You’ve realized you need to start streaming your church services right away, but don’t know where to start. While video streaming can be a technically involved endeavor, there are some options that make it relatively simple.
To get started, find the category that best describes your situation.
We already stream services
- Hold a live service with no audience
- Reuse previous services
- Repackage segments from multiple previous services
- Reuse some segments from previous services and include new content such as a sermon
We record our services but don’t stream them:
- Purchase a capture device to convert and transfer a video signal to a computer, which can then be used to send the video to a streaming provider. One example is a Blackmagic Design UltraStudio Mini.
- Purchase a streaming appliance to convert a video signal and send it directly to a streaming provider. One option is the Teradek Vidiu
- Upload an existing service to platforms such as YouTube or Facebook
- See We already stream services above for additional content ideas
I want to stream but don’t have the equipment:
- Start simple and purchase the basic equipment including a camera, streaming appliance or capture device, and appropriate computer.
- Invest in a simple, single camera setup that can record and stream
- IE: Mevo Camera: Uses one super high resolution camera which can be set to act as multiple cameras. The Mevo is controlled through a phone or tablet app
- Remember the audio. People will watch a bad video if the message is worthwhile, but will stop watching if they can’t hear clearly and understand what is being said.
I want to use video but don’t have the equipment or team:
- Use the camera in your computer, tablet, or phone to record a video or stream
- If possible, use a dedicated microphone to capture better audio. Some examples include:
- Blue Yeti
- Rode NT-USB
- While the price of these are around $100-$200, the typical cost for a decent microphone for church is around $100. See the next point on why a good microphone is important.
- Prioritize audio. People will continue watching a good message, even if the video quality suffers. The reverse is typically not true.
Streaming Platforms are the backbone of a live stream. There are many considerations when it comes to choosing the best platform. With free options now available, this adds to the selection, and we all know how churches like the word free. However, there are some considerations to be aware of.
- Unless you direct people to your YouTube page, each video has a unique link. This means that if you want to embed the video on your church website or share a direct link to the livestream, you have to update the link every time you start a new livestream.
- For music, even if you have the rights to stream the music, you may receive a notice from YouTube that you are in violation and they may stop the livestream.
- For music, as with YouTube, even if you have the rights to stream the music, you may receive a notice from Facebook that you are in violation and they may stop the livestream. When the stream is archived on your Facebook page, the audio from any music segments may be removed.
- Facebook Live can only be viewed on Facebook. This may leave some people without a way to watch. Also, those with Apple TV, Roku, or similar services won’t be able to watch it on their TV like they could with other streaming providers.
With all of today’s tools, it is easy to share and use content from a variety of sources. However, just because you have access to content doesn’t mean you can stream it for free. Legally speaking, streaming is considered a form of broadcasting, and the appropriate rights need to be in place prior to streaming copyrighted material.
Streaming your church services does require planning and a little extra work to setup, but it can also provide new opportunities. Not only can it extend the reach of your weekly services, it can also be invaluable when members are unable to attend your weekly services. Second, it provides new opportunities for members to be involved in the church. When you are looking for people who can help in this area, consider a young person. There’s a good chance they are already comfortable using the technology, and with a little leadership they can be a valuable resource in turning this initiative into a reality.
* The Southern Tidings or Southern Union Conference does not endorse any products or services mentioned in this article. Churches and individuals should evaluate each product or service for themselves. The options presented are not exhaustive and are only provided to help readers know about some the options available.