In the Spring of 2001 North Valley Baptist Church began it’s live streaming video ministry. We started the ministry for one young man who had cancer and was unable to attend church but desperately wanted to. We had some brilliant volunteers in our church who set up the whole system. It has come a long way since then and the video quality of the services are incredible now. We have spent thousands of dollars on the setup. (read about our live streaming set up) Many churches, however, do not have the technical expertise or the equipment to live stream their services. What if a small church has sick members who are unable to attend, but has no money to spend on setting up live streaming? Is there a solution for them? There is now!
Technology has come a long way since 2001 and there are now free services to live stream your church service. Of course, with any free service, there are drawbacks (like advertisements). But if you have a situation like we did in 2001 and don’t have the money or technical know how, here are some great solution.
In literally 5 minutes, I was set up and broadcasting live from livestream.com. It is very straight forward and simple to broadcast live. I simply attached my Firewire camera (you can use USB as well) to my computer, clicked “broadcast now”, and clicked “go live”. I found the interface to be attractive and simple to use. Below is the live streaming interface.
Here is a short clip I recorded while preparing for a session at the National Pastors’ and Workers’ Conference. Notice, the quality is very good. The noise at the beginning is because I was watching live from my other computer and it caused feedback. Because it’s free, there is an ad at the beginning.
10GB of storage is available with the free account, This would be helpful if you want to make past church services available online.
Another free option is Ustream.tv. It took a few more minutes to set up a Ustream.tv account. It wasn’t as simple and straight forward as livestream.com, but there seems to more features available. For instance, it is very easy to set up a poll, add text, and add video to your live stream broadcast. Broadcasting live is very simple, click “broadcast now” and then “start broadcast” and you are up and running.
The advertisements seem to be a bit different than livestream.com. The advertisements are mostly ads overlaying the video (like youtube) as opposed to one commercial at the beginning.
Both livestream.com and Ustream.tv seem to have great quality and are free. I would love to hear what you think. If you have used either company or have any other suggestions, let me know in the comments.
How to Set Up Live Streaming for your Church (not free)