Technology can expand communication and reach.
Live streaming using the internet allows Houses of Worship (HOWs) to provide music, sermons, teachings and special events to people wherever they are in the world. I have found that, each year, more and more HOW leaders are embracing the idea of using live streaming technologies to connect with people in cyberspace.
There are many reasons why HOW leaders feel that live streaming is vital for today’s congregants:
- They believe that people who are sick, or people who cannot attend worship services, will watch from their hospital room or wherever they are healing.
- They believe that regular attendees will watch the worship service online while they are out of town, on vacation or at work.
- They believe that people who never, or rarely, actually visit a house of worship might view the service online.
In short, HOW leaders believe that streaming video can increase the number of people who participate in activities within their geographic and virtual communities.
A full range of audio, video and lighting technologies, and well designed staging will enable the HOW leaders to create beautiful video and clear audio that leads to a positive live streaming experience.
“Communication,” as in the name of this publication, encompasses a wide range of technologies that are prevalent in nearly every area of business, including HOWs. In my case, specifying live streaming technologies and service providers for HOW leaders is now as common as recommending a handheld microphone. I suspect that many of you recognize the need to understand the importance of live streaming to HOW leaders. Plus, you are seeking to understand the vital aspects of live streaming; others are experts and are way ahead of the rest of us.
The two overarching challenges with HOW leaders is that they do not comprehend the technologies required for live streaming (nor should they have to), and they do not really have a plan for using live streaming as a tool to create flexible options for congregants and interested persons outside the walls of their worship space (which they should) to experience worship. I believe that we can help them.
Setting up the streaming system is the easiest part of the process. In simple terms, three primary components are required to competently create a live stream:
- You obviously need at least one video camera and an audio source.
- You need an encoder that converts audio and video signals to internet codec.
- You need a stable and fast broadband connection. There any many companies that can set up this hardware and software connection and then manage the system at quite reasonable rates. In addition, these companies will create a site so your services are automatically sent to an archive where people can view, at their leisure, on demand.
The more challenging part of live streaming is creating intentional and interactive experiences using this technology. The key idea here is to help HOW leaders understand the need to treat the online audience as another location or campus. This means that they should create a welcoming and comfortable environment as they do in the physical worship space.
For example, at the physical location, a worship facility typically has trained greeters at the doors, people to help with vital information and individuals who offer special care or prayer to visitors and regular attendees as needed. HOW leaders have to create these same experiences for their online audience. They must spend time thinking about these particulars and then develop and implement a comfortable and exciting online experience. Obviously, if the online experience is not good, more than likely the people won’t return to the site and, for sure, they will be less likely to visit the physical HOW.
Let’s go a little deeper into the online live streaming experience to consider the
broader perspective and how live streaming offers our industry additional opportunities. If the internet is slow, then the experience is bad; if the audio and video are bad, the experience is bad. We can help to remove these problems.
Furthermore, although a simple single camera with an audio feed provides the basic technologies required for creating a live stream, we recognize that we can create a more interesting experience by adding lights to enhance the image on the stream. Good lighting makes a huge difference in the quality of the image generated by the camera.
The organization of the stage is also important. Do online audiences see a debris field of microphone stands and instruments on their screen? Or, does the image look clean and engaging? High-quality microphones and quality audio consoles also make for a cleaner sound for the live stream. And, multiple cameras provide multiple viewing perspectives that help the online audience feel connected to the live experience.
I think you get the idea. To genuinely create a live stream experience that engages viewers and maintains their attention is not overly complex. However, a full range of audio, video and lighting technologies, and well designed staging will enable the HOW leaders to create beautiful video and clear audio that leads to a positive live streaming experience. I believe we can help these leaders create this welcoming experience by providing high-quality technologies.
That’s what I believe. Please tell me what you believe.