How to set up live streaming for your church

June 26, 2020

Many churches, both large and small, want to broadcast their services online but don’t know where to start. Thankfully, modern technology makes it easy for just about anyone to set up live streaming for your church! Above all, your church should be looking for solutions that make your content streamable to any device and easy to set up and manage.  

When it comes to setting up your church’s live stream, there are three basic steps to follow: capture, encode, and stream.

1. CAPTURE

The first step in setting up live streaming for your church is figuring out how you’re going to capture audio and video. Church live streaming equipment can range from items you already own, like your smartphone, to advanced hardware and software tools that can substantially level up the quality of your broadcasts.

If you’re not ready to invest in a professional setup, the good news is that almost any camera or device with video capabilities can be used to stream! This includes mobile devices, such as iPhones, as well as your computer’s built-in webcam. Both are quick to set up and require no additional purchases to capture video and audio for your church live streams.  

Live streaming cameras

Having a camera that can manage 720p (standard HD) or 1080p (full HD) resolution is ideal for a high-quality video experience. The average laptop webcam already offers 720p resolution, and most current smartphone cameras capture video in 1080p. Live streams still work with resolutions under 720p, but they might not be the most pleasant viewing experience for your church.

If your church’s current live streaming equipment does not capture video in your desired resolution, webcams that can stream and record in high definition can be purchased through online retailers for $50 or less.

       

                       

Using external microphones for live streams

Microphones are usually built into cameras, but the addition of an external microphone is an inexpensive way to significantly improve the quality of your stream’s audio. They’re easy to use with live streaming platforms and act no differently than the built-in microphones on your laptop and mobile device.

Setup for most external microphones is as simple as plugging it into your recording device. Prices typically range from $15 to $150 depending on the type of microphone, with lapel-style mics being the most affordable option.  

       

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Record now, live stream later

With some live streaming solutions, video can even be captured in advance and streamed later. This is ideal for situations where you might want to create a live experience for your church, but do not have the time or resources to pull off a live event.  

“Simulated live,” a feature of Subsplash Live, allows you to upload a pre-recorded video and stream it live later. This gives you more flexibility to create your content while also creating the same experience as a live stream for your community.  

2. ENCODE

An encoder is a hardware device or software application that converts your content into video file formats usable for streaming to mobile apps, TV apps, websites, and platforms like Facebook Live and YouTube. Encoding is an essential component of live streaming regardless of which platform your church uses, and it’s easy to set up!

The best live streaming platforms for churches are extremely flexible with which encoders they offer compatibility. You don't want to find out that the new tools you just invested in aren't compatible with one another! For example, Subsplash Live supports a wide range of popular encoders so you can get started quickly and simultaneously stream across multiple channels.

Which encoder should my church use?

Some encoders are software applications that run on a computer to capture video from a webcam or mobile device, while others are stand-alone hardware devices that take audio and video signals from a camera or computer.

Software encoders are more affordable (some even free) but are only as good as the computer running them and require more regular setup before a streamed event.

Hardware encoders are faster and produce a higher quality stream but are more expensive and often need additional gear to use. However, hardware encoders do not require a computer and are easier to automate and schedule broadcasts.  

3. STREAM

The best live streaming providers allow your content to be streamed on your church’s mobile app, TV app, and website, as well as through syndication to platforms like Facebook Live and YouTube. This ensures that your audience can be engaged regardless of their device or location!

Facebook Live and YouTube won’t cut it

Platforms like Facebook Live and YouTube are inexpensive ways to give your audience another place to tune in and make your content more discoverable, but they should not be your church’s only live streaming solution. Those platforms are not built with churches in mind. They own the content you worked so hard to create and have the ability to take down or mute your stream if deemed against their guidelines. Additionally, platforms like Facebook Live and YouTube are filled with unrelated ads and third-party content that shift the focus away from your gospel-centered messages.

Having a dedicated live streaming provider that offers syndication to Facebook and YouTube, like Subsplash Live, is the best route for your church. Dedicated providers still allow you to extend your reach on social platforms, while also giving you the ability to simultaneously broadcast to your church’s app and website. Plus you’ll have access to customer support, in-depth analytics, and so much more that neither Facebook nor YouTube can offer!

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What happens to live streams after they’re over?

When your church’s live streams are finished recording, they should ideally be available to view by people who missed them or want to rewatch later. Unfortunately, not all live streaming providers make it possible to build a media library out of your live streamed worship services!

On Subsplash Live, recorded streams are instantly converted into on-demand content in your media library. Adding this library to the live stream section of your church app and website takes your content further and makes it easily accessible. Plus your church live streams are automatically and instantly published to your media library, saving you the time and hassle of downloading and reuploading. This can save your media team hours every week!

Strategize and get the word out

The time and effort put into live streaming your church’s services will be wasted if you don’t put some thought into how your community will actually find and view them!

It’s crucial that your church has a strategy in place to ensure everyone knows when live events occur as well as when and how to tune in. Adding a dedicated live streaming section to your app and website makes it simple for your community to access this information. Additionally, push notifications, emails, and social posts are efficient and effective ways to send reminders regarding upcoming live streams.

It’s never been easier to take your church or ministry’s content further by broadcasting your live streams to your church’s app, website, media library, and more. Even churches with minimal equipment and a simple setup can capture, encode, and stream content with ease.

Ready to learn how your organization can better engage your audience anytime, anywhere with Subsplash Live? Check it out!

Already a Subsplash Client? Log in to your Subsplash Dashboard to instantly add Subsplash Live today, or schedule a call with your Client Success Manager!

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