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From the Wayback Machine: Spotlight on Four of the First Church Online(s)

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A note from Jeff:

Recently on The Church Digital Podcast, we've been featuring some of the OG guys of Church Online. Nils Smith & Greg Atkinson were two pioneers for Church Online, and seeing how the church has moved online in this COVID-19 season, we really have to thank Nils, Greg, and some of those churches who pioneered in the early days... helping us get to where we are today. That's what this blog post is about... Written back in 2008 (neither of my children were born, yet) Greg highlights four Church Onlines, complete with dated graphic designs, bad UI, names from the past... but four churches who bought into the bleeding edge technology, allowing us to do what we're doing today: So, Life.Church, Flamingo Road (now Potential Church), Seacoast, and Central Christian Church... thank you.


 

Yesterday I (and my family) were home sick. I had already watched LifeChurch.tv’s Saturday night service online, but ended up worshipping with 3 other internet campuses while home sick. I actually saw a 4th internet campus, but was not happy with it and decided not to call them out. Below, I’ll share with you the 4 churches that blessed me this weekend:

LifeChurch.tv:

I think the “Mix & Mingle” Lobby Chat is fascinating and am amazed to see how God uses it. 2 weeks ago, over 50 people prayed to receive Christ through LifeChurch.tv’s internet campuses – that’s more than most churches see in a year.

No, that’s not Craig Groeschel. They had an awesome guest speaker. Of notice in this picture is their “Give Online” area of the screen. At the bottom left, you can follow the message notes. Great experience. Most people think of LifeChurch.tv when they think of an internet campus.

Above, LifeChurch.tv always lets you choose between 2 different worship leaders. This is cool, but I have an issue. What happened to Stephen Cole?? Stephen Cole is my favorite worship leader at LC and I’m thinking about starting a petition to bring him back as an option. He rocks!

Above is LifeChurch’s Internet Campus Pastor Brandon Donaldson. I need to get to know that dude.

Flamingo Road Church:

Above was a screenshot taken after one of their morning services. The red dots show you who was watching around the world!

Flamingo was having a baptism that day (they had a great video announcement about it – very cool). Want to participate in baptism? Just text the word: BAPTISM. Folks, we are literally watching the face of Church change before our eyes.

The thing that impressed me the most about my South Florida friends is that they know how to make church fun. This is a screen shot of beach balls being tossed around the auditorium. You’d have to be there to understand.

Above is Flamingo’s Lead Pastor, Troy. Flamingo was truly the highlight of my morning and a wonderful surprise. There is talk of the Church 2.0 Local Forum in Miami being held at Flamingo Road Church – shhhh!

Above is Flamingo’s Internet Campus Pastor, Brian Vasil. I was introduced virtually to Brian through my friend, Tony Steward via last week’s LifeShare. I was introduced to Flamingo Road’s Internet Campus through my friend, DJ Chuang.

Seacoast Church:

Number 3 was Seacoast Church. I know Seacoast well. I lived in Charleston, SC for 8 years (went to Charleston Southern University) and used to attend Seacoast on Saturday nights, then lead worship on Sunday mornings at my church. My friend and classmate at CSU, Shawn Wood, is the Experiences Pastor at Seacoast. I have a great respect for their ministry as a whole.

This month Seacoast is celebrating their 20th anniversary. They had an AMAZING video intro and message graphics that Shawn told me were created by Dallas’ own Barton Damer. Below is a still frame from Rick Warren saying a “Happy Anniversary” to Seacoast Church.

Below is pastor Greg Surratt preaching. He shared a powerful true story of a major car accident that his family had been in 20 years ago. It was very moving. I have always loved his transparency. Notice the interactive response elements at the bottom. You can nail your sins to the cross, light a candle or prayer virtually. Click “More” for more information on communion and giving a tithe.

Out of the 5 internet campuses that I worshipped with, my favorite musical worship was Seacoast hands-down. Keep in mind that I was a worship pastor for 11 years and have a degree in music, so music and worship is very close to my heart. I’ve been a supporter of worship leader Martin Chalk for years, almost 10 years to be exact.

One thing I love about the worship experience at Seacoast is that they always end with responsive worship. The message doesn’t end the service. I love that! I think once you encounter God through His Spirit and the teaching of His Word, you should have a chance to respond. Seacoast gets that! Below is their Internet Pastor (and fellow CSU alumni) Brad Singleton.

Central Christian Church:

Central Christian was a last minute add-on. I was reading Twitter and saw Mike Foster say that he was watching CC’s internet campus. I jumped on and caught them mid-service. With that being said, I didn’t get a chance to experience any of their music. I will another time. I did, however get to catch Senior Pastor Jud Wilhite – he’s great. I attended Central Christian when I spoke at NAB in Las Vegas.

Below you’ll see something that I found very helpful and just plain cool. You can not only take notes during the message, but you can also print out those notes or email them to yourself. I like that.

I forgot to mention yesterday that Flamingo Road emailed me message notes – that, too, was very cool. Isn’t technology just an amazing tool God has given us???!!!

More to come about these and other internet campuses! So… what are your thoughts? Does the thought of over 50 people praying to receive Christ via the internet freak you out? Do you praise God? Both? Is your church considering an internet campus? Are you philosophically opposed to one? Let me hear ya.

PODCAST 072: Greg Atkinson: Why Toothpaste Won't Go Back in the Tube
PODCAST 073: Greg Aukerman, Microchurches, & Stairstepping Back to Buildings

About Author

Greg Atkinson
Greg Atkinson

Greg Atkinson is the Founder of Worship Impressions and the First Impressions Conference. Greg is an author, leadership coach, consultant, and member of Forbes Coaching Council. Greg has worked with churches of all stages and sizes, including some of the largest and fastest-growing churches in the country, as well as with businesses, non-profits, and organizations such as Josh McDowell Ministries.

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