What is a online church Part one
24 Sep 2017
What is an Online Church?
At Life.Church, based in Edmond, Oklahoma, visitors can chat with friends, volunteer on a prayer team, and watch live sermons.
And while Life.Church has 27 physical locations in eight different states, a new member doesn’t have to travel to any of them to do all those things, because Life.Church offers an entire, functioning church online that serves about 70,000 people every week.
Life.Church is one of the most notable examples of an emerging trend: the online church.
An online church isn’t necessarily part of a megachurch either. Congregations come in all sizes. Of course, you might be reading this article asking yourself, “Why would someone sit at home and attend a internet church on their computer when they could go to church with their neighbors and be together in the same building?” That’s a fair question.
But as generations change and churches look for ways to change with them, the allure of connecting online rather than face-to-face has become too prevalent for church leadership to ignore. More importantly, churches need a way to include people who are physically unable to attend traditional services due to illness, disability, or distance. Consider a prison ministry. They fulfill a specific need to a group of people that would not otherwise be reached. It’s the same with Nursing homes. Truck drivers who can’t attend a service because they’re on the road. Business travelers need a way to attend church. Where there is a need, there is an opportunity to minister.
A 2016 Pew Research Center survey found that people who report going to church less now than they used to said the logistics of getting there are the biggest deterrent. So while attending church online may not be ideal in the eyes of most church leaders, isn’t it better than not attending church at all?
To be considered an online church, churches must do more than just live stream their services, maintain a Facebook community, or host a podcast. Today’s online churches treat the Internet as a campus all its own, with interactive chat, dedicated online pastors, and a web ministry ready to serve their cyber-congregation. That’s why, for example, Second Baptist Church Houston—which has six different main campuses and a congregation reportedly over 60,000 members—is not considered a online church. Ditto for Joel and Victoria Osteen’s Lakewood Church, which has more than 43,000 weekly members and an archive of online sermons, but no dedicated online campus.
You’ll find that most online churches are non-denominational. For example, individual Catholic churches—as impressive as their buildings are—rarely expand to the size of a online church. I’m sure everyone has an opinion about an internet church. Is it good, bad, or trendy? But, as I am starting a online church, I recently visited a mentor’s website. Guess what, he is starting a online TV program! Whatever your view, reaching people for Jesus, building community, building relationships where people can grow in faith, can be done online.
Examine these statistics. In 2015, the International Telecommunication Union estimated about 3.2 billion people, or almost half of the world’s population, would be online by the end of the year. Of them, about 2 billion would be from developing countries, including 89 million from least developed countries. Around 40% of the world population has an internet connection today. In 1995, it was less than 1%. The number of internet users has increased tenfold from 1999 to 2013. The first billion was reached in 2005. The second billion in 2010. The third billion in 2014. Individuals are moving information across the planet in real time.
What happens in just ONE minute on the internet: 216,000 photos posted, 278,000 Tweets and 1.8m Facebook likes.
The Internet is here to stay. It has changed the way we shop and how people get the news. Now, users attend global universities. So why not church?
Read part two…Click Here.