What is it like to join your first digital sermon? It’s no secret that more and more churches are starting to expand their online offerings to be more engaging and available regardless of location.
There are many advantages to joining a virtual church service or even a small online prayer group, and increasingly we are seeing the public turning to these options beyond Sunday services and tuning in all through the week.
But it’s easy for us to sing the praises of online church - that’s our job!
That’s why we put the call out to all of you - what are your real experiences like with joining an online church service for the first time?
Here are your answers (edited for length and clarity):
No Distance Can Break Our Faith
The first thing that came up was that no distance can get between us and worship, no matter how far away we are:
“As we know, there is no time or distance in the Spirit. The Holy Spirit is everywhere and where any two or more of us gather, HE is in the midst. Therefore you can very much be a part of the congregation even with an online church.
We Are One In The Spirit, and revival fire is beginning to break out around the globe, thanks to these little prophetic online churches, ministries, and teachers. Use discernment (not critical thinking) in your spirit as to who to follow and who to believe. but rest assured where ever we are gathered HE IS OUTSIDE OF TIME AND SPACE! So He Is With Us!”
- Curtis R Bizelli, Eternal Affairs Media
“The core of worship is to recall upon GOD, and for that, I believe place doesn’t matter.
Yes, I am excited about online churches and love them to continue as a new normal of religious activities. I have attended online churches many times and always had a great experience.
I don’t see any difference in learning, connection, and engagement; rather I feel it is an exclusive experience to worship dedicatedly, with no interruptions, and right from the comfort of your home. Rather, the online churches are helpful in promoting “GOD-man direct connection”- a missing area in religious activities and that makes me excited about the online churches.
As far as religious activities are concerned, I find no difference between online or in-person visits.”
- Ronald Williams, Best People Finder
But what about the experience of being in a virtual church service? Many of you talked about what it was like to experience logging in to a virtual Sunday service for the first time:
“I remember the first time I joined a church service online. I was curious about how it worked and if it would be different from attending in person. As it turns out, the experience was very similar.
I was able to see and hear the preacher, and I could follow along with the service easily. I even felt like I was part of the community, thanks to the chat function that allowed me to interact with other members.
Overall, I was pleasantly surprised by how well the online service worked and how it made me feel. It's since become my preferred way of attending church, and I'm grateful that I can still participate even when I'm not able to be there in person.”
- Oberon Copeland, VeryInformed
We also learned that broadcasting churches online has been bringing families to churches since 2005!
“We attended church services online through the pandemic, and I doubt I have anything unique to offer around that. But back in 2005, before Skype, Zoom, and the other services became popular, the US was in the middle of a war in Iraq.
One of my life’s highlights was connecting US military families with loved ones serving overseas, and we had one US Marine family in church with us inside a TV every Sunday for seven months.”
- Greg Scott, D Greg Scott
Suited To Our Busy Lifestyles
One of the biggest reasons by far to join an online church was the flexibility, as you’ll read below:
“Joining an online church service can be a great experience for a number of reasons. For starters, it can be a great way to connect with other church members who might be spread out all over the world.
It can also be a great way to get to know church staff and pastors better, without traveling to meet them in person. Additionally, online church services can be very convenient, especially if you live a busy lifestyle.”
- Bill Bernstone, Marketplace Fairness
“I have attended church in person just one time (May 2022) since the COVID-19 shutdown. My church offers both in-person and online services. I want to get back into attending in person and I am my only obstacle, however, I absolutely love the convenience of attending online. “
- Dr. Cornelia Gibson, Agape Counseling Center
“Online church has been a much-needed development during the pandemic era. It should stay as I never thought that my busy schedule would allow me to attend service every week, however, online Church gave me the opportunity to find minutes of peace with the Lord in my home.”
- Robert Welch, Projector1
But that doesn’t mean that the experience is a perfect one.
Engagement Is A Challenge On Most Platforms
Many online church services run through platforms like YouTube and Facebook Live lack the engagement tools needed to make people feel connected.
“In regards to online church service, COVID has forced the hand of many churches and online service is something no church should overlook. We currently stream our services to YouTube and are having moderate success.
But we find that viewer engagement is a difficult problem to tackle on the YouTube platform. I believe that streaming platforms that enable better engagement with online viewers during worship are the best choice and the future of the online church.”
- Matt Zimmerman, HelpfulScripture
“I’ve attended services online. I find that you gain something and you lose something, and online services should be considered one of many methods or tools for connecting with God.
You lose that sense of community that comes from attending in-person, but you gain flexibility and accessibility. As with so many other things in this post-pandemic (hopefully) world, a hybrid approach might just be the solution that meets everybody’s needs.”
- David Leonhardt, THGM Writers
Fixing The Online Church Engagement Problem With Altar Live
At Altar Live, we know the value of a true online community of faith. That’s why we empower churches all across the continent to increase the number of returning visitors, deepen the quality of engagement, and actually know who is attending their online church services.
Altar Live provides video conferencing software, consulting, and training specifically for churches. You can use Altar as the virtual front door to your church or online campus, plus replace all your Zoom subscriptions.
This means your church can:
- Increase the number of visitors who come back week after week
- Stop guessing at who is on the other side of the screen - get detailed analytics on everyone who joins
- Ensure ease of use even for less tech-savvy folks, plus our support staff is always on call to help
- Create a launch plan and a growth strategy for the near and long term
- Train your staff to run & support your online community
This is online church like you’ve never seen it before. Contact us today to start your 14-day free trial!