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Why What Happens AFTER Your Live Stream Is Over is Vital

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So, your church started broadcasting your services, you got a few online hosts, and even launched a few Zoom small groups.  You might even call it your "Online Campus" and have a staff member splitting their time between your online campus and graphic design or worship production.  Perhaps your story differs a bit and you have more or less of a digital presence. 

No matter where you are, if you are reading this, you are likely frustrated with the lack of engagement you are getting during services.  Adding to your frustration you likely have no idea what to do and someone from your staff or your lead pastor has likely said something to the effect of “That’s consumeristic Christianity for you”.  But is that the fault of the person logging in to your service on Sunday morning or is it our fault?   

First off, consumeristic Christianity is not a symptom of digital space.  It’s exasperated by it.  Consumerism in church is a product of years of the church pouring our resources, time, and energy into the Sunday show and not into discipleship.  I’m not hating on or even saying that it hasn’t worked.  Being the best thing in town on a Sunday morning has worked well for the church.  Many people have been saved in this approach and through intentional processes that exist outside of Sunday morning they have also been discipled. 

However, when you put your foot into the online world you are not competing with the movie theater down the street or some other local attraction and the church simply can’t compete with the nearly infinite sea of digital entertainment only a click away.  Why would I hang out in your church when I could watch dozens of people preach on the same exact topic with better sound and video quality then you with a quick search on YouTube?  In another blog post I will explore three distinct strategies for your digital presence and what tools they will use and resources they will require.  For now, I just want to point out that we complain about consumeristic Christianity being exasperated because of the internet and yet we continue to ship ONLY the most consumeristic parts of our church out to the online world. 

It's like we put out a bird feeder in the yard and then get ticked off when birds keep showing up.  You don’t want consumeristic Christians only interested in being fed into spiritual obesity?  Then you better do more than dump bird seed in the yard. 

So, let’s talk about what you do on Sunday morning that you are likely not doing online.

Church after church might be the most powerful experience your church has.  A first-time guest might think they are coming for the sermon, but they stick for the relationships.  This isn’t rocket science.  Go read any church growth or first-time guest experience book. 

Someone shows up for service and touches base with their small group leader while they grab a cup of coffee.  Another person comes to the prayer room after service seeking prayer for guidance because they think they need to quit their job.  A first-time guest stops by the Next Steps room to grab a free gift and meet a friendly face.  Another regular waits in a que to speak with the lead pastor on the way out and let them know about their ailing parent.

All these things are vital and important to your church, and they all help people move from consumption to participation.  The first-time guest feels seen and some of their story is known.  The regular feels connected to their pastor and got the chance to share what is going on in their life.  Someone else feels ministered to and has received prayer.    Another feels more connected to their church family because they got to touch base with someone they love or look up to and haven’t’ seen in a week.

These are just as important, and I will venture to say more important, then your worship set or your sermon. Granted if your worship sucks and your sermon is irrelevant those connection points may not make up for it. 

In the same way your live stream can’t be out of focus, out of sync, or a second thought if you want to keep people engaged or coming back.  But that’s not likely your problem.  Your problem is likely that you have a good streaming setup, and it doesn’t matter because you have neglected everything else.  So let’s explore four vital things that happen at church after church that we depend on to drive engagement and move people past consumption and yet totally neglect in digital

4 Vital Things that Happen AFTER the Live Stream that can drive engagement 

1. The Next Steps Room

First time guests need a place to go after service and that can’t be a webpage or survey.  First time guests are not going to click a link and fill out your card.  They don’t trust you and have been carefully trained not to.  The online world is not the same as physical.  Asking for someone’s personal information in person is acceptable.  Doing that online is not.  But a person’s desire to make a genuine human connection and have their story known by someone is no different.  Giving a guest a real person to talk to, in a private conversation, where they can share what brought them to church is just as important online as it is in person.

2. The Coffee

A regular attender comes into church and spots a friend in the coffee line, checking in their kids, or casually chatting with another friend. They get a chance to reconnect and hear about their week. During service they see another small group member from across the worship center and make a mental note to grab a moment with them after service.  The church family needs space and time to connect with one another.  When you end your stream a chat box won’t do it.  They need a place to spot a friend and “walk over to them”.

3. The Prayer Ministry

Someone in your church family is going through crisis every week.  Their kid got caught with drugs, their spouse filed for divorce, they fell back into addiction, their power is being shut off, or their parent got moved into hospice.  That person needs someone to listen, care, and pray for them when they don’t have the words themselves.  People need the church to be available to minister to them.  It not only allows them to be cared for but it also builds deep bonds between them and the their church family.

4. The Exit Line

A regular attender wants to connect with the pastor but knows how busy they are.  They didn’t reach out this week or call the church because they wanted to talk to the pastor directly.  On the way out of service they stop to tell the pastor “Good job today” but also to let them know they got laid off this week.  The pastor gets a moment to care for them and assure them that the staff will be praying, and someone will follow up that week.  Something like this might happen a dozen times in one service and your pastor has not eliminated twelve one-hour meetings from his schedule this week with twelve two minuet conversations. 

If you want to keep creating consumers, then by all means keep stopping by your online space and offloading more bird seed.  But don’t get upset when the birds all fly over to a different yard with nicer bird seed. 

If you want people to engage and take intentional steps into discipleship your digital space needs to take all of church into account, not just the polished easily consumed product.  Go to your team with these four areas and have an honest conversation about what is neglected in your digital presence.  What digital tools are at your fingertips that could facilitate these four post service experiences?  Your product might bring all the birds to the yard.  But it’s relationships that get them past the bird feeders.

Want an example?  Come join me for church this week.  We will be live on Wednesday night at 8:30pm EST at Twtich.tv/luxdigitalchurch.  Come chat with me after service.  I can’t wait to meet you.

What do you think? How have you connected with others after the live stream has ended?  Share your ideas below or on social media.

Through the Digital Church Network we are helping physical and digital churches better understand the discipleship process, and helping churches and church planters understand this and other decentralized mindset shifts. Joining the DCN is free and be encouraged! 

 

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About Author

Mark Lutz
Mark Lutz

Mark Lutz is the lead and founding pastor of Lux Digital Church. Lux is a fully digital church expression that exists on Twitch and Discord with the purpose of reaching people in the online gaming community. Mark and his wife Jenn served a local physical church outside of Pittsburgh for 11 years before stepping out to start Lux in early 2021. For more information on how Mark can help your church, check out http://thechurch.digital/mark

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