Years ago when we began ministry overseas, I wrote out our letters by hand. Exhausting! Then email came along and a whole new world opened. We live in a digital communication age. Generations are growing up connecting without necessarily being in the same room or holding a piece of paper. This is an opportune moment for faith congregations to build community in new and exciting ways. It is a time to engage meaningfully with the world near them and distant. As they do congregations are transformed. They become relevant in this digital age as they seize the opportunity to thrive in a new communications world.
Nell Green, President/CEO of The Off Ramp
Why go online?
Why go online? I could give you the most obvious answer. I could tell you that you and your church should develop an online presence in case we are all asked to once again shelter at home to prevent the spread of disease. I could also tell you that you should engage online with your members and congregants because they may have grown accustomed to having virtual access to your services and programs.
While both of those reasons may be true, they are not in my view the ones that should drive your online presence. If your online presence is fear-based, it will not succeed in the ways that matter. It is possible, instead, to create a virtual experience of beloved community that fosters love, care, and connection without exhausting you and your staff.
Effective hybrid churches will build an online platform and engage with their communities virtually because increasingly it is where and how people relate to one another, collaborate, and share life. These churches will do more than market online and point to where the ministry is happening. They will learn to minister in the digital space itself.
I do not believe that an online presence can or should replace in-person worship and connection. But my experience—personal and professional—teaches me that an online presence can and will grow and strengthen your caring community.
I believe in what churches have to offer. I believe that the world needs faith communities.
Churches can no longer assume, however, that people will simply find their way to their building on a Sunday morning. Jesus traveled to those who were hurting and in need of healing. He visited them in their homes, he walked alongside them, he met them where they were.
Faith communities of all kinds can now do the same; they can meet those who need them most exactly where they are—in the streets, in the pews, and online.
My goal is to help you see how you can harness the most appropriate and effective tools available to you, based on those you want to reach, in order to make connections faster, wider, and deeper than ever before.
You don't need me to show you how to love those who need love, but I can help you find and connect with them.