The times we’re living in are requiring all of us to come up with new ways of doing things, particularly when it comes to group gatherings. If you are a pastor, a youth leader or one who handles the technology for your worship center, this extends to the holding of services and study groups. How can you lead your congregation remotely, particularly if you haven’t done it before? Facebook Live, YouTube and even your own website can offer you a way to reach out – we’ll leave the choice of platform up to you. In this list, we’ll discuss the five considerations for creating a remote worship experience, regardless of platform.
- Schedule and promote your content
Think of your broadcast as an invitational event. Let your congregation know when and where to expect it, and how to participate. Forward-thinking communication and the need for connectiveness to community are huge right now, and doing this will help build anticipation and an audience for your service. Your website is the obvious place to start, but you can also publish a schedule in any mailings or emails you are doing, along with sending texts and publishing reminders on Facebook, Twitter and any social platform you may use.
- Choose a location
Different situations call for different environments, so think about the needs of your congregation and what they will most connect with. Perhaps the location will be your desk in the church office. Maybe it will be in your own home. Or you might want to broadcast from your own altar or pulpit, or even somewhere in nature. Find a spot that is well-lighted, with the emphasis on you. Check your background for anything that might be distracting, and either remove it or position yourself accordingly to hide it.
Depending on how you choose to record and whether or not you are broadcasting live, there are two ways that you can approach sound:
a) Mic through computer, using the computer’s camera – You will get the best sound if you use a headworn mic, like our HM172 and its accompanying C172 cable clip. The clip will cut down on noise created by the cable rubbing against your clothing. Another option is a directional, shotgun/stand mic attached to your computer, positioned behind your monitor, out of view, yet facing you. In both instances, you will want to treat the camera as if it were a person and speak to it, minimizing instances where you speak to either side.
A note for live broadcasts: If you are broadcasting through your computer, turn off any notification sounds, such as those for email or Facebook. They otherwise appear randomly and are distracting. Be aware of anything in your environment that you can likewise turn off, minimize or schedule around, such as your computer’s fan, pets, household noise and neighborhood noise (leaf blowers, mowers).
b) Externally, using a camera or GoPro – This option is for those who want more freedom of movement and are broadcasting in a wider area, such as a local pastor in our area did when he recorded his Easter Sunday sermon and prayers outside, in the field outside of his church. His technical person filmed him from an appropriate distance, using lenses and angles to convey proximity. To capture his sound, the pastor used an MTCR and a lav mic. The tech person then married the visual and the sound in post-production and made the “service” available online for later viewing. We discuss a similar technique in Wire List #21. You can also use our SPDR to capture sound.
Music is an integral part of any worship experience. When broadcasting remotely and using recorded sound, be mindful of copyrights to the music you are using. Churches often have license to use copyrighted music in their services, but at the time of this writing, this may not extend to online use. There are a variety of sources you can use that are royalty-free, and other options include having soloists appear on camera in a small-screen or including a Zoom-like choir with people performing from their own locations. We have also heard about pastors creating Spotify playlists that congregants can play on their own.
Whether you are using your own equipment or gear borrowed from others, disinfecting them after use is a smart practice. We discuss how to best do this in Wired List #20.
Broadcasting services online offer your worship centers many possibilities that will extend past this pandemic period, including expanding your outreach to different areas, providing on-demand Scripture studies, and making services available to the homebound or those living in remote areas. We learned a lot about online broadcasting when we developed our Wireless Side Chats and are happy to help you troubleshoot yours or develop a plan. Reach out to us through our Facebook group or