Creating an Online Faith Community
One of the things that some of our churches are doing well is creating and having worship services online. Facebook live, YouTube, and other online services are making these worship services an indispensable option for our communities, to “reach people we are not already reaching.”
Adding an online worship service can:
- Grow an existing church by adding “virtual” seats to an existing worship service; and/or
- Be the start of a New Faith Community (NFC).
A NFC can have a special service aimed just for online attenders. This service can be an occasional service or a regular service, and would be a great resource for bad weather days when people might not be able to travel. The more the service is elevated to a higher level the more a church can reach people we are not already reaching.
Here are a few ideas and criteria that might be helpful if we want to create an identifiable faith community where people can grow in discipleship, relationships and faith:
- Registration: People should be able to register their attendance online so they can make a personal connection and commitment to the service they are attending and/or the New Faith Community with which they are connecting. Online worshipers should be welcomed and treated just like those who are physically present.
- Online Pastor: There should be a designated online worship or New Faith Community (NFC) pastor that people can connect with if they have a concern or need. This makes the online NFC more identifiable and singular as a community of faith. This can be the solo pastor in the church, another staff pastor, or even a lay chaplain in a smaller church. People should know who they contact if they have a need.
- Prayer Requests: A great way to increase the value of this experience is the ability to submit prayer requests online. This builds relationships with God, with the NFC itself, the pastor of the service, and makes a connection that is much more powerful that just listening to a service.
- Giving platform: A significant part of any NFC is giving. Having a way to give online as part of the worship experience is a necessary part of making disciples of Jesus Christ.
- Next steps: Ready information that allows an online participant to join a small group, step up in Bible study or other discipling opportunities, and/or connect with others in the church community as well as the online community.
- Notes: A way to take notes if they choose. This can include a resource with key points in the message and/or a way to follow through on the message through Bible study or other readings.
- Communion: There should be a way communion can be offered by making it possible for people to request the sacraments and then scheduling a time for them to come to receive, or if unable to come in person, a pastor goes by to serve the invitation to Baptism in much the same way.
Some churches can create an entire online service connection on their present website or create a website of its own for the NFC that can include a link to the main site or use YouTube or Facebook live. Announce in the service or on social media, that attenders can go to the site and register, turn in prayer requests, connect, etc.
If the online service is presented and understood as its own Faith Community it changes how people interact, participate, and experience the service itself.
Churches that meet the criteria for a New Faith “Online” Community can request a grant from the Faith Community Formation to assist. Click here to apply.