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By Sean Begler
What is and why would you stream to the Metaverse? Over the past few months, countless people have asked these questions. Those who do understand the new tech are quickly conjuring up new hypotheses regarding how it will affect the world around us. With all the rising tension, many are still patiently waiting to see who will pioneer their way into this new digital universe so they, too, can begin to figure out what this technology has to offer.
Here at Resi, we noticed the exciting buzz as companies and individuals have begun to show increasing interest in the Metaverse and decided we not only wanted, but needed to know why people want to stream to the Metaverse. We also knew that to get the best info on all things Metaverse, we needed to talk to someone already entrenched in the Metaverse—someone like the team at Life.Church.
Life.Church is one of the first churches in the country to take the plunge and begin to stream to the Metaverse and offer its services through a virtual campus. So, naturally, we were pumped when Life.Church team members Warren Davis and Greg Gackle, sat down with us during Resi Equip to explain everything behind their decision to explore the Metaverse. During this post, we will go over exactly what the two had to share with us, including what the Metaverse is and why you should care about it, why Life.Church is utilizing the technology to connect with more people, and a thorough explanation of how you can get started with your own metaverse experience!
The Metaverse is described as a 3D virtual universe that combines the physical and digital. We know that explanation doesn’t exactly clear up a ton, but our special guest, Greg Gackle, offered a better take stating, “the Metaverse is a digital universe where an infinite number of worlds could be created for communities to interact with each other in different ways.”
Another expression of the Metaverse, yet slightly different, is known as mixed or augmented reality. This is where users can experience virtual interactive overlays projected onto the physical world. This is similar to an app/game known as Pokémon GO where there are mixed components in physical spaces which allow users to interact with virtual pokémon creatures while walking around a tangible environment.
The Metaverse sounds exciting, but why should you care? What does a virtual universe have anything to do with you? For starters, the Metaverse is much more than a simple new technology. This network of worlds holds endless possibilities for all of us, especially the church community.
We asked Greg and Warren why Life.Church felt this was such an important evolutionary step to take when many churches felt hesitant about moving forward. “Innovation happens where passion meets constraint,” stated Greg. “Sometimes we can equate innovation just to technology, but the fact is, we innovate on new strategies, and we innovate on new ministries. Innovation has always been a thread since the birth of the church.”
Greg explained how the drive for innovation and the push to create immersive evangelical opportunities sparked Life.Church’s interest in deciding to stream to the Metaverse. Both he and Warren agreed that as long as churches feel their mission aligns with what this technology offers, they should try to learn more about how they can utilize the Metaverse to serve Christ.
In fact, many churches that still feel hesitant should know that the church has always used technology to continuously improve how they spread their message. Everything from facilities to worship sets has been affected by technology, and this is precisely why we should care about what’s happening with the Metaverse. Pointing your live stream to the Metaverse isn’t any different than pointing your live stream to YouTube. The Metaverse is simply the next evolutionary step to help remove engagement barriers and foster authentic connection.
After we clarified the importance of keeping up with the Metaverse, we wanted to further explore how Life.Church was using the Metaverse as a tool to serve their own community. At its start, both agreed that the real reason Life.Church was able to figure out how to use the Metaverse was because of the team’s commitment to learning as much as they could about the tech. “We just said ‘hey let’s just get a pair of goggles and learn,’” explained Greg.
He explained that just jumping in was truly the hardest barrier to overcome, and in no time, it paid off. “There’s this ‘aha’ moment when you realize, ‘oh this could actually be used for XYZ.’” And within this “aha” moment, Life.Church’s team realized the Metaverse was a pathway for authentic connection. “Church is a place where we can connect with God and connect with other people. Whether that’s in a building or whether that’s in a digital environment, there are opportunities for us to facilitate that connection,” spoke Warren. He also detailed how real connections can be made through virtual environments, concluding, “in fact, that’s where a lot of people nowadays live their most authentic lives, is the person they present to the world through social media and through other (digital) avenues.”
Warren and Greg were shocked at how easy the Metaverse made creating an immersive and personable digital world. Because all interactions on the virtual space are done through avatars of real users, there are still social cues and social moments that happen throughout the digital experience.
In fact, one of the key turning moments for the Life.Church team occurred during service where they offered a salvation call (a moment where attendees are asked to raise their hands to signify their commitment to Christ). They were awed as an avatar raised its hand within the audience. It clicked that this wasn’t just an avatar; a real person just responded to a real moment of connection. Moments such as these proved that people were receptive to this virtual method and that life-change was happening just like in a physical church.
Even though Life.Church may have begun their journey with little information and no clear plan, they quickly realized it was an exciting new opportunity for building a connection with real people. Especially people that might never have stepped foot into one of their physical locations. And, while Life.Church’s model of sending a live stream to the Metaverse for consumption at a virtual campus is not the only option for organizations looking to enter this space; it’s proved to be more like launching a new physical location than the team expected. An effort they’ve tackled 30+ times to reach their audiences across the U.S.—all it took was a commitment to try.
What do you need to jump in just like Life.Church? Surprisingly, getting started is easier than you think. Life.Church has some resources on its Open Network website to help those thinking about launching an experience in the Metaverse. This link will connect you to Life.Church’s “10 Insights from 10 Weeks of Church in the Metaverse” where you can find resources like, “A Quick-Start Guide to Setting Up Church in the Metaverse,” “A Guide for Leading Through Small Groups in the Metaverse,” and “A Link to Walk through the Life.Church Metaverse Campus Building.”
You’ll also want to pick out some of the physical tools you’ll need for the Metaverse, such as a VR headset. There are multiple options, including Oculus®, Microsoft, Sony Playstation®, and more—just be sure to choose one that is the right fit for your needs. Once you have all your tools, you need the right world-creator platform to use within the Metaverse. These platforms help you design and build your own world within the Metaverse, and there is a long list of options to choose from.
While Life.Church continues to explore other VR world builders to ensure they reach their audience effectively; they are currently using Altspace VR™ to design and host their campus. And, of course, they leverage Resi’s resilient streaming protocol to stream to the Metaverse. Once a platform has been chosen and you create a user account, you can begin to develop your worlds! Your worlds can be public or private, with the public setting making your campus accessible to anyone, 24/7, and a private setting only allowing access to a chosen number of users.
From there, you will need to decide what type of digital environment you want to create. Life.Church also offers a link to download their full campus building file as a template for your own campus. However, if that doesn’t suit your vision, many other templates are available. Once finished, you’ll be able to attach events, such as church services, to your world and begin hosting! It’s that easy!
We hope that you’re feeling a little less daunted by the Metaverse and more empowered to explore this incredible new tech for yourself. And don’t worry, we’re here to help along the way because Resi users can stream their content right into the Metaverse with ease! We can’t wait to see how organizations utilize the metaverse to reach their audiences. Check out the entire Resi Equip experience with Life.Church here, including a downloadable PDF, “5 Steps to Launch a Metaverse Experience,” and a live Q&A session with Greg and Warren.
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