As I have said in other articles, I pastor a small church. My church has less than 100 members. We don't have a big budget for lots of tech gear for church live streaming. We cannot afford production grade cameras and video software. We are not set up for lots of cameras and tripods all across the room.
However that has not stopped us from starting a live stream on Facebook for our church's Facebook page. It is possible to accomplish the task without breaking your budget.
You see, we wanted to do 3 things.
- We wanted to make a way for our people who are unable to attend the weekly service to keep up with our verse by verse teachings we do. Sometimes they are out of town. Sometimes they are sick. And sometimes life just gets in the way. However our church culture is one where we are called to serve and we wanted to serve them regardless if they were able to be there every Sunday or not.
- We wanted a way for people who do not go to our church to see exactly what the service is like. We did not want to produce a "production" where it looks more like Christian TV. We wanted a raw stream of what is actually going on. You might say we went the "reality TV" model of broadcasting.
- We wanted to be a service to our community. There are not many of the churches in our local community that provide a live stream. They have elderly and sick members as well. So we wanted to at least give them an opportunity to be a part of a church service that is local to where they live.
Understand The Limitations Of A Small Budget
Most of the experts tell you that the "right way" of doing a live stream is to have 2 -3 cameras, a video mixing board, tripods, and camera operators. And if you are producing a live stream "show", then they are correct.
However most of us do not have that type of budget or manpower for volunteers. I know we didn't. So we went an alternate route. We have one stationary camera, a computer that has free software on it that will connect to Facebook and YouTube, and an adequate internet connection.
Yes, our so called "quality" isn't as good as others, but we have accomplished what we set out to do. People are watching every week. Usually between 30 and 60 people watch our live stream. As our audience grows, I am sure we will be able to expand our capabilities and get some more equipment.
Choosing Your Camera
Before you buy a camera for the church, make sure you have adequate internet. You need a upload connection speed of at least 1.5 Mbps. Also check your router. Old style "N" routers will probably not be fast enough. You need a "G" router.
We chose the Canon Vixia RF82 as our camera. It has a clean HDMI output that when coupled with a HDMI to USB converter, sends the signal to our computer. There are other cameras out there that will connect directly with services like Ustream and others, but you then may be tied to using just their service.
We chose to not be tied to a service provider and instead use Vmix video software on our church computer and upload directly to Facebook from it.
To learn more about which camera to choose, check out my article on church cameras.
The Results Of Our Church Live Streaming
Just this week I received a call from a lady in our church thanking us for starting our church live stream. She has been having problems with her knees and is not able to get out right now. She said that the church live stream is keeping her connected to the church. Mission Accomplished!
We normally have around 30 people view our live stream but 3 weeks ago we broke a record. 126 views. That was way more than the amount of people we had in church! How awesome is that?
We have had people comment that they appreciate what we are doing. These are people who do not attend our church.
So is church live streaming worth it? In my opinion, it is more than worth it? What do you think?
If you want to learn more about starting a church live stream, check out my guide on starting a church live stream for under $1,000.00.