Every church needs an online ministry and here is why...
We live in amazing times, everything around us is fast and online. When you have a question and need an answer, you most likely google it before you think about calling your Pastor or church elders right?
The google train is here and will probably be here for many years to come.
If you're concerned about your church members getting the right answers or solutions to their urgent pressing issues, then you have no choice but to feed the internet with the right answers.
Otherwise, you're leaving it to the circular world to have the last say on everything.
Without a question, every church needs a digital ministry or online solution for their curious church members.
As a young person, I used to enjoy looking out the window from the back seat of the car.
I knew every billboard and road sign along the common streets we often used. I knew the signs and advertisements so well that I could tell if they changed something.
That was then!
These days, whenever I get a rare chance of being driven, I am definitely not looking outside the window.
I am most definitely checking my social media feeds, emails or simply reading an article.
You see, the mobile phone has changed the way we interact with each other, the environment and most definitely the way we consume the gospel.
If your church is still relying on old ways alone to reach and connect with your members, then you are missing out.
Do you remember Newspapers?
The same can be said about Newspapers. I remember a time when reading a newspaper looked cool and everyone rushed to pick one up every morning.
These days, people consume their media through mobile phones. The difference between the image above and the one below is just a few years.
I know I'm not alone when I say that both my local gazette and national newspapers end up in the...
Trash, sometimes even without reading the headlines.
As you can see offline advertising or publishing is not as effective as it used to be a few years ago.
So if your church's only way to get new members is through print and street advertising, then you're missing out on the most effective way to reach, connect and grow your church membership.
This article is not about convincing you to go digital because you already know that.
However, this article is about showing you the benefits of having a dedicated online ministry for your church. I hope to highlight some of the things you can do with your online ministry as well as solutions to many of the problems you may be facing as a church.
Table of contents
- Increase Your Influence in the community
- Break Down The Barriers Of Distance
- Online Church Service
- Serve Those Who Are Not Physically Able To Attend Church
- Create Personalized Experiences For Your Members
- On-demand Gospel
- Nurturing Your Church Members
- Boost Your Online Giving
- Online Ministry is Cheap and Effective
- Expand Your Reach and Influence
1. Online Ministry Will Increase Your Influence in the community
For centuries, the church has always been a place of hope, trust, and refuge where everyone is welcome. It's a place where people go to worship their God and find answers to some of life's challenges.
However, since the internet, we have seen a slight shift in how people interact with the church.
People are now able to get the answers they seek instantly from internet search and social media communities. As a result, people's dependencies on the church has reduced and will continue to do so.
If your church is not affected by the shift, then it's just a matter of time before it happens
I am sure you've heard of influencers on social media where one person can have upwards of 100 million followers.
To put that in perspective, one influencer can have more followers than the entire Catholic US membership. That means that one person has more influence on the people than the church does.
How do influencers attract so many people?
The influencers, as well as the business world, have mastered the art of finding out what people need and then giving it to them.
The church, on the other hand, has become a place where people only go to have their spiritual needs met and nothing else. When they need an answer to something, they go online and do a quick search. The answers are instant and in most cases personalized to their needs.
The church does not need to compete with influencers online because people already trust the church. People know that the church business is about serving the people and not about making a profit.
If the church is to survive this digital age, it has to increase its online presence and influence by meeting people's needs. The church should once again be a place where people go to find solutions to their everyday problems.
2. Online Ministry Will Break Down The Barriers Of Distance
It is a fact that people are more mobile today than ever before. In the early days, people attended the church that was closest to them regardless of faith or denomination.
The opposite is true today. People will attend the church that meets their needs regardless of distance.
I asked a few couples what factors were important to them before choosing which church they should attend.
Over 90% of them said that children's programs were the number one factor. This means that if the church closest to them did not offer a great children's program, they would attend one that is an hour away.
It is a good sign when people are willing to drive 100 miles to attend your church. It means you're doing something right to meet their needs. However, there's a downside to that.
Many people will have no problem driving to church once a week. The problem is when you call for a meeting during the week or you have an evangelistic campaign that requires people to attend during the week.
The issue is that people will spend more time on the road than at church. This may be okay to a few especially those in charge of the program but it'll be extremely difficult for regular church members. As a result, your "during the week" programs will see fewer attendants.
Having an online ministry will help your church to deal with distance issues. This means that you can now have meetings, bible studies, evangelistic campaigns and training online where people can attend from anywhere in the world as long as they have internet access.
3. Online Church Service
Research shows that many Americans are now taking up a second and even third job to make earns meet.
I know a few members at my church who are Nurses and work 12 - 16 hours a shift. As a result, most of them miss church because they're catching up on sleep or they are working during church service.
In the digital age, the church should not only be for people within your sanctuary. As a church, we spend so much time and money bringing people into the church therefore, we must put in just as much effort in nurturing them.
A lot of churches have taken advantage of live streaming their online church service and that is great. However, most streaming services are timed and require someone to watch at a certain time. It is important to find out how your members are consuming the gospel and if live streaming is working for them, then that's fine.
4. Serve Those Who Are Not Physically Able To Attend Church
I had an opportunity to talk to a lady who's stopped going to church due to her health. She attended the same local church for over 40 years but recently got sick. She says that initially, the church sent someone to pick her up but eventually that program died off.
As Christians, we spend a lot of time bringing people into the church and the story above should be concerning to everyone.
When Jesus talks about taking the good news to all the world, he does not say bring the people to church. Jesus wants us to take the gospel to the people wherever they are and physical limitations should not be the reason why people should miss out on the blessing.
The online ministry will not only deliver a live church service every week but also deliver content that is personalized to each individual. The danger of not having an online nurturing program for your members is that they'll look elsewhere to have their needs met.
5. Create Personalized Experiences For Your Members
Even though the church is a collection of different people with a common purpose, One should never assume that everyone comes to church for the same reasons as theirs.
I grew up in church and there was a time in my life when I realized that church was second nurture to me. I didn't have to think about it. When the day came, I automatically drove to church.
There was another time when I went to church to get away from the busy work week.
Going to church was like a reset button I needed every week.
I went to church because I would meet my family and friends there and for a moment, they made me forget about work and school.
That felt so good.
I don't know what drives you to church week after week, but it is safe to say that people go to church for various reasons. It is also safe to say that people go to church to have part or some of their needs met.
This shows that there is no way the church can meet every member's needs within those short hours people spend at church. Therefore, the church needs to find ways to meet people's needs outside of their normal church hours.
The solution must meet people's needs at a personal level or at a point of their needs.
Imagine going to see a Doctor and before you tell the doctor what's wrong, he/she prescribes medicine for you.
As a church, we must be careful about how we serve people. We must make sure that we know what people need and then we figure out how to provide for them.
People have real problems and need real solutions. The church has an obligation to serve its members and the world at large and putting everyone in one bucket is serving its own interest and not the peoples.
6. On-demand Gospel
In the points above, I talked about how distance, work, and physical limitations may lead to low church attendance. The question is how do you make sure that the people who are not able to attend church still get the blessing?
Today we have advanced technology that allows us to create content, store it on a server and consume it whenever we want to.
You see people online will only consume that which they have access to. I am sure you remember Blockbuster Videos.
For a moment, people enjoyed renting DVDs at Blockbusters. But, it was not perfect. It required people to drive to a specific location during a specific time frame to rent a DVD.
It also required that you watch the movie within a specific time or you get charged late fees.
Along came Netflix that offered a faster way to rent and watch movies without the drive to pick up and drop off. It was convenient, instant, online and accessible anywhere.
Netflix and Blockbuster offered the same product, the only difference is that Netflix put people back in control of their time.
The online ministry will not only deliver your weekly church service but content that people can consume every day while they drive to work or as they work during the day.
7. Online Ministry For Nurturing Your Church Members
Bringing people into the church is only one part and keeping them in the church is what evangelism is all about.
People being introduced to Christ is probably the easiest part of their Christian journey.
Some people start going to church after being handed a track on the street. Others learn about God through family or friends.
A Christian's journey starts the moment they are introduced to Christ and follows through to the time they're called home. Even though we expect people to start and complete the journey, it is however sad that most people fail through the cracks.
The work of the church is to bring people into the church and nurture them till the second coming of Christ.
Therefore, we must make sure that we put in place measures that support a Christian's Journey no matter what stage they are.
A strong Online Ministry will make sure that your new and old members not only consume the gospel during church service but throughout the week and months.
Here are some things a digital ministry will help your church do online
- Bible study
- Digital evangelism
- Virtual workshops
- Ministry training
8. Online Ministry Will Boost Your Online Giving
The church relies heavily on offering and tithe from its members. However, the amount of dollars collected has reduced significantly as more and more people are leaving the church.
We know that the church needs funds to operate. Above all, without money, the church cannot do its work of evangelism.
Research after research shows that even though people are leaving the church, they're not leaving God. Therefore, the church must find ways to create and deliver value to these people who are not in church.
The business world has proven the fact that people will only invest in something that solves their pain points or that which brings value to their lives.
For some years now, my wife and I have been donating our used house furniture and clothing to the Salvation Army. That has not always been the case.
You see, in the past, we used to dedicate a whole day to renting a Uhaul, packing up the stuff and delivering to the local thrift store. Until we discovered that the Salvation Army picks up stuff from your house.
The Salvation Army provides a service to the donors as well as to their cause. We donate to them because they solve one of our pain points. All we have to do now is leave the stuff in the driveway and what used to take us a day only takes a few minutes now.
Research shows that there are more Americans that claim no affiliation to any organized religion than there are Catholics. This means that people will consume content that meets their needs regardless of denomination.
Your church can boost online giving by meeting your online communities' needs.
9. Online Ministry is Cheap and Effective
I know a lot of churches and nonprofit organizations that still do ministry the old fashioned way and it works for the most part. However, it is rather expensive as it involves a lot of traveling and time.
There's an organization that I've been fortunate to be part of called " Changing People's Lives International" that does evangelism in communist countries and it is amazing when you look at how much work such a small group is able to do.
Online Ministry does not eliminate the need to travel but it fills in the gaps.
For example, what happens in between mission trips?
When implemented, the online ministry can help such organizations to train lay workers, conduct virtual bible studies and evangelistic campaigns.
You can do all this at a fraction of what you spend on travel expenses.
10. Online Ministry Will Expand Your Reach
Over 4 billion people have access to the internet worldwide and if your outreach strategy is not online then you are missing out on one of the most effective tools.
Much of the 4 billion users flock to social media, Google, and Youtube in search of information. This means that your church now has an opportunity to change people's lives by providing real information that is based on truth and one that points them to Christ.
Rather than targeting the same people within the four walls of your church over and over again, you should open up the floodgates of the internet and find people that are searching for the information that only you can provide.
In the Book of Matthew 14:13-21, we are told that Jesus fed 5000 men with two loaves of bread and five fish. If you've been a Christian for a long time, you must have heard this story so many times.
Apart from Jesus performing a miracle, he also wants us to learn the power of meeting people's needs. You see for some reason, the Bible does not talk about the sermon Jesus preached that day. The Bible also does not say that the people complained that they were hungry.
However, the Bible says that the disciples were concerned that it was getting dark and that the people will need to eat.
The Church has a profound duty to identify people's problems even before the people know they have a problem. We all have a duty to find out what people need and figure out how to give it to them.
The online ministry is a way to provide solutions that people desperately need especially from the church.
I hope this article pushes you a little step further into implementing and creating an online ministry for your church.
Please let me know if you already have an online ministry and let me know how that is working for you. If you don't have one, please let me know what's stopping you.