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    How to Livestream Services at Your Corps

    Two Salvation Army churches share tips and best practices. December 12, 2019 by David Thornburrow
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    The livestreaming setup at London Citadel, Ont.
    The livestreaming setup at London Citadel, Ont.
    Churches today are always trying to present themselves as attractive places for families to worship, and technology can be a powerful tool to help bring in new people. As families grow increasingly connected online through social media, online shopping, news websites and streaming video services such as Netflix and YouTube, more and more churches are livestreaming their services to adapt to their needs and expectations.

    My corps, London Citadel, Ont., started livestreaming its services in April. The idea came to me after a conversation I had with Jeremy Parking, supervising producer for Rogers TV in London. The topic of livestreaming came up and he mentioned how few churches in London record and submit their services to Rogers to be broadcast on the local station. I teach video and TV broadcasting at a high school so it was as if a light bulb turned on. I felt that I was being called to produce a livestream ministry for London Citadel.

    So why should your corps livestream its services? Here are just a few reasons:

    Marketing to new members. People in your area who are “church shopping” will investigate your corps online before attending. Consequently, having an appealing web presence with a welcoming website is essential. A livestream allows people to “test drive” your service to see if your church matches their beliefs.

    Maintaining a connection with congregation members who cannot attend. Livestreaming provides a convenient way to attend worship remotely for those who work shifts or travel for business. It is also helpful for those who cannot attend due to illness or disability and for people who are less mobile, such as the elderly.

    Extending church membership beyond the walls of the building. Your membership could include people who live in another city, province or continent.

    Extending the reach of special events, such as music concerts or youth services. Those who cannot attend in person can watch from their home, such as a grandmother in Newfoundland and Labrador who wants to watch her grandchild’s year-end youth band performance.

    Spreading the gospel. Most importantly, livestreaming your service is a great way to share the Word of God with the world. In our case, London Citadel is very musical—we have a respected band and top-notch songsters. Livestreaming enables us to use their talents for outreach.

    Livestreaming can help your corps reach someone who is not willing to attend church in a traditional setting—yet. Maybe someday they will decide to attend your church or another church. Your livestreamed service could be what brings them to God.



    London Citadel YouTube pageThe London Citadel Setup


    Q&A with David Thornburrow, livestream ministry co-ordinator

    When did the citadel start livestreaming?
    April 2019.

    Describe your setup.
    We have two remote-controlled robotic cameras placed in the back corners of the sanctuary, which can zoom, pan and tilt, with another stationary camera placed in the centre, which provides a single wide shot.

    What software do you use?
    A high-end computer runs vMix, which does all of the video switching, controls the cameras and streams the video to YouTube. vMix also interacts with a pre-programmable keypad (X-keys) where you can push a button to send the camera to a pre-programmed position. For example, if you press the “Camera 1: Band Wide Shot” button or “Camera 2: Pulpit Close Up” button, it will send the camera to the appropriate position.

    Additional magic has been added to the production. Images or video displayed on the projection screens can be displayed in the livestream in either full screen or in the corner. This way, congregational song lyrics can be displayed on the stream as the hymn is sung, or a video for Partners in Mission can be shown without zooming in on the projection screen.

    Where is the service broadcast?
    On our YouTube channel. Then I share the YouTube link on the corps’ Facebook page.

    How many views do you get each week?
    We average about 350 views for each service.

    How much did your setup cost?
    We had a $10,000 budget and came in just under that.

    Watch London Citadel’s services on YouTube at youtube.com/londoncitadel.



    Conception Bay South Corps livestream webpageThe Conception Bay South Corps, N.L., Setup


    Q&A with Roxanne Tucker, livestream ministry co-ordinator

    When did your corps start livestreaming?
    April 2015.

    How has your setup evolved over the years?
    We started recording services five years ago with just one handheld video camera. At first, it wasn’t a livestream—we’d tape the services and then upload them to our Facebook page. Four years ago, we got two handheld cameras and started using Wirecast and Sunday Streams to broadcast live. The cameras were mounted, but someone had to move them around manually, as needed, during the services.

    Last December, we made a major upgrade. We bought three new cameras—two for the sanctuary and one for outside, so we can livestream our open-air services. As part of this upgrade, we also purchased a new projector.

    What software do you use?
    We have a Mac computer that runs Wirecast. Using this program, we can control the movement of the cameras, switching between different pre-set views (e.g., pulpit, band, etc.). No more moving the cameras like we did with the handheld ones! (laughs)

    Where is the service broadcast?
    Using Sunday Streams, we livestream to both our Facebook page and our website because we find Facebook sometimes has glitches.

    How many views do you get each week?
    We get up to 10,000 views—sometimes even more. That includes people watching live and during the week following the service. We have people watching from all over the world—the United States, United Kingdom, China, Russia. It’s a wonderful outreach.

    How much did your setup cost?
    Around $15,500 in total—about two-thirds for the indoor setup, and one-third for the outdoor setup.

    What advice would you give to corps that are interested in starting up a livestream ministry?
    I’d say, “Go for it!” There are people out there who won’t go inside a church but need to hear the gospel and this is one way to get the message to them.

    Watch Conception Bay South’s services at salvationarmyincbs.com/live-streaming.

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