How to Start Church Online: One Pastor’s Story

What do you do when God calls your church to start an online ministry, but you have no idea where to begin?

You simply start.

This is what Higher Dimension Church in Houston, TX did this year after senior pastor Terrance Johnson felt called by God to begin church online.

The concept of building an online audience wasn’t foreign to Higher Dimension. For nearly two years, they’d been streaming their sermons and Bible studies online and had a solid audience from around the world.

But, Pastor Johnson wanted to do more: he wanted to build community around that content.

This September, they launched their online ministry through the Church Online Platform, with over 50 people accepting Christ their first Sunday.

Terrell Phearse, online pastor for Higher Dimension, recently sat down with our team to answer a few questions about their church online ministry.

How did you get started with your online ministry?

I was already a member at Higher Dimension serving in ministry and working in corporate management when Pastor J approached me about the role. Even though I knew nothing about starting an online ministry, I bought into the vision.

I started asking myself, our staff, and others “What does church online look like?” and “How would we facilitate that?” Then, I reached out to other churches who were doing ministry online and started picking their brains. After receiving inspiration from other online ministries across the nation, I had to determine how church online would work for our context and put together a plan to replicate the structure of our physical campus as closely as possible for our online campus.


How did you choose a platform?

We were already streaming our content, so we were familiar with this aspect of church online, but we were looking for a way to engage the viewers of our content. We felt a burden to lead and pastor this group of viewers just like we would attenders in a physical location.

While exploring our options, we found the Church Online Platform from Life.Church. It offered a way for us to build community around our content with live chat and live prayer. And, it was free. Who can turn down free?


How did you communicate about church online?

Since we’d been streaming our services online, our congregation was aware of our online presence, but they didn’t immediately understand how church online was different.

Our senior pastor led strongly in this area, casting vision for our online ministry. He talked about church online regularly and introduced me in front of the congregation to talk about where we were heading. To us, we were launching our third location—and we led with that vision.


Your senior pastor was very supportive. What tips would you offer to someone launching #churchonline who doesn’t have the full buy-in of his/her leadership team?

I would encourage them to continue to lead out into that area. It’s not a simple ministry to get buy-in on. Be prepared to answer lots of questions: technical and theological ones. Also, stay encouraged. Maybe God has appointed you to be the agent of change in your church. The world isn’t the same it was years ago, and the Internet has made it possible to make the world our mission field. Continue to pray and seek God, while learning about online ministry and teaching your leaders what’s possible.


What change have you seen in your church?

One of the biggest benefits we’ve seen is that our church online ministry has empowered our attenders to expand the way they do outreach and evangelism. They have more options when inviting friends, family, and the community to join them for church. We’ve seen an even greater spirit of evangelism and sharing.


Terrell Phearse
Special thanks to Pastor Terrell for sharing his experience starting a church online experience. Pastor Terrell would love to answer any questions you have about starting #churchonline or using the Church Online Platform. Visit our online community to connect with him.


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