17 questions for online church.

Streaming your church service online right now is very popular right now. Why? Because Internet.

But we’re still working out a lot of the kinks. There are still questions. Lots of them, like these:

1. If I’m watching a sermon online and I open up another window and answer some emails at the same time, is that a sin? Isn’t that the cyber equivalent of doodling in your bulletin? If I have a really big monitor, does that change your answer?

2. What if the emails are from people I’m in a Bible Study with, so technically speaking, I’m participating in fellowship? I’m not multitasking, we’re doing life together!

3. Do I have to stand up when the worship leader calls us to our feet? If you’re my neighbor and you’re walking your dog, is it weird seeing me stand up and down in my living room?

4. If I don’t like the worship songs that day, can I DJ myself with some songs I like from iTunes?

5. If I have a bad connection or the wrong version of flash or my computer crashes, is it safe to assume that I can blame that on the devil? If so, can I put him on notice?

6. How long can I pause the sermon, go do chores/answer the phone/find more comfortable socks to wear etc. and then come back without it seeming like I’ve left church?

7. There are only two occasions in which I wear a belt: A business meeting at work where I want to look smart and church. Do I have to wear a belt to attend online church?

8. Is it weird if I’m still shy about singing with my hands raised during online church? Should I still be doing the ninja in my own home? Is that something a counselor can help me with?

9. If I watch the sermon on a podcast, do you mind if I fast forward through the first few minutes of the sermon where you recap last week’s message for the people that weren’t there? I was there. I remember. I don’t need the recap.

10. Someone once told me they consider eating at Chick-Fil-A to be tithing. Now that I’m using my computer to attend church, can I consider a new Mac purchase to be like one big, silvery cool tithe?

11. Will you please not cut off the podcast before or in the middle of the closing prayer? People at home like closing prayers too. (I’m talking to you Matt Chandler.)

12. Is there anyway that you could create a frame around the video player that has a graphic of someone giving someone else a back massage during churchsomeone coughing and the heads of the tall family I inevitably manage to sit behind every Sunday so that the experience will feel more authentic?

13. If you ask us to hold hands with the person next to us for the closing prayer, should I extend my hands out like a mime, or instead hold my own hand?

14. Can you please stop telling me hello at the beginning? I know you know I’m here online. You built an entire website, hired a streaming company, timed your sermon perfectly and told me that this was available. At this point, I am well aware that you like me and know I exist. We’re good.

15. What do we do we communion? You can’t make communion jokes. That’s in the book of Joel, so I’m just going to leave it right there.

16. Should I mill about in the foyer of our house with my family to recreate the after church conversations you always have.

17. I usually lose a fair amount of the grace I gained in the sermon trying to get out of the church parking lot. To recreate that, should I just go sit in my car in the driveway and yell a little?

Those are the questions I have.

Does your church have an online version?

Would you have asked something different than me?

What do you do online when it comes to church? Blogs? Podcasts? Video sermons?

Are you currently doing anything church related online?

So many questions!

What would you ask your pastor about online church?

Get every post emailed to you - click here!


  1. Gaylene Carpenter says

    Online church allowed me to attend my granddaughter’s dedication- they were in Hawaii and I was in Ohio! I think online church serves a great purpose but nothing can truly replace corporate worship. I work on Sundays- really wish there were more Sat. evening services for folks like my husband and I.

  2. Lucas says

    Wow, nothing pats yourself on the back more than dropping 5 links to your older material.

  3. Phil says

    I have the worst ADD when I do online church (I have bad ADD when I’m physically in church too, but that’s another story). Online church days for me usually go as follows:

    Wake up. Too lazy to go to church today. Make a decision to watch the service all the way through.
    Get into the worship until the load of laundry I put on has finished.
    Hang the washing. Still listening.
    Sermon starts.
    Switch it off and play GTA or watch Weeds or something.

    I know, I’m terrible. But 99.99% of Sundays I’m actually at church. I’m not saying online church doesn’t work, but it so doesn’t work for me. 😛

  4. says

    I think my biggest question is: What are you supposed to do if they have an altar call? Stand up and walk toward your computer screen?

    BTW, we don’t have live streaming, but we do have the video posted later that afternoon.

  5. JayRay says

    Should I sit on a kitchen chair to watch, or can I sit on my couch? How about watching in bed? Would that be sacrilegious? How about if I got dressed first?

  6. GraftedByGrace says

    Number 17 definitely needs more exploration. This may be the root cause of why online church was envisioned! Funny stuff Jon!!

  7. Christy says

    If you’re watching it a couple hours later. are the opening & closing prayers still effective when they’ve already been prayed back in time? Or is that some sort of secondhand praying?

    Do I sing along with the worship songs if my computer doesn’t have surround sound? Is it ok for me to just stare at the screen when I cannot have the “full worship experience”?

    If I use a real bible while watching online church, it cancels out right? Bible app at real church = real bible at online church.

  8. says

    I don’t attend online church; however, I have been known to attend Bedside Baptist on occasion. When it’s snowing… When I don’t feel well. But really that’s not a church at all. That’s just my bed. Just to be clear and all.

    But if I did have an online church… Wouldn’t taking communion be very messy? Or at least it might like electrocute me. How do you do that with the computer getting in the way?

  9. Chuck says

    During communion can I use the generic grape juice from Wal-Mart or does it have to be Welch’s grape juice to count?

  10. says

    Great post as always ,Jon.
    When my husband and I left Kansas for Texas, we were so happy that our church had online services. We could stay home and watch church and not have to go through that whole awkwardness of trying to find a church in Texas that fit us and we didn’t have to go through the whole newbie thing :)
    Our church is the Church of the Resurrection http://www.rezonline.org./
    and we have been watching for five years now.

  11. Steven says

    #13. If there is not a hand nearby, just take hold of the mouse. Depending on the church service you are watching, placing your hands on the monitor may be appropriate as well.

  12. Julia says

    What does one do when the prayer is from an old sermon? That’s like repeating verbatim a past conversation with someone. Awkward…

  13. says

    I LOL’d (a lot) reading this. Good questions, all!
    I also read some of the comments from other readers, and wow. I often wonder why so many people think Christians are humorless (since most I know personally are a HOOT!) and then I read some of the comments people leave you. LIGHTEN UP, folks!

  14. Vickie says

    And this prompts the question: Is it rude to text while someone is trying to have a conversation with you or in a group? I wonder if God is as offended when people text/tweet during sermons (in the sanctuary, that is) … Of course, if it’s about the sermon you’re tweeting, then I guess it’s considered “spiritual”. :)

  15. says

    Though my church does a video stream and audio cast of our sermons, I have never actually used those for “church”. When I listen to a sermon online or podcast it’s almost always a “celeb” pastor of some sort, and I don’t consider it “going to church”, just bonus teaching.

  16. Tori says

    My dad was watching a sermon online the other day when he asked, “is it a sin if I drink a beer right now?” He did.