Rev. Stephen Maclean tells us of how technology helped during lockdown

At the start of lockdown, I had no experience whatsoever at live streaming a church service and was forced to learn quickly. All along I have recorded from the church lounge as the acoustics are better there than the main hall.

I started by using Facebook Live where you just need a good camera on a smart phone, and your church needed a church Facebook page which we had.

You basically press the “live” button and away you go. The first few weeks were very amateur with me having to press the “live” button and people seeing me or my hand, but people appreciated it and were very forgiving with mistakes!

One of the advantages of doing a live service, is that it can be more interactive. People can send greetings, messages etc. and I am able to read them out, or I ask a question and ask those listening to give a response.

It soon became apparent that not everyone in the church had a Facebook account, so then I started using a smart phone and also a laptop camera to record one onFacebook and the other to YouTube. This was a lot of work and getting the timing right was not easy!

You can buy another app/program to live stream to Facebook and YouTube at the same time such as Restream, but we have not, as those watching on YouTube tend to watch later.

Once the service is finished, I save a copy of the service video, and then upload it to YouTube and place on our website

As lockdown progressed and got longer, I did a lot of research into what apps and equipment I needed to live stream. I spoke to different churches and asked what they were doing and what were they using. I also watched other churches videos and learnt from ideas and things we could have in our services.

I decided to use an app called switcher that is very easy to use. I also connected my iPad to my iPhone to act as a control panel and the app allows you to insert videos, worship songs, prerecorded material of people from the church doing prayers, sending greetings or the Bible readings.

Since the middle of August, we have been back in the building for church services but I continue to live stream the service. I have bought camera stands, and a microphone that attaches to my iPad to make the sound much better. I am still learning! Mistakes still happen!

It has been greatly encouraging to have people joining the service in Cricklewood, Philippines, USA, Iraq, Iran, Switzerland, Lincoln and Scotland.Live streaming has also meant some of our church members who have not been able to attend due to health reasons or because they always work on a Sunday, are able to watch the service.

(I also do other things for those who can't access the service online and have written newsletters, telephone people etc)

Helpful links:

Apps/programs to help with live streaming:

Website to buy worship videos and to insert them into a broadcast:

Helpful advice on how to start live streaming:

Church of England website

This reflection was shared during the Small Church Connexion zoom webinar in September, where 47 people across the country gathered to share experiences of recent months


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