As the Online Church revolution begins, one of the first questions churches and pastors ask is “How much will it cost?” My answer to that question may shock you! If your goal is to get a basic online campus started at your church, in most cases it will cost you absolutely nothing. That’s right! Starting and maintaining an Online Campus can be a FREE ministry at your church!
Here’s a short list of the things you need to start streaming and archiving your church services online:
Wireless Internet Connection
The higher the download and upload speed you have, the better the results! But for a basic rule, I recommend a minimum of 15mbps up and down. The speed of your connection will determine the quality of your stream. Many churches have wireless internet already installed.
While using an internet provider will generally give you the best results – you still have a few backup options. You can use your Smart Phone’s (Apple, Andriod, etc.) cellular connection as your source of internet connectivity. Using your phone’s cellular connection is a great alternative if you have an unlimited data plan. Streaming will use a lot of data – so, make sure your plan has enough data, or you will spend a lot of money on overage fees.
The Internet is a necessity, make sure you have one of the two options mentioned above.
You need a Camera
Don’t stress! You do not need a $25,000 camera to stream your online services. You don’t even need a $1,000 camera! If your goal is to start streaming online with adding little to no cost, use your smartphone. Luckily, one of the best features of smartphones is their camera. That’s all you need to live-stream your service. Using a phone will give you good footage and makes streaming your service easy and cheap.
If you have the budget to buy a camera(s), then do it! Feel free to post or email me any questions about what cameras we use or the best options for your budget.
If you are going to use your phone as your main streaming camera – I recommend you buy an iPhone tripod from Amazon. Below are some options that would work.
Even on a low-budget/no budget Online Campus, you want to give the people who watch a steady video to look at. There is nothing worse than an iPhone feed of church being held in someone’s hand from the front row! You want the attention of your online viewers to be on the content of the message, not them getting motion sick because the camera holder moves every time they breathe! If you can’t afford to buy a tripod – put your phone on a solid surface in the back of the room (centered if possible) and prop it up with a book.
Create a Church Facebook Page! Facebook is one of the largest Social Media platforms and it’s FREE! It costs your church nothing to get on Facebook, and whether or not you stream to Facebook, you need a church page. Take the time to develop the information on your page. This should be a place for people to find quick info about your church, staff, and push them to your website. You should also use your church Facebook page as a way to introduce people to your church. Sharing culture and creating moments on your page gives a picture of what your church is like.
As an example of sharing a culture moment on Facebook:
This was a Facebook Live video shot from my iphone during the dedication of our new C.O.O.L. Kids Room. C.O.O.L. Kids is our ministry to special needs children – last year our church took an offering to build/design a state-of-the-art facility for our C.O.O.L. Kids. This has been and will be a huge opportunity for our church to reach families who have children with special needs and reach special needs children. This underscores our Core Value that Every Soul Matters To God.
Posting the video from the dedication allowed a larger audience to be a part of the moment, and for other peope who arent from our church to see this ministry.
Another reason to create a Church Page is that it is one of the places you should LiveStream your service. You should never live stream your church service from your personal Facebook page. Streaming on your personal page pushes people to you and not the church, and the goal of getting online is to introduce people to your church. Streaming to Facebook Live is simple – get on your phone, go to your church page and click “Go Live”.
DISCLAIMER: Due to Facebook’s APIs, you will only be able to “legally” live stream to Facebook and a private URL. For instance, we live stream our 11:30 Sunday Service on Facebook Live and on www.firstnlr.tv – Facebook will not allow streaming to Facebook and another social platform simeltaneously. There are workarounds but they are not legal according to Facebook’s current policy.
CONGRATULATIONS! YOU’RE ONLINE!
Now, you are online and streaming on Facebook! It’s quick, easy and very Low-Budget! It would be easy to stop there! But, your job isn’t over yet! Your goal is not to become an online tv program; your goal is to build a healthy Online Campus Family.
Creating your Facebook page and starting to live stream is only part of building your Online Church. Now, you need to start building your community. You will never build an Online Family if you all you do is post your weekly video and some cute quotes during the week – you need to interact with the people. Take time to respond to comments, reply to messages (promptly) and Pastor the People!
As you maintain your pages, interact with people and begin to build a community – you will see the incredible impact you are making in the lives of people around the world through your Online Campus.
Getting Online is only a small piece of building an Online Church. As the blogs continue, I will share more Free Platforms you can use and tips on How to Grow your Online Campus.