starting an online church

What You Need to Launch an Online Church Campus

As I shared recently, we launched our Online Church Campus in a week and I believe that’s possible for any church that’s ready to get started.

Here are the 3 essentials that you will need to launch your campus:

  1. A Platform for People to Gather - this is basically your Sanctuary or Worship Center. Church is about a gathering of people and our primary purpose in our gathering is to worship God together. The most effective way to do this that I have experienced is to have a video stream of your worship services (live or pre-recorded) and some type of chat room for people to interact with each other while watching the video stream. Two of the most popular platforms available to churches are the Church Online Platform (free and offered by the great folks at Life.Church) and Media Social ($249/month and what we use at CBC… I’m a big fan!).  Check them out and be up and running in less than an hour! 
  2. A Leader to Shepherd the Online Community – this is the most critical piece. People need a leader and someone to connect with personally. I have found too many churches put a techie in this role when technology is really the easy part. Having a leader who is good at establishing relationships and raising up leaders is probably the most critical decision that you will make when launching your Online Church Campus.
  3. Communication Systems – because this is a Church Campus and not just media distribution, you must have ways to effectively communicate with this growing flock. Establishing effective social media communication systems as well as an email list will be critical in keeping your Online Church Campus connected and informed. As much as I believe in social media, I can’t emphasize enough how important your email list is in communicating with your Online Campus. Mail Chimp might just be the most effective technology you use when it comes to your Online Church Campus.

Know that this is just the beginning, but is enough to get your started.  If you haven’t yet signed up for Online Church Leaders, I hope you will take advantage of this FREE resource today. We partnered with ministry friends across the country to create this resource and pray that it will help you like it has helped hundreds of other churches already! For more info click the button below. 

3 Misunderstandings About Launching an Online Church Campus

I think there are thousands of churches in the United States and around the world that could thrive online by launching an Online Campus this year. There are probably just as many more that this would essentially create a distraction from the areas of ministry that you need to focus on. While I hope you will consider launching an Online Church Campus this year, I want to speak candidly about three misunderstandings about Online Church Campuses before you dive in:

  1. It Will Make You Relevant - if your church is not relevant to your local community, going online WILL NOT make you relevant. Launching an Online Church Campus will not help you begin reaching millennials and make you instantly relevant. However, if you are a growing church and effectively reaching your local community, it’s likely that taking this experience online will be highly effective and can be quite relevant online as well.   
  2. It’s Easy – while the technology has gotten easier to use and it can be quite efficient, online ministry IS NOT easy! You have to begin processing through complicated situations like how do you disciple the new believer on the other side of the world or what does benevolence look like online? The more your Online Church Campus grows the more complicated it gets. There are answers and you can figure it out, but it’s not easy.
  3. It Will Increase Giving – I’ve heard this too many times: “Once we get our services online the giving is going to go through the roof.” It’s just not true. I’ve yet to hear of a church who launched their Online Campus and it began paying for itself immediately. Now, there are many who more than pay for themselves a couple years down the road, but just like any other new campus there is an upfront investment of time and money without an immediate return.

Have I scared you off yet? I hope not! I want to be honest about the misunderstandings, but let me also be honest about the potential ministry impact! Just three years into launch OnlineChurch.com we were reaching more than 12,000 people each week from more than 100 different countries!  These are real people that are connected in real community. We have more than 40 small groups that meet online and touch over a million people each week on our Facebook page.

The opportunity that we saw 5 years ago seems so small when we consider the impact we are seeing today and the opportunity we see now that we’ve gotten our hands dirty. The best is yet to come and we would love to help you join the party however we can!