(We asked Paul W. Hunter, an E4 Ministry Network/AGIF member and retired broadcast engineer for George Otis and High Adventure Ministries to write a guide for getting started with live streaming over the Internet.)

 

The current COVID-19 Pandemic has brought about a new challenge for the church in 2020. It is a time for us to rise up and become the church Jesus envisioned, called out, and equipped to reach out into the highways and byways of unbelievers. Today is a new day, the Day of the coming of the Lord, as it draws near, we must be prepared!

We are reminded in scripture that we are at war with powers, principalities, and rulers in high places whose intent from the beginning was to undermine the commission and calling of God’s redemptive power.

“How then can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one that they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?” Romans 10:14

So, it is upon us that the burden rests to communicate the gospel.  “Communicate”‘ means to “Share or exchange information, news, or ideas”. Do we have news to share during a global crisis such as we are experiencing? The answer is unequivocally YES, however, our concern is how?

We have God-given tools for “Such a time as this!” Global use of the internet and the rapid development of Social Media has brought us to a season like never before. We have at this time in history, the most effective communication to an international audience. And we can do it LIVE! “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end shall come” Matthew 24:14 (NLT)

This opportunity is not temporary. It is the new wave of technology that is growing exponentially each day. The question remains, how do we use it? Can we ignore it? allowing the enemy to dominate it, or do we embrace it bringing salvation, teaching, discipleship, and worship.  In addition, we can offer Question & Answer forums with live interaction to a generation whose heart aching questions have not been answered.

Streaming Video is becoming the “New Norm” and we need to get on board.

 

WHERE DO WE START

If you are passionate about moving outside the Box, you must have a Vision and a plan.

  1. Ask the questions: Who do I want to reach? Have a social group in mind that you wish to target? What will get their attention? Envision that congregation before you. Do you want local, regional, or global distribution? Depending on the internet provider, you can have the choice of your own congregation, a region, county or state, maybe global distribution.
  2. What is your budget? Start with the technology you have such as audio sources, type of microphones, video projectors etc.
  3. What resource do you want to stream? Sermon only, special music or entire worship service.
  4. Consider the equipment you will need to adequately capture that content. Sermon only, 1-2 cameras. Whole worship groups, several cameras and a video switcher.
  5. Individual group microphones and an audio mixer. If you have that capacity, you can use one of the audio outputs on your mixer for audio stream to video.
  6. Get Technical advice if you don’t have staff. There are numerous experts who are willing to help. Check out the internet links I have added on last page. Some volunteer help and are already experienced and working on staff for other churches.

MOVING AHEAD

Now that you have a plan in place, let’s move ahead.

The basics you need to know I will try to outline in technical terms, hopefully so you can get the picture.

The essentials of Streaming require 3 basic elements.

A computer, Internet connection, and a web account with a streaming provider for distribution.

The simplest system is a smart phone with a good reliable internet provider (ISP) and a web site for distribution.

The main component is referred to as the encoder. The encoder integrates the video and audio streams into a digital format to send out over the internet to your website distributer. There are two types of encoders, one is software installed on a good desktop computer, the other is a professional encoder box you connect your programing audio and video feeds to. One of the most popular encodes is a free online software application called OBS Studio. The software program allows capturing, editing and creating pictures, notes, and different graphics in order to enhance your creativity for production programing. Since your computer is connected to the internet, you are good to go. See the link in Additional Information for the download and install instructions for OBS STUDIO.

There are many web posting online services for free and many of the major Social Media providers have great deals and reliable servers.

Among the top providers are Sites like Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, including Facebook.  Don’t fret about these Social Media sites as most of them offer free accounts and because of their popularity, attract all sorts of people that need to hear your message. Something to ponder! There are many private sites out there but for a premium cost. Beware!

Internet Connection Speed

In my experience, the most critical part of the streaming system is the Internet Service Provider, otherwise known as your ISP.

There is nothing worse than watching a streaming video or LIVE service when everything keeps dropping out or missing audio or freezing picture frames. Let me give you an example: It’s like moving a volume of water through a pipe. The size of the pipe makes all the difference. Small pipe, small stream, larger the pipe the more water volume is available.  If there is a kink in the hose, the water flow stops. Imagine a firefighter losing water pressure while fighting a fire.

Consider the Internet as a large but limited volume pipe which moves the video and audio data through various wires, fiber optics, AND several translators.  The data information must get through without missing a bit of important information without losing the rest of its packet,

Moving huge amounts of video data content through a limited spectrum which is shared by others, and keeping it in one packet, is a technical miracle. That means for the best reliable quality, it requires the best available data rate internet your internet provider (ISP) can give you.

Shop Around for the best upload and download data rate as possible. The best service plans for business grade data rate is well advised. Less than, will sadly degrade the quality of your signal.

Don’t get cheap Internet service. That’s OK for home personal use, but not for quality distribution. For recommended data rates see Additional Information below.

WRAPPING IT UP

I have tried to give you an outline to help you get a picture of what could become the new norm for reaching those outside the physical assembly.  How far you want to venture out is your decision.  Pastor, Daniel Fusco, Lead Pastor at Crossroads Church in Vancouver, WA, uses every Social Media daily starting with 2-minute daily messages, and every service, including mid-week services are streamed.

This is our commission to go out into the streets and declare the Good News of Redemption. From here on, you must create your format, check out “www.crossroadschuch.net” to get an idea how one church makes use of this public media.

After recovery from COVID -19, these new opportunities will continue to be a major resource in reaching out to the Community. As you develop your online ministry, you will realize more ways to interact with your audience.

Several churches who have experience at online ministry, have discovered since the “Stay at home” decree was declared, they have doubled their audience and their on-line financial support. The question will be if congregations will return to the norm or succumb to the comfort of watching on-line.

I challenge you, build upon your message presentation online, you will be amazed at the response you will get from people who would probably have never walked through the doors of your church.

What have you have learned from the COVID-19 experience?

“I know all the things you do, and I have opened a door for you that no one can close. You have little strength, yet you obeyed my word and did not deny me,” Revelation 3:8

Because you have obeyed my command to persevere, I will protect you from the great time of testing that will be coming upon the whole world to test those that belong to this world.  I am coming soon. Amen.” Revelation 3:10-11

Additional Information

Recommended Internet Data Speed

You need a minimum download speed of 3 Megabits per second to watch a single video stream in clear, standard definition. The best Internet speed for HD streaming is 5Mbps, and if you go all the way up to 4K streaming, or ultra HD, your bandwidth should start at 25Mbps.

Other Links

Here are some interesting links to more articles relating to Church Streaming.

www.capoministrysolutions.com/blog/  Article by Jim Jensen “After the Crisis-COVID—19” Willing to offer help.

www.Churchstreaming.tv  Easy and quick ideas to get started.

www.neversettle.it Interesting streaming gadgets

www.churchtechtoday.com  Simple to setup small systems on small budgets.

www.obsproject.com Open Broadcasting Software (OBS) is a free and open-source cross-platform streaming and recording now known as OBS STUDIO.

 

See what others are doing:

www.gatewaypeople.tv

www.crossroadschurch.net

 

Photo by Prateek Katyal from Pexels

1 Comment

  1. A Guide to Live Streaming – Paul Hunter on April 24, 2020 at 11:28 am

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