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Streaming church services live is becoming more and more popular, but there are some important things to consider before you start. This guide will explain everything you need to know about church live streaming.
Church live streaming has become a hot topic in the church world as of late. A church can now stream its church service online for anyone around the world who might want to watch it. But, like anything else done on the internet, this comes with its own set of challenges that churches must tackle head-on if they want their efforts to be successful.
This article will break down all of those considerations for you so that your church can make an informed decision on whether or not this is something worth pursuing at your church today!
Benefits of Church Streaming
While church streaming is still a relatively new idea, it is growing exponentially in popularity. The biggest benefit to church streaming is that it allows your church members and church visitors (and even church-goers who don’t attend your church but live nearby) to watch the stream of your church service from anywhere in the world with an internet connection. For church-goers who may not be able to make it on a Sunday morning because of their job, church streaming is a way for them to watch church from home.
People who are interested in learning more about your church but aren’t members yet might also turn to church streaming or listening online as a way to learn more about your services and teaching. So church streaming allows you to broadcast your church’s message into the homes of virtually anyone who wishes they could be there!
Statistics show that Millennials will watch 6 church services at your church before deciding to visit your church the first time. So church streaming is a great way to help church visitors and church-goers see your church service firsthand without having to decide right away.
Reaching older generations with live streams
It is important for the church to be able to minister to the elderly who may be sick or shut-in. Older churchgoers may not be able to attend church as often as church-goers under the age of 50. And live streaming is a great way for them to still feel involved with your church’s programming even if they cannot attend in person.
You can also get nursing homes and assisted care facilities to broadcast your live streams to their residents. This is a great way to get church services in front of churchgoers of all ages.
What should I keep in mind before I start church streaming?
There are a few things leaders should think about before live streaming. One of the most important is that live streams are not just church services. While church services are typically the main focus for live streaming, church organizations should consider adding other options to their church live stream lineup as well if they truly want to be successful with live streaming.
You may want to live stream daily devotions, bible studies, church special events, church training, and more. Live streaming isn’t just a way to broadcast church services – it is also an opportunity for your church to grow its message and ministry by extending its reach outside of the walls of your church and proclaiming Jesus Christ.
Additionally, leaders should be sure that live streaming is right for their church before they start. Not every church is the right church to church stream. And leaders need to think about whether or not live streaming will benefit their church’s entire audience before they dive head-first into it.
Setting realistic expectations and measurable goals
With church live streaming, leaders should make sure they set realistic expectations and goals. Church leaders need to ask themselves “What are we trying to accomplish with church live streaming?” And once they know the answer, they need to be sure to set measurable goals so that they can use live streaming to its fullest potential.
For example, if your church’s main purpose for live streaming is to attract visitors to your worship services, you may want to set a goal of how many visitors you expect to bring into the church by broadcasting the message through live streaming. This way, when it comes time for evaluation, you can see whether or not you met that goal and make alterations if necessary.
Reaching this goal will depend on many factors, including the quality of your live stream, the platform you are using to broadcast your live stream, the quality of your local church website, and much more. But it is important to set measurable goals for your live stream so that you know how effective they are in helping you reach the overall goal of growing your church’s attendance.
If your goal is to reach out to the elderly population of your church, then you will need to offer more than just church services on your live stream. You will also want to think about offering a live worship stream that housebound church members can tune into, along with special prayer services for shut-ins.
Church streaming success is all about setting goals and using the data collected throughout the process of live streaming to make any necessary changes along the way. Church leaders should know what they want to accomplish before they start broadcasting their church live stream. By setting measurable goals, tracking the success of their broadcasts, and making alterations as needed, leaders can be sure that they are getting the most out of their stream.
What do you want to produce?
The first thing that church leaders need to do when they start broadcasting is to think about the kind of content that they want to produce. This will help them determine the right video equipment, the church’s budget, and the resources necessary to complete their broadcasts.
There are a number of different types of content that a church can broadcast through its live streaming platform. Some churches use their live stream primarily to offer church services while other churches may want to use their live stream for special events or even bible studies.
None of these broadcasts necessarily require a full studio setup, but the type of content that your church wants to broadcast will determine what kinds of equipment you need. But whether you are broadcasting sermon messages or bible studies, one thing is certain: running a successful live stream takes work. You can’t just turn on your camera and expect people to tune in.
When you know what kinds of content that you want to produce, then it will be easier for you to know how your church can use live streaming to grow and help others. Church streaming success is all about offering the highest quality video broadcasts that people actually want to see!
How do I create my first live video?
Creating a successful live stream takes more than just buying a new camera. First of all, you will need to plan out your broadcasts so that you have the right equipment and resources to do so.
Remember that your live streams will not be just for you. They are an opportunity to bring people closer to Christ and attract new attendees, so make sure that they are something worth watching.
Choosing the right gear for a church live stream
Now that you have decided to stream your church services, here are some tips for choosing the right equipment.
You will want to think about how many people your live streaming platform will need to accommodate. If you just have a small church of 100 or so, then you can probably start with a good camera and video mixer. But if your church is a bit bigger, or you want to produce something that is more of a professional-grade production, you will probably want to consider a PTZ camera, a box camera, and possibly an auto-tracking camera. You will want a professional stand-alone encoder software and maybe a higher-level video switcher.
Whatever your needs, take the time to think about what you want from your video streaming before you buy equipment for it. This will help ensure that you get a good return on investment and that you have something worthwhile to share with your church community.
Livestream from a smartphone
The simplest and least expensive way to live stream is from your smartphone. All you need to do is log into Facebook Live or Periscope and broadcast directly from your phone.
However, unless you cannot afford to do anything else, this method will probably look amateurish.
Choosing a camera for shooting video
Choosing the best camera for a live streaming setup is all about deciding on what you want to accomplish. If you just want something that can capture testimony messages and church services for those who are unable to attend, then a smaller camera will probably do just fine.
On the other hand, if you want to create something that really looks good and you have a larger community with a bigger budget, then you will probably want to invest in high-quality live streaming cameras.
But keep in mind that the picture quality of your live video is not just determined by the size or type of camera that you use. You will also need to consider lighting quality and how well you can zoom in on the action. The right camera will depend a lot on your overall goals and what you want to do with the video once it is created.
Choosing a video encoder
One thing that many churches forget to take into account when planning their live video productions is the type of encoder they will need. Remember, you want your broadcast to look good. You don’t want it to seem pixelated or blurry, and if it freezes periodically then that isn’t going to make for a very good experience either.
Encoding can be done with hardware or with software. If you don’t want to go through the added expense of buying a new computer or laptop with enough power to handle encoding, then hardware might be right for you. Many live video switchers come with encoders built-in.
Choosing A Video Switcher
Another device that you may need to stream live video is a video switcher. These come in different styles and with varying capabilities—you will need to choose the right one for your purposes.
The main difference between hardware and software video switchers is that the latter is compatible with all computers, while the former requires a specific device in order to work. Hardware, however, can be more reliable for live streaming because there are no external factors that could influence it.
If you want something that will grow with your church then go for a hardware switcher that can accommodate multiple cameras. If you just want a basic live video stream then you don’t even need a switcher at all—you can set up a system to run live broadcasts with only a camera and software on your computer or laptop.
Other equipment to consider
Of course, if you want to be able to live stream your services or events with more shots or speakers, then you will need more than just a camera and an encoder. Here is another item that may come in handy:
Camera controller – A camera controller can help you get more out of your live video stream if the director is not in the same location as the camera. This allows them to adjust different controls remotely, such as white balance and exposure. This is especially helpful when you are using PTZ Cameras which can automatically focus on a certain point of interest.
You will need something to capture the live video from your cameras, encode it, and send it to your website. There are many different software options available, so take some time to do some research before you decide on one.
Some of the best options include Wirecast, Xsplit Broadcaster, OBS Studio, SimpleCast Live!, vMix, and more. OBS is free and Wirecast is pretty expensive. Personally, I recommend vMix.
You will need at least double the upload bandwidth you are live streaming at. For instance, if you are live streaming at 1.5MB then your upload speed should be 3MB. The minimum upload speed to Facebook is 1.5MB. The higher the upload speed, the higher quality of your live stream will be.
How much should I invest in a church live stream?
This isn’t a one-size-fits-all question. How much money you choose to invest depends a lot on your needs and the quality of service that you want to offer.
If you just want to test things out with a beginner budget, then start with a free live streaming platform and a smartphone. If you have more of a tech-savvy live stream setup, spend a few bucks on this. You can always upgrade when you see the way your congregation is interacting with the stream.
Remember that this is not an advertising gimmick, it is a ministry and as such, you should approach it the same way you approach your children’s ministry, worship ministry, or benevolence ministry.
Prepare your setup
Before you begin live streaming, make sure that your whole setup is ready to go. If you are using a video switcher, then make sure that everything is connected. If you are doing it all with software, then download the one that you have decided to use and make sure your computer can support it well enough—if not, consider upgrading.
The ideal location for the camera (for example in the back of the church) should be decided.
If you are planning to use an external audio mixer, make sure it is connected and working properly before you begin the stream.
Plan out exactly what you want to do and how you want it done—this includes lighting, camera positions, and other important details.
You will need to train your staff on the live video streaming software that you have chosen before the stream begins. If they are not familiar with it then they may not be able to help out during an emergency. Make sure that you have plenty of time to run through your setup with them before the service begins.
It may end up taking longer than expected to set everything up—this is more likely if you are using a new piece of equipment or are dealing with some technical difficulties. Make sure that everyone knows how long it will be before the stream begins in case something goes wrong.
Use of Live Streaming Platform
Once you are set up and ready to go, you are going to need to decide which streaming platform you are going to use. There are free and paid platforms out there and depending on your needs and values not all of them might be right for you.
Why Choose a free platform?
The good thing about starting with free services is that you will be able to test things out and see if it is something you want to invest in before spending money. However, you need to think beyond expense in choosing a platform.
Free vs. Paid Platforms
Some of the free platforms that you can use include Facebook Live, YouTube Live, and more. Paid options range from sermon.net to churchstreaming.tv.
Pick the one that you want to try first, consider your values and goals before deciding on which platform is right for you.
YouTube: The ultimate choice for churches all around the world who wish to reach as many people as possible, YouTube has a dedicated section for churches which makes it easy for you to find other churches that are live streaming. Setting up the stream from your YouTube channel is simple, although there are some complicated stages also. It will take you around 45 minutes before your service begins for everything to be set up correctly.
Facebook Live: Facebook is a platform that has become very popular in recent years and one of its best features is Facebook Live. The app is very user-friendly and simple to set up. It only takes a few minutes before the stream begins which makes it possible for you to go live in between sermons in case something urgent arises.
With Facebook Live, you can set up live streaming events from your church’s Facebook page. This is one of the things that make it stand out from the competition since you can set up an event, either public or private, and then post links to that event on your Facebook page. You can also let others know when you are live by tagging them in the comments section.
Facebook has a very large worldwide audience and is free for everyone to use. The best thing about it is that you can target your live streams to be shown to your local community.
Choose a paid platform [recommended]
If you want to own your live streams then you need to buy video hosting. There are many good live streaming platforms out there. I personally use sermon.net. If you only use YouTube or Facebook then you run the risk of them deplatforming you and you losing all of your live streams and hard work. My friends over at Church Tech Today have a great list of church streaming platforms for you to compare services.
Most of the paid services have a way to embed your live stream on your church’s website along with other premium services. This is important for people to know where to view your streams at their convenience. Some even offer free trials.
Test everything out before the church service begins
There is nothing worse than realizing that something does not work as you are about to go live. It is very important that you give yourself enough time to test everything out and make sure it works as expected. Once the stream has begun, you will be unable to stop it without losing people’s interest and attention; they might even leave your site if they cannot see or hear what is happening. You must make sure the stream starts when you are ready for it to start and that when you press stop, everything stops.
Your live streaming platform will have settings that allow you to test your sound, live video, and any screen-sharing features. Check them all before you go live and do not forget to check the comments section as well.
Do a test with one or two of your church members before you go live so that they can tell you if something is wrong or if they have any issues. You might be live streaming but remember there will always be people who cannot see it and will ask questions later, so make sure you can answer them.
Best Practices for Church Livestreaming
Slow and steady growth
Try something simple first to get a feel for it. Do not overwhelm yourself by going live with too many features at the same time, that would show your audience you are not ready to stream yet. You can add that stuff later on when you know what works and what doesn’t.
You should also see if there is anyone in your community already doing this. Maybe you can find a way to collaborate with them and learn from them. It would be good to find someone who has tried it before so you can avoid making their mistakes.
Which parts of the service should you stream?
You can choose to stream the Sunday morning worship service, but it might be not necessary. Most churches always stream the sermon however, music is important too and people love seeing praise and worship through live streaming. You can also stream parts of the Sunday service such as communion or baptisms, but it all depends on what you want to show people.
Make sure you have all the copyright licenses that you need before live streaming anything.
Finally, go live!
Which parts of the Sunday services should you stream?
You can choose to stream the Sunday morning worship services, but it might be not necessary. Most churches always stream the sermon however, music is important too and people love seeing praise and worship through live streaming. You can also stream parts of the service such as communion or baptisms, but it all depends on what you want to show people.
Make sure you have all the copyright licenses that you need before live streaming anything.
Finally, go live!
Once you are ready, go live. You will never know what can happen if you do not try it out. Hopefully, everything goes smoothly and there are no issues to speak of. But the most important thing is that you have tried it out for yourself so you can improve on things before your next Sunday morning service.
Promote the stream to the public
Remember that this needs promotion so everyone knows where they can watch your live stream. Once it is streaming, people are going to ask where they can find it. Make sure you have the link available for them on social media or on your church website. You can even put up flyers around town to let people know.
Also, it is a good idea to let your congregation know that you will be live streaming the service. This way people who cannot make it for whatever reason can still watch it and those who attend do not spoil anything for those watching remotely.
Encourage members to engage
Do not forget to engage your viewers during the service. You can do this by responding to comments or asking people to share with their friends what they saw on the live stream. Make sure you greet your online audience.
Now that the Sunday service is over, make sure you answer any questions or feedback people have in the comments section. You can even create a video with the best bits of the streamed Sunday morning worship service and share it on YouTube if you want.
Now that you have a better understanding of how to begin live streaming church services online, why not try it out? Once it is successful, be sure to let us know all about what happened!