Live Streaming Worship: An Interview with Chad Manalo

Best Practices for Adventist Worship talked with Chad Manalo, Worship Director at Crosswalk Church in Redlands, CA, to discuss the increasingly prevalent practice of live streaming worship gatherings. 

Nicholas Zork: Why did you decide to stream your church's worship gathering? 

Chad Manalo: In Adventism, there are usually two reasons. The first reason is to reach those in your current congregation who can’t physically attend. The second purpose is to use streaming as an evangelistic tool, to reach beyond our geographical location. With the web, you’re just one click away from the world.

NZ: The worship experience online is different in many ways from participating in person. One significant difference I’ve noticed is the sound quality of the worship music. It usually doesn’t sound nearly as good as it does in the worship space. What are some of the ways you’re addressing that challenge?

CM: Obviously having a separate mix for broadcast is huge.

NZ: And a separate audio engineer, too?

CM: Yes, exactly. I really pushed for that when we started the live stream. We have a live feed to our other building, Crosswalk North, that happens simultaneously with our 11:30 am service. That’s our acoustic space. We do the exact same music, and we time it so that we both end at the same time. And then [Lead Pastor] Tim Gillespie’s sermon is piped over there. So we actually have three different mixes: front of house, our broadcast, and Crosswalk North. For the broadcast mix, there are things we do, like using crowd mics, to make it feel more live. For a little bit, I did mix down every service. So not only did we have a separate live broadcast mix, I would also mix down the multi-track from the 11:30 service in ProTools.

NZ: I’m sorry. 

CM: [Laughs] It was a lot of work, and we stopped doing that when we started doing four services. But I still use the multitrack recording now as my rehearsal tracks if it’s our own arrangement.

NZ. You mentioned that you have congregation mics that you include in your broadcast mix. 

CM: Yeah, definitely. We also use those for our in-ear monitors. It helps a lot.

NZ: Congregation or room mics seem to be really essential equipment that many churches our missing. Without these mics and a separate broadcast mix, even great music can be pretty ineffective when you close-mic everything, and there’s no sense of space. Are there any other technology recommendations you’d make?

CM: Everything comes down to budget, but technology has come a long way and can be really inexpensive. For example, we only have three handheld cameras, but we’re able to get six different camera angles by also using three $100 GoPro cameras. The cameras are fixed, but they give us three additional angles for only $300.

NZ: A production like the one at Crosswalk depends on a lot of volunteers. What advice would you offer about recruiting and retaining them? 

CM: It’s important to let them know the bigger vision for why you’re doing it. When I first started working with a live streaming production in Chicago, our team noticed that every week people were tuning in from Afghanistan and China, two countries with a lot of internet censorship. Eventually, we started getting emails from viewers in those countries. They told us this was the one way they were able to learn about God. We were able to get our volunteers excited about the possibility of reaching people through this new medium, which is pretty attainable these days. You don’t need to have a full studio. 

NZ: A media ministry requires both a lot of time and resources. It’s important for the church to understand why it matters and all that’s possible if the tools available are used effectively. Thank you for sharing your insights with us. 

To learn more about what Crosswalk Church is doing with their media ministry, check out crosswalkvillage.com.