When the pandemic hit, our church had to pivot to continue worshipping as a community. We created a church live stream on a small budget, and I’m going to share exactly how we did it.
Our church in rural Eastern Kentucky, Five Mile Community, shut its doors in March of 2020 along with many others across the globe. To conduct a live stream, we were granted permission to borrow the chapel facilities of nearby Kentucky Mountain Bible College. We’d never before done anything like it. As far as technology, the college had a full audio system and two cameras they loaned to us.
Live streaming proved to be a success and the church board decided to continue providing Sunday service via live stream after we returned to the sanctuary. But first, we needed to upgrade some of our gear and change some of our approach to improve the user experience.
4 Tips For Creating An Excellent Church Live Stream Service On A Budget
1. Make Affordable Video Improvements
After we went back to our church sanctuary, I knew we had to improve our video output and move beyond using my simple single-cell-phone-from-30-feet-away approach.
I challenged the board to consider budgeting for equipment that would make viewing more varied and interesting. Thankfully, they responded with an allocation of $3000. Immediately, our tech guys began the equipment purchasing and installation.
Initially, we bought the following:
- A new computer for video
- Blackmagic Design ATEM Mini switcher
- Refurbished Canon EOS PowerShot VIXIA, HFR800 cameras
- A flat-screen monitor
The audio is fed from the mixer board with a delay added to match the video signal. We use Vmix software. One camera was mounted on a wall and the other was on a tripod.
2. Install Large Screen TVs
The month of May brought the opportunity to return to in-person services. However, we blocked off every other pew and instituted physical distancing. Of course, this limited the number of attendees we could sustain.
As a pastor, I did not want to tell anyone they could not attend due to lack of space. We solved this dilemma by installing a large screen TV in the downstairs fellowship hall and set up the live stream for that space.Make your church's live stream work double duty: broadcast your Sunday service live for those who are staying home, and set up large screens in your church overflow to broadcast the service to church attendees. Click To Tweet
3. Continue Facebook Live Service
After we returned to in-person services, the option to continue our church live stream was an obvious choice. We continued our stream into the church basement with the large screen, which opened up enough space to seat everyone who wanted to attend. Also, it provided easy access to our services for those who preferred to shelter-in-place.
Right away, we found there were people who had not been a part of our congregation who were accessing our services on Facebook. As other churches opened back up, those numbers have dropped, though we have retained 12-18 connections every service.
Our reach is far! We have had people attend our online services from 26 states and 4 foreign countries. We have retained regular attenders from Kentucky, Tennessee, Montana, Nebraska, Iowa, Texas and Indiana. Of course, some who login do not identify themselves.
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4. Upgrade When Necessary
While the church board initially allocated $3000 for the project, we have since spent more than that.
Soon, we added an Avipa 1081 PTZ camera. For a church live stream on a budget, we found after researching that PTZ cameras were affordable and high quality. We mounted it in the center back of the sanctuary and immediately had a problem when the video colors did not match the other two cameras. However, the PTZ is easy to use and can be run by the same person who is running the switching.
The decision was made to add two more Avipa PTZs so the colors would match and all could be run by one person who also handled our switching.
Build Your Team
Our live stream only requires two people: one handles the live stream and house audio and the other handles the video.
Since we discovered that we needed to use fiber HDMI cables for the PTZs as the runs were too long, we began utilizing some of our young people and young adults in the video ministry.
Level Up Your Internet
An additional added expense was for fiber internet service. We started by using a cell phone with a cell booster, which worked but was somewhat unreliable. Unfortunately, we had to ask congregants to turn off their phones so our upload would not be affected. Soon after, the board decided to subscribe to fiber cabled internet service.
Add Wash Lighting
After watching the livestream for a while, we decided to add wash light to provide some color to our platform walls. We started with these par lights and then later added wash bars for the side walls of the platform. Comments for this have only been positive.When creating a church live stream, plan to upgrade your equipment and system periodically. Consider better video cameras, lighting and a faster internet connection. Also, recruit more talent to run your live stream! Click To Tweet
AN UNEXPECTED BLESSING
Finally, we received another great blessing. The income of our church has risen; Five Mile raised more money last year than in any previous year. This is largely due to giving coming from our online congregation. The net result is that adding the equipment for our livestream did not set the church back at all. Even with decreased in-person attendance (which has still not recovered), the giving rose. This has enabled our church to increase our missions giving and aid to our local community.
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We worked through the kinks and have found a workable solution for producing an excelling church live stream on a budget. All in all, we have gained a new ministry and are ministering to more people than we were before the pandemic began. We praise the Lord for opening this door.