This is a crazy time. With fear and anxiety spreading faster than ever, we need to spread the gospel and care for people like never before. People are looking for hope. AW Tozer puts it this way:
The social distancing recommendations make this challenging as most of our strategies are about bringing people together. We need to get creative in how we care for people during this time. Technology is our greatest ally right now. We are able to spread hope and love across the globe from within our homes through the use of live streaming, Facebook live, phone calls, emails, etc. We have to ability to reach people who may never have stepped through the doors of a church. Let’s be the fearless Church that brings Jesus to people right where they are during this time of crisis.
I want to share with you some resources that we have found helpful and are using at Radiant. Feel free to reach out with any questions or let us know what you are doing. We want to support and help you during this time. I am praying for you, your family and your church.
Video Calls (Conference Calls)
As a church staff we are using ZOOM.
- There is a free option that allows for up to 1 hour of streaming from your phone or computer. www.zoom.us.
- This is also a great way for you to have leadership meetings.
This idea can be overwhelming, but it is actually very simple. This doesn’t need to be anything fancy. People are looking for someone who cares and a community to connect to. The key is to make your service personal and interactive. Have a team of people interacting in the comments on the video. Talk directly to the audience, ask them questions they can respond to.
There are many different platforms you can use to live stream your services. At Radiant, we use Living As One to stream to YouTube, Facebook and our website.
Technology can be unpredictable and with everyone trying to live stream services, it could cause a lot of streaming problems. You should have a back up plan. Pre-record your service (even on an IPHONE) and have it loaded onto a platform, such as YouTube or Vimeo. This way if the live stream crashes, people can still experience the service on demand.
Streaming for Churches
There are a couple EASY ways to stream.
Streaming on Facebook LIVE
Your church should have a Facebook page. If they don’t you can create one HERE: https://www.facebook.com/business/pages
- Once you have a page, make sure you let the people in your church know about it.
- With your Church facebook page, or your personal page, you can facebook LIVE the service. You do this the same way you would post a picture, but instead of a picture you click “Live Video”. Label the service with the DATE and title “Sunday Morning, March 22, 2020”
- This is key: have someone interacting with people on comments! This creates community. People need that community.
- When you talk about giving, make sure someone post the giving link on your facebook for people to give.
For more tips about facebook live. Click HERE: https://www.resourceumc.org/en/content/4-ways-to-use-facebook-live-at-church-go-beyond-the-worship-service
Geek Devotions created a video with 3 essential tips every Pastor needs before they go live this Sunday! You can check it out here: https://www.facebook.com/GeekDevotions/videos/1105365799839508/
More Advanced Streaming (To go on youtube, or website):
You will need equipment beyond your phone for this step. Here is a basic breakdown of what you need as you navigate this for your church. Normally people start with the camera and work their way through, but I want to start at the end goal and work backward as the end goal ultimately determines a lot.
Platforms or Services
Where do you want to stream? The easy answer is Facebook, but we don’t want to limit ourselves to one platform. Using multiple platforms can help reach different audiences. Using https://churchonlineplatform.com/ will give you a quick web page with lots of features. Youtube is a great platform as well since many people know it.
If you want to stream to multiple places you will need a way to encode the video. With a service like https://livestream.com/ (purchased a couple years ago by vimeo.com) They have their own software that can be very useful. You can use a software called WireCast, it will allow you to stream to a number of services all at the same time as long as your computer can handle the processing. If you want a free open source option for software Open Broadcaster Software (OBS) is easy to get started and free is cheap.
Stand Alone Capture Device
If you don’t have a computer to use sometimes it is cheaper to go with an all in one box. Teradeck makes a couple all in one boxes for streaming to the internet. AJA has the HELO that is similar. You can plug your video in and then go straight to your platform with it. They are simple to use once they are setup.
Computer Capture Device
You can’t just plug a camera in to the HDMI port on your computer. That HDMI port is an output not an input. There are a number of options to add inputs to your computer, Best Buy even sells some HDMI capture cards and external devices if you need to go buy one off the shelf. If you can order them, I would recommend ordering a Blackmagic Design UltraStudio Mini Recorder. It is thunderbolt 2 but works with a thunderbolt 2 to 3 adapter if needed. Another option would be to order a Blackmagic Design Web Presenter. It basically turns any inputs in to a webcam on your computer. https://www.blackmagicdesign.com/products/blackmagicwebpresenter This is great because it also allows for a direct audio input. The Blackmagic Design ATEM Mini also can go directly into your computer and adds the feature of being able to mix multiple cameras or inputs with a surface.
Video & Audio
Any cameras can work. Depending on what your church budget is you can spend as little as possible on the camera. The major feature you will need is an HDMI output on the cheap end or an SDI output if you go more expensive. *Don’t spend all your money on the camera* Audio is often overlooked initially; you need a way to get audio into your capture device. This would preferably be an aux output of your audio console. Depending on your capture device will determine how we get the audio in to the recording. You can often take audio into the camera; some better cameras have an XLR input that you can take directly from your audio console.
Video Mixer: If you have the ability to get a mixer, this can be a huge upgrade to your stream. It can allow you to have multiple cameras as well as switching to your computer for video and lyric playback. Blackmagic Design has a new ATEM Mini, mentioned above, that will take multiple HDMI sources. This device can also plug in to your computer directly to be used as a “webcam” type device. Blackmagic Design also has a basic level ATEM Television Studio HD. This supports HDMI and SDI inputs and has the added feature of stereo XLR inputs.
If you want to have your camera shot moving, DON’T SKIMP on the tripod. Spend more on your tripod than the camera. Manfrotto is a good brand for entry level fluid head tripods. A decent tripod can be as little as $250 but professional ones can quickly get more expensive than a car.
Living As One
Living as One is a company that was created to help the multi-site churches stream from their broadcast location to their remote sites. But they also have the ability to stream to Facebook, YouTube, Church Online Platform, Apps or Websites. If you want a simple well-rounded solution and want to make it part of your permanent online solution then check them out.
If you need more help, there are a number of Facebook groups online where you can ask questions. If you have a specific question that we can help with email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Having a way for people to continue to give is important. If you don’t have an online giving platform yet, now is the time to set it up. This allows people to continue to support the church financially so that you can continue to serve the community. Having an online giving platform will also help people who don’t carry cash anymore, be able to give.
Why have an online giving platform? People just don’t carry cash anymore. With the ease and flexibility of credit cards, people have stopped carrying cash. Online giving is versatile and always accessible. Pushpay wrote a great blog answering this question, you can check it out here: https://pushpay.com/blog/church-online-giving/
There are a lot of platforms out there and they all sync to different databases. If you’re looking to get started quickly and have an easy to manage platform, Outreach Magazine has found 5 favorites: Tithe.ly, EasyTithe, Givelify, PayPal, and Pushpay. For more information on these 5 platforms, you can check out the article here: https://outreach.com/blog/best-church-online-giving-platforms/
If online giving is new to your church, here are a few ways to encourage them to participate.
Emphasize the security. With any platform that you use for online giving, make sure it’s trustworthy and that you can 100% support its security. You will need to promote the option to give online. Let people know that it’s available and how to get there. Let people know this is how you give. Make sure your giving platform is mobile friendly, you want to make this as easy as possible for people to use. Create a personalized giving page. When people go to your website to give, they need to feel like they are still on your church’s website. Make the page inviting, aesthetically pleasing and easy to use. For more tips and details, check out: https://get.tithe.ly/blog/increase-online-giving