How to Launch an Online Campus with Hope Church
When meeting with pastors and church leaders, the question we hear the most is: “We really love Altar Live, but what does it take to launch an online campus?”
Building any community can be daunting especially if there aren’t any set guidelines to follow. Recently, we had the opportunity to meet associate pastor Rick Court and administrative assistant, Judy Loane, from Hope Church to hear their success story of launching Altar Live as a new form of their church community expression.
Founded thirty-three years ago, Hope Church of Vorhees Township, New Jersey, always intended to launch an online campus to help connect their two campuses. They never fully executed its vision until -you guessed it -the pandemic hit at the beginning of the notorious year that was 2020.
Their first step into digital church was scrappy but effective; live streaming from their empty sanctuary on an iPhone, panning from the worship band to the pulpit throughout the service.
Hope Church soon realized how important the opportunity to worship online had become to not just their regular attendees, but also to new people who found their church online. So every week they focused on continuing to make the experience online just a little bit better than the week before.
When Rick Court came across Altar Live, he was immediately intrigued. Hope Church had already been online for over a year and had been using various live streaming methods like Facebook Live and Church Online Platform, but something was still missing: how could they make people online feel just as included as people in person?
“When we were ready to go back in person, we decided to really reformat and re-direct everyone’s thinking. Our vision used to be ‘one church two locations’ and now we’ve changed it to one church with two expressions:” Fully in-person and online.
With their new, expanded church vision, Hope Church found that their congregation falls into three groups– all of which their new church model serves:
- People who are online for good.
- People who are going back in person.
- People who are going back and forth.
Hope Church is embracing this new hybrid reality of “both/and”.
Hope Church’s reimagined vision has come to life on their new online church platform because it gives people the same environment and opportunities as worshiping in person– sitting in rows, being able to have individual conversations, and mingling in the fellowship hall at tables.
Church is so much more than watching a service through a one-way screen and Altar Live provides space for a living breathing online community that made Hope Church’s second expression a reality.
Three Methods of Launching Altar Live with Your Church
When it comes to launching Altar Live in your church, there are three methods churches are using– keep in mind that it all depends on your community!
1. The Hard Stop
Stop streaming to your current platforms (Facebook, YouTube, Vimeo, etc) and only advertise Altar Live for live services or events. With varying degrees of success, the hard stop can be very effective. If you think your congregation does best when there is minimal time to panic at something “new”, this might be an option for you. Once you assemble your team, give your community a set date for the switch, and steam ahead! Because of Altar Live’s Community Landing page and one-stop-shop design, your community may fall in love with the platform on the first try.
2. Slow Roll
Some churches opt for a short rollover period of two to three weeks. Continue streaming to your regular destinations (Facebook, YouTube, Vimeo, etc) while letting your community try out Altar Live in groups or small events or services. After a few weeks, turn on the live stream on other destination platforms and primarily stream to Altar. You really can’t go wrong with the slow roll because it allows a trial and error period for your community. This can give your tech team additional time to do any fine-tuning or troubleshooting as needed too.
3. Long Game- Hope Church’s method
This is the same as the Slow Roll, but you don’t stop streaming to other destinations. Instead of trying to get 100% of your audience to a new platform, let the stragglers transition on their own time. Churches like Hope Church may have other live streaming and online church methods as well as using Altar Live and that’s okay! Using Altar Live as an alternative space for a more engaging, personal, and interactive form of online worship is a great way to allow a more fluid approach to attending church. People can switch between in-person to online (Altar Live or Facebook) while still having the ability to have real conversations and connections online when using Altar Live.
Hope Church chose this method because it let their community grow excited about Altar Live and allows their community to choose how they want to worship.
How to Build Your Team (With Judy Loane from Hope Church)
While talking to Rick Court and Judy Loane, they revealed their methods for assembling the perfect Host & Greeter team. Hope Church’s hospitality team for each Altar Live service is as small as three people that are on a rotation every four weeks. Here is a quick and helpful guide to follow when assembling your team.
It may seem obvious, but to recruit an online host team, you need to go to the people. When talking to Judy Loane, she explained that finding people who are already chatty and comfortable talking to people online is the first step. Look for the people who are always posting in your church Facebook group or the people who are commenting frequently during the church live stream. Those who are the most comfortable in a digital environment and enjoy worshiping online make great hosts and greeters.
While you may encounter some commitment-phobes, Judy Loane has mastered the art of the Altar Live host and greeter elevator pitch. When recruiting new team members, Judy makes a point to show how low commitment and easy being a host team member is. “ You can do it in your pajamas and make breakfast for your kids in between services!”
For Hope Church, a regular service looks like having a team of three hospitality team members sitting in a row together, utilizing the host team chat, and greeting people as they enter the space.
According to Judy, people really enjoy being a part of the hospitality team because it gives them the opportunity to chat with people face to face and it allows people to feel a part of the worship.
Even though you will always find people who prefer in-person worship, you will also be surprised by how many people want to continue worshiping online.
Hope Church saw that need and was intentional about helping its online community grow using Altar Live to fulfill their new church vision. The way we do church is changing and Hope Church sees the value of this new hybrid method which gives their community space to grow.
Want to learn more about hosts and greeters on Altar Live? Check out our Host and Greeter Video Guide Playlist!