[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 part of "Church" in 2020.]
The future is here! It's 2019, and with it comes time to question things anew. Because the answers we got yesterday may not be the right answers today.
It's time to change the paradigm for Church Online.
Church Online should not, no... it cannot become a virtual building. Do not copy/paste your Physical Building Church and do it in Online Spaces. The distrust some churches have is because we try to force Physical Church Ministry into Church Online. Of course we're going to feel like it's competing. In all likelyhood it is!
Let's take a step back here, and answer this question: What happens at churches IRL (in real life):
- People come to your building for Church Services (with musical worship and Teaching/Preaching).
- People come to your building/community for Bible Studies/Small Groups.
Generally speaking, Church, Online technologies can do these things... possibly even better than the Physical Building (time will tell). But we do have this Biblical mandate to not abandon meeting together. With respect to Hebrews 10, however, there's a whole other dimension to church that's arguably missing from our Physical Churches (and falls in line with Online technology very well). Yes, Online technologies are great for mass communication. But they're also excellent for training... equipping... discipling... which is an area the Church in general struggles with.
Physical Churches looking for Church Online to complement its ministry (and not "replace" its ministry) will look for Church Online to become a vehicle for discipleship. Want to see your Online Ministry flourish? Use it to equip people with the Gospel. What are we equipping them to do? Answer questions like this (borrowed from What Jesus Started by Steve Addison):
- How do I reach an unreached area and connect with people
- How do I share the gospel?
- How do I make disciples who disciple others?
- How do I form groups in the community that will reproduce?
- How do I develop and multiply local leaders?
Can this training be provided through meetings or gatherings physically? Probably. Several benefits here: 1) easier to schedule/meet virtually 2) decentralizing dependence upon meeting physically allows the equipping reach to go further/reach newer areas.
Through the eBook: What Happens When Church Online Grows Up? we talk a lot about spiritual milk and spiritual solid food... this is right in that line. Church, much of our ministry centered around our Physical Locations is centered around COMING to the campus and SEEING what's happening. In the Biblical sense, this is a spiritual milk concept. Many of those in our churches are capable of things beyond spiritual milk. They need to be challenged. Church Online, on the other hand, operates best (and complements) by equipping people GOING into their community with the Gospel and DOING ministry. It provides a crucial platform to develop people beyond spiritual milk. After all, Pastor, the same Holy Spirit that is in you is found in Christians throughout your church.
Church Online is not a virtual building where people meet. It is the distribution network empowering people to share the Gospel.
At the end of the day, there should be no conflict from a ministry-standpoint. There's a whole other paradigm open for Church Online that the Church has yet to tap into...
Next up: Church Online is more than an Online Campus.