Be the first to hear the latest hybrid church insights and product updates from YouVersion for Churches.
Life.Church, a multi-site church based in Edmond, OK, recently launched services in the metaverse—an online world where people can socialize, work, and play.
On their first weekend, they saw 97 people in attendance with two people committing their lives to Jesus!
Since the launch, many churches have reached out to the Life.Church Online team with one main question: how did you do it?
We sat down with Life.Church Online Leader, Greg Gackle, to find out how his team is tackling ministry in virtual reality—and why they’re exploring this space.
At Life.Church, we’ll do anything short of sin to reach people for Christ. We do things that no one is doing to reach people no one is reaching.
We’re also consistently keeping an eye on technology because we’re eager to innovate and adapt where we see mission opportunity. We believe technology can be leveraged in powerful ways to help people engage with God.
We’ve explored VR in the past and launched a campus in Second Life back in 2007. But what piqued our interest recently was tech companies’ virtual reality investment combined with the increased affordability of VR headsets. This seemed to give VR momentum, and it was something our team wanted to explore.
Plus, we were burdened that there wasn’t a huge church presence in the VR space yet, and we saw that as an opportunity to be the church for a new audience.
The whole idea of these virtual realities is to create and immerse yourself in different worlds. Because of the experiential nature, people are really open to exploring church.
They’re more likely to go check out a church service and see what it’s like.
This creates a great opportunity to meet new people and engage in faith conversations. These conversations tend to be more transparent and vulnerable than what we experience when meeting someone new at a physical location because an online environment creates a sense of anonymity.
VR is also an exciting blend of in-person and online services because of the interactive elements.
We’re always happy to share with other churches what we are learning, but we’re still learning and figuring things out. We don’t consider ourselves experts in this area; however, there are a few steps we took to get up and running.
1. Pick a platform.
We went with Microsoft’s Altspace VR.
We chose it because we wanted something that would replicate our physical service experience, and allow people a high level of autonomy while limiting distractions.
We’re looking at other platforms as well, but Altspace VR was the place we decided to start.
2. Create an event.
This process includes entering service info and setting up the space. You can choose from customizable templates or build your environment from scratch.
We used a template and customized it by hanging posters and adding furniture. These elements were similar to what people experience at our physical locations.
Overall, setup was pretty straightforward.
3. Recruit people to serve.
We wanted to create a warm, welcoming environment in this space, so we needed roles similar to what we have at Life.Church Online or physical locations.
For example, we had greeters at the door, hosts throughout the lobby, and someone helping people take next steps at our Info Wall.
I would say that not every church has to have services in the metaverse. If you don’t feel like this is the right thing for you—or it’s not the right thing for you right now—that’s okay.
On the other hand, it could be a really exciting opportunity for churches. I would encourage church leaders to at least check out the technology. Having an awareness of how society is engaging with technology (and subsequently where culture is going) can only benefit you when it comes to reaching and leading people well.
Even if VR isn’t your next step as a church, seeing how people are engaging in this space can help your church unlock new ways to reach people—which is what we all want as the Church.
Our team has put together a helpful landing page with information about AltSpaceVR. This is a great place to start if you’re interested in joining a service.
We're rolling out more features soon. Stay up-to-date as we release new features.