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Church Online in 2020: Everyone's Church, Including the Guy Next Door


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.

Future of Church Online is here, and we don't get it.2019 is here, so of course we look to the future and imagine what Church Online will look like in 2020.

I'll admit it, sometimes when I'm explaining Church Online to someone I get the blank stare look... the look that. well. they're just not ready for this concept yet.

For years Church has treated Church Online (and online in general) with kid gloves. Within the past 6 months I've had the following conversations with pastors:

  • If our church does Church Online, then people won't come to the physical church anymore. 
  • Those people who watch online... they're not our responsibility to shepherd. We don't follow up on them.
  • It's not possible to disciple someone online. Some things have to be done face to face.

I love these conversations, because it gives opportunity to challenge pre-conceived conventions like this...

Church Online is more than just the "online campus"

There's a subtle movement right now where some churches are moving away from the term "online campus," at least how they communicate about online ministry publicly. Believe it or not, the term "online campus" becomes limiting... What the term "online campus" can do is create an "us vs. them" mentality between the physical campuses and the online campus. Here's some examples:

Who is the Online Campus designed for?

People who live in within 20 miles of your church or outside of those 20 miles? Is the physical campuses threatened by growth of the online campus? Will people stay on the couch and watch, and no longer attend at the campus?Instead of seeing the Online Campus as a resource, physical campuses sometimes see it as a hindrance, or worse yet a threat!.

There are many ways the "online campus" intersects with physical attenders:

  1. when physical attenders are sick or when they travel.
  2. when physical attenders share services or sermon archive videos with others.
  3. when physical attenders join an Online Small Group that fits their schedule better.
  4. when physical attenders serve online because it's more convenient for their schedule.
How do we communicate the Online Campus?

There will be tension with the Online Campus and Communications Department figuring out the "Digital Communications" vs "Digital Mission" challenge. Is the goal of Communications to get people to physical campuses, or online campus? Similarly, there likely will be friction between the "online campus" and "social media person" figuring out how to utilize the social media channels as well.

How is the Online Campus funded?

Do you fund out of a campus budget which is dictated by the amount of funding coming in exclusively from the online audience? Even though online resources can benefit all attenders? This mindset limits online's opportunity to be a resource for THE ENTIRE CHURCH, not just those who don't attend a physical campus.

When done right, Church Online can be used to equip and empower your entire church to do ministry, not just those that are outside your physical campus' 20 mile circle of influence. Rather than being an "Online Campus" why not just let it be a centralized part of your church. Something that can complement the entirety of your church.

The takeaway here is simple, Don't limit the impact of Church Online to a subset of your church so only a select group of people can benefit from it. Church Online shouldn't compete with the ministry on your physical campuses when it can easily complement the ministry at the physical campuses. Let Church Online become the hub for discipleship church-wide!

Download eBook: What Happens When Church Online Grows UpWant to learn more about Discipleship & Church Online? Check out our eBook: What Happens When Church Online Grows Up and learn how Church Online can help you tap into a new paradigm for your church.

It's fun looking forward to 2020, isn't it? Here's a preview of what's next: Church Online is more than Social Media.

Church Online in 2020: Not Competing with Physical Locations
Church Online in 2020: The Goal of Social Media isn't Likes

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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