Temporary Solutions for Livestreaming Church Services

CHICAGO, IL (March 13, 2020) — As churches cancel in-person services, many are moving to livestream options. For some congregations, that means a quick learning curve and identifying affordable solutions.

One easy option is to set up a stand for an iPad or iPhone and stream to Facebook Live or YouTube, said Kenton Johnson, an account executive at IAS technology, which provides audiovisual and streaming technology to congregations and businesses. He has also served as choir director at Princeton (Illinois) Covenant Church for 45 years.

Johnson added that churches need to ensure that they have a high enough upload speed through their internet service provider. To stream on Facebook Live or YouTube requires at least a 6 mega-bits per second upload speed, which will support the 720p resolution maximum Facebook allows. Congregations using YouTube may not need as high a speed, but slower than 6 Mbps will reduce the quality of the video, Johnson said.

If a church has a contract for at least 6 Mbps but is not getting a good signal, they may need to check their actual speed at www.speedtest.net.

Johnson said one church had a contract for 5 Mpbs, but their webcast video was choppy. They discovered that their video surveillance system (not security system), which allowed the pastor to see what was happening from his phone, was using up most of the church’s bandwidth. The pastor now turns off the system 15 minutes before the service and restarts it after worship.

Johnson recommended that churches be aware of other devices that could affect their network traffic. He recommended the website Boxcast.com for the general information regarding streaming for churches. Although that site promotes a specific product, it also offers useful details and data.

Videos posted to a church’s public Facebook page may be viewed by anyone, even if they do not have a Facebook account.

Peter Foster, pastor of the Gathering, a Covenant congregation in Patterson, California, said their church held a “How to Read the Bible” training earlier this week that was attended by about 20 people and also streamed on Facebook Live by using an iPhone mounted near a speaker.

Susan Gillespie, pastor of Trinity Covenant Church in Livingston, New Jersey, said they will livestream their service using an iPad mounted in front of a speaker. They will also use a different camera to record the service and post online. Their service will include 25 minutes of music, prayer, and a meditation, Gillespie said. “It’s going to be strange for staff and the worship team, but I hope it will look familiar to viewers.”

Other ministers said they would not livestream but plan to record sermons to be posted online later.

Covenant worship leaders cautioned that congregations must have a special CCLI video streaming license in order to stream music as part of their worship.

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About the Author

Stan Friedman is the news and online editor for the Covenant Companion and is grateful for the opportunity to serve in a job that combines his newspaper and pastoral ministry experience. He has been to 15 Bruce Springsteen concerts in four cities and listened to “Thunder Road” an average of at least once a day for 41 years.

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3 Comments

  1. Please remember that there are deaf and hard of hearing people out there that will need closed captioning. Please also remember that per the ADA, FCC, Section 508 of the Rehab Act, and a few others, any live streaming content must also be live captioned. Churches are not exempt from this law. Small churches can use “Zoom” and have a fast typist from their congregation do the live captioning. Otherwise, you’ll pay a live captioning company around $100/hr minimum. There’s also an auto-live-captioning solution using vMix and Webcaptioner.com for only purchasing the software for $60, but that’s more a DIY solution.

  2. ”Videos posted to a church’s public Facebook page may be viewed by anyone, even if they do not have a Facebook account.“ How does this work? We have been live streaming for about 2 years on Facebook with great feedback.
    For those not having FB , we have not figured out this works.

  3. Great ideas, Kenton! I’m a former Covenant Communications employee now operating my own live streaming video production company. My business partner, Luke, also a former Covenant Communications employee, and I are available to consult with churches during this disruptive time. Remote technologies can help people stay connected during this time of social distancing but recognize that it can be difficult to set up.

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