In the ever-changing world of Information Technology, where practically everything is possible at the press of a button, the in-thing among many established Nigerian pastors is to embrace the internet facilities in the growth and propagation of their ministries. The internet is now the ideal place to conduct church activities as most of them are creating internet offshoots. Some years ago, churches had to part ways with huge sums of money to buy air time to televise their church activities on Radio/TV, or on some Christian cable channels. All that has now changed. With an investment in good websites with up-to-date facilities, churches can now broadcast services live online to global/mass audience. This new invention, apart from helping in contributing to the growth of these churches, has also helped in substantially raising the financial base of these churches, as worshippers/viewers can pay their offerings, tithes, e.t.c online and equally makes the churches easily accessible to anybody all over the world.
The sites are fully interactive, with a dedicated online pastor/administrator, live chat in an online “lobby”, Bible Study, one-on-one prayer through IM and communion (viewers use their own bread and wine from home), viewers can also click on a tab during the worship to accept Christ as their savior.
In the same vein, these churches beam their church services live, and this has been an integral part of church growth activities in recent times. This is because attending services online is the easiest, with little or no barrier for new converts to experience the church and decide if it’s a church they would want to be attending or not. Some churches have multiplied their regular attendance to several thousands of attendees in just a few months since they began broadcasting their services/activities live. It provides opportunity for people who would ordinarily miss church service. For instance, members who are ill can watch a video stream from their home computer. Business travelers or vacationing members can tune-in a live web cast when out of town. Seasonal members can stay current from their “other home.” Shut-ins can experience their church services live, without waiting for a CD or DVD to arrive. People stuck in their home because of bad weather can “virtually attend.”
Though these services come with a huge cost and a huge yearly maintenance fee, these men of God don’t mind. The cost of Web hosting and email, a domain name, and aesthetic quality level ranges from $2,000 to $7000 dollars. Some of the reasons given by some Pastors who have taken their ministries online include; it helps the church become a virile entity, many people think of church as a physical location. With live streaming and online facilities, a church ceases to be seen as just "that church down the road" because the messages are now accessible by anyone, anywhere. Secondly, it facilitates church growth; it gives the church a significant boost for dramatic growth. Thirdly, the church becomes a 24/7 ministry, using regular live streaming and uploading its previous messages which then becomes available as on-demand video, the ministry suddenly becomes an ever accessible by anyone, anywhere, anytime, and the messages will be ever alive at all times in every time zone. Fourthly, the church become a relevant church, in this age of fast food culture and impressive technological advancements when people are accessing music, videos and social networks on cell phones, wireless devices, internet cafes and hotspots, the church also needs to move closer to where people are and cater for them within their culture and lifestyle. Live streaming and on-demand video streaming allows people to access the content wherever they are and in a format they are comfortable with.
Some popular churches who have had heavy online presence in the last couple of months include Daystar Christian Centre, of Pastor Sam Adeyemi; Winner Chapel, of Bishop David Oyedepo; Christ Embassy, of Pastor Chris Oyakilome; Mountain of Fire Ministries, of Pastor D.K Olukoya; House on the Rock, of Pastor Paul Adefarasin and others. Their various website is a community on its own and has gained recognition all over the world. Apart from the live broadcast of service which is their major online service for now, the websites are also used for other evangelism functions. These include prayers and intercession, weekly or daily motivational talks, counseling, accessibility to major event details and others. Through the online medium, offering and tithing have been made easy as viewers can also pay online without even stepping into the church premises. These churches also use the websites to their books, CDs, tapes and other resource materials. With this laudable innovation in Christendom, there is no gainsaying the fact that Nigerian pastors have also joined the global village in evangelism and winning souls for Christ.