Every week, more churches around the world are livestreaming their worship services. Livestreaming church services makes it possible to reach new and distant attendees as well as long-time congregation members who can't always make it in person. Church livestreams allow your congregation to engage with your message in real time and even revisit a sermon if they miss it live. It’s a powerful way to keep your community of faith connected through worship, music, and prayer.
In this article, we’ll cover:
- Why to livestream your church services
- What equipment is needed to start livestreaming
- How to enhance your virtual worship service
- Streaming to social media platforms
- Embedding your church livestream on your website
Why Should Your Church Livestream?
There are so many reasons to livestream your church services, and the practice is only becoming more popular. Here are some of the most important reasons why houses of worship continue livestreaming services:
To foster community
Of course, in-person services aren’t going away, but about 44% of people prefer to attend church services online. In addition to reaching parishioners who simply prefer to attend online, virtual worship services also foster community for missionaries and church planters, sick members, new parents, and more.
To welcome visitors and new members
Millions of people visit church websites regularly, even if they don’t regularly attend church. More importantly, about one-third of parishioners find their first church online, meaning a strong online presence can help houses of worship reach new members.
To allow everyone to participate in music and prayer
Perhaps unsurprisingly, young adults (ages 18-34) are more likely to attend virtual worship services, but many circumstances can prevent regular church-goers from attending in person. Hybrid church services (both in-person and online) allow everyone to attend.
To strengthen the community through visibility and engagementLivestreaming your church service not only increases the number of attendees — it allows the church to connect and engage directly with each person in attendance. That can mean resources for getting involved, challenges to serve, and direct requests for donations. Studies suggest that houses of worship that accept online tithes have increased their overall donations by 32%.
These are just some of the reasons why churches should livestream their services. Now, let's get into the how of livestreaming church services.
What Equipment is Needed to Livestream a Church Service?Livestreaming your church service is easier than you think! Many of the tools you need are simple and accessible. Some are likely already used to produce your worship services, and others might be in your pocket!
- iPhone or iPad
- Switcher Studio iOS app
- Soundboard or audio mixer
- Reliable Wi-Fi
As you can see, the gear you need to start livestreaming your church services is quite minimal! Some optional (but recommended) gear includes additional iOS devices and tripods with mobile attachments. Let’s explore each item on our list.
iPhone or iPad: Livestream your church service with an iOS device
The days of needing expensive video cameras to produce decent livestreams are over — because now there’s a high-quality camera built into every iPhone and iPad.
Just take a look at the latest iPhone: Each one comes with at least two different lenses (a wide angle and ultrawide angle) plus an additional 2-3x optical-zoom lens on the pro editions. With these features, your iPhone camera is way more powerful than most webcams and nearly as advanced as DSLR and mirrorless cameras.
Using an iPhone or iPad is one of the most cost-effective approaches to livestreaming a church service.
Plus, since you can stream directly from your mobile device, you don’t need to worry about setting up a computer and capture card to get video onto a livestream from an external camera. That means using an iPhone or iPad to livestream a church service is one of the most cost-effective approaches out there.
Switcher Studio iOS app
Using an iPhone or iPad to livestream your church services seriously minimizes the need for additional equipment, and it means you can enhance your production with a livestreaming app like Switcher Studio. Since 2014, Switcher has been making it easy to create incredible livestreams and virtual experiences with iPhones and iPads, which is why we’re the livestreaming solution of choice for thousands of houses of worship around the world.
If you’re using iOS devices and Switcher Studio to livestream your church service, the additional gear you need is minimal. You may not even need tripods — at least to begin with. You can try holding your recording device throughout your stream (though your arms might not appreciate this route!) or propping your devices somewhere secure. With Switcher, it doesn’t take a big investment to get started, and your production grows with you. We’ll get into Switcher’s features a bit more later on.
Qualifying nonprofits and houses of worship can save 10% on an annual Switcher Studio or Switcher Business subscription.
Microphones: capturing the message
If your audience can’t hear what’s happening, they’re going to tune out. Adding music and external microphones to capture the service can make the experience more meaningful for virtual viewers. It’s a great way to help them feel connected to the community.
You’re probably already using microphones in your worship services to capture the sermon and music. When you’re livestreaming your church service, it’s simply a matter of getting that audio mixed into your stream so that your online viewers can hear exactly what your in-person congregation hears. How do you do that?
Soundboard or audio mixer
Is your church already using an audio interface like a soundboard for your services? Good news: You can connect your audio mixer directly to your main Switcher device (i.e., the iOS device on which you’re running your livestream). Using an audio mixer or soundboard with Switcher allows you to give your at-home or remote attendees the same audio experience as the people who attend your service in person.
The only other thing you absolutely must have to livestream your church service? A good internet connection. If your internet upload speed is inadequate, your livestream could buffer, slow down, freeze, or possibly stop altogether. You can check your network’s speed by running a quick speed test. The upload speed is the number to notice: You’ll need at least 3 Mbps to send out an HD (720p) stream, and double that if you want to stream in Full HD (1080p).
Do a test stream before you go live to check your video and audio quality. Nothing’s worse than promising a great virtual experience, but not delivering because you didn’t make a few checks.
How to Enhance your Virtual Church ServiceSo let’s say you want to create a really phenomenal livestreamed worship service. What can you do to enhance the virtual experience?
Immerse your virtual attendees with multicamera live video
One of the tricks of livestreaming a church service is creating an experience that’s immersive for online viewers (without disrupting the experience for in-person attendees). Using unobtrusive — but high-quality — mobile devices to stream is a great start. For a truly outstanding viewing experience that will keep your online congregation coming back every week, we recommend connecting additional cameras to create a seriously immersive live event. Then, place your cameras strategically so both audiences can get the most out of the service.
If you have multiple iPhones or iPads at your disposal, use Switcher to connect up to 9 iOS devices to create a dynamic worship livestream! Place devices throughout the sanctuary to capture different perspectives of the service. During your stream, you can switch between angles, and even display multiple angles at the same time using our built-in Multiview templates.
Multiple angles keep online viewers engaged with the message and immerse them in the experience, bringing them closer to the feeling of being there in person — which is the ultimate goal of church livestreams.
You can even display your live Switcher Studio production on a screen or projector for your in-person congregation, so everyone can enjoy clear, high-quality visuals.
Add graphics, text, photos, and more
Once you have crystal clear audio and immersive video, you can enhance your church livestream even more with additional visuals. Support your message with inspirational images. Display referenced passages or key themes. Even add worship lyrics or calls to action so your at-home congregation can be fully engaged.
Switcher Studio makes it easy to customize and add visual components. We have dozens of premade graphics templates that are easy to edit by changing the text, photos, colors, and fonts. Choose from full-screen title cards, lower thirds, and even animated text. Then, add the graphic to your production, live, with just a tap. You can also upload your own graphics, photos, and even prerecorded video.
Streaming to Social Media Platforms
Once you have your livestreaming production figured out, it’s time to think about where to direct your online congregation. There are plenty of social media destinations to choose from, including Facebook, YouTube, and Twitch. These are some of the biggest and most accessible platforms out there, and well worth considering, especially when your livestream is new. For example, if you already have a Facebook presence for your church, livestreaming to your page or group is the perfect way to get the word out. Your viewers will be able to engage in real time via comments and reactions, and they can share the stream on their personal profiles to further extend your reach. It's modern-day word of mouth!
However, there are some issues with livestreaming on social media platforms. For churches and houses of worship, one of the biggest downsides is the inability to control the content suggested to viewers once their livestream ends. Each of these platforms behaves differently, but they all have the same goal: keeping your viewers on their site. On most sites, like Facebook and YouTube, the platform makes a bid to keep a viewer’s attention by suggesting content based on their watch history. In other words, once your livestreamed service ends, your viewers could be recommended videos that contrast with your church’s identity and message.
Embedding your Church Livestream on your Website
The easiest and most surefire way to own your content and control your message is by embedding your church’s livestreams right on your church’s website. This way, you know exactly where to send your viewers, what their experience will be, and what additional content you want to share. Switcher Studio has a solution for this — an embeddable HTML5 video player that allows you to embed videos and host livestreams on your church’s website or direct viewers to a unique URL — independent of any public livestreaming platform.
Switcher’s video player is ideal for embedding church livestreamsThe Switcher Player has benefits and features that houses of worship love. Here are a few reasons why so many churches choose Switcher for livestreaming their church services. With the Switcher Player, you can:
- Embed livestreams or upload recorded videos
- Curate playlists of content
- Control your message
- Encourage engagement
- Collect donations and tithes
Livestream or upload videos and curate playlists of content
By embedding the Switcher Player, you can livestream to your website, or you can upload prerecorded videos. This turns your website into a content library. You can create as many different players as you like, and curate playlists for each. That means you could have one player for Sunday services, one player for Bible studies, one player for young adult groups, and so on — each with its own playlist of content.
Control your message
When you turn your website into your platform, you control the message your congregation receives and reduce distractions from content that doesn’t represent your church’s identity (e.g., questionable ads and content recommendations). The Switcher Player is a white-label video player, so you can add your own color palette and logo.
When you livestream your church service directly to your church’s website, you bring your online congregation to the hub of your community. Viewers can interact with articles, news bulletins, calendars, and the rest of your website while receiving the weekly message and growing their sense of community — without suggestions of unfitting content once the livestream ends.
The Switcher Player also includes built-in interactive tools for your congregation. When you’re streaming your Switcher production to the Switcher Player, you can add a clickable button overlay. All a viewer has to do is click the button on your video, and a pop-up menu will appear with a list of your preselected URLs.
Collect donations and tithes
The Switcher Player is also a great way to collect donations and tithes via PayPal, Venmo, Tithely, or any other financial service your church uses, further engaging your audience and creating a more immersive experience. This interactive element is completely customizable — just like all of Switcher’s graphics — so you can perfectly represent your church’s branding. Add a link for tithing to every video you share.
Start streaming your church livestream today!
Your congregation — in-person and online — deserves the best your church has to offer. It’s easy to get started, and Switcher Studio is proud to partner with houses of worship on this journey. For more tips and tricks on creating great video, check out our blogs on livestreaming for churches and our YouTube channel.
Visit our features page to learn more about the Switcher Studio iOS app, and see which plan is right for you on our pricing page. The Switcher Player is available with the Switcher Studio Business plan, and nonprofit organizations are invited to apply for a discount!
Or, to get started now, try Switcher Studio free for 14 days.
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About the Author
Dan is an Emmy Award-winning video producer who’s worked in journalism, TV news, commercial production, and brand marketing. Dan sees nearly limitless potential in Switcher Studio’s video tools and is excited to share his experience, expertise, and (sometimes "out there") ideas.All posts by Dan Klapheke