Archives For church online

I blogged about the known internet campuses last week and received emails from many people that are beginning or considering starting an internet campus. I’m afraid by listing the churches that have taken the leap that it appears that I’m suggesting that all churches should move in this direction.

I want to be very clear about my personal opinion on this. I’ve shared this with friends in person, but never written publically about it. My two cents: just like there are bad Christian movies and bad Christian television, I think there are and can be bad internet campuses.

Just because you have a video camera and use uStream or LiveStream doesn’t mean you’re called to launch an internet campus. There are numerous things to consider including staff, volunteers, budget, philosophy of ministry, equipment, etc. Here’s the thing about the internet – it’s Global! Once you broadcast (good, bad or ugly), you are out there for the world to see.

Honestly, if I started a church plant and I wanted to offer an online campus experience, I would just link to LifeChurch.tv’s or Seacoast’s internet campus from my church’s homepage –  UNLESS I absolutely felt called by God to start our own internet campus experience and I thought we had something special, unique and life-giving to offer the world.

Another thing to consider is timing. The best internet campuses worked long and hard on their Sunday live experience. It was years before they considered reaching out beyond their live worship times. Unfortunately, what I see lately are churches that haven’t put enough time, effort, innovation, creativity and life into their main Sunday services and now want to take on another huge undertaking like an internet campus. I’ve always been a voice for less is more and I think this applies here, too.

Please don’t take on something new until you’ve got your live services jumping with life and excellence. Again, if you need a second opinion on this and want an outside set of eyes to give you feedback on your worship service, talk to me about coming as a secret shopper. Read HERE for more info on that.

Wrapping up: if you feel God is absolutely calling you to start an internet campus then forget what I said and be obedient to God. IF you’re just getting caught up in the craze and buzz of all the chatter in Church leadership circles, please put your plans on hold and don’t consider it until you feel truly led by God and know you can do it with excellence. We don’t need anymore bad Christian examples for people to point to. Your thoughts?

Below is a post from my friend, DJ Chuang and the Leadership Network Digital Blog that I thought was worth repeating:

What the church looks and feels like is changing right before our eyes, and on our computer screens.

This article from The Gadsden Times (Alabama), “Now on your computer screen: Sunday services,” tells the story of how the Church Online of LifeChurch.tv is reaching people around the world:

… The 32-year-old [Bobby] Gruenewald is a pastor at LifeChurch.tv, an Edmond, Okla., organization that, with tens of thousands of followers, has created a virtual house of worship, with sermons, prayer and Bible study for an international congregation. 

… Gruenewald said the average “congregation” at any given time on a Sunday is about 3,000 visitors, but over the course of the 90-to-120-minute services, between 12,000 and 15,000 unique viewers will log on. The services incorporate live preaching, songs and sermons from the church’s physical locations across the United States through a live feed, while viewers can chat with one another or church volunteers.

Lifechurch-capTo further connect virtual users, the site also employs a chat function that automatically translates their language into a language of one’s choosing. Someone in Brazil can type a comment in Portuguese, for example, and it will be translated instantaneously to English for a viewer in Idaho. This feature, church leaders say, fosters a sense of immediate community among people with no other commonalities besides an abiding interest in Jesus.

And, Beliefnet blog entry “How Facebook, Twitter, and Google Might Affect the Church” links over to Mark Brown’s thoughts, How the Digital Revolution Might Affect the Church.

… we need to recognize the utter importance of powerful, transformational preaching. And we need to create systems by which those with such preaching ability and gifting can be widely available. Why restrict a gifted preacher to one community? Lifechurch.tv lead the way in making resources, including preaching, available to more than those who turn up in person for the service. 

We need to move from appointing leaders based on them completing the right degree to giving more weight to discerning their ability to complete the leadership task.

We need to create the opportunity for people to ‘be at church’ or part of a community at any moment in the day/week. Setting a special time on Sunday morning is artificial and limiting.

Mark also explores other issues affected by the digital revolution, namely, church governance, church leadership, and the institutional church as we know it. Read the full article.

From my vantage point, I’m guessing that changes to how we live out our faith as the church is only beginning. More changes are yet to come. Technology is only a part of what’s ushering in the change. (Aside: there are at least 27 churches with Internet campuses offering church online) What do you think?

// DJ Chuang, Director at Leadership Network //

I just returned from spending the weekend at LifeChurch.tv in Oklahoma City and got to witness this first-hand. It’s amazing what God is doing through them.