I have been visiting with Takapuna Methodist church this past month and came away very impressed at the simplicity and elegance of the setup they use for “streaming” their Sunday worship service.  The facility provides a means for the congregations sick or housebound members to still experience the Sunday worship and feel they are part of the community.

Fundamentally, the setup is very simple – an iPhone is mounted on a tripod at the back of the church and runs a Facebook Live session to the church’s Facebook Page by means of the standard Facebook Pages app.  The quality of the end-product, using the phone’s camera and the built-in microphone was surprisingly good (though perhaps the fact I am surprised is only a give-away as to my age!)  The primary drawback was that the audio was a bit muffled and echoey but not to the point of intelligibility.  Of course, the iPhone is not required – with a little thought, you could make this setup work with just about any mobile device or computer.

So how would one go about improving this set-up?  The first option to consider is improving the audio.  One option is to add an external microphone to the iPhone.  Shure, Røde and a number of other manufacturer’s make a number of microphone models designed to plug directly into an iPhone, usually via the lightning connector.  (Similar products are available for non-Apple devices using USB connection, and there are still a few options that connect by the microphone input which will work with most mobile phones, though we suggest this last is a last resort.)  The other option worth considering is to pick up the sound from a sound system (if you have one).  How you would do this exactly would depend on the specific audio equipment you have and what spare capacity it has.  Devices exist (again, Shure, Røde et al) that can capture the sound coming out of an audio mixer and sending it to the iPhone to incorporate with the video.  The downside of this is you tend to only hear people using microphones – audience responses and congregational singing will likely be lost unless you intentionally set up microphones to capture this.

There are some risks / legal matters associated with streaming that need attention.

Privacy – you need to take reasonable efforts to ensure that identifiable images of people are not broadcast without there permission.  Usually, the easiest way to deal with this is to only broadcast a general wide shot where individuals are not readily identifiable.

Copyright – The standard CCLI NZ license allows you to record services (including copyright material covered by CCLI), but the recording should only be made available to congregation members.  In the context of streaming, this would suggest that a password or similar mechanism should be used to restrict access to the stream.  I would suggest that you should never re-stream a commercial video (even if you have the appropriate CCLI licence to play it in your service).  Ideally, everything you stream should come under the category of either original content or authorised content.


CCLI Guidelines – https://nz.ccli.com/what-we-provide/faq/#internet

Shure Motiv™ – http://www.shure.com/americas/motiv/overview

Røde – http://www.rode.com/microphones/mobile


The camera shown in the illustration for this article does not actually support streaming. Equivalent camera models that became available after the publication date do.

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