Streaming church services live is becoming increasingly 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. A church can now stream its service online for anyone worldwide who might want to watch it. But, like anything else done on the internet, this comes with 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 relatively new, it is growing exponentially in popularity. The biggest benefit to church streaming is that it allows your church members and 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 interested in learning more about your church but aren’t members yet might also turn to church streaming or listening online 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 six church services at your church before deciding to visit your church the first time. So church streaming is a great way to help visitors and church-goers see your church service firsthand without having to decide immediately.
Reaching older generations with live streams.
The church needs 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 50. And live streaming is a great way for them to feel still involved with your church’s programming even if they cannot attend in person.
You can also get nursing homes and assisted care facilities in broadcasting 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 if they truly want to be successful with live streaming.
You may want to live stream daily devotions, bible studies, special church events, and training. 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 your church’s walls 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 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 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 set measurable goals so 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 consider 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 live streaming to make any necessary changes along the way. Church leaders should know what they want to accomplish before 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.
A church can broadcast several different types of content through its live-streaming platform. Some churches use their live stream primarily to offer church services, while others may want to use it for special events or even bible studies.
None of these broadcasts necessarily require a full studio setup, but the type of content your church wants to broadcast will determine what 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 you want to produce, it will be easier 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 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, you will need to plan your broadcasts to 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 they are 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 consider how many people your live-streaming platform will need to accommodate. If you have a small church of 100 or so, then you can probably start with a good camera and video mixer. But suppose your church is a bit bigger, or you want to produce something more of a professional-grade production. In that case, you will probably want to consider a PTZ camera, a box camera, and possibly an auto-tracking camera. You will want 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 buying equipment. This will help ensure you get a good return on investment and 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, this method will probably look amateurish unless you cannot afford to do anything else.
Choosing a camera for shooting video
Choosing the best camera for a live-streaming setup is all about deciding what you want to accomplish. If you want something that can capture testimony messages and church services for those unable to attend, then a smaller camera will probably do just fine.
On the other hand, if you want to create something that looks good and have a larger church with a bigger budget, 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 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 greatly 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, 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.
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. Hardware, however, can be more reliable for live streaming because no external factors could influence it.
If you want something that will grow with your church, go for a hardware switcher that can accommodate multiple cameras. If you want a basic live video stream, 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 live stream your services or events with more shots or speakers, 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 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 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. I recommend vMix.
You will need at least double the upload bandwidth you are live streaming at. For instance, if you live stream at 1.5MB, 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.
Start with a free live-streaming platform and a smartphone if you want to test things out with a beginner’s budget. If you have more of a tech-savvy live stream setup, spend a few bucks on this. You can always upgrade when you see how your congregation interacts with the stream.
Remember that this is not an advertising gimmick; it is a ministry. 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, ensure your setup is ready to go. If you are using a video switcher, ensure everything is connected. If you are doing it all with software, download the one 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 plan to use an external audio mixer, ensure it is connected and working properly before you begin the stream.
Plan exactly what you want to do and how you want it done, including lighting, camera positions, and other important details.
You will need to train your staff on the live video streaming software you have chosen before the stream begins. If they are not familiar with it, they may not be able to help during an emergency. Please ensure you have plenty of time to run through your setup with them before the service begins.
It may take 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. Please make sure 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 will need to decide which streaming platform you will use. There are free and paid platforms, 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, it would be best to think beyond expense in choosing a platform.
Free vs. Paid Platforms
Some free platforms you can use include Facebook Live, YouTube Live, and more. Paid options range from sermon.net to churchstreaming.tv.
Pick the one you want to try first, and consider your values and goals before deciding 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. 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, making it possible for you to go live 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 thing that makes 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 large worldwide audience and is free for everyone. 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]
To own your live streams, you must 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 at Church Tech Today have a great list of church streaming platforms 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
Nothing is worse than realizing that something does not work as you are about to go live. You must give yourself enough time to test everything and ensure 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.
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 simultaneously; that would show your audience you are not ready to stream yet. You can add that stuff later when you know what works and doesn’t.
You should also see if anyone in your community is 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 not be 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, depending 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 not be 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, depending 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. But the most important thing is that you have tried it out to improve 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 will 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 you will 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 answer any questions or feedback people have in the comments section. You can 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 can 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!