Online Church vs Traditional Church: How to Create a Hybrid Experience

Corporate worship has been an essential function of a church gathering since the first century. In the Epistle to the Colossians, the apostle Paul encourages believers to gather together by “singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.”

For many churches, the worship portion of a weekly service provides an opportunity for congregant members to re-orientate their minds and hearts around the presence of God after a busy week filled with distractions, anxiety, and work.


Worship can serve other essential functions, as well. Sociologists have found that corporate singing can go a long way in creating feelings of unity and harmony among people of different backgrounds. Additionally, corporate worship styles are incredibly influential factors in determining how a person picks a church home.

However, the past year has placed significant strain on how churches craft meaningful worship experiences for their members and guests participating in their services in-person or at home. Whether we admit it or not, the hybrid church model is here to stay. So, how can a church use technology to empower a hybrid experience without losing sight of their mission or adding to the workload of their staff?

The Right Songs at the Right Moments

Crafting meaningful worship experiences and empowering a hybrid experience begins with equipping your worship team with the best tools. And we’re not talking about instruments (though, those are important too).

Service plans and worship sets can change on a dime in the days leading up to a weekly gathering. No matter the size of your church or congregation, communicating these changes to everyone involved in the production cycle of your worship services can be an inefficient and costly affair. And suppose the changes aren’t communicated effectively. In that case, Sunday morning will likely be an anxiety-ridden and frantic experience for your staff – especially if your church offers in-person gatherings and live-streamed services.

Pastors and worship teams are often caught in the strange tension of adhering to a regular production cycle while also being open to the movement of the Spirit throughout the week. Therefore, church leadership needs to seek out intuitive, replicable, and reliable solutions, but also malleable enough to allow for spontaneity and inspiration.

Because when everyone on stage and behind the scenes is on the same page, it helps create a cohesive experience for your guests that is less likely to be marred by unnecessary distractions, missed cues, and dead air. And as worship services become more elaborate and complicated (especially with the addition of a new online audience), fluidity and clarity in communication will be an integral part of your church’s hybrid experience.

Pushpay’s Solution:

Our new Lyric and Chord Chart Editor and Service Overview feature combined with our church leadership-centric LEAD app offers a multitude of customizable options to help streamline the worship planning process. Create and modify song lyrics and chord charts, and easily share songs with worship team members through Service Plans.

In a matter of seconds, you can make the changes you want, and your worship and production teams will always have access to the most up-to-date version of the week’s worship set and service order. With this new product, you’ll be able to support the hands and heart of your worship team as they build unique worship experiences for your congregation.

The Money Question

After the pandemic forced many churches to temporarily shift in-person gatherings to online, you could well argue that only two types of churches exist now: Churches that already had an online giving strategy and churches that now have an online giving strategy.

Church finance is often considered taboo, but the pandemic forced the conversation to the forefront of every church leader’s mind. Without an offering plate to pass during service, how were many faithful congregant members going to be able to continue to give? Without a reliable revenue stream, how would the church continue to pay its monthly bills, mortgage payments, employee wages, and operating costs?

Thankfully, the catastrophic decline in charitable giving that many predicted never materialized, but that was due in no small part to technological innovation in the faith-tech sphere that emphasized removing entry barriers to online giving. Undoubtedly, the pandemic served as a wake-up call for many faith communities to take cultural changes in their congregants’ giving habits seriously.

Pushpay’s Solution:

Alongside Pushpay’s world-class digital giving platform, we’re constantly striving to make our products easier to use and more accessible to our users. This year, we’ve introduced Fastmode web giving that’ll decrease friction donors may experience while giving. With this release of Fastmode, we are continuing our efforts to simplify the giving experience by giving the donor the option to disable SMS authentication for future gifts from their mobile phone. Once Fastmode is enabled, the giving experience is simplified to only two screens.

Additionally, we’re introducing Spanish online giving that’ll help your team connect with Spanish-speaking congregant members. For the thousands of Spanish-speaking donors in the churches we serve, being able to experience online giving in Spanish will allow them to feel more confident in their gift-giving process. We believe churches that have a significant population of Spanish-speakers will experience an increase in online giving due to this feature.

Securing the Future

In an eye-opening Barna Research report conducted in 2020,


of millennial churchgoers

admitted to relying on podcasts, recorded sermons, and other digital media instead of attending a traditional in-person worship gathering “about half the time” or “often.”

Comparing these results of the same question posed to Baby Boomers and Gen Xers, it’s obvious younger generations are more likely to look to digital resources to supplement their church experience – and, in some cases, replace it entirely.

Most churches’ goal is to create disciples within their local communities through in-person gatherings – like a weekly worship service or small group. However, most people don’t visit a local church “out of the blue” anymore – they visit the church’s website, download the app, listen to a few archived sermons, and explore their social media presence.

It’s easy to see this generational development as a handicap, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Crafting an inviting and engaging digital presence has never been easier, and you can leverage this strategy and technology to empower a hybrid experience that can connect with more people within and outside your church’s traditional reach.

Pushpay’s Solution:

Our custom mobile church application lets you create a mobile app experience that’ll help you connect with your congregation wherever they are. With your sleek and easily navigable app, you can post sermon notes, archive sermons as audio podcasts, live stream services, and share blog posts.

We’re also excited to launch a new feature that’ll make your church’s worship gatherings more interactive and participant focused. Quick Polls will allow you to send out questions and small surveys to gauge your congregation’s thoughts and attitudes on topics you can weave into your sermons. The results are tabulated in real-time, and you can use the data to customize your message to your audience. You can also use this feature to gather feedback on events or thoughts on church-wide initiatives you’re thinking about rolling out. Additionally, the new Rich Push Notification functionality lets you update your congregation throughout the week with beautiful notifications sent straight to your congregants’ home screen on their phones.

Online Church vs Traditional Church: Hybrid Church Examples

Interested in hearing how other churches have been empowering hybrid experiences this past year? During Church Disrupt 2021, Church leaders and staff came together to discuss the future of Church and creative ways to solve ministry challenges. During the Digital Discipleship breakout session, our panelists talked through their tips for creating the best hybrid Sunday experiences.

Hear how Timberlake Church, Churchome, and Real Life Church leaned more on digital strategies such as custom church apps, social media platforms, and ChMS tools to provide them with the feedback and data they need to support their communities.

Watch this free session and more by heading to our Church Disrupt website.


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