How To Livestream Your Church Services on Facebook and Periscope at Little-To-No Cost

How To Livestream Your Church Services on Facebook and Periscope at Little-To-No Cost

How To Livestream Your Church Services on Facebook and Periscope at Little-To-No Cost 150 150 Corey Estep

The world is launching a full-scale attack on the spread of COVID-19. The world is behaving in a way that it hasn’t in a long time. It is bizarre, to say the least. Among the weirdness, there are serious restrictions being placed on gatherings. At the time of writing this blog, President Donald Trump has strongly suggested that gatherings of ten or more be canceled for a few weeks. This attempt to thwart the acceleration of the virus has a lot of churches scratching their heads about how they are going to handle the issue. Some are still choosing to gather together while others are opting for the safer route of canceling church services. Regardless of what’s decided at your church, it forces us all into a healthy consideration of live streaming church services.

We at Engage My Church wanted to create this resource for any churches that don’t already Livestream and need to set up live streaming quickly. We understand that some churches want to take the step into a permanent setup, but because of the urgency of the situation, we are going to focus on providing quick, cost-efficient (but effective) solutions for churches in a pinch. We will provide some basic steps that will help you get to the solution you need. We have also included some recommendations for cameras and microphones if you want to go that route in the future.

Engage My Church wants to help you with your live stream and it goes beyond this blog post. We are offering to help you integrate your live stream into your website for free (depending on your platform). We can build a whole new page for your website dedicated to live streaming if you would like. For more details, email me at support@engagemychurch.com

How To Livestream Your Church Services on Facebook and Periscope For Little to No Cost

Choose your platform.

What I mean by platform is where the video can be accessed by the viewers. There are three popular platforms that you can choose from if you want to keep it free. In order of popularity, they are Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and Periscope. For brevity’s sake, I will only explain the first Facebook and Periscope. These two also have the most simple user interface. The instructions will be how to do this from the Facebook & Periscope apps on mobile. (We had originally discussed using YouTube, but it was brought to my attention that you have to have 1000+ subscribers in order to go live on Facebook.)

Facebook (Mobile app): 

  1. As the administrator, go to your church’s Facebook page and tap the button that says “Live.” This should access your camera and microphone. Allow access.
  2. On the bottom of the screen, there is a place for you to “Tap to add a description…” Fill that part in before you begin. Something short and simple like “Church Name – Service, Date – ‘Sermon Title’” would be a good, informative description.
  3. When you press “Start Live Video”, you will be given a countdown. When the countdown has ended, you will be live. 
  4. Viewers will begin to trickle in as you begin. We suggest having someone else pre-planned to share the link on your own personal page after you begin the stream.
  5. When you conclude the stream, you will be given the option to post the video to the church’s Facebook page. We recommend doing that.

*Make sure you do a test run before you start so as to avoid as many technical issues as possible.

Periscope (Mobile app): Create a profile for yourself or your church. You may use a pre-existing Facebook, Twitter, or Google account

  1. Log in and tap the red circle icon located in the bottom-center of the screen.
  2. Allow access to the microphone, camera, and location.
  3. This interface map below will help you navigate the options you are given on your screen.
  4. When all of your settings have been edited to your liking, you can tap “Go Live” (You will immediately be live.
  5. When you are finished, you can end the session and your saved video will be available to share in your “Activity” tab. (Bell icon)
  6. You can share that link to any social media platform you wish.

*Make sure you do a test run before you start so as to avoid as many technical issues as possible.

The Periscope user interface.

Choose your camera.

If you have a smartphone or camera-equipped tablet and have the latest Facebook and/or Periscope app, it will be your easiest and least expensive option (Free!). If you have an external camera or a webcam, you will need to have a computer and the driver for that camera installed. We aren’t covering how to stream with an external camera in this blog post, but follow us on social media because we plan to roll out a bunch of helps for churches in the future. Here are some camera options for those who would like to use a camera other than their smartphone:

Basic: Canon R800 – $219

Intermediate: Canon VIXIA G21 – $999

Advanced: Epiphany LUMiO 12x PTZ – $1499

Pro: Canon XF400 – $2499

You will also want to buy a tripod for your streaming. This gives the peace of mind that your smartphone or camera will not tilt or fall during your stream. Here are a few tripods that might fit your needs. (Going the smartphone route? Grab the smartphone tripod adapter.)

Choose your microphone.

The smartphone can use its onboard microphone and most external cameras have a microphone-equipped. But I would recommend spending a little money on this component if you have the budget to do so. Your most important technical goal in streaming your services will be that the viewers are also hearers. The microphones built into smartphones aren’t terrible and do the job, but it’s amazing what the right microphone can do for the quality of your stream.

We recommend this microphone for your smartphone (Note, this will need an adapter as its output is a TRRS 1/8 audio jack):

Rode SmartLav+ lapel mic – $65

TRRS 6 ft. extension cable

For those wanting to feed your audio straight from the sound system into the stream, you will need to find the right accessories that allow the output to go into the smartphone/tablet/computer. You may need multiple adapters to make that happen. The complexity of that is a step or two above what we’re dealing with here, so if you have further questions about how to do that, please reach out to us.

Choose your filming location.

What location will your stream be recorded? The auditorium? Your office? Your couch? All of these are possible, but be sure to consider the following:

  • If you are filming at your lectern/pulpit, set your tripod high enough so that the camera is close to or at eye-level. 
  • Be sure that the camera is close enough to your face. A streamed sermon is already far less intimate than hearing the sermon in-person. If the camera is too far away, it loses that much more. If your camera is back at the soundboard, make sure the camera has an optical zoom. Do not use digital zoom. 16-32x optical zoom is ideal for medium-sized churches. Optical zoom is a mechanical adjustment of the lens that focuses on long distances. Digital zoom is just zooming in on the digital pixels. It makes the picture very pixelated and fuzzy.
  • Lighting is the most important factor in choosing your location. In this situation where services may be canceled due to COVID-19, consider streaming from a bright, neutrally colored room. You don’t want direct sunlight in the shot. Direct sunlight casts hard shadows which can be very distracting. We recommend finding a room in your church with windows on multiple walls so that light is coming from multiple angles. The pastor’s office also makes for a great backdrop if it isn’t too complex. Bookshelves in the background work well, and simple is best. You can also order an interview lighting kit if you cannot find a place with adequate lighting.

If you have any other questions about the live stream process, please reach out to us and we would be happy to help you in any way that we can. We at Engage My Church build custom websites, design print materials, manage church social media pages, and much more. Check out our homepage for more info: engagemychurch.com 

  • This is good info, but be aware that you cannot livestream on YouTube from a mobile phone until you have 1000 subscribers, thus it will require a computer, camera, and possibly a microphone.

  • Pastor Dave Cottrell March 19, 2020 at 1:33 am

    Hi,

    Thank you for all the very helpful information.

    I tried to live stream via Youtube with a mobile phone, but they are saying you can only live stream from a mobile device if you have 1000 subscribers or more. Otherwise, a PC is required.

    Did I maybe miss something on Youtube., or is this a very recent change?

    Thank you and God bless.

    • I apologize for the inconvenience of that info. I am working to resolve this information. I didn’t realize this was an issue. The account I tried it on has 3,000+ subscribers, so thats why it let me go live with no problem. I am working on getting an alternative option up.

      Thanks for commenting.