We want to share the findings from our recent survey of churches that are communicating through online channels.
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Behind the Screen: What Do We Know About Online Church?

Church Leader,

The word "church" is often used to refer to the physical building where people gather to worship. People say things like, "I went to church this morning" or "Our Bible study group meets at the church." Although, there’s nowhere in the Bible where the word "church" designates a physical building.

The Biblical word for church - ekklesia - refers to an assembly of believers gathered together in some public place. The emphasis is on those who gather together anywhere - the assembly of believers - who are united into one body. We see this in Acts 9:31 where we find the word "church" used to describe the sum of all believers over a vast geographical area. Some today refer to this concept as the "big C" church or the universal church. The Bible also uses several metaphors to further describe this gathering of believers. These include referring to the church as "the people of God," "the family of God," "the bride of Christ," and "the body of Christ."

The rising use of video streaming for online worship services has sparked a debate on whether we should count those who participate online as part of the gathering that we know as the church. This discussion has gone beyond just Christian circles into secular media outlets as well. Despite this debate, the use of online video in churches is continuing to rise.

We recently completed research, in partnership with Living as One, on how churches are engaging the use of the digital space. Over 700 churches around the globe trust Living As One for mission-critical content distribution. Statistically, 31% of viewers will abandon a stream after the first buffering wheel and another 55% after the second. Living As One's technology is the first to be able to handle the problems of the public internet and it has resulted in exponentially more people being able to watch. Through this technology, churches can boost their online engagement, reduce streaming complaints, and increase viewer retention.

Our research shows that there is significant growth in the use of online campuses and other digital expressions. We discovered that nearly half (47%) of churches are reporting that they now have online campuses. This is up 28% from our report five years ago, where 62% of those surveyed indicated they "did not plan" to launch one. Many churches have also hired online campus pastors to minister to those who participate in their church online.

The full report, Behind the Screen: What Do We Know About Online Church? releases next Wednesday, November 13. The focus of this report is not to debate or resolve the discussion of how to classify online church, but rather to share the findings from our recent survey to show why and how churches of various sizes are communicating through online channels.

Insights from the Innovators

In addition to the quantitative research, we wanted to see what we could learn from some of the leading innovators and practitioners in the field. Interviews were conducted with the following church leaders to learn more about how their churches are leveraging online environments to advance their mission and to help accomplish the Great Commission.

The report also includes their thoughts and insights into how they are engaging in their respective churches, as well as what they see for the future. To receive a copy of the report, register here to join me, Collin Jones from Living as One and some of the frontline digital pastors, next Wednesday, November 13, at 2:00pm CST for the Behind the Screen Webinar.

See you there,

Greg Ligon
Chief Innovation Officer

Leadership Network, 1328 N Lake Park Blvd, Carolina Beach, NC 28428, United States

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