Not all online church services are equal. The quality of streaming and how the church engages home viewers can make a big difference. Church communities that include lots of interactive features and make efforts to involve people at home can offer a more engaging experience that helps you feel the fellowship. If you don't feel connected with your current online church, try other options each week until you find one that fits your style. The benefit of watching a church service online is that you can join a church anywhere in the country if you don't find a local option you like.
Having a strong internet connection means you'll catch the entire service without buffering. That helps you understand everything you hear without having to string together bits and pieces. Using a device with a large screen also makes the experience more immersive. A small phone screen can be difficult to see and might make the service less enjoyable. If you have a smart TV, you might be able to watch the service on it for a larger screen that helps you feel more like you're there.
You'll likely feel more like a part of the community when you watch the church services weekly. You'll see the same pastors and musicians. If some people attend church in person, you might start to recognize faces in the audience. Seeing the same online viewers each week in the chat can also help build a sense of community.
Many online churches incorporate interactive features into their streams to help viewers like you feel more involved. This might include polls, question boxes, integrations with other apps and chats. Even though you can't participate in person, these features let you get involved from home. Don't be afraid to participate in the chat box to connect with other home viewers. Some churches let the chat continue after the sermon ends, which lets you discuss the service with fellow church-goers.
If you sit on the couch the entire time you watch the service, you might feel more like a spectator than a participant. To make the experience feel more authentic, get ready for the service as you would if you were going to a physical church location. Participate as you would if you were in the church. Sing aloud, raise your hands during worship and stand up when the congregation stands. Participate in call and response portions of the sermon. Have your Bible handy and open to the passages shared during the service. Those actions might seem little, but they make online church a more engaging experience that can help you feel involved.
Many online churches have more than just Sunday services streaming. If your online church home focuses heavily on its virtual services, it might host other events online, such as new member welcome meetings or Bible studies. It might have special services or activities for holidays or important events within the church community. If you live near the physical location of your online church, you might consider occasionally attending special events in person, even if you can't regularly make it there for weekly services.
Watching an online church service alone can make you feel disconnected. Invite your assisted living friends to your apartment to view the service with you to combat that feeling. It can feel a little more like you're sitting in a physical church when you're surrounded by other people of faith. Plus, you can talk about the sermon and the messages shared each week. You might even dig a little deeper into the scripture from the service with a mini Bible study session after you watch. Serve a few light refreshments or ask everyone to bring a dish so you can enjoy a potluck lunch together after the service. If you have a group of people you watch with regularly, you might take turns hosting each Sunday.
Many churches are active on social media channels, including Facebook and Instagram. Find your church on those social media platforms and follow it. It might share interactive posts on social media that give you another way to get involved. Commenting on those posts can also make you a part of the conversation and give you a chance to meet other church members virtually.
Some churches also create Facebook groups, Discord servers or forums for their members. These online gathering spots let you share your thoughts, hear from other church members and become active in the conversation. They give you another way to get involved in the church community, even if you don't show up at a physical location every Sunday.