When it comes to starting church services online, keep things as simple as possible.
That’s the advice from Andy Pidsley, managing director at CRE exhibitor API Sound and Visual. ‘Phones and tablets have built in microphones and cameras and generally just work,’ said Andy. ‘Plenty of helpful YouTube videos will help you get started.’
There are several ways to broadcast services and meetings, he believes, each with their own set of advantages and disadvantages. ‘Live streaming is like a radio broadcast, offering one source to many listeners,’ he said. ‘Video conferencing, however, is more like a council meeting with a chairperson and a number of participants.’
There are pros and cons to each.
‘With live streaming the potential for congregational feedback is limited to a text message and it doesn’t allow users to see each other,’ said Andy. ‘Platforms such as YouTube and Facebook are well suited to a Sunday service format. They can also be promoted and anyone can join the service without a specific invitation. While they are free to use, you should have the correct CCLI licence to cover streaming to the public.’
Video conferencing platforms, however, such as Google Meet, Microsoft Teams and Zoom, give users the opportunity to see and hear everyone in the gathering as well as the chairperson.
‘They also offer the facility to share the users’ desktops so you can run a Powerpoint presentation or song words for example,’ said Andy. ‘Many of these platforms offer a free service but subscriptions are very reasonable.’
This type of service is ideal for smaller churches of 50 or less, however strict discipline is necessary as people can talk over the top of each other.
‘If you have a paid-for Zoom account you can also stream to Facebook or YouTube direct for those who want to watch but not interact – or visitors who don’t have the login details for the Zoom meeting,’ said Andy. ‘Our church has a Sunday meeting on Zoom weekly with around 40 participants. We led worship from our lounge and someone else operated Easy Worship, church presentation software, in their kitchen! There was a great sense of togetherness with many contributions and we even had coffee and chat afterwards.’
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