No doubt about it, Joel Osteen’s live church service is a phenomenon. His home base, Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas, has more than 52,000 members—the largest membership of any Protestant church in America. On top of that, over 10 million additional people are watching his televised church service every week. Clearly he’s doing something right.
It’s true that Osteen has the best resources at his disposal, including an expert production crew and, in all likelihood, top-of-the-line equipment. Even if you think that sets him a world apart from your situation (maybe two or three worlds, even), there are some real takeaways to be had from a closer examination of his broadcast. Turns out, the success of any church live streaming its services is more about thoughtful preparation and less about money.
Live Streaming Church Services: It’s Not About The Gear
According to Osteen’s audio engineer Brad Duryea, it doesn’t require more than basic, functioning equipment to do a solid broadcast. He was referring to audio equipment, of course, but we think that theory applies to just about every aspect of production. Now your budget does have some impact—you need the basic equipment, in good working order. And while it’s nice to have the cash to upgrade your tech, it’s not absolutely necessary to get the job done well.
There are ways to improve your broadcast without expensive equipment:
- For the audio: Place your microphones strategically. As long as viewers can clearly hear what’s going on, the visual is less important. Spend time on the positioning of the speaker’s microphone, the ambient mic (or mics) for crowd and background noise, and the mic used for music. Any of these can be muted as necessary. Shift their placement occasionally to capture new sounds and to ensure you’re getting the best sound possible.
Also, much of your broadcast’s sound has nothing to do with electronics. Other important components include the acoustics of the stage and the room, the quality level and volume output of the instruments, the skill level of your audio engineer, and the musicians themselves. Play around with ways to improve the acoustics of your space. Try to isolate any issues you’re noticing and work on improving them one by one.
- For the video: Shift your camera positions occasionally to give viewers some variety. Your primary camera should focus on the action, but play with your secondary camera (or two) to incorporate new angles.
Have a small staff and an even smaller budget? Download this free guide to find out how your church can start live streaming services now.
Another tip comes from Worship Tech Director: Your cameras can essentially “shrink” the size of the room with the use of close-up shots. It’s understood that the camera director takes a close-up shot every time Osteen looks directly at the camera, so it appears that he’s connecting on a more personal level with remote viewers. Experiment with your shot selections to produce a similar effect with your broadcast.
- For the lighting: According to Church Production, lighting is one of the most overlooked aspects of live streaming church services. Mostly, if people don’t notice it, you’re doing it well enough—but you can strive for better. The use of backlighting helps counteract inevitable dark spots and adds depth to your projected image. Also, overhead lights should be shifted to shine at an angle instead of directly down to avoid shadows. All of this can usually be accomplished with the lighting fixtures you already have.
Taking it a step further, lighting can also be used to great effect, as evidenced by Joel Osteen’s live church service. His production crew uses dramatic lighting to set the scene for a more emotional experience. Different-colored bulbs instantly add drama, and those shadows we mentioned earlier? They can also be used for dramatic effect if done right.
Make The Most Of Your Broadcast
Aside from the technical aspects of production, Joel Osteen’s live church service succeeds for a number of other reasons.
- It’s personal. Osteen isn’t afraid to draw on personal experiences in his sermons, using his life as a springboard to illustrate concepts or hammer home a point; he also sometimes references the experiences of congregants. Tactics like these help him to connect with his audience, as they evoke emotions rather than logic.
- He cultivates his brand. He understands the importance of consistency across all platforms, so that all of his outlets—from his website, to his print materials, to his live stream—look the same and are immediately recognizable.
- He surrounds himself with the right people. By “right people,” I mean a team of individuals who can pool their varied knowledge to produce an excellent product. That includes not only people knowledgeable about technology but also people who have high-level interpersonal skills, marketing skills, and organizational abilities.
Need help with any aspect of your live church service streaming? Get in touch. We’ve helped a number of churches increase the reach of their message by streaming their services online. We’ll work with you to simplify your process and improve your broadcast at the same time. And, no more stress over technical difficulties—we’re always just a phone call away!