The Future 'Church' Meets Anytime... Anywhere... Sometimes...


Whether you call it the digital age or the digital disruption, 'church' leaders are leading in really interesting times. Just as it's changed the way people think and work, it's changing the way the 'church' meets.

Some say it's bigger than the "Industrial Revolution". 

Its changed the way businesses operate, and even if your 'church' doesn't have an online presents it's changing the way 'church' ministries operate as well. 

The digital age. It's not going anywhere. So embrace it.

I've met 'church' leaders of all kinds who feel threatened by it. 

Yes, it’s changing attendance patterns at your 'church'. But this digital age can work to your benefit. To ignore it however, is the worst thing you can do.

As many of you know, I'm not a fan of the use of the word 'church', simply because I understand, and an increasing number of people are discovering the history behind this word. However, for the purpose of this post, I will use the word 'church' to bring clarity and understanding.

  • People who used to attend your 'church', aren't anymore.
     

  • Young people won't, or barely attend on any given Sunday.

What does this say? It says church in a box is an outdated strategy. 

Honestly, it's not even biblical, and increasingly, there is a rethinking of the centuries-old model of making people come to a building.


Most places of worship are rooted in the past, with an outdated, gather-here-at-a-set-time culture. But as the digital age or "digital disruption" continues to influence the culture and seeps into the "church world", that will change. Matter of fact, it's been changing for a while now.

I heard someone put it like this, "Today, the Internet is like a golf ball, years from now it will be like the Sun."

Fact: 
  • Uber. The largest taxi car service in the world owns no cars.

  • AirBnB. The largest vacation rental company in the world owns no real estate.

  • Alibaba. The largest retailer in the world owns no inventory.

Throughout history, the people of God have learned to effectively use the advancements of their times.

From primitive ink, to early paper, to the Roman roads, there is something powerful about learning to use current technology.

It should be our goal as ministry leaders to ask what tools do we have today, and how can we leverage them to accomplish the mission.

Because everything's now online, it's changing the way many Christians are choosing to gather or attend. 

What it meant to attend or gather together twenty years ago, is different from what it means to attend, or gather together today. 

The digital age has and is changing the way the current and future 'church' meets, from a designated time and place, to anytime, anywhere and sometimes.

Let me unpack this for you:

  1. Anytime. Besides gathering with their households and with their neighbors, early Christians couldn't and didn't always meet in large gatherings at a specified time.

    Today, online ministry or 'church' gives people the ability to schedule gatherings for outreach, bible study, volunteering and other events.

    People choose to gather spontaneously on their own…meeting with friends and inviting new people. The expressions are as limited as you want them to be.

    Hey, content is on demand and downloadable to read, share or hear a message or sermon at anytime.

  2. Anywhere. If you search new testament scripture, early Christians gathered anywhere. They gathered in homes, courtyards, inns, on the side of roads, and on ships.

    Current technology is and has given people the opportunity to get a better understanding of what God really wants for us. Information you won't get in any 'church' service. Once they uncover this information, they want to put it to action. 

    This is one of the reasons why there's such a huge interest in small groups. These groups come together meeting in homes, at work, volunteer events, shelters, on the streets and wherever they can, to share the gospel and put their faith in action.

  3. Sometimes. Sure, there's nothing like being face to face in the same room, in corporate prayer and bible study. However, as it was then and just as it is today, it's not always possible.

    When you search the new testament scripture, you'll find that early Christians gathered together whenever they could.

    Many of them were being persecuted. They were scattered to the mountains and to deserts.

    They were locked in prisons or under house arrest.

    They didn't all live in the city or close by one another. Many of them lived in the wilderness and deserts.

    They were farmers, ranchers and herders. They were government officials, wives and husbands. They were mothers and fathers.

    All of them responsible for their families first, and could not always meet, contrary to what some would have you believe.

    Today, many Christians find themselves not able to always gather with other believers. From lack of transportation, having to work on Sundays, or odd hours.

    However, this digital age gives them the tools and opportunity to stay connected with their 'church' community, encouraged and empowered.

    Throughout the new testament, because they couldn't always meet, the early Christians used the technology of their time (pen and paper), to communicate with each other, to stay connected with their Christian family and friends, and to encourage and empower each other.
A Change of Mind.

Ministry, and especially 'church' leaders, shouldn't make the internet or this digital age the enemy. There has to be a change in the way we think as to how it can be used to benefit your 'church'.

'Church' leaders need to understand, that our traditional view and definition of what constitutes when, where and how 'church' meets is no longer valid. 

The legacy 'church' model that we're familiar and comfortable with, has kept us from doing things differently. 

The building, called 'church' shouldn't be the center of a ministry, but one of many options you now have to reach people. 

Both the building and your online presence should be seen as extensions of your ministry.

The apostle Paul articulated it well in 1 Corinthians 9:19-23.

Church leaders should learn how to leverage online ministry, website, social media, video, and even email lists to communicate with their audiences, who are not always able to attend in person.

The good news about all of this is that learning to leverage the current technology will help you reach people who haven’t been reached, anytime, anywhere, every single day and not just Sunday.

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