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3 Factors That Set Digitally Resilient Churches Apart

By Jeff Reed

church livestream camera + congregation

Lackadaisical attendance, a drop in giving, disenfranchised younger generations—the Church faces daunting struggles weekly, the weight of which can feel overwhelming. 

With so much pressure, how does the church overcome? First, some good news. According to Pushpay’s 2024 State of Church Tech Report, 91% of churches like yours stream church services online. This is a vital first step in making your church resilient.

Digital ministry, when done effectively, has a beautiful ability to complement physical ministry. While it’s true that physical attendance patterns are trending downward, streaming services online helps churches engage with people when they’re not in the building. Ultimately, online attendees are looking for a spiritual connection, and your church has an incredible opportunity to build relationships with them, leading toward discipleship.

Resilient is defined as “able to withstand or recover quickly from difficult situations.” Resi is called “Resi” because our technology exemplifies resiliency. We do everything we can to keep data packets and video frames from getting dropped, but if they do, Resi’s RSP technology quickly and seamlessly identifies the lost information and fixes it before the stream ever reaches your viewers. 

Pastorally, broadcasting your church services online helps make your church more resilient. A digitally resilient church can recover quickly from difficult situations, and the agility of digital gives you the phenomenal ability to connect with people when they aren’t in our building and reach people who have never been there.

The Three Different Types of People Who Are Watching Your Online Services And How To Engage Them

A digitally resilient church recognizes three different types of people who attend your services online:

  1. Front-door visitors will visit your online church service before they come to your physical church service. Recent studies by Lifeway Research have noted that most people (54%) will visit online church services four or more times before they come to your physical building. Online broadcasts are crucial in your physical church’s efforts to reach new people.
  2. Side-door people are the people already active in your church but engage in online services on the weeks they cannot attend the physical church service. Rather than viewing these people as lazy or less loyal, recognize they couldn’t connect with you physically and chose to engage online. Some churches even report that a hybrid approach to discipleship (both physical and online) produces deeper disciples over physical approaches alone.
  3. Digital-door people are the people engaging your church online but, for whatever reason, aren’t coming to your church physically. Maybe they live too far away from your church to attend in-person. Or they used to live near your church but moved away and haven’t found a community church yet. Or maybe they stumbled on your church online, and something resonates. Digital-door people offer churches a great opportunity to… well, we’ll get to that soon.

Resi wants to help churches like yours understand the power of digital ministry. To that end, we’re launching The Digitally Resilient Church, a series of online events designed to help churches like yours maximize the potential of digital ministry and how digital can complement what’s happening in your building and strengthen physical ministry overall. To become a digitally resilient church, we need to recognize that while streaming church services is a vital step, it’s only the beginning, not the endgame. 

Here are three factors that set digitally resilient churches apart from other churches. 

#1: A Digitally Resilient Church Uses Digital To Make Physical Church Better

Do you want to know the secret to Online Ministry? The people we connect with online, whether through online church services or social media, need to be invited into the “community” for discipleship. 

Online church services are an easy way to connect with front-door and side-door people. Front-door people, your church’s physical visitors, will check out many of your church services online before they come physically. What are they looking for? Do they enjoy your musical style? Do they like the preacher? Do they fit within the culture? Do the people on stage represent the potential visitor? A digitally resilient church recognizes that broadcasting church services online provides an excellent preview of what people will experience at your church physically.

In addition to the front-door, a digitally resilient church helps side-door people stay engaged with your church. Whether it’s work schedules, travel schedules, or kids’ schedules, side-door people are simply not consistent in-person attenders. But a digitally resilient church recognizes and respects attendees who engage churches physically and digitally. 

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This is a genuine hybrid approach. Whether an attendee engages physically or digitally doesn’t matter. A digitally resilient church asks whether an attendee can receive the same spiritual value if they attend online or physically. By becoming digitally resilient, churches like yours can be more effective in reaching front-door people and discipling side-door people.

#2: A Digitally Resilient Church Connects With People Your Church Can’t Physically Reach

What about digital-door people? What about the people who don’t live near your church’s physical building but are still engaging your church online? Sure, your church can ignore these people or take them for granted, as many do. However, there’s an opportunity for churches like yours to reimagine your community and reimagine discipleship digitally.

A Digitally Resilient Church recognizes that our online connections need to be driven toward community for discipleship. The good news is that a community can exist physically or digitally. Front-door people and side-door people can be driven to a physical building for discipleship. But digital-door people don’t have the luxury of coming to your physical building. 

What would it look like for your church to disciple digital-door people online, even in another city or continent? How can your digital ministry start new physical communities? During Session One of The Digitally Resilient Church webinar series, Tyler Sansom, Lead Pastor at Church Anywhere/First Capital Christian Church, and I will explore how churches like yours can use online church services to start new physical communities outside the reach of your physical church building.

#3: A Digitally Resilient Church Looks For Ways To Connect Outside Of Church Services

Online Church Services are crucial in connecting with front- and side-door people. They are vital in establishing connections with digital-door people. But the connection is more than online church services. 

What does digital connection look like for your church beyond livestreaming your church services? Are there more accessible, more effective ways to connect with people online? And once we connect with them, what do we do with them? How do we build relationships with these people online? 

It’s easy to make a community with people in our church buildings, but how does our church even start to create a digital community? During Session One of The Digitally Resilient Church series, Tyler and I will tease out other methods for connecting with people digitally and how to effectively route them into a digital community to build relationships. Maybe you’ll discover different things than your church service to stream online.

Is Your Church Digitally Resilient? 

Interested in making your church digitally resilient? Chat with the Resi team and learn how your church can better utilize connection and community to strengthen its physical ministry.

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Jeff Reed

In 2018, Jeff stepped out of a 15-year church staffing career in production, creative, and communication to start THECHURCH.DIGITAL, a non-profit designed to help churches find their purpose through digital discipleship, mobilizing people on digital mission, and planting multiplying digital churches. He lives in Miami with his wife and two kids.

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