On many mornings Dalton pastor Brian Branam reads through a Psalm on his back porch with as many as 60 people listening, though he is the only body present.
Branam accomplished this through Periscope. Launched in March, more than a million users signed on for the app that allows live video through your phone. Since then its popularity has continued to grow, as has the number of ways it can be used.
SportsCenter anchors have broadcast pre-show meetings. The Rolling Stones aired a secret concert with it. Reporters have utilized Periscope for subjects ranging from covering press conferences to reporting on the birth of the royal baby. Want to see a music video premier, what happens behind the scenes at Saturday Night Live, or the offices at LifeWay Christian Resources in Nashville? Thanks to Katy Perry, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, and LifeWay president Thom Rainer’s usage of Periscope all three were possible.
At one point people wanting to stream live video from their phone to the world would have been as likely as those three names in the previous sentence appearing together. In technology reality changes at the same pace as possibility, and as with any other advancement Periscope has its potential for sharing the gospel.
“For me, it’s all about delivering the message,” says Branam. “If we constrict ourselves as pastors to one or two sermons a week just from the pulpit, that’s a lot of time and energy you put into it before [the opportunity] is over.”
Branam saw friends of his using Periscope before downloading the app himself. “For a month I didn’t broadcast anything,” he says. I wanted to see how people were using it.”
The uses soon became apparent, he points out. Video clips have the option of being pieced together or edited in some fashion, while the authenticity of live video draws people in.
“It engages a person where they are at that point. You see what they’re doing as they’re doing it. It also takes you places you would think of going, but have never had the chance. I was watching the other night when someone videoed what it was like to control the scoreboard at a San Francisco Giants game. It gets you behind the scenes.”
One of those scenes has been his backyard in Murray County.
“I’ve been talking a lot to our church about praying through Psalms,” Branam says, “and one morning had the thought of reading a Psalm on my porch and praying with people who watched. There can be up to 70 people join in as well as watch a replay of it later (replays are available for 24 hours). That’s larger than any Sunday School class at our church.”
Unlike another very similar app, Meerkat, Periscope works through your Twitter feed and whenever someone you follow on Twitter uses the Periscope app, you get an alert to join in on the broadcast. When making a broadcast, options are available whether or not to allow comments. Private broadcasting to specific parties is also possible.
Both Meerkat and Periscope are available for Apple and Android devices.