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 your church goes online (social media, website, mobile, Internet TV), you have the potential to become an international ministry.
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 where traditional church locations are not an option. You may be asking, “How can I implement this in my 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—an 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 two tech geeks watching the platform, including myself). That’s quite a number of people, but we have an online audience of about 20,000 members. You can create an Internet church campus with a much smaller number of people, and it’s 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, 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. 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 the best part is that it’s 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 upload 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 and 316 Networks, but the most cost-effective program 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—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 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. This 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 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.
Courtesy www.churchmarketingsucks.com. Photo courtesy Bigstock. The opinions are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of the Florida Conference.