Churches run regular events for sermons, prayer services, and bible study. So why would a church broadcast live when it already provides these events onsite and offers members a physical place to connect with god. On top of that, most churches put their service on YouTube after they record it during the service and it works fine. While many churches are big proponents of live streaming in the first place, others think live streaming is not essential.
Stats show that over 84% of churches use church website and Facebook page as an essential line of communication.
However, as the COVID-19 spread forced church closures to practice social distancing, the number of churches taking their Sunday service online is increasing. If you are reading this blog, you might probably be interested in learning how to live stream your church service from your own website. Having a custom church platform to allow your viewers to access your worship services and events goes a long way in growing your congregation beyond the walls.
But, the first obvious question that comes to our mind is how much it will cost to create a live church streaming website. This blog is a comprehensive live video streaming setup guide in which you will be exploring the essential things you need to stream your church services live and the overall cost for the same. Let’s get started.
Reasons Your Church Should Be Live Streaming
Even if things go well for your church, if you are not live streaming, you are missing out on the opportunities to grow your church. In fact, as more people get to see your service online, the more likely they are to visit your church.
Before going into how much does it cost to live stream, let’s explore the benefits of live streaming your church services.
Reach a Global Audience
Live streaming your church services reaches a global audience outside the physical walls of your church. One of the main benefits of live streaming your church service is allowing members who cannot make to your service a chance to be a part of it. Homebound church members whether they are unwell or physically challenged can attend church service live from the comfort of their homes.
Communities and people who are not in the local vicinity of the church can also benefit from live streaming of your church services and sermons rather than missing out on the service completely. With live streaming, the worship community can come together to hear the message from the comforts of home.
Attract New Members
The live stream setup for the church has become the new front door to attract new members. When a church streams its services online, it invites new members to join the service to see how the sermon resonates with them. Live streaming not just attracts new members, but also keeps your members connected to your ministry when they can’t be there in person.
Leads to Greater Engagement for Church Members
When everyone watches your service at the same time, there are more opportunities for fostering interactions and engagement. If you take your church service live, participants can react to specific moments and everyone can comment and interact with other people’s comments in real-time. Members of the church who are traveling or who have moved away can tune into your live videos and experience being part of the church community.
Every year, churches would host several important events like holiday concerts, bible studies, weddings, baptism services, and more. Sometimes, church members who want to be part of these special moments won’t be able to make it to your church. If you host live broadcasts of such events, it would be easy for everyone to be a part of those important moments despite their physical distance.
Opens Channel for Donations and Giving
With live broadcasts of their church services, churches can encourage the viewers to make donations or contributions to the collection. It’s easier for the viewers who are willing to give donations when they are on the church website.
Essentials Required for Church Live Streaming Setup
If you have decided to dive into how to set up live streaming for your church, you need to consider investing in essential equipment. Starting out, you can live stream your church service with a minimum setup that goes along with your budget. Here is what is needed to live stream church service in high-quality.
The camera is one of the most important live streaming church service equipment as it is essential to shoot live videos of great quality. There is a rich assortment of church live streaming equipment from which you can select either more affordable or high budget cameras. It mainly depends on how much you are willing to spend. To stream your sermons live, you basically need a camera that records in HD and features an HDMI output. This is enough if you have a restricted budget but you can invest in a camcorder or a camera that costs over $1000. If you want to go ahead with high end live video production, it is recommended to invest in a camera that captures 4k videos up to 30 fps.
Here are some of the different types of cameras to choose from, such as
- Webcam: Cheapest cameras that must be connected to a laptop or desktop.
- Camcorder: Designed for shooting videos. Pick one with HDMI or WI-FI capabilities.
- DSLR: Specially designed for best quality professional photos and videos.
- Action Camera: Designed for more active video shooting. It gives more stability and is essential for live streaming if the pastor moves around often during the service.
No matter how well your camera works in low light conditions, your videos can still end up suffering the quality. This is where investing in a lighting setup may come to your rescue. Arrange a church live streaming setup where there are a few lighting sources in the center of the platform where the pastor stands. If there are more people you want the camera to capture, you must install multiple lighting sources or use adjustable lighting that can be controlled from a single system.
Church Streaming Encoder
Another essential tool required in a live streaming setup for small churches which is required to transfer the information to a communicable format. Based on your unique requirements and purposes. You must choose between a hardware encoder or software encoder which we will be discussing in the upcoming section.
Live Streaming Accessories
In addition to the recording and lighting equipment, encoder, several other accessories are required to go live with your church services.
The microphone is a piece of essential equipment required to make sure the congregation can clearly hear worship.
While your camera might have an inbuilt microphone, it is recommended to invest in a separate microphone so that you can ensure the audio delivery is prompt.
To make your camera stay steady you need to use a tripod to ensure video stabilization.
HDMI cable ensures the video is smoothly fed from the camera.
If your camera is apart from the PC or encoder, you might need an HDMI extender as well.
If you are using multiple cameras, a video switcher is essential to switch between multiple cameras.
What is Video Encoding?
Video encoding or video transcoding is the process of converting a given video stream to a digital format that is compatible with most web players and mobile devices. This is because different video players, browsers, and digital devices play videos in different formats. Your camera records that happen in your church with the top video quality. However, the resulting video streams would be larger in size and this raw content needs compression. That is why you need a video encoder. It ensures that video files are optimized so that they can be transmitted quickly over the web. The most significant point to keep in mind is that each video format comes with its own specifications like video codec with H264 and H265, WMV, HEV, WebM, VP8, VP9, and audio codecs like MP3 and WMA.
Now that you have a better understanding of video encoding and the purpose of an encoder, let’s take a close look into 2 different types of video encoders: Hardware and software encoders.
Hardware video encoders are dedicated processors that leverage a designed algorithm to encode video and data into a streamable format. These encoders come in both small and portable sizes, and large fixtures. Considering the higher price point, only professional broadcasters use hardware encoders. They are highly specialized for encoding, and have a lot of advantages over software encoders.
With that said, the live video quality of hardware video encoders is generally constant. There is not a lot of room to modify the video quality. Not just that, hardware encoders take time to design, build, and manufacture which makes hardware variant very rigid compared to the flexible encoding software.
Software video encoders are programs that run on your desktop, laptop, or any other digital devices. These encoders are very simple to set up and it is a way to change the aspects of the codecs to get the video quality and bitrate according to your requirements. You can easily update the software to a new version when the new updates become available. Software encoders are mostly used by beginner live streamers due to its affordable cost and customization features. OBS Studio, for example, is one of the free and popular open-source encoders. Adobe’s Flash Media live encoder is also a great option for beginners.
Do You Need Hardware or Software Encoders to Live Stream Your Church Services?
If you are looking for the best church streaming encoder and are confused between hardware or software encoders, the ultimate goal should be to choose the best possible option for the budget you have.
As both hardware and software encoders come with its own advantages, affordability plays a significant role in the decision making process. When compared to software encoders, hardware variants are expensive and you might also have to invest in additional tools to fill the gap due to the lack of functionality. While software encoders are affordable, high-end variants can also become quite expensive. To run the software encoders, you might even need a dedicated computer.
Another major benefit of software encoders is there are good free software encoders like OBS studio, which is beneficial for beginner churches. Whereas there are no free hardware encoders. Hence, it is recommended to choose a reasonably priced software encoder and a decent computer that showcases high performance. While a hardware encoder is mainly for professional broadcasters, software encoder is more flexible, less expensive, simple to use, and a winner in most scenarios especially for people who are just starting out with live streaming.
Live Church Streaming Service on Social Media
The most significant thing you want to figure out when learning how to live stream church service is to choose the right platform. To allow people to view your church sermons online, you will need a live streaming platform. When it comes to the free live streaming platforms, there are many free social media platforms out there but they are not exclusively for churches. The most relevant social media live streaming platforms include Facebook Live and YouTube Live.
Facebook Live allows you to set up live videos including church services, sermons, bible studies, and special church events. If you already have a large Facebook following, it is a great option as it is free. Another major benefit is that live videos on Facebook would always be on autoplay mode, meaning your live church service starts directly playing when users are scrolling through their homepage, making it easy to get them hooked. Being one of the domain live streaming platforms on social media, live content of all types perform the best on the platform.
The live streaming service of YouTube is another popular live streaming platform choice after Facebook. As it is one of the most popular and largest video streaming platforms where most users spend hours browsing videos, it makes sense to choose YouTube Live to stream your church services live.
While the free service works great the platform also offers dedicated support with paid services. Free platforms like these social media platforms are a great way to test it out when you are starting. However, if you want to bring in a professional touch to your live videos, nothing can beat the benefits of designing a dedicated space for streaming your live church services, and that makes our next point.
Live Church Streaming Service on Your Own Video Platform
As free social media live streaming platforms are not very effective when it comes to streaming your church services live, the best option is to learn how to set up streaming video for church on your own platform.
If you want to build your live church streaming platform on a budget, the most viable option is to consider using readymade solutions that are easily available in the market to build your own website. This readymade solution helps to create a live streaming platform for your church in simple steps and in an affordable manner.
After deciding on the important aspects of how to stream church service online, the next thing you need to decide is the features and functionalities of your church live streaming platform. Here are some of the essential features you must consider adding to your church live streaming platform.
It is the main page of your church’s live streaming platform that your users land first.
Sign Up and User Profiles
Sign up allows your users to register to your platform via email id or social media accounts. After registering on the website, your users must be able to create user profiles on your platform.
The search function allows your users to browse the videos easily to find the published videos.
Secure Payment Gateways
Allowing your users to pay on your live streaming platform through secure payment integrations is essential if you want to accept donations, tithing, etc on your platform.
One of the important features you must integrate into your church live streaming platform is analytics and reporting tools. It helps to measure the performance of your live services and analyze how your users engage with your live streams.
Push notification integration allows you to notify your users about new live videos and other important updates.
While watching your live broadcasts, users can share their comments and thoughts with each other.
Unlimited Live Streaming
You can broadcast unlimited live videos from your church live streaming platform.
Dynamic Admin Panel
Another integral feature your church live streaming platform need is the admin panel that helps to moderate content, manage user profiles, handle monetization, delete content, etc. easily and effortlessly.
Cost to Create a Live Church Streaming Service Platform
In this section, let’s look into the most significant aspect of creating a live streaming set up for your church- how much does it cost to live stream your church services?
The overall cost of creating a live church streaming website greatly depends on the development methods you choose to create your streaming website. As discussed, building a church live streaming service using a ready-made live streaming solution can be an affordable approach.
The following are some of the factors that you must consider when calculating the overall cost to build a live church streaming platform.
Live Video Streaming Platform
One of the best affordable live streaming solutions is StreamHash’s church live streaming software StreamChurch to help you live stream your churches efficiently. You can conduct Sunday services, sermons, bible studies, prayer meetings, broadcast gospel music, host Sunday school, and offer all related services to your congregation.
You just need a professional camera, a PC, and a stable internet connection. The software even features OBS integration, making it easy to convert your videos to desirable formats that suit different platforms and devices you are streaming to. If you wonder what is the cost of the live streaming solution, it just costs around $499 for a deluxe variant and $999 for the ultimate package with all essential features, lifetime support, and access to complete source code.
To create a church live streaming site, you need to register a domain name for your site and hosting to power your streaming platform. The hosting might cost you around $20-$30 for a year that you need to renew every year to continue enjoying the services.
To host your live videos, you need to invest in a powerful server. The server cost varies according to the RAM capacity you require to host your live videos. The cost of services might vary around $10-$20 per month based on the RAM space you need.
The camera is one of the most important church live streaming equipment and there are different types of cameras like webcams, DSLR, camcorders, and action cameras. Pricing for these cameras might range from under $100- $2000. Keep in mind that you don’t have to choose the most expensive or fanciest camera. It is important to purchase what’s right for your church.
The next important element of church live streaming setup is lighting equipment which might cost you $108 for a decent setup and can range upto $500 for a fully functional setup. A tripod is another essential equipment that might cost you around $25 to $300 for a sophisticated device that has built-in bonus features.
Hardware and Software Encoder Cost
As we have discussed in the previous section, hardware encoders feature a higher price and you won’t find any free hardware variants. The cost starts at $100 and might go up to $1000 or more. Whereas you can find free software encoders like OBS studio and premium options like Wirecast and Mix which might cost around $599 and $ 60-$1200 respectively. There are other software that starts at a price point of $99 as well but features vary widely.
The goal of any church is to reach people across the globe and touch lives. Live streaming is all about reaching as many people as possible to spread the gospel. By live streaming your church service and other related events, you can take your ministry beyond the walls of your church connecting with a global audience than ever before. A growing church is a healthy church that is used by God to do great things. If you need assistance on creating a live streaming website to broadcast your church services, get in touch with us.