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Defining the Digital Church: Tomorrow's Approach Starts Today


There is only one Church… the Bride of Christ… Ekklesia.... Pre-COVID there were different models of church. Giga-church, Mega-church, Micro-church, House-church… these are just a few. COVID, being the accelerator that it has been, has opened the door for a number of other relevant options for the Church to grow into. Remember, all of these models are just models. Post-COVID our buildings will lose influence (if we’re honest, even before COVID the church was seeing that trend), and it’s never been a better time for digital solutions to fill in gaps at your church. Here are some different models the Church could take today to help it be more effective tomorrow.

Phygital (Physical + Digital)

What if our church used the strength of our physical buildings, as well as, the strength of online to create disciple-makers. The endgame of our ministry is not buildings. The endgame of our ministry is not digital. The endgame is Matthew 28’s Great Commission. Our buildings, our digital strategy are means to the end, not the end. Any size church that existed pre-COVID, giga-churches all the way down to physical church plants, needs to focus on strengthening their digital approach, and integrating digital into the church strategy moving forward. (Hint, the strength of digital to a church isn’t “Reach”, it’s “Engagement”.) A Phygital Church may not replicate the entirety of Church, Online… but utilize the strengths of Physical and Digital together with intentionality.

Phygital: Digital-Next (Digital Church Moving Away From Physical)

There’s a phenomenal opportunity for churches that are struggling, in the questionable economy, to pivot towards a digital model of church. Many small churches have lost their building lease in this season. Literally, churches are homeless. In addition, churches overall are struggling economically. How much do our buildings cost? What of maintenance? Staffing for building usage? Instead of forcing back into a physical model that the Church may not be able to afford, maybe there’s wisdom in developing a digital model that leans towards a disciple-making micro-location to extend the life of a church, while still helping the mission of the church within the physical community.

Phygital: Digital-First (Digital Today, Physical Tomorrow)

Church planting is more necessary now than ever before. These church plants will need to look different, thanks to COVID. As a result, church plants that have yet to launch are being forced into a decision to delay launch, or launch digitally-first. While some may consider delaying launch, there’s a huge opportunity for church planters to launch digitally in this season, and utilize the digital community to meet and build the church’s core team. The endgame of a digital-only church is to eventually launch in physical space, but for today, the church’s goal is to grow in digital space. We’re seeing some phenomenal stories from church plants like Nuvo Church and Our City Center who are thinking digital-first while still hyper-targeting specific communities where they will eventually plant a physical location.

Digital-Only (Church w/No Physical Footprint)

The three above models are all dependent/interact, at some level, with the Physical location. But don't sleep on Digital-Only. What if we used digital tools, not to drive people to physical locations to do church, but what if we equipped people with the power to be the Church in these digital communities. Physical church defines community based on the physical locations - typically 20 mile radius around the church. The challenge of a Digital-Only Church is one that looks at digital community as a community to reach… to create disciple-makers... and utilize digital tools and resources to establish a biblically-solid model of church. From the ground up these digital-only churches are built with multiplication in mind, centered around disciple-making techniques and mobilizing people share their faith. Digital-Only Churches like VR Church, Love Clan, and Pursuit Church Live are doing a great job of setting a standard of creating disciple-makers in digital space, with no physical footprint.

Church, don’t wait for tomorrow. Don’t delay. Take advantage of this season. There’s new opportunities, new mission fields opening before us. This is a season of new wine. Time to break out the new wineskins.


PODCAST 087: Stories & Strategy of a Digital-Only Expression of Church
Losing the Church Online Attendance Battle, but Winning the War

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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