1 - Build

What's Your Platform?

There’s something compelling about the idea of online church. So many people are connecting digitally these days, why not extend that digital connection to the church so that more people will be reached with the gospel of Christ? 

On the other hand, is an online connection enough? Before you learn more about what online church is, take a look at what it’s not.  

Online church isn’t about lazy faith; it’s about leveraging technology to further the Great Commission. In the next seven sessions, the campus pastors and directors of Online Church Leaders will walk ministry leaders through the process of building, launching, and growing their online platforms. Listen first as Chris Tripputi, Online Church Director at Community Bible Church in San Antonio, Texas, shares three ways to build your online platform. 

Community Bible Church is one of the largest and fastest growing churches in the United States, due in large part to the growth of their online campus. In addition to being CBC's online pastor, Chris is also the co-owner and Creative Director at My Square Creative, which offers creative support for churches.  

Whew! Overwhelmed yet? It’s only session one! Chris says to take one step at a time, but it seems like there are a lot of steps. And should you expect 1.5 million people to step onto your online campus in just a few years? 

Maybe. Maybe not. As Chris said, God can paint a far better picture than what you can imagine. So relax. Take a step back. First things first.

This course assumes you are either seriously considering launching an online campus or have already committed to the endeavor. Chris said to get online church started you need three things:

  1. A camera
  2. A computer with editing software
  3. A way to showcase what you record online (i.e. a platform)

Do you have these things? If not, what do you need?
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What’s your budget? In what ways, if any, are you limited by resources?
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This session is all about #3: the online platform. How do you showcase your video content? Chris said there are three primary options available for building an online church site:

  • Custom design (i.e. building your own)
  • Utilizing a free resource such as Church Online Platform
  • Partnering with Media Social

All three of these options are good ones, and what’s right for your particular church might be different than what’s right for the church down the street. Chris said that your best bet is to choose the platform that works best with your budget, staffing, resources, needs, hopes, and dreams.  

Which of the three platform options Chris described seem like the best fit for your church and why?
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Chris said that all three of the platform options he named have the five core components of effective online engagement: 

  • A video player
  • Live chat
  • A schedule
  • A notes tab
  • An area to connect and respond

Which of those five components most excites you? Why is that?
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What are some ways you can begin developing the ministry of each of these components, based on where you currently are in the launching process? (e.g. buy a camera, hire a videographer, invite volunteers to manage your live chat, create a process for follow-up for all viewers who respond and connect, etc.)
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Chris gave several additional resources for you to look into as you build your platform. He also walked you through Saddleback’s custom design site, LifeChurch’s free platform, and Community Bible Church’s Online Church, hosted by Media Social, and gave you several other online churches to look into for further thought and research. Finally, he invited you to personally experience online worship and determine which site you find the most meaningful and why.  

Why do you think so many people are drawn to online church?
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Online church is popular, but it’s also debated. Some people are uncomfortable with the idea of online church since so much of church is meant to be about community.
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What are some reasons you think people get a little uncomfortable with the idea of online church?
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Are you in any way uncomfortable with it? Why or why not?
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The early church is filled with stories of people interacting with and ministering to one another face-to-face. Also, Jesus himself is God as man—a real human who lived a flesh-and-blood life and physically healed people, ate with them, and wept with them. 

Matthew 28:18-20 (ESV)

18And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,20teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Scripture quotations marked (ESV) are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Mark 1:29-34 (ESV)

Jesus Heals Many

29 And immediately he left the synagogue and entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John.30Now Simon’s mother-in-law lay ill with a fever, and immediately they told him about her.31And he came and took her by the hand and lifted her up, and the fever left her, and she began to serve them.

32That evening at sundown they brought to him all who were sick or oppressed by demons.33And the whole city was gathered together at the door.34 And he healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons. And he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him.

Scripture quotations marked (ESV) are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Acts 2:42-47 (ESV)

The Fellowship of the Believers

42And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.43And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles.44And all who believed were together and had all things in common.45And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need.46And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts,47praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.

Scripture quotations marked (ESV) are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

How do you reconcile online church with the incarnational ministry of Jesus and ministry of the early church?
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Online church needs to be about more than “the next big thing” or having some cool features on a website. Because of the Great Commission, the other Scriptures we just read, and many others, the most important part of building an online church platform is maximizing it for ministry. Chris encourages church leaders to think about this “why” for online campuses and then determine each of their own “hows.” He describes how his online church lives out the Great Commission and then encourages you to brainstorm how you plan to.  

Have you thought much about how you’re going to engage with people through online church? What have you come up with so far?
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In what ways do you want your online church to make disciples?
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What are some things you can do now to build community and discipleship into your online platform?
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Chris said that there are options when it comes to online church platforms, and creating the experience is easier than most people think. Do you agree with him? In what ways are you still fearful or overwhelmed?
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What new prayers do you need to begin praying as you continue to navigate the online church launching experience?
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It’s a new frontier! You’ll continue to hear throughout this course that online church is uncharted waters. There is a lot to learn, discover, and even mess up. God is faithful, though. He is with you, and if He gave you the vision for an online campus, He will bring it about in the right time and in the right ways.