July 6, 2009

Church Experiment #27: LifeChurch.tv

Sunday, I experienced the perfect storm of laziness.

It was the day after the 4th of July, which meant I enjoyed a few adult beverages with friends the previous evening. It also meant I stayed up pretty late and had a difficult time waking up in the morning. The weather was chilly and rainy in Cincinnati—an odd combination for early July. My gas tank was on empty, and I really didn’t feel like stopping to fill up. I had exhausted most of the churches within walking distance of my apartment. The Hindu Temple I plan on attending at some point in July is a thirty minute drive. And so on.

The perfect cure for a lazy Sunday afternoon?

Church online.

I have known about LifeChurch.tv (www.lifechurch.tv) for a few years. An acquaintance worked there for a brief stint, and I was always fascinated with its online church experience. At the time of my visit, they had twelve actual campuses—eight in Oklahoma, and one each in Florida, New York, Tennessee, and Texas. [They’ve since expanded to Arkansas, Kansas, and New Mexico, and more than doubled their campuses in Oklahoma.] From what I understand, all campuses use the same live feed for their services. If I go to church in Albany, New York, I watch the pastor from an Oklahoma campus give the message. As their tag line states, “One church. Multiple locations.”

In 2004, LifeChurch.tv decided to open an online campus. That means people all over the world can log on and watch the same service at the same time, complete with worship, an offering, announcements, and a message. (Communion is a little tougher.)

This isn’t a videocast. Many churches allow you to visit their website and watch a video from the previous week’s service. I used to listen to many podcasts on my MP3 player (Matt Chandler, John Ortberg, Mark Driscoll, Erwin McManus, Rob Bell), but this is different. [MP3 player? I guess my Sony Walkman was on the fritz that week.] It’s like going to church, only in your pajamas. How often do you attend church in your underwear?

I did exactly that yesterday. (You are welcome for that visual.)

To finish reading about this experience or any of the reflections from my 52 visits, please purchase the full book here.