Live Streaming: It's Not Rocket Surgery!

by Chris Blake
April 9, 2021

Live streaming may seem complicated, but it doesn’t have to be. Your church may or may not have someone on staff or even volunteers that are tech-savvy, but with a little knowledge, a willingness to learn, and help from a livestreaming service such as TruthCasting, things can be relatively simple.  

What Is Live Streaming?

Live streaming is sending video content that you produce, over an internet connection, to an audience who can view this video online as it happens. Everyone is familiar with the concept of “live broadcast television” whether it is your favorite big game, a breaking news report, or a special well-known holiday parade. If the event is happening “now” (or in real-time), we consider it live.  

Imagine producing your own broadcast of your church services so that those who are sick or in high-risk health groups, traveling, or otherwise unable to attend worship in-person can still access, in a different way, the content of the gathering. This doesn’t have to cost thousands of dollars, and it certainly doesn’t require a technology degree. 

Think of it this way: instead of simply recording a video and making it available for playback later, video can be sent “live” from your video camera into a computer or device (called an encoder) that translates this moving video into a stream that can be sent over the internet. By pointing that internet-ready video feed to a service like TruthCasting, we can send it in real-time over the internet to your church website. This is done through a simple website embed code, which doesn’t change, that we provide to your church, and can be implemented into any website. Once properly set up, church volunteers only need to learn to start and stop the stream to “go live” at any time. 

TruthCasting also enables you to live stream to your church’s Facebook and YouTube channels. We call this multicasting.  

What Equipment Does My Church Need to Get Started?

First, you’ll need a camera or video source of some type. While the easiest and least expensive option is to use a simple USB webcam (or the one built into your laptop), this may not be the best choice. Webcams are designed to sit just a couple of feet away from a single person. If you try to capture a stage-full of people—or even one person head to toe—the quality of the video your webcam will capture is likely to be fairly poor. Most churches opt for a video camera that has an HDMI output in combination with a capture device that can inject video signal into a computer running “encoder” software. Here are the capture devices we recommend. 

Now, don’t let any of these terms start to trip you up. HDMI is likely the cable you are currently using on your TV with your DVD or Blu-ray player, your Roku type of device or your favorite game system. As mentioned earlier, think of an encoder as the link in this chain that gets the video signal ready for the internet, so it can be sent to your online audience.  

You have the option to use a hardware encoder (a physical box with components inside), or you can use a computer with software that does the encoding. The pros and cons to these methods are better left discussed in another article on another day. While TruthCasting works with all kinds of setups, we recommend using a computer running software called Open Broadcaster Software (OBS) when you are getting started. The program is free to use, and you likely already have a computer available that can be dedicated to your new live streaming setup. 

What Kind of Internet Connection Do We Need?

Now that you’ve got your camera, your computer, and your free software, you’ll need to make sure that you have a solid internet connection. A wired ethernet connection is always recommended, but not necessarily required. Type into your favorite internet search engine “Internet Speed Test” and you’ll be able to check your internet speed at the location you would set up your live streaming equipment. You are looking for a steady upload speed of 3Mbps or more. If you don’t see that consistently on your tests, it may be time to call your local Internet Service Provider and upgrade the internet connection. 

Review Time!

Live streaming does not have to be difficult, and it is now more affordable than ever. Once you have a camera, a capture device, and your computer, you can start a free trial of TruthCasting that offers personalized support and can guide you through the process. There’s no reason to rely on the Big Tech social media platforms to send out your Gospel message. Give us a call and let us help you get a plan together to make your church’s live streaming ministry simple, reliable, and affordable.