Thank you Judah Smith!
The somewhat controversial pastor hit news this week, writing an opinion article for Fox News. Why is Judah Smith controversial? His stance on gay marriage? Nope. Standing out verbally against the #metoo movement? Nope. He's not guilty of anything like that. In an age where the Internet is ready to throw shade at anyone for virtually anything, Judah Smith comes under attack because he believes you can disciple people in online environments. He's a pastor who believes in Church Online.
Judah and his wife Chelsea, have already launched a five-campus multisite church in Seattle and Los Angeles. They decided to increase their global influence by AGGRESSIVELY launching their Church Online. In November 2018 they rebranded the church and launched CHURCHOME, a mobile app designed to move their physical church ministry into the Church Online space.
Let's just say that the response to Judah's movement towards Church Online was less than appreciative. In the words of one tweet: "Call it a way to learn about Jesus. Call it a people connector. Call it an app. But don't you dare call this church."
As much as people stand against the idea of Church Online, the technological culture shift is happening, and the void left by the absent church is complexing... quoting Judah from the Fox News opinion article:
There may be some who believe that a technology-based church platform negates the communal gathering aspect of in person services. Some may also feel that it will further isolate people from attending church. And some may even view it as the death knell for physical church – who will want to come to Sunday service if they can stay at home and attend remotely in their pajamas?
As lead pastors of a growing and thriving multi-site church in Washington State and Los Angeles, we still believe in a brick-and-mortar church. But by embracing technology, we are able to intimately and intentionally connect with a global audience and ensure that every woman, man, boy and girl – every age, every race – has an opportunity to find a home in God... Indeed, technology does not isolate people from church; it allows church to reach those that are isolated and to do so in new and exciting ways.
Pastor Judah, thank you for taking a risk. Thank you for recognizing the potential and investing in Church Online.
Church, what lessons can we learn here? Recognize we can reach people 24/7/365. So, let's do that. Take a risk. Try something new. Disciple people online. Create content towards the virtual crowd. Cast vision to those in authority. Share the success (and challenges) of CHURCHOME.
Those of us that work to pastor, to shepherd people in online spaces, recognize the largest hurdle we have to overcome is church-in-isolation. Overcoming isolation is the key to Church Online. So, what does a healthy Church Online look like? One that melds today virtual and physical environments. How do you do that? Check out the eBook: What Happens When Church Online Grows Up?