Some Tips for a Fully Online Church

Since launching our online church in August of 2020, JXN Cloud has released over 270 videos on YouTube, bringing in a collective 299,235 impressions, 23,800 views and 1,443 watch hours. We still have a lot to learn as we have yet to build an active online church community, but here are a few things that we’ve come to see over the last year and a half that you may find helpful to your own online engagements:

1. REACHING A YOUNGER AUDIENCE: On YouTube, 71% of our known watchers have been between the ages of 25-34. A few years ago the SMC was training us to “grow younger,” and online engagement may be one way in which we can do that. While I realize that this age range is not that of the up-and-coming generation, it is the age of those who grew up with YouTube as their main source of online video entertainment. If we want to grow even younger than this, using an online video service that younger people use, like TikTok, will likely provide outreach to them. Of our known watchers on YouTube, no one has been below 17 or over 45.

2. CREATING SHORTER VIDEOS: Short videos have become a huge trend. For example, the explosively popular platform, TikTok, features videos that typically run anywhere from 10-60 seconds. Most of our JXN Cloud episodes have been created in more of a short podcast form, each episode being about 15-30 minutes long. This has not held attention well, with the average watch time of our videos being somewhere between two and a half to three minutes long. While JXN Cloud wasn’t created with the purpose of offering micro videos, we’ve taken a few clips from our videos and turned them into TikToks to see what might happen. We’ve come to find that while the majority of our YouTube videos get a few dozen views over long periods of time, all of our TikToks have gotten over a hundred views very quickly—many of them having several hundred views. Churches will need to rethink how we reach people online as the attention span of internet users continues to decrease.

3. CREATING VIDEOS FOR NON-CHURCH AUDIENCES: Every week we aim to release two videos of us discussing a Bible passage and one video of us playing a game. We added this gaming element in so that we might reach people who would never look for us otherwise. These videos have proved quite successful. While I wish people were looking for our Bible discussions, the truth is that the majority of our views have come from our gaming videos. For example, 29% of all of our collected views have come from one video of us playing the game, “Poetry for Neanderthals” (see the video above). While these kinds of videos may not be our main focus, clearly they can help put us in front of the broader online community.

We still have a lot to learn about how to do online church right, but I thought we’d share some of the things we’ve seen through JXN Cloud since we launched. May these stats help you as you continue to experiment!

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