Digital Church - Streaming, Video and Dial-In Services

Due to the experience of COVID-19 and greater consumption of online content, many parishes across our diocese have decided to offer digital forms of church. These include livestreamed Sunday services, prayers and acts of worship, along with dial in services and other forms of pre-recorded content.

This page provides helpful digital church advice and some inspirational examples from parishes in our diocese. 

The Communication Team offers training, designed to support the digital ministry of our parishes. Please visit our Training page for details of up and coming sessions, along with recordings taken from previous ones.


How to live stream

There are many methods of livestreaming a worship service. Our Broadcasting Worship Online Toolkit offers lots of helpful advice, including what equipment to use, key things to consider and FAQs.

Here is a video guide from our Digital and Social Media Officer, Richard, sharing how livesteaming is done on Facebook.

Richard shares some more top tips below, offering advice with regards to shooting a good video or live stream at your home.

Fountains Church, Bradford have also produced a helpful written guide to live streaming on Facebook, which can be accessed here.

More support and advice with regards to live streaming can be found on the Church of England website. Their digital team have released a number of blogs with helpful information included.


A Church Near You is being used to signpost those churches that are live streaming services and events. Churches need to add the 'Livestream' tag to their services and events that will be broadcast. Remember to add this into your churches description, telling people how they can watch your online events. You can add a link to the platform you're using to stream, such as your Facebook Page or YouTube Channel.



When uploading content to platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and a church website, it is important to take copyright rules and laws into consideration. This is particularly applicable when using music in your videos/livestreams and other audio/visual content not created by your church. Helpful guidance can be found here on the Church of England website and on this blog written by Resound Worship.

Can we perform live music during a video or livestream?
A church wishing to sing and play live music on a live or pre-recorded video on YouTube, Facebook and Instagram are able to do so. In order to do this it is recommend that you apply for the CCLI Streaming Licence introduced in mid-March 2020. This permits you to stream or webcast live worship music on social media platforms which are normally intended for personal, domestic use only, including YouTube and Facebook. This licence also covers the right to show song lyrics on screen, to enable viewers to sing along.

Can we embed a livestream on a church website?
If the video is embedded from YouTube, as the host of the video, the platforms licence covers this. However, if the video is hosted on the church website, the church would need to apply for a Limited Online Music Licence (LOML) provided by PRS for Music.

Can we play a recorded song as part of a livestream?
Most backing tracks and recorded songs are copyrighted material. Always be aware of the background music in your live video because social media platforms monitor and flag copyrighted content. You may receive a copyright violation, meaning the video is muted or even banned. Therefore, recorded music cannot be used as part of a video recording or livestream unless you have the permission from the copyright holder.

Some song recordings however, have been made free to download and use without any copyright concerns. For example, the Church of England have made hymns and songs available for use by clergy and church leaders livestreaming Sunday services, recorded by the Choral Scholars of St Martin-in-the-Fields. Anthony Gray, an organist in the Diocese of Leeds has recorded organ music for St Margaret Ilkley's online services. These are now available for any church that wishes to use them and can be downloaded here. Other websites, such as Resound Worship and Worship Video Lyrics also offer music and videos that can be used for live streamed services.


Dial in Services

While a majority of people are able to access church livestreams at the moment, we are aware there is a number for whom this isn't possible. In response some churches have made alternative provisions, such as a dial in conference call, allowing people to use their phone to access meetings on platforms like Zoom. Please find examples below of how some have made this facility possible.

All Saints Ilkley 

We use the website and pay £8 a month for their pro package. This means up to 50 people can dial in to a conference call service using the same set of numbers every time, and it only costs a standard rate per minute or nothing if people have bundled minutes as part of their landline or mobile contract. 

A typical service operates as follows. At the appointed time people dial-in to the conference call with their arrival being announced by hearing their first name. There is a few moments of general chitchat and then the person leading the service mutes everybody except those who are involved in preaching, reading the Bible or leading the prayers. At the end of the service everybody is a muted to say the grace together and to give their farewell greetings.

The pattern has worked well for us. We have a service of prayer on Tuesday and Thursday mornings at 8:30am, and at 9:15 am on Sunday mornings. Typically we have up to 10 participants during the week and up to 20 on a Sunday.

Sutton with Cowling & Lothersdale

We recently started a ‘dial-in’ Sunday service, using telephones only, where those attending the service call a local rate ‘03’ number. For our first service our Vicar, the Revd Helen Collings, led the service from Sutton. Our curate, the Revd Brian Greenfield gave a talk from Glusburn and readings and prayers were led remotely by members of our three parishes from their homes in Cowling, Lothersdale and Sutton. The first service was well received with over 50 people participating.  

Here is a helpful blog from Revd Bryony Taylor, who offers help with setting up phone church using Whypay telephone conferencing.

St. Peter’s Addingham

Like many churches, we started using WhyPay dial-in during lockdown (when we were also in the middle of an interregnum) as a way of keeping in touch with those members of our congregation who were “web-free” so could not access our recorded or livestreamed services. First we had to convince those involved that it was simple process and did not need a modern phone. We issued them with the dial in numbers on small cards to keep beside their phones, and a sheet of easy to follow instructions, and we paid for the facility to have the recorded voice of our Warden welcoming them to the call in the name of the church.

We used dial-in slightly differently from how we have seen it reported elsewhere. For recorded services, we simply put the dial in phone, with speakerphone enabled, next to the computer which was playing the recording, and this allowed the listeners to hear all the content. Once back in the church building for live services, we put the dial in phone (again with speakerphone enabled) in a bracket just in front of one of the public address loudspeakers. So long as the speakerphone is on, the sound picks up well and this allows the listeners to hear all the speech coming via the microphones, the singing of the nearby congregation and, patchily, even the music of the more distant organ, so that it is functioning like an audio-only livestream. This has been extremely helpful in keeping those of the web-free who are not able to attend for any reason closely in touch as part of our worshipping community, alongside those who can watch the livestream via Facebook. We start dial in 10 minutes before each service, and at the end we have a short chat, often with a hallo from the Rector too. The only thing to watch is that those listening from home keep quiet during the broadcast, or else whatever they say or do is heard loud and clear in the church!

Only a small proportion of our congregation are web-free, and only some of those are unable to get to church, but those who use dial in very much appreciated, so we intend to continue providing this service while there is a need for it. We have also used dial in for sharing weekly prayers and, via the computer, for listening to the audio from our monthly recorded video podcasts on faith topics.


Video Production

Churches have also been producing videos during this time, covering services, thoughts, reflections and more, and putting them on social media and YouTube. The Diocese of Leeds has produced a guide for churches and individuals looking to get started themselves, which can be found here.


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