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:

Micro Church Demonstration and Pilot Groups

Last week was an exciting week in developing the concept of using the worship stream at http://live.cor.org to facilitate small groups gathering for worship. Along with others, I was in conversation with leaders from two annual conferences, a local church in Wichita and an existing Resurrection based home group. Each of the annual conferences indicated interest in the concept and expressed a desire to experience a demonstration in districts. This is exciting – Really a way to rethink church (This blog post is buzzword compliant 🙂 You can see the presentation at: http://docs.google.com/View?id=d3ggnsj_581cjnqg7p5

A small group in Wichita and at Resurrection are going to pilot the live worship experience as a small group for several weeks this fall. Three or six week segments.

  • October 18
  • October 25
  • November 1
  • November 1
  • November 8
  • November 15

Are you interested in the potential of internet technology to facilitate house or micro churches? Read more at https://andrewconard.com/2009/08/24/micro-church-renewing-the-mainline-church-1-of-5/ and email me at andrew dot conard at cor dot org if you are a leader interested in leading a small group for 3 or 6 weeks this fall to pilot the experience.

Micro Church: New Church Start (5 of 5)

I believe that over the next several years, micro churches will become an important part of renewal within The United Methodist Church.

While there are many different settings in which micro churches might thrive, I believe that the greatest potential may be in planting new churches. As micro churches continue to multiply and grow, leadership would increasingly be pushed to the local level. A pastor could be appointed to oversee a network of 20 micro churches and serve as a circuit rider in ways that are similar to early Methodism. This allows churches to be planted with little overhead and initial expenditure of resources and for healthy congregations to more easily birth congregations than may otherwise be possible.

I believe that micro churches will have a significant impact on the way that churches are planted in The United Methodist Church.

How do you respond to this idea?

This is part of a series of posts about micro churches. You can read more in the next several days at these posts:

Micro Church: Existing Congregation (4 of 5)

I believe that over the next several years, micro churches will become an important part of renewal within The United Methodist Church.

I believe that existing congregations could be a place where a micro church could flourish. Utilizing a live stream of worship could enable existing congregations to begin another worship service with a small amount of resource commitment. It would not need to be in competition with existing worship services, but could serve to supplement existing worship opportunities. Encouraging and equipping leaders might bear fruit by leading groups in homes or in an existing church building. This might also be a way for congregations that might otherwise be closed by the annual conference to continue to sustain a community life together. This could bring new life to existing congregations and serve as a tool for renewal.

I believe that this will be an important way of rethinking existing congregations in The United Methodist Church.

How do you respond to this idea?

This is part of a series of posts about micro churches. You can read more in the next several days at these posts:

Micro Church: College (3 of 5)

I believe that over the next several years, micro churches will become an important part of renewal within The United Methodist Church.

I believe that colleges and universities have great potential to be a place where micro churches will flourish. In residence halls and public spaces, there exists a community that is already in close proximity. College is a time when persons are willing to try new things and an invitation on the spur of a moment can have significant impact. I believe that existing United Methodist campus ministries could work to equip leaders to lead micro churches wherever they live and have a significant impact on the life of the university. This removes the need for a central meeting place and creates the opportunity for students to practice hospitality where they already spend times with friends – where they live.

I believe that could have a significant impact on the future of campus ministry in The United Methodist Church.

How do you respond to this idea?

This is part of a series of posts about micro churches. You can read more in the next several days at these posts:

Micro Church: Home (2 of 5)

I believe that over the next several years, micro churches will become an important part of renewal within The United Methodist Church.

I believe that homes have great potential to be a place where micro churches will flourish. It may be easier to invite someone that is new to faith into one’s home rather than to an existing church building. Micro churches can spread through neighborhoods and small towns as a result of the existing relationships between neighbors and friends. The home is a place where it may be easy to practice hospitality and make others feel welcome. Homes were where Christians in the early centuries met.

I believe that homes will again become an important place of worship for The United Methodist Church.

How do you respond to this idea?

This is part of a series of posts about micro churches. You can read more in the next several days at these posts:

Micro Church: Renewing the Mainline Church (1 of 5)

I believe that over the next several years, micro churches will become an important part of renewal within The United Methodist Church.

Micro churches will be supported by existing congregations that use web technology to live stream worship, such as http://live.cor.org. These existing churches will encourage and equip local leaders of a group of 10 to 20 people that will:

  • “proclaim the gospel, seek, welcome and gather persons into the body of Christ” (2008 Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church, ¶122)
  • “nurture persons in Christian living” (2008 Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church, ¶122)
  • incorporate care, discipleship and stewardship.
  • have a process of raising up and equipping leaders.
  • seek to grow and multiply within 12 months.

As these micro churches continue to multiply they create a network.

As networks of micro churches continue to grow, leadership will increasingly move to the local level until a self sustaining network exists.

This solution creates new places for new people, develops leaders and leverages existing resources to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.

How do you respond to this idea?

This is part of a series of posts about micro churches. You can read more in the next several days at http://andrewconard.com.