Simple Broadcast and Group Call Resources for Churches

We are in the first week of many states and municipalities in the US asking people to stay home and avoid group gatherings to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Many churches who may never have considered streaming their services or doing online video are now faced with having to switch to digital options.

Part of my day job is helping on the digital side of a team of 20 that provides monthly video coaching sessions to over 4,000 businesses. I've also worked remotely for years, and have used all of these platforms below for meetings with people 1,000 miles away. We've had to look at different platforms for doing this, so hopefully some of my research can help those out there who are scrambling to find a digital solution for their church.

I am going to break this down into two categories of services - broadcast and interactive. This list will grow and see some revisions, but I wanted to get it out there so that it may hopefully help someone. This is also not a comprehensive list: I'm trying to limit it to some of the most popular tools out there that have free or inexpensive plans.

If you have any questions, I'd be happy to help - "danwatt -" (remove those spaces, - to @).

Quick Recommendation

I would highly recommend you try Zoom for interactivity first. It has a free version with some limits, but it is extremely reliable, and does not require those who are connecting to have an account. For streaming, YouTube is going to get you access to the most people, especially if your are streaming to families who will want to watch on their TV and might not know how to hook a computer or mirror phone on the big screen.

Avoid analysis paralysis. This list may grow, but don't spend too much time looking into each individual product. Pick something, do a test run with a few people, if it works go with it. If not, try the next one.

General Recommendations for Hosts

  • Wherever you are streaming from, do a trial broadcast or trial group call before you launch the real thing. Have someone connect from their home and maybe even someone else connect from a mobile phone to test the video and audio quality.
  • Check the sound level on your broadcast - again, with the help of someone who is listening in remotely.
  • Pay attention to the chat on your stream, especially for broadcasts. People might be saying "we can't hear you" when you think the audio is working fine.
  • If you are relying on a camera to capture what is on your projector (instead of screen sharing), let your remote tester tell you how readable your screen is. You might need a bigger font size, and maybe a simpler background to make the screen readable.
  • Consider when you want your broadcast to start - if you are broadcasting a worship service, do you want to include opening announcements? Songs? Or just the sermon?
  • If you have multiple microphones on your device (ie: one built into your laptop and one you are plugging in externally, maybe via a headset), be sure to check your app's settings to be sure the right microphone is selected.

Recommendations for Attendees

  • Once you are past introductions, mute your microphone. Learn where the mute button is, and leave it muted unless you are talking.
  • For Zoom, if you are on a PC or Mac, you can press the spacebar to unmute yourself temporarily.
  • If you cannot hear the host for some reason and others can, check your app's settings. Zoom, for example, can send sound to different outputs. My computer monitor has built in cheap speakers, and Zoom has on occasion decided to send sound to my monitor instead of to my headphones.
  • If you have plugged your computer into your TV via HDMI, you may want to check your computer's sound settings to make sure sound is being sent to the TV.

More recommendations for hosts and attendees:

Broadcast Platforms

Broadcast platforms will let you stream your service to hundreds or thousands of individuals. As long as you are setting up a stream that is available to the public, there are some great options out there.

YouTubeFast, reliable
Does not require a user to be logged in
Can stream directly to many TVs, game consoles and devices (ex: Roku TVs)
FacebookFast, reliable, social sharing features
Screen sharing with a browser extension
Facebook account required for host

Interactive Platforms

ZoomVery reliable, good quality
Groups - up to 100 people
Apps for just about every platform (Windows, Mac, iOS, Android)
Screen sharing
No account required for attendees
Free - limited to 40 minutes for groups up to 100 people
$14.99/mo per host for groups up to 100 people, no limit on time
WebExGroups - up to 100 people
Apps for all major platforms
Screen sharing
New free plan for the COVID era that eliminates the 40 minute limit
Free - up to 100 people (used to have a 40 minute limit)
UberConferenceGroups - 10 on normal free plan, 50 for COVID time, 100 for paid plans
No app necessary for Desktop
Apps for iOS and Android
Screen sharing
Free plan requires a PIN to join
Free - currently for 50 users during this time
$15/mo (annually) or $20/mo (monthly) for paid plans
Google HangoutsGroups of up to 15 people
Apps for every major platform
Screen sharing
Google / gmail account required
SkypeGroups of up to 50 people
Apps for every major platform
Screen sharing
Account required
Microsoft Teams for Non-ProfitsGood quality
Up to 250 people in a call
Apps for all major platforms
Screen sharing
Office 365 Required
More setup required
Will require an Office 365 account, which Microsoft gives away for free or heavily discounted. The application process could take a few weeks.


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