Church Online: 3 Ways to Gather

Austin Maxheimer   -  

On December 27 (this Sunday) we will not gather in our buildings, but will instead encourage our church to join together for an online service. This serves the practical purpose of providing rest between Christmas—New Years, but it also is a practice run for what we hope to launch fully this Spring: Church Online. 
I have to admit to some skepticism regarding church online. Church as I understand it—the ekklesia—is by definition a collection of people, the assembly, the people of God brought together in community. Can people be genuinely brought together virtually? That is a question we must continue to ask ourselves as we meet the cultural reality of our day. Here is a blog asking more great questions: Is Church Online a Front Door or a Back Door?  Trey will be tracking with this as we go and addressing some of these questions.
Regardless, as we pursue church online, I am very excited about the platform’s contribution to our church planting strategy. It will allow us to take the mission and vision of One Life Church into all sorts of unreached areas, places we may not have been able to go under the model of our first three sites. In addition, the same content used for our online campus will help fuel our microsites. I believe that microsites can be the spearhead for church planting in places—rural cities, prisons, neighborhoods—as well as among people—3rd shift workers, homeless, students.
But maybe the thing I’m most excited about microsites is that they are in and of themselves churches! We have this misconception of what church is, that it is a program, a service or what happens inside a building. Those are merely activities we choose to do as the Church to help people experience Jesus. The Church is who we are. It is people gathered together in the name of Jesus to love one another and participate in the mission of God.
To that end, here are three recommended ways to gather on December 27, so that we can be the Church outside the building, as we all experience church online together:

Gather Your Family: The easiest gathering is your nuclear family. Wake up, share a meal, and then worship together. If you are really daring, go ahead and get your extended family together. One of the most used images for the church in the New Testament is a family. Make that your literal experience Sunday.

Gather Your Group or Team: Some of our groups and teams are so close they are like family. These are people with whom we are already living out the basics of what it means to be the church—loving one another, on mission. Gather them up and simply do what you’re already good at. 

Gather Your Friends: Have that close friend or group of friends that you’ve invited to church but won’t come to a church building on Sunday morning? Maybe they’ll come to your living room. Or a café. Or an ice cream shop. Or a gym. Think of church online—microsites as a missional opportunity, a resource for you to go and make disciples.

More than anything, on December 27, just relax, have fun, and enjoy worshipping God! Do you have any other ways to gather that pop in mind? Any remaining questions?