By Matt Steen
This post first appeared at churchanswers.com.
By now you are tired of hearing how much has changed since March. I will spare you the grandiose talk of “unprecedented times” and all of that. What has amazed me is how quickly churches have made the pivot to online ministry in such a short period of time. I’m convinced that we have done ten years’ worth of innovation in six months. Let that sink in, and then own the fact that you have led well in this season.
Now that many churches have reopened and routes forward are being plotted, we are repeatedly hearing leaders wrestle with how to continue to gain momentum with their virtual ministries while at the same time continuing to grow their in-person experiences. This isn’t easy.
So, where do we start? I am convinced that we need to begin by defining how we are going to do virtual ministry. As we have learned from churches and researched best practices, we have determined that there are 5 models for doing virtual ministry:
- The Old Normal: These are churches who want to get back to the way things were in January. The goal is to have everyone back together in the sanctuary and to move forward from there. These churches will have recorded sermons on their website in an on-demand format, but not much else.
- The Simul Service: These churches have the goal of everyone being together, in-person, on Sunday mornings but will live stream their services so that those who are on vacation, sick, or otherwise indisposed on Sunday morning can have a ‘second-best’ option for attendance.
- The Building Feeder: BuildingFeeder churches ultimately want to have everyone together, in-person, on Sunday morning, but recognize that Sunday morning programming that is customized for their web and social channels can be a great front door for potential attenders. They approach their virtual ministries as a campus and program accordingly.
- The Campus Launcher: This model is less focused on having people together on campus, but still highly values in-person gatherings. The goal of this model is to birth additional campuses, whether they are micro-sites meeting in people’s living rooms, or full-service campuses made up of hundreds of people. CampusLaunchers have a more regional approach to their virtual ministries as it ultimately leads to a new physical campus or church plant.
- The Digital Disciple: This is the most radical model of them all as it seeks to engage and disciple people that they may never physically meet. The DigitalDisciple church seeks to extend its reach beyond its region, desiring to create a fully virtual church that makes disciples across the globe.
We dive more deeply into what we are seeing in this free download, but here is what we know: there is no right or wrong model. Each church will need to decide for themselves as to which model is the best fit and then begin to optimize their current staffing, budgeting, and programming to fit the model. While the model isn’t important, what is important is committing to one strategy and moving forward, to continue to build on the successes and momentum that you have experienced over the last six months.
Interested in learning more about the online ministry strategy options? We unpack them more deeply in this free resource.
Matt Steen has served the local church for over two decades as a youth pastor, church planter, and executive pastor. Originally from Baltimore, Matt currently lives in the Orlando, FL area with his wife Theresa, as co-founder of Chemistry Staffing.