With internet connections available pretty much anywhere and everywhere, churches have begun to take advantage of bandwidth by streaming their church services online in order to increase their reach well beyond the four walls of their church. We sat down with Michael Smith with ChurchStreaming.tv, newcomer to the church streaming market, to find out how they got their start and why they see church streaming as one of the areas the Church will grow the most in the next twenty years.
How did ChurchStreaming.tv begin and what was the need you saw within the church for streaming technology?
We got our start in streaming as volunteers at our local churches and schools. There weren’t many affordable streaming options at the time for either one. As we spent more time streaming, we began to get calls from neighboring communities asking us to help them get up and running with their streaming. We began to realize that there were many churches that wanting to use streaming as part of their outreach, but they were just overwhelmed by either the cost or the technology. We decided to build a system specific to the needs of churches that would be easy to use and have a simple pricing structure. It didn’t take long before we realized this was a passion for us instead of a business. Words cannot explain the fulfillment we receive every day as we help each church reach their goals.
How do you help churches with their hardware purchases (cameras, etc.) to make the most of their streaming?
We are very hands on with our churches. We spend a lot of time on the phone talking about different hardware options and recommendations. In most cases they already know what hardware they want to purchase, but they would like a second opinion. For very elaborate set ups, we like to call on some of our friends in the Audio/ Video field to help out. We have some great relationships with several wonderful church a/v companies that will jump right on the phone and help the church makes the right decision.
What are the top six needs a church should achieve through streaming?
1) Reaching out to the sick, disabled, and elderly shut-ins definitely tops the list of goals that most churches want to accomplish. I have visited with some of the shut-ins who watch their church through streaming. Their eyes light up when they explain they feel like part of the church again for the first time in years.
2) Keeping their traveling or military families in touch with the church is also on this list. We have seen some of these families donate the equipment needed for streaming so that their family members could watch the services while deployed.
3) Many churches use streaming to reach past their own communities. Churches in areas like rural Tennessee end up connecting with groups of people in other countries that essentially become part of their congregation.
4) We all know that with today’s technology, when you invite someone new to visit your church the first thing they do is look it up on their smartphone. Some churches like to use it as a great first impression to these families. Streaming provides a way for them to watch the services and feel more comfortable when they come for their first visit.
5) Archiving of events and services is one need churches want. It provides a way for members to replay the services from home later.
6) Sharing special occasions is always an added benefit to streaming. The church is able to share weddings and special celebrations with those that cannot attend.
How does a church know when it’s time to start streaming from a ministry growth standpoint?
There isn’t a such thing as too early or too small when it comes to streaming. If you have a need for streaming, it usually doesn’t have anything to do with the size of your church or how long it has been around. If there is a need that can be filled with streaming, then it is time. If you were building a house, you would use all the tools necessary to make it as strong as possible. Streaming is one of those tools when building or growing a church.
How can streaming help with this growth and what have you seen occur when churches take to the internet with their services?
We have heard this question many times before (Are people going to stop coming in if they can watch from home?). We have found just the opposite to be true. Many of the members that have stopped going to church end up watching a few services online and realize that they want to be in church and start attending again.
What are the benefits of a church having their own Roku channel? How many customers utilize this option and what has it done for their ministry?
Many of our customers have started to utilize this feature since we rolled it out last year. There are many ways that they use the Roku channel, but one stands out more than others. We have found that churches use it as a way to connect some of the older generation that does not do so well with computers. They have been taking them to nursing homes and retirement centers and hooking them up to the big screen in the common area for all of the residents to gather around and watch the services.
What are some of the best features you offer?
This is a tough question to answer because favorite features are different for every church. Our fully-functional 30 day free trial and our completely unlimited plan is probably the stand out. However, we pride ourselves on providing customer service that is second to none. As far as other features go, we have about every one we can think of to add. If we get a request from a customer for a new feature that we haven’t thought of, we just build it out and add it to all of our customers for free.
We have posted several popular articles on church live streaming over the past months, here are links to brush up even more on streaming: