As part of an ongoing blog series "Church Online in 2020" we're taking an introspective look into the changes Church Online needs to make in 2019 for it to be a growing, healthy representation of "church" in 2020.
Church Online gets a bad wrap. I was speaking with a Pastor recently who told me: "Jeff, all my Church Online attenders are weirdos." When I stopped laughing, I suddenly realized I was the only one laughing, and he was quite serious. After a long conversation, we discovered, in fact, his Church Online had more than just weirdos attending. In fact, he had the start of a viable ministry and didn't even realize it.
Church, generally speaking there are three different categories of people we're trying to reach with Church Online:
1) Church Online as Front Door: we've pretty much accepted Church Online as the "Front Door" to a church. Before you come to a church service experience a service online by attending Church Online. If you like it come to our physical locations next week!
2) Church Online as a Side Door: for whatever reason, people can't attend church each week. Traveling, sickness, or life-in-general has lowered regular attendance at our physical locations, and Church attenders are using Church Online to stay-in-touch when they're away.
There's a third category of people, though, who is using your Church Online, one that churches have been more hesitant to target.
3) Church Online as Church: realize there are people who are using Church Online as their church. Yes, some of them have medical conditions or social issues that prevent them from going to a physical campus. That being said, Church, many of you have unrealized potential to influence people online.
The mistake of today's Church is the belief that it can only reach people, that it can only do ministry, in physical location. Why does the church think this? Most Pastors will give you some phrasing of Hebrews 10's charge to "not give up meeting together..." And they're not wrong.
What if Church Online wasn't the abandonment of the physical church, where God's collective people gave up meeting together?
- What if Church Online became the vehicle to create something new, where we grew, discipled, and empowered people with the Gospel?
- What if we used Church Online to start churches/campuses in untapped communities and neighborhoods.
What if Church Online was not the abandoning of the Church body, but the vehicle used to birth new gatherings?
We talk about this in the new eBook: What Happens When Church Online Grows Up. Church Online is in its infancy, and many have not figured out how best to use it in ministry. Through the book we discuss a practical strategy for how Church Online can look in the future, and how it can fit into your church's strategy.
Church, here's your challenge for 2019: focus on your perceived weaknesses (Church Online), because with development what you think is a weakness can quickly become a strength to your ministry. Let's get started.