Table of Contents
Church IT tips, tricks and hacks
This is a set of notes on some probably very technical ways we use tech for church. Inspired by https://usesthis.com/.
- Remote management
- Being able to VNC and problem-solve 9AM Mandarin tech issues without me having to drive over to the church building has been really great
- Self running / low maintenance
- Keep it simple. We all have day jobs / studies / families / other ministries / people things to do.
- “Easy for everyone else AND easy for you”
# Web Hosting
- We pay for a VPS (started as personal use, but now for church IT use, and at times some other things used across Sydney..) Been paying 'em since 2014 or thereabouts. $$$.
- Caprover https://caprover.com/ is pretty good. Nice GUI to quickly deploy and host docker images.
- Please spend some time figuring out backups and securing your VPS and web services. Trust me, there are evil pirates out there and they WILL try to hack your things. It's a fallen world.
# Church Website
- Static site
- I built my church's website as a Static Site Generated in 2018.
- Pros: It's hosted on Netlify and so web hosting has costed a total of $0 since!!!
- Cons: Only I and 2 other people at my church have the know-how to write Markdown, some HTML templates, and push to git. Turns out that not every 'programmer' at church is actually that keen on doing helping with church IT…
- Which Content Management System (CMS) or Website Builder?
- WordPress is traditionally the most popular choice.
- I could link you to countless examples of church and conference websites.
- I've written custom WordPress themes and plugins in the past, including a sermon browser + scraper for a now defunct sermon hosting service.
- I am open to alternatives!
- SaaS or Self-hosted?
- Squarespace seems to be a good choice. No more managing security updates.
# Link Shortener
- The pastors and marketing team love this. Set up a links shortner service on your website, either as
- a URL route e.g. swec.org.au/go/my-short-link
- a subdomain e.g. go.swec.org.au/my-short-link
- Have it self-serve. We use polrproject.org hosted on the VPS.
# Sermon Recordings
- We pay for SoundCloud. It's been 'ok'. It works.
- Unfortunately their API has been closed for regos or I definitely would've written some kind of auto-uploader
- I've written on our website.
- I've heard that an audio software engineer has written a AWS pipeline to process their audio recordings for their church… !!
- The RSS feed from SoundCloud is then published as a podcast to Spotify, Google Podcasts and Apple Podcasts.
# Sound Mixing
- We use PreSonus StudioLive 16 (now superseded by the StudioLive 32SC) and StudioLive 24R.
- Personally I've loved the PreSonus mixers. Being able to mix using an iPad is amazingly helpful. Stop shouting back-and-forth from the back of the chapel to the band on stage during sound check - now you can walk up and be at the stage and mix from the iPad.
- USB multirack recording is cool too.
- Having presets for e.g. 9AM Mandarin, 11AM English has been great. Please use presets, it simplifies things for everyone (music and sound desk)
- X32 is a solid choice too.
- I recommend https://openboxtechnology.com if you want to church AV help.
- Our original videocamera was killed by a surge from an lighting strike on the building… rip
- I created a IR blaster over wifi to do programmatic zooming in/out. Which unfortunately we can no longer use haha
- We use Panasonic GH5, thanks to a deal on OzBargain. These are 4K, which we then soft-crop in OBS Studio to give different close-up scenes to switch between live.
- Elgato HD60 S+ USB3 capture cards
- ProPresenter 5, 6, 7.
- https://app.visionscreens.au.eu.org/ my past few years. Coming soon.
- Canva non-proft.
# Sermon media on the cloud
- Google Drive
- Wake-on-LAN is a must. WoL tuya pcie card.
- Creche TV
- Home Assistant
- Timers Node Red
- DO NOT PUBLICLY EXPOSE YOUR NAS TO THE PUBLIC INTERNET
- I have unfortunately personally been (part)impacted by a 0 day exploit and LOST several GB's of photos its a fallen world
- When I was younger I remember some guy at the church we were at the time. pulled out a server tucked away in the hall. no idea why until now
- ESXi pull Home Assistant
- Remote management Dell iDRAC / HP iLO is AMAZING
- OpenMediaVault File server mounted network shares for sermon media
- Second hand
- Drive has Shared drives which don't count towards 30GB user account level storage limit
Elvanto (jury still out… see Pastor's Heart). It works well enough for us.
TVs on stand on wheels
Applying for tech donations
Have the following information ready. I have the webpages bookmarked.
Apply through here: https://www.connectingup.org/
Once you've been approved as a NFP on ConnectingUp, you can then apply for donated services such as
- Google Workspace for Nonprofits - Use Gmail on your domain, and 30 GB per account etc
- https://nonprofit.microsoft.com/ - Microsoft 365 Business Premium (Nonprofit Staff Pricing) Donation (x10 licenses i.e. accounts include Desktop Apps, 1TB storage apparently???)
Set up a link shortener on your domain
We're using https://github.com/cydrobolt/polr self-hosted on the 'go' subdomain, but you could probably find a plugin for your website's CMS.
Very handy if you can get it to be self-serve (i.e. set up an admin login for people to create & manage links without having to go through you!)
Videos - have subtitles. Community halls often have BAD acoustics, outdoors.
Wifi mixer is almost a MUST… stop shouting back-and-forth across the hall during sound check!