How to Live Stream Church Services to Facebook
Churches across the country are scrambling to find ways to stay connected with their congregations and share the opportunity to worship together. Live streaming worship services is one way to stay connected. While the experience isn’t the same as having everyone together in the same place, it can still be a worshipful experience. While some churches have been streaming for years and have professional-grade equipment, others are just wondering where to start. For many, the fastest and easiest way to get online is by using Facebook Live.
The Smartphone Method: The Easiest Way to Get Started
If you want the absolute most straightforward and fastest way to get started with a live stream of your church’s worship service, you can share some pretty impressive videos via Facebook Live with just a smartphone. Here is what you will need:
A Smartphone – Anything from the last couple of years will do. It just needs to have a built-in video camera and the ability to run the Facebook app.
A Tripod – Having someone hold the camera will likely make the video unstable and hard to watch. Tripod mounts for smartphones are easy to find, and you can use an inexpensive tripod. If you can’t get a tripod and mount, get creative. You may be able to prop the phone up on a table or music stand.
Lights – Many churches already have decent lighting so people can see the pastor preaching. However, if you have a dimly lit sanctuary or are recording in an alternate location, be sure there is plenty of light. This is always important, but with the often small sensors on phones, you will need to be sure your subject is well lit. There are many inexpensive video lights available online, and big-box hardware stores often have options that will work in a pinch.
Sound – If you are in a small room and your pastor is close to the camera, you may be able to get away with capturing audio with the internal microphone. To improve sound, there are external microphones available for iPhones and Android devices. Depending on your setup, you may also be able to capture sound right from the church soundboard and feed it into the phone.
The Advanced Method: Higher Quality and More Options
If you want to improve quality and have more options, you may want to look into some more advanced setups. Don’t worry, while these options are more advanced, they don’t require any specialized training and can often be quite affordable. Here is what you will need:
A Camera – This can either be a camera that plugs directly into your computer using a USB connection or one that has an HDMI or SDI output. Unless you choose the USB option, you will also need a video capture device.
A Tripod – You can skip this if you purchase a PTZ (pan, tilt, zoom) camera which can be mounted on the ceiling or wall. If you do need a tripod, you might want to spend a little more and get a video tripod with a fluid head. This will allow for smoother panning and tilting.
A Computer – Be sure you have something relatively new and powerful. Older computers or machines with little memory can cause problems.
Sound – If your church has a sound console, you will want to get an audio interface. This will allow you to capture high-quality sound and feed it into your computer.
Software – If you want, you can go live right from the Facebook website. However, if you’re going to use multiple cameras, capture a signal from your presentation software, or include transitions, you will want to use software like vMix, eCam Live, OBS, or Wirecast.
Get Ready to Stream
Starting your actual stream on Facebook is as easy as posting a status update. From a smartphone, log into the app, click where it says, “What’s on your mind?” And scroll down to “Go Live.” On a computer, go to Facebook.com, login and click on “What’s on your mind?” Then click on the three dots to see all of the options and click on “Live Video.” If it’s your first time, you may be asked to give permission to Facebook to access your camera.
Seeing what other churches are doing
There are two great videos that will give you an idea about what other churches are doing to live stream to Facbeook. The first vidoe shows you what the Olivet United Methodist Church is doing in Coatesville, Pennsylvania. There is a complete write up about this worship streaming system available here. After just two months of live streaming, the Olivet United Methodist Church in Coatesville, Pennsylvania, has been able to connect with church members from all around the world, including some who have moved away, some who were temporarily home-bound, and others who were on vacation. The new live streaming system was in place just before Christmas in 2018. In that time, the church media team has been able to live stream a candlelight service, the 2018 Christmas service, and a special baptism. The live streaming system has connected housebound parishioners like Tori Parker who commented “Glad I can be here, even from my couch as I recover from surgery.”
Always improving your system
Our team went back out to the Olivet Church about six months after the system was installed. This was a great way to check-in and make sure everything was running smoothly for their Facebook live streams. We went out and test the streaming system. Our team labled some of the devices and tuned the streaming system to help them display lyrics on their live production software. Here is the video walk through below.
Test, Test, Test
Too many churches set everything up for Sunday and forget an essential thing: testing. Even professionals who stream regularly know the importance of testing. One wrong setting, disconnected cable, or bad luck can put an end to your streaming debut. Set up, get everything ready and then give it a try. There is nothing wrong with going live on Facebook with a test. Done correctly, it will raise interest in your Sunday service. You might want to make your test interesting. Have your pastor offer words of encouragement or have one of your musicians give a preview of some of the music they are preparing for Sunday. If it works, you will know you are ready. If not, you still have some time to work out the kinks before Sunday.
Get the free book!
Paul Richards is actually the author of Helping Your Church Live Stream. For a limited time our company will mail you a copy of Helping Your Church Live stream 100% for free! Isn’t that awesome? So you can request a free copy here – https://ptzoptics.com/church-book/ . You can also download a PDF copy to start reading right away.