6 Options for Church Online

I have been working on the next steps for Resurrection Online and in the proces have developed 6 options for church online that might be helpful for you. Will you please share your thoughts feelings or opinions about these options? What is most helpful? What could be improved?

Option 1 – Regional Campus

A regional campus in a multi campus setting has the opportunity for people to live out the purpose of the church online. This option would seek to build opportunities for people to live and grow in Christian community online. In person connection would be encouraged out of the online community, however there would be a focus to create every possible opportunity online for people to grow in their faith and engage in community.

Option 2 – Field Preaching

Church online as field preaching would use a model similar to the early Methodists practice of field preaching or of more recent crusades / campaigns / revivals. With this option the focus would be to create the best possible worship experience to engage online worshipers in worship. The next step from worship would be to connect worshipers with a local church. This could be the host church or  a network of referrals inside or outside a denomination.

Option 3 – Worship Venue

Church online as a worship venue would focus on helping the current congregation stay connected in worship when they are unable to be present physically. The experience would focus on a great audio / video experience and not have additional connection opportunities or features, as these would be expected and experienced in person.

Option 4 – Tool for Worship Groups

Church online as a tool for worship groups would focus on creating the best possible experience for streaming of worship to a large screen using a set top box, i.e. Roku box. The experience would not be available via a web browser. This would be a tool that could be utilized by current congregants, other congregations and ministry areas.

Option 5 – Teaching Venue

Church online as a teaching venue would enable a church to expand the opportunities for expanding discipleship online while connecting in person for worship and community. There would not be an online worship experience. Additional possibilities could include overlapping the online and in person group experience.

Option 6 – Second Screen

Church online as a second screen would seek to build apps and engagement on mobile devices to increase real time engagement of the current congregation during worship, throughout the week and across campuses. This would encourage our current congregation to use technology to engage with others and their faith.

Resurrection Online: Extension or Campus?

One of the questions that people ask about Resurrection Online is this:

Is Resurrection Online one of the regional campuses of The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection or is it an online extension of Resurrection?

In some ways it is both. There are people who are primarily connected at one of Resurrection‘s physical locations that worship online each week. These are people that are sick, out of town, recovering from surgery, have a sick child and any number of other situations that leads them to worship online that week. There are people who are not at all connected with one of Resurrection‘s physical locations who worship online most weekends during the year. For the former group of people, Resurrection Online is an online extension of Resurrection. For the latter, Resurrection Online is one of Resurrection‘s campuses and this is the way that these individuals connect with our purpose of building a Christian community where non religious and nominally religious people are becoming deeply committed Christians.

While Resurrection Online may be experienced in different ways for different people, it makes sense to focus on one vision for the ministry and continue to move forward in that way. That vision is that Resurrection Online is one of Resurrection‘s campuses. Our goal is to move toward offering the opportunity to live out all the membership expectations of the church online and encourage people to get connected in person, when possible. I hope that Resurrection Online will be a tool for people to be more engaged in their faith and not less engaged. Developing the opportunity to grow in your faith outside of worship and serve God inside and outside the church are key areas that Resurrection Online are key areas ahead for this ministry area.

Resurrection Online is a campus of The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection. In the months ahead, we will focus our efforts on continuing to develop Resurrection Online to be a place where we more fully live out our purpose to build a Christian community where non religious and nominally religious people are becoming deeply committed Christians.

How to Launch Online Worship or an Internet Campus for Your Church

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This is a collection of posts from this blog that you might find helpful when considering beginning online worship or an internet campus at your church. These are collected blog posts from my experience as Pastor of Resurrection Online.

Before Launch


Continued Development

My Response to Top 12 Questions before Launching Online Worship

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A couple weeks ago I posted the Top 12 Questions before Launching Online Worship and received the request that I share some of our responses to these questions from Resurrection Online. These will be brief responses. For each of these questions there were long conversations that lead to these conclusions. In addition, the answers to these today may not be the same answers to these questions in the future. In any case, here goes…

  1. Why are we launching online worship?
    1. To build a Christian community online where non religious and nominally religious people are becoming deeply committed Christians
  2. Why does worshiping online make sense within the culture of our church?
    1. As a church, we try to do all things to connect with those that are not already connected with a church. We recognize that connecting with those that frequent online communities is a growing edge for our church. Resurrection Online begins to address these two areas.
  3. Will this effort be supported by all levels of church leadership?
    1. Yes. This idea was first initiated by our senior pastor and continues to be supported across all levels of church leadership.
  4. How does online worship further our mission?
    1. Online worship helps us connect with non and nominally religious people, as well as, helping our current congregation stay connected in an effort to become deeply committed Christians.
  5. How will technical issues be addressed?
    1. The Pastor of Resurrection Online will coordinate the efforts of our IT and Communications teams to address technical challenges.
  6. Of what will the worship experience online consist?
    1. Audio and video stream of worship, attendance form and online giving
  7. What impact do we anticipate on the current congregation?
    1. This will be a resource for those in our current congregation who are sick, out of town or have limited mobility to continue to worship with Resurrection.
  8. Who will own the initiative?
    1. The Pastor of Resurrection Online
  9. What resources, if any, will be used to provide opportunities to grow in faith outside worship?
    1. The Grow. Pray. Study. Guide will be available and additional opportunities for online classes and small groups will be developed.
  10. What resources, if any, will be used to provide care and support for those that worship online?
    1. The Pastor of Resurrection Online will be responsible for providing care and guidance for those that connect with Resurrection Online.
  11. In what way, if any, will persons be enabled or encouraged to give financially?
    1. Those who worship online will be able to give online through PayPal or through our church database.
  12. What will be the nature of the community encountered by internet worshippers?
    1. This will be a community of people seeking to become deeply committed Christians. It will consist of some members of our current congregation, digital natives, church leaders from other churches and others who are seeking God online.

How would you respond to some of these questions? What would be a better response?

A Turnkey Solution for Online Worship

If you have answered the Top 12 Questions before Launching an Online Worship and are looking for a turnkey solution for an online campus, you might consider a solution from 316 Networks. Resurrection Online is currently using 316 Networks as our streaming provider and have considered using this solution. From their website:

316 Networks now offers a new option for your online campus. Designed to match your website’s design scheme, our Online Campus integrates the most popular tools to build an online community and more effectively grow your ministry.

Hosted as an extension of 316Networks.com with your own personalized address or, in some cases, delivered for integration into your own site, our Online Campus model launches quickly so you can begin connecting more effectively with your online audience.

You can find out more about this opportunity at http://solutions.316networks.com/onlinecampus.

There also seems to be a solution from LifeChurch.tv in the works at http://www.churchonline.org.

Chris Brogan and Digital Church

I am glad that Chris Brogan had a good experience with church online at LifeChurch.tv. Chris is a well known social media practitioner and has a good deal of influence in some circles. He wrote about his experience with worship online at Digital Church.

I am glad that more people are spreading the word about church online. Resurrection Online (www.rezonline.org) is still in its infancy and has room to grow. A rising tide lifts all boats.

Internet #FAIL at Resurrection Online

The past Sunday morning was not a great at Resurrection Online. First, here is a normal graph of connections from the evening service on June 13:

The blue line is the number of computers that are connected and the green is the estimated worship attendance. The black line at the bottom is the iPhone stream multiplied by 10 so that you can see it on the graph. Here is the graph from Sunday morning:

  1. The initial drop in traffic was the result of a loss of connection between the Resurrection Servers and the Wowza flash servers at Amazon sending out the Flash stream. iPhone stream was not affected, likely as it was on a different subdomain.
  2. Losing the video feed will cause people to reload the page which puts a heavy load on our web server. The deep spike is when the web server was rebooted as people were trying to reconnect.
  3. Uptake around 11:27 was from people seeking to reconnect. The Wowza flash servers were not able to maintain the traffic when people were seeking to reconnect so we did not sustain those who sought to get the connection.
  4. The main player was switched to the iPhone stream around 11:40 and the flash servers restarted.
  5. Restarting the flash servers regained their functionality.

Although the initial failure was out of our control, we are taking steps to mitigate the issue. Sending streams to two different Amazon availability zones with a primary and back up built in as well as continuing to explore other content delivery networks will hopefully move toward preventing this in the future. We have a catastrophic failure like this less than 2% of the time, however we can and need to do better than that.

Thanks to Ian’s quick work on Sunday morning to salvage those that were able to continue worshipping and the entire IT team for the amazing work they do to make Resurrection Online and all of Resurrection’s tech happen well.