I have been getting a lot of inquiries from churches looking for simple church live streaming setup options. Some churches that have gone all-in have brought in professional AV companies to set up a state-of-the-art system. By all means, if your church has the budget, that is the best way to go. It is going to cost you significantly more. However, is you hire the right company, you will seriously get what you pay for. They can even train your people and be around if something goes wrong. I mean, quite a few churches pay professionals to install air conditioning. Live streaming may be more critical at this moment, and at moments, it can be as confounding.
But, I know some churches just can’t. So, get your DIY hat, and I will share more than one simple church live streaming setup that you can do all by yourself. If not by yourself, then with the help of someone good at following instructions or a teenager who, rumor has it, once took apart and reassembled their parents’ TV. Not all of these setups are cheap, but most are far less expensive than hiring an AV firm for installation. And the first couple of options are pretty affordable. As a bonus, in this post, you will get more than one simple church live streaming setup. I’ve got two inexpensive DIY options for you.
Simple Church Live Streaming Setup One: Smartphone + Tripod + External Mic + Facebook Live or YouTube
This is likely the least expensive setup you can find, especially if you have access to a decent smartphone and WiFi. With the price does come some limitations. If you are attempting to stream a service with a seven-piece praise band, two pastors, and three liturgists, this will not be great. If you have a single speaker and maybe one musician, you might be able to pull this off.
If you don’t have a smartphone, you can pick up an iPod touch for about $200. Decent WiFi is a must here. If you have a phone with an extremely generous data plan, you may be able to go that route if your reception and speed are good enough, just make sure you don’t end up stuck with a huge bill.
You will need a tripod of some sort. I have seen people get creative with propping the phone up on something, but I don’t recommend it. First, you will need a clip to attach to the phone, like this Neewer Smartphone Rig Filmmaker Grip Tripod Mount. A cheap tripod is fine, like this Amazon Basics model . If you want to move the camera around while recording, you might want to upgrade to something like a Magnus VT-300 Video Tripod with Fluid Head.
Live Stream Sound
For sound, your phone’s internal microphone is not going to cut it. If you have a soundboard, you could always pull a signal from that and plug it into the phone. You will likely need an adapter for the phone to recognize the cable as an input. If that won’t work, you will need an external microphone. There are two options here. One is a mini shotgun mic that attaches right to the phone, like the Rode VideoMic ME, The other is a lapel microphone that connects with a cable and clips directly onto the preacher, like the Movo PM10 If your speaker moves a lot, you may want an extension cable.
Now just hook it all up, head to your Facebook or YouTube account, and get streaming. Keep in mind, this rig is going to be upfront. If you try to put this in the back of the room, people won’t be able to see much, and your options for a microphone become more limited. Your best bet is getting someone to sit in the front row with this right in front of them.
As you can see, there are many variations, but here is the pricing of one example:
Smartphone + Tripod + External Mic + Facebook Live or YouTube
Tripod Clip: $15.99
Movo PM10 Mic: $14.95
Simple Church Live Streaming Setup Two: Computer + Webcam + USB Mic + OBS + Facebook Live or YouTube
While the last option assumed you have a smartphone, this assumes you have access to a computer. It doesn’t have to be the latest, fastest machine in the world. However, dusting off some old, unused machine probably won’t get you too far. Video is quite processor intensive. Specifications vary, but something with an i5 or anything quad-core chip and at least 8 GB of ram is a good starting place. You can pull this off with a desktop computer. Still, for this setup, portability is key, so a laptop would make life easier.
Church Live Stream Camera
My biggest suggestion for a webcam is don’t go too cheap. This is already a very inexpensive setup. If you go too low quality on this, you won’t be impressed with the result. As I am writing this, we are in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, so many of the best webcams are sold out. Everyone is working from home and wanted to upgrade their video conferencing capabilities. I recommend, if you can find one, a Logitech camera like the Logitech C920s HD Pro Webcam. Keep in mind, not all Logitech webcams are created equal, Look for one that captures 1080p and 30fps. Those numbers refer to the resolution and frame rate and ensure you are getting a high enough quality webcam.
For sound, again, there is still the option of capturing it from the soundboard. You will need a USB audio interface, which I will discuss in a future setup. Otherwise, a USB microphone may do the trick. Inventory is a problem with these as well. They are very popular for podcasting. With stay-at-home restrictions related to the pandemic, it seems everyone is starting a podcast. If you can find one, my favorite mic for this purpose is the Blue Yeti USB. The feature that really sets it apart is the adjustable pattern. It is actually three microphones in one. You can set it to capture just the speaker right in front of it, which is perfect for a preacher, but you can also set it to capture front and back, stereo, or omnidirectional. This means, with proper placement, you could use it to capture an entire praise band.
Again, with this setup, getting close is key. A webcam like this close to the chancel or stage can look great. From the back of the room, the picture will be pretty fuzzy. Same with the microphone. I have seen churches put the whole thing on a cart so they could keep it up front and move it around as needed.
You could use this setup to stream directly to Facebook or YouTube. But, if you want more control, you might consider downloading OBS (Open Broadcaster Software.) This is free software that turns your computer into a video production studio. You will be able to make adjustments to your audio and video, and add slides and titles to the stream. If you decide to add another camera at some point, you can easily switch between sources. OBS can send your stream to Facebook, YouTube, or both.
Again there are some options, but here is the pricing of one example:
Blue Yeti USB: $129.99
It’s a Start
Neither of these setups is going to offer you a broadcast-quality live stream. However, if you need a way to reach your congregation and potential guests, one of these may be a way to get started.
Need an overview of church live streaming? Check out this post. And check back for more simple church live streaming setups.