New video streaming equipment for churches has transformed the experiences of watching sermons online, enabling multisite churches to flourish. Nowadays, there is no limit to the number of people who can watch a sermon. Bringing all congregation members together, quality video distribution is a crucial element of running a multisite church.
We can wave goodbye to the days of unclear connections, boring buffering waits, and low-quality videos with the right equipment. It's time to focus on the important stuff and be fully engaged in a sermon without the pain of practical issues. Read on to learn more about the best video distribution systems, both live and on-demand.
Hard Drive Method
One of the oldest, cheapest, and most foolproof video sharing methods is by a hard drive. Just load up your USB stick or DVD with the pre-recorded sermon, and pass it on to each campus. Saving you money while ensuring consistent quality, this old-school method is a favorite for many churches for its trustworthy nature – we know what we are getting into.
However, this method tends to only be helpful for smaller church networks, as it requires the physical passing on of the data. Another issue with this method is that the content would have to be pre-recorded. Many multisite churches will have a central 'base,' where the sermon can be experienced live.
This poses an issue with consistency as if some sites are seeing a recording. In contrast, another area is privileged to watch live; there is less connection between the pastor and the congregants at the satellite site. There is a notable decrease in energy compared to live recordings, which affects the power of the sermon.
Growing in popularity for more extensive church networks that span more significant geographical areas is broadcasting by satellite. While its initial costs remain higher than other methods, the monthly charges are static, making expansion easier, with no extra streaming costs.
If you have three or more campuses, this option could be for you. The expensive Setup costs mean it is overlooked by many but can be a wise investment for extensive church networks. One downside of this method is that it is somewhat weather-dependent, and the quality of the stream could be affected by a stormy or windy day.
Live streaming videos is probably the first one that comes to mind when we think about sharing videos. A particular atmosphere is carried through a live stream that cannot be easily replicated; it gives us the feeling of being a part of something collective together. Plus, it enables those who cannot make it to the church campus to view it from home.
Announcements at the start of the sermon can help to forge deeper connections across distances. Sharing an important news from every site will link the different campuses, keeping everyone in the loop. However, with a live stream, everybody has to be on the same timeline, sharing a schedule to the T. If any technical issues or other announcements need to be made at a site, they risk being left behind on the sermon.
You only get one shot at a live stream, which means production has to be well organized and thoroughly planned before the event. It has to be flawless, which makes it a pretty high-stress endeavor. Streaming to large numbers of people means that a higher bandwidth will be needed, resulting in higher costs. If the majority congregate in the various sites to view the sermon, a lower bandwidth could suffice.
The Best of Both
With options now available to stream content directly onto your TV, using Apple TV, Amazon Fire Stick, or Roku, many are opting for the ease of this instead. It can be highly versatile, as you can download apps for watching both pre-recorded videos and live streams. The price can add up, though, as you will need a separate device for every campus.
However, the ease of use is winning many churches over. These versatile streaming sticks can also be used to share the curriculum for kids' church online, play games, and even share personal photos. Apple TV, in particular, has seen a massive rise in use for churches, as it is widely considered to be the best streaming stick due to its premium HDR 10 picture quality.
Choosing which streaming method will work best for you and your church is crucial, as investing in the equipment needed can be costly. You will likely have to stick with the decision for quite some time. While the old-school complex drive methods can be a great short-term fix while trialing a new campus, we would recommend steering clear of these outdated options in the long run.
Instead, options that will support extensive growth and support your church as you add more sites are a better investment. A benefit of opting for a streaming stick over some other options is that these devices are usable in any context. If, in the end, you decide to take a different route with your church streaming services, having an Apple TV will still be incredibly useful for the church.