4 Steps to Starting an Online Worship Service

As Pastor of Resurrection Online, I have heard from several others who are interested in starting an online worship service. I suggest the following:

1 – Ask the Right Questions

Pastor(s), key staff and volunteers need to be able to have clear answers to the following questions:

  • Why are we considering starting an online worship service?
  • How will this initiative further our mission as a church?
  • What are we hoping for?
  • How will it be implemented?
  • What will comprise the worship experience online?
  • What impact do we anticipate on the current congregation?
  • Why does this make sense within the culture of our church?
  • What balance between service to the current and future congregation will be struck?

At Resurrection, I was part of a staff team that considered these and other fundamental questions about the structure of an online worship service for nearly a year before we launched weekly worship online. While many of our initial responses to these questions changed, it was crucial to getting off the ground.

2 – Clarify Scope and Ownership

A key to success in launching an online worship service is to be clear about the scope of the initiative and who will own it.

  • Will there be interaction around the online worship experience?
  • Will there be intentional efforts to provide care and discipleship?
  • Is it to be just a worship service or more than that?

The scope of the online worship service will provide a guide to who will own the effort. It may be within the worship team, volunteer effort, stand alone ministry area or some combination. Before launch, it is necessary to know who will own it.

At Resurrection, it was clear that Resurrection Online would become a stand alone ministry area. It did not begin that way, however it was clear that this was where it was headed.

3 – Get it Started

Go for it.

If you have spent time on fundamental questions, scope and ownership, it is time to kick it off. You might start with a webcam, a laptop and livestream.com or you might have high definition cameras, broadcast quality switcher and dedicated encoders. In any case, start and see what happens. You will not be able to really tell what works and what doesn’t until you actually get started.

4 – Be ready adapt or hit the kill switch

When you start an online worship service, you have to be flexible. Be ready to make changes as needed and incrementally. Always be ready to pull the plug on the online worship service if it is no longer making sense for your church. Don’t make it something that starts and can never stop. It would be helpful to go back to the fundamental questions on a regular basis to check for any changes in direction or to realign your efforts.

Additional Posts that may be helpful:

2009 Kansas East Conference Budget – My Thoughts

First, let me get a few things straight… I am a provisional elder of the Kansas West Annual Conference serving at a church in the Kansas East Annual Conference. I have not had a close look at the budget of the Kansas East conference. I did not have the opportunity to vote on the budget in Kansas East. With that disclosure out of the way…

Here is the situation as far as I am aware – The Kansas East Conference is facing a 10% budget shortfall for 2009. The proposal is that apportionments will be frozen at the level from 2008 and the budget shortfall will be made up with money from the growth grant fund. There is a possibility of a called annual conference on February 14 (believe it) to address the budget, if the mail in vote does not pass.

What is this growth grant money, you may ask. An article from 10/2007 on the Kansas East website gives background on the growth grants.

The Growth Grants is a new program established by the conference as a way to utilize apportionment income from Church of the Resurrection over and above the amount applied to the conference budget to spark revitalization in existing congregations. The conference voted in 2006 to cap any local church’s apportionment contribution to the conference budget at 16 percent of the total conference budget. Funds in excess of 16 percent of the conference budget apportioned to a church are channeled into the Growth Grants program, which is earmarked for funding church revitalization projects in the conference.

Resurrection pays 100% of apportionments every year. To my knowledge, the 2006 proposal was to prevent unhealthy dependence on any particular local church for the budget of the annual conference. Also, it serves to prevent the impression that Resurrection has undue influence on the annual conference as a result of its contribution to the annual budget.

At the Kansas City district clergy gathering this week, I found out more information about the situation. The Kansas City district, minus Resurrection, pays 45 percent of apportionments. If the KC district paid 70 percent of apportionments the budget issue in the conference would be solved.

I believe that using growth grant funds to make up a budget shortfall in the conference is inappropriate.

Using growth grant funds for the annual budget means that Resurrection is subsidizing other churches that do not pay their apportionments. It subverts the original purpose of the 2006 proposal to create growth grants. Once growth grant money has been used for the budget it will be easier to do that in the future.

I believe that the conference needs to realistically align the budget with income while preserving the growth grant fund. I believe that each church not paying 100% of apportionments could reasonably commit to pay an additional 10% each year until 100% pay out is reached.

What do you make of all this?