Nick Fry, communications director at Grace Covenant Church in Cornelius, began exploring technology in ministry when he worked at a church in the Grand Cayman Islands in 2008.
He wanted to bring in teaching from pastors like Mark Batterson in Washington, D.C., so Fry flew to D.C. and arranged with Batterson to use his pre-recorded sermons with the island congregation.
Today, Fry uses an array of technology at Grace Covenant. The church live streams its Sunday services in Cornelius to reach congregants who watch via the Internet, using a combination of WOWZA and Amazon Web Services. And the Internet users can interact with one another during the service using social media.
But to bring the Cornelius service to Grace Covenant’s East Lincoln satellite campus, the church uses a more old-school method. Media director Mike Schwiebert records the service at Cornelius, editing it as it happens, downloads it onto a hard drive and has a courier hand-deliver the hard drive to East Lincoln.
Lake Forest and Journey Church also live stream services for people who travel, have moved or otherwise can’t get to the main site. Both use the third-party service, www.livestream.com. Lake Forest pays $49 per month for the service. Jerry Goedert, campus operations manager at Lake Forest, says that you only need a camera, good Internet, and the live stream software.
Grace Covenant often serves as a venue for live simulcast events. The women’s ministry is hosting a Beth Moore simulcast, and in August, the church hosted the Global Leadership Summit out of Willow Creek Church in Chicago, broadcasting live speakers such as Gen. Colin Powell. Some 170,000 people across the world participated in the Global Leadership Summit, with 230 host churches nationwide.
For the Global Leadership Summit, Willow Creek brought in its own satellite, screens, cameras and a technology specialist. Grace Covenant did not need to have technology beyond a great Internet connection, but they did need a large auditorium and the manpower to facilitate the event.
Elevation Church, which will launch a satellite campus in Cornelius in January, uses advanced and costly fiber optics to live stream its Sunday sermon to their eight campuses around Charlotte. Of the $5 million that Elevation Church is spending to retrofit the old Palace Theatre in Cornelius, $1.5 million is going towards the audio/visual infrastructure, according to the budget presented to the Cornelius Town Board on April 22.
But Fry insists that a church does not have to have expensive technology to broadcast out or to bring events in. He says YouTube now has live capabilities, and other inexpensive services are livestream.com, ustream.tv and SermonCast.com.
“You get people who are 19 years old sitting on the edge of their bed with 19 million subscribers,” Fry said. “That’s not a big organization. That’s a kid with an idea. To me, that’s the part that the church hasn’t seen yet: The ability that we have to do this without this massive infrastructure.”