Regardless of how you feel about Google+ and it’s impact (or lack thereof) on social media, there is one major feature that has captured the attention of Google+ fanatics and everyone else, that feature is Google Hangouts on Air. Google hangouts are an enhanced version of video chat with up to 10 people simultaneously participating in a video chat. The add on features such as integrating YouTube videos, Google docs or screen sharing have only made Google hangouts even more attractive to people. When thinking about Google+ hangouts the closest comparison is Skype and it’s easy to use video chat features. Unlike Skype, Google+ hangouts have the capability to be broadcast live via YouTube to an unlimited number of people, this feature alone makes Google+ an amazing tool for webinars and online broadcasts. Another great benefit is the seamless mobile device integration so that whether a participant is on a laptop, desktop or mobile device, they can participate in the Google+ Hangout.
The question is how can Google+ hangouts be used for churches, well i’m glad you asked. Here are 5 ways to use Google Hangouts on Air for Church:
Stream your sermons or bible study live and record it on YouTube. This feature is built into Google+ Hangouts on Air, it’s a great showcase of how Google is merging all of their properties to work together.
Have an interactive Bible Study or Ministry meetings that can also be recorded for record keeping purposes. Similar to the example above, you can have a pastor or church leader lead a meeting/bible study and broadcast it via Google+ Hangouts on Air and YouTube. If you like you can have up to 10 people who can actually interact with the pastor during this broadcast in addition to watching.
Have interactive Counseling sessions. This option may not need to broadcast or recorded but if the pastor or counselor is at the church and the person(s) needing counseling are somewhere else, they can conduct an online counseling session using Google+ hangouts.
Broadcast special events such as conference previews, webinars and online trainings. This is a great marketing option for people to participate in online. A good example is where a pastor can call on a few of his colleagues and they talk about a theological topic or an upcoming conference they are participating in. This online event can be broadcast live using Google+ hangouts and YouTube, then recorded as well. The MP4 file that YouTube creates can then be downloaded or shared on other social networks such as Google+, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.
Podcasts done quickly and easily. Similar to the option above, with the MP4 file that is created from a Google+ hangout and YouTube, it can be uploaded to iTunes as a podcast and distributed in that manner. Even if you want to do a broadcast by yourself, you can record yourself using Google+ hangouts and take the MP4 file that will be created on YouTube and distribute it as a podcast.
Overall, Google+ Hangouts on Air along with YouTube have a great opportunity to become a great online tool. I cannot explain how much fun I think Google+ Hangouts on Air are and how much impact they could have in changing how online training, communication and videos are done.