3. WILL ONLINE CHURCH REPLACE IN-PERSON ATTENDANCE FOR MANY?
So if people aren’t attending church as regularly anymore, then what’s the new normal?
In addition to simply staying away, many are substituting online options for in-person attendance. The launch of Churchome’s Global App is one more step in that direction.
The last decade has seen an explosion of online options for Christians, most of which are free: from social media to podcasts and to services streamed both live and on demand.
The opportunities are endless and will only grow from here.
Even if your church doesn’t have any online presence, don’t worry—thousands of other ministries do. There’s no way to shield your congregation from a changing world.
And actually, come to think of it, there’s shouldn’t be. The church has always adapted to a changing world because Jesus loves the world.
While I think that (at least at this point) increased in-person engagement almost always leads to higher devotion, for some people online will be their only form of church. I don’t love this, for reasons stated elsewhere in this post, but if you ignore your online strategy, you lose the chance to reach new people, even if it means some of your less-devoted people step back.
4. DOES ONLINE PARTICIPATION FEED CONSUMPTION OR DRIVE ENGAGEMENT?
One of the key goals for Christians is to engage the mission in front of us: to share the love and salvation of Christ with the world.
But does online participation drive Christians into deeper engagement with that mission or does it drive us deeper into consumerism?
The challenge with technology, of course, is that we are both its parent and its child. We shaped it, but we’re unclear on how it’s shaping us.
So, given the rise of digital options, are Christians increasingly seeing their faith as something to be consumed?
The Gospel by nature demands sacrifice, engagement and risk.
Christianity at its best has never been about consuming much and contributing little. We shouldn’t start now.
In many respects, online consumption builds the kingdom of me. We’re called to build the Kingdom of God.
When you design your online strategy, you can shape it to fuel consumption or to fuel engagement. While many churches will shape it to fuel consumption, the more effective churches will shape it to fuel engagement.
5. WHAT HAPPENS TO EVANGELISM IN A LOW ATTENDANCE WORLD?
Of all the things that concern me most about lower attendance patterns, this one is the highest on my list.
If you’re consuming your faith online and only attending sporadically, how do you invite your friends into that? That’s right, you don’t.
Sharing a pin on Instagram is not the same as personally sharing your life with a friend.
Sure, theoretically, you can share your faith around a kitchen table. But let’s be honest, not many people actually do that. And something tells me that most people who attend infrequently rarely share their faith.
Christians should live like the good news is good, not just for them, but for everyone.
Many Christians will continue to see their faith as something to be enjoyed, not shared. But they won’t be the future church.
The future church will be followers of Jesus who unite around a mission to change the world through the love and hope of Christ.
6. WHAT HAPPENS TO DISCIPLESHIP IN A VIRTUAL ENVIRONMENT?
Christian maturity is not marked by how much you know, it’s marked by how much you love.
And love has an outward thrust.
Sure, to grow as a disciple you need to consume. So listen to messages and podcasts, take online seminary classes…do what you need to do.
But consumption has never been the goal of true discipleship. Jesus never asked you to be a disciple; he called you to make disciples.
If your mantra in avoiding other Christians on Sunday and consuming what you feel like on Monday is to build yourself up, you’ve lost the mission.
The future church will be filled with Christians who realize they’re called to make disciples, not just be disciples.