Three internet campus models

In the last few months in my conversations with various churches doing or preparring to do internet campuses, online church and/or what ever you want to call it, I have formed the hypothesis that all of them fall into one of three buckets.

Billboard or Sample Church

The internet campus primarily is a vehicle for people not attending the church to get a feel for what it’s like before they show up at a physical church.

Church Online

This is a full functioning church existing on the web. Worship, small groups, pastoral care, communion and everything that would traditionally take place at a physical church happens online. Multisite churches may view this as simply another one of their campuses.

Network Model

The internet campus is a content creator and distributor for local communities (read: house church). This is our model at Gateway Church Austin.

I see that these are targets for the voice and strategy of a church’s online ministry presence and, as with any target, there is some collateral effect. Anyone of these models will also see some of the other two happening along side.

Gateway Church Internet Campus Launch

The first phase in our internet campus family of sites launches this Sunday January 17th!

We will be live streaming the Sunday morning services from the Gateway Church McNeil campus starting at 9:30 AM (CST).

I can’t say enough how excited I am about it.

Here’s how you can help:

Asking an important question about internet church

Head on over the ChurchCrunch to see the latest post in the ‘confessions of an internet pastor’ series.

Today’s question is:

What if we had no ingrained concept of what a church service is, go to a building – hear some songs – listen to a talking head – walk out, what would an experience look like that is targeted at Internet Citizens?

Head on over and chime in on the conversation.

Why are sermons so long?

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As we plan the launch of an Internet Campus for Gateway Church this keeps coming up in my mind.

On the internet the average user will pay attention to video for about two and a half minutes.

Last time I checked most pastors are in the 35-45 minute range with their sermons. Why?

I’ll be honest with you, the idea that sermons have to be longer than twenty minutes has bothered me ever since I took Homiletics in college.

So what’s the deal with the forty minute sermons?

The best advice I have ever heard on preaching was from the late comedian George Burns:

“Have a good beginning and a good ending and have the two as close together as possible”

I have always taken that to heart every time I take the pulpit. The people that are sitting in front of me are precious and so is their time.

So someone has to explain to me why sermons are longer than twenty minutes…

{photo \ Rich Lewis}

John Piper pipes in regarding online church

There has been some interesting buzz this week surrounding John Piper’s take on internet church. I tend to respect a lot of John Piper’s takes on culture even though we disagree on a lot of theology, so I took notice of what he had to say about online church:

God made us with bodies. He made us to give holy kisses to one another—embraces, handshakes, eyeball-to-eyeball conversation. He made husband and wife not to have imaginary video sex through Skype. He made them to go to bed together in the same bed. He made them to raise children in the same house, with hands-on hugs and spanks on the bottom and love. And he made churches to get together to hear each other sing, and to look at each other and talk to teach other, and minister to each other and help each other die well.

Some other bloggers have chimed in on the topic too. I can’t say that I disagree with Piper’s take and I will never criticize someone for what they didn’t say, so I will simply add these thoughts:

  1. We have to try. The Church has to try and explore every avenue to expand the Kingdom and pass the Gospel to the next generation, this includes the internet.
  2. The internet has become a real community. I know several married couples who met online and now have beautiful relationships and families. So, although the internet experience is not the vehicle for the deepest of relationships, we have to go as far as we can with it in order to impact more people.
  3. Its all so new. Its true that the internet has been around longer, but its only in the last 10 years that its truly become part of global society. I think we have barely scratched the surface of where we can go.

I agree with Piper on the fact that relationships are far too complex and mysterious to be fully realized over electronic media…but let’s do what we can and love each other and see how far that takes us.

Planting a church on the internet | step 1 – show up

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If you are going to plant a church anywhere, the first step you take is to go there. Simple.

When you get there, you find as many ways as you can to connect with people.

You find needs to meet.

You celebrate life with the community.

You walk right along side the community.

This has to happen first. before one note is played in a worship gathering. Before one word is said from a pulpit.

The same goes for planting a church on the internet.

How do we meet needs and celebrate life on the internet?

{photo | etrusia_uk}

Throw the word ‘virtual’ out of your vocabulary

I can’t believe the word is still staying alive!

There is nothing virtual about the people on the internet. Everyone of them is real.

There is nothing virtual about the people I care and pray for whom I have met on Twitter, Facebook and my blog.

This reality needs to be embraced in order to bring the Kingdom to the community that is the internet.

Because there is nothing virtual about the Kingdom_