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Old Wednesday, January 23rd, 2008, 02:38 AM
johnchipman's Avatar
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Recording Church Services - What? How? Why?

Hi everyone. We're reviewing the provision of services recordings and want to find out what others do, their rationale and what opportunities may exist that we've not thought about.

We're a relatively small (200 member) church in a town of 35,000. Our fellowship demographic is pretty even across all age ranges and family types. We run three services each sunday (the two morning ones are identical).

For several years now we have made both audio and video recordings of the whole service to audio cassette (via MD master) and to VHS (no copies). These recordings have been available to borrow from our resource centre. Recently we started recording the reading, sermon and closing prayer to mp3, which is downloadable from our website.

Now we know we're not making most effective use of the resources God has provided us with. We want to look at WHO might benefit in WHAT WAYS from recorded service material. HOW they might wish to recieve it, use it and therefore WHAT format is best to use.

We have analogue video and audio systems and an internet connection to the A/V console (we do Skype interviews with missionaries in the field).

Under consideration at the moment:
  • Record whole service video to HDD/DVD for sick/housebound
  • Stop recording whole service audio
  • Enable RSS/Atom on the website to facilitate pod-casts of teaching material
  • Make CD copies of mp3's as an alternative to downloads

Any thoughts on the above?
Are we missing a trick?
What about live streamed video?
What about producing short video clips of teaching/more visual elements of the service? Web hosted?
What do you do and what's your rationale?

Thanks very much for your input!
John

Last edited by johnchipman; Wednesday, January 23rd, 2008 at 02:41 AM. Reason: link added
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Old Wednesday, January 23rd, 2008, 05:31 AM
kbob's Avatar
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First a disclaimer: Our church is very very young, and very very tech savvy as a congregation, so this may not apply to you.

We've recently placed our emphasis on distributing the sermons via the web as mp3's, instead of cd's. We've done this by making sure our lag time is down, generally just a couple of days now, versus the sporadic nature of uploading we once had.

At the same time, we've really de-emphasized the cd's, making them more expensive and not pushing copies of them to our sunday school/children's church teachers.

Currently we're making dvd masters from our live IMAG feed, and make those available on an as-requested basis, but we're not pushing that yet. Essentially we're just not comfortable with the work flow for that yet. Once we upgrade the stage lighting a bit, and perhaps up the camera quality, we'll starting pushing that more..
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Old Wednesday, January 23rd, 2008, 07:34 AM
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We've recorded the audio of our services for years - first cassette, now to CD, and made copies available for people to purchase. Then we started putting mp3's on our website using sermoncloud.com, where you can listen through their jukebox or download it. I still make a few copies available on CD each week, but in looking at the sermoncloud records, some of the sermons have been listened to online 50 times or downloaded 60-100 times. That's a lot of CD's we haven't had to duplicate and the Word has gone out to many areas we can't reach with a disc.

We also record each service to DVD, but haven't made copies available on a regular basis. I'm looking at putting the videos online, but need to find a good, inexpensive hosting source and the time to do it each week.
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Old Wednesday, January 23rd, 2008, 08:13 AM
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We primarily distribute our recordings as a witnessing and study tool for those who attend our service. Therefore the only thing that we put on the public copy is the sermon. The problem with making a recording of the entire service is that you your audience before the recording gets to the part that people really want to hear.

Most times when you get a recording of the entire service, it has several periods of "dead air" as a result of things that take place during service that people can only see. Secondly, the music usually sounds terrible because because not everything was mixed into the system so the final recording may only have the vocalists. And depending on how good the audio guy is, you might be lucky to get a recording where the singers are mixed well together and the levels didn't go +10db over the peak point. Third, the church secretary walks up to the podium to make announcements but the mic stand is taller than she is, so she can't quite talk into the mic and then you have to turn your radio all the way up to the highest volume setting to hear what she said.

So at this point- even before we got to the sermon, I am ready to throw the tape into the trash because what might have been a great service for the time that I was there sounds too awful on tape to enjoy that same experience.
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Old Wednesday, January 23rd, 2008, 11:48 AM
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There are also the copyright implications of recording and distributing any music that's not performed live (ex. recording when a soloist sings to a track---not allowed without specific permission from that music company)
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Old Wednesday, January 23rd, 2008, 12:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by yankeewifey View Post
There are also the copyright implications of recording and distributing any music that's not performed live (ex. recording when a soloist sings to a track---not allowed without specific permission from that music company)
Even if it is not sold but given you have to ask permission?
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Old Wednesday, January 23rd, 2008, 01:09 PM
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Typically distribution to the public requires permission regardless of whether it's sold or given out freely. There is a very fine line between fair use and infringement yet I know that many churches get away with crossing the line simply because the quality of the audio is not good enough to affect the sales at the record store. Also the audience that purchases these CD's is so small that you would be hard pressed to sell 50 copies if the audio came out half-way decent.
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Old Wednesday, January 23rd, 2008, 02:33 PM
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What?
We record the sermons to CD. We aren't doing the music yet because we need to look into CCLI's coverage a bit more and we aren't yet getting a good recording of the music. The Word is definitely the most important.

Why?
We have an aging congregation and the CD's are very helpful, going to shut-ins and those that are ill. Many people in our church are without computers, let-alone Internet access.

How
Because we have so few media volunteers, I created a program to act as a self-service Kiosk for burning CD's or copying MP3s... it was designed to shift the burden from the very few computer savvy to the slightly-more computer-literate.

Works pretty well for our needs. I guess I'm biased, though.
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Old Saturday, January 26th, 2008, 05:54 PM
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I don't know if this will help. Our church has Sunday morning attendance of maybe 300 (3 services a week). We do various combinations of outreach media which is constantly evolving as things are being learned. We just added podcasts to our outreach after I realized the number of people we have that are always on the go. We already were doing streaming video of sermons (usually one new video each week). We also create DVDs that include various combinations of choir, special music, and sermons. The demand for CDs has been dropping so they are produced in a very limited number. (We do not charge for CDs & DVDs, we only ask for a donation to the building fund.) We do not use multi-media very much in our services so my focus has been on sending the message beyond the church walls.

Here are some brief testimonies of how the media ministry has touched a life. An example: a church member's father-in-law who recently went to be with the Lord, lived hundreds of miles from our church. DVDs of our services were being sent to the member's mother. The gentleman had been out of church for years but through the hearing of the Word via the DVDs, he started going to church, committed his life to the Lord shortly before passing on.

Another example: We stream the sermons on our website. A couple who had left our church kept up with things through the on-line sermons. They recently returned to church and are active in our youth programs. They credited the on-line sermons for keeping them encouraged when they were away.

Another example: A co-worker who used to be active in church youth ministry at another church had wanted nothing to do with church after leaving that church. I gave him DVDs and links to on-line material. He recently accepted an invitation to attend church with his brother who he hadn't talked to in years.

If I thought about it long enough, I could give other examples of how lives have been changed through God's Word as it goes out via our media ministry. (Like the truck driver who listens to CDs while on the road). I'm sure every congregation has different needs, different lifestyles that can be reached in different ways with different styles of worship. For us, the media ministry ministry also allows us to reach others who will not go to church, especially a PENTECOSTAL church.

For various reasons, I don't think we will ever do live services. Churches in a nearby community are able to have their recorded services shown on their cable access station. Three churches in that small community submit video that is shown twice a week. These are churches that mostly use public domain hymns. They usually broadcast the entire unedited service.

I don't know if this helps any but it is my three cents worth.
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Old Saturday, January 26th, 2008, 07:00 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shayward View Post
Because we have so few media volunteers, I created a program to act as a self-service Kiosk for burning CD's or copying MP3s... it was designed to shift the burden from the very few computer savvy to the slightly-more computer-literate. Works pretty well for our needs. I guess I'm biased, though.
So how exactly does that work Shaun? Do people just show up with their own blank CD's and burn it in the kiosk or do they buy the blanks out of some sort of dispenser on the honor system?

Even though we do pretty good selling our CD's through the bookstore, this would probably be great for the ministry workers who miss the service.
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Old Saturday, February 16th, 2008, 03:52 PM
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Thanks

My thanks to everyone who's contributed to this discussion - I've been quietly watching and have forwarded links to this thread to those in our fellowship who are considering this issue. I'm very grateful to you all.

John
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Old Friday, April 11th, 2008, 08:35 PM
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We record just the sermon to MP3 (using Audacity) and have a company make CD albums for each sermon series when it's done. We also upload the MP3's to bible.org and burn individual CD's as requested for guest speakers and special sermons. I know that the sermon albums are very popular (we make them free, which I'm sure doesn't hurt) but I don't have any idea how many people download the sermons (we have gotten e-mails from people all over the world who have found us via bible.org so obviously someone is listening!)
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