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The Battle to Save Our Disenfranchised Church? It's Not in Our Buildings. It's Online.

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David Kinnaman of Barna quoted the stat, and he’s way smarter than me. 30% of people will leave the church during this COVID season. Mathematically, a Christian research company is claiming your church will potentially lose 30% of your pre-COVID attendance in the coming months.

Most churches, in this COVID season, are rushing back to the building.
Our buildings are where we could worship by singing.
It’s where we could preach our forty minute sermon.
It’s where our audience was captive.
It was easier to create moments of spiritual emotionalism.
Let’s get back to the building.

Many of you are getting back to the building. Those of you who have opened, congratulations. On average, it seems that 30% of your attendance is returning to the building. Now, smaller churches (sub 100) seem to have more than 50% attendance, as I guess people feel safer coming back to the smaller building. But on average, very few larger churches are reporting attendance 50% or greater at this point. Why? For those not coming to your building, at least those that still care…  they don’t want to risk exposure.

Church, you should try to get back to the building.

Communicate the cleanliness of the facility. Hold to high standards. Your building ministry needs to come back strong. But realize expectations. Medium to Large Churches will not see 100% attendance in 2020. So, while you’re longing to get people back to the building, realize that the 30% you’re likely to lose as a result of this COVID mess are the ones you won’t get back to the building, because they’re afraid. Rightfully so, by the way.

Unfortunately, you can’t control this fear. You can tell them you hold guidelines and standards. You can tell them to wear a mask, and wash hands. You can tell them everything is under control. Reality is, people are still getting sick. And while we live in this questionable environment realize that some people don’t want to come to your building, or any building for that matter.

Every large gathering is a calculated risk, and Church is often on the losing side of that equation.

(photo credit: Ben Stapley: Christ Fellowship Miami)

Note: these people are not bad Christians. This has nothing to do with the Lordship of Christ in their lives. This has nothing to do with the presence of the fruits of the spirit among their relationships. This solely means that these people don’t want to risk getting sick.

Church, the challenge for you is to realize that YOU STILL NEED TO BE A PHYGITAL CHURCH. You still need that digital component. I’ve seen time and time again where Churches are now putting 100% of their effort into the physical space, thinking that the effort will bring 100% of their people back into the physical space (or at least 100% of what local capacity is). Whatever the reason, it’s not happening.

The Battle for Your Church is Not in the Physical Building, But in Digital Space

No matter how much hype you bring, there’s a large percentage of people that aren’t coming back to your buildings yet. Hype, in this situation, isn’t getting people into the building. Could be, actually, that the hype is misperceived as guilt for not coming back to the building, and could actually do more harm than good. If we truly want to connect with the disconnected, disengaged, disenfranchised of our church… we really should be looking at increasing our digital presence, not closing it down. Engage and build relationships through online methods, and connect them to your church’s digital presence. Your disenfranchised 30%, well, don’t think you care about them because they’re not in your building. Prove to them that you do care. Take time, energy, and resources… not to guilt them into attending physically but that you are there to serve them phygitally - either physically or digitally.

While You’re At It, Let’s Reimagine What a Community Church Looks Like

Maybe, just maybe, there’s an opportunity to reimagine how you do church? Digitally and/or physically? Instead of large gatherings, maybe smaller gatherings are still a better idea to stair step people back to large gatherings? I’ve recently talked with Ed Love, Director of Multiplication for the Wesleyan Church. Even before COVID, the Wesleyan Church revisited their biblical ecclesiology… how they defined Church biblically… recognizing that some of their perceived biblical structure was actually preventing multiplication. In a recent The Church Digital Podcast Episode, Ed talks in great detail about how the Wesleyan Church redefines community to better allow for multiplication. Microchurch? Digital Church? Some incredible options available right now for your church to disconnect with the disenfranchised 30%, and may even help your church multiply in the future. Check out Ed Love in the clip below.

 

Church, lets celebrate what’s happening in physical space. God is being glorified in a big way. But if you want your church to thrive, remember, you need to think PHYGITALLY. Stadia wants to help. For more information on how Stadia can help your church thrive, grow and multiply phygitally, check out http://stadiachurchplanting.org/phygital.

 

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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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