Biggest Online Churches in 2021
Online churches are typically unique campuses found within a multi-site church. However, there’s really no set definition for exactly what an online church is. Our list includes churches that go beyond simply streaming services or maintaining active Facebook communities.
As generations and their preferences have changed, online churches have become more prevalent. In fact, they’re now a trend that church leaders will find costly to ignore. An online church can open your doors to new attendees and more regular donors since it lets people worship on their own schedule.
Distance, disability and illness can also keep people away from brick-and-mortar churches. An online church provides a gateway to Sunday services, enabling those who otherwise wouldn’t attend your house of prayer the ability to observe from the comfort of anywhere. Here are some of the biggest online churches in 2021 and what they offer attendees.
The 5 Biggest Online Churches in 2021
Rather than seeking churches that have only an ordinary online presence, we looked for churches that treat the internet as their own standalone campus. These churches feature interactive chats, dedicated pastors who run the online services and even a digital ministry to help congregants interact and form meaningful connections.
Life.Church is in Edmond, Oklahoma. Visitors of this church can attend online and chat with friends, volunteer for a prayer team and take part in live sermons. This megachurch has 27 physical church locations across eight states, but new members never have to step foot in any of them to be part of the Life.Church family.
With an entirely online, fully functioning church, Life.Church serves over 70,000 people each week. It’s easily one of the most notable examples of online churches to date, and it owes a lot of its success to Senior Pastor Craig Groeschel. Groeschel founded Life.Church in 1996, launching it out of his two-car garage using secondhand projection equipment.
Over the past 20 years, Life.Church has flourished and is now one of the largest churches in the nation. This is partly because of the reveal of its Internet Campus just a decade ago. The campus opened alongside YouVersion, which to this day repeatedly ranks as the most popular Bible app. The app also broadcasts sermons on the popular life simulation game Second Life.
2. Church of the Highlands
Based in Birmingham, Alabama, the Church of the Highlands enjoys a weekly attendance of about 40,000 people. Senior Pastor Chris Hodges founded the church in 2001 with approximately 30 followers. Hodges never gave up on his mission, even with slow initial growth, and went on to spearhead the church’s 15 locations across Alabama.
Hodges eventually founded the online campus as well, which features a dedicated pastor all its own. Among his other duties, Pastor David Russell leads an online prayer team that constantly reaches out to congregants and fulfills requests for prayers. For its visitors, having a dedicated pastor and teams for the online campus helped to establish the online church as a legitimate and distinct place to practice their religion.
3. North Point Community Church
Over 39,000 people attend North Point Community Church in Alpharetta, Georgia, every week. Founded in 1995 by senior pastor Andy Stanley, North Point started out in the suburbs of Atlanta, where congregants met twice a week in rented facilities. A year later, the church had gained enough support to purchase 80 acres in Alpharetta, and it has continued expanding ever since.
Today, North Point has 15 locations in Georgia, but through strategic partnerships, it has established a global presence. The online campus at NorthPoint Live brings all the church’s global campuses together. On social media platforms, people enjoy themed series, blog posts and guided discussions that tie in with the weekly teachings.
4. Saddleback Church
Around 25,000 people congregate at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California, each week. In 1980, Saddleback Church began with a Palm Sunday service at Laguna Hills High School. The church spent decades simply surviving, but it is now thriving thanks to the internet and technology. Senior Pastor Rick Warren has led it all and now enjoys international notoriety for his book “The Purpose Driven Life.”
Saddleback Church has 14 physical locations across California, but it also has a global presence. There are campuses in Berlin, Buenos Aires, Hong Kong and South Manila. Like many other churches, Saddleback employs a pastor dedicated to its online services. Pastor Jay Krand leads live streams and helps run the online groups that people can take part in. Visitors can alternatively start their own groups and connect over shared interests from anywhere in the world.
5. Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale
Based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Calvary Chapel is among the biggest online churches in 2021. It caters to about 25,000 people every week. Bob Coy founded this church, but the Senior Pastor is Doug Sauder. Both men have played a vital part in the church’s success throughout the decades. Coy opened it in 1985, and it now includes more than 30 churches across Florida.
Pastor Dan Hickling runs Calvary Chapel’s web campus, which hosts five live services per week. He also operates the online community, where he encourages social connections. Community members can ask and answer questions, pray together and discuss the weekly services. This is a church that has adapted quickly to changes over time and has approached worship with an innovative mindset to meet needs of an ever-evolving congregation.
Encourage Engagement at Your Church
While an online campus may not be in the cards for your church right now, it’s not a bad idea to monitor what’s changing in the world of worship and what the biggest online churches in 2021 are up to. With digital interactions becoming a greater part of day-to-day life, every church should consider the role that technology and the internet play in the worshiping habits of congregants.
At Donor Werx, we believe online churches are the most impactful because they embrace technology. If you’re not sure where to start, explore our coaching and software solutions to take your church to the next stage. Growing your church—and its revenue—is a direct by-product of donor engagement, and our donor-centric solutions will help your church emphasize and improve the donor experience at every touchpoint. Schedule a Discovery Call to learn more.