Should Your Church Live Stream?

Chances are, your church has either started live streaming recently or has considered it at some point. With equipment improvements, lower entry costs, and availability through the web and social media, live streaming is becoming more common in the church. If you are considering adding a streamed service or posting videos for replay viewing to your ministry, here are a few things to keep in mind.

  • How are we going to do this? There are lots of options when it comes to equipment and hosting. This could look as simple as setting up your smartphone to live stream straight to Facebook, or a full video system, including cameras, switchers, and hosting. Don’t overstretch yourself. Find a setup that works for your team and your budget.
  • Does this have to be live? While it does sound great to say your services are being streamed live, all over Facebook or YouTube, a live stream may not be the best fit for every church or ministry. Consider other options like posting a replay later in the day, or creating a prerecorded version of the sermon, specifically for social media. This may save you money, and depending on your target audience, may connect better than a live stream.
  • Who are we trying to reach? Is this primarily for your church members who cannot attend this week? Are you trying to give guests a peek at what services are like at your church? Maybe you are trying to launch a full digital ministry through a live stream service. Your equipment, hosting, and strategy will differ, depending on your audience.
  • What will we show on our live stream or video replay? You have probably seen churches streaming services on your own Facebook feeds. The primary focus is usually the message (sermon), but many times it will include worship. Typically, people connect well with the sermon and is a great part to include. While including worship does give viewers a chance to see what happens through the whole service, it will often require more to maintain quality and connect with the audience.
  • What about copyright and keeping our stream legal? This is a big one. Please be sure you really look into church streaming copyright licensing and what is allowed and not allowed. Here is a quick break down…
    • Preaching Only – Can be live-streamed and posted for replay without any copyright license needed, as long as the message does not include any copyrighted music or pre-recorded video content.
    • Worship Included on Live Stream – Requires a streaming license for live performance of copyrighted music. No pre-recorded audio allowed (singing to tracks)
    • Worship Included on Replay Video Post – Requires a streaming license to be uploaded to Facebook, YouTube, Vimeo, or similar site. No pre-recorded audio allowed (singing to tracks). If the streaming license ever expires, all videos including copyrighted material must be removed immediately.
    • Prerecorded audio is not allowed with any streaming license. Permission must be obtained by contacting the copyright owner directly.

A note about copyright law and streaming licenses. You may still be flagged by Facebook or YouTube for copyrighted material, through their automated process. You can appeal this, citing the proper licenses, but it may take some time to resolve. You may also be required to allow ads to run on content including copyrighted music.

There are two common options for church streaming licenses. Christian Copyright Licensing International (CCLI) and Christian Copyright Solutions (CCS) each have a blanket streaming license. You will not need both of these but would choose one based on your needs. The basic difference between the two is CCLI will cover only your worship services and will require the base CCLI license for lyrics, while CCS will cover other church events outside of your normal worship times, but will not include any licenses for lyric reproduction.

CCLI Website – https://us.ccli.com

CCS Website – https://christiancopyrightsolutions.com

There are lots of other things to consider, and if you are just getting into this, it can be confusing. Don’t let the number of options discourage or intimidate you. There are lots of great resources available online. Here are a few…

Facebook Live
https://www.facebook.com/facebookmedia/solutions/facebook-live

YouTube Live
https://support.google.com/youtube/topic/9257891?gclid=Cj0KCQjwu6fzBRC6ARIsAJUwa2QflCUu88ExT3CHnVY9OT0WmvkqL9aUk-fgxv1ypynoEGJMdWULqeMaAukzEALw_wcB&gclsrc=aw.ds

Vimeo Video Storage
https://vimeo.com/upgrade

5 Reasons to Live Stream
https://www.boxcast.com/blog/top-5-reasons-your-church-should-be-live-streaming

4 Hurdles to Live Streaming
https://factsandtrends.net/2019/05/10/4-hurdles-to-clear-before-streaming-your-worship-services/

Live Streaming Equipment
https://www.joelwsmith.com/gear/the-budget-friendly-live-streaming-package/

Live Streaming is Overrated
https://prochurchtools.com/live-streaming-churches-overrated-ep-114/

Ultimately your church needs a digital presence to minister in this digital age. But don’t feel the pressure to do something just because other churches are doing it. Find something that fits your church and ministry, and do it well.

Feel free to contact me if you have other questions on starting a live stream at your church – steven.haney@louisianabaptists.org