A beginner’s guide to going live with your service or event for free


Live video is being watched more than ever before. According to Vimeo, more than 80 per cent of people surveyed said they would prefer to watch a live video than read a social post or blog.

However, going live isn’t something we should do just because everyone else is doing it.

Using live video can be part of a church strategy that aims to cater to the different people in the community. Whether for work, health or family reasons, people around us have different needs and responsibilities that mean attending a service or event on a set day, or at a particular location, is not always possible. Live video enables us to take Church to them - wherever they are - and can help us build a relationship with those we may otherwise have never met.

Before we talk about how, what could you go live for?

Some of the churches we've met through our digital training have used these ideas to go live:

  • The sermon from a service
  • A thought for the day from the vicar or a member of the church
  • A reflection or prayer for the community mid-week
  • During preparation for an event to create interest and excitement for what’s to come
  • At an event showing what’s happening or during a special item
  • An update or a good news story
  • An interview with a speaker or a member of the church.

If you include music in your video, you need to have the correct licences in place. Guidance on this is included below.


Which platform?

Which platforms should you choose to go live on depends on the purpose of your live broadcast and what platforms your community use.

A general good rule to follow is

  • For meetings or events where you'd like direct interaction or privacy, such as social gatherings, prayer meetings or bible studies, a video conferencing platform such as Zoom, Google meet or Skype is ideal.
  • For public gatherings, services or events, where you want to gather a crowd, or video clips that you would like to share with a broad audience, use a social media platform such as Facebook, YouTube or InstagramChoose whichever platform your community frequently use to make it easier for them to find.

Read on to find out how to go live, ideas for promoting your live video, and some important considerations to help you feel confident before you start.

How to go live

Each social media offers the ability to go-live for free using the app or from your browser. Find out how below.

Facebook page

A few considerations

Copyright. Make sure you have the correct permissions to use copyrighted materials in your video, including music, images and literature. Read our information on copyright and licences below.

GDPR and photo permissions. Have you gained consent from those who will feature in the video? Read more about image permissions in our Safer Environment and Activities guidance.

Plan before you go live. What are you going to talk about? How long will it be? Make a plan and try it out beforehand - you won’t be able to plan for everything, but you’ll feel more confident and relaxed if you have.

Choose the right platform for your community. We’ve listed a few different ways to go live, but you don’t need to try them all. Choose a platform which your community regularly use to make it easy for them to watch and participate.

Read more tips on going live here.

Guidance on licences for churches

When using copyrighted material including music in a live-streamed service, each church is required to have a licence. We have included some useful information here to give some guidance, however, please do contact CCLI, PRS and One Licence for more detailed advice for your church.


Services with live music performances

CCLI introduced a streaming licence in mid-March 2020. It is available to any church which holds a CCLI Church Copyright Licence, which the majority of Church of England churches do. For many churches, this licence will cover them for their streaming activity:


  • For churches who are streaming their services via YouTube or Facebook, the CCLI Streaming Licence will cover them for live worship music performed as part of that stream. (This would include services streamed or webcast via YouTube but embedded into the church’s own website).
  • You can check on the CCLI website as to whether permissions for a particular hymn or song are covered by them.
  • If the church is hosting the stream/webcast on their own website, they will need the PRS for Music Limited Online Music Licence (LOML) in addition to the CCLI Streaming Licence.
  • The CCLI Streaming Licence includes the right to show the words on screen.
  • The CCLI Streaming Licence allows a church to make recordings of the services available on their website indefinitely provided you keep renewing your streaming licences.
  • These licences cover ‘live’ music performances. If a church is using recorded music as part of the stream, additional rights come into play. Commercially available CDs or music recordings cannot be played unless specific permission is granted by the copyright holder.

Services using recorded music

CCLI now offers an additional licensing option for churches who are streaming their services and wish to use pre-recorded backing tracks or artists recordings.

  • The Streaming Plus Licence option adds the right to play music recordings as part of the stream.
  • This is ideal for many smaller churches who either don’t have the musicians to play live every week, or it is technically difficult.
  • For larger churches, it will enable them to incorporate multi-tracks (stems, loops, community tracks) in their worship.
  • This licence will enable churches to play backing tracks or artist recordings from a large and growing number of authorised publishers. 
  • The Streaming Plus Licence can be purchased outright if the church holds the CCLI Church Copyright Licence, or churches with the standard Streaming Licence can upgrade on a pro-rata basis.

Do get in touch with CCLI for more information, or to answer any questions.

One Licence

  • Another licence, One Licence is available and covers an additional range of church and choral music e.g. Taize, GIA Publications, Oxford University Press, Wild Goose Resource Group, Kevin Mayhew.
  • The Church of England uses both a One Licence and CCLI Streaming Licence for the weekly online services to enable access to a broad range of Christian music.
  • The same rules described above over seeking permission for ‘recorded’ performance still apply.

Rights-free music from the Church of England, St Martin in the Fields and the Royal School of Church Music

  • The Church of England, working with St Martin-in-the-Fields and the Royal School of Church Music, is providing a resource of rights-free music for Church of England churches to use on streamed services, via the A Church Near You resource hub providing you have a CCLI Streaming Licence. Read the press release for more details.
  • There are several other  Christian organisations that provide apps or software that provide backing tracks for worship, some of which are giving churches permission to use their pre-recorded tracks as part of their streams. Please carefully check first before using this material.

Using other copyrighted material

  • Permission should also be sought from the owner(s) of any other creative works included in the service. If reproducing bible verses, or liturgy, usually there will be copyright information in the front of the publication, and usually they will allow for a certain proportion to be reproduced.
  • For any images etc. the same rules would apply as in normal circumstances. Never assume that you can take an image found on Google and use it in a church service or include it in a service sheet or similar without permission. Read our guidance on using images here.
  • Regarding a Service Sheet, as long as there are appropriate licences/permissions in place, making that service sheet available online should be fine.

Using Zoom to stream services

  • Churches using Zoom to stream services need both the CCLI Streaming Licence and the PRS for Music LOML. This is because Zoom doesn’t currently have an agreement with PRS for Music as YouTube and Facebook do.


Is your church going live this week? Share your posts with us by tagging the Church of England on InstagramFacebook and Twitter


Liz Morgan
Church Digital Champion

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