2019 is here! 2018 is in the rearview mirror and we have a blank slate ahead of us. With the new year comes this challenge: let's make 2019 the year of Church Online. Let 2019 become the year that we focus, strategize, develop, and find the purpose of Church Online. So, just for kicks, let's hypothesize here. If 2019 is the year of Church Online, what would Church Online look like in 2020?
Church Online becomes more than just broadcasting church services.
Several things here: First off, the church will realize that the typical 40 minute sermon doesn't connect well in online environments. Church, how the world communicates has changed over the years. Our online attention spans have evolved, unfortunately shrinking. Facebook is 2-3 minutes. YouTube is 5 minutes. Even Instagram's IGTV experiment of 10 minute videos has failed. This is not a "we need to theologically water down who we are" comment. This is a "we need to figure out how to communicate our message more effectively" comment.
Secondly, being a church is more than just preaching a sermon and broadcasting video. Check out John 10:11-15 - “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. But a hireling, he who is not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them. The hireling flees because he is a hireling and does not care about the sheep." There's a Biblical mandate for us to care for our sheep, including those that God entrusts to us online. Being a church in online spaces requires shepherds, not hirelings.
Church Online is more than one hour on Sunday.
In many churches across America, a ton of effort goes into one hour on Sunday. As a guy who's spent many years of his life creating these worship environments, I celebrate those of you who do this hard work. But church is more than the one hour weekly service, right? Churches may do it differently, but anyone who calls themselves a bible-based church will put some effort into creating biblical community as well as opportunities to give and serve within the church. Read through the biblical model of a church, I see very little that reflects our typical weekend service and I see a ton that drives us towards community and discipleship that happens (usually) outside of the typical church service. (Matthew 28:19-20). It would be silly, arguably a sin, to not communicate and empower those values in our physical church! Why are these not highly valued in our churches online?
There are 168 hours every week. If Church Online is more than a church, online, we are called to do more than the one hour on Sunday. Through online the church has access to people virtually 168 hours a week. We need to think larger than one hour on Sunday.
Church Online needs to grow up. It won't happen overnight, but it will happen. Churches will recognize the Digital Mission Field before us and healthy churches will engage Church Online in a whole new way. Want a sneak peak? Check out the eBook What Happens When Church Online Grows Up?, and continue on reading our Blog Series: Church Online in 2020.
Up next: Church Online is More Than a Virtual Building. Stay tuned.