By Julie Briestensky
It’s no secret that the emergence of COVID-19 this year has dramatically impacted the way people worship.
Due to health and safety recommendations, including social distancing and self-mandated quarantines, many folks — especially the elderly and the sick — haven’t been able to attend church services as usual. As a result, thousands of churches have explored new ways to stay connected to their communities.
Fortunately, today’s advanced technology affords churches several options for sharing the Word with remote members of their congregations.
One of the most popular means, live streaming, helps make people feel like they’re still able to join in fellowship when they can’t be there in person.
What was once considered a “nice-to-have” technology is quickly becoming a necessity for churches that want to ensure they can continue to deliver their message, come what may.
Though more and more church leaders understand the importance of live streaming, they don’t all know exactly what they need to get up and running.
To many first-time broadcasters, live streaming can seem incredibly technical, complicated, and downright overwhelming. But it doesn’t have to be.
What Your Church Needs to Start Streaming
If your church is new to live streaming, don’t worry — it’s actually pretty easy to get started.
A hardline Internet connection with decent upload speed (minimum 5mbps) is the most reliable way to stream. Make sure to test your Internet connection and your live stream thoroughly before going live to the public.
A single camera is all that’s required to capture your event, but if you want to raise your production value, you can use a feed from a video switcher as well. Your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch also works as a camera.
- Streaming App or Encoder
In order to live stream, you need a way to capture video. If you want to start immediately, you can probably use your smartphone and leverage the camera you already have. Or you can opt to use a hardware encoder.
- Streaming Service (Content Distribution Network)
A dedicated live streaming service allows you to provide your viewers with the best experience possible.
- Online Viewers
Last, but certainly not least, promoting your live stream and informing your church community is vital to ensuring your viewers know where and when to watch your broadcasts.
Focus on Quality and Reliability
With all the live streaming platforms and providers out there, you might not be sure which service is right for your church.
Popular social streaming platforms like Facebook Live and YouTube are free, but they don’t allow their users to have as much control over content as a paid service does.
Free streaming platforms also often interrupt broadcasts with irrelevant and/or inappropriate ads, and they shut down live streams if they suspect any music played within them is unlicensed.
If you’re wondering whether you should pay for streaming, remember that you generally get what you pay for. Consider your need for video quality, stream reliability, viewership potential, and technical support.
Are you interested in being able to schedule your broadcasts in advance, accept tithing, or stream to multiple destinations at once? If these things are important to your church, you may want to consider using a paid, subscription-based streaming service.
Extend Your Reach Beyond the Walls of Your Church
In these uncertain times, people are searching now more than ever for hope and a sense of community.
And it’s become far more common for folks to seek answers online than it is for them to simply walk into your church.
Yes, live streaming helps you strengthen your connection to your existing congregation. But just as importantly, it helps your church reach those who are looking for a new church or a deeper spiritual connection while inviting them into your fellowship.
Julie Briestensky writes for BoxCast, a Cleveland-based live streaming company founded and led by believers. If you’d like to learn more about how BoxCast can help your church start live streaming, click here.