What to Do with Your Online Church Service

Posted by Aaron Buer on September 1, 2022

Chances are that your church didn’t have a major online presence before COVID. Somewhere during the pandemic, you figured out how to live stream your worship services and your digital platform saved the day. But now that people are returning to in-person church, you’re saying, 

“What do we do with this thing?” 

You might be feeling torn because what you really want is more of your congregation to come back to in-person services. So, why invest in online church when what you really want is in-person church?

And yet, you have these random groups of people from Idaho and Virginia that tune into your online services.

What do you do with your online service? I have a few ideas I’d like to share.

 

Have One 

There is a large church in my area who shut their online service down about a year ago. It was kind of like, “You should be here. Watching church online isn't real church, so we’re shutting it down.”  

I agree. Sort of. I believe that the best expression of church is in-person. But, in my opinion it’s not a right vs. wrong kind of thing. It’s a better vs. best kind of thing.  

Engaging church online is better than not engaging in church at all. This is a decision you’ll have to make but I would encourage you that you should have an online worship service.  

The question is, who is it for?  

Who Is Engaging? 

One of the most clarifying moments for us last summer was doing some simple research around who was engaging in our online services.

It was an optional pop-up survey at the beginning of our online worship service.  One of the questions asked how long the person watching had been attending our church.  

The data showed us that the vast majority of people watching our online services had been connected to our church before the pandemic.

This information, combined with the fact that most of our connections were coming from our zip code, revealed that the people watching our online services are our people. The people watching already identify with one of our physical campuses. 

This told us that we don’t have an online campus. We don’t need an online pastor. We aren’t Life.Church. And you probably aren’t either.  

Here’s my point: If you know who is engaging, you know how to serve them. Secondly, you know how to resource your online service.

Understand The Value 

Even though you probably aren’t reaching hundreds of non-believers every weekend with your online service, there is still a huge value to your online service and it has to do with the engagement of your own congregation. 

In the past, when someone was traveling or when a family had sick kids, they just missed a weekend. Now, even though people are statistically attending physical church less often, they can be more engaged than ever because they are staying connected through online services.

This is massive for discipleship. People are engaging more with worship and preaching because of online services.

If you have a decent online service, your congregation can stay connected when they are traveling, sick or whatever the case. In my opinion, this is a huge value.

 

Your New Front Door 

Lastly, and I believe, most importantly, you need to keep your online service because this is the new way that people visit your church.  

Before someone visits your church physically, they will visit your church digitally. This means that you should think of your online service as your new front door.

Before someone pulls into your parking lot, engages with your greeters and visits your next step area, they will watch a few services online.

This means you need to shift your hospitality focus toward your online service. How could you engage guests online?

How can you create easy-to-access information and on-ramps for engagement through your online platform? These are great questions to ask because your online service is your new front door.  

 

Over To You 

So, what do you do with your online service? Keep it. Invest in it. Just know who it is for. Realistically speaking, you don’t have a massive online audience of unreached people.

Your audience is most likely your congregation and guests. Your online service helps keep your own people better connected and it helps new families experience your church before walking in the doors.    

Topics: Advice

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