A simple guide to going live online

The internet and an online presence is the new front door to your church. A significant number of people will attend your church online web experience before showing up in person at your church location. Whether they are unchurched or someone relocating to a new location, people want to know what is going on inside the building that you call church.

By viewing your web pages and watching your church service from the safety of their home or on the go with a smartphone, tablet or laptop, people can get an insight of what to some is an unfamiliar experience.

There are other times when it is not possible to hold a church gathering, such as the current public health guidance on not holding social gatherings or inclement weather such as snow or flooding. In these situations, the use of live video will play an important role in maintaining a point of connection for your church family and beyond.

The importance of live video

More than ever before, people are watching an increasing amount of video than ever before. Using video is an excellent strategy to reach people community, whether they have not attended your events before, or are unable to attend your event due to health, work, travel or other family needs.

Live streaming combined with a connection strategy for people to get plugged into the community of your church, are two vital considerations for the 21st century church.

Regardless of your budget, there are various options available for you to consider. Whether you are providing a Sunday sermon, practical teaching, a thought for the day, online prayer meeting, promoting an event or sharing some important news, regular use of video can become an important resource for your church.

Before you start

Church website: Make sure that your church website is up to date, clearly showing your location, the times of your church services and how to contact you. If these details change, such as a change of location or service time, due to circumstances beyond your control, make sure these details are clearly shown on the home page of your website. Make it as easy as possible for people to find these details.

Take care about what you say: You should always be aware of the need for sensitivity when sharing private and confidential information during any church service, including during times of prayer. When broadcasting any event take extra time to prepare and thing about how you are presenting and what information you are sharing. Some details may not be appropriate to be more widely broadcast or appear on your church podcast.

Easy to find: Once you have added your online virtual worship page or livestream page, add a link to this resource to your church website home page and the top navigation menu. Make it clear and easy to see with easy click that takes the viewer direct to your media page.

Promote on social media and to your email list: Make sure that your church email list is up to date and fully GDPR compliant. Use this email list to communicate any changes to your church events and to promote your live video options. Also promote to your social media followers on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and the video platform that you are using. E.g. YouTube.

Copyright, performance licenses

Christian Copyright Licensing International (CCLI) make it simple with licences are tailored for the differing needs of churches and are designed to enable the fair and legal use of creative works while saving valuable administrative time, effort and expense. If you are using copyrighted material, you will need the relevant copyright licences.

Your church should hold the appropriate church copyright licences, including licenses for the projection or printing out of worship song words, copying music, etc. However, CCLI does not provide a licence for streaming or webcasting church services which include copyrighted content such as music and songs.

If you put put your church service online and it includes songs and music, it is the streaming service provider's responsibility to have a licence in place. Those wishing to live-stream via platforms such as Facebook and YouTube should be covered by the existing licensing agreements in place with those platforms. Please ensure you follow the terms of use and copyright requirements of each respective platform.

If your church wishes to host a live-stream with their own website provider then they can apply for a limited online music licence (LOML). For more details about the LOML, visit

Minimal video option: Create an online virtual worship experience on your church website

The simplest option, especially for churches that do not have the equipment, budget or internet access to live stream an event, is to create a online worship service web page on your church website. This is a virtual liturgy page for anyone to follow which can feature official worship videos with lyrics produced by many worship bands, a teaching video that has been recorded on a smartphone, webcam or video camera, along with prayers, announcements and a link to your church online donation page.

To ensure the best video quality possible, use a simple stand for your smartphone or video camera so that the image remains stable. Utilise natural light where possible, ensuring the person has plenty of good light on them, the image is in focus and there is no background noise causing a distraction. Upload this content to your church YouTube channel, making the video ‘unlisted’ so that it does not appear on your channel page, but still can be embedded on your church web page.

This page can be created during the week and you can choose when to make it available for people to use at their own convenience. You can create a new experience each week at minimal cost, promoting it over the weekend on social media and on your church email list.

Click here to see a simple example

Minimal live option: Use Facebook, YouTube or Instagram app on your smartphone, tablet or laptop

Use a suitable stand to position your video camera or digital device in a good location that maximises coverage of the person that is speaking and anyone else on stage. Ensure they are well lit and easily seen.

If your event is not able to be held in your church location due to circumstances beyond your control, you can use the YouTube, Facebook or Instagram apps to stream from your minister’s home or other suitable location while following Public Health guidance for social distancing. When it comes time to broadcast, just click the go live button on the app or in the software on your laptop to start your broadcast.

New to YouTube? Watch this quick start guide 

YouTube - Introduction to live streaming 

NB To be able to use YouTube live stream on a mobile device, your channel will need to have at least 1,000 subscribers. However, you can still use a pc, along with a webcam or separate camera.

How do I start a live video on Instagram? 

How do I go live on Facebook?

How do I go live on Facebook using streaming software? 

VIDEO: Simple guide to Facebook live your church service 

Medium live video options with a better video camera

You can improve the quality of your video by using a suitable video camera, together with audio sourced from a mixing desk, an external or radio microphone. Whether you record the video at your event and upload it later once you have an internet connection or you live stream with a fast internet upload speed, adding some additional equipment will improve your livestream.

Record and show later: You can video record your church event, especially at a location that does not have internet, then schedule a video ‘premiere’ to broadcast the event at a later time, appearing as a 'live' event. Scheduling this in advance will allow you promote the video stream and invite people to come together to watch and chat about it at the same time. You can do this for teaching, training, pastoral updates or many other activities.

YouTube  and Facebook both offer this options to schedule a premiere at a day/time in the future and promote it to your audience.

Livestream your event: There are many ways to live stream your church service or teaching from a home studio.

VIDEOBroadcast from an office or home studio

VIDEO: Online church for beginners

Possible cameras to consider, but do your own research:

Create an online live video page to promote and host your live streamed events

Your church event can go live on a variety of mainstream platforms such as YouTube, Facebook or Instagram. With some simple equipment, some advance publicity vis email and social media, it’s never been easier to start sharing your church teaching and events online.

Before you start, you will need to give consideration to copyright restrictions that apply when you broadcast copyrighted material, including songs, lyrics, images, etc. Also, you will need consent from those appearing in the video to ensure you remain legally compliant with GDPR requirements.

YouTube and avoiding copyright strikes when live streaming your service

Church Online Platform

Take your livestream up a notch by using the free Church Online Platform to host your video streaming page, with added features including video chat for people to share prayer requests and ask questions of your online video pastors. If you’ve been thinking about starting online church services for a while, or you’re feeling the pressure to launch quickly—think of this as your Church Online Platform starter kit.

Follow these steps to quickly launch a unique online experience for your church and start reaching people for Christ no matter where they are.

More details:

Launch your church online services this weekend

Paid video streaming services


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