The Story of Saddleback Church’s Online Campus
Saddleback Online didn’t launch with a service every second. In 2005, Saddleback Church started to stream five live services to a simple web page, but the access was behind a password. You had to be a member of our church in order to watch a service online.
In the following years the password requirement was removed. In 2009, I volunteered to help out with this little website called the Internet Campus. I trained a couple chat hosts to moderate the chat rooms and started to care for the community through responding to prayer requests. Once I got a taste of the possibilities of doing church online, I never turned back.
During 2010 Saddleback started a new journey by launching 10 simulated live services (or rebroadcasted services) during the week at 12pm and 7pm pacific time. During the launch of our new services people were also now able to host or join an Online Group. Online Groups gave an easy next step for anyone in our community to start living out their faith with others. Online Groups were accessible to anyone. Internet connection was the only requirement for getting into a group. The new services and the Online Groups were a success, so Saddleback launched a service every two hours from Sunday to Friday bringing our total service count to 74 services each week.
Our next move in 2012 was to start streaming services every two hours 7 days a week. The growth to 83 services was a great test and our community continued to grow and mature. Along with having services every two hours people anywhere were now able to host a group in their home called Extensions. Extensions were literally an extension of Saddleback that people could launch anywhere in the world. The Extension strategy was a huge step for our online community because people online could stream a service into their homes and provide an in person community experience in their area. Saddleback is now planning to launch several house churches in the coming years through the Online Campus with the hopes they turn into future campuses, but this strategy is just now in the beginning stages of development. The great news is everyone of our international campus launches has had people who were part of the Online Campus join the launch team. Online to offline.
To get to 167 services the team started to stream a service every hour in 2013. Additionally, Saddleback added an on-demand option to our Online Campus. 2014 brought about the shift from moving away from rebroadcast services and going to fully on-demand both on desktop, mobile, and Roku. The Online Campus page is moving towards an continually online event where people can get connected into the community. I’m more of a Small Group’s pastor with an online venue to get people connected. Things are changing quick.
Nine years later Saddleback is streaming a service every second weekly with people engaged in Online Small Groups, Small Groups, and Extensions. I’m not sure what the future looks like for the Saddleback’s Online Campus, but I’m open for anything.