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Officials the United States are now recommending that even meetings with as little 50 people should not be held. The coronavirus epidemic is continuing to spread and impacts daily life for many – even when not sick.
Thanks to networks like Periscope, Facebook Live, YouTube Live, Instagram Live and cheap equipment on Amazon anyone can go live in no time. Keep in mind that Amazon is seeing a lot of demand right now with many people ordering online and opting to stay put. In fact, Amazon is looking to hire 100,000 more workers to help. If you prefer a private stream, tools like Zoom can do the trick as well.
How to go live with video – basic equipment
At the most basic level, you can easily livestream with just your iPhone. It’s very low-tech certainly. Given that many sermons and gatherings are cancelled you don’t have to actually be in church, though, the backdrop would be nicer for those watching at home.
This is how I often go live. It works.
Simply have somebody prop the phone near where the pastor is speaking or at worst case have somebody hold it or move it around. Holding it for any amount of time can get hard though.
More equipment for under $50
At the end of the day, there’s no need to buy professional cameras and other equipment. Let’s do the math here on how cheap this can be:
So for $40 dollars you are in a great spot to go. I also love the wired lavalier for situations where it stays in one place. I’m not a fan of it when I have to travel with it. The cord always ends up being a mess.
Assuming you already have an iPhone or other smartphone, that’s really all you need. If you are really close to the phone and are holding it selfie style – as many livestreamers do, you might even be okay without a mic.
The basics of inviting the audience for when you go live
Make sure everyone knows when you are going live.
- Send out an email
- Allow people to add it to their calendar
- Set up a Facebook event
- See the case study below
- Send out text message reminders
- Other reminders
If you want to promote your now digital event even further, consider this strategy below. I realize sermons and church gatherings are usually very local, but why not try to expand the message to others in your geography using these tools.
Event landing page case study
Here’s a case study from promotions surrounding a Twitter chat from a few years ago:
I love how the H2H crew reaches out to people and reminds them of their online event. If I’m not reminded of a live event or stumble across it by mistake, I likely won’t remember it.
Once you are on their mailing list, you receive an email reminder of the chat. I know, because I’ve gotten one before. Super helpful! I see a higher percentage of my email than the tweets I could see in theory. I follow like 12,000 people.
Suzi McCarthy sent out reminder Tweets to people – like me – who might be interested. This is a smart way to remind people. And take a look where she’s sending people – a registration page – which will remind me further that the chat is about to happen when it’s about to happen. For a local church, consider inviting local social media users.
Once on the registration page, we get the low-down on the chat, participants, topic and more. Super useful:
Save your Seat is great terminology – even though everyone can join even without a reservation.
It’s a top notch way to promote your event. If for some reason you don’t have everyone’s email, this is one way to encourage getting it.
How to prepare for a livestream
Plan your sermon like you always do. Consider if there are any things to consider when going live that wouldn’t be a barrier or something to think about in a church setting. Make sure the wifi works well when you record! Sometimes when I’m in a location with bad wifi I just use data for that one hour. (Data charges may apply).
When I go live, I like to make an outline that I can keep nearby. Of course, keep an eye on the clock. It’s tempting to go on and on – in my experience, but the time limits still apply.
It’s even now possible to have multiple people – not in the same location – on the livestream. I’ve written about how on Periscope and Twitter here. You can even livestream with audio-only or video and audio. Twitter/Periscope is the only network that currently allows that.
YouTube, Instagram and Facebook all allow livestreams and I believe you can have remote guests on all.
YouTube restricted mobile livestreams
YouTube is one network where you’ll have to use your desktop or laptop computer. YouTube currently restricted mobile livestream to accounts with at least 1,000 subscribers. But you can livestream from your computer.
The setup may just be different. If you go the YouTube route, consider that you’ll need a different mic. You likely don’t need a tripod as you can just sit the laptop on a table. Sometimes the angles are weird from laptops, though.
What if I don’t want my sermon to be public?
Firstly, I would ask: “why not?”
I’ve seen churches start podcasts and those are usually public. Though podcasts can be made semi-private by having an unpublished RSS feed and then sharing that with members.
To make a sermon video somewhat private, here are some options, depending on network:
Make a private account for your church and only accept follow-up requests from members.
A bit of extra work in my opinion, but that’s an option.
On YouTube you can set your videos to be unlisted. Once live you can send the unlisted link to the congregation. Again, that’s a touch more work but an option. YouTub
Many conference call tools like Zoom can also be used for webinars and other livestreams. Zoom is one. You could set up a Zoom event and invite members only. The biggest thing to consider here is that Zoom licenses get more expensive based on the number of people watching.
Zoom broadcasts can also be made public and saved.
Does it have to be live?
Of course not. You could record it and upload it. But when the livestream happens at the time of the regular – now cancelled – church service time, that can keep the community together. All of those services also allow viewers to interact with each other through chat. I know we want people to listen, but maybe leave some time early and later in the service for people to interact.
Let me just say: online events don’t feel like offline events yet, but the technology has come a long way to make it more enjoyable. This is one way to keep the community together during this coronavirus epidemic.
Need help with your livestreams?
Give me a call at the number above, drop me an email or book a 30-minute consultation at this link. The consultation currently costs
$100 $50 and you can pay by PayPal here. I’m looking forward to hearing from you and helping you continue sharing your message.
This article was written in March 2020 during the height of the coronavirus epidemic and includes content written a few years ago when the H2H chat was live.