Why You Should Set Up Live Streaming as a Church

Many pastors and church leaders usually believe that they do not have the staff to live stream or that they do not know enough about tech to set up a live broadcast. For others, they believe that live streaming is expensive. All of these are all valid concerns. But they don’t have to stand in the way of your goal to connect with more people. Whether you’re an established church in a fixed location or a young church on the move each week, live streaming is a realistic and attainable strategy for growth. We won’t deny that it will require some initial effort, dedication, and investment (it’s worth it, trust us), but a growing number of churches are finding that what was once considered an endeavor suited only for the technology-inclined  is now well within reach.

“We’ll get to that later. Probably sometime within the next 12 months.” I’ve heard hundreds of pastors respond in a similar way when asked whether or not their church might be interested to start live streaming their services. I’ve kept in touch with many of these men over the years and, in most instances, I’ve come to find that a large majority of them never actually wind up broadcasting their services.
If most of these folks value the idea of sharing their messages online, then why do so many never end up taking the plunge into the world of live streaming? Over time, I’ve discovered that churches who only keep streaming as a vague goal without a specific target date usually wind up in technological limbo due to two irrational fears.

The first fear is centred around the funny belief that “Live streaming is too complicated. The unknown is often scary and sometimes even intimidating. Most pastors spend their time in Bible College and Seminary studying Greek and Hebrew as opposed to taking a course on Video or Church Technology. In light of these realities, beginning to research something like live video streaming can often seem overwhelming and just too difficult. The truth is that many streaming solutions out there on the market are incredibly complex and require a certain level of expertise and prior experience to operate. There are options out there, however, that were designed for church applications both in terms of functionality and simplicity. For example, the average ministry that begins streaming for the first time through Sharefaith typically winds up spending less than 30 minutes on their initial training and setup. Beyond this, the average church using Sharefaith streaming spends less than five minutes a week on managing their stream and live phone support is made available 5 days a week.

The second fear now is the thought that live streaming is too expensive. In a world where most smartphones cost over $500 and the average computer can come at a price upwards of $1,000, most church staffers assume that live streaming must come at an even higher cost. There are a number of streaming options out there that cost anywhere from $400 to $1,000 each month to broadcast online. There are, however, companies who have constructed pricing options that are intended to suit even the smallest ministries. Sharefaith, for instance, is happy to offer a streaming plan to its churches that comes at a lower price than the average family spends on their cell phone bill each month. Through Sharefaith, $99/month will get your church unlimited live and archived HD streaming to your website, app, Facebook account, YouTube page, and even integrate with Apple TV and Roku.

When Is The Best Time?

With every day that passes, our culture is becoming an increasingly video-oriented culture. Churches who have taken action to stream their sermons online have taken hold of a tremendous ministry opportunity to spread God’s Word to a world in great spiritual need. So when is the best time for churches to begin a streaming ministry?

The answer ought not to be vague or so far down the road that it never winds up happening. The reality is that most ministries are technologically and financially ready to stream now, they just don’t know it yet. If you’d like to set up a time to meet with Sharefaith’s Streaming Expert to discuss specifically what it might look like for your ministry to begin broadcasting, you can do so through this link. Thanks for your consideration and happy streaming!

Here is a checklist of live streaming equipment for your church. You simply need to choose the one that better fits your church’s current setup and needs. Whichever one you choose, you’ll have the makings of a video system that gets the job done.

Portable Churches—A Live Streaming Equipment Checklist

Portable churches, or “pop-up” churches, move around from week to week and need a mobile live-streaming strategy. School cafeterias, local theaters, and even coffee shops may all serve as meeting places depending on the day. With the right video production equipment, live streaming can be an effective, low-cost outreach tool that can help broaden your impact and support your community. If you’re interested in live streaming your services, the technology is readily available and simple to use. Below is a list of the equipment you’ll need to get started building a video system for your church. This collection can be easily packed up and moved around, so it’s perfect for churches on the move.

1. A single camera.
A consumer-level video camera like this one is fine for church services. You don’t need to spend $3,000 here; instead, spend $400 or $500 to get a fully functional camcorder that gets the job done and is easy to use. You may be attracted to a model with lots of bells and whistles (if so, go for it!), but all you really need is the camera’s basic functionality to get the broadcast out on the web.

2. A tripod.
It might seem like a pair of fairly steady hands would be sufficient, but that telltale, oh-so-slight shake is what distinguishes an amateur broadcast from a serious one. Buy a tripod and don’t think about it again. This one is lightweight and comes with a carrying case.

3. An encoding device.
To convert your video input into a digital format for playback on various devices, you’ll need an encoding device. For this you have two options: either a hardware encoder or a computer with a software encoder. Opinions vary greatly as to which option is better—and it depends on your needs, as well—but either one will do the trick. With the software option, you’ll also need a capture device—an adapter that goes between the camera and the computer so they can talk to each other.

4. High-speed internet.
Internet access can sometimes be a challenge for mobile churches, but it’s a necessity for live streaming. Options include an ethernet connection, Wi-Fi, a 4G network, or a MiFi device, depending on the venue.

For mobile churches—or even for permanent churches without the time, manpower, or finances to be super technical—this list covers the basic video production equipment needed for a simple, straightforward broadcast.

Brick-&-Mortar Churches—A Live Streaming Equipment Checklist
If your church has a permanent meeting location, you may be in a different situation. Many “brick-and-mortar” churches already have extensive audio equipment and possibly even some in-house video recording equipment as well. If this sounds like your situation, use the following equipment checklist to build a church video system that lends itself to permanent installation and delivers a top-quality live stream.

1. A single professional-level camera or multiple professional-level cameras.
Consider investing in a professional-level camera (or cameras) for a more polished-looking stream. And although a single camera would be sufficient, why not up your game with multiple cameras? Mounted IP cameras (internet protocol cameras) could serve double duty as not only live streaming devices but also security cameras set to record 24/7. Also, one person can control multiple IP cameras simultaneously, making it easy to zoom in and out and pan any camera from a central location.

2. Hardware-based video switching and encoding units.
We recommend a hardware encoder for brick-and-mortars. A TriCaster is the most common hardware option for churches that use multiple cameras. Another choice is Sony’s Anycast, which is a simple touch-screen unit that’s easy for a novice to learn fairly quickly but requires a lot of infrastructure to run properly. Both the TriCaster and the Anycast can be installed permanently in a control room.

3. A way to integrate in-house audio.
Good-quality sound is critical for a professional-quality live stream. If you already have a mixer or speaker system, you’ll need a way to bring that into the feed. A mixer gives you control over volume and tone.

4. A way to integrate in-house graphics into your broadcast.
You’ll also need software to incorporate passages, hymns, or anything else typically shown on a projector. There are various ways to do that depending on your platform, whether it’s hardware or software. For clients using Wirecast, we usually recommend using Desktop Presenter.

5. An internet connection.
Before You Get Started…
That’s all the live streaming equipment you’ll need to get your church up and running. If you’re still feeling less-than-confident about the buying process, we encourage you to work with someone who can guide you through it. Whether it’s with us here at Stretch or someone else, a knowledgeable, objective third party may be all you need to start off on the right foot.

If you’d like to get some honest advice about thevideo production equipment your specific church needsfor live streaming, we’d love to talk. We’ll consider your budget and your goals and figure out a way to make your plan a reality.

It’s our feeling that investing in your equipment is synonymous with investing in your church. You’ll be glad you did.

Why You Need To Start Live Streaming Your Sermons Now
“We’ll get to that later. Probably sometime within the next 12 months.” I’ve heard hundreds of pastors respond in a similar way when asked whether or not their church might be interested to start live streaming their services. I’ve kept in touch with many of these men over the years and,…

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