How (and why) to livestream your services
Ryan Hayden • October 13, 2019how-to livestreaming walkthroughs
When I was in Bible college, the mega-church I attended was one of the first to live stream their services online. I remember the large tv style camera's spread throughout the auditorium, each requiring a dedicated cameraman and I remember hearing about a switch room and a master controller directing the various cuts and camera switches. I have no idea how much that setup cost but it had to be enormously expensive.
Our church is less than a tenth the size of that church and our budget is probably far less than a tenth of their budget. We have very few technically savvy volunteers. Yet we still manage to livestream our services.
In this article I'm going to show you how any church can pull this off, regardless of budget, size and available volunteers. Following this setup will cost less than $800 with no ongoing costs ($450 if you bring your own iPad), and any volunteer will be able to run it, regardless of technical skill.
Why setup a live stream for your church? I can think of several bad reasons and a few good ones:
Bad reasons to live stream:
- Marketing - Frankly, no one is going to go to your church because of a live stream. For the most part, people don't watch them. So if you think it's going to get more people in your church I'm sorry to burst your bubble.
- Money - A livestream service will net your church exactly nothing. Actually, it will cost your church money.
- Notoriety - A livestream service will not make you internet famous. They are as common now as grass. If anything it may increase your chances of having some clip of a gaff show up in a viral tweet.
Good reasons to live stream:
- Shut Ins - People who cannot make it to church because of sickness or declining health can watch the church service from the comfort of their home or hospital bed. Several people in our church who are fighting cancer regularly watch our services online.
- Vacationers - People who are on vacation can watch your church service. Its often very difficult to find a church of like faith while traveling and many times people in your church will just put the live stream on a tv and watch that way.
- Folks who move away - From time to time, people who have moved away from your church will enjoy watching the church service.
- Other preachers - Sometimes, out of town pastors might enjoy watching your service.
For years, I resisted live streaming because, in my mind the only reason to do it was marketing. It took dear faithful people going through cancer and not being able to make it to cause me to look into it. Now, a few years later, I'm very glad to have done it for the good reasons listed above.
How to live stream for less than $1000.
- In order to pull this off, your church will need to have wifi and a solid internet connection.
- A church youtube account.
- Also, for the purpose of this tutorial I'm going to assume you have a soundboard/mixer. Although not required, it's going to sound a million times better.
- You may want to put an power outlet near the front and middle of your auditorium. We have one right underneath our front most pew right next to the aisle.
A Mevo Plus camera - $349.99
This little camera is amazing and really what makes this possible. It sits on a mic stand near the front of the auditorium and captures the service using a very wide angle 4k camera, then it downsamples that picture to 1080p and streams it to youtube, facebook, vimeo, twitter or livestream. Because the picture is wide and very high resolution, it allows you to fake having multiple cameras and zoom in and out of various parts of the stage.
An iPad - $329
The Mevo works through an iPad using the free Mevo app. This app allows a volunteer to start and stop the service, zoom the camera in an out and switch between preset views. It's incredibly easy to use.
You can probably save money by using your own iPad, but I suggest keeping one dedicated to this purpose.
A Mic Stand - $20.50
The Mevo comes with a mic stand adapter and any mic stand will do. I prefer the type with the heavy circular base over the ones with tripod legs, because the tripod ones can be a tripping hazard depending on where you put this.
RCA to Stereo adapter - $8.45
You'll need to be able to output sound from your soundboard into the iPad so that the sound the viewers get is from your microphones and not the onboard mic on the camera. I suggest getting one with a bit of length so that you can move the iPad around the soundbooth or give it to someone on one of your back pews near the soundbooth. Almost all soundboards have rca outputs and you can just go out from these into your iPad's headphone jack using the splitter below.
Y Connector - $8.99
Finally, to get the sound into the iPad as a microphone, you'll want a y splitter adapter. Just attach the RCA cable to the mic side of this and then plug it into the iPad's headphone jack.
Once you have the equipment, the setup is easy:
Setup Your Sound Board
Attach the RCA ends from the RCA to 3.5mm cable to the RCA output of your soundboard. Usually, this will just send your "main mix" which is what you want.
Setup Your Microphone
The microphone does not need to be near the Soundboard. I suggest you put your microphone (on the micstand) right behind your first or second pew near the center aisle. You may want to have an electrician wire a floor mounted power outlet under the pew, so you can plug the mevo in and not worry about the battery life (which isn't great).
Setup Your iPad
On the iPad, download the Mevo App and connnect it to your church's youtube page.
With all that in place it's just a matter of turning on the Mevo camera, opening the Mevo app, and clicking the youtube button. Your church now has a live stream.