All across the world churches are having to adapt fast as public gatherings are banned or advised to stop. There’s so many opportunities for the church to be salt and light in this season, but that’s another post.
This article is about how to setup a livestream on your church website cheaply and quickly!
There’s a ton of how tos and tutorials and it looks expensive! One mega church has an amazing free package that can be used – www.churchonlineplatform.com. We are a small church with a low budget for this stuff and want to get going quick and simply now!
We have decided to go with YouTube, because they will have the capacity to accomodate thousands of new streamers this Sunday morning.
On Sunday we will have a few songs, some prayers and a message streamed from a living room. Our venue is closed and there’s a social distancing policy currently in the UK. We need to have a simple setup – camera, laptop, internet connection…
So how to?
Step 1 Get Youtube setup for live streaming.
If you don’t have a YouTube account, head over to Youtube.com and click on Sign In top right – this is super simple if you already have a Google account, if not you will need to register.
Once you have signed in you need to click on the create content button which looks like a video camera icon with a plus in it.
That’ll give you a dropdown with an option to “Go live” – something of a misnomer as it’s not instant at all!!!
Firstly you will have to wait 24 hours, while YouTube activates your account – see told you it wasn’t instant!
After 24 hours it should look like this…
Go ahead and fill in the fields and click okay!
At this stage you can schedule it for later, but it’s wise to have a good play and practice before your first live (yep, us too this Sunday!). At this stage it’ll probably look like this…
Keep this browser tab open!
Step 2 Download the encoding software
This is where it gets a little more technical. We are going to use a cheap camcorder (but with an external mic, which is the game changer!), a USB lead and laptop. You need a piece of software to encode what your camera is filming and send it to Youtube, ready for streaming.
Download Open Broadcaster Software from https://obsproject.com/ – it’ll work on Windows and Macs/.
Install it and run it. There’s a wizard to get you started. Answer the questions indicating you are going to use YouTube. It’ll want the Stream key from your YouTube stream setup (you kept that tab open right?). Copy it and paste it in. OBS uses your webcam to start off with
You can change that in Sources at the bottom of the screen.
You can add the Stream key File>Settings>Stream
Once you can see yourself in the screen well, you can click on “Start Streaming” bottom right.
Notice how terrible my stream will look – the light coming through the window puts me in shadow. You’ll need to watch things like that!
Step 3 Finish setting up your live stream
Head back to YouTube. You should be able to see yourself, with a little delay top left.
If it’s not showing the camera feed yet
- Refresh the page
- Retry the stream key and paste into the OBS software File>Settings>Stream
When it’s working you can click “Go Live” top right. You are now live streaming. Click End Stream to finish.
All well and good, but how can people view your stream?
Click the Share arrow top right!
That will give you a bunch of options and an Embed button.
We have a load of our congregation who are not super internet savvy, so I want to make this as simple as possible – I’m embedding our stream onto the front page of our website!
You can copy and paste that code onto your website to make it easy to find you.
Some tidy ups
You’ll notice the initial image is a black and white photo of me. That’s not that helpful!
You can click on the Edit button and change that thumbnail.
Then you can change that thumbnail. I love what Betel in Tulcea Romania have done – last week’s is there as I write and as they prepare for the next Sunday there’s a fantastic thumbnail with text saying when it will be. Well done guys! They use the Church Admin plugin and app and have been interacting on our support forum!
Have a play. Then to get ready for Sunday you can setup with a Stream later on that first screen….
If Youtube is not picking up your camera feed, check the stream key again! Then check you have clicked Start Streaming (bottom right) in the OBS software.
If you are planning to stream your worship, you may need some licences – however the Vineyard family of churches have had written guidance (for the UK) from CCLI and PRS, you may already have what you need! Here’s their helpful post – https://www.vineyardchurches.org.uk/resources/streaming-live-worship/