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.