How to do Digital Church in light of COVID!

Digital Church 101 – From Tech Gear to Small Groups

Posted On August 26, 2020 By Peter In ,

How does Digital Church work at Substance? After COVID hit our country, we made a simple decision: “We are no longer a physical church with digital options; rather, we are a digital church with physical locations.”  To borrow a phrase from Amazon, “It takes clicks to get bricks.

But how are we reinventing ourselves? Well, here are some videos and articles that came out of our “phase 1 shift” into digital church! We’ve already been making a lot of adjustments since posting this. So check back for more inspiration!

VIDEO – Backstage Tour of Substance’s Digital Church – [Click Here]

Description: After COVID-19 hit the U.S., many churches have been struggling to reimagine their church services. So, to stimulate creativity, Pastor Peter filmed a 15 min “behind the scenes” look at how Substance was moving forward with no physical services. From “Virtual Foyers” to “Virtual Growth Tracks.” Peter explains how they’re rethinking worship (for a distracting living room) and reorganizing their church around “Micro-campuses” (a.k.a. Zoom Small Groups.)

ARTICLE – What Technologies Do You Actually Use to Make it Work? 

Description: Rather than hearing the “psychological philosophies” behind digital live-streaming, this article is for the nerd-side of making your “signal chain” work – from video switchers, to software options, to cloud streaming. Many churches are experiencing “streaming fails” because they aren’t setting up the “back-end” aspects of their digital church. Above is a document put together by one of our IT staff members: Substance-Church-Online-Streaming-101.pdf

To get the LifeChurch software platform (to stream your church service) click here

ARTICLE – What’s the Exact Flow & Order of your Digital Church Service?

Description: We are not here to entertain people with a service. The liturgy of our service is designed to funnel people towards intimacy. Therefore, here is a short document we wrote for our staff to explain both the WHY and the WHAT of our Digital service flow…from the Pre-service show through to the Post-Service Small Groups… Substance Digital Service Flow & Mindset

Video: How to Think differently during COVID-19 – Philosophical shifts for Pastors – [Click Here]

Description: With the Corona Virus Bans on gatherings, how can we lead differently? What are some basic philosophical shifts we can make during this season that will keep our churches strong. Pastor Peter introduces the basic concept of Micro-campuses and how they can function as a place-holder until the meeting ban lifts. –  Transcript Version Here: PastoralShifts_COVID19

Video: Preach from your Kitchen table: Essential video tech toys to improve your media – [Click Here]

Description: With the Corona virus bans on gatherings, pastors need to turn to video preaching. But, we may not even be able to have a video team to help us. So, Pastor Peter explains how to have a bug-out bag filled with video tech. What the basic equipment that every pastor needs to preach anywhere at any time? From microphones to Iphone lenses, get ready for cheap solutions that work without a tech genius.

For extended Printable Gear List: Equipment List for Video Bag

Video: How We’re Coaching Our People to engage “Digital Services” –  [Click Here]

Description: Watch Pastor Peter as he teaches church members HOW to experience Digital Church from home. He answers questions such as: “How do we deal with distractions at home?” Should we watch on Facebook, Youtube or at the Website? What are some ways we can help be a digital missionary from home? And as you watch this, ask yourself, “How are we intensionally shaping the culture of “Digital church at Home?”


DIGITAL Small Group Resources – a.k.a., “Micro-campus” Training  

Micro-campuses are basically “digital small groups” that meet on Zoom either directly after church or during the mid-week. When COVID first forced us to go “all digital,” we took every small group in our church and temporarily converted them to Zoom Small Groups which would continually pastor our people. Since reopening two of our larger campuses, we’ve converted some of these micro-campuses back to physical small groups. Yet, many of our digital small groups are still thriving. So, here are a few of our internal documents and videos to help inspire you!

ARTICLE: The BIG PICTURE of how Digital Small Groups work at Substance – Substance Micro Campuses 101

ARTICLE: Best Practices of Digital Small Groups – Micro-Campus Best Practices

VIDEO: Micro-campuses Leader Training Wk 1: Listen to Pastor Peter teach our leaders the heart behind Digital Groups [Here]

ARTICLE: How do we do an ALL Digital Growth Track at Substance (from software to execution)? Growth Track Overview

VIDEO: “3 Catalyst Teaching” Pastor Peter trains Small Group Leaders & Ministry Teams the “3 Catalysts” of spiritual growth; 3 ingredients that form the foundation of our entire model of discipleship. If we can guarantee our church is great at these three things, the format of our churches (size, style, digital vs. physical) won’t even matter: Click

VIDEO: “Cliff Teaching” – Pastor Peter trains Small Group Leaders & Ministry Teams the “Cliff Teaching” – the 5 reasons why people quit small groups and ministry teams. All ministries struggle with various “cliffs” – different obstructions that prevent people from volunteering. But, do you know how to identify them? And are you actively building “ladders” to compensate for them? (For the Handout, click here)


Kids Media Resources — Pastor your Kids while They’re at Home – [Here] 

Description: In the coming days, there will be a lot of extra family time at home.  So here are some spiritually enriching things to READ, WATCH and DO.  These are some of our favorite resources for scripture engagement, Bible story videos  & some encouragement for mom & dad too!


Worship Resources – Specially designed for Living Rooms!

Worshipping in homes is not the same as live-worship in an auditorium. Living rooms are distracting. The chairs are too comfortable. Kids are crawling. People are staring out the window. And no one wants to sing out loud (for fear of other people listening!) So, after going all digital, our worship staff quickly realized that “worship leading for living rooms” needs to be significantly more engaging. So, here are a few worship videos that were specifically filmed for small groups in living rooms:

See Substance I.O. on Youtube for more of Substance worship!



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