It’s no secret that the church has changed in recent years. Churches are struggling to stay afloat, and a lack of funds is one reason for this, as well as the COVID pandemic. As a result, churches have begun to turn to new technologies such as livestreaming and videoconferencing in order to save money on utilities and other costs while still being able to reach their congregation.
This means that the modern church is more likely to set up an online campus than a physical one. It’s potentially easier, often cheaper, and has a broader reach as you aren’t limited by physical location. Church campuses come in all shapes and sizes these days, from the traditional brick-and-mortar buildings with Sunday services for parishioners, to online campuses that communicate via messaging apps. But are there drawbacks to launching an online campus?
There are pros and cons whichever option you choose. Which is better? The answer will depend on where your congregation is from (local or a wider area), if there is a building available, and the tech knowledge that your team possesses.
Traditional physical campus
Pros: In-person communication is great for church events. Being in the same space means that people can socialize and network, which are both good things. Cons: This type of campus often comes with a hefty price tag (land, building maintenance, equipment). The energy consumption from lights and heating/cooling systems also contributes to higher costs. You also have a larger responsibility for providing parking and traffic management if you live in an urban area.
Pros: Lower up-front costs. Easier to reach a wider audience due to the nature of the internet. No issues with parking or the size of the building. Cons: Socializing and networking is limited, and the message may not connect with people so easily. Preferable to have a tech-savvy team to keep everything running smoothly.
Is an online campus the right choice for your church?
Is livestreaming or in-person church the better choice? The new age of technology has created a digital society and, particularly among the younger generation, the trend of using online streaming services for movies, music and games is second nature. Applying this to churches is the logical next step, but it truly is the lack of socializing or networking opportunities that can cause the biggest issues.
With a pandemic to contend with, an online campus is the obvious choice – you need to keep people safe, no matter what. But as we ease out of the restrictions, it has become very clear how much we all value human interaction.
For many churches, setting up a new physical campus is the easiest route to take. You need a building, you need to clean and decorate it, lay out some seating, and off you go. An online campus needs cameras to be chosen, serious considerations given to the sound system, and around twice as many licences as are needed for performing music in a live location.
There are benefits to delivering video sermons, but you do need to consider your audience too. Ultimately, the decision as to whether or not you’re going to have an online campus will depend on your congregation. The older members of your church may feel uncomfortable with technology and require a more traditional experience, while younger members are likely to prefer video streaming.
Should you set up an online campus? Only your budget, tech skill, and congregation will allow you to fully make a decision.