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Church as Platform: Lessons Learned from AirBNB

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Here is the church. Here is the steeple. Open the doors. Where are the people?

Well, for the past 120+ days they’ve been stuck in their homes, of course. It’s COVID season.

For 120 Days and Counting. Did It Work?

  • For 120+ days we’ve broadcast our services, our sermons, into people’s homes. Adults, kids, students. We may not have our buildings, but we did our church services as best we could. We’ve created five, six, maybe even seven days of content.
  • For 120+ days we’ve created community. We moved our physical small groups, online. We can’t break bread physically, but we meet in Zoom. We encouraged one another. We prayed for one another.

Let’s pause here for a second. Stop and reflect back over the past 120+ days. Evaluate here: What has the focus of your church been for the past 120+ days? Attempts to gather physically? Financial survival? Racial tensions? Political posturing? Turmoil over masks?

In this COVID season, seems like most churches are stuck when it comes to evangelism. Getting people “on mission”. As COVID changes the culture around us, is it possible that today’s mid-COVID Church has become inward focused? Pre-COVID, typically our evangelism was found in our one hour on Sunday.

Feel our powerful worship.
Listen to our impactful sermon.
Let your spirit be moved.

(Extra “spirit” if you’re using a Haze Machine.)

Is this why we miss our buildings? Because of the spiritual emotionalism of our worship centers? It’s questionable whether we were seeing that method being effective pre-COVID in reaching people who were cold to Christ. Is that really going to work post-COVID? At what point are our buildings going to be effective again, for evangelism? In the new, post-COVID culture, are people cold to Christ going to want to go into a church building? If we’re honest, they really didn’t want to pre-COVID. But let’s not even make it about the Church… how long will it be before people willingly, excitedly go back to locations in general again?

Stop Doing Ministry. Start Helping Others Do Ministry.

Church, it’s very easy for us to lose our focus. Our churches have “ones” that we are lead to reach. This pales in comparison to the Church’s potential once we understand that our people have ones, as well. Church attendance is dropping. 2020 post-COVID, our buildings will continue to lose their influence. Let’s expect more from our people. Disciple-making, evangelism training, this is the future of our churches. Once we utilize these multiplication techniques, we’ll find that our buildings are a lid to ministry. Moreover, In Twitter’s “Cancel Culture” that we find ourselves currently in, we have to recognize that it matters very little what our organizations say about ourselves. It’s far more important what others say about us. We need our people’s voice.

120+ days into COVID and our churches are losing purpose. As we examine our people, we’ll probably find that they have no purpose in this COVID season either. Have we mistaken the call of the Great Commission... mistaken our purpose for disciple-making… into some call to get back into the building that (if we’re honest with ourselves) was already losing influence pre-COVID?

Your Church’s Next Strategy: Church as Platform (oh, and it’s Biblical, too.)

Pastor, if we’re wanting to be effective to reach people in this next season, take time now to start training people to share their faith. Let’s equip our people to become disciple-makers. Let’s figure out how to hold them accountable to share. By the way, let’s not just start with our attenders. What if we set this standard with our own pastors and church staff, and had them set an example.

Let’s look at AirBNB for a second.

  • AirBNB found success in their industry without a physical footprint.
  • They have no properties. No property tax. No maintenance fees.
  • They have limited physical assets. No furniture. No beds. 
  • They have limited employees. No concierge staff. No cleaning crew. 
  • AirBNB created a platform... simply put - a resourcing tool - that enabled people to rent their property to others. As a result, AirBNB revolutionized the industry without owning a property. AirBNB isn’t doing the work. They’re providing resources for others to do the work. And that quickly made AirBNB larger than the top five hotel chains, combined.

Is it me, or does AirBNB’s approach kind of sound like Disciple-Making? 

‘And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.’

- 2 Timothy 2:2

Pastor, What If...

What if we changed the literal rules of engagement at the church?
What if COVID is our opportunity to change the strategy?
What if we stopped gathering people into a building for evangelism?
What if we trained people to be disciple-makers?
What if we figured out how to hold people accountable to share?
What if we used this COVID season to start training?
What if disciple-making is the purpose that our people are missing?
What if our church staff caught this same vision?
What if our buildings served another purpose, other than evangelism?
What if Church wasn’t about reaching ones, but about helping others reach their ones?...

We’re just scratching the surface here about this concept of Church As Platform, but if you’re wanting to process the conversation as it’s happening, check out http://thechurch.digital/churchasplatform.

Pastor, don’t freak out because your people are not in your building. Freak out because your people don’t have purpose when they’re not in your building. Start there. Let’s develop a process, a system, a platform to help get them and keep them on mission. Your church, post-COVID, depends on this.

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About Author

Jeff Reed
Jeff Reed

With about 20 years experience serving the church in the digital/technological realm, Jeff loves working with churches. As passionate about Discipleship as he is Technology, Jeff uses his passion to help Churches develop technology systems to bring people far from God closer to him. Oh, and he loves Digital Church & Church Online.

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