another. This creates more opportunity for churches to offset some of the expenses of the studios by offering the studio for rent to local businesses, universities and other non-profits. The ROI is there in so many ways.

The big takeaway is church is being done differently now and 60% of the younger generations may never step back into a church, yet 80% of church leaders don’t have a robust digital strategy. To create a relevant experience, churches must prioritize their online services and deliver higher quality content that connects. This requires an investment in digital content and a focus on building that audience. We are seeing broadcast studios as a strategy for delivering more relevant encounters.

Donnie Brawner is the founder, owner and CEO of Paragon 360, a design leader in church space design. With over 30 years’ experience, he has been involved in over 1,000 projects including some of the largest churches in the country. He has created a turn-key, holistic design approach with a focus on environment creation and unparalleled customer service that has been the centerpiece of the Paragon 360™ business model for over 20 years.

As seen in our December 2021 issue

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