We've got a Guest Blogger on the blog today. Rey DeArmas is the Online Pastor at Christ Fellowship Miami, the church that I serve at and call home. Rey and I have learned a lot of lessons over the years at CFMiami, and I can't wait for you to unpack what Rey has for you.
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Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, and soon Apple are moving beyond content distributors to becoming content creators. As major tech companies battle in the fight for our attention, we local churches need to ask ourselves if we might be moving in the same direction. Recent strides in technology have allowed us to distribute our sermons all over cyberspace. Podcasts, YouTube, Facebook Live, and Church Online Platform are now serving as hubs for our visitors and attenders to receive content created by our pastors in an effort to reach people for Christ. While this has made distribution of our content easy and provided a nice preview of what to expect for visitors, it is not what the local church was designed for. We are called to make disciples.
This is where having a discipleship strategy is crucial at every church, especially those utilizing an online campus. Every church should ask of both their weekend experience and online experience, “How is this leading people to engage in our discipleship process?” In other words, are you making content or making disciples? Good content is essential, but it is nothing unless it leads your people to taking their next step in obedience to Christ.
Here are some tips to make sure that your online campus is not just content creation, but a viable part of disciple-making:
Have a clear discipleship strategy
Your church needs a clear discipleship strategy. If you have a clear strategy, make sure you communicate it often during your broadcast. At Christ Fellowship, we strive to connect people to God (services), others (small groups), serving (volunteering), and telling others about Jesus (mission). No matter what your church discipleship strategy is, make sure that you are utilizing it with your online campus.
There are plenty of ways to host online small groups. You can leverage platforms like Google Hangouts or Zoom to host groups that can take place over different time zones and still meet face to face. Going through simple follow up questions from the weekend messages are an easy way to engage existing content and helping group members apply the sermon.
Have opportunities for people to serve online. They can host a chat during a service through your Church Online Platform or via social media. You can help connect online attenders to serving at physical locations close to them.
There are many ways that online attenders can engage in strategy. Don’t limit your view of how they can engage. Instead, expand your view of how the church can connect and serve.
Always begin and end your broadcast with a clear next step
I find that we receive more engagement when we have a clear next step communicated throughout the broadcast. Make sure that it matches the sermon’s next step as well. At one point, we pointed to four different web addresses during the broadcast: one for connection card, one for giving, one to connect to a small group, and one to connect to whatever the main announcement was for the day. It was confusing for me during announcements, and the more I surveyed those watching the more I understood how confusing it was for the attendee as well.
We brought everything under one simple web address: cfmiami.org/connect. We leverage this site to host our connection card and online giving. This made sure that the next step was clear no matter what platform we are utilizing. It does not matter if an attendee is watching on Facebook Live, Church Online Platform, Periscope, or AppleTV. The next step funnels them to the same place.
Without follow up, you have dead data. You need to make sure that you are doing your best to engage your online attenders. Engagement has not truly taken place until real relationship is formed. You need to reach back every opportunity you get to make sure that you are moving your online attenders into community. If not, then they just watched great content.
We need more churches to step up and make disciples online. Is your discipleship strategy clear? Can you enact it online? Do you help your online attenders by offering a clear next step every week? Do you follow up? If the answers to these questions is “no” then you are just creating content. Don’t just make great content. Make disciples.
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