The primary differences between attending Mass online and in a physical church involve the way in which members interact with their fellow parishioners and the way in which they receive the Eucharist. A 2010 study by Buzzplant found that 52 percent of churches reported streaming sermons or distributing religious podcasts.
During online Mass, interaction between church members takes place digitally rather than physically. The most common approach to a virtual Mass is for a parish to stream the service online. The church may provide resources for following along with the liturgy and singing the hymns and responses. Watching the proceedings online can be a passive, isolated activity, but many churches compensate for this by providing bulletin boards and chat rooms where members can interact with one another, post prayer requests and write about their own religious experiences. In the virtual reality game "Second Life," players can even have their personal avatars attend church services within the game's virtual world.
Online Mass attendees do not physically partake in the Eucharist. This is still a controversial issue, particularly in Roman Catholicism, where the Vatican's official position is that Christ is physically present in the consecrated sacraments, that communion must take place in the physical presence of others, and that there is no virtual substitute.