I believe we live in one of the most exciting periods in the history of the world due, primarily, to the rapid advances being made in the area of technology. The only thing that rivals the speed of technological development is the speed at which technology becomes obsolete. Just this week, for example, Apple announced the “Apple TV 2” (released in 2011) has been added to the list of “vintage and obsolete products.” Vintage?! And while it can be hard trying to keep up with the “latest and greatest,” (it can’t be as hard as trying to find that tiny aluminum remote between the couch cushions) it’s exciting when products become obsolete because it usually means there is something bigger and better (and, many times, cheaper) coming to take its place.
This breakneck speed of advancement has found its way into the world of live broadcasting, lowering the price of entry considerably. Gone are the days of purchasing tens of thousands of dollars worth of high-end video equipment, and spending years of training before starting a live internet broadcast. More than likely you have a high-definition broadcast studio in your pocket or purse right now!
Jesus’ coming is closer now than it has ever been and we have a responsibility to reach everyone we can with the gospel. We should strive to use every means available to reach a lost world with the Apostolic message, as quickly and effectively as possible. Which brings us to streaming your services live online.
If Paul or the Apostles were alive today I believe they would be all over social media, live streaming and broadcasting their messages. We are commanded in Matthew 28:19 to “go into all the world” and, as in the parable of the feast in Luke, we’re compelled to “go out into the highways and hedges.” For the church of the 21st century, the “highways and hedges” are the information superhighway.
Isn’t Live Streaming Expensive?
Absolutely not! Let’s start with the free options (yes, free). If I have learned one thing in my years of marketing experience, it’s this—it’s always better to utilize the things you already own. Traditionally a church would have to pay for television time, radio ads, or a billboard in order to get their message out to the masses. Today, we have free social media platforms that are frequented by millions of people everyday, multiple times a day. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram all offer free live streaming options that are very easy to use, meaning you can use your existing smartphone or tablet with a decent wi-fi signal to broadcast instantly to your followers.
The quality of cameras in today’s modern smart phones have grown exponentially. Some would say they rival lower end DSLRs. Some high-end phones even offer digital and optical stabilization to reduce video shakiness. These advances make for professional, high-quality videos.
If audio quality is an important you can bypass the built-in microphone of the device and import your soundboard’s audio utilizing a $1 adapter from Monoprice.com.
I recommend trying each of these options to find out what works the best for your followers and the people you are trying to reach. When First Apostolic Church (FAC) Maryville started streaming to Facebook Live, we saw a huge increase in views and online engagement. As an added bonus, Facebook keeps the archives available for free as well on your page.
I have a little bit of money to spend. How can I step up my game?
Assuming you have an iPhone or iPad, and a decent internet connection, I would consider purchasing Mevo, a live event camera that works with iOS devices.
The main feature of this camera is its 4K image sensor and iOS app which allows you cut to several camera shots on the fly and in real-time without moving the camera. This gives the appearance of having a multi-camera studio. It is very impressive. You can set up predetermined shots to switch between, or zoom in at varying speeds by using pressure-sensitive controls on the screen. By using several quadrants of the 4K screen you can stream and capture at 720p. The Mevo will stream to Facebook Live or, if you subscribe to Livestream’s streaming service, you can stream to both simultaneously.
You’ll want to make sure your Mevo is close to power as the battery will only last an hour on a single charge. Alternatively, you can purchase the Mevo Boost, a power supply which provides 10 additional hours of battery life, adds a USB port (for charging other devices or adding a USB LTE modem), an Ethernet port, and is waterproof for outdoor use.
To use an external audio source such as your soundboard with the Mevo you will need a standard TRRS 3.5mm audio input.
Overall I’ve been happy with the Mevo when I have had opportunity to use it. Amazon.com offers a Mevo bundle currently, in white or black with a free Manfrotto PIXI Mini Tripod, for $399—definitely worth checking out.
I already have cameras and a switcher, what are my options?
Livestream offers a live streaming service starting at just $42/month. This includes ad-free streaming, live chat, and video-on-demand archiving. We used this plan for years at FAC and were very happy. Livestream also offers an iOS app, as well as an app for the 4th-generation Apple TV, Roku, and Chromecast devices. This comes in handy if your members want to go back and watch a service on their home television.
Livestream offers free encoding software that works on Windows and macOS, and is as simple as it is powerful. Beginning the stream is as easy as pressing a record button and giving the stream a name.
You will need a Mac or PC with an Intel i5 processor for multi-bitrate streaming (this means you can broadcast multiple streams for different devices watching your broadcast, such as a mobile phone or desktop computer). An i7 processor is required for 720p streaming.
You will also need a capture device to input the feed from your camera or switcher. Blackmagic Design offers a few PCI-E and Thunderbolt capture cards that play nice with Producer and start around $150.
This article has only just scratched the surface when it comes to live streaming, but hopefully has answered any questions you may have about getting started. Live streaming doesn’t have to be expensive or challenging to put out a quality product. Feel free to send me an email if you have any questions, or just to let me know how your broadcast is going at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dale McBroom is a freelance Graphic Designer from Maryville, Tennessee. He has been happily married for 7 years, has 2 kids, and currently serves as the Multimedia Director for First Apostolic Church of Maryville.