Live Stream Ministry: How To Start A Church Online
From zoom church service to live stream ministry, digital church is now a reality. But is it real church? Why learn how to start a church online?
November 22, 2022
The rise of the zoom church service, live stream ministry, and digital church is a reality. But is zoom church real church? If so, what are the benefits and why does it matter? And why should you learn how to start an online church?
Many question if online church is really church. However, with the need for churches to implement a zoom church service or live stream ministry during the pandemic, we’ve seen a surge in digital church. Going into 2022 and 2023, we come to terms with living in a hybrid world. This is our new reality.
Read on as we let you in on how to start a church online.
How Church Live Stream Ministry Has Grown Since 2020
Left with no choice, most congregations were forced to shift to an online church format during the pandemic.
For many, this was a temporary solution to continue broadcasting services to church members, providing a digital church resource in order to continue worship remotely. However, this temporary solution proved essential in shaping how we now understand connection, community, and church as a whole.
For church attendees, this was a great way to test out new ways to worship and explore new communities of worship.
For churches themselves and church leaders, this many times invited new individuals to get a better sense of their church, as it allowed newcomers to visit without the pressure of physically attending.
But how has the model of online church grown since? Increasingly, churches are beginning to understand the effectiveness of online engagement in contributing to the growth and nurturing of their communities. Online worship is no longer just a temporary fix.
For instance, some congregations are finding new ways of being a church. Some small groups that began meeting online during the pandemic are continuing to meet more than a year and a half later, creating genuine connections virtually.
For those who may not physically be local to a church, this provides the opportunity to stay connected. For those who may not be physically able to attend whether due to transportation difficulties, sickness, or disability, this creates a needed level of accessibility. There is a multitude of reasons, but it is clear why every live church service needs an online counterpart.
Recognizing the reality of our increasingly digital world and the significance of online church within that, how are churches pivoting to either go fully hybrid or online-only?
How Churches are Making the Shift to Online
Crossway's South East campus shared their story, discussing with us steps on how to take your church online. They shared with us their journey of creating an interactive service, successfully maximizing the Altar Live platform to create community online.
Just this past spring, we also sat down with Hope Church, who shared with us their experience of what it takes to launch your digital ministry, specifically outlining different methods of how to launch an online campus.
💡 Tip: To gain a better understanding of how churches are launching their online ministries, follow blogs from key voices in the online church movement such as The Church Digital and Church Tech Today can provide insight and inspiration.
Even after the pandemic, many churches continue to optimize digital means to connect with their community. Perhaps now you’re considering a hybrid or online format for your faith community as well, such as starting a live stream ministry or zoom church service in conjunction with your current services. Or maybe you’re considering a virtual campus entirely.
Whatever the case may be, perhaps there is still an underlying skepticism: Is zoom church is real church or not? That brings us to explore the question, what counts as real church?
Is Zoom Church Real Church?
Does going to church online count as real church? What is church? While traditionally, church may meet in a physical building, what is at the core of church is the gathering together, the fellowship with God and others, as well as sharing and proclaiming this love. It is the gathering, the fellowship, and the worship that are at the heart of what it means to do church.
Digital church is an acceptable form of worship because of the people, the fellowship, and the worship that takes place– these do not become obsolete as the location changes.
Real churches have used live stream church services to improve attendance, track church analytics and engagement, and follow up with new visitors, as well as gain many other benefits. These all contribute to empowering and optimizing the ministry that is already in motion.
With some campuses situated near military bases, The Mount often saw attendees come and go. After moving online during COVID, they found that they could continue to minister to church members regardless of where they might be deployed. With over 500 weekly attendees, attending church online with Altar Live allowed the Mount’s Online Campus to increase their engagement and further invest in their online community.
Without a doubt, it is evident that Zoom church is real church.
Online church has become a crucial component of engaging with congregations.
Having a digital church or live stream ministry can be a crucial part of this.
How Digital Church Is Touching Lives Around The Globe
In more tangible ways, what impact is digital church making in the lives of faith communities?
Worship Regardless of Your Work
For missionaries, those deployed through the military, or others who may find themselves an ocean away from community or loved ones at a moment's notice, digital church has offered a consistent home base for community and belonging. Travel for work is on the rise as our world becomes more and more globalized. Digital church provides a constancy of community and connection that goes beyond the bounds of geographical location.
A Connection for Individuals with Disabilities
More and more, our society is addressing the need for accessibility. From zoom churches to live stream ministries, the digital church is taking part in the forefront of that conversation. As digital church can act as a lifeline for Christians with disabilities, this is a step toward the kind of inclusive love that the Church is called to.
Impact on Missions
For those who are overseas doing mission work, not only are they able to attend and stay connected with their sending church, online church services become an opportunity to continue to stay supported, whether that be sharing about the ministry work they are doing, asking for prayer, or raising funds financial support.
A Tool for Ministry
As we see the use of digital church in impacting the lives of missionaries, we’ve also seen how this has made an impact on the work they are doing on the field. Missionaries of all traditions are using online platforms for missionary work. Whether it’s online services or teaching, fellowship groups, or book studies, all these forms of outreach are now utilizing online platforms for church meetings, reaching those they otherwise would not have reached.
Communication in the Church
Communication is key within community. Through video conferencing, online meetings, and small groups, doing church online has also had a way of improving communication between not just congregations but also between church leadership. With better means of interaction and understanding, this changes the way church communities are run and ministry is carried out.
Understanding the significance of having some form of digital church leads to the next question of how to start a church online.
What It Takes To Run A Successful Live Stream Ministry in 2022
If you’re hoping to improve reach and communication within your congregation through digital means, let’s take a moment to explore what it takes to run a successful live stream ministry.
Before you dive head-first into shifting your services and small groups online, the first thing you need is a shift in mentality. If carried out well, you will be making a substantial and impactful change in your ministry.
Are you willing to do what it takes to see that your online church service takes launch? Are you willing to take the time to do it right? Discussion among church leaders and other key decision-makers is crucial in making this commitment.
Understand that creating an online ministry is something that could have a major influence on your church reach and the lives that you impact. That said, it requires investment on various levels, such as people resources, time, money, and plenty of crucial decision-making. However, these investments become worthwhile as we take into perspective our increasingly digital terrain and your church’s place within it.
Next, consider how to make your online services and events engaging for your congregation. Think about:
- The church broadcast vs. engagement models
- What type of interactions and ways of engaging you hope to provide the congregation
- How you want to build your virtual ministry team (i.e. hosts, media team, hospitality team)
- What other faith communities have done to increase church engagement
Finally, you’ll want to consider the basic equipment you may need. Think about what camera you’ll be using, which microphone and other equipment you'll require.
💡 Tip: Our team has outlined a full article on things you’ll want to consider before starting an online church, with tips on what camera to use, how to ensure your internet connection and more.
Here are some questions to ask:
- How do you want to set up your camera?
- How will you ensure the stability of your internet?
- What about your microphone and sound quality?
- What technology platform will you use?
At Altar Live, we make it our goal to support churches in launching their online ministries. Because we believe that having the right tools is important, we crafted our software services in a way that can help guide you in how to start a church online using the right platform.
How To Start A Church Online With No Experience
Starting an online church can be kind of daunting. We get it. But it doesn’t have to be.
If you don’t know where to start, that’s why we’re here to help.
💡 Tip: The Online Church Blueprint is a helpful podcast on how to do online church well. It offers tips, tricks and advice on topics from small groups to broadcasting.
Once you’ve committed to your decision and talked with your team, the next step, and perhaps the one that seems the most nerve-wracking, is researching and choosing what software and equipment to use.
In choosing these resources, you might consider how they affect your engagement and interactions within your community.
When considering platforms for your digital church ministry, a few of the most common are Facebook, Church Online and Zoom.
Facebook is great in that it easily allows you to connect with your current online community if you’ve already build a following on its social media platform. However, being made for advertisers and data collection, Facebook wasn’t created for real community interaction and engagement. While you may be able to leave a comment or two, it’s simply a live stream option for watching church – not doing church together.
Likewise, Church Online is made for church live stream ministry, has chat functionality and notes. However, it again lacks the components that allow for real community engagement and interaction.
Zoom is another popular option. Made for video conferencing, Zoom is great for video calls. But it lacks the live stream and communal technological settings necessary to host a high-quality and interactive church service.
While streaming platforms like Facebook and Zoom may be front of mind when it comes to starting your live stream ministry, they weren’t specifically designed with churches in mind.
Altar Live is an option designed for faith communities to host church services, video meetings, events, conferences, and small groups – all within the same platform. Features such as mingling in small groups in the lobby or sitting in rows together during a live stream service are unique to Altar Live. Tracking engagement through the analytics dashboard likewise allows you to follow up with first-time visitors.
Why Choosing a Digital Church Platform Can Help
If you’re not sure what your online ministry might look like, and you’re hoping to get a sense of possibilities of what it could look like for you, don’t wait.
Choosing a church platform first can help you map out how your ministry might take shape. This can help you commit and communicate with your team, as well as build your ministry team.
If you’re exploring your options, it’s a good idea to get a better picture of what these platforms might look like in the context of your church.
You can schedule a discovery call today to see how Altar Live might look for your church. Together, let’s take a closer look to see if Altar Live is a platform that could be the right fit for your faith community.
Digital church is part of our new reality. And it’s made a difference in the great Church as we know it. And though it may seem daunting, even with little to no experience you can start your online ministry today too.