How To Stream Church Services Live: Setup & Equipment
Church live streaming is by no means a new phenomenon. As live streaming becomes increasingly accessible with the introduction of user-friendly live features on social media, more churches are using live streaming as an effective way to gain reach, build an online audience and boost the inclusivity of their congregation. Live video allows those unable to physically attend church the opportunity to tune in and engage, while also opening the service up to those interested in starting their faith journey.
Naturally though, as more churches catch onto the benefits of live streaming their services, the standard of live video has stepped up a notch. There is increased competition making it crucial for churches to offer high-quality and visually appealing streams to generate attention and large audiences. After all, we would all much rather tune into an HD and fast-loading stream than one that’s blurry or buffers.
If your ministry is looking to try their hand at live streaming, it’s important to be clued up on how to stream church services live, including the equipment and setup required.
Church live streaming equipment
A church’s live stream may be the very first thing people see from a certain faith or church, so it’s essential to make sure that your message is clear. One way to do this is by investing in top-quality and reputable equipment. While it may take non-professionals a certain degree of trial and error to master the perfect setup, if you have the right equipment and can offer a high-quality image, your streams will be built on strong foundations.
The ideal equipment for your church is determined by the budget. If you are aiming to keep costs to a minimum, you can even go live using a smartphone and laptop, benefitting from the wide range of software available online for encoding and sharing your streams. If your church plans to live stream on a regular basis though, investing in professional equipment brings many long term benefits when it comes to generating an audience and keeping viewers engaged.
What do you need?
Your computer or laptop will act as the centre point, bringing all your live streaming components together in one place. A Mac or Microsoft computer will do, you just need to make sure it’s reliable and connected to a power source to avoid any unexpected cut-outs.
Video source - camera
The camera you use will depend on the types of content and scale of your streams. You can use anything from a simple web-camera or DSLR to a professional camcorder or action camera for those churches that plan to offer action-packed live videos. It’s best to find a live streaming camera with a solid reputation, that suits your budget and offers a high-quality image for viewers. Keep in mind that the video resolution you offer will determine the bitrate and therefore internet bandwidth required - does your church have an internet connection available?
Audio source - microphone
While your video image is important for generating attention and bringing in viewers, your audio is equally as critical once people have tuned in. No one will stick around to watch a stream with poor quality sound, so it’s best to use external microphones for a reliable and high-quality audio source.
Encoding software or hardware
Encoding software or hardware is in charge of transforming your video and audio feeds into the single stream that is shared online. The hardware option is recommended for its reliability, though if your church’s budget is limited, the software versions can be cheaper and in some cases completely free to use.
Church live streaming setup
Once you’re confident in your church live streaming equipment, you need to create a setup that functions well and looks visually appealing.
Live streaming platform
First things first, your church must decide how and where they want to share their live streams. There are many free ways to go live, with most social platforms now offering ‘live video’ features allowing any user to stream content at the touch of a button. Despite this newfound accessibility, if your church wishes to maintain all the rights to your content and/or host a stream on a webpage as opposed to social media, a dedicated live streaming platform is a more suitable option.
Zidivo offer churches of any size the ability to go live from a wide range of devices on any web-page, whether you choose to stream from your church’s website homepage, or create a designated page for the stream using Zidivo’s webpage builder. Affordable platforms like Zidivo are ideal for churches with restricted budgets, as you can go live as often as you like at a high resolution for as little as £20 per month.
Nailing the lighting in your live streams may take some experimenting and testing, but lighting is key to a successful stream. Live streaming cameras in particular need a decent amount of light to be able to generate a high-quality video image - there’s no good trying to live stream a candle-lit service as it simply won’t work. Provide plenty of lighting in the focus areas of your stream, such as around those conducting the service rather than just the congregation.
The setting of your live stream refers to the main image displayed on the camera. It needs to catch the eye whilst also being easy to watch for a prolonged period of time. Don’t have too much going on in your streams as viewers may tune out halfway through, but at the same time, a lifeless or dull-looking stream won’t attract an audience in the first place.
All the professional live streaming equipment in the world can essentially be a waste of time and money without a suitable internet connection. The bandwidth required is determined by the video resolution and frame rate offered by your camera and audio equipment. These are referred to as audio and video encoding bitrates, which define the amount of data processed in each second. For churches wanting to provide streams in a high resolution like 1920x1080 HD, you will need a stronger and reliable internet connection to support the elevated bitrates. The same goes for your frame rate, whereby the higher your rate, the higher your bandwidth will need to be.
To put it simply, the harder your encoder has to work to transform your video and audio feeds into one high-quality and fast stream, the higher your bitrates will be. To calculate the bandwidth needed by your church, add your audio and video bitrates and times this by two to be on the safe side. Always make sure to test your ministry’s internet connection multiple times prior to going live - you don’t want any last-minute connection issues to impact the success of your streams.
If your church is looking to start using live streams to effectively reach out to existing and potential worshippers, get in touch with Zidivo or start a free 30-day trial today to test the platform out for yourself!