The Number One Mistake Pastors Make in Online Worship Services

Craig HueyChurch, Current Events, Media4 Comments

Across America – across the world – millions of people are watching church services online.

Many churches have found that they have actually had an increase in people listening to their online services.

But for most churches, the people listening are the same people who normally would attend their live service.

When the pandemic is over, online listening of church services may decrease, but it’s not going to go away. It will be bigger than it was before.

But there is one tragic mistake being made by pastors nationwide.

This last week, my wife and I actually watched 4 online Sunday morning worship services. Two of them were successful in communicating the gospel … and two of them lost a huge opportunity.

Let me explain.

Across the America, the unchurched, the backslidden Christians and nominal Christians have been seeking answers.

The hurt, the fear, the desperation felt by so many are reflected in people listening to these online services.

When there have been traumatic events in the past – such as 911 – people have been open to accept the Lord or come back to the Lord.

Pastor Greg Laurie is a good example of someone who has seen some 50,000 people accepting Jesus Christ as their personal savior since the Coronavirus pandemic began.

How does he know?

He does two things:

  1. He asks at every service for people to accept Christ and he explains the good news and the message of salvation so that they can say a sinner’s prayer.
  2. Since they can’t raise their hands or walk forward, he asks them to click a button online showing that they have accepted Christ as their personal savior.

Any and every church should do this. Any and every church should do this.

Here is a screen shot:

Pastor Jentezen Franklin does a similar thing, but through texting. Here is a screen shot of what he does.

Many pastors consider themselves teachers; they don’t consider themselves evangelists.

But in this day and age every pastor has to be an evangelist …and every service is an opportunity for people being touched by the power and might of Jesus Christ.

The Great Fire of Chicago began about 9 pm on Sunday, October 8, 1871.  It lasted until early Tuesday, October 10th. The rapidly spreading fire killed approximately 300 people, destroyed roughly 3.3 square miles of Chicago, and left over 100,000 residents homeless. 

D.L. Moody’s church was destroyed, as was his family’s home and the homes of many of his congregation.  Moody himself said that he was able to save nothing but his reputation and his Bible.  But there was a more disturbing aspect to the Great Chicago Fire that involved Moody. 

He had held his usual service the Sunday evening the fire broke out.  At the close of the service, he asked his congregation to evaluate their relationship to Christ and to return the following week to make a decision.  This, he thought, would give them time to really think things over and result in a lasting decision.  He wanted to make sure they were sure about accepting Christ, not wanting to pressure them into making a decision they wouldn’t stick with. 

It would be a Sunday that many attending that service wouldn’t live to see.  Within a matter of hours, many of those who sat under Moody’s words were dead.  There is no way of knowing how many that night could have gotten their hearts made right with God had an altar call been given, and there’s no way of knowing how attendees that night died in the fire and were not ready to meet God.

Moody would never be the same after that incident. 

“I have never since dared,” Moody later said, “to give an audience a week to think of their salvation… I have never seen that congregation since. I will never meet those people until I meet them in another world. But I want to tell you of one lesson that I learned that night which I have never forgotten, and that is, when I preach, to press Christ upon the people then and there and try to bring them to a decision on the spot.  I would rather have that right hand cut off than to give an audience a week now to decide what to do with Jesus.”​

In every service there will people who will never come back again, never hear the gospel again, and never have an opportunity to accept Christ as their personal savior.

What is your church doing?

If your pastor needs help in setting this up, send me an email and we will see if we can help them.

What do you think? Email me at

Harvey, Bonnie C. 1997. D. L. Moody: The American Evangelist. Uhrichsville, Ohio: Barbour Publishing.
The Great Chicago Fire on Wikipedia

Here are the rest of this week’s articles:

4 Comments on “The Number One Mistake Pastors Make in Online Worship Services”

  1. Our pastor, even though ours is an evangelical church, preaches very shallow messages and rarely gives an alter call, and never online. He is a huge disappointment to many of us, but our church had gone through a very difficult time, was without a pastor for more than two years, so took what they could get. Pretty sad situation.

  2. We have a wonderful pastor. In fact we have several pastors and elders who preach from time to time. All bring the message of salvation through Jesus Christ into the conclusion of their sermons. Each asks for those wanting to receive Jesus as Savior to talk to one of the pastors or elders after the service. The entirety of the Bible is about Jesus and God’s plan of salvation from the sin that runs rampant in each of us separating us from God, our Creator. There is no reason why every Biblical sermon shouldn’t bring Jesus into it. It’s all about Him.

  3. Excellent and extremely informative articles! I am happy I beling to a church that gives the invitation to receive Christ at every service and provides a platform for them to respond! God willing, it will reopen the church doors as well!!! Thank you so much!

  4. Thank you, Craig. This is a time in history when people are seriously thinking about life & death. It is so important that none of us take a person’s salvation forgranted. I hope & pray that we will be bold in sharing God’s plan/path of salvation/eternal life with all…even assurance for those who may not know, or aren’t sure, where they would spend eternity when they die.
    Little did we know just a few months ago that we wouldn’t be able to assemble together.

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