The world we live in is changing. Whether we like it or not, how we shop, how we communicate, how we learn. Is totally different then even five years ago.
Take shopping for instance.
The days of having to go to a "brick and mortar" actual store to purchase things are gone. Amazon and online venues like it have changed the landscape of how people get the things they need and want. We no longer live in an analog world. Businesses that treat technology like an enemy to fight rather than a sword to fight with, will lose influence, lose customers, and eventually close their doors.
The same is true for the Church.
The days of church attendance being a weekly priority for the majority are gone. The way people think about church has changed.
The days of getting in the car and driving to church "every Sunday" are gone. The average church attendee now attends a service 1 to 2 times per month at best. The way people worship has changed.
Do I like this? No.
Do I think this is a good thing? No.
Is this reality. Yes.
So I (and all church leaders) have a choice. I can burry my head in the sand. I can act like everything is the same as it was 20 years ago and wait for people to come to my church. Or, I can become a student of the culture around me and leverage the tools I have at my disposal to take my church to the people.
One of the greatest tools that we have at our disposal is the internet. Everyone will not come to me to hear the message. However, everyone does have a smart phone, tablet, and/or computer. So why not use the internet to take the message to them?
We have set up TheCHURCH at Visalia Channel on Youtube. Each week we video our 9am message and post it on our page. If someone misses a service, they can watch it on youtube. If someone has a friend that needs to hear the message from our live gathering., they can send their friend who could not or would not attend, the link to view online.
A few years ago we set up our online church page. We take the 9am video and post it on our site offering online services at 7pm on Sunday and 4pm and 7pm on Tuesdays. This was designed for people that missed a service, don't live close enough to attend physically, or don't go to church but want to check out the message.
Just this past weekend we changed our online gathering to run every hour on the hour. So now we have a place where our church body can not only go themselves, but they can send their friends to twenty-four hours a day to hear the good news of Jesus!
In just three days we have had 142 people view our message at watchthechurch.com
I think we as church leaders have to decide what business are we in. Are we in the "get people to sit in our seats on the weekend" business. Or, are we in the "go into all the world and make disciples" business.
I know. I know. Watching a video message online is not discipleship. I totally agree. However, watching online is a way to get people far from God to take a step toward him.
We are just getting started with using "online" as a tool for the kingdom. In October we are making a few more changes that will help us be even more effective at getting the gospel to the people.
Like it or not, we no longer live in an either or society. People don't either shop at Target or shop at Target.com. People shop at both. The reality is people don't either attend the weekend gathering or attend online. People attend both.
The CEO of Home Depot has said, "The more we put time and money into our online store, the more increase we see at our local box stores".
We have seen the same thing at TheCHURCH. The more we focus on creating online venues, the more our live gathering attracts people. in June, July, and August our online venues have exploded in growth, and at the same time we have grown by 20% in our 9am and 11am services. We have added to our volunteer teams, and seen more than 25 people come to Christ.
What trends have you seen in your church as far as weekly attendance?
What do you currently do online?
Do you have anyone at your church who could head up an online ministry?