The Future Of Online Church Platforms

Streaming Live Church Services Today

For many communities, streaming live church services has completely changed the course of how congregations connect.

Even when faced with a global pandemic, weather emergencies and other obstacles of being in-person, streaming church services online has empowered congregations to stay connected and continue building up their community no matter where they are.

Though church streaming services took off during COVID, even today it continues to help churches. But is live streaming church services something that will continue? Is digital church here to stay?

According to Lifeway Research, it's true. Online church services are here to stay. A study done in 2021 found that about 91% planned to attend in-person service post-pandemic. But currently, only about 3 in 4 churchgoers have returned. Further, a substantial percentage of evangelicals don't necessarily see a greater advantage to in-person services when compared to online church services.

One in every 10 even stated that they learn better with streaming live church services in comparison to in-person live churches. Actually, only 18% of evangelicals surveyed in this study felt that attending in person was better in all aspects when compared to streaming church service online. The study found that 45%, almost half of participants, believe that online is better in at least one area, and 9% believe that it's equal if not better in every area.

What does this mean for churches? Should this be a concern? How should churches move forward?

It's evident that new options create the opportunity for church members and attendees to begin incorporating different modalities and options to how they worship and engage in community and fellowship. According to needs and preferences, churches are learning that many are open to keeping their options open, and that offering this flexibility is important in allowing church to be accessible for all.

So is streaming live church services here to stay? According to research and the patterns and trends observed in our increasingly hybrid society, this seems to be the case. Now more than ever, it’s imperative that in-person live churches also take seriously the need for streaming church services online and engaging in digital spaces and online church platforms as well.

📖 Read more: Why Every Live Church Service Needs An Online Counterpart

But what does this look like? And how can this be done?

Online Church Platform Challenges

Talk about some of the issues with current online church services (like people aren’t aware or technologically-inclined)

While it’s comes with major benefits, we know that for in-person live churches, transitioning to an online church platform isn’t always a walk in the park. The biggest challenges for churches and community leaders going online include maintaining connections among church members, cultural difficulties of using the internet with the elderly, and various other technological issues.

Along with these obstacles, many church and community leaders have found that in order to make this transition, there is technological skill necessary in order to have a successful launch as there may be potential unanticipated roadblocks along the way.

💡 Tip: Transitioning online may come with a host of challenges and roadblocks. For many communities, speaking to a consultant or having a success representative assists in creating a smooth transition and successful launch.

However, despite these challenges, leaders have also found the major benefits of moving to church online. There is opportunity, flexibility, and innovation that presents itself within a digital space that would otherwise not within in-person meetings.

Moving to a digital modality through streaming church services online or using an online church platform has show us that things certainly are not, and will not continue to be the same as they were before. The future of the modern-day church and how we understand and define ‘church’ has transformed indefinitely.

While this shift to online presents challenges it undoubtedly presents endless opportunity and possibility as well – showing to be a significant and worthwhile transition for leaders that are willing and open to respond to our current reality and make the change.

So then how has our current situation shaped how we understand church and how we do community in this digital age?

How Live Churches Will Worship In The Future

According to a report by the Hartford Institute of Religion Research, churches that provide a combination of in-person and online worship services are observing an increase in attendance, while those that only offer in-person services are experiencing a decline in attendance.

How might how live churches worship change and shift in response to our current day and age? Based on the current trends and observations of our time, here are a few key predictions on what worship will look like as we move into the future:

1. Online services will act as a welcoming first touch for visitors.

While online church has been looked at as a lazy alternative for those who are no longer willing to attend in-person, as we’ve begun to observe the very opposite is true. 33% of people found their church online.

For those curious about church or seeking a faith community, online church has become much more of a first touch point, an open door to welcome new comers in. For those who are just looking for the first time, your online presence can speak volumes about the community you have to offer, giving them a taste of the culture, hospitality and support system that can be had.

Instead of your digital presence being a means of communication to those already in your community, your online presence and digital space you offer the community becomes the first touch point.

For those new to church, joining your online community presents the same opportunities for worship, for experiencing truth, connection, and relationship while being an attractive option for those exploring church, meeting them right where they are both spiritually and geographically.

2. Online community engagement will impact attendance

Instead of your weekly numbers determining how much engagement you see, more and more churches will notice that the opposite will be true. How much your church is able to connect with and engage with your community will relate directly to the growth, community building and retention that you see within your church body.

Church is meant to be a place to connect and belong. No longer are sheer numbers and views what will determine the engagement you see. People want to engage and be a part of building real, personal relationships in a living breathing, digital community. Being able to create an engaging worship experience will be key to nurturing relationships, and as a result drive the attendance within the community.

💡 Tip: If your church service is looking to level up in term of online engagement, be sure to download our free resource, the Ultimate Guide to Online Church Engagement.

3. Online will be the location, not just the tool.

Until now, many continue to view online church simply as a tool to help aid a community in the midst of covid, or a tool to assist in bringing awareness to the church and its services.

But as we move forward, more and more online church is not simply a tool to aid in person churches. Instead, online church is the meeting space for churches to gather. It’s a modality and a way for communities to come together.

No longer are we just using Zoom as a means to continue church when in-person isn’t possible. Consider VR. VR church services expand our understanding of what church can be. It’s become not a tool, but a space and a means through which people meet, connect and interact in ways that they would not otherwise have in person.

Whether through VR events in the Metaverse, meetings on Twitch, digital spaces are both the the medium as well as the space in which real community and engagement is happening, giving us innovative means to interact and connect with those who many not have other experiences with your faith community otherwise.

4. Online church platforms will allow for big congregations to step into a small church feel.

While mega churches have had plenty of bad publicity in the past few years, plenty of churches continue to grow in size and host large congregations. Multisite churches are on the rise. We love to see faith communities grow, but sometimes it be easy to feel overwhelmed or disconnected.

But whether at a large or small church, the option of digital spaces allows for tight knit, personal connections. Regardless of how close or far you may be to a physical location, smaller gatherings can allow for a more intimate community feel.  

5. AI Will Play a Key Role in Aiding Ministry Endeavors

We’ve seen how churches are using AI like ChatGPT and Jasper AI to help aid their ministry work. This will only continue. From seeing the capabilities of chatbots today, it’s only certain that the using the capabilities of AI for ministry has only begun. From building the right prompts, automation, workflows and more, AI is a powerful tool to will optimize the efficiency of systems that church leaders need to nurture communities and carry out their work.

Streaming Church Services Online Is Worth It

We know for a fact that building community in digital spaces is here to stay. Key reasons this will continue is due to the many clear advantages that online church platforms offer.

Popularity and Accessibility of streaming live church services

First the popularity of online church services is clear. Streaming live church services online creates a digital space that is open to everyone. The accessibility that it an online church platform can offer is difficult to compete with, both for those who may not be able to leave their home as well as those who are traveling far.

This will be increasingly true. 44% of people prefer to engage in prayer from home and 45% and many young adults are most likely to watch a worship service online, rather than attend in person.

Streaming live church services is part of the future of worship

As how we define worship shifts, part of engaging with the world we live in is being able to speak the language of the times. And being able to interact in a digitally mediated space will create the means to nurture relationships in community, whether that may be younger members of the church or those unable to attend in-person services.

As we’ve mentioned, it’s many of the churches who are pivoting to online and hybrid that are futureproofing their ministries and seeing increase attendance as a result.

Streaming live church services underscores the significance of community

People aren’t only looking for a well directed live stream service anymore. Go onto Youtube and you’ll find recordings of any sermon you’d ever hope for.

Instead of simply broadcasting church online, community involves real engagement. Streaming live church services simply isn’t enough anymore. People are looking for real connection, relationship, and belonging on online church platforms in ways that one-way streaming just can’t offer.

📖 Read more: The Broadcast vs. Engagement Model For Churches

Instead of simply just a show, church is needing to be a real, engaging and personal experience. Streaming live church services through online church platforms allow this to be a reality.

Streaming church services online allows Innovation and tradition to come hand in hand.

There has been a conflict between tradition and innovation in church culture, with some favoring tradition and others wanting to innovate. However, some younger Christians are returning to tradition while still embracing innovation. Church leaders are recognizing that both tradition and innovation can become stale if not combined.

As we move into the future, we will continue to see how traditional churches innovate while keeping their best practices, while innovative churches will incorporate traditional practices.

We’re seeing how combining tradition and innovation is leading to much-needed conversation and growth within the church. Streaming church services online is a key part of this ministry shift of embracing the marriage of tradition and innovation.

It’s clear that the future worship will increasingly be online. And online church will continue to stay prominent because of the number of advantages that it presents.

Get The Best Church Streaming Service With Altar Live

How to Host the Best Online Worship Services

By now you may be asking how to make the best online worship services? What does it look like to create the best church live stream service?

Because so many people are potentially visiting your website before ever attending a service in-person or online, it is important to create a space where they can worship virtually. This could be the first step in someone’s journey to visiting your church in person.

High-Quality, Flexible Streaming

If you’re ready to move on from the laggy Zoom screen share, Altar Live is ready to show you the quality and flexibility of streaming that’s possible. From StreamYard, OBS to Vimeo, effortlessly connect the live streaming services & software you already use with Altar Live.

Tables, Auditorium, Rows, and Rooms

Whether you’re wanting to sit together with other attendees during the service, mingle in the Lobby before the service, or break out into meeting rooms for Sunday school, or a staff meeting after worship service is over, Altar Live gives communities options for designing a worship experience that works best for them.

Interactive Announcements and Polls

Polls Templates make it easy for your host team to pull up interactive, fun, reflective, challenging, and essential questions out of their pocket whenever they need to. No hassle, just set them up, then hit send when the time comes!

Polls can make it fun and easy for your attendees to interact with your church events, with your message, and even to simply just express themselves. Polling for meetings can also be an important tool for allowing the congregation take part in church decision making.

Analytics Dashboard

Additionally, Altar Live provides an analytics dashboard that allows churches to gain insight into the engagement levels of both anonymous visitors and regular attendees. With Altar Live, churches can analyze data to understand who is engaging with their services online.

With the features that Altar offers, this opens up the possibilities to both the breath of your church’s reach as well as the depth of its engagement. Creating an online worship streaming experience is so much more than just broadcasting a sermon. It’s real engagement.

Altar Live offers video conferencing software, consultation, and training that are tailored for churches, enabling them to foster true engagement with their online attendees. Hosts can easily see who is joining their events with visual icons on the screen and switch between mass streaming of their Sunday service and running small Bible study groups, all on a single platform. Altar Live even allows for simultaneous streaming of different events all from one subscription.

If you’re ready to explore what live streaming church services online could look like for your community, we’re ready to help discover the possibilities.

💡 Tip: Get in touch with Altar's online church engagement consultant today to get a free personalized analysis plan for your church.

➡️ Try out Altar Live by starting your free trial today!