So, you want to put your church on the Internet, but you don’t have an idea of where to begin? I am going to give you a guide, that will enable you to go online, with a web site and even live broadcasting of your Worship Services AND even have an audio and video podcast of your services too! And what about setting up a 24 Hour Internet Radio Station for your church too? Sounds way too complicated, you say?
Ok, I admit, that this is not for the faint of heart or for the technophobe or even newbie to try this. You should have at least some working knowledge of how the computer works, the software is installed and how it runs, and even a smidgen of knowledge of how the Internet works too. This has taken me many hours of research, trial and error, and even a few “bad” purchases, to get to where I am today!
Let me start by telling you that I have been helping churches get online since 2007. Podcasting was still fairly new and live video was still new enough that only if you had a good enough broadband Internet, that you couldn’t even attempt to do live video, let alone, even watch videos without a lot of buffering.
Now, before you go out and try to do all of this in one fell swoop, let me stop you and say, take a deep breath, let it out, and do this one step at a time! Don’t make the mistake of building in issues, before you even get up and running!
I will be doing these posts in different parts. Today’s post will cover the basics for getting started. Future posts will give more details and go into the nitty-gritty of the process.
To start with, you should have a good web site. Now, I think it’s great that the 15 year old “genius” in your congregation has built the site for you and it can give the Worship Service times, how to find your church and even a little about the Pastor, but, does it look like it is representing your Church like it should be? Go to someone outside of your congregation, if you don’t already have someone within your congregation that can handle this project and is willing to put the time and effort into it to see it through. Then, have them go to your site. If you don’t have a .com or .org domain name (or something like that) and your church web site address looks like http://mychurchname.freehosting.com or http://www.freehosting.com/mychurchname , then the first thing you need to do is to get a domain name that will represent your church. Try to get a .com, and if it is taken, try for a .org, and finally, like many have done, go for a .co or .us domain and call it good! There are plenty of domain registrars available, so choose one that you are familiar with or want to start with, and then get your domain name registered and hosted. I use GoDaddy.com for all of my domain names and then I host through HostMonster.com. This way, I get the best (in my opinion) of both worlds!
Ok, I digress, get someone to look at your site and without any prompting from you, have them report back to you as to how they feel about the site. The layout, the verbage, the background colors, etc. and make notes about this to have your webmaster make some constructive criticism changes. Next thing to consider about your web site, is how your mobile or tablet users “see” your site. If you web site is not mobile ready, then you need to look into having a mobile site designed or get yourself a responsive site (a site that will automatically change to fit mobile and tablet devices) so that you can reach out to a larger audience. Your 15 year old webmaster MAY be able to do this for you, and then again, he may not be able too either. He may be cheap or free, but you need to look to someone who can really get you going on this front, BEFORE you attempt to go live on the Internet.
Alright! Now, once you have your web site sorted out, let’s look at your first step of getting ready to go live. You will need a decent broadband Internet connection at your church, if you want to even think about producing a live video broadcast. If you don’t have an Internet connection or your connection isn’t at least 3mb down and 1mb up, you need to upgrade your connection. The more the better in these cases! Internet bandwidth is priced nicely nowadays, so there should be no reason why you can’t have a good connection at your church and still stay within your budget.
Ok, let’s stop for a minute here and discuss another option for you churches that don’t have an Internet connection or it’s not within your budget to do this right now. There is a way that you can still put an audio and video podcast on your web site and allow your congregation and others to get ahold of your Worship Services, right from your site.
You will want to go to
and signup for a free ministry account. When you decide to go live later, you will be able to upgrade your account, depending on the size of your congregation, to a paid account that will allow for live broadcasting capabilities. Once you have your free account, you can tool around the site and learn how to do what is needed to upload audio and video files. I won’t go into that in this guide, but I have used this service for a number of years and they are stable and have great support, and learning to navigate the site is easy too.
Once your account is online, get yourself a digital voice recorder. These run around $50.00, give or take, and this will give you a way to voice record your Worship Services. Here is one like I used when I first started and still use it today.
These recorders will record several hours of recordings and they have a USB connection that will allow you to easily bring the recordings to your PC for editing and compiling. Once you have your recording saved on your PC, you will need something like Audacity so that you can edit and compile your recording into an MP3 format. After you have edited your recording and have it saved as an MP3, go to your Sermon.net account and upload the recording to your file area and from there you will be able to get the links to add to your web site for others to download or listen to the recordings. Your webmaster can even be a bit creative here and offer ab RSS Feed for the recordings and even an embedded player so that they can be played from your web site. Again, if your current webmaster cannot accomplish this, it might be time to get them some help in this area!
Having an audio podcast on your website is a great beginning. This isn’t live, but a pre-recorded option that will allow home bound or working people in your congregation to be able to enjoy your sermons, special music, etc. after each Sunday Service. Also, this gives others around the World to listen and download your sermon podcasts and expand your ministry beyond the church building walls!
This covers the basics for getting online. I know it is vague, but if you have any questions, please feel free to post them in the comments or use the Contact Us page to get ahold of me with your questions.
My next post will cover licensing. Due to copyright infringement issues, you can’t post certain songs, music, etc. on your web site without the proper licensing. Don’t panic! This is very affordable, even for the smaller churches. We still have a lot to cover, so check in as the new posts appear and keep yourself up to date!
We’ll see you next time!
Be a Blessing and Be Blessed!
Rev. Dr. Robert White, Senior Pastor