Top 11 Live Streaming Options for Churches [Updated for 2023]
Over the course of the last few years, live streaming events and services have become the new normal. When churches all over the world had to close their doors during the pandemic, live streaming provided a way to bring people together even if they were physically separated.
But one look at recent media shows that not all live streaming platforms are built the same way. A lawsuit has been filed against conferencing software Zoom after religious church groups were “zoom-bombed” with abusive messages and imagery.
Needless to say, online churches need to be places of safety in terms of both the community feeling and the actual cybersecurity. Your community members need to feel safe to get the best online engagement. Then there are the other features that churches require - moderation tools, smaller breakout rooms, analytics and much more.
Live streaming is on the rise. And live streaming platforms offer a variety of different features. They've been designed with different goals, functions, and even streaming devices in mind.
For instance, live streaming on social media platforms, such as content creators on Instagram Live, functions entirely differently from live TV streaming services for live sports. In the same way, finding the live streaming platform for your online church service should be intentional and carefully thought out.
Finding one all-encompassing platform with the above in mind can be challenging for churches just starting their online transition. It’s important for the church to be able to use and integrate their live streaming platform into their daily operations, while also keeping it simple enough for their whole congregation to use every week.
At the same time, churches cannot afford to miss out on the potential growth that can come from sharing their services online. Before we jump into the top live streaming options for churches, let’s see what benefits choosing one will bring:
The Benefits of Live Streaming Church Services
Why have a live stream church service?
You may wonder what the benefits of having an online church service are. Is it really necessary to make the virtual shift? Why can’t we just stick to the old-fashioned way of running church in-person alone? These questions are valid, but the world is rapidly changing and having an online church service has many benefits:
Reasons to have a live stream church service
1. Low-Cost and Low-Resource:
Live-streaming an online church service is incredibly inexpensive and requires very few resources to run. To have a successful service, all you need is a few basic technical devices like a computer, camera, and maybe a microphone. Also, most streaming providers are now very affordable. Compared to the overhead cost of having a physical church, the online side of your services will be much more achievable than you’d think.
💡 Tip: Here are a few ways you can start church online with minimal budget.
2. Far Reach:
In terms of personal connections and community, an online church service can achieve that goal and much more. Having an online church service has the potential to reach people all over the world.
One person could be in Pennsylvania enjoying an online church service while another person could be enjoying the same service in Australia as they get ready for bed. The chances of the two viewers meeting in real life are slim, but with an online church service, these two people are brought together in community, gaining new connections through your church.
3. Include Absent Parishioners:
When church members cannot physically attend church on Sundays, having an online church service is very beneficial. There are many reasons why every church service needs an online counterpart.
Some people aren't able to go to church every week for various reasons. Being able to participate virtually from home can solve this issue. You can also run additional services during the week, like smaller groups for prayer meets, Bible study, and other church activities that help you get more people into your flock.
4. Expand The Community:
Having an online church service will allow you to expand your church community in ways you would never have thought possible. There won’t be any restrictions when it comes to seating, for one. With most streaming services, you can host as many people as you want during your online church service. It will allow you to deepen your online engagement if you pair these streams with other online activities that work as ice breakers.
5. Archive Past Services:
One of the most beautiful things about having an online church is the ability to record and save each service. Even if someone misses the live stream, they still have the opportunity to watch the recording on-demand. Certain platforms allow you to categorize the recordings into playlists for easier access and organization. In terms of growth, these streams and on-demand content can be re-marketed to online audiences through social media or even YouTube ads, contributing to your congregation numbers.
➡️ Read More: The Benefits And Disadvantages Of Church Streaming Services
How To Live Stream Church Services: Best Live Stream Platforms 2023
1. Altar Live
Altar Live Overview
Altar Live is an online church platform designed for faith communities to stream and host interactive and engaging events and services. Altar Live’s simple, intuitive, platform gathers your people together online where they can worship together in watch parties, freely socialize at virtual tables together, and find private places to pray with each other. Designed by faith entrepreneurs with years of experience in the tech space, Altar Live brings all the features you want together in one tidy package.
On Altar Live, there are so many spaces and ways to gather and come together in a community. Here is a quick breakdown of Altar Live’s many perks:
- Connect any live stream source
- Host multiple meetings at the same time
- Assign multiple Hosts
- Keep track of and follow up with new visitors
- Track attendance through a personalized analytics dashboard
- Web browser-based and mobile app supported
- Customize the look & feel
- Create Polls & Announcements
- Connect your Giving Tools
- Easier to use than Zoom
Altar Live also offers a free trial lasting 14 days and a full online training academy designed to get your church up to speed and running online services in no time.
2. Ecamm Live
Ecamm Live Overview
Ecamm Live is known as one of the most commonly-used live streaming and video production studio built for the Mac operating system. Ecamm allows you to have control over live streaming, with special capabilities for Facebook Live, YouTube Live, Twitter, LinkedIn, Twitch, Restream.io, Switchboard Live, and OneStream Live. Ecamm Live allows for live broadcasting to any streaming service that uses RTMP streaming.
Using Ecamm Live takes your live streaming to the next level with these features:
- In-App Comments: During your live stream, add viewer comments to your broadcast.
- Advanced Overlays: Add countdowns, scrolling tickers, and camera overlays
- Web Widgets (Pro)
- Live Scheduling: Schedule your broadcasts to Facebook, YouTube, and Restream
- Remote Guests: Invite guests to your broadcast using Ecamm Live’s built-in interview mode.
- Stream Deck Support: Direct the action using Ecamm’s Stream Deck control surface
- Green Screen
Some of the more advanced features are available to paid-subscriptions only, although a free trial is also available.
BoxCast is another live streaming platform that is suitable for church and other organization uses. This platform is designed to enable churches to stream high definition video to various platforms, be it Facebook Live or YouTube. Offering the usual chat and moderation tools popular with these platforms, while also being suitable for both web and mobile use.
What does set BoxCast apart from the usual however is the ability to make use of post-production tools that allow your church to make simple edits to your video footage.
Other features include:
- 1080p streaming quality
- Product expert phone support
- Viewer chat during livestreams
- Access interactive viewer maps on your audience
- Archive storage of older streams
- Post production trimming/editing
- Multistreaming or simultaneous streams to different platforms
BoxCast is less affordable than some of the other options on the list, costing $99 a month for a subscription, but does offer a limited free trial.
Made to be a streaming platform for worship houses and sermons, Dacast is a live streaming option that can help users customize their streams without third-party branding, offer recorded stream playbacks, and accept tithes for their church in-stream.
Dacast contains all the typical features used for live streaming services, from the ability to embed videos into your website to mobile streaming.
This platform can also:
- Customize your video player with your church logo
- Stream in full HD 1080p resolution
- No configuration required on modern devices
- Unlimited viewership is included
- Record your sermons for on demand streaming
- Encryption and other security features
They have various packages available depending on the size of the group you plan to stream to, or what you are planning to host. Starter packages for smaller audiences start at $39/month while events are $63/month. Like many of the other platforms listed in this article, they also offer a limited free trial.
Next up we have Resi, a live streaming platform made to serve various industries including churches. For churches, they promise interruption-free streaming with quality video and audio feeds, plenty of automation, and the ability to stream to different providers.
Some of the main reasons why Resi is a decent platform for streaming include:
- Recurring event scheduling
- Quality conversion
- Stream via web and mobile
- Monitoring and support
- Pre-recorded streams
When it comes to pricing, you won’t find a set cost on their site. Instead, Resi packages are flexible based on the size of your church or organization and your streaming needs.
6. Vimeo Live Stream
Vimeo Live Stream Studio Overview
Vimeo is typically known as a YouTube alternative, but it also holds its own as a live streaming platform. For churches, Vimeo doesn’t have direct, catered support but they do have some features that are worth considering, such as:
- Ad-free, HD streaming
- The ability to add your own branding
- Stream monitoring and back ups
- Simulcast to multiple platforms
- Mobile and web-friendly
- Chat with moderation tools
- Basic webinar analytics
Pricing for Vimeo is set at $75 a month, with the first month available free as a trial. With Vimeo, it’s more often than not the case that churches will need to add another service that integrates with Vimeo to give them more tools to work with.
Here is an up-and-coming platform: Restream. Restream is another live stream provider that has multiple options for preparing and hosting your stream. From essential editing tools that work in-browser to multistreaming, there are some interesting things coming out of this company.
Some noteworthy features include:
- Simulcasting to multiple online platforms
- Add your own branding to streams
- Add calls-to-action to your streams
- Highlight chat messages
- Access stream analytics
- Simplified chat moderation
Like the other platforms in this line, this service offers different package levels depending on the size of the group joining the stream. What runs in their favor is the fact that their professional package is relatively affordable and could be an option for smaller churches.
This streaming platform is targeted at in-browser use, and the features they provide heavily reflect this fact. There is no specific service for churches, but as a general platform it does have some useful tidbits for streaming such as:
- Multistream to different destinations
- On screen comments
- Stream pre-recorded clips
- Custom banners, backgrounds, and overlays
- Downloadable recordings
- Screen sharing
- Video templates
Similar to Restream, StreamYard manages to keep their packages more affordable than some of the bigger enterprise-level. Again, this might not be best suited to churches with bigger groups or more diverse needs but can be a good place to test the waters with a simple Bible study.
Streamingchurch.tv is a streaming platform made for broadcasting church services online. This option has some interesting features for churches that warrant a deeper look below:
- Accessible via web and mobile apps
- Pre-record videos with admin tools
- Works with most encoders
- Embed on-site
- DVR recording
- Media storage
- Customizable templates
- Stream to social platforms
- Edit streams online
Pricing for this platform starts at $79 a month for a basic package and extends up to $179 a month for their premium service. Many of the more exciting features are set behind the premium package paywall, and so churches interested in this service will need to pay more to access all the above.
Wirecast is a professional live video streaming and production studio software that can create high-quality live-streaming video in minutes. This is a great option for churches that want to live stream to YouTube and Facebook. Wirecast's features include:
- Unlimited Sources
- Desktop, NDI & Web Capture
- Professional Audio
- Conferencing and Remote Production
- Stock Media Library
- Replay, Scoreboards, Clocks & Timers
- Social Media Integration
- Graphics and Titles
- Automated Production Workflows
Like most streaming platforms, Wirecast values faith communities and built this platform for people of all streaming backgrounds. There are two license and subscription-based plans available: A lifetime Wirecast Studio license for $599 and a Wirecast Pro Lifetime License for $799 or a $35+/mo subscription.
OBS Studio Overview
OBS (Open Broadcaster Software) is a free and open-source software for video recording and live streaming. If you are using OBS to create your live stream feed, you can connect it to a destination platform like Altar Live using RTMP credentials.
- High-performance real-time video/audio capturing and mixing.
- An unlimited number of scenes you can switch between seamlessly via custom transitions.
- Intuitive audio mixer with per-source filters such as noise gate, noise suppression, and gain. Take full control with VST plugin support.
- Powerful and easy-to-use configuration options. Add new Sources, duplicate existing ones, and adjust their properties effortlessly.
- Streamlined Settings panel
- Modular 'Dock' UI allows you to rearrange the layout exactly as you like.
Final Thoughts: Best Live Streaming Options for Churches
There are many live streaming platforms, and as a church looking to launch an online community, it can be overwhelming when considering all the options. When making your shortlist of potential streaming platforms, you’ll need to consider the needs of your church, your congregation, the ability to onboard your team, and how sustainable it is for the future.
At Altar Live, we’re happy to consult with you and help you make the best decision for your religious organization or faith community. Altar is ready to help you seamlessly integrate what you’re already using, connect your own live stream and data management software, and consult you on the best options to meet your goals.
💡 Tip: Your team can book a call with our online church engagement consultant today to get a free personalized analysis plan for your faith community.
➡️ Try out Altar Live by starting your free trial today!