How To Live-Stream Your Events and Services
Churches and ministries worldwide are having to make major changes during the COVID-19 pandemic. Limiting large gatherings to slow the spread of the virus has presented many challenges, especially for churches. Thankfully, ministries all over the world have been able to remain open and connected to their community through online communications. Websites, social media, and apps have gone from being useful to full on essential tools to stay afloat. For churches especially, online streaming of Sunday and mid-week services has proven to be the most effective way to bring the congregation together while temporarily apart.
Unfortunately, some churches and ministries are not yet setup to live-stream. That is why we compiled this free detailed resource — to help ministries like yours!
If you’re a ministry or church and you want to live stream your service, there are 2 basic options to consider: live-stream or simulated live-stream.
Simple live-streaming is usually done through an existing social media platform or website. There are a dozens of reputable platforms available to use, but we recommend one of the following three methods for an easy and free (or cheap) way to live-stream.
- YouTube Live (When using YouTube Live, one caveat is that you can’t use a smart phone or tablet if you have under 1000 subscribers.)
- FaceBook Live Video
- Google Hangouts Meet
In order to use one of these platforms, you must have a device with a camera and microphone. The most cost-effective and accessible method would be to use the built-in camera in a smart phone, tablet or laptop. The next best option would be to connect a high-quality webcam to your laptop instead of using the built-in camera which may be lower quality and not as crisp. The most expensive but best quality outcome would be to connect an external camera such as a DSLR, mirrorless camera or camcorder to your computer. In essence, the better the device, the clearer image and sound that it will produce.
Simulated live-stream is the process of pre-recording your video and uploading it to post at your preferred time. This method mostly prohibits you from using the “live video” options on the platforms listed above; however, you can still schedule to post your pre-recorded video at your chosen time of day. Simulated live-streaming is a good option if you desire to do some editing to the video, as well as not worry about whether or not you’ll have technical difficulties which could prevent your live stream from working. If you choose to simulate live-stream your services, we highly recommend using the free platform called Church Online Platform, made available by Life.Church. The Church Online Platform is user-friendly and allows you to easily copy/paste your video link onto the platform from your YouTube or Vimeo account. To learn everything you need to know about using this platform, click here.
A good quality and affordable webcam is the Logitech C920 that sells for around $70 at Best Buy.
Using an external camera is a little bit more involved. The output of the camera needs to go through a device in order to capture the video footage and export it into the computer. The computer won’t recognize it otherwise.
Some examples of this are:
- The Elgato Cam Link for $130 at Best Buy (HDMI input, USB output)
- The Blackmagic Design UltraStudio Mini Recorder for $145 at B&H (HDMI and SDI inputs, Thunderbolt output)
- Magewell 32060 USB Capture HDMI Gen 2 One Channel Dongle for $300 at Markertek (HDMI input, USB output)
Some recommended cameras depending on your budget:
- Sony a5100 with 16-50mm lens for $448 from Amazon
- Sony FDR-AX33 4K Ultra HD Handycam Camcorder for $700 at B&H
Panasonic GH5 with 12-60mm lens for $2,000 from Amazon
- Canon XF400 UHD 4K60 Camcorder for $2,500 at B&H
- Sony Alpha a7Sll with 24-70mm f/4 lens for $3,200 at B&H
For best audio, an external mic is required. Here are some recommended mics:
- The following 2 mics will require the Lightning to 3.5 mm Headphone Jack Adapter to be used on iPhones with no headphone jack.
- Edutige EIM-008 3.5mm TRRS Unidirectional Microphone for Smartphones Tablets for $71 at Edutige
- Rode smartLav+ Lavalier Condenser Microphone for Smartphones for $79 at B&H
- Rode Lavalier GO Omnidirectional Lavalier Microphone for Wireless GO Systems for cameras with 1/8 inch jack mic input. $79 at B&H
- Sony ECM-44B Omnidirectional Lavalier Microphone for cameras with XLR input for $156 at B&H. You’ll need an additional XLR cable to connect this mic to your camera.
For more options of Live-Streaming equipment, we recommend this very exhaustive and detailed resource from B&H.