Paraphrasing from a webinar: Online is not the backdoor to worship anymore. It is the front door for many newcomers, and a sidedoor for the faithful (those homebound, and those away from home). This pandemic forced us into online worship that many of us were not prepared for or enthusiastic about but, having made it over the initial hurdle we now find ourselves equipped with new tools for spreading the Word. Let’s make use of these tools to the best of our abilities.
If you have questions, or answers about online ministry, we have formed a user group. Email our Director of Communications, Kristin Knudson-Groh, to join. firstname.lastname@example.org
We had a great forum led by Jeremy Tackett, Digital Evangelist for the Episcopal Church. You may watch a recording of the evening here. His slide deck is here. He gave us a good deal of hands-on information about equipment and things to consider.
Below are some resources for instruction, for equipment, for software, for platforms. This is by no means a comprehensive list, and not necessarily meant to endorse any particular products or services. And please remember, whatever works best for your community is enough! Be true to yourself and your priorities; you do not have to do everything, or buy all the toys.
- This is a basic guide to livestreaming to Facebook. Easy to understand, easy to get started, if you are still at the dipping-your-toe-in stage. https://youtu.be/nhnR0hahkD0
- A more comprehensive guide for streaming to Facebook. <https://docs.google.com/document/d/11MvzMHIRneZSRLblyIsS7pZvTisao8tTY1fab8fn1uM/edit
Suggestions for what equipment and software you might need for starting to record or livestream your services:
- https://openblog.life.church/getting-started-with-church-online-equipment They helpfully break it down by budget; low, medium, high-end.
- This also has some really good guidance, and suggestions for equipment. https://restream.io/blog/how-to-begin-streaming-live-church-services/
- Mevo camera set-ups are designed for livestreaming and have received good reviews.
- If you are thinking about a multi camera set up and multiple audio sources, you will need software to manage all that. Switcher is one option.
Recommendations from the field:
- “EpocCam that lets you use your phone as a webcam with either Mac or PC. This is a huge benefit because for $8 I can use the 1080 on my phone rather than the 780 on my laptop”
- “I am really pleased with eCamm.live. It’s quite like OBS, but much more integrated and robust (also, not free, but you get what you pay for!). One of the issues we had with OBS was a considerable visual delay between hitting “Go Live” and the screen saying we were live (though on FB we had been live during the delay…awkward!). In any case, eCamm is so much smoother and works directly with Facebook, YouTube, and a bunch of others.
What other tools can I use for videos or livestreams?
- The Diocese has been using Vimeo to host our videos and push them out to social media.
- https://streamyard.com/ is another platform for livestreaming and pushing to social media.
One License: If you would like use music in any of your streaming services, you must have a streaming license. One License is the most comprehensive source for titles found in the 1982 Hymnal, and they have an arrangement with Church Publishing Incorporated. If you would like assistance with your streaming license, please contact Mary Ann Mello. The Congregational Development Commission is making grants available to help defray the cost of this additional license. Apply here.
Public Domain: There are a number of hymns in the public domain that can be used during your live-stream with no license. Please check the list of public domain hymns here http://www.hymnsuntogod.org/Hymns-PD/ZZ-CompletePDHymnList.html before moving forward with individual songs.
Another information source – https://caffeinated-church.squarespace.com/streaming-content-licenses
Internet signal. Do you have the bandwith or signal strength that you need, or will need? We’ve all been figuring out that what’s worked fine in the office may be lousy in the chancel. Rambling buildings and stone walls are not helping the signal from your router. It may be time to investigate wifi extenders, or to contact your provider about an upgrade.
Who is doing this? You should expand the number of people involved in your online ministry. Who can run the camera? Who can be the Zoom usher? Who is editing the recordings, who is producing the feeds?
Welcome. How do you reach out to your digital audience to include them into your community?
We’re all trying to sort this out. Below are some resources that other dioceses have put together. Not all of the information may fit us here, but there are helpful elements.
https://ecww.org/live-streaming-resources-for-churches/ Diocese of Western Washington
https://episcopalcolorado.org/connected-in-common/ Diocese of Colorado
https://www.churchofengland.org/digital-labs/labs-learning-blog/labs-learning-blogs Church of England