The rise of the online church service has ushered in new ways for sermons, worship and testimonies to be shared over the Internet. One thing you can’t deny with the church online movement is the ability for one service, one podcast, one video to reach countless individuals for Christ. Churches like Northland and LifeChurch.tv have numerous stories about how their online services reach audiences they never imagined.
Northland Church’s Little Black Box
Marty Taylor and his media and design team at Northland have pioneered efforts to get their services in some pretty amazing venues. In fact, we have the team at Northland to thank for the entire “Religion & Spirituality” category on the Roku box. The little black Roku box has also become a staple of their House Church movement around the country. Many of the house churches use the Roku boxes to broadcast the service as well as serve and care for each other, share prayer requests and often a meal. The little black box has also found its way into the local prison; each week anywhere from 150 to 300 prisoners gather together to worship and watch services.
Everything Northland creates is adapted to be shared and given away whenever possible. They have created an entire website to share every piece of media they can. Marty said they made “purposeful mindset changes” in order to allow as much of the media they create to be shared to resource other churches.
LifeChurch.tv’s Church Online
With the introduction of LifeChurch.tv’s Online Platform, any church with a camera and Internet connection can create their own online campus. LifeChurch.tv created the platform and has already given it away for free to around 2,000 churches around the globe. (See our interview with LifeChurch.tv’s director of communications, Lori Baiely, about the Church Online Platform)
Internet Campus Pastor Alan George shares a story of a couple who created their own invite cards to invite friends over to their house for snacks and watch church online each week. They started with nine people and now have two packed out “services” at their home. Another couple in Japan rents out a room each week to stream the service and worship together.
A store owner closing down one day was approached by a homeless man for food. The store owner agreed to give the man some food if he sat down and watched a church online service with him. He now has four to five homeless men meeting together each week to watch a church service.
Lessons to be Learned
These are just some of the stories of how people are utilizing online church services and podcasts. I believe each idea proves that churches would be wise to stop viewing their sermons as one time events, or their podcast as a supplement for those who missed the service and instead see it as an investment with compound interest.
Church online calls leaders to think outside the box and into the future. It empowers your membership to host small groups or house churches while taking the pressure off extensive preparation. It gets your message of hope in places many don’t go like hospitals, prisons, nursing homes, businesses, schools or college campuses. Perhaps you could train leaders or missions teams any time day or night through podcast courses and downloadable curriculums. Worship leaders could help their choirs learn parts or train their instrumentalists chords and songs. Whatever time constraints and leadership issues you currently face, could church online or podcasts be the answer?
Any level of true, innovative ministry will have tensions to engage and overcome. Some will readily accept the medium of online church and some will hastily reject it. Whatever conclusion your leadership arrives at should be filtered through the mission and vision of your church as well as much prayer. It is not a venue to enter into lightly but nor should the tensions keep your church from what it feels compelled to do.
- What ways does your church maximize its media?
- What are some ways you could empower your members to leverage your online content to introduce neighbors and friends to God and his church?
Read Part 1 to further explore the tensions on church online.