Microsoft Teams as Collaboration Hub to create Church Services in times of Corona Covid-19 crisis

Since three years we are talking with our pastor about increasing Digital Transformation in our local church. An important information is the fact that most of the people visiting our church every Sunday are older than 60 years which made the process of digitizing more challengingLast year we started to use video projector with a screen so we could show videos, song lyrics and when our diocese got a new bishop we watched the livestream with several people inside our church. Due to the Corona virus nobody can visit the church anymore (“lock down”) and that’s why we searched for a solution so that members of our parish and beyond can still join mass and church services. 

Livestream vs on Demand  

Our first idea was setting up a livestream and made good experience with Churchstreaming.TV but the main issue was that we would’ve need too many people to realize this. Our pastor, two persons for the music another two people for the parts where someone must read lectures and two for managing the technical equipment and the livestream. German government said this week that only three people are allowed to stay in the same room and that crashed our plan. We also thought that quality would improve, and stress would reduce.  Then our pastor had the idea to offer “living room church video instead of a livestream and everybody who would’ve participated should record his part in his own house and I would cut everything together. We finally had a plan!  

Microsoft Teams as collaboration hub 

We are using Teams without add-ons and 3rd party tools. In Channels we are sharing video files which are created with different cameras and mobile phones, uploaded to SharePoint which is the cloud storage underneath of Teams. Going to merged two one single mp4-file in Adobe Premiere and shared again for final feedback and quality assurance before uploading on YouTube. We schedule meetings and setup video conference calls for agile planning sprints. Chats are also used for quick and easily asynchronous communication. Debriefing Calls after each Video Broadcast to learn, share feedback from the community and plan next videos.

Find more about how to enable access for external users here and here

Teams Screenshot
Teams Screenshot

Equipment 

If you also want to make a video church service, you only need four technical things: 

      1. digital Camera 
        • We are using Sony Alpha 6400
        • Would also work with the latest flagship smartphones cameras
    •   2. A tripod for your camera or smartphone gimbal
        3. 1-2 microphones

        • We are using Rode wireless go microphone to record our pastor`s voice (connected close this mouth like a lavalier mic but cableless) 
        • Rode VideoMic to record the sound of the whole church or dedicated instruments
    • 3. A video editing software
        • We are using Adobe Premiere Pro which is part of the Adobe Creative Cloud 
        • You can use nearly every video editing software except for the Movie Maker (my mom’s favorite)  

Process of video creation 

On Saturday evening my father and I went to the church and recorded two hours every part where our pastor was acting. We started with the sermon and then we recorded everything else. Make sure to keep the video of the camera focused! The singers recorded their songs at their homes as well as the lecturesBack at home I uploaded all the videos which we had in Microsoft Teams and edited with Adobe Premiere. Our pastor sent me also a script which I used to have a good overview when which clip should appear. Each part had a number which I could reuse in my video clips to prevent mismatches in right order.   Then I cut the different clips and made the transitions. After that I had a first look how the songs appear in the video and tested with only the song and the pastor doing something. When I ended cutting the songs, I started to put subtitles in the video. That went fast and I think it’s very helpful because then people which do not go every Sunday to church can participate also very well. The final task I did was figuring out how the sound of the whole video was. I forgot to level the sound of the Wireless GO microphone, so I did it in Premiere and put a limiter on the whole project of –5 dB.  Make sure to control in your camera that external microphone is enabled with correct sound level.  

Distribution Channels

We also boosted the video by sharing with our Whatsapp contacts and groups, we paid sponsored Facebook Ads (with 9 Euros we reached additional 3800 people)informed local newspaper. Within few hours we had 500 views on YouTube.  

 
Hopefully these insights and experiences are helpful! Please share your questions in the comments here.  

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