Visiting Online Church: A Journey Exploring Effective Digital Christian Community (audiobook)

Visiting Online Church: A Journey Exploring Effective Digital Christian Community (audiobook)

Pursue online church that matters today and prepares for tomorrow.

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Online church is the new front door to visitors. Is your church connecting effectively with people behind the screen?

When the pandemic forced congregations to set up online services in record time, people thought it would be temporary. But for too many, online church has become a staple, the new front door for visitors.

But what does this mean for congregations who struggle to effectively reach online guests? Is it possible to create a connected virtual experience that fosters Christian community and enhances our faith?

In Visiting Online Church: A Journey Exploring Effective Digital Christian Community, Peter DeHaan spent months attending thirty online churches when the pandemic hit, documenting the challenges, approaches, and successes of each one. With fresh eyes, he sought to understand what made for a dynamic online service, while evaluating the limitations and giving practical tips to maximize the virtual experience. If you want a primer on the vast creativity and diversity in online churches, this book details dozens of examples for you to learn from.

Through Visiting Online Church, you’ll discover:

  • why virtual church should be part of your outreach strategy
  • how online church reaches forgotten people who can’t attend in person
  • the necessity of online church in the digital age, even when it’s not your personal preference
  • three dozen key principles illustrated through real-world examples that help you engage with your online congregation in fresh ways
  • what online attendees really think about virtual church ministry—what they like and what they don’t

Visiting Online Church will help you discover new ways to effectively reach people for Christ while holding firm to your church’s distinctive values and traditions.

An advocate for significant church experiences, Peter DeHaan, PhD champions meaningful Christian community recognizing the importance of both in person gatherings and online ones.

The need to create a dynamic online church is vital to today’s spiritual seekers. As you journey through Visiting Online Church, you’ll uncover how a life-giving virtual church not only is an essential tool in today’s digital world, but a growing necessity to bring together congregations during turbulent times.

Get a copy and discover how your church can effectively engage with visitors through the digital church experience.

 

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Visiting Churches Series, book 3 (can be read out of order)

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Why Online Church?

We’ve just spent a year with much of the world subsisting in various degrees of lockdown, isolation, and social distancing. In response to this, many churches went online to serve their congregations remotely. We hope we’re moving out of this phase to return to normal, or at least a new normal that’s not so objectionable.

So why publish a book about virtual church experiences and recommendations when we don’t expect to need it anymore?

First, though we hope to move forever past the need to attend church remotely, we may one day find ourselves back there. This may be due to a variant strain of the virus reasserting itself or an unknown threat emerging that forces history to repeat itself. We hope this will never happen. But if this does occur, we should be ready to react fast and respond well.

Second, and more importantly, we must acknowledge that a subset of Christians cannot attend church in person. There are many reasons for this. This may be due to a lack of transportation or the absence of a church nearby. It may be for medical reasons, either to protect themselves from the germs of others or to protect others from a condition they carry.

Some people grapple with time conflicts—often work schedules or caregiver responsibilities—that keep them away while others meet. The aged and infirm may face challenges that make attending in person too challenging. Still others struggle with social anxieties that hinder their face-to-face participation.

In too many instances—even before the pandemic—these folks have gone forgotten and underserved. This has happened for too long. For them, and all those who will follow, we must persist in providing a quality and accessible online church experience.

Finally, some fear that we will never again gather in large groups for any sustained period. A worst-case scenario is that online church and online spiritual community will become our new normal. Today, we must prepare for that possibility. Though I pray we will never realize this future and think it’s an unlikely development, we must acknowledge that it could occur. If it does, may the church of Jesus be ready.

That’s why we need a book exploring the digital, virtual, online church.

Regardless of what the future holds, we turn it and our concerns over to Father God. May the lessons we’ve learned now about online church empower us to meet the needs of all of Jesus’s followers going forward, no matter the situation.

This narrative focuses on the human aspect of online church to help us most ably meet people where they are and form a best practices paradigm. As we do so, we’ll see online services falling into two categories: custom content produced for an online audience, and streaming or replicating an in-person service to watch over the internet. Both options have their strengths and weaknesses, along with diverging viewer expectations.

Though I’ll cover some technology tools used for online church, due to the rapid changes of innovation, consider these resources as generic directions to pursue and not specific recommendations to implement.

Now, let’s visit our first online church.

Meet Author Peter DeHaan

Peter DeHaan, PhD, often makes religious people squirm, but spiritual seekers cheer. He’s not trying to be provocative, but he seeks truth, even if it makes some people uncomfortable. He yearns for Christians to push past the status quo and reconsider how they practice their faith in every area of their lives.

Peter earned his doctorate, awarded with high distinction, from Trinity College of the Bible and Theological Seminary. He lives with his wife in beautiful Southwest Michigan and wrangles crossword puzzles in his spare time.

Learn more about Peter