If you’ve ever wanted to have live video streams of your church services but weren’t sure if there was enough interest to justify the effort and cost, we’ve got great news for you! Google+ Hangouts give you a way to add live video streams to your Church Website at no cost and with very little effort. All you need is a website, a Google+ account and a camera on an Internet-connected computer during your service.
Sign up for a Google+ account
If you already have a Gmail address, you already have a Google+ account, so you can skip this step.
- Go to Google.com in a web browser and click the “+You” link in the upper right-hand corner of the screen
- Click “Create an account”
- Fill in your information, agree to the Terms of Service and click “Next step”
- Perform any verification that is required
- You may skip through the next few Google+ screens as they are not required
Schedule a Hangout
- Go to http://plus.google.com and login to your google account
- Hover your mouse over the “Home” button and click “Hangouts”
- Click “Hangouts On Air” and then “Start a Hangout On Air”
- Give your live stream a name and a description. Be sure to specify that the event starts “Later” and set the day, time and duration.
- If you are shown a link asking you to verify your YouTube account, click the link and follow the instructions (this will only happen once)
- When you’re done, click “Share”
Add the stream to your website
As soon as you complete the scheduling, you will be at the Hangout details screen. If you have browsed away from that screen, hover over the Google+ “Home” button, click “Events” and then click on your newly added event.
- In the “Details” pane on the right, click “Links” and copy the iframe code from the “Video embed” box (the third box down)
- Login to your website and browse to the page where you would like the live stream
- Edit the page and click the “Insert Sharefaith feature” button then click “Embed Code”
- Paste the iframe code that you copied above into the large input box, then click “SAVE”
- Save the page by clicking the checkmark in the editor toolbar, and you’re done
- When people come to your page that has a live stream, they will see a countdown timer indicating when the live stream is scheduled to begin.
Start a live stream
When your service begins, you will need to start the stream.
- Login to plus.google.com, hover over the “Home” button and click “Events”
- Click on the Hangout that you want to begin streaming, and click the “Start” button
- The first time you start a Hangout, you will be asked to “Trust” or “Allow” Google+ to use the Google Talk and Video plugins
- If you see an “Invite guests” screen, you can click “Skip”
- If this is the first time you have started a Hangout On Air, you will be asked to accept the Terms of Service
- When you are ready to begin, click the “Start broadcast” button at the bottom of the screen
Congratulations! People are now able to watch a live stream of your church service!
One handy trick (recurring events)
If you want to repeat the same event each week, click the down-pointing arrow in the “Details” pane of your event, then click “Duplicate event.” This will give you a slightly different bit of iframe code to paste into your website, but duplicating the Hangout event and pasting its code into your website is the only thing you will need to do if you want for your live streaming events to recur each week.
A bonus of this setup is that the videos you stream are automatically saved to your YouTube channel. After you have logged into your Google account, simply go to YouTube.com and click “My Channel” to see your saved live streams.
There are a few professional live streaming services that provide a higher level of polish and extra features for a price, but using Google+ Hangouts is a great way to get started. And as you’ll see after you’ve used it for a little while, once you get it all setup and integrated into your weekly workflow, it is very easy to manage.