2 Ways to Help Parishioners Access Online Worship from their Television
Congratulations! You and a couple resourceful, resilient church leaders have successfully figured out how to offer your congregation worship services and formation classes online, but a handful of your parishioners struggle to participate and connect. They would prefer to watch worship services on their television, because the screen is larger and it has louder speakers, allowing the whole family to participate together in their living room. The difficulty is that you’re currently offering services using Zoom, and the Zoom app cannot be downloaded or accessed directly from the TV. Or perhaps services are being offered on Facebook, Youtube, or Vimeo, and families do not have a smart TV or may not know how to access those applications on their smart TV.
Let’s face it, figuring out digital media production and live-streaming technology on top of sermon writing and pastoral care is hard enough, and you probably feel like you’ve hit your stride and now have to confront this next hurdle. Give yourself a pat on the back for how far you’ve come, and grant yourself grace to discern what you do or do not have capacity to manage right now.
If you’re ready and interested to explore the next layer of your streaming process, here are two ways you can help parishioners that are longing for connection to engage with their church home from their living room.
1. Simulcast Services from Zoom or Facebook to YouTube
Our first recommendation is to simulcast your streamed worship services, broadcasting simultaneously from Zoom or Facebook Live to YouTube, if you are not already streaming to YouTube. YouTube offers an app that is easily accessible on smart TVs, so parishioners can tune in to your services on YouTube from their television.
Stream Zoom Meetings to Facebook Live
For one option to connect your Zoom meeting to YouTube Live, open your Zoom account in a web browser and enable the ability to stream a Zoom meeting to YouTube and/or Facebook Live. Follow the link below for a quick tutorial on how to adjust your settings to allow Zoom to stream to YouTube:
The downside to streaming your Zoom service/class/fellowship to YouTube is that it prevents audience interaction, and so this option is best utilized for worship services. Make sure that as the host of the Zoom meeting, you turn on ‘speaker view’ and are ‘spotlighting’ the video feed that you wish to be featured on YouTube and Facebook.
Use Broadcast Software to Stream to Multiple Platforms
Another option is to process your video and audio feeds through a broadcast software like Restream or Castr, which allows you to stream services to multiple platforms, including YouTube. This process requires a fairly significant set-up and management of both hardware and software, but is outlined in this webinar offered by the Episcopal Diocese of West Texas in March.
Record Your Stream and Upload to YouTube
As an alternative, you may also consider recording your Zoom broadcast or downloading the Facebook Live video once your service has ended and subsequently uploading the video file to YouTube after the fact. This disables audience interaction, but would allow families who prefer to access worship from their TVs to watch your service.
2. Support and Educate Parishioners on How to Connect their Device to the TV
A second recommendation is to instruct congregants on the options they have to connect their device to their television. Consider using your social media accounts, email communication, website post, or mailed newsletter to share step-by-step instructions with your congregants explaining how they can utilize hardware or software to view your streamed services on their television.
Connect Computer Directly to TV Using an HDMI Cable
One way to connect a laptop computer to a television screen is with a standard HDMI cable. Television screens can act similarly to a computer monitor by plugging in an HDMI cable to your computer on one end and your television’s HDMI port on the other end. This option mirrors or extends the visual picture and transfers audio from the computer speakers to the larger television. Don’t forget to use the source settings on the television remote to select the HDMI input that is connected from the computer.
HDMI cables can be purchased online or in stores in a variety of lengths. The limitation of this option is that the computer and television must both have HDMI ports. However, most televisions and laptops purchased within the last 10 years will have this capability, and adaptors are available for computers that do not have existing HDMI ports. Note that newer Mac laptops require an adaptor for HDMI connection.
Download the Facebook Watch TV App
Facebook also offers a smart TV compatible app in the app store on your television, Facebook Watch TV that can be downloaded and opened on your TV, enabling access to videos on Facebook from your television. See a list of supported TVs and devices for the Facebook Watch TV app.
Screen Mirror from Device to TV
Smart devices can also connect to a television screen using “Screen mirroring.” This is a technology that allows you to project or “mirror” the active content and audio on your smartphone, tablet, or computer screen to another screen (like a television), wirelessly. The process to successfully mirror your screen from a smart phone or tablet to your television depends on the type of devices available to your congregant.
There are many ways to utilize screen mirroring, but all require at least a smart TV, or streaming device for your TV, to enable online access. Streaming devices include Apple TV, Chromecast, ROKU, and Amazon Fire TV Stick. It is important that your TV and smart device are connected to the same Wi-Fi network to enable screen mirroring.
Below are links to instructions and short videos which provide directions to enable screen mirroring from Android, Windows, and Apple devices.
Screen Mirror Android Phone to TV
Screen Mirror from Apple Devices to Apple TV using AirPlay
Screen Mirror iPhone to Smart TV (no Apple TV)
Screen Mirror Computer to TV using Chromecast
Screen Mirror Apple Devices to TV using Chromecast
Screen Mirror Android or Windows Device to TV using Roku
Screen Mirror Smart Device to TV using Amazon Fire TV Stick
In this scenario, the phone or tablet device will need to run the streaming application (i.e. Zoom, Facebook, YouTube, etc.) with the meeting or service in order for the screen mirroring process to work.
Simulcasting and Screen Mirroring are two primary ways to help parishioners access online worship on their television. As you can see, neither offer a ‘simple’, one-step solution to this request. Of course, depending on levels of comfort and familiarity with newer technologies, ‘simple’ can be a very relative term! Know that you are not alone in the struggle to simplify online worship, meetings, and fellowship as much as possible for everyone involved. This is new and uncharted territory for many, so be kind to yourself and those behind the camera. As always, the Communications Office is here to support you at firstname.lastname@example.org.