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Livestream...Is It Live?
By James Lawrence - April 4, 2014

The Rock has been live streaming Sunday for three years, and in my opinion, we provide one of the best online church experiences around.

One of the main questions people ask when they login to the Rock’s online chat is, “Is this really live?” With the remote exception, the answer is “yes!” What is it about the live experience that compels us to watch? From a technical standpoint, live streaming church is a lot more difficult than recording and playing back after postproduction processing. But people like it live. They almost demand a live experience!

When we decided to go live, it just seemed like the right thing to do. The Rock often changes things up from one service to another and why not allow the online viewers to participate in that experience? While the realities of live streaming can prove to be ulcer inducing (things don’t always work in real-time), the resulting experience is authentic and somehow feels more “real.”

Do we grow up and stop live streaming Sunday, or do we continue to push the limits on what live Internet broadcast can be?

In the fall of this year we will launch the Rock's version of Online Church, and I'm willing to say it's going to be amazing.

In addition to presenting the Sunday message multiple times daily throughout the week, we’ll also have live programming and video on demand content that will inspire you and blow your mind.

About 18 months ago I asked our LiveStream audience if they would be happy with a simulated live product. After all most churches don't really LiveStream Sunday; they record it and play it back so that it "feels" live. The response was overwhelming. Now, that we're ready to make the jump to hyperspace, I'm going to ask that question once again.

I've always been fascinated with the risks and rewards of live programming and now we have to make that call. Do we grow up and stop live streaming Sunday, or do we continue to push the limits on what live Internet broadcast can be? There's a strong case to be made on both sides.

So, should we continue to stream live on Sunday or migrate to a “simulated live” format like most large/online churches? Does it matter?

You tell me…

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James Lawrence
James Lawrence was the Executive Pastor of Technology and Innovation and led the Rock’s Executive Leadership Team. He is a pastor, technology entrepreneur, and product designer, living at the intersection of technology forces and Kingdom forces.
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