With the rise of digital media and mobile devices, we have become an on-demand, online society with almost everything available at our fingertips. Obviously, this has affected every area of life, from how we receive our news and entertainment to how we network and connect with family, friends and coworkers. But how about the local church? Is it time to take a serious look at online ministry?
Not too long ago, the answer would have been a resounding “no”. Unless a church was large enough to financially support an online presence, costs associated with digitizing and streaming services (plus maintaining those services) were simply prohibitive. But things have changed rapidly, and now having an online ministry is an affordable option for any size church to connect with their community and congregation 24/7.
As with most things, there are advantages and disadvantages. Once you commit to establishing an online ministry, you need to maintain a viable presence by uploading new content on a regular basis. And, of course, unless you are also tech savvy with extra time on your hands, you need the support of those who can take on this task and keep your online ministry advancing at the pace of technology. With those cautions in mind, let’s look at just three advantages of being an online, connected church.
- When you stream your services and events live, you include those who are unable to attend physically (for whatever reason). And with a Live Chat option during the event, you can have a staff member act as a community manager who greets the viewers, directs the discourse and monitors the conversations. This interaction engages the online audience, building a sense of connection and community.
- An online ministry reaches those within your community who are checking out churches using an online search. Americans average more time interacting with media (10.5 hours per day) than sleeping (8.7 hours). Seekers will tend to look online for a ministry they feel they can connect with before physically visiting a church.
- Messages can be archived and available for viewing on demand. Video on demand technology has altered our viewing habits. In fact, two in five American households subscribe to a video streaming service, and this anytime, anywhere viewing is the norm. Archiving your messages not only addresses this trend, it helps you stay connected with your congregants.
The above list is certainly not an exhaustive one; in fact, if you have some additional advantages or disadvantages of online ministry you’d like to share, we would love to hear from you. What do you think you need to do to become a successful, connected church? Let us know!
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