So, you’re ready to make your church online stand out in the forest of the web. The modern era has a lot of techniques, each platform has its features, and every device has its own ability to be a tool we use for the Lord. Thanks to the team at Salt Church
, we have created a comprehensive guide for churches of all sizes, including streaming providers and features, technical tips, recommended gear – hardware and software – where to buy, rent, or download, as well as tutorials on how to set it up. Much of the information we have here can often be found the same by interacting in online Facebook groups like Church Sound & Media Techs
, CMG | Visual Church Media
, Behind The Mixer
, and other online forums. We wanted to compile a thorough list of what we know from the church environment as well as from cinema, editing, web technical, and other elements that some may still have questions about when getting their church live online. The resources in this guide are provided often at no cost. In exchange for that, many of the items below link to website partners that have affiliate programs, which in turn, gives us a small commission, at no extra cost to you. This money is distributed among those who spend their time helping compile these resources and updating accordingly. Without further ado, let’s begin.
Live Streaming Guide for Churches
How to start church streaming? Not all churches have the ability to physically meet with their congregation, and with the internet, we don’t have to. For most small and some large churches, however, getting started is a steep challenge, often involving a large financial output to achieve something that looks, sounds, and works consistently great. With this process, whether for small or large congregations, there are many options to making the best of what you have and still doing great work for the Lord. Outside of our options, we have to focus on requirements: What do we need
and then what do we want
. If there is any information you find incorrect, inconsistent, or you would like to contribute, please let us know.
Does my church have the rights to stream? Copyright is important to pay attention to, as some churches smaller than 1,000 have been fined $10,000+ by record label owners for improper usage of copyrighted materials.
Music Copyright for Churches
For churches in the US and the UK, you may already have a license to use lyrics in your service but this does not cover streaming lyrics. If you don’t have licensing for your lyrics or streaming yet, we recommend CCLI, the Christian Copyright Licensing International group, who serve both the US and UK. With their primary plan, you have access to view lyrics. You can also add a streaming license separately. CCLI’s info is below: CCLI US https://us.ccli.com/
CCLI UK https://uk.ccli.com/
CCS, Christian Copyright Solutions, also offers two separate licenses that cover separately in-house performances, as well as streaming or recorded performances. https://christiancopyrightsolutions.com/ Note: CCLI and CCS only cover the streaming of lyrics and the performance of it, not any associated backing tracks.
If you use backing tracks from MultiTracks, they have granted a license for that at the time of writing. More info is available on their website: https://www.multitracks.com/streaming
If you use motion backgrounds, message illustrations, or other media from a church media resource website like Church Motion Graphics
, your licensing for usage of that media is dependent on your media vendor and each media’s or organization’s individual license. At the time of writing, CMG offers a live streaming license for free with all their media.
Recording or Streaming
What do I need to record or stream? There are some basic equipment needs that you may already have in your arsenal, or they can be purchased if you don’t have the equipment yet or you are looking to upgrade your existing set-up.
Video and Cameras
Some of these camera options are best for fully live streaming, and others are best for pre-recording services. Note the camera types, abilities to record long lengths (some cameras stop at 15, 30, 60, or other minute variables), media storage type, resolutions and frame rates, and zoom length when purchasing a camcorder or lens. Low/no budget:
- Laptop cam
Audio and Mics
How do I make my church stream look great? If you pre-record your services, or you want to edit them after they are aired live, using an editing software will be helpful to trim video lengths, add in announcements or text, and often music, depending on how advanced your set-up is, editing can be done on any editing software for mobile smartphones and tablets. However, if you’re processing more than one camera angle, adding complex lower thirds for titling and scripture, or you want to work quicker, you’ll definitely want to use a computer. Most any PC or Mac has the ability to process video, but each computer’s configuration will determine how well and quickly you can work. My home PC has a NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 GB VRAM card in it, and it can process 4k on 3 cameras and 1080 on 2 cameras in a Multi-Cam sequence fairly well most days. Below are some laptops, PCs and Mac configurations that can be good for editing on the go and mobility or a stationary robust system for extended, heavy usage.
If you plan on keeping project files and assets, like footage and audio files, for long term, or you want to speed up your workflow, you will need two types of storage:
- Short-term Storage
- Long-term Storage
Normally short-term storage is where you keep your files while you’re editing. For optimal performance when editing, use a Hybrid Drive or preferably a SSD with high read and write speeds. You can upgrade your existing drive, you can add a new drive to many PCs and Mac towers. You can also use portable SSDs with lightning, USB-C, or USB-3 connectors.
You never know when you’re going to need to go through old footage, needing to find unused or reusable videography. Keeping large original camera files can take up a lot of space, which can become expensive to maintain especially with most store-bought solutions. Using slower drives, such as a standard spin-disk drive or cloud storage can help keep this storage accessible for a long time. Cloud storage often comes with a monthly cost, but is easily scalable and often guaranteed against data loss, unlike storing data locally.
How do I go live? Your congregation will
- Facebook Live/Premiere (Free)
- YouTube Live/Premiere (Free)
- Church’s Church Online Platform (Free)
- Livestream (Vimeo) (Paid)
- Ustream (Paid)
- StreamingVideoProvider (Paid)
- BoxCast (Paid)
- SermonCast (Paid)
- tv (Paid)
- Living as One
Play on platform or embed elsewhere
- Above methods for streaming have playback built-in
- Hosting on your website platform
- Hosting on a CDN
- Using a video hosting service