People have been attending church services for ages. You may ask, what is church service? To be closer to god, people choose mediums like singing and praying in church during a service. For many, it’s a routine, and for many, services are an integral part of their lives. It’s a way that Christians across the universe use to be taught the “Word of God” and encouraged in the faith.
For those who believe, the church is not just a place of reverence but also a medium of social connection. It’s the members who come together to make a church and its whole essence.
But what happens when members, for any reason, can’t come to the church?
The modern era has brought so many changes in our lives. Often, it becomes unpredictable for the members to physically attend a service, congregation, or events at the church. Sometimes, due to health or necessary traveling, people can’t attend church.
Even after all kinds of unpredictable situations, what if people still want to attend their church?
We live in an era of super-fast internet and live streaming technologies. Churches all over the world are actively accepting technology as their ultimate medium to spread the word of god across the planet. Many are doing it on massive scales, to be frank.
So how do you do this for your church? how to stream church service to the followers who can’t attend physically?
Be Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or personal websites, churches live stream church services to the followers using prominent platforms that showcase deep audience penetration. While some rely on one of two mediums, many churches broadcast across all possible channels.
What to Keep in Mind
Don’t just follow what others do. To have the best live stream setup for church and increase your online memberships, you need to keep certain things in mind. The best live streaming setup for a church is not about cutting edge technologies and expensive equipment, but more about three important things:
- How much cost the church and the members can afford?
- What do the members feel about the live streaming idea?
- Is a live streaming service the right decision for your church?
Luckily, the cost would not be a big issue, as it varies greatly. You can have a decent live streaming setup for the church at a very low cost.
Something that you need to take care of first is how your church leaders, members, choirs, band members, etc. feel about having the services broadcasted to the public on the internet. It’s mostly about how do they feel about having a camera in front of them. If they are okay with it, you may be good to go.
Finally, the most crucial aspect is the reason for which you are choosing to live stream church services. Are you doing it because most of the churches around you are doing it? Are you doing it because places of worship of all religions these days are doing it?
Live streaming church service just because it is a popular trend is never a good idea. You should choose it only if members find it beneficial and they want to expand the reach of the church. For example, many churches have found to have increased their online donations by up to 70% after they started live streaming church services.
Not all establishments can expect similar results, but if live streaming helps your church fulfill specific goals without putting much of a strain on the budget, you should consider it.
Set Your Expectations Right
It’s standard practice before committing to anything big in your regular course of action, and choosing to stream church services is one such occasion. Before you make even a penny of the investments, you need to first set your goals and expectations to ensure at any point in time that your decision to stream church services is right, or wrong!
For example, you can have small-term goals such as-
- Gaining 50 new members each week
- Acquire 2000 views on each service stream
- Increase online membership by 20% within the first quarter
Or perhaps, you are just looking to improve your church’s hold and engagement with the current members by giving them an option to always stay connected with their native church no matter where they go.
It doesn’t matter what your goals are, you should set them right before you start streaming and proceed with the investments such as, church video equipment, church video production software, live broadcast hardware, a camera for recording church services, and other live streaming equipment.
What You Need for Your Live Streaming Setup
First and foremost is an investment budget. Live streaming church service is not just a responsibility but also a big commitment, as you would be doing it regularly without failing from the first day itself. For that to happen, a regular budget without failing is of utmost importance. Even if you can’t spare much, if you keep that small funding regular, the church can achieve incredible things through live streaming.
Truth is, you can start streaming your church sermons and services free of cost on any social media platform by merely using a decent phone with a decent camera and internet. While it might always be possible to get the best live stream setup for church free of cost, it wouldn’t hurt to start live streaming on free platforms on a trial basis, just to see the effects before investing in a professional live streaming setup.
As per camera for recording church services is concerned, you can begin with an iPhone or get a lower-cost camera. Since the church is a non-profit organization, you may find some brands and businesses that can offer you a free camera. Maybe some of your members can bring-in a decent discount from their circles.
Nevertheless, since the camera is a one-time investment and a crucial part of your live broadcast hardware, it would be a good idea to go for a good quality setup. Investing a few thousand bucks in good audio and video equipment would only make your live streaming setup future-proof.
1. The right camera for recording church services
As I explained, you can use the camera from your iPhone for starters, but in case you want to offer the best experience to online viewers, here a few tips to choose the right camera for your church live streaming setup.
You will come across four major types of cameras when you decide to upgrade from your phone camera setup. You don’t have to choose the most expensive option but the one that is right for your church. Each has its advantages, so choose wisely and according to your budget:
Webcam: Webcams are easier to work for personal live streaming when you are sitting right in front of the camera, but they are not a very good choice to capture an event with so many people. Though, they are the cheapest option after phone camera.
DSLR: A DSLR is generally a perfect choice for photography. To have great results for videos, you might have to invest in a few more extra lenses, which would add to your budget. Since they are portable and come with so many customizable options (lenses and accessories), DSLRs are great for vloggers.
Camcorders: Camcorders are meant for shooting video, and a perfect choice for streaming live videos. If you can spare a few hundred dollars, getting a camcorder with Wi-Fi and HDMI connectivity would the best choice to get the best results.
Action cameras: While action cameras are great for adventure bloggers, they can produce some great results, if the pastor moves around. Here, you can have someone hold the camera and move around with the pastor during the service, and the live-action camera would produce the most stable results.
2. Lighting Setup for live streaming
Even the best camera can’t offer the best visuals without correct lighting. While your church might seem like a well-lit place with the naked eyes, the camera sees and broadcasts the same differently.
To get the best results, you must use three-point lighting, which is a perfect way to avoid shadows and get clear videos. You need to use a combination of-
- a backlight
- a key light in front at a 45-degree angle and
- a fill light in front on another side at a 45-degree angle.
Keep the pastor in the center of the setup, while the camera right in front of him.
If you are using a budget camera, you will not have a built-in encoder. So you would have to purchase a video encoder separately. You choose either a software encoder or a hardware encoder depending on your budget and requirements.
Software encoders are cheaper than hardware encoders, and they are suitable for non-professional broadcasting. You just have to subscribe to an encoder software and pay just for the bandwidth and services you use. There are tons of software encoders you can find on the internet with a simple Google search.
Going for hardware encoders would be an expensive undertaking for a non-profit establishment. However, the choice is yours in the end. Besides, you can always purchase a high-quality camera with a built-in encoder as well.
4. Other live broadcasting hardware you may need
- Tripod- to hold the camera and ensure video stabilization.
- Gimbal- if the camera needs to be moving with the subject.
- Microphone- to ensure good audio quality on the stream.
- Video switcher- if you are using multiple cameras to offer multi-view angles.
- HDMI- to connect the camera to the computer.
- HDMI extender- to extend HDMI cables if required.
Live Streaming Platform for Church
The final step is choosing your live streaming platform. We talked about social media streaming, which you can implement for free on the platform like YouTube and Facebook. However, you can also have your own live streaming website, or integrate live streaming on your existing church website.
You can use Streamchurch, a personalized live streaming solution for churches. Using Streamchurch, you can host live streaming of your services on multiple platforms from a single point. You can broadcast your service on different social media platforms and your church’s website at the same using Streamchurch.
It’s a ready-made solution available at a one-time fee and can be hosted on any web server of your choice. With some simple GUI-based steps, you can install the script on your web server, and set up your own live streaming platform without writing a single line of code by yourself.
While free options like Facebook and YouTube are a good choice for starting on a trial basis, a solution like Streamchurch is all you need to go professional. There is a lot you can do with a customized software solution. Ranging right from streaming live to the members to managing membership, collecting online donations, everything can be managed using a single platform. So choose wisely.