Mill Plain UMC started first with a live-streamed worship service from a single handheld smartphone via Facebook. In April 2020, volunteer Chris Bauman suggested that a pre-recorded, video-based approach would provide a better sense of familiarity and "normality" for followers. Bauman took the lead on editing video and audio clips into pre-recorded services on his personal Apple laptop.
“While pre-recorded video provided increased capability over our audio-only stream, producing each service was very time-consuming,” said Bauman. “Initially it took 40 hours per week to produce each service, and while we got the production time down, it still took a lot of time not only for the editor, but also for the parishioners and lay leaders recording and contributing messages and music. Editing the pre-recorded services also required a specialized skillset, limiting the number of volunteers who could help, while the huge file sizes made it difficult for more than one person to work on it each week.”
At the same time, there was a growing realization that online video could play a key role for Mill Plain UMC even after the pandemic subsides. “With our pre-recorded video, we could already see that we were attracting viewers beyond our core membership,” explained Bauman. “We also knew that there would be people who would not feel safe coming to church in person even after a vaccine is available, as well as people who already were unable to attend because they are homebound, travelling, or working.”
The ministry team assembled a Future of Worship team, which convened in mid-April to strategize about the future vision of the church. Alongside other updates such as online giving and a website overhaul, live streaming was identified as beneficial not only during the pandemic but also for engaging and growing Mill Plain UMC's congregation long-term. As primary technology lead for the Future of Worship team, Bauman began researching live streaming solutions.