In Part 1 of Getting Your Church An Online Presence, I covered the basics of what is necessary to make all of this happen. Beginning with this post, I will start digging into the the depths of how to do this. Be warned…this might get too technical for the novice, so just remember that I will try to make this as easy to do as possible.
There’s not much to say about your Internet connection, except that you need to insure that you have the proper bandwidth to do this. 3mb down with 1mb up is about the slowest you will want to go with in order to do a live broadcast of audio and video. Check with your Internet provider to find out what you have, if you don’t already know!
Now, I am going to assume that you have a PC already connected to the Internet and along with that, a decent video webcam. If you don’t have a webcam already, I would suggest the Microsoft Lifecam Studio 1080p HD Webcam. I have one of these and they work out wonderfully and give a great High Definition picture too!
This camera has it’s own software that controls everything from brightness and contrast to a digital zoom. This camera should work in most small church settings. Of course, if you have a digital camcorder already that will hookup to the PC and can be used as a webcam, then you can definitely use that or one like it!
Now that you have the PC and the webcam, the next step is to pickup some broadcasting software. Here, I suggest ManyCam for this application. They have a free version that should work for your application of live broadcasting. If you find you need more, you can purchase a license fairly inexpensively for this software to expand it’s capabilities.
Now, in order to broadcast live to your Online Audience, you will need to use a platform designed for this. If you are NOT going to be broadcasting music of any kind, then you can use Google Hangouts. For this platform, you will need a Gmail account and get setup through YouTube to perform the live broadcasting. Another inexpensive way to do this is from SermonCast.
SermonCast, offers a free account, however, you cannot broadcast live with the free account. You can purchase a monthly subscription for $15.00 and up depending on your congregation size. See their site for more details.
If you want to broadcast music, you will need the proper CCLI Licensing to do this. Your church might already have a CCLI License for your hymn music, however, there are special licensing for broadcasting and streaming, as well as having this music on your web site.
Again, depending on your congregation size, will determine how much your licensing will cost. You will want the Podcasting and Streaming License along with the standard Church Copyright License. This will cover you for thousands of songs that CCLI holds the licensing for.
There are other streaming services available such as Justin.TV and UStream, however, these free services will shows ads that may not be appropriate to your viewers and your Worship Services may be broadcast along side of shows that again, are not appropriate for your congregation and your church. Do your research thoroughly before using any service for your broadcasting. Same applies for your recorded services too. I suggest using Vimeo and picking up one of their Plus or Pro packages so that you can get your videos online quicker and easier. You can use the free service, but you are restricted to I think, 500mb max upload per week. If your videos fall under this restriction, you will be okay. If not, you will need to go to one of their paid services.
At this point, once you have all the PC and software and additional hardware installed and setup, you are ready to begin broadcasting. Make sure you have enough hard drive space to hold your recordings and a way to take them from this PC and archive them somewhere until you can store them or get them to another PC to edit your videos prior to uploading them.
One nice feature of both Google Hangouts and SermonCast, is that both of these services will record your video while you are broadcasting and then the services will both automatically upload them to your appropriate accounts for viewing. YouTube have a built-in video editor online that you can go, after the fact to edit your videos. SermonCast does not as far as I know. Again, check with the service you plan to use to ensure you have everything in place before you go live!
One last tip for today’s post is to do PLENTY of dry runs BEFORE you plan to go live! To do this, have a friend at their house on their Internet connection go to where your live broadcast will be shown. Then, you simply use the service you have chosen to start a live broadcast and you will be on the camera or have someone in front of the camera and then have your friend on the phone so they can tell you what they are seeing (or not seeing) and you can adjust the video and sound accordingly and then will be ready for your live broadcast once these dry runs are completed.
If you need help with any of these services, most all have great Support Teams that are ready to help. The main thing to remember here, is to do LOTS of dry runs so that you know, not only how to operate your equipment and software, but that you will be able to broadcast your services easily and maintain an online presence for your ministry!
In our next post, we will cover setting up a web site and hosting for your ministry web site.
Until next time!
Be a Blessing and Be Blessed!
Rev. Dr. Robert White, Senior Pastor