Traditionally, when churches were organized, their goals were to impact the community and bring the gospel to the locals. The pastor would be a part of the community and everyone in the geographical area would be the focus of the church. Today, things have changed and the moment you go online (social media, website, mobile, internet TV), you have the potential to become an international ministry. Church is happening outside the walls of the sanctuary and churches need to adapt and take the ministry to the people. Additionally, the way people want to connect with their churches has expanded beyond the traditional midweek and weekend services, now they want to connect 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, from anywhere in the world on any internet enabled device. Enter the Internet Church Campus and the need for an online extension of the offline church. The Internet Church Campus is more than a streaming page that broadcasts live services a few times a week, it’s a fully functional, interactive online experience with an online pastor and online members. This is not just a place for people who don’t want to come to service and choose to watch online, this is a place for people who are online members of this church and possibly live in places that traditional church locations are not an option. Next question is “How can you implement this for your church?”, well i’m glad you asked.
At The Potter’s House of Dallas Internet Church Campus we have quite a few parts of our online campus which include our online streaming platform, campus blog, mobile app, internet tv channel, social media platforms, online campus pastor, 20 online chat hosts and 10 online prayer partners (and 2 tech geeks watching the platform, including myself). That’s quite a number of people but we have an online audience of about 20,000 emembers. You can create an internet church campus with a much smaller number of people and at a cost of FREE!
Here are the four things you need to create an internet church campus: - Streaming Video Player - Online Church Platform with Live Chat and Social Media Integration - Online Donations Software - Online pastor (who can be a chat host and prayer partner and more)
The streaming video player is what you use to stream live from your weekly services. Free options are Ustream.tv or Livestream.com. I have seen both of those used frequently but do keep in mind that the free options have commercials and sometimes those commercials are not church friendly. Another option for live streaming for free is YouTube. When you setup a YouTube for Nonprofits channel, usually after receiving the Google Grants $10,000 Ad program option, you can use YouTube to stream live services (make sure you don’t use copyrighted music because that will get your channel shut down). Google Grants is a great program that nonprofits can take advantage of to drive traffic to their websites and of course it is FREE. Lastly, if you decide that you don’t want to stream live services then you can record your service and use YouTube or Vimeo to load up an archived video of the service, that will also work on the next step we discuss below, the online church platform.
Your online church platform is the main component of your internet church experience. There are many options out there such as MediaSocial.tv but the most cost effective one is Church Online Platform. This platform, built by the amazing people at LifeChurch.tv has integrated all of the great features their online campuses are known for such as Live Chat, Notes, Social Media Integration/Sharing and Scheduling. Setup is quick and easy and they host the platform for you. You can add a link for your online donation page (use Paypal.com if you don’t have other options) and people can donate while watching the services.
Lastly, you need an online pastor, someone to lead this online community, guide the conversations, pray for people, connect with people and disciple people as they utilize this online ministry platform. Here is also a place to utilize volunteers who can help connect with people as your online audience continues to grow.
If you want to learn more you can check out http://onlinechurchleaders.com/ where there are a variety of online experts teaching thousands of church leaders how to leverage technology to expand ministry and further the great commission.