The New Church
For years we have all seen the trend in mainline protestant denominations: lower attendance, less engagement with the church and lower giving. As I have worked with pastors and churches around the country over the last few years, all have wondered aloud what the “new” church will look like.
Take a look around. The “new” church is emerging.
As we have adjusted to worshipping online, pastors with whom I have spoken have shared some startling developments.
- One pastor noted that his congregation attendance is higher online than in person.
- Another mentioned that he has former members logging onto his worship services from states—even countries—away.
- A Facebook post after one client congregation’s first online worship service exclaimed how grateful a member was for the worship service, since mobility issues had precluded her attendance in person for the prior 7 years.
This time has been hard for all in the church. The bright side, however, is that we now have an opportunity to build upon what God has placed before us.
Ministry will look different moving forward. Most churches will never revert to an exclusively in-person worship structure. If yours is one of those churches, put a task force together to help discern what your future online goals will be. Carey Nieuwhof once wrote a prediction that “online church will become more of a front door than a backdoor” (https://careynieuwhof.com/10-predictions-about-the-future-church-and-shifting-attendance-patterns/). Is your online worship effective evangelism? Do you and your congregation have additional or different goals?
Why not start planning now to meet our technological infrastructure needs? Here are some suggestions for you and your leadership to consider in the short term:
- Address internet streaming capabilities. It is time to “beef up” your church’s internet speed. Look at all the providers available in your area and upgrade your speed to cable or fiber optic internet access, keeping in mind your future streaming needs. Most recommend a minimum of 100 mbps; budget now for 250, 500 or even 1 gbps.
- Upgrade your modem/router to reflect your church’s new internet speed.
- Invest in high-quality cameras and lighting and training.
- Sound is crucial. Invest in quality sound equipment and training.
Seminary did not offer classes in video production and streaming. Take the time, make the effort and spend the money to hire professionals to guide your decisions and meet your particular ministry needs. Keep in mind that streaming will be important during worship, but also during weekly Bible studies, youth group activities and other events at your church.
Finally, this is an opportunity for donors in your congregation to be even more generous in funding these necessities. These changes are our new reality in ministry and mission. Invite your donors to play a role in the emergence of the “new” church!