The LifeChurch.tv Internet Campus

I’m up in the Chicago area this week for the Acts 2 Conference put on by Willow Creek Community Church.  The conference is an interactive learning experience in which 5 innovative ways of doing church ministry are presented and then discussed by a panel of forward-thinking pastors.  Ideas being presented include the come-as-you-are culture, multi-cultural outreach, and community impact ministry.

Craig Groeschel, senior pastor of LifeChurch.tv, spoke about multi-site ministry.  LifeChurch.tv has 8 physical campuses in 4 states plus an Internet campus.  Each campus has its own live worship band and its own campus pastor, and through the use of satellite technology Pastor Groeschel can teach at all 9 campuses simultaneously, including the Internet campus.  To see a physical church making a real effort to create an online church really sparked my interest.

A few months ago I wrote a blog article titled Can the Virtual Church Replace the Physical Church? which sparked a very, shall we say animated, discussion.  In fact, I believe it’s the most commented article we’ve had so far this year.  There are some very legitimate issues about whether a community of believers online can genuinely function as a Biblically-based church.  Can a person be in true fellowship in an online community?  Can a virtual community really engage in mutual service and bear each others burdens?  Can spiritual growth, accountability, and evangelism be achieved to the same degree online as it can in a physical church?  These are all important questions that need to be addressed.

Between sessions I had a chance to talk with, Bobby Gruenewald, who’s a part of the LifeChurch.tv senior leadership team and very involved in the technical aspects of their Internet campus.  We talked about some of these issues.

When most people hear the term “Internet church” they think its more or less like watching a televangelist on TV, where “viewers” are completely disconnected with one another, but that is not the case with LifeChurch.tv’s Internet campus.  While you can experience the service anonymously, LifeChurch.tv encourages people to register and login when they engage in a worship experience.  After the service you can hang out in the virtual lobby and chat with other worshippers as well as the campus pastor.  There is a real effort made to help people connect to the church and other people.

Just like their physical campuses, the Internet campus has small groups, called Life Groups, which people are encouraged to join.  Bobby told me the Internet campus has about 30 Life Groups, which are listed online.  I was totally surprised to hear that many of these groups actually physically meet together during the week in places like St. Louis, MO and Charlotte, NC.

But what about service?   Using your God-given gifts to serve others is one of the most important parts of serving in a local church.  You can’t serve others online, can you?  Well, yes you can.  LifeChurch.tv’s Internet campus provides numerous serving opportunities.  People can start their own Life Group, help answer technical questions, or even go on a virtual missions trip to MySpace.

I thought Craig Groeschel was kidding about the MySpace missions trip when he mentioned it in his talk, but no, it really took place this past Wednesday.  Check it out.  A bunch of folks from the Internet campus gathered in the chat lobby to talk about how to share the gospel in MySpace and pray.  Then everyone logged into their MySpace account and began having spiritual conversations with their MySpace friends and inviting them to one of the Internet campus life experiences.  At the end of the MicroMission they met back in the chat lobby to discuss what God did during that time and to thank Him for his work.  Pretty awesome!

I was rather skeptical that an online church could really function like a Biblical, Acts 2 church.  But LifeChurch.tv may be on the path to doing just that.  This is still very fresh and they haven’t figured the whole thing out, but they are committed to developing fully engaged, fully devoted followers of Christ through their Internet campus.  What are your thoughts on the LifeChurch.tv Internet campus?

Paul Steinbrueck is co-founder and CEO of OurChurch.Com, elder of CypressMeadows.org, husband, father of 3, blogger. You can follow him on Twitter at @PaulSteinbrueck and add him to your circles at Google+ as +Paul Steinbrueck.

11 Responses to “The LifeChurch.tv Internet Campus”

  1. Hi
    can i get a copy of the Acts 2 conference–5 diffferent ways of doing church.
    A DVD will be preffered.
    I am in Canada.

  2. Iam every day having a new understanding and now I seeing the direction of God’s purpose of sending Jesus christ to us . There only purpose is to establish his kingdom not just a group of religion on earth .and this is purpose is openned only to those whom are sent and those are the Apostles and if they were the 12 apostles only . it means that today the kingdom will miss the focus . so the questions of today is that we are going outside of the standards of God’s kingdom to man’s thinking and ideas that he thinks that that is how it should be done . please let us go back to foundation of apostles and prophets.
    Thank you .
    michael .p.o.box 395 jinja , uganda ,east africa.tel +256 782 593714.

  3. Please can you send me VCDs for my church study .
    thank you .
    Pastor michael in uganda.

  4. Charles Ola and Pastor mwandha Michael,

    The case studies and DVDs of the conference are availble for purchase through the Acts 2 website at:
    http://www.willowcreek.com/events/localchurch/a2/

    The purpose of the blog article was not really to discuss the conference, but rather the LifeChurch.tv Internet campus. Check it out. Do you think this is a “real church?”

    - Paul

  5. mau i knolw what help u can offer to my the ministry work i started about 2yrs ago.thank u

  6. Army Of God Y.M. Oct 30, 2006 at 3:39 pm

    way cool…..we have to take every opportunity God Opens for us to spread the Word. It’s all about God’s tressure here on earth (Humanity)……..keep it up….and if we as a youth ministry can help just let us know. we are also trying to reach the schools 4 christ. God bless

  7. My thoughts on the internet church

    Several years ago yahoo offer different chat rooms to talk about anything..so a few believers felt the net would be a great mission work..so we open a room called Spiritual Warriors and had a great response..when then decided to hook up with a group that offer christian worship service only..no preaching or talk..just worship..and then God lead us to this idea…Why not offer prasie and worship in one room..than when the people felt lifted up..let them join the Spiritual Warriors room…May did we see God work..people gave their life to the Lord..Healings took place…and it was exciting..We would hook people up with a local bible believing church..as well as counselors to assist in areas that were needed..I recall a girl cutting herself that received help spiritual and emotional…We even had it going 24hrs…People all over the world join in and did their ministry..We had a lady in New Zealand a man in Ireland another man in India as well as men and women in The US..Africa..England…Sweden..Germany…South America..and so on…Is this a good idea…PRAISE GOD WE HAVE THIS PLATFORM…keep up the KINGDOM WORK…be encourage it works…A man came to Jesus and ask for healing of his servant….and Jesus said I come to Your Home….the man replied JUST SAY THE WORD AND IT WILL BE DONE….JUST SAY THE WORD…..ANYWHERE…EVERYWHERE…INTERNET INCLUDED!!

    Thanks
    CD Lawhon
    hungry4god.net
    806-685-5656

  8. Evans Sum- Nairobi Uni, Kenya Nov 6, 2006 at 1:10 am

    That is such a great and enormous thought that the Holy Spirit is capable of revealing. Be blessed as you continue exploring more ways of world gospel explosion. The world will only be conquered by the gospel.

  9. I am using the internet campus “Live” experience at home with my laptop connected to a big screen, using a wireless connection. I have let the neighborhood know if they want to be part of a church experience they are more than welcome to come over and hang out. We call it House Church “live”.

    With this concept anyone can have access to a “live” church in thier neighborhood. It’s the best of both worlds. A time with your neighbors and being connected to a “live Church experience at the same time.

    Steven

  10. Steven, that’s pretty cool. Where are you located? Have you had any success with people in your neighborhood joining you for House Church “Live?”

  11. Paul,
    Yes, It’s been a blast so far. We also use the chat feature to talk between houses and are making friends with people around the world. There is never a dull moment.
    What has been more interesting is the biggest promoter is someone who does not go to church. He’s telling the neighbors and his relatives about it.

    Because Americans today in general are resistant to Church, but think highly of Jesus, some of us have created other options for the neighborhood including a free video resource library and Neighborhood life groups which deal with specific topics the neighbors are asking about. Marriage, parenting, finances, God’s will and so on.

    Several of us also hold events for the neighbors and network with Local churches who are reaching outside their walls and the local YMCA.

    This concept is spreading and people are starting to pay attention. It’s exciting.

    Let us know how we can help.

    Steven