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Do you know just how much media matters to the world in our present day and age? It easy to see how instant messaging of photos, videos and music via popular social networking sites are the highlight of your daily life.  In fact, a new standard is being set and, believe it or not, a lot of churches are leading the way by using the most recent technology to keep church members connected and communicating in ways never thought possible before.

Live streaming

For folks who are sick or unable to attend a church service, they can attend church virtually via live church streaming.  Also, with the advent of podcasting they can subscribe to church services (via RSS feeds) and listen from their PC or mobile device.  Whether video or audio, the procedures these days are simple and any church can control the quality and content with the use of a computer and some simple software, generating superior looking & sounding production quality.  The live church service is now the first and foremost priority, according to many church planners and leaders.  Live streaming ensures growth and builds community awareness for churches of all sizes.  Cost wise, if you can afford to add a mobile cell phone to the church’s annual budget, then you can add a live streaming provider.  Worshp Channels is a well-known and popular hosting service for churches around the world.

Wireless systems

And speaking of great sound quality, when it comes to wireless microphones, there are more than an ample variety these days to choose from.  Handheld mics and over-the-ear mics for pastors and priests give them the ability to be more mobile and leave the stage area makes their message more compelling and pertinent to their audience.  Also, adding inner ear monitors are a great new trend in churches around the world.  The reason is clear (pun intended).  Getting rid of those large and ugly floor monitors can be a great way to remove unnecessary room noise and ear-piercing feedback.  A complete wireless system can be expensive however. You can buy complete wireless sound reinforcement and monitor systems, but you just need to bear in mind that many of the latest tools you may require additional resources to ensure proper use.  And you may need to re-train your volunteers to become experts on using these new technologies efficiently and to their full potential.

HD implementation

What is more, church media leaders are also starting to make use of HD tools; 7.1 surround sound, 4K cameras and high resolution live stream technologies.  As most broadcasting and video is now in HD, the future of church media will include an entire HD experience from start to finish.

The future

As technologies keep changing, the church will aim to be more cutting edge and forward-thinking than ever.  Keeping up may be hard, but efforts to provide excellence in the church in all areas of media will always be our goal.

It may come as a surprise to most church pastors, but FACEBOOK LIVE is completely inappropriate for churches.

Why? Simple. It’s an R Rated environment that church members (especially children) should not be subject to.  Would you conduct a worship service in a bar and invite children to attend?  Of course not!  Then why in the world would you invite online viewers to Facebook Live in order to watch your church service, when they are surrounded by inappropriate links, ads, messages, posts and R-rated live streams?

Just today I logged onto my personal Facebook account and noticed the “news feed” had articles about politics, religion, sex; and none of them had good or biblical principles.  My eyes were inundated with liberal/progressive streams-of-thought by folks not following morals and values held by me, my family and my church.  And worse yet, by one simple ‘click’ of the mouse, Facebook Live was launched and my screen filled with horrible live streams from around the world, including swearing, scantily clad women, sex talk and other inappropriate content.  Imagine that your daughter or grandmother is watching these things on a Sunday morning.  It’s that bad out there.  My advice is “Don’t get caught up in the idea that you’ve got to use this secular technology provider to reach people.  Not true. There’s plenty of alternatives out there to host your live streamed church services.

Sure, Facebook Live is convenient and ‘free’ but ask yourself, “How much does FREE really cost you?”  If just one person is invited to your church’s Facebook live stream and gets distracted (or attracted) to someone else’s live broadcast filled with rants against the government, swearing, sex talk or worse, then it’s ALL not worth it.  The risks are too great.  In fact, 98% of all Facebook Live streams are deemed by some to be Rated R in content.

There are many alternatives to host your live stream instead of Facebook.  There are Christian owned and operated companies that host live streams for churches around the globe. Seek them out (www.worshipchannels.com) and get connected with a reliable company that provides church streaming in a safe online environment.

Author:  Shawn West is a church technology expert and President of Worship Channels. For questions please email;  shawn@worshipchannels.com or call 1-509-981-6883

live-worshipYou might not be aware but there are numerous parts and pieces that make live streaming church technology work. Amid these parts of your church’s streaming system, the 3 major ones are the internet connection (from your internet service provider, ISP), the media encoder (hardware or software) and the global Content Delivery Network (CDN, also referred to as a hosting web server). There is no doubt that all the key elements have their role to play in successfully streaming video online.

So, let’s first discuss the route, in reverse, of the audio/video signal that you intend to webcast.  Starting from the viewers end; first a viewer goes to a webpage and clicks on a file they want to view. After that click, the request is sent to the CDN (hosting web server) that is storing the video file (or live stream Url) and the file to begins to play.

Secondly, it is important for the CDN that is hosting (aka storing) the video or audio file to be globally accessible and on a robust and responsive network. The requested files & other content are processed and then sent to the online user via protocols that recognize how best to transfer the dta from the hosting server (CDN) to the user’ device (PC or mobile).  The most frequently used protocol is an HTTP-based media streaming communications protocol implemented by Apple Inc.  The protocol is called HLS, which stands for http live streaming.  HLS is the most widely accepted standard for global live streaming.  In the opinion of this writer, it is also the most reliable and covers 90% of all browsers, screens and mobile devices.

The third step is for the webcaster to properly format the video and audio signal.  For effective HLS encoding, you will set your video format (via your encoder hardware or software) to H.264 and set your audio to AAC/Stereo.

Finally, please consider consulting a professional live streaming provider, such as Worship Channels, to ensure all your equipment, settings and systems set up for optimal performance.

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