True story time:
Last December, my old man was walking home from the store when he slipped on a patch of ice. He’s a powerful man, my father, built from hearty Norwegian stock. He has what doctors refer to as the “Dogged Viking” body type. However, it is a tragic fact of the universe that there isn’t a physical frame in the world that beats gravity and concrete in a staring contest long term. My pop cracked his upper arm like a cork-filled Louisville Slugger and had to be carted off to the ER.
It was two days before Christmas.
Now, ever since he was a kid, my dad has attended church (I’m sorry) religiously. Finding out that he was going to miss Christmas mass was not his favorite news.
Situations just like my dad’s are driving more and more churches around the world to live stream their content. Congregations can bring the much needed sense of community that they provide to the hospital beds and retirement homes of members who would otherwise be unable to attend. And that, shouted the announcer, is not all.
Members of your youth ministry can attend church virtually while on mission trips halfway across the world. So can college students, living away from their families for the first time and missing the feel of home.
What better way than showing social media exactly what you’re about? Regardless of the size and shape of your congregation, there’s no wrong reason to start streaming your services online.
(That’s hyperbole. There are plenty of wrong reasons. “To get more bears in my church” is a wrong reason, nose to toes.)
And frankly, it’s never been easier. If you don’t believe me, check out the hit live streaming series my aunt recently produced on accident by forgetting to lock her phone screen, tentatively titled Things That Are Happening in My Purse.
Before you go charging head-first into creating your cinematic triumph, keep in mind that there are a few stumbling points that could easily trip you up. Potentially the most hazardous of these is copyright infringement.
Broadcasting to a larger audience means showing the public what you’re producing, and that can turn a casual misunderstanding of intellectual property law into litigation that no amount of bake sales will ever put a dent in. Do you utilize music ministry? Make sure you’re only using free use music or look into an internet performance license.
If you’re projecting images on a big screen, make sure they’re either owned by you or labeled by their creator as free for reuse. Ryan Nelson at Proclaim Online put together an easily digestible guide to ensuring that your church’s digital presence leaves your congregation, not your structured settlement attorney, asking for more.
Get your congregation to go live with you!
You’ll also want to make sure that everyone in the room is comfortable with being recorded. This can be as simple as putting up signs at the entrance letting people know that they’re being filmed and making an announcement before the proceedings begin.
Clarity is key, and it never hurts to be too careful.
Once your bases are covered, feel free to get creative. How do you want to present yourself? Production could be as simple as a setting up a single webcam in the middle of the room, or as cutting edge as purchasing a 360 degree camera for a live virtual reality churchgoing experience. Feeling brave? Encourage everyone to take out their phones and stream the sermon from their own point of view for a DIY film-making feel.
In short, live streaming is a spectacular way to share your message with the world, benefiting those who’d like to be there but can’t and drawing in people who might otherwise never have found out about you. The possibilities are only limited by what you can come up with. Go make something amazing. We can’t wait to see what you come up with.
Not sure where to start? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.
And if you’re over 55, please make sure to wear boots with plenty of traction when it’s below freezing outside.