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Pastor Troy Dobbs at Grace Church Eden Prairie in Minnesota during the lockdown. Adam Bettcher/Getty Images

Online church attendance spiked last weekend as members watched from home

Many people turn to religion in times of crisis, if only temporarily. After the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, church attendance across the country briefly spiked, as people sought community and meaning in the face of fear.

It is a particular challenge to churches, then, that our current crisis requires that we stay home.

Online church attendance seems to be the answer currently.

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In the wake of recommendations to suspend large gatherings to stop the spread of COVID-19, the Church Online Platform saw record-breaking attendance for the weekend of March 14 and 15. The tool helped churches in countries around the world stream church services to a total of 4.7 million unique devices, which is four times the average total attendance for one weekend.

“With everything going on in the world, we believe it’s vitally important for the church to continue to meet online and spread messages of hope,” said Bobby Gruenewald, Life.Church Pastor, Innovation Leader.

“In the same way that hospital doors will remain open to meet the physical needs of people during this time, we’re encouraged to see so many churches leveraging online technology to remain open and help meet their spiritual and emotional needs.”

Throughout the last week, the Church Online Platform has seen more than 6,000 new churches sign up to use the tool. As a result, online church attendance is expected to be substantially higher this coming weekend.

“We’re encouraged to see such an overwhelming response from churches around the world who refuse to let anything keep them from sharing about God’s goodness and faithfulness,” Gruenewald said.

The Church Online Platform was created by Oklahoma-based Life.Church in 2006 and serves more than 20,000 churches worldwide. The tool enables churches to stream their own church services and build community online by using the chat and one-on-one prayer features. It’s free and easy to use. In fact, churches can use a smartphone or camera to record their sermon, upload it to a site like YouTube, and begin streaming in less than an hour.

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