All that we have been through in the last 18 months has shown us one thing. Online or Digital ministry is here to stay. This trend has been coming for some time. The online event space has exploded with online-only conferences, movies have moved to digital access, employees working remotely is now expected, and in-person meetings are less and less common. These are all trends that were already well underway when the events of 2020 came along to speed things up.
The digital ministry trends that became pervasive in 2020 were actually a decade in the making. Many churches were already doing live streams, online small groups, and having success with social media engagement. 2020 just sped things up. The reality is this: if you are going to reach Generation Z you must have a digital engagement strategy. The church’s lack of digital engagement has made an entire generation feel like we are irrelevant. This doesn’t have to be your church.
Creating a digital engagement strategy isn’t difficult, but it does require a change in thinking and the willingness to learn new things. There are tools that are ripe with ministry potential that your church can use to effectively reach people online: your website, social media, email, and search engines. Each of these tools require attention and effort, but if utilized properly, and in conjunction with each other, they can bring huge dividends to your ministry. Here at JBA, we are working on creating ways to help churches develop and run effective digital engagement. We hope to release some tools soon that will help churches create their own online strategy. Until then, we are here to help.
Many pastors, like myself, didn’t grow up in a digital world. Today’s teenagers and college students have never known a world without a smartphone. In order to engage with this generation we must meet them where they are. Jesus modeled this in his ministry. He didn’t just sit in Nazareth and expect everyone to come to him, but rather he travelled and met people where they were. We must do the same. We should use all the tools we have at our fingertips to reach people with the Gospel.
Technology often has, and sometimes rightfully so, a stigma of being difficult and frustrating. We get it, it still frustrates us sometimes. It is always changing and growing and the ways people use it are doing the same. One of the most important roles in any church moving forward will be the tech guy or gal. Tech people, let out a cheer! This often misunderstood and unappreciated role has now become central to every church. But even still, I see many churches making the mistake of not allowing this person to sit in on strategy and planning meetings. They are often told what to do and not asked “What should we do?”. Churches that engage effectively online moving forward will be those that allow this person to be in the highest level conversations about how ministry is done in the church. They must be used as a constant source of insight and feel free to share their opinion even if it contradicts others in the room. This is what it means to prioritize digital engagement. If you didn’t appreciate your tech person before, you should now before another church who is willing to give them this seat at the table scoops them up.
I think it is obvious to all of us who have struggled to do ministry through the pandemic – we need people who can help us translate this digital landscape. You need someone, who not only knows these online tools, but can help your church craft a strategy forward. If you already have this person on your team, then now is the time to show them some love if you haven’t already. If you don’t, then consider finding a digital ministry coach. If you need help charting the course, reach out to us. We want to help you succeed online.