Is It Okay To Stay Home And Watch Church Online?

Church-Online-for-slider-1You know that we shop online, find medical advice online, take classes online, watch tv online, and play games online. But did you know that one third of new marriages began via online dating? One out of every three new marriages began by people meeting via the internet! If the most intimate and personal relationships are beginning online then it’s pretty obvious that the internet has integrated into every aspect of our daily lives.

Churches aren’t exempt from this online revolution. If people live big parts of their life online then they will expect their church to offer an online experience. But is that okay? Does online church work? Is it okay to stay home and watch church on your computer and feel good about it? If it’s not, then why do churches (including The Crossing) live stream their services and offer other online worship experiences?

Here’s the good and the bad…

The Good

1. Online church provides an easy onramp for new people to check out the church. Going to a new church can be hard for people especially if they haven’t been to church in several years. They’re wondering if the church is weird or if they’ll like the music and message or if they will meet any people like themselves. By watching a few services online they can get a lot of their questions answered and decide if they want to show up on a Sunday morning.

2. Due to a variety of cultural factors people who are committed to a local church attend less often than they would’ve in the past. We might not like that but it’s the new reality. And wishing things were different won’t help. Online church allows people who are traveling to stay connected.

3. Online church broadens the reach of a local church. People who move from Columbia to go to college or to start a new job can stay connected. People can tell friends and family who live in other cities to watch the services online as a mean of spiritual outreach. There are stories of people all over the world becoming Christians by watching a church’s online services.

The Bad

1. Attending church is about more than getting information. If the goal was just to educate and inform then there would be no need to have a physical worship service at all. We could just do everything online. But the church is a community of believers who share life together. Christians are called to pray for each other and help each other in times of need and learn to be patient with each other and love each other. Those “one another” parts of the christian life can’t happen online.

2. You don’t get as much out of the worship service when you watch it online as you do when you’re physically present. Don’t you find that to be true? The times that my family is out of town and I’ve live streamed the service, I’ve found myself easily distracted. Maybe you try to start lunch or throw in a load of laundry while the service is going on in the background. Maybe you’re more distracted by your phone or email. And have you ever really tried to sing the songs and participate in the readings, confessions, and prayers at home? It’s not the same is it?

3. It’s not good for your kids. If you have a kid in preschool through high school a steady diet of online church isn’t good for their faith. They need the interaction with their peers in classes that are designed to especially for them. And your kids need to see that their parents value church, Christian community, their spiritual life, their relationship with Jesus enough to go through the hassle of getting to a worship service on a Sunday morning.


I’m sure that we could come up with more reasons that offering online worship services is good and bad. One thing I know is that it’s here to stay. Ignoring people’s desires to connect online isn’t going to work. Instead we will all have to try to take advantage of the positives and be on guard for the negatives.

I said earlier that one out of every three new marriages began with the people meeting online. But none of them stayed that way. No one wants an online marriage. There are good reasons to take advantage of online options when it comes to church or your relationship with God but don’t let your online experience define those relationships. An online church relationship works about as well as an online marriage. It doesn’t.


  1. Micah Carson said:

    With a chronically ill child who we typically can’t bring to church, my husband and I take turns gong to church on Sunday morning, and the other watches the live stream at home. While it certainly isn’t the same as attending, it’s been a huge blessing to us in fighting isolation and staying somewhat connected to our church family. We’re thankful.

  2. Tina Calderon said:

    I have a relationship with God not a church. I do better in my spiritual journey online than going to a church. I have more peace and no distractions. I love GOD. I attended church for 65 yrs. I am online member with Ron Carpenter Ministries

  3. LaQuita Smith said:

    I like online church. Its a blessing knowing that I don’t have to miss a service although it has made me lazy by not getting dress and driving to service. Sometimes I find that I am more distracted at church than sitting at my computer desk hearing the message on line. I still feel the presence of the Lord at home when I am listening or singing at home. The church I attend also have small groups that meet every week except in the months of August, January and April. By being a member of a small group it keeps me connected to others but in a smaller way because the church I attend is a mega church.

  4. Chris Tolliday said:

    I got sick of the gossip and being looked down on as well as the isolation I experienced in every church I have ever attended, nothing worse than being lonely in a crowd. i have just recently left a new church as well after 4 months. the previous one was full of gossip and after 5 years. I had enough not once did I get a visit from anyone nor did any of the pastor really have time for me.( they were busy going overseas and teaching bible college much more important) or have anyone ask me how i was no matter how hard I tried now i give up and will have to watch online because of this. I have every right as a christian to be part of a fellowship but for some reason it just has never happened .. I have lived a mostly solitary life which I hate but now have no choice as I dont fit in anywhere….

  5. Personally, I have two jobs, and at one point one of my jobs was from the morning. My church service is in the evening. I recently converted to Christianity, like a couple months ago? Possibly 3? But Now a specific job changed my time to the evening and lately I have been watching church services through youtube. And I would get the lecture/message once I am alone without anybody home. When I do have people in my home, I simply just pause it and wait til I can finish that lecture the next day. So, I don’t see anything wrong with it.

  6. David said:

    Has church attendance been affected by mass shootings at church campuses? Most of the people I talk with are very concerned about personal protection during church services. Some members are now only attending small group Bible Studies in the homes.

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