The Church Online Platform, a digital tool enabling churches to stream their own services and build community online, has seen 42,000 churches sign up to use its platform this year.
The platform launched in 2011 and is used around the world. As well as providing a streaming service, it also offers a chat function and one-to-one prayer facility.
With the closing of physical church doors, the Church Online Platform saw nearly 500,000 people across the world indicate that they gave their life to Christ in 2020.
Life Church Innovation Leader and Pastor Bobby Gruenewald, whose church has met online and in-person for many years, told Premier that it's been an amazing year for digital ministry.
"We've really been humbled to see what God's done this year. 2020 is a year that a lot of people might want to forget. But for us, it's been just an incredible year of seeing God use digital ministries in a really significant way. We've seen a huge response to people that are using the Church Online Platform to be able to help facilitate community online, as you'd expect, with over 42,000 churches signing up just this year alone to use the platform."
Pastor Bobby, who is based in Oklahoma and is also a founder of the Bible app, YouVersion has been ahead of his time when it comes to online ministry:
"We've been a hybrid church really for many years now and I think that's really going to be what we see going forward...where people are a bit ambidextrous. They might go to church physically and they might go to church digitally and other contexts and back and forth. We think that'll be something that'll be here to stay," he said.
The platform is used by churches all over the world and in multiple languages. It can be used on mobile devices as well as on desktop computers. According to Pastor Bobby, most people access it from their phone.
Despite the platform's success, Pastor Bobby said his team has experienced the same kinds of pressures felt by people worldwide during the pandemic:
"This has been a very, very challenging year for the team because of the growth, which is a good thing. But at the same time, they've been still dealing with all the same realities that everybody else does as far as having to navigate school with your children and all the dynamics that I think we all are facing right now. But just pray for God's wisdom and creativity as we think of new features and new ways to engage with people. We just are humbled to be a part of what God's doing and I know our team would always appreciate your prayers."