Steve Perky Weekly Focus 2019.w.11
A modern day version of the question, "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" may be, "Can anything good come out of online church?"
While I am a minister and a technologist I try to objectively evaluate all technology as to whether it can be effective in today's culture and whether it should be used from a biblical point of view.
I will be writing more about this in the weeks to come, but I would like your input. What questions do you have about online church, ministry online, digital ministry, online campuses, etc?
This past week the first of its kind report on the State of Online Church was published. It is a joint publication by Vanderbloemen, Pushpay, and Jay Kranda, who is the online pastor at Saddleback. It is a survey in which 176 churches who do online church participated, including me. Here are some of the points I found interesting and answer some of the questions I frequently receive.
Age of churches doing online church: It is a popular thought that online church is for young churches or church plants. The data in this survey reveals the opposite to be true. Churches that are 20-39 years old are more likely to have an online ministry than the younger churches. Churches that are 50+ years old are even more likely to have an online ministry.
Effect on physical attendance: This is a common concern I hear from church leaders. "If we stream online our physical attendance will decrease." My first answer to that is we need to understand the difference between streaming the worship service online and online ministry (or online church). Simply streaming the worship services without an intentional ministry strategy could have this effect. More importantly, a congregation where people are truly connected in community, worship, and service will not see their members stop being physically involved in the church. Here are some interesting results from the survey:
- 51% of the churches are considering using online ministry to launch future churches and multisite locations. 17% are already embracing this strategy.
- 58% of the churches said "100% agree online ministry is helpful to their church.”
- 35% of the churches said "75% helpful, but still unsure how it's helpful.”
- 59% of the churches have seen physical growth since launching their online ministry.
- 75% have reported people attend online first, then show up in person.
The key is to be intentional. We have not been commissioned to grow churches, rather to make disciples. If we intentionally embrace the opportunities to make disciples in our converged culture, our churches will grow. Remember, while the church frequently gathers on Sunday mornings, the church is not Sunday morning. The church is the ekklesia of the people, and people today are living in this messy converged online-offline world trying to discover how to live as Christ would have us to live. The churches who go into this messy converged space will be the ones who have the greatest impact on their members, communities, and the world.
Personalized Spiritual Growth App
Earlier this week I was listening to the Future.Bible podcast and learned about an interesting discipleship app from Back to the Bible. The app is called goTandem. The key feature of this, in my opinion, is you can take an assessment and it will personalize a Bible reading plan for you. There are to versions of this app.
The Weekly Focus is a summary of what I am reading, listening to, discovering, and learning this week. These include some of my thoughts and ideas around life, ministry, technology, culture, leadership, strategy, and communications. I pray these thoughts will help us all be better people, spouses, leaders, and learners as we live intentionally in our converged digital/physical daily lives.