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Like many churches around the world, you may be navigating the complexities of live streaming your services for the first time.

Mike Rhoades | Mar 20, 2020

Like many churches around the world, you may be navigating the complexities of live streaming your services for the first time. Here’s a quick guide to setting up a quality live stream system that will fit your needs and keep your church engaged. 

Live vs. Pre-Recorded

Making the decision to go to video worship services can be challenging. For many of us, we may not have much experience with being on camera and, even more, it might feel a little weird to preach or sing to an empty room. To begin with, you will want to decide whether you would like to do a live or pre-recorded video service. Both are good options but present different strengths. Here are a few things to consider when making the decision between live and pre-recorded services:

  • Pre-Recorded
    • Recording your service or message ahead of time can allow you to edit and reshoot things to present a more polished final product. 
    • It does not depend on a quality wifi signal and ensures that people can view the message/service uninterrupted.
  • Live Streaming
    • Your congregation will feel more connected if it’s live (especially if you interact with them during the stream)
    • Mistakes will happen live! This can be very intimidating for some people, especially musicians.
    • Producing a quality lighting and audio mix will require more specialized equipment to make it look and feel right. However, when done well, it can add to the intimacy and connection of the event. 

After you’ve decided on what format you will use to present the service, it will be time to decide how you will deliver this content to your church family.

Online Viewing Platforms

There are dozens on online platforms for running an effective live stream. When selecting a platform you’ll want to begin with a few basic questions. 

  • What is my budget? 
  • What am I hoping to accomplish with this live stream?
  • Do I want people to be able to interact during the live stream? 
  • Do I want to take prayer requests? 
  • What kind of internet connection do I have? 

By answering these questions you will be able to assemble a live streaming system that will allow your church to stay connected during this season of social distancing.

Church Online: A full-service church online platform that will allow you to host your live stream complete with chat rooms, private prayer chat rooms, moderation, embedded Bible app, analytics, and producer tools. You can even pre-record your service and run it live utilizing the synced viewing feature. While this service is amazing and free, it does require a 3rd party service to handle the storage and streaming of your video.

YouTube: The traditional YouTube live platform comes with a simple, recognizable interface and allows for comments/interaction during the live stream. We’ve included a couple of links to YouTube’s training on how to set up and run a live stream event.

Facebook: In recent years, Facebook has done a lot to improve its live streaming platform. It’s simple, intuitive, provides some basic analytics, and people can interact while the live stream is happening. Your live stream content remains on your feed after the event ends and it all happens right on your main Facebook page, allowing you to continue investing in your community after the live stream ends.

Live Streaming Equipment 

Here is a list of equipment that we know and love for live streaming. We’ve organized a selection of gear to include everything from a cell phone and a tripod to a full-on temporary streaming studio. Depending on budget and your technical skills, there is something for everyone. The important thing is to stick within your comfort zone. (we've included links below)

No matter how your church decides to run worship services in this season, know that everything you put in place now can be helpful in keeping your community connected even after you’re able to restart in-person services. Be creative, stay connected, and know that we are praying for the Church to be a true light for local communities everywhere!

Links:

Special thanks to Alex Asay, Kevin Andres, Jon Rhoades, and Mike Korth for their contributions to this post.


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