During the height of the pandemic, I decided to “attend” a church online. I was familiar with Shepherd’s Gate from attending a Bible Study there and decided to “tune in” to see what it was all about. This was definitely something new to me, but I was missing the connection to other people and especially, growth in my relationship with Jesus.
You may be asking, ‘what is online church?’ Online church is a real-time live broadcast of church services for viewing from any device and location. Pretty convenient, isn’t it? I just searched for Shepherd’s Gate in my browser and after a few clicks, I was in at live.sgatechurch.org.
As I waited for the service to begin, I noticed there was a “chat” on the side of the screen. People were greeting each other and asking each other how they were handling the lockdown, just like you would do if you were chatting with someone in the building. I was interested in how watching church online was going to work and if this could be right for me.
CONNECTING WITH JESUS
I never experienced a live broadcast like this one and found that even though I was attending church online, it was in the praise songs, singing with the worship team, and hearing the message for the week that connected me to this church family and Jesus. The messages are encouraging and instructional and I was able to follow along with available notes. There is also a link to the Bible as well. It’s almost like being in a seat in the Worship Center. In addition to watching church online on Sundays, I found out that I could attend online Adult Bible studies and/or join an Adult Social Group or Life Group.
BENEFITS OF ONLINE CHURCH
If you’ve never attended church or are searching for a church, watching church online can be a great first step into starting your relationship with Jesus. For me, it was a great way to check out Shepherd’s Gate. It’s also handy to access when traveling, if the weather is bad, I am ill, or it’s one of those mornings when the kids just aren’t moving.
ENGAGE AND ENJOY
How do you get the most out of your online church experience? Chat! Find a good spot to view the service and use a larger screen if available. If you like, join in the singing (the words are available on the screen) and pray. During my first few visits, I didn’t say anything in the chat. I was simply there to observe. The “host” of the chat greeted each person joining in. She was very engaging and soon I found myself saying good morning or hello.
In the early summer of 2020, I found myself “attending” church online every Sunday. The worship music is sometimes lively, sometimes soft and gentle but always praiseful. Fast forward to the late fall of 2021 and I decided I wanted to connect with others in-person. I started coming to the church building 2-3 Sundays a month. The next thing I knew, I was volunteering as an ‘online host’ and am enjoying the conversation in the chat, recognizing people by name. The multi-media room is where the behind-the-scenes action takes place. Seeing the camera and soundboard operators working together is a picture of unity. I enjoy watching everything come together to present the live broadcast.
TAKING THE NEXT STEP
No matter where you are on your walk with Jesus, you are invited to stop by on Sunday at 9 or 10:45a or check out the programs at Shepherd’s Gate such as SG Kids, Students, or Adults—whether you feel comfortable joining online or in-person.
I am still new at SG and looking forward to joining an online or in-person Bible study or small group in the near future. This will connect me to others, help me meet new friends, and develop a deeper, growing relationship with Jesus. Hope you will stop by and say hello soon!