Lessons learnt from live streaming church

Tuesday, 24 March 2020

As we face further into lockdown of the UK, our churches have embraced livestreaming as a way of keeping in touch with our church families. I’m not going to write a how-to guide, there are plenty of those on the internet, instead this is a note of the lessons that we learnt this week at The Globe Church.

✅ Plan it!

You wouldn’t go into a service unplanned. Make sure you have a clear service plan in place for the live stream. What video clips are going to be used when, who is speaking to camera, what backing music, etc.

✅ You don’t need to map your normal service to this medium

Our church services run with a certain order to make use of the time and the space. Half way through the service the kids might go out to their seperate groups… this doesn’t happen through a livestream… (admittedly in Zoom, kids can have their own breakout rooms in Zoom). Think carefully about what might need to change, or what you could change.

✅ Make sure you’ve got the right music license

I’ve written a summary of this but make sure that you’ve got the correct licence in play to cover your copyright, having a band cover songs is fine, but you’ll need the CCLI streaming license if you want to display lyrics for people to sing along with, otherwise limit yourselves to songs in the public domain.

✅ Go wired

Wi-Fi is everywhere, which means that with lots of devices floating around, everything can be slow with interference. If you can, plug a cable from the router into the computer that is running the livestream. If you can’t, kick every device off the network.

✅ Test everything. Everything.

Not run a livestream before? Run a test.

Not spoken to camera before? Run a test.

Not done a tech setup like this before? Run a test!

Check the audio levels through the camera, not just what they sound like in the room.

Check what you’re pointing the camera at… take the time to make it look good; don’t cut of the tops of people’s head in the frame. You don’t need to be fancy moving the camera all over the place - a fixed camera on a tripod is more than enough.

Also… test your upload speed.

✅ Tell people where it is

At The Globe Church we’re running everything from www.globe.church/live.

We have shared that link in whole church emails, through social media, in WhatsApp chats, in banners across the church website.

We’re running it through the /live page for a couple of reasons:

✅ Expect guests

On Sundays you preach for people who have been Christians for decades, as well as people who are just beginning to explore Christianity. It’s the same here. You’re not talking to Sunday regulars anymore! My parents near Brighton are tuning in (👋 Mum and Dad), people are sharing the link with their housemates, and their neighbours. It’s on the internet, so it’s public. Expect guests.

As a preacher, you’re getting no feedback from the room - explain the Gospel clearly, as if it is the first time someone is hearing it.

✅ People are mobile

On The Globe Church website 61% of visitors we visiting from a mobile device (70% if you include tablets). Laptops can be carried anywhere in the house or flat too. Don’t think that people are going to be all gathering around a TV set. How does that change how you put your time together?

✅ What happens next?

Think about after the service… there’s no tea and biscuits any more. What do you want people to do? Think about individuals sitting on their own in their bedrooms, think about families gathered in their front-rooms around a TV, think about flatmates who have spent too much time with each other this week. What do you want them to do next?

A couple of suggestions:

✅ Be okay with not being polished

You’re not a big US megachurch with a slick setup, that’s okay - that’s not what it is about. Be you, make mistakes (we broadcast Jonty upside down this morning), learn from them. This isn’t about being the insta-perfect image, don’t get trapped in that millenial/influencer dream. Just show people Jesus.

⚠️ Beware: the novelty will wear off

This week was fun, this is a new way of doing church, it feels novel right!? Next week, when we have all spent our lives having conversations mediated by a webcam, sitting in-front a computer, tablet or mobile device on Sunday for church won’t be as appealing. Let’s think carefully about how we engage our church families outside the live stream.

These are lessons from week one. We’re going to learn more next week. Keep going friends!

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