What is Community Building?
When you hear the phrase community building, what do you think of?
Does your mind immediately go to the dreaded small talk or “icebreaker” games or do you think of the possibility of creating meaningful connections with people in your community?
No matter how you look at it, community building can be difficult because it takes time and effort to see long-lasting effects.
A true, intentional, and flourishing community, doesn’t happen overnight. Look at the friendships and relationships you have now! Relationships need to be nurtured in order to grow into something beautiful and long-lasting.
In a church setting, creating community is prioritized in order to nurture the body of Christ.
1 Corinthians 12:12-13 says:
“12 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.”
Then in verses 19-20:
“If all were a single member, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.”
While the Bible clearly communicates the importance of community, it can be easier said than done.
You may be wondering, how do I do this in a church setting, specifically if my church is online?
What does true community look like in a virtual space?
Building A Community Online Is Different
The phrase “community building” elicits a mixed response from most people because no matter their opinion, they know community building takes work. Building a community online may seem to take even more work.
It may seem obvious, but building a community online requires a different approach from building a brick-and-mortar congregation. You need to have an entirely new mindset beginning with identifying the challenges to building a community online.
There can be many challenges to starting an online community ranging from technological to relational. Building an online community takes patience, creativity, and persistence. Before you get started, here is a brief list of challenges you may face. These aren’t to scare you or deter you; just something to think about.
- Technical Barrier: While we may live in a technological age, there are still people who are not very tech-forward and may have trouble navigating your community platforms. Poor wifi and slow internet connections can also be a challenge that will prevent people from joining and participating.
- Slow to adopt: Getting used to any new technology takes time and sometimes the time isn’t worth it. Some people may not even want to be online and the idea of adopting an online platform won’t be appealing. Even for those who are interested in online communities, most of the time people want a platform that’s easy to learn and efficient to use. So, if the transition process seems too slow, it may deter your congregation.
- Struggle to make connections: It’s easy to hide behind a screen and not make the effort to create meaningful connections. On most community platforms, an online church becomes a content stream instead of a place of fellowship. People may get comfortable being able to passively watch church instead of being intentional about connecting with others.
Existing platforms like Facebook and Zoom may be convenient, but they don’t allow people to connect and form relationships. It’s a one-way screen without participation or reciprocation.
Online church has become a one-way streaming platform where people can passively consume content on-demand. While online church does have many benefits and can positively impact a myriad of people, creating deep and meaningful relationships can be difficult.
We know first-hand that there has been a lapse in community building. How can we go deep and make those connections through an online church?
Enter, Altar Live.
How To Build An Online Community With Altar
Though forms of online church have been around for more than a decade, the pandemic of 2020 propelled this phenomenon into a necessity.
In fact, Altar Live was born out of the pandemic.
At the start of the pandemic in early 2020, churches had to get creative, fast. Within a week or so, churches all over the world had to come up with virtual ways to keep their congregation alive during the separation. Looking back, it’s awe-inspiring and miraculous to see how creative churches were by providing live-streamed services, virtual devotionals, and other content to serve their communities.
But as time progressed, pastors, priests, and other church leaders began to notice the disconnect in their community. They began to see the one-sidedness of online church and felt even more separated.
During this time we began interviewing and listening to church leaders by asking: How has COVID and being online affected your church?
Repeatedly we heard: “we can do a live stream, but a live stream is a one-way broadcast.”
Pastors, priests, and faith leaders could get sermons, services, and devotionals online, but struggled to find ways to be present with their people. Online engagement is measured in likes, shares, comments, and views, but real human engagement is about transformative relationships.
So we posed this question: Is there a way, to not just have services online - but be a community online?
Altar Live is the answer to online church engagement.
We are a team of entrepreneurs, software engineers, and people of faith who care deeply about helping faith communities engage people in authentic relationships.
So how do you actually build an online community with Altar Live?
How can you get your community on board?
Here are a few tips and tricks:
- Get people excited & share success stories: An online-only church, No Limit Global, created a video of what their virtual campus on Altar Live looks and feels like - and they play it every week before their service starts to encourage people to move from Facebook to Altar Live!
-Have a defined timeline for roll-out: Here's an example of Fellowship Hi-Crest Church's timeline for launching Altar Live to their community. They participated in our 4-week boot camp called Altar Academy and were able to define their goals & create a roadmap.
-Make troubleshooting guides easy to find: Tech issues happen to everyone. The most important thing in boosting people's confidence in a new tool is helping empower them to be able to solve small issues. The Table UMC created a quick guide to troubleshooting common issues on Altar Live and they have a standing button that links to the document on every event they host so people can quickly and easily resolve the most common issues.
Altar Live is an easy and accessible platform to use, but it’s understandable for your community to find new technology daunting. Be intentional about introducing Altar to your community. What are your goals for the platform? How can Altar serve your community best?
Running Community Building Activities Online With Altar
With Altar Live the possibilities are endless when it comes to community building. This platform was built for the very purpose of building a community that fosters deep, interpersonal relationships among church go-ers. This is something we have been deeply lacking over the last few years.
Altar Live is the ultimate one-stop platform that allows space for community-building activities and a time of fellowship.
Our platform is a perfect space for your church hub, the place your community can grow, deepen, and flourish.
In each gathering space, you have the ability to really go deep with your community by having weekly small groups, prayer sessions, team meetings, and more.
Online Community Management Made Easy
We know that any change, whether it’s good or bad, can be hard. Though starting an online community is beneficial, the transition will be an adjustment.
With that being said, Altar Live makes online community management easy. As well as providing a destination platform for all your church events, Altar Live helps you keep track of your community traffic through our Google Analytics. Google Analytics runs with each Event and is perfect for keeping track of your growing community, attendee experiences, and church needs.
While online church isn’t just about likes and clicks, it’s still extremely important to know your audience and who you’re reaching and impacting. The mission behind Altar Live is to help you expand your reach and further the Kingdom in the easiest way possible.
At Altar Live, we aim to equip, educate, and empower churches when it comes to the online church world. Getting started isn’t easy and that’s why we created Altar Academy, a self-paced training & workshop series to help you grow your digital ministry and engage people effectively online. We are here to guide you and set you and your community up for success.
How We Are Transforming Online Church Services
Altar Live is an online church platform designed for faith communities to stream and host interactive and engaging events and services. Our simple, intuitive platform gathers your people together online where they can worship together in watch parties, freely socialize at virtual tables together, and find private places to pray with each other.
With a church platform like Altar Live, anyone can easily create an engaging online church service that has the ability to bring people together regardless of location.
The Altar Live team is honored to be able to provide video conferencing software, consulting & training for churches, reach every person on the other side of the screen, and create a community online.