Online Church Best Practices with Jay Kranda

During COVID-19, our team is going live twice a week for The Vanderbloemen Network LIVE, bringing you interviews with church and ministry leaders to help you lead well during this crisis. In today's live session, I interviewed Jay Kranda, Online Campus Pastor at Saddleback Church, about the best practices of online church. Here are a few highlights from our interview.

1. The Structure of Online Church

When talking about online church, Jay emphasized three phases that are important to focus on:

  • Online Services
  • Small Groups
  • Online Classes 

Jay shared a story from his first few years of leading Saddleback’s online campus of having password-protected church resources to eventually choosing to remove all of the passwords. This has encouraged visitors and members to access church resources easily during this challenging time. Jay has found that using virtual response cards has allowed him to genuinely connect with people online. 

I love how Jay has created a blueprint for online church for the past ten years at Saddleback Church that he can share with many people across the globe who are figuring out church online for the first time. 

I hope that online church during this crisis is an inspiration for how church leaders can take their online community from online to offline after the crisis. Post COVID-19, we can integrate the two in order to make disciples. I know Jay is passionate about discipleship and while being at Saddleback, he has discovered the balance of what to share online as well as what he and his community can do locally. He has successfully done this through small groups with his church community.

2. Small Groups and Discipleship Online

Jay described himself as a Small Groups Pastor with an online venue. During my interview with Jay, he shared how online church will amplify our strengths as well as our areas of growth. Essentially, if a church has a strong culture of small groups, then that will inevitably translate to their small groups online, too. Additionally, Jay mentioned if a church solely depends on weekend services, then they might find it challenging when trying to implement new things like small groups and discipleship online. 

As for small groups online, Jay mentioned that it’s less preferable for people to join a group while having one person share their screen for the group to watch a sermon. Instead, he suggested having the group watch a video or read a book beforehand and then join online to walk through discussion questions. This increases engagement and promotes discipleship within online small groups. 

Jay shared two great tips to centralizing communication online called, Homebase and Live Meeting Room place.

Having these two ways of communication allows consistency across the community and it helps people to meet in two different ways. For instance, people can communicate through their home base in the Facebook Group then through their live meeting room on a video call. Ultimately, Jay talked about the importance of empowering small groups to figure out what works for them while solidifying their Homebase and their Live Room meeting place. 

3. Implementing Technology for Online Church 

If you’re just starting to implement technology and online church, Jay suggested starting with Facebook Live. He mentioned setting your phone on “Do Not Disturb” in order to make sure you don’t receive any calls while you’re recording. He also suggested getting a tripod or having someone hold your phone for you to ensure its stability. 

Jay also talked about doing a ‘test’ of your Facebook Live. He shared that you can do this on your personal account by setting the privacy to ‘only me’ so you can be sure your audio and lighting are set before your Facebook Live session begins. Other features on Facebook include Premiere and Watch Party. Jay finds that the Premiere option is best so you can upload your pre-recorded video the day before and schedule it to go live the following morning.

4. Going From Online to Offline and Planting Churches

Jay shared how he and the team at Saddleback have been able to focus on two things: connecting people through their website and through their Facebook group. 

He saw how this seamlessly connected people digitally and offline. Jay talked about hosting meetups and making the online community aware of upcoming in-person events. Also, Jay mentioned how Saddleback integrates home gatherings so that members can meet at each other’s homes for in-person fellowship. This helps to solidify a location and successfully have people gather together as a smaller group within the Saddleback Church community.

More content about Online Church and more from Jay can be found at

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