Every year, during our monthly staff meeting in May, the leadership team rolls out the plan for building the upcoming budget. For our church, the fiscal year doesn’t end until September, but over the years, we learned that crafting a budget takes time. During the kick-off of budget season, it’s essential to reinforce the mission, cast the vision, and set specific goals for the upcoming year. Finding the balance between allocating resources that support the church’s operations and investing in the ministry is always delicate. More so during inflation when the cost of everything from utilities to curriculum is skyrocketing. Then, occasionally, an initiative comes along that is so important that every church desiring to fulfill its mission has to jump on board.
Regardless of your church’s position on how to meet throughout COVID-19, leaders had to adapt and pivot constantly during those uncertain times. One of the outcomes of the uncertainty was that most churches quickly learned that the ability to livestream a service was essential. It was a steep learning curve, especially for smaller churches, and by now, most churches have established their version of an online church. Churches have settled on a platform (FaceBook Live, YouTube, Zoom, online.church, etc.) that meets their budget and congregational needs. They invested in hardware like cameras, microphones, computers, and the plethora of cables required. Some churches began using switchers to allow multiple camera angles to enhance the experience. Many churches immediately found the need to update their internet speeds to stream large amounts of data and then discovered the importance of encoder services to present smoother video streaming. But it’s time to start asking if the purchases and decisions were part of the long-term strategy for online services or if it was to get through a tough time, hoping that when it all ended, people would return to on-campus services.
Online Services Are Staying
Pew Research Center recently published a new survey that confirms what many in church leadership already know about how Americans feel about Online Religious Services. The survey results provide data to back up that about a fourth of the adults surveyed regularly watch services online, and about two-thirds of those are satisfied with the experience. Those are impressive statistics. Anecdotally, many churches find that many people are taking advantage of the livestream before ever setting foot on campus. Churches intent on reaching more people with Gospel and disciplining their congregation must invest in making their online experience the best it can be – and that means investing resources.
As with any budgetary line item, there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all answer. For example, is the church starting from scratch to begin streaming online services, enhancing the existing setup, or accounting for ongoing costs and maintenance?
New Setup: In general, there are five categories for a church without livestream capabilities to plan expenses: Cameras (50%-60%), Streaming Hardware (15%-20%), Video Switcher (10%+15%), Audio (10%), and Misc. (up to 10%). Finally, include music licensing and streaming subscription fees associated with streaming.
Existing Setup: After the initial start-up costs of cameras, streaming hardware, video switchers, and audio equipment, budgeting for streaming will go down considerably. However, ongoing costs such as music licensing, replacing or repairing failed hardware, streaming subscriptions, and other upgrades are factors in the budget. Streaming equipment may require sinking funds depending upon the amount of equipment and the cost of replacing it.
As more and more Americans become comfortable with online services, churches must think long-term when it comes to their online streaming strategy – and that starts with allocating financial resources to ensure it’s a quality product that accurately represents your church.short url: