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.

For more ideas on sharing faith online, take a read of our recent Everyday Faith blogs.

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

Going live on YouTube

Before you go live on YouTube, you’ll need to enable live streaming.

  • Confirm that your channel is verified and that you have no live stream restrictions in the last 90 days
  • To live stream on mobile, your channel will need to have at least 1,000 subscribers in addition to the requirement above. There are no restrictions for those streaming from a computer.  

Enable live streaming:

  • On a desktop, go to Creator Studio tools, then go to the 'Live Streaming' tab
  • On the YouTube app on mobile, create a live stream.

(Google Support 2020)

Note: Enabling a live stream for the first time may take up to 24 hours. Once enabled, your stream can go live instantly.

To schedule a live video:

  • Click the camera upload icon in the upper right-hand corner
  • Click Go Live
  • At the top, select Webcam
  • Enter a title and description. Write clear, descriptive titles and descriptions to encourage more viewers
  • Schedule your live stream for a later date
  • Click More options > Advanced Settings for more settings
  • Click Save. Your camera will then take a thumbnail
  • Click Share to copy the link to share on social media, in an email or to embed on your website.

To start the scheduled live video:

  • Just before the scheduled time, click the camera upload icon in the upper right-hand corner
  • Click Go Live, then Manage to find your scheduled Live video
  • Click Go Live on your scheduled video
  • When you've finished, click End Stream at the bottom. All streams under 12 hours will be automatically archived. You can access previous, current and upcoming streams in the Live tab.

(Google Support 2020)

Share the video link:

  • Go to the camera upload icon in the upper right-hand corner
  • Click Go Live
  • At the top, select Manage
  • Click on ... beside your scheduled live video
  • Click Share
  • Using the share link, embed the video on your website or A Church Near You profile.

To embed your YouTube video on A Church Near You:

  • Create a page on your church's A Church Near You profile. Give it a helpful title, such as: Watch a live service
  • Describe the video in the Page content section. Perhaps include liturgy so they can join in with the service
  • In the box titled Video paste the share link to your Live video
  • Add the tag LiveStream to your service or event so that visitors to A Church Near You can find churches that are showing Live video
  • When you are live your community will be able to watch it on this page.


Facebook Live

To go live:

  • Click Create Post at the top of your News Feed
  • Click … then click Live Video
  • Write something about your live video
  • Click Go Live in the bottom right
  • When finished, your video will be saved to your content library in Facebook Creator Studio
  • If you're using a laptop, use the Google Chrome web browser to go live
  • During or after the Live, go through the comments and reply to them to show that you value their time.

Find more tips about going Live on Facebook, here.  

Link to your Facebook page from A Church Near You

  • As an A Church Near You editor, click on the + by events and services to create an event
  • Add the time and date of your live video
  • Add a description inviting people to visit your Facebook page to watch the video by clicking the button which says More about this event
  • In the web link box add the URL for your Facebook page
  • Add the tag 'LiveStream' to your event
  • Click save.


Instagram Live

To start a live video:

  • Tap the camera in the top left of the screen or swipe right from anywhere in Feed
  • Scroll along to Live at the bottom of the screen, then tap the circular button
  • The number of viewers appears at the top of the screen and comments appear at the bottom
  • Tap Comment to add a comment, and tap a comment and tap Pin Comment to pin it so that viewers can see it more easily
  • To turn comments off, tap the three dots then select Turn Off Commenting
  • When you're done, tap End in the top right then tap to confirm. From there, you can tap the downwards arrow in the top left to save it to your camera roll, or share it to your story. Keep in mind that when you save your live video to your camera roll, only the video is saved, and not things like comments, likes and viewers. It may take a minute for your live video to save to your phone, especially for longer videos.

(Instagram Help 2020)

Read more tips on going Live on Instagram, here.


What equipment will you need?

  • Laptop with webcam, or a smartphone or tablet
  • Microphone or headphones with a microphone
  • Tripod or stand to rest your device on
  • Good Wi-Fi with a fast upload speed – so the video is high quality for those watching it
  • Consent from those appearing in the video. Read this guide for the best practice for gaining image consent under GDPR.


Setting up

Recently, we shared a blog on how to set up and film a video on a smartphone, including equipment, framing and recording, which you can read here.


Let people know

Tell your community you will be going live so they can join in at the right time and share it with their friends. Tell them when you’ll be live, what you are talking about and how they can interact – can they ask questions during the video? The more you plan, the more people will want to watch and interact.

  • Share the link on social media at least 48 hours before you go live, as well as on the day, to remind your community it’s happening
  • Embed it on your website or A Church Near You profile using the shared link from YouTube, so it’s easy for your community to find. Tag your church with 'Live stream' so A Church Near You users can find it in a search
  • Do you have an email list? Send them the link in advance so they can watch wherever they are
  • When setting up the live video remember to write a description that creates interest and will encourage people to watch it.

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

Keep up to date with all things digital and join our Digital Labs newsletter.

Subscribe here