Below are some resources on how to stream your congregation’s worship or events online. These resources are not comprehensive, and the information contained here may change at any time because the software and hardware are always evolving.
If you are new to streaming, we recommend reading though this starter guide from the ELCA Churchwide Office: How to Stream Your Worship Service – A Starter Guide
The three main platforms we have found our congregations are using are Facebook Live, YouTube Live, and Zoom. Below is individual information about each platform.
Facebook offers live streaming from an individual profile page or business page. If your congregation already has a business page, this is an straightforward option. View Facebook Live Guide.
Some congregations are doing a combination of streaming live on Facebook and using pre-recorded video using OBS Software. This software allows pastors to be “live” while at the same time include videos and prerecorded music. Learn More.
We have had reports of some issues with the quality of streams on Facebook because of the number of users streaming at the same time (ex: A large number of churches streaming worship services at the same time on Sundays). One way to circumvent this is to pre-record your worship service and host a live watch party on Facebook during your service time. Learn about Facebook Watch Parties.
YouTube offers live streaming from a YouTube channel page. To use this feature, you will need to have a YouTube account that is enabled for live streaming. Enabling live streaming on a YouTube account takes 24 hours, so make sure to plan ahead. View YouTube Live Guide.
Zoom is a video conference platform that can also be used to host video calls for meetings, small gatherings, and worship services. To use Zoom for video calls, you will need to have a host with a Zoom account to start the meeting. Other participants can join the meeting via the meeting link. Zoom does offer a free account, but it is limited to 100 members per call and a 40 minute limit on calls with three or more people.
UPDATE: Zoom has made some changes in response to their issues with meeting security. They are now automatically enabling passwords and waiting rooms for video calls. This means that participants will need to enter a password to join the meeting.
Zoom has made it so that passwords will be embedded in meeting links so that people can join the meeting without having to manually enter the password. If you have any meeting links that were sent prior to April 4, 2020, you will need to resend the invites as they will not update automatically. Learn More.
If leaders or congregations are hosting Zoom events, here are a few important notes and suggestions:
- The host of the call will need to check the settings to make sure all participants are muted and are not allowed to screen share. This can be done in the “Advanced Sharing Options” while in the call. It is a good habit to log in early and do this before the official start of each Zoom meeting.
- It’s good practice to have someone watching for unacceptable activity, including on camera and in chat; this is good practice anyway to allow for the most engagement by participants.
If you are hosting Zoom meetings, please be mindful of a new type of pranking in which people join open Zoom calls and share videos of violence or pornography. This is happening with all virtual meeting hosting companies (i.e. GoToMeeting, Skype, etc.), so if you are using something besides Zoom, please adjust your Settings accordingly and have similar protocols in place. Learn More.
Music and Copyright for Online Worship
If you are planning to use music in your online worship services, you will need to obtain clearance to stream any copyrighted music. The Southeastern Iowa Synod has a list of resources in determining copyright information for hymns and other music. Learn More.