As the Coronavirus is spreading in pandemic proportions, governments across the world are taking strict measures to ensure that people stay inside their homes. To stop the spread of COVID-19, all social gatherings have come to a halt.
It is becoming increasingly vital to practice social distancing. COVID-19 has spread unpredictably and there seems to be no concrete news about when it might subside. What is becoming equally important, is to get through this as normally as possible.
The best way to get through this outbreak is to personally follow all preventive methods and collectively, continue with our businesses as usual.
At this stage, one of the important messages may be of reassurance and keeping faith. This is why most organizations, including religious organizations, nonprofits, and churches must continue their practices by bringing their services and gatherings online.
We have put together a comprehensive guide on how to bring your church services to stream online.
Live Streaming involves using a camera to record and broadcast a live event online. By live streaming your service, you will be reaching out to church members who are staying safe at their homes from COVID-19. Now more than ever, faith/hope/love is needed for those who are impacted by the virus and families of those who are suffering.
Here’s what you need to live stream your Church/ Religious Service:
- Reliable internet connection: This can be through your home/office internet service provider, hotspot, or cellular data plan. You need a good upload speed since you will be uploading your service in real-time to your audience. Many service’s system minimum requirements are around 6 Megabits per second. To check your device upload speed, go to Speedtest.net
- Computer: It is essential to have a laptop/computer that will be used as the central hub for streaming. This can be a desktop or laptop. For simpler streaming set up, you can use a cell phone or tablet.
- Device to capture video: this can be a DSLR or camcorder, computer with a webcam, tablet, or mobile device. Using a tripod will be useful to stabilize your video shot, this will keep the camera in a fixed position to avoid the camera shaking.
- Good lighting: Your place of worship should be well lit. It should not be too bright or too dim, but balanced lighting that makes your service visible to your online viewers.
- Live Streaming platform: a functional and easy live streaming platform from the plethora of options available today.
- Online donation system: an easy online donation system can make sure your church continues its fundraising, learn more on how to set-up an online fundraising channel for your church.
Live Streaming Services for Your Churches and Religious Organizations
Free live streaming options for religious organizations:
Facebook Live : Facebook Live is an excellent platform to connect with your church’s congregation and also reach out to more members.
Instagram Live : Instagram live offers an easy way to take your church service online, joined by your church members remotely. This can be especially useful if your church is already present on Instagram.
Zoom : Zoom is an increasingly popular video conferencing platform. It is free to start with and can be ideal for church meetings, bible studies, and worship.
Paid Live Streaming options for religious organizations:
Vimeo/Livestream : This platform includes unlimited bandwidth, and starts at $75/month
YouNow : YouNow is a live broadcasting platform (an app and website). YouNow is used to stream your own live broadcast or watch content produced by others. The service is available on its website, on Android and iOS apps.
Dacast : Storage with Dacast starts at 20 GB for $19/month. They also have custom plans, Dacast uses the Akamai CDN, the largest global platform on the market.
TruthCasting : TruthCasting is a paid live streaming platform. Their pricing is based on the number of our congregation members.
More paid live streaming for churches:
Boxcast : Boxcast is a useful platform that can be used to Livestream your Sunday services. You can try it for free before purchasing at $99 per month.
Christian World Media : Christian World Media has a dedicated channel that broadcasts content from its website in the form of live and on-demand Church sermons or meetings. They also offer a prayer request websites plugin.
StreamingChurch.TV : It is one of the more popular platforms for Church live streaming. The platform is priced at $79 per month.
Worshipchannels : Worshipchannels is an easy online tool for live streaming. The platform is reliable, with many features. They are priced at $99 per month and also offer custom plans.
Best Practices for Live Streaming Your Services
As important as it is to choose the right tool and technical set-up to Livestream your church service, here are some practices you must take into account.
Promote your broadcast in advance
You must inform your church members about your church service going online. Information regarding the time, platform/link, duration needs to be shared beforehand. You must promote it on your social media or website and let your audience know how to join the broadcast. If this is a new practice, an email announcement can be useful, this can be followed by updates via social media.
Make sure to test
It is important to test your live stream setup before going live. Testing multiple times will bring out any possible glitches and you can fix this, avoiding technical slip-ups at the actual live stream. Make sure your live stream is working across all devices, ipads, mobile devices, etc. Common glitches such as the audio and picture not being in sync can be fixed at this stage.
Include your online audience
As in regular church sermons, an online live stream must also include a welcome message for your viewers. You can also use the Livestream broadcast to inform the members to join upcoming church services and other church events that you might be taking online. One on one interaction with the audience is also possible online, be sure to test this beforehand and include it in the final live streaming.
Get close-up shots
Getting close-up shots of the service improves visibility and increases viewership. Be sure to focus on close-ups during the service and make the most of the high-quality production being live-streamed. Some live streams without close-up shots tend to lose their audience as they appear less engaging.
Pro tip: Online live streaming means you must take your church fundraising online as well. You can raise donations online by adding a simple online fundraising form or button to your website and share the link during your Livestream.
Pro tip: Do not hesitate to ask your church members to inform their friends and family to join, this will help increase your church’s reach beyond your congregation.
Some Bonus Tips
- Consider conducting Online Bible Studies. Your bible studies can be easily moved online in small groups. In this challenging period of the Covid-19 pandemic, families of those impacted might benefit from closed group studies and interaction. You can consider allowing on-demand bible studies scheduled especially during these times.
- For live streaming, Slingstudio is an all-in-one (hardware and software) solution. It is wireless and produces high-quality video content. With a number of useful features, Slingshot is widely used for live streaming on Facebook and Youtube.
- Pre-recorded services are great to ensure your congregation connects regularly, especially if there are not many one on one interactions during your church services.
- Sermon Podcast Many households or families like to listen to sermons while doing daily chores and activities. With the change of lifestyle due to Covid-19 spread, this is likely to catch on if your church provides sermons on a podcast. Make it a point to inform your church members that your church will make sermons regularly available on podcast.
- Use a wireless microphone. Evaluate the complexity of your video requirements (multiple cameras, switching cameras for different views, etc.), and use a wireless microphone to get clear audio from those speaking.
As all organizations adapt to do things differently in the times of COVID-19, religious organizations- churches, mosques, temples, synagogues must adapt likewise to help keep the spirits of all worshippers alive and hopeful in these trying times.
Examples of religious organizations who are doing live streaming:
- Lakewood Church with Pastor Joel Olsteen leads his service during the COVID-19 crisis in Houston, Texas with live streaming available to its members using different outlets for showing its content.
- Brown Line Church with Pastor Vince Brackett & Kyle Halawalt utilizes Zoom to meet with its parishioners Monday morning.
- Temple Israel of Sharon has a comprehensive list of online resources for its viewers during the COVID-19 lockdown.
What can you do?
- Add a powerful and uplifting message periodically. Your viewers will learn valuable insights regularly and will come back to learn more. Examples from real-life can be very helpful, especially in the time of widespread suffering caused by coronavirus. Teach your viewers how they can cope with the grief and panic in these times. This can also encourage devoted viewers to share the messages with their close ones, helping your church reach more people while adding value to their lives. Lakewoord Church adds weekly messages on its website and makes all videos available to the people.
- Share your live stream schedule online. Make sure your schedule is perfectly visible on your website or channel. Add links to your live stream platforms clearly. Encourage the viewers to not miss the Sunday service. Temple Israel hosts cyber-synagogue, with a clear schedule of each day’s events.
- Make sure to add a donate button on your website. With increased online viewership, many worshipers may want to donate. Learn and incorporate ideas from tips on increasing online fundraising.
- Hold special meetings during Covid-19 and make it prominently visible on your website at the top. Add a message inviting all to join virtually.
- Offer special group service, prayer during these times. Create a special schedule for these meetings. This can be a safe space for people directly impacted by coronavirus. Use Zoom to hold these meetings.
Over To You
Time is of the essence during this pandemic. It’s possible that purchasing expensive equipment to create the “perfect” stream might be difficult. There may be mistakes when you first stream. Have an open line of communication with your viewership and tell them this may be your first time streaming and to be patient while you work out the kinks. Not only will this build a connection with your audience, but it will show a side that we are all in this together.
Remind your viewers that to keep the ministry alive, it is greatly appreciated that they consider donating to the church.
Donorbox offers a simple to use donation platform that can be set up in less than an hour that has robust capabilities like giving your donors 6 different payment methods to pay with (Apple/Google Pay, Debit/Credit Card, PayPal, ACH), instantly emailed donation receipts and customizable donation form builder.