Conference Room Systems sat down with Timothy of Calvary Chapel Church to learn why he switched from a prosumer camcorder to a PTZOptics Streaming kit and how he has seen his church grow since.
Tell us about your church.
We are Calvary Chapel Blue Ridge located in Blue Ridge, Georgia. If you know anything about Calvary Chapel, it’s kind of a loose confederation of churches, not a denomination.
We started out as just a community church, and then the pastor decided to go forward and join the Calvary Chapel Association. So, they planted in 2010, and it was slow to grow at first. Last year, we had an amazing opportunity to buy a facility that another church had lost. It’s a 30,000-square-foot facility on 21 acres. It’s a blessing to have that kind of facility, so we moved in.
The building is about 10 years old, so we’ve had to make some changes with wiring and the basic infrastructure. It’s been a lot of work, but it’s been fun and we’re growing. We jumped up from about 80 to 150 people. We’re trying to reach that magic 200 mark.
You recently started living streaming. What was your inspiration?
It was really the pastor’s inspiration. He wanted to be able to take the sermons outside the church to reach people that wouldn’t normally come to church or maybe people that are new to the area because this is a popular destination for retirees from Florida and different places. Also to get the word out about the church so people might check it out before they move here or retire here.
We started out with a very basic streaming setup, and it was problematic. Once we saw that it had potential and we wanted to pursue streaming, we went ahead and spent a little bit of money and got better cameras, gear, and a streaming platform to make things better. Once we got everything installed, it’s been a really smooth process.
Can you dive into that a little deeper and tell us about your technology setup?
We have two PTZ 20x SDI cameras, and one of those is a POE model. Then we have the PTZOptics joystick controller that we control them with. We have two 21-inch individual monitors for each camera so we can see what each camera is showing and a 55-inch HDTV. And from there, we feed into a black magic A.T.E.M. switcher. And from there, we go into a box caster encoder.
We haven’t had any downtime or any problems since we got it up. The only problem we had was an Internet problem in the building. We haven’t missed a Sunday stream, and it’s a pretty smooth setup. It’s easy to train volunteers on because we only have two cameras, so that’s not real complicated. We’re hoping to add a third camera, which would be a fixed position, one of the Zcams. That’s our hope within the next month or so.
Did you install it yourself?
Yes, we did. My oldest son has a background in IT, so he’s able to do all of our networking. You know, the cameras, assign the IP addresses, and everything, so we installed it all on a Saturday afternoon. Believe it or not, it took us about maybe three to four hours to install it.
How has live streaming impacted your church?
We have actually seen growth from it. We’ve had people that found us through the live stream. We actually have people that watch us that have never been here that watch us regularly and communicate with us through social media.
So, it’s been great in that aspect, and it serves the purpose that we hoped that it would accomplish. It’s just one of those things where I think in another few years it’s going to almost be a necessity for churches to be able to live stream.
We’ve had members that moved away, and they can still stay as a part of the church. They still support the church and they can watch the service and feel like they’re still here on Sundays. And that’s been a great thing, too.
Do you archive your content so that people could go back and see something if they did miss the livestream?
We do. We leave the full services up for a couple of weeks, and, generally, we go back and cut the worship parts off after about two weeks, just cut it down to the sermon. So, the sermons are archived back a year or so, but we leave the current services to give everybody a chance to watch them.
What advice would you give to other churches that might be looking to get into live streaming?
If I had any advice, it would probably be to buy a system like PTZOptics that’s plug and play where you won’t have a bunch of compatibility issues. We started out by buying a small Prosumer camcorder and an encoder that was just more hassle than money saved.
It seems like if you buy a plug and play system that’s designed to work together, then it’s just an easier install and you get a better product in the end. Sometimes you can waste money on things that you don’t need or don’t know just out of ignorance because you don’t really know what you’re doing.
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