Remember the days when we just duplicated everything in the church bulletin on the church website? Church websites were just online brochures.
Then we started encouraging people to connect. We offered ways for people to sign up for a group, volunteer role or an event through the church website.
Then we started offering the experience online. Churches began to stream their services live to give people a chance to experience teaching and worship without being at a physical location.
There are a handful of churches that are beginning to think strategically about how they can offer content online that fuels discipleship and mentoring relationships. These churches are trying to create options to encourage growth without requiring people to attend a class or an event at the church building.
Here are some examples:
1. LifeChurch.tv has, of course, reached millions with their Bible app that allows people to engage Scripture through mobile devices and computers, but they’re also investing in technology and content development to create free resources they offer to adults, students and kids.
2. Pinelake Church has created online resources that address many foundations of the faith. The resources are designed to be used in discipleship and mentoring relationships. The topics include salvation, prayer, Bible study, worship, relationships, service, missional living and stewardship.
3. Seacoast Church recognizes that for their multi-site strategy to work, they need an intentional plan to raise up healthy leaders. With that in mind, they’ve developed an online “Tool Shed” to help leaders mentor other leaders. There are modules for leading yourself, others, leaders, departments, organizations and ministries.
Let me point out a few critical decisions you’ll need to make if your church is going to move in this direction.
1. Embrace technology for discipleship. You need to use technology as not only a resource to connect people to the church (which is very important) but also to help people become disciples of Christ.
2. Prioritize financial and people resources. You need to begin to invest in people, web development and content development. This isn’t something you can just tack on to the youth pastor’s job description.
3. Begin thinking online rather than on-site. Churches spend most of their time and energy to pull off services, events and classes at specific times and locations. We live in an on-demand culture. That requires us to shift how we help people engage the content we create.
4. Your online strategy should be an extension of your discipleship strategy. If you want people to worship, grow, serve and invite, your online strategy should give them the tools to do that. Likewise, I challenge you to make sure everything you do inside the church building for discipleship, should also be offered online.
Have you discovered other churches who are being intentional about leveraging web technology for both outreach and discipleship? If so, share the websites in the comments so we can learn and be inspired by their examples.