In light of all that is happening in the world right now, many churches are moving their worship gatherings online. I know a lot of larger, urban churches have probably been doing this for some time now, but this might be a first for smaller or more rural congregations. In an effort to help, I’ve compiled a list of free resources to help your local church transition to gathering digitally.
There are many ways to go about live-streaming your church service, but for the sake of this discussion I will only be looking at free resources.
Facebook Live is a powerful live streaming tool that any one can use for free with a Facebook account. If your church has a Facebook page you can stream directly from your page.
Pros: You can like, share, and comment on the live video. Once you are done streaming it will save directly to your videos. You can also embed the video to your church’s website later.
Cons: You cannot customize your feed without a third-party broadcasting software.
The second free live streaming tool is YouTube Live. If your church has a YouTube account you can easily start streaming videos which will save directly to your YouTube channel.
Pros: YouTube is arguably the most popular place on the Internet to watch videos. You can potentially reach a very large audience beyond just your congregation.
Cons: The social aspect of liking, share, and commenting is not as strong in my opinion. If the video is public, it is open to abuse in the comment sections.
WIX Live Stream (App)
If your church has a WIX website, you can download the Live Stream App in their app store. If you don’t have a WIX website, it is free to create one. However, if you want to connect a personalized domain name you have to purchase it along with a hosting plan.
Pros: Every video you stream is automatically uploaded to your church’s WIX website. You can customize and personalize your video player to match your website’s design.
Cons: The WIX IOS app has given me trouble in the past with the mobile stream feature. It is prone to crash when I switch from WiFi to cellular data.
For free broadcasting software, I recommend OBS (Open Broadcaster Software). I tried it for the first time this Sunday and it worked great. There is a little bit of a learning curve at first, but once you get the hang of it it’s fairly easy to use. This will allow you to have multiple video and audio sources, as well as, add graphics and text to your video feeds. I used it this Sunday to stream a Google slides doc and the video/audio of one of our pastors preaching, all on one screen.
Learning Management Software
Perhaps your church is also considering moving its Bible studies or courses online. If so, learnnn.com might be a good option. I have used it in the past to create online ESL classes for private tutoring. To be clear, these would be courses that you prepare ahead of time and then have students work through at their convenience. It is really great for creating online quizzes. I also love that you can customize your own page with a personalized logo and colors. They even have ready-made bible courses that you can add to your own page.