Live-streaming your worship service a few months ago was just an added bonus to your existing in-person experience. But now, streaming your church service is the new norm.
More people than ever are watching church online due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Even beyond the pandemic, online viewing isn't fading away, and it will likely never go away.
The ability to share our weekend worship experiences online opens up a world of opportunity to reach people for Christ we would have never been able to reach before!
But viewing church online isn't just a one-sided consumer experience - it is an interactive community experience.
There are many live-stream services out there to choose from that it can almost be overwhelming! There are many paid options as well as some high-quality unpaid ones to choose from too. When you seek to select a live stream service, you will need to consider what your needs are, what your budget is like, and the features you would like to have available.
We saved you some time and compiled the best paid and unpaid church streaming options for your church! We considered the following features for each platform:
Keep reading to learn more about each platform and how each can help your church excel in their digital experience!
This unpaid service is one of the absolute bests on the market for sharing services and encouraging community involvement.
The Church Online Platform removes the barrier of technology, so your church can reach people for Christ no matter where they are. It is not merely a one-sided Sunday monologue - it is an interactive experience.
Church Online allows you to stream directly to the platform and even use YouTube to stream your services. The platform enables great scheduling options for your worship experiences or other services. The analytics are top-notch and give you insight into who is watching, for how long, and other relevant demographics.
During streams, there is a live chat option where you can interact and answer questions your community has. Church Online Platform also has hosts who do just that - they host the church service! They can chat amongst other hosts, live-pray with community members, and more.
Church Online includes a convenient giving option, live prayer, an ability for viewers to raise their hand to believe in Christ, and more.
Overall, this platform is an incredible free option that is reasonably simple to use with little drawbacks.
YouTube is another streaming option that makes way for your church to stream services without paying a dime. YouTube is a popular video platform that many of your community members and visitors are familiar with.
YouTube is super simple to set up for streaming, and viewers can tune in without needing to sign up for an account. They can even interact in a live chat feature that runs alongside the service.
YouTube has exceptional analytics, so you can check out your view statistics and other information. This platform has no option for giving, which may be a bit of a drawback. There can also be copyright issues when using particular audio material during your stream.
In the end, YouTube is still a great free option for sharing your church's service!
Facebook is another excellent place to start when live-streaming your church service, especially if you have zero dollars in your digital church budget.
Facebook has a perk that not many other streaming options have: a built-in following. Church members likely already follow your Facebook account, so having this following already increases visibility for your services.
Facebook, like many other free services, doesn't have many of the extra perks and abilities, but that doesn't mean it's unusable. Facebook allows for viewers to interact in the video's comments in real-time. Viewers can even share the video itself and invite their friends to a watch party where they, too, can view your service.
The con of using Facebook for live streaming is that it lacks an option to give, has no proper analytics, and comes with other potential copyright issues and the inability for non-Facebook users to watch.
However, if you're on a tight budget and want your church members to find you fast, Facebook live-streaming is a good option.
DaCast is the first of our suggested paid live stream services and is undoubtedly one of the best paid options out there. This service is perfect for churches of all sizes and budgets.
DaCast ranges in their pricing and varies from $19-$289 per month. This broad price range includes varying levels of storage and bandwidth.
There are several customizable tools available with DaCast. You can pre-schedule live stream services on this platform, embed its link on your church website, and easily integrate it with your social media accounts.
This platform is one of the cheapest paid options, but it has plentiful features to cover your bases.
For a simple way to live stream for beginners, StreamingChurch is a wonderful option.
The overall cost of this platform can get a bit steep, especially when you opt for the premium plan with many more features. Prices range from $79-$127 per month with an additional $79 activation fee. There is, however, a free 1-month trial, which allows you to really test the platform out.
StreamingChurch features unlimited bandwidth, live-chat, and bottom line analytics. The interactive sermon notes allow your viewers to follow along with the sermon without missing anything. There is also a moderated chat feature and map of attendees.
StreamingChurch has some incredible options that make live-streaming short, sweet, and to the point once you get past the significant price point. With other helpful options such as giving abilities and social media integration, StreamingChurch is worth considering.
BoxCast is a decently priced live-streaming platform option for churches seeking a simple and straightforward streaming experience. BoxCast and Sunday Streams, a top-rated streaming platform, have linked forces to give the best of the live streaming experience.
This platform sits at $99-$199 per month, but this is with an annual commitment. There is also a 14-day trial period in which you can try out the platform for free.
BoxCast does lack many of the handy features of other services, such as live chat, and a giving button. The platform still has superior analytics to track for viewership, has social media integration, and allows you to pre-schedule.
BoxCast suggests different hardware for you to use for live stream, which cuts out a step in setting up the online church experience. The platform also allows you to stream not only to the platform itself but also to Facebook and YouTube.
Last but certainly not least on this list of live-streaming platforms is Church Streaming.tv. This platform ranges from $79-$139 per month and includes a free 30- day trial and extra add-on options.
This platform has many great features for the live service itself and especially for post- service. ChurchStreaming allows for embedding options, real-time analytics, and the ability to stream to Facebook and YouTube simultaneously.
While it lacks many helpful features for the live service, it does include neat features that benefit both the viewer and your team. The platform has an option for a branded Roku or Apple TV app where viewers can find your videos right on their television. The platform also has an audio extraction feature so your team can quickly transcribe the video for your church's sermon podcasts.
ChurchStreaming has a decent price point with a fantastic extra feature despite their lack of community-oriented tools.
There you have it - the best paid and unpaid live stream services! While there are many features to look for in a live stream platform, you ultimately have to decide on the platform that works best for your community.
The church is at a decline in this post-pandemic era. How can you overcome this emergency in your church?
Community is greater than competition every single time. How can you emphasize community in your church?