Commentary: Easter is almost here, and your online campus needs attention


With many churches now having worship online, how will your church empower volunteers to help you relationally address this platform? It seemed like a distant past nearly four years ago when many pastors used their phones, laptops, tablets, and anything else that could connect online for streaming services. This new online initiative launched churches into homes of hundreds or thousands they have never been able to reach before. They share the Gospel beyond the church walls in ways never seen in human history. Four years later, we look at ways to sustainably continue online worship with excellence and raise volunteers to assist in this effort.

 You opened an online campus.

You didn't even know it! Pastor, opening a second campus may have only seemed possible for churches with vast resources. However, your online services are an online community that is local and global in its reach. That community is now a second campus! Being strategic to call your online service an online campus does a few vital things for your church:

  • Clarify the Goal.
    • Your congregation needs a goal of streaming your services beyond what everyone else is doing. Something like… engaging people online to connect them to an in-person community.
  • Resource your Campus.
    • You need to categorize equipment needs, volunteers, ministry budget, and benevolent needs for an online experience. Any amount helps communicate the value of this ministry and keeps it resourced.

Build & train a team of volunteers.

When you think of volunteers for your online campus, do not assume it must be a young person who is a "nerd." Quite the opposite is true! The team of volunteers you are looking for will be great with people, engaging with the community, and faithful to understanding your church's mission. Pastor, you can train nearly anyone "how" to be an online host. However, having a person on mission for your church will translate to online guests visiting in person! After you have built this team of two or more volunteers, here are some tips for how to train them:

  • Use engaging volunteer-friendly platforms.
    • Think relational engagement, not just stream quality. How will your online guest complete a connect card? Share a prayer request? Give? Make a decision? Social media, of course, is a great starting place for an online campus. Stream in a way that allows volunteers to engage in the chat each week, engage people in conversation, and share these stories with the church. Focus on a tech solution that is volunteer-friendly and easy to operate. While there may be “better” streaming solutions, focus on the long-term, who is operating the weekly equipment first when picking a system.
  • Provide training.
    • Capture and share videos for training for current volunteers and new volunteers. Develop videos on responding to people online and moderating the chat areas. It also helps to develop a few documents offering step-by-step instructions as a refresher for volunteers who serve less often.

 Your online campus is the front door to your in-person campus.

Many first-time guests now look for your online experience to choose to attend in person. Be sure that that experience is relational, not just a video. According to the US Surgeon General, 50% of all adults in America are lonely. Your online campus is uniquely equipped to connect with this hurting person in your community and bring them to an in-person experience. Remember, online numbers are real people, not statistics.

Empower your volunteers.

Your online campus is just like your in-person campus. Invite volunteers to meetings and planning to be advocates in your online community for upcoming in-person activities. Consider a budget of any size to operate your online campus and for advertisements and marketing tools to reach even more people.

Dr. PJ Dunn serves the Georgia Baptist Mission Board as Discipleship consultant.