FB Live: How To Livestream Your Church Service

I’ve had a few people recently ask me how we actually accomplish our Facebook Live stream with our church service. So today I want to answer most of those questions (hopefully), but if you have others, please don’t hesitate to ask me about them.

So you come to the place where you want to stream your church services, and you’re trying to figure out how to accomplish it, but don’t know where to start. Perfect! I’m here to help. In the way we have it setup there are 5 main components. I’m not going to talk about these components in much depth in this blog, but I will in other posts.

Cameras

So the first thing you will need when setting up your FB Live streaming setup will be cameras. We have a multi-camera setup, but that is not a requirement. The advantages for a multi-camera setup would be:

  • the ability to be on one camera shot while setting up another camera shot
  • camera placement can change weekly for some cameras while still keeping a consistent look of the overall production
  • making the viewing audience feel as though they are apart of the service rather than simply observing through a window
  • more interesting camera shots

Some of the cameras we have are manned cameras and others are stationary. The manned cameras are the kind you would see a news crew using. These are large cameras on a tripod that have excellent image quality.

If you are only going to use one camera I would recommend two things: don’t stream the music portion of your service and make sure your stage is the only thing in frame on your camera. You’ll want to make it the most pleasant you can for your streaming audience so determine where your pastor will be on stage and frame up that portion of the stage on camera. This will make it so your pastor is as large as possible on screen for people watching.

Sound

The next thing you will need to determine is what and how you will manage your sound. We determined the best scenario for us is to have a separate audio mix for the stream. We do this with a separate console that is located in our production room. The person mixing in this position can focus solely on the mix that will go out through our stream. This is definitely not a requirement, however it does provide the best audio quality.

One option would be to simply use the onboard microphone, or an external mic plugged directly into the camera. While this option will work, it will give you the worst audio quality.

The option I would recommend, if you don’t have a separate sound board, is taking a mix off of your main audio console. The easiest mix would be a matrix feed of the main mix. This will provide separate volume control for the streaming mix, and it will also ensure that what you are hearing in the main room live is also going out to the stream.

Video Switcher

If you plan on using more than one camera, some kind of a video switcher will be required. We have found the Blackmagic Design equipment has been a very good fit for us. It’s very versatile and cost effective.

The video switcher is really the heart of your streaming system if you have multiple cameras. It’s where everything comes together from audio and video and is sent to where you need it to be sent. The Blackmagic Design switcher requires that everything be in the same resolution and frame rate, and once you have that accomplished, then you are all set.

If you don’t plan on using multiple cameras, then you don’t need a switcher. You would need something like a capture card or a capture device. This is a device that takes your audio and video and allows you to input it into your computer. BlackMagic Design also has some devices for that.

Computer

Once you have all of your audio and video equipment setup, you’re now ready to get everything into the computer. For our setup, we use one of the Blackmagic Design Deck Link capture cards in an older Mac Pro. Our audio and video are combined within our switcher, and then sent to the capture card using a HD-SDI cable. This is a high quality coax cable.

On our computer we use a piece of software called Wirecast. Wirecast is a virtual software switcher, but the real advantage for us is it allows us to send multiple streams to our streaming provider.

Streaming Provider

Finally, once you have everything setup and ready to go, you need to figure out how to get your audio and video you are capturing, and put it into the hands of your people. For this we use a company called ChurchStreaming.tv. The nice thing about a streaming provider is they make your job a lot easier. You have enough to worry about within your physical building, so let someone else take care of where your signal goes outside of your building.

For us, we send our streaming provider to two separate streams. One is a high quality HD signal and the other is a lower quality SD signal. The reason for this is so that no matter what kind of wireless signal strength the person watching your service has, they should be able to see the service, even if it is the lower quality stream.

Final Thoughts

Understand none of the items listed above are a requirement, however, I would argue there is great value in putting more money and personnel toward your online streaming platform. Right now we see an average of 10,000 – 11,000 viewers per month across all of our streaming outlets.

I’d love to hear how and what you use to stream. If you have a question about how we stream or maybe some equipment you might be looking into, I would be more than happy to give you my opinion.

The Problem With We

So it happened today. I was sitting in a meeting, and we were discussing a fairly large event that was coming up. We were discussing all of the logistics and making sure we had everything covered. I looked over to one of my teammates and said, “we need to setup all the gear and make sure everything is working properly.” He responded by saying, “when you say “we,” do you mean me?”

It happened and I didn’t even realize it. I absolutely love my team and I love gathering my team, setting a course and accomplishing a mission together. So, what’s the problem with my team? Nothing. Actually the problem is with me and how I was communicating. Now, I can’t say that I get it right everyday, but I’m now aware of the problem.

In meetings I found myself always saying “we.” ‘WE’ need to accomplish this or ‘WE’ need to accomplish that. Unfortunately I wasn’t communicating well on what needed to be accomplished, and who was going to be responsible for accomplishing it. Here are a few things I’ve become aware of when it come’s to the problem of ‘WE’.

It sets unclear expectations of who’s responsible. 

We’ve all heard the saying about what assuming does. By saying ‘we’ and not actually delegating responsibility, it sets you up for failure and even still the responsibility falls back on your shoulders. The responsibility will always be on your shoulders if you’re the boss. You are responsible for the task being completed but not necessarily physically doing the task.

It reveals insecurities of the leader. 

For me I had to realize that I was in charge, so I needed to be in charge. God called me and placed me where I am, so I need to live out that position to it’s fullest extent. Not in a wrong way, but in the way God has placed me there.

|people want clarity more than they don’t want to be responsible for something|

via @allenwfarr

My team wants me, their boss, to make the decision, have clarity and be decisive about the task at hand much more than they want indecisiveness and unclear expectations of who needs to complete what.

It makes you miss your goals.

If no one is in charge, then how are you ever going to meet your goals? Better yet, how are you even going to know what your goals are? Someone has to be responsible to set the goals and expectations. The truth is, if you’re the boss and you don’t delegate the job clearly, then you are possibly going to be the one doing the work or the work simply won’t get done.

So, using clear expectations about what needs to be completed and communicating to the person or people that need to complete it, will give you the exact results you hoped for.

Are there other problems with ‘WE’ that you’ve seen when communicating with your team?

The Freeing Power of the Deadline

For as long as I can remember, I’ve always been involved with music. I’ve been in concert band in school. I’ve been in marching band. I’ve been in jazz band. I’ve been in garage bands. I’ve been in bands at church. I’ve even been a one man band. Throughout all that time and all of those various bands, I had never played with a click until a got into college. In fact, I’d really never heard of the idea.

I would argue being a musician and playing with a click track is much like having a deadline. Now you might think I’m crazy, but first let me explain. Being a musician and playing with a click allows everyone to stop guessing where the beat is. It allows you to focus on the music, rather than trying to keep time. I will say at first it’s somewhat annoying and difficult, but once you get used to it, it becomes a necessity.

This is much like a deadline. With a deadline, everyone knows where to end without question. And if you’re smart, you’ll create deadlines along the way. You could call these soft deadlines. I’ll talk more about soft deadlines in a later post. These are deadlines that no-one but you and your team knows about. This will help accomplish the big goal at the end. In the beginning, deadlines will be annoying and possibly stressful. Some deadlines will probably always be stressful, but hopefully they’ll get easier to meet once you’ve set a few.

|with a deadline, everyone knows where the end is without question|

via @allenwfarr

So what exactly is a deadline good for?

  1. Everyone knows where the end is.
  2. It sets clear expectations for what needs to be accomplished.
  3. It helps everyone work toward the common goal.

If a deadline is never created, then chances are whatever you are trying to accomplish won’t be accomplished. It’s also probably safe to say that you will be met with many assumptions and much frustration.

I’ve heard it said that dreams are goals without deadlines and the things that are important to you will always have deadlines. So, are there some deadlines that you need to set?

Organization Hack: note taking

There seems to be a new wave of task organization that uses pen and paper. You open your notebook, write your tasks down, and then you complete them. Maybe I’m out of the loop but there are tasks that I create today that I won’t complete for weeks and maybe even months. These tasks could be meetings or things I need to do, but they each belong to a point on my calendar that need my attention. For me, when it comes to note taking and task management, I use pen, paper, and digitial to stay organized. Here is how I do it.

First of all, I take my notes in a journal or a note book. I personally like the Cahier journal from Moleskine and the 8″ x 5″ is the perfect size for me. When I get a new journal, the first thing I do is number the pages. This will help when transferring your notes from your journal to your computer. You might only have one meeting today and you end up not taking up the whole page. Because of this I add the date and the meeting title to the top of each note section. You might even think about using a new page when going into a different meeting, because those Cahier journals are really pretty cheap and the pages aren’t that big so you really aren’t wasting much paper.

So, once I’ve been to a meeting, dated and titled the section in my journal, and taken the notes from the meeting, I go back to my office to transfer my notes. The reason I add the details when I label the page is I might not be able to transfer these notes for a few days, so when I have time to transfer the notes everything is neat and organized.

The other reason for the labeling system is sometimes I’ll go back through my journal and see everything that needs to be transferred to digital, and I make some notes that look like the following:

  • pg 27 west campus
  • pg 29 east property signage
  • pg 33 west campus video

It makes it easy to know what notes or tasks need to be transferred and where they’re located. It takes minutes to make the notes on what needs to be transferred, so this usually happens when I’m waiting on a meeting to start or when I have a free moment.

Once I’ve transferred my notes from my journal to my computer, I put an “X” on that page or section with a marker. I don’t want to mark it out completely, because I might need to go back and reference it. When my journal is full it goes on a shelf in my office, and I start on numbering the pages of a new journal.

Get your journal > number the pages > date and title that page or note section > transfer your notes to your computer > put an ‘X’ over that page or note section

And that’s it! Obviously this method won’t work for everyone, but if you are having trouble keeping track of what you need to do, this might be something that helps you.

The Power of Consistency

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

I know in my personal life, consistency is a big thing. For me, when I return to the routine after a vacation it’s honestly a refreshing thing. Don’t get me wrong, I love vacation and I wish I could take it more often but there is something about the routine that feels good.

I believe this is something we can also apply to church media as well. Over the last few years I have tried really hard to get our equipment around our campus more consistent. I’d like to think I’m looking at the campus as a whole rather than each room individually. So what has consistency done for me?

It creates redundancy. 

Let’s say you have a piece of equipment fail in one room where you have an event that is happening in the near future. If you have that same piece of gear in another room, well grab it and put it back in the failed gears place. Even better, once you have the broken gear fixed, it doesn’t have to go back to its original home. It can go back to where you pulled the gear from to get you by.

It allows your volunteers to be cross trained.

Everything we do in all of the different areas of our church are not the same, however if you have the same gear in all of your different rooms it’s much easier for a person to walk into a room and recognize that the equipment is the same as the room they came from. And at that same time they feel more comfortable and now they only need to know what’s going on in that room and not how to use the gear in that room.

It makes purchasing equipment easier.

There are a lot of times you can get better pricing when purchasing things in quantity. Also, if you’re trying to find some obscure part for that particular room, it makes it easier not having to look for many different obscure parts or solutions because all of the equipment is the same.

It makes upkeep of equipment easier. 

Storing files, repairing parts, replacing batteries, buying spares parts. All of this is now the same for every room.

dictionary.com defines consistency as follows:

steadfastadherencetothesameprinciples,course,form,etc.

OR

agreement,harmony,orcompatibility,especiallycorrespondenceor uniformityamongthepartsofacomplexthing

Please understand this doesn’t happen overnight AND not every piece of equipment I have throughout our campus is exactly the same. However, where it’s feasible and where I can I try to make things consistent when it comes to the gear we use.

Do you have consistency issues? Do you need to try and make your campus more consistent? What are your struggles? What are you waiting for?

So I Built A Table…

A few weeks back I decided to build a dining room table and some benches to match. The benches aren’t shown but look very similar. We made the decision to make our own table simply because of the cost of something like a dining room set. Those things are expensive! It’s unfinished in the picture but I’m in the process right now of staining and sealing it. That seems to be the most time consuming part of the whole process.

IMG_1623

I was proud of my accomplishments so I posted a picture of the table on my FB, Twitter, and Instagram and got a bunch of comments. Most of the comments were “good job” or “looks good” but one of them stood out more than the others.

I have the dining table my daddy built for my mom. Just know that one day your children will be sitting around it with the people they love. You won’t be present but you will not be forgotten. They will continue to give thanks for you, their daddy.

Oh to be able to remember half of the things that were said across my parent’s dining room table. I know there were tough discussions, because I’m sure I was apart of them, but I also know there were many laughs. I’m sure there was some crying, but I know some of that crying was tears of joy.

The idea of if the walls could speak, or rather our furniture, what memories would they be able to recall or stories would they be able to tell. It’s funny how a table, or some other inanimate object, can bring so many thoughts to my mind. As I’ve been thinking about it lately, the one thought that keeps coming to my mind is thankfulness.

And for me, I’m thankful for meals around my parent’s dining room table, and I’m thankful my wife had the same experience with her family.

I’m thankful that my Lord calls me one of His own.

I’m thankful for my parents and the truths they instilled in me.

I’m thankful for the time I had with my mom, and I’m thankful for the time I still have with my dad, Gramps.

I’m thankful for the woman that chose to call me her husband, and I’m thankful for the wife and mother she is.

I’m thankful for the two adorable little rug-rats the Lord has entrusted me to care for and raise. And I pray daily that I’m setting a good example as the man that Owen needs to become, and the man Olivia will one day look for to marry.

I’m thankful for my great aunt and my great uncle and all of my aunts and uncles, cousins, nieces and soon to be nephew/s.

I’m thankful the Lord has shown favor to me and my family in ways that I can’t even count.

So, I built a table, but now to me it’s more than a table. It’s an object where life will take place. This table will be witness to everything that happens and everything that’s said. If only there was a way for this table to record it all for the next generation of Farr’s that will sit around this table.

Perfection… Maybe Not So Much

Perfection is the enemy of profitability. – Marc Cuban

My wife and I love the TV show Shark TankI was watching the spin off, Beyond the Tank when I heard Marc Cuban say the quote above. I had never heard that quote or any variation of it. Once I googled it, I realized you can interchange the last word, profitability, with many different words; Progress, completion, success and innovation just to name a few.

For me, I say it all the time, “I get that from my mom’s side of the family.” Perfection that is. I so struggle with making things perfect. You probably wouldn’t know it if you came and looked at my desk at work or saw how messy my garage was, but I can honestly say the word perfection has held me back from starting so many things.

Take this blog for example. I’ve probably owed the domain name for six or seven years. I’ve even attempted to start blogging when Apple had the program called iWeb. As you can see if you follow the link, it’s been gone for years. My problem was couldn’t start something that I couldn’t see the ending to and the end had to look perfect. It’s not that I was afraid to fail, I just really wanted to succeed.

It was funny, when I heard Mr. Cuban say the quote to the company he was trying to help succeed, it hit me like a ton of bricks. I had to rewind it to hear him say it again. I’m pretty sure I rewound it a few times. It was like I had been doing something wrong of so long. I literally went to work and started some things that I was waiting for the perfect time to start.

Maybe your like me and you want things perfect. Or maybe you just can’t see the end. But maybe that doesn’t matter. I encourage you to start something today that you’ve been waiting for the perfect time. Today is that time.

If You Want To Build A Ship

So recently a teammate and I got into a discussion about how to keep going with all that life throws at you. With your job, your family, your responsibilities and anything else that’s important in your life, it’s understandable how one can get easily overwhelmed.

For me, I always seem to get fixed on the “how.” I always want to know how something
is going to be accomplished. When I worked for an audio, video, lighting company, I always wanted to know how they were going to hang the speakers or how they were going to hang the projector. It seems as though “how” is the unknown part of the equation a lot. Dictionary.com defines “how” as “in what way or manner; by what means?”

But maybe we’ve been asking the wrong question. How are we going to get more people to join our team? Or how are we going to get our projects, organization or department in order? Or how are we going to build this hypothetical ship? This whole time we’ve been looking at how, when maybe we should have been asking why.


If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.

– Antoine de Saint-Exupery – Author of “The Little Prince”


I have this quote pinned on my cork board above my desk. I read it often, and it really inspires me to attempt to do great things. It speaks to the “why” rather than the “how” of what I’m trying to accomplish.

The “why” of what you do will always take you farther than the “how” ever could. The “why” speaks to passion and calling, where the “how” only speaks to the up hill battle and the tough meetings that will be involved. What in your life do you need to change your perspective and placement on?

Dictionary.com defines “why” like this; “a question concerning the cause or reason for which something is done, achieved, etc. 

It’s interesting that the definition assumes something is accomplished. It doesn’t say something not done or only attempted.

It’s easy for me to revert back to the “how”. I do it all the time. It’s something in me that makes me feel better about starting something, because I can know the outcome. But who cares!? If it’s so important you’ll figure out the how.

So “why”? Why do you do what you do? Why did you start, and why do you continue? What in your life have you been looking at the “how”, and do you need to change your vantage point back to the “why”?

Getting Myself and My Team Organized

So something my team and myself are really struggling with is keeping on track with the tasks at hand. It’s not because we don’t want to or even because we aren’t trying to. The problem is we always feel like we’re playing defense. There are tasks that are always coming at us and we never feel as though we can get on top of them. We always feel like we’re barely keeping afloat.

I had always known and heard about project management software but for some reason it didn’t make since to me. It was one more task that you had to add to your ToDo list. It seemed as though it was more work.

Enter Asana. Asana is project management software. I’m sure you’ve all heard of something similar. Asana for us is a perfect fit. It’s structure is 4 primary layers. Organization > Team > Projects > Tasks. I love it because my team is made up of other smaller teams but at times we are all working together on the same project. With this layout you can organize all of that very easily.

While this seems to be solving the problem of keeping tasks organized, it’s not helping us start a project when we’re trying to get all of the information we need. I noticed that each time a new task or project came to us, we’re asking the same questions. When? What? How big? What color? How many? So, my team and I have started something else that we’re calling Start Sheets. These are the questions to be asked at the start of a project, event, or task.

I work in a church and in our church we have a master calendar. When someone adds something to that master calendar there are a series of questions that they have to answer about their event. These questions range from, “when will your event happen?” and, “how many people will attend your event?” to “who is in charge of your event?”. It even has a section that my department added about the technical needs of the event. For some reason though, most of the answers on my section were, “see me later” or “more info to come at a later date.” And let’s be honest, a lot of the time that later date was the day of the event.

Over the years I’ve learned that getting out of my seat, walking to someone else’s office, and having a face to face conversation is the best form of communication. So, with these start sheets we will do just that. And in return they will do more than get some information about an event or a project, they will allow us to really understand what the person is trying to communicate. We will be able to see the expressions on their face when they are describing the project. It will give us significantly more clarity than an email or a calendared event.

I really believe Asana and Start Sheets will give us an advantage in our work that we haven’t had in the past and I can’t to see all of the possibilities. I hope to come back to you in the future and tell you about all of the things we’ve been able to accomplish because we’re organized.