It's relatively easy to experiment with Church Online. Broadcast your services on Facebook Live and count the views! The challenge here, Church, is not to treat online as a virtual church building where people watch services, but a virtual distribution network that empowers people with the Gospel. There's a commitment necessary for churches to become that next level church online. These are a sample of roles necessary (either via paid staff, or volunteers) to help take your church online to the next level.
1) Online Pastor - The most common question I get asked about church online is What exactly does an Online Pastor do? The answer is simple: pastor, shepherd, care for, and build relationships with people online. Manage systems/volunteers that keep the church online operating. Oversee the online discipleship process, encouraging people to their next steps. Seem like a lot? It can be. The most difficult part of church online is discovering who your attendees are. Church online easily allows people to attend church in isolation. A next level church online has an Online Pastor who is dedicated to discovering and engaging people online, and helping them grow deeper in their faith.
2) Online Groups Director - Remember, in online environments people typically connect to community before they connect to Christ. At a next level church online, Online Groups become a phenomenal way to reach new people while also challenging existing Christians on a deeper level. Your Online Groups Director provides discipleship training, as well as vision, to your volunteer group leaders. Initially this role can be covered by the Online Pastor, but as the church online expands it may be necessary to split this responsibility into two different roles.
3) Microsite Pastor - we've talked a lot about how church online can help launch physical locations like House Churches, Microsites, and Pop-Up Locations. Similar to the Online Groups Director, this job will cast vision to the volunteers and staff involved with the physical locations, as well as be a bridge between the smaller locations and the physical church. Initially managed by the Online Groups Director, as this concept matures within your church online the need for someone to lead out in this area will become more apparent. A next level church online will take advantage of this opportunity to work with leadership on where to launch these locations. Remember, these microsites are potentially the beginning of physical campuses.
4) Social Media - The front door to your church online, as well as your overall church, doesn't exist on your campus. It's not in your parking lot. It's on social media. Church, an investment in social media will reap rewards in your surrounding community as well as online. With a strong social media at the church level comes tension between the physical church and church online. Are the social media channels target audience the attenders of the physical locations? or the online attenders? The answer needs to be both, and a next level church online figures out how to balance both.
5) Video Producer - as effective as church services are for being a front door, next level churches are looking at creating exclusive content for their church online. Maybe it's a midweek prayer service, or a live unpacking/discussion of the sermon... online technology allows for engagement at very high levels, but certain time constraints. Next-level church online will work to create content that will engage people online, not just be seen by people online.