Plot lines …
· The Coronavirus Crisis has forced many churches to scramble to adopt new technologies in order to conduct weekly services.
· Change is inevitable. This change has been happening for quite some time now, and then all at once.
· Q: If everyone moved to Western Kansas, where would you have to plant a church? A: In Western Kansas.
· Thankfully everyone has not moved to Kansas, but everyone has moved to the web. Is your church simply streaming it Sunday service or has your church finally decided to plant a digital campus?
And just like that, everyone’s plans for 2020 changed dramatically. In the last 30 days, people who depend on face-to-face interactions to accomplish their jobs, or as we like to say around here - achieve their desired outcomes, have been stymied. Not only have people’s plans been upended, no one knows for sure if/when life will get back to normal. You can be certain of one thing, even when the current Coronavirus Crisis dissipates, things will not go back to the way they were. Instead, we will search for another new normal just like we did after 9/11 and the Great Recession of 2008.
With the “shelter in place” edicts in most parts of the country, many churches have had to scramble to adopt online streaming capabilities to conduct weekly services. The burning question on everyone’s mind is, “When this is all over, will people come back to the physical church?” One of the answers I ponder is “Does it really matter?”
Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying church doesn’t matter. I am not even saying physical attendance doesn’t matter. What I am saying is, “Just because we were used to physically showing-up at church because there was no other way (remember those days?), does spiritual growth require a person to physically attend church? In other words, does life transformation require physical attendance?” Some people argue that very little life transformation happens on Sunday mornings, but that is a discussion for another time.
We can look at other aspects of life to help draw some answers to this vital question. Education has been more and more moving to online courses. Many are questioning the amount of learning that actually happens in front of a lecturer. Businesses have been relying on video conferencing to conduct online meetings for quite some time now. Conducting business online is not a foreign concept at all – many software companies conduct all business online. In the last ten years, much of life has moved online. Much like the bankruptcy of Mike in Hemingway’s “The Sun Also Rises”, this has been happening “gradually and then suddenly.”
Until now, very few churches focused on its “online congregation.” Over the years, I’ve asked a good number of pastors about their weekend attendance; that’s how we billed at Fellowship One. J Most pastors think about the size of their church, weekly attendance, as the number of people sitting in the pews on any given Sunday. Online church was only there for convenience of someone who was out of town on vacation, or attending one of their kid’s out-of-town tournaments, or had to work on a weekend, or … you get the picture. In today’s world, that’s becoming more of the norm. It doesn’t make these people less Christian; that’s not one of the measures, is it? With everyone attending online for this period in history, perhaps churches can start treating people who watch online no differently than those who physically attend? For that to happen, processes and measurements will need to change; perhaps even a new mindset is required.
What if everyone moved to Western Kansas? Thankfully (for the people who currently live in Western Kansas and for all of us) everyone has not moved to Western Kansas. But everyone has moved to the Internet. Many people spend over 4 hours a day conducting their life’s business online, communicating or just surfing. Have you formally opened up an online campus, or is your streaming just a makeshift setup until things get back to normal? Remember what I said earlier about normal?
At Communitas, we spend a lot of time discussing how our software fits within processes and what metrics are intended to be tracked associated with such processes. When we designed our software, we specifically planned for every church to have an online campus. And when we say online campus, it’s not just for streaming your Sunday service. This isn’t an after-the-fact bolt-on, it’s part of the intentional way we think churches will conduct themselves in the future.
Sign up for a trial account today, take a test drive, see how we help you better know your people.
Reach out to me any time and we can discuss our ideas about church systems. Drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or text me at (214) 668-9807. We can even set up time to discuss over the phone, video or someday face-to-face, hopefully in the near future. Technology is rapidly changing the ways people live For the sake of the next generation, the church cannot be left behind. I look forward to hearing from you.