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4 Questions About Digital Ministry Your Church Needs to Answer

By Jeff Reed

4 Questions About Digital Ministry Your Church Needs to Answer

Did you know digital ministry can make your physical church’s discipleship better?

At Resi, we spend a lot of time discussing and exploring new ways livestreaming church services can help pastors like you connect with visitors who check out your church digitally. We also talk about how livestreaming makes it easier for your regular attendees to stay connected to your church when (for whatever reason) they cannot attend physically.

Recently, Crossroads Church in Cincinnati discovered something we think any church will find fascinating and worth talking about.

Crossroads examined the spiritual traits of attendees who were solely present in person, alongside those who participated both online and in person – the genuine hybrid attendees. Surprisingly, their discoveries revealed that hybrid participants demonstrated a greater depth of discipleship compared to those who only attended in person.

Wait, does digital ministry make physical ministry better? As part of The Digitally Resilient Church, Resi and I are putting together, we will talk with Andy Reider (Online Pastor) and Christian Meadows (Interactive Manager) over at Crossroads Church, and get the details. So RSVP for Part 2 of The Digitally Resilient Church, coming to you on Wednesday, May 22, 2024, at 12 p.m. CST.

Perfect attendance is not one of the fruits of the Spirit.

The truth is, few people attend church every single week nowadays. Frankly, the concept of achieving 100% attendance is becoming increasingly unrealistic. With kids’ commitments, work demands, travel plans, and side gigs, it’s challenging for individuals to make it to your physical church every Sunday at 9am.

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As a pastor, do you simply plead for attendance from those absent in person, or do you promote online services and sermon podcasts as alternatives? While some view virtual church as forsaking physical gatherings (Hebrews 10:25), Crossroads research offers a fresh perspective. Digital engagement isn’t solely for the less motivated or introverted; it enhances traditional church settings. Embracing a hybrid model, blending physical and digital aspects, emerges as the optimal approach in 2024.

What does hybrid mean, anyway?

Hybrid is a funny word. We know from Pushpay’s State of Church Tech Report that in 2024, 90% of churches consider their ministry “hybrid.” But what does that mean? How much of a digital strategy makes your church hybrid? That’s not an easy question to answer, but the Crossroads standard is one we all should hold: Provide a digital strategy that makes your physical attendees better disciples.

Through The Digitally Resilient Church webinar series, we’re digging into what can make your church resilient, and streaming your church services is the first step in a digital strategy that can keep your church attendees connected when they miss a Sunday morning. Shaming or guilting Sunday attendance isn’t practical in 2024; instead, learn how your church can physically complement what it’s doing with digital to strengthen your discipleship process. 

Engagement is the first step to building relationships, leading to discipleship.

Streaming marks the initial and crucial step, yet achieving digital resilience for a church encompasses more than just broadcasting Sunday services online. Churches striving for digital resilience need to go beyond streaming and social media posts. The core of engagement involves connecting with someone new, which serves as the foundational step in nurturing a disciple-making bond. What does fostering such digital relationships entail? In the upcoming installment of The Digitally Resilient Church, we will delve into the following questions:

  1. Can you disciple someone digitally, and is it as effective as physical discipleship?

An increasing number of churches are transitioning to a relational approach to discipleship, proving highly effective in the digital realm. Platforms like social media, messaging apps, and texting offer convenient avenues for engaging in meaningful dialogues. The irony of the challenge posed in Hebrews 10:25, regarding “forsaking the gathering,” is evident as digital communities allow for profound connections, potentially surpassing those in physical spaces. While the early church in Acts 2:46 met daily—a feat challenging in today’s fast-paced society—it remains achievable through deliberate use of digital tools.

  1. How can digital discipleship complement what’s happening at a physical church?

The term “discipleship,” much like “hybrid,” carries various interpretations. It’s been said that if you asked five different pastors to define discipleship, you might get six different responses! Regardless of your personal perspective on disciple-making, the concept likely revolves around fostering “relationships” and “community” within your church. The good news is that both these elements can be incorporated digitally. Andy and Christian will present a range of simple yet effective strategies to enhance your church’s digital discipleship efforts. Our aim is to guide you in transforming your church into a digitally resilient community!

  1. How do you start healthy and helpful engagement for your church?

To cultivate discipleship, the initial focus is on engagement. How can we effectively communicate online to establish trust? Exploring Crossroads’ approach in The Digitally Resilient Church sheds light on this. In the realm of digital trust-building, posing questions triumphs over making assertions. Avoid passing judgment; invest time in understanding those you engage with. While seemingly straightforward, the challenge lies in aligning your team, including volunteers, with this approach.

And a bit of a pet peeve here: What conveys more empathy in an online conversation? Is the “prayer hands emoji” (🙏) or taking the time to write a three-sentence prayer? Digital is so “convenient” that taking the extra time to engage appropriately will go a long way to connect with people.

  1. Can broadcasting church services online actually make your physical church healthier?

In 2019, broadcasting church services online was met with skepticism by many. However, 2020 marked a turning point as the pandemic compelled numerous churches to swiftly embrace digital platforms. Even in 2024, with most churches continuing to stream services online, the pathway from digital engagement to physical ministry remains unfamiliar to many.
Crossroads as a church has excellent experience with this, and their team is joining us to share practical insights with churches like yours (large and small.) Join us on Wednesday, May 23, 2024, at 12 p.m. CST as Andy Reider and Christian Meadows from Crossroads Church, answers these questions and more as Resi continues its The Digitally Resilient Church online event series with Part Two: Discipleship and Engagement. For more information or to RSVP, click the button below.

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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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