Were can I find guidelines and procedures for streaming worship services?


There is a fair amount of material on the web for streaming a worship service. Besides doing a podcast for those who want to listen anytime, we have set a goal for ourselves to be able to audio stream, and possibly video stream the service. I would appreciate some suggestions, guidelines, and/or a procedure on how to set this up. D. Klein http://www.sussexcrc.org/

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Hi Duane,

Our church too is starting the research for the tools, software, and methods to stream live audio and video on the web. We are also reworking our website (not evident on line as yet) so that it is more of a a portal to our community of faith and would like to include podcasts and RSS feeds.

Our technology budget is not large and so we are trying to get the most for the least.

If you don't mind, could we share our research so that each of us doesn't have to spend inordinate amounts of time on this phase?


Greg B
Third CRC Administrator


I had started looking into this a few years ago, but dropped it when other items came up. I had written a note to a neighboring church who does a healthy amount of media work and asked him about how they have their media streaming service set up. He sent me an e-mail which I have pulled pieces from and list below.

The basics seem to be if you want to host this yourself, or use a service. You will need an Internet Service Provider (ISP) to make you basic connection, and the ISP may be able to do the hosting of the web site, or help set up the streaming. Any way, here is a part of my neighbors response:

Live streaming is really not all that difficult. Here are the basics:

·You must have a source. Audio is easy since most churches have some sort of PA system already. Just tap an output from it and plug it into your computer. If you want to do video as well, that requires at least one video camera that can connect to the computer. Most modern digital video cameras have a usb connection that will send the live picture to the computer.
·You will need a computer capable of audio (and video if you do video) input(s) and a high speed connection to the internet. For audio, the computer need not be especially fast. For video, the faster the better.
·You need software to receive the inputs and compress them and send them streaming. Here are two choices, RealNetworks program called RealProducer or the Windows counterpart. More information on this can be found at RealNetworks program at www.realnetworks.com .
·Finally, you need to contract with a service that will receive your compressed upload and rebroadcast it to your subscribers. There are a bunch of folks offering this service, for example, www.streamguys.com.

The alternative to using a contracted service is to load the Helix broadcast server software on your server. Helix is another RealNetworks product.

As far as archiving, the RealProducer software can be configured to not only broadcast, but to also save a file to the hard drive, at the same time. This file can then be used on your website for streaming recordings. The easiest way is to just provide the file as a link and it will download and play on your user’s computers.

Now, if you do not have your very own server with administrative rights for the website, but are contracting with an ISP or something, you may not have the option of loading Helix on the server. In this case, I think you can contract with the ISP or your streaming service to stream your files for you. Having your own server is cheaper and better and just a matter of setting up a computer with Apache and Helix and maybe a mail server like Mercury and your all set.

I am checking with both the web hosting company and my ISP to see what services they can provide or recommend. I'll post what I find!


Be sure to check into Ustream.tv (or Watershed, their ad-free paid version) or LiveStream. The latter is what we've used for the Synod webcast the past couple of years.

Both are easy to use and have free versions. So you can just sign up and test it out with your camera. If you have a USB-enabled camera that will stream (my 6-year old Sony camcorder does it, so I imagine many do), you can try it out at home before trying to figure out how to patch in the church audio, etc.

Both allow for recording content and downloading it after it's been recorded. If you decide to use a paid service and the archive hosting fees are too expensive, consider downloading and re-uploading to a different service (we use Blip.tv for the Synod archives for that reason).

Ustream even allows you to webcast from your iPhone. My dad did this for a funeral so that overseas family could 'attend'. Sounds crazy, I know, but to those people it meant the world.

Any other churches using Ustream for their services?

We have just started streaming our services via Ustream. We are fortunate in that we have a Tricaster Pro into which we feed video from 3 cameras, PowerPoint slides from the projection computer and sound from the sound board. The Tricaster makes mixing all these inputs feasible. The Tricaster also uses Adobe Flash Media Encoder to stream live to Ustream.

Our experience with Ustream has been good so far. The stream has ads on the lower part of the screen occasionally but they haven't been too obtrusive.

Some of our shut-ins have quickly grown fond of the streaming feature of our web site and have asked us to please continue doing it.

One of our challenges is dealing with copyright issues. Special music often uses pre-recorded accompaniment. We are still researching ways to deal with that.


I would be interested in what you find out about the copyright issue. Currently we record the entire service but cut out the sermon, for posting on the web. The only reason is because of copy right challenges. If anyone has more info in regards to this, I would love to hear about it.


I'm not too familiar with the details of webcast licensing, but here's a helpful link:

...from the people who sell WorshipCast. I couldn't find anything on CCLI's site about it, which seems strange.

This is great! Thanks.


I've been thinking about the copywrite issue.  Do the requirements change if you don't do a general broadcast, but only do one that is available to members through a login\password?  If the goal of the webcast is to reach a broader community, both local as well as remote, then getting whatever licenses you need makes sense.  However, if you are limiting your broadcast to a selected audience, your shut-ins for example, would you need to meet the same requirements?

To be honest, it is still not clear to me ho the laws work and it may be different in USA compared to Canada, which where we are. Currently we record the entire service. Members can get a copy on CD/tape/mp3 upon request. The sermon part is posted on the internet. We currently do not post the entire service behind username/password anylonger and it seems to be OK. I am to afraid to run in to trouble with copyrights etc.  You can see it at www.fellowship-church.ca

Hey guys, What your talking about is fair-use of copyrighted materials. YOU ACTUALLY HAVE A LOT OF LATITUDE with fair -use. Go to wikipedia under fair- use it explains how it works in the USA and Canada. Basic rules are not written in stone, but are based on common sense.  Wikipedia is completely free so Quote away.


I was\am not too familiar with "fair-use."  After reading through the Wikipedia article, I did a little additional searching.  There is an artcle on this up at the US Copywrite Office web site, http://www.copyright.gov/fls/fl102.html as well as another helpful article at the Stanford University web site, http://fairuse.stanford.edu/Copyright_and_Fair_Use_Overview/chapter9/.  These make me lean more towards the idea that there may not be as much latitude on this.  The proof in such a case seems to reside with the defendent.  This means anyone who see's something of their work that was streamed without prior consent, could take you to court, even if they knew the case was "iffy." 

I think I'll need to do more research before we start streaming anything.

If your not streaming to the public and it is for educational pupose, it is ok. People also don't look good going after church;s with lawsuits. By the way has anybody questioned the need for copyrights for material that is supposedly designed to help people find Jesus? I'm sure glad God didn;t copyright the Bible.

Community Builder

I'm curious if anyone's tried converting a CCTV feed for internet streaming. We've got a CC camera in the back of the sanctuary. Right now I'm looking at using a Viewcast Osprey 100 for capturing the composite video and Flash Media Encode to encode it for Ustream.


Kyle - You may want to check out LiveStream, particularly for it's Procaster tool that handles encoding from a wide range of devices. Here's the user guide. LiveStream is what we've used for the Synod webcast for the past couple of years.

Community Builder

Yeah, I had Livestream in my "you need to check this out" set of browser tabs after your previous post :-) Sure looks pretty awesome - can't wait to give it a try!

CCLI now offers a streaming/podcasting license for worship. The license seems pretty reasonable.



Are there any legal issues regarding streaming live video on-line without first receiving some sort of waiver form?  I do not know what the proper protocals are, but I have heard that many Christian schools do not post pictures of children in their newsletters until their parents have signed some sort of liability waiver or permission form.  Anyone know details?

Question: Are there any 'template' vision, mission, policy, procedure, legality, guideline etc.  documents out there regarding the whole area of worship service audio-video recording and web streaming (did I miss anything!)?

We'd love to hear from you!!  


Are there any guidelines or policy regarding privacy  regarding live stream, video or photo on church website