Posted: Jul 07, 2014 12:00 PM
Sometimes getting the kids up, dressed and out the door in time for church just doesn't happen. Thankfully, there are online resources to connect with other faithful folks and explore your relationship with God from home, and on your (and your kids') schedule.
Photo credit: Lava/Getty Images

We live in a hectic, internet-fueled world. So much of our life experiences now seem to revolve around computers and, of course, the world wide web. With the explosion of social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, you can have entire relationships with people you've never met in person, all from the screen of your computer, tablet or phone. Is it any wonder then that people are connecting with God on the Interwebs too?

Online sources for worship and faith exploration seem especially helpful for parents, whose schedule is often not their own. We took a look around the web and compiled a list of ways to reach out and reach up, taking advantage of the amazing resources the Internet has to offer.

1. Online church services

Busy mom of four Shanlie says, "Broadcast services are the only way I get my Jesus fix. My husband and I work rotating shifts and although he's usually off Sundays to take the kids to church, I almost always have to work. Aside from Christmas, I haven't seen a live sermon in almost three years."

Many contemporary church services broadcast their worship services live, then archive the videos on their private website or on YouTube. You can choose to watch on their schedule or yours, whichever works best for your family. There are even sites like Christian World Media, which hosts multiple church services from around the globe, all at no cost to the viewer.

2. Podcasts, Roku and apps, oh my.

Cara, mom to 3-year-old twin girls, loves to use her smartphone to help build her faith. "Apps like YouVersion are a Godsend, literally. They allow me to reflect on the Gospel while out and about, since they are literally a Bible in my pocket."

Some churches also make full use of this technology, not just posting their church services online but developing other ways for easy connectivity as well. Elevation Church has a vast archive of past sermons which are not only fully accessible on their website, but via their app, Roku or iTunes as well. Not only does their app allow access to archived worship, but you can stream in real time as well. How's that for worship on the go?

3. Prayer with just a click

Catherine says, "Sometimes you just want to pray with someone, or talk with someone right then about God." For that, this single stay-at-home mom of one recommends live-chat prayer sites. "It's so reassuring to go online, click a button, and have someone — anyone — pray with you right then."

There are times when you don't need to watch someone talk about God, you need to talk with someone about God. For those times, there are live-chat prayer services online. Some sites, like LifeChurch, have a live chat feature. This allows almost 24/7 access to real human beings, to discuss whatever religious topics are on your mind at the time. They also have a "Live prayer" button, which is 24/7 access to someone who will hold your virtual hand and pray with you as needed. There is no need to register, and you can be as anonymous as you like.

4. Facebook, of course

Mom of two Gina loves her Catholic moms Facebook group. "I use it for instant support, prayers and Catholic mom advice." Gina also attends live meetings, but likes the instantaneousness of Facebook.

If you are looking to connect with real people, in your area or beyond, look no further than Facebook. Just a quick search and you can find literally hundreds of online groups of people connecting and talking about God and faith. If you already have a faith home, you may find your church already has a group that isn't searchable (meaning it's secret), so it doesn't hurt to ask. So many of us are on Facebook already, and having positive, faith-based updates pop into our timeline can be a refreshing change from the usual social media norm.

5. Resource websites

Self-employed mom of one Christina loves to browse online through Relevant Magazine. "It's a Christian magazine that talks about relevant things that most churches want to dance around." She loves the ability to read up on interesting topics that may not be getting discussed at church.

Although not as exciting or interactive, there's a bevy of online resources filled with articles to help you discern and get your heart thinking. Sites like Relevant Magazine, The Gospel Coalition and Desiring God are all fantastic, and full of articles on any faith topic you can imagine.

Tell us!^Did we mention your favorite online faith resource? If not, chime in and let us know what you love and why.

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