Sharing your church services online is more affordable than ever. More churches could be taking advantage of this technology to reach the mission field and to continue the development of discipleship among a more mobile and immobile population. Read more about that in, Technology and Pastoral Care, Part III.
There are two main barriers keeping churches on the fence: perceived cost and not knowing where to start. Below is some information that might offer you a better understanding of the costs involved and some ideas of how to get started.
The easiest way to begin live streaming is to start fresh since, as you will see, all of the pieces need to work together. In a best-case scenario, you could make all of these decisions together to make sure your hardware and software and provider all play well together. This is rarely the case. Many churches already have some pieces of the puzzle when they start thinking about live streaming. Maybe the church already owns a camera, a computer, maybe even a capture device.
There are a lot of creative ways to make everything work together. It is best to start by understanding all the pieces.
One way or another, if you want to live stream video, you will need a camera. What kind of a camera depends on things including your budget, your capture device, the size and layout of the room and how good you want it to look. Putting all those things together makes choosing a camera a little complicated.
Read more about the different types of cameras for church live streaming, learn what to look for, and see product recommendation here:
What Is a Capture Device?
This term covers a variety of cards, boxes, and appliances. In layman’s terms, this is the device that gets the signal from your camera and microphone and gets it ready to be sent upstream on the internet.
Capturing and Encoding
Two things need to happen to get your images and sounds ready for the internet. They need to be captured, and they need to be encoded. How and where this happens depends on your equipment. How you capture may dictate how you encode.
Read more about the different types of capture devices for church live streaming, learn what to look for, and see product recommendation here:
The software you use is going to depend a lot on all the other decisions you make. That includes the last item on the list, the streaming service provider.
It is really important to consider software in tandem with your streaming provider. Some providers offer free software; others sell software specific to their service. One that I know of offers steep discounts on software that works well with their service. Your software choice may also depend a lot on your budget. Prices range from free to around $1000. There are also more expensive options, but they are likely more powerful than a church would need.
Once you get your audio and video captured, encoded, and ready to send, you need to figure out where it is going to go. Very few churches go through the trouble and expense of hosting their own live stream. There are numerous companies who offer the service of hosting live streams. Basically, you send the video to them and people go to their servers to view the stream. Fortunately, with most providers, viewers don’t even know that. With embedded live streams, the video looks like it is coming straight from your website.
Learn about some of the different options for hosting including feature and pricing here: