On February 5, 2012, we launched the Online Campus at Christ Community Church. While four months is a small sample size, we’ve learned a few things about online church.
People will come
February through May, the Online Campus had 3,500 unique visitors from 28 countries. In the United States, we’ve had visitors from 48 states. (I guess we need to do more outreach in Alaska and New Hampshire.) The Top 3 states our attendees are from, besides Nebraska, are Iowa, Minnesota and Illinois. (Click here to see Online Campus sightings around the world.)
We realized we had been underestimating the Online Campus attendance. Originally, we thought we had been averaging around 140 people. While we’re still not definite, we can safely say we’ve been averaging over 200 people for the services.
One thing we did not anticipate was how many people would choose to test out Christ Community Church before attending one of our physical campuses. It makes complete sense now. Our Guest Services Team, at the Old Mill Campus, connects with someone new because they visited the Online Campus. Their experience online was wonderful, so they came in person.
Does this negate the experience for those consistently attending online? Not at all. While we want to see a growing online audience, that isn’t our end goal. Our end goal is Jesus and getting people connected to him.
Our audience isn’t traditional Christianity either. I’ve been encouraged to by the conversations and interactions I’ve had with people, through the Online Campus, who wouldn’t normally visit our physical campuses. We’re fulfilling our mission of engaging with those outside the church.
People are connected
It has been fun to get to know our Online Campus regulars. We interact with 10-20% of the audience any given Sunday through the chat. That may not seem like much, but then consider how many a pastor may interact with on a given Sunday. In most cases, it will be less.
Another great thing is people staying up-to-date with the messages. Roughly 60% of CCC people attend twice a month. Sometimes the reasons people can’t attend are because of business trips, kids’ activities, or just the busyness of life. The Online Campus has allowed these people to be a part of the church services, and feel connected while away.
Some thought the Online Campus would facilitate laziness within people, but we’ve seen the opposite. It’s deepened the connection for many who aren’t always able to make it out on a Sunday. One individual told me the Online Campus service was like “an oasis” to him because of the business trips they have to go on.
People are impacted
On average, we pray with two people a week in Live Prayer chats. Online, people feel a sense of anonymity. So, they share a bit more honestly than they might in person. Because of this, we are able to help people with the hurts they carry. We are able to get them connected with ministries that can help them. From single parents, to people with addictions, a number of people have found help, and community, through the Online Campus.
It works. There are those who vehemently disagree with the concept of online church. I’ve heard from a few of these individuals. One of the questions I ask them is, “If people are drawn closer to Jesus, through the Online Campus, is that a bad thing?” Their response is usually, “Yeah but…” But what? People are hearing about Jesus, finding community and getting help with hurts and habits they have. This is good. That’s an understatement. This is wonderful!
Please join us at the Online Campus. Sundays at 10:45 AM CST at CCCOmaha.tv.