Live streaming, podcasting, providing worship services online…there are many different ways for churches today to offer online options for their congregations. What works for one church may not work for another, but there are a myriad of options available for churches interested in providing an online community, connections and resources to their members. Lake Pointe Church in Dallas is hosting the iMinistry Conference on October 14-16 and I will be attending this conference to learn more about options available for our Texas Baptist churches.
I visited with Nate Merrill, Internet campus pastor for Lake Pointe, last week; he shared a little bit about his experience launching an Internet Campus for their church and the value it has added. Here's our Q&A and details about the iMinistry Conference if you are interested in attending!
1. How long have you had an Internet Campus at Lake Pointe Church?
- We launched the Internet Campus in February 2012, and, since that time, we have launched Online Life Groups, Student Ministry services, Men's Ministry events and Online Missions opportunities.
2. What benefits have you seen for your congregation through the Internet Campus?
- For some people, going to church for the first time can be stressful. We want to ease that transition by allowing people to experience Lake Pointe online first so they know what to expect when they attend one of our physical locations at a later date.
- Regular attenders of Lake Pointe use the Internet Campus if they are out of town, sick or otherwise not able to physically attend church on any given weekend. We have seen people stay much more connected to their church in this way.
- For those who are permanently bedridden or homebound, the Internet Campus enables them to become and stay connected to Lake Pointe. We have heard many stories of how individuals and families finally feel like they have a church they can belong to since attending the iCampus and being able to interact in the chat room.
3. How has your Internet Campus provided missional and evangelistic opportunities for Lake Pointe?
- There are people who live in places who, at this time, do not have a Bible-believing church to attend. Until that time comes, the Internet Campus will give them the opportunity to connect to the Christian community of faith at Lake Pointe. We have had people attend Lake Pointe's iCampus from 189 of 195 countries in the world. There are some places where we have 30-40 people gathering together to join our online services across the globe!
4. Many think that only large churches have the capacity to stream online. Is this true? Are there feasible options for smaller congregations?
- Not true at all! With the rapid advance of technology, it is becoming much simpler and increasingly less expensive to have an Internet Campus. There are many free resources like the Church Online Platform, Google Ads for Non-Profits that gives you $10,000/month of free Google Ads, free step-by-step training (http://onlinechurchleaders.com/) and low-cost streaming providers (http://www.streammonkey.com/), etc. that enable you to launch your own Internet Campus quickly!
5. How will the iMinistry Conference help empower local churches to engage online?
- It is the only gathering in the nation that is focused specifically on helping churches who are considering launching their online ministry or have already begun their online ministry and are ready to go to the next level. We will be covering topics ranging from the basics (What platform and providers to use?) to the advanced topics (Online Groups and Missions) and everything in between. Check it out at http://iministryconference.org/ and registration is only $99 if you use the Discount Code: texasbaptists
Nate loves to find new and innovative ways to share the story of Jesus Christ with others and to encourage believers to never stop growing in their faith. He began at Lake Pointe Church in Rockwall, TX in 2011 as the Internet Campus Pastor to launch their Internet Campus. He graduated from Dallas Seminary and has been on staff at churches in Texas and South Carolina. Nate tries to find any excuse to be outside by his grill and smoker. He and C.J. have three children - Hannah, Malachi & Elijah. To contact Nate: firstname.lastname@example.org, @thenatemerrill or Facebook.com/TheNateMerrill