Church creates channel for new digital video player


LONGWOOD, Fla. — Northland Church, which has been on the forefront of technology in ministry outreach, has installed a new channel on Roku, a digital video player that is used in place of traditional TV.

More than 4,000 Roku owners have installed the church's channel onto their device, which is about the size of a paperback novel.

Originally designed to stream Netflix directly to TVs, Roku has since opened up to developers to create new music and video channels, including Amazon On-Demand, Pandora and Major League Baseball. It starts at $59.

The channel will allow Roku owners to stream live worship services, along with past sermons, music and classes from Northland, the first church to use the technology.

Church leaders said the inexpensive price tag and ease of use for the device should open up brand new ministries opportunities for members and the unchurched. Installation is as simple as connecting the Roku unit to an existing Internet connection using ethernet or WI-FI, and then plugging in an HDMI cable from the back of the unit into the TV.

"Our hope is that people will use this tool to gather together as the Bible challenges us to do in Hebrews 10:25," Marty Taylor, Northland's executive director of media design and technology, said in a news release.

Jeremy Langston, an online congregant from Benton, La., who has worshiped with Northland along with his wife and five children for about a year, is a paramedic on an offshore oil platform. While working in the Gulf,  Langston worships via Northland's Facebook app.

"When I am home, I enjoy the Roku's large, high-quality picture instead of a tiny computer screen, and the sound is much better," he said.

Hulu, the popular online TV and movie site, just made its subscription service available in the Roku Channel Store. Such additions were expected to fuel Christmas gift buying, increasing the opportunity of more people finding Northland's channel.

"It may help win many people to Christ who were not even looking for Him," Langston said.

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