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Church News

80% of church's newcomers watch a service online before attending in person

by Ruth Sax

Hundreds more people are 'attending' a church in Exeter, via a livestream video link of its services.

Rediscover Church in Exeter broadcasts its 11.30am service live online every Sunday to a local and international audience with around 100 - 150 people watching the service online each week. 

People from across Devon tune in via their laptops and mobile phones and are from a broad range of backgrounds including those who have never attended church before and exploring what it's like, to those who are unwell and housebound, to others who for a variety of reasons cannot attend in person.

The church says that it is finding an increasing number of people are deciding to watch online before coming in person as it's an opportunity for them to 'try church' before stepping foot through the door.

Operations and creativity coordinator at Rediscover Church, Jason Ham told Premier: "It's astonishing the range of people that tune in and they find it so encouraging. We've found that 80 per cent of our newcomers actually come in person after watching online first of all, so it's a great fit. We actually call it our 'digital welcome mat'."

The church team are now placing emphasis in giving their online viewers a warm welcome, by including an online chatroom where viewers are invited to contribute and join in interactive discussions throughout the whole service. 

"We are a digital generation. We live our lives on the internet and we thought we're going to put the service out online because we know people are there and coming into a church building can sometimes be a little bit scary. When you go into a new place and you're not quite sure what it's going to be like. 

"We thought, we're going to put it out online and we're going to reach people where they are, if they're at home, on the bus, even if they're in prison, and broadcast the service online."

Online Pastors are available and active on the chatroom engaging with those tuning in. This includes being available for people to ask them questions about the church and faith, and if anyone would like prayer the team are happy to offer support in this way.

The church also has online presenters offering an opportunity for the team to connect with the online viewers in a friendly and personal way.

Now, the church is inviting even more people to tune into its weekly livestream services and explore church for themselves.

Jess Parsons leads the team of online pastors said: "The online pastors are there to provide a friendly and warm welcome to all the online viewers and make sure that those people watching online have the opportunity to connect and feel part of the Rediscover church family. The online pastors are passionate about supporting people and creating a sense of community amongst our online viewers. 

"They are always so ready and willing to chat to people and offer encouragement. As a church, we believe in the power of prayer and the online pastors love to pray for people. Online viewers have the opportunity each week to ask for private prayer at any point during the service. It is always an honour and privilege to be able to stand with people in prayer for all sorts of needs and situations."

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