Covid-19 has impacted the church’s ability to gather during tough times like these. Churches are now streaming their services online or minimizing their in-person congregation sizes. As this is the new normal for so many churches, it begs the question of whether future church planters should start their ministries entirely online. Here are a few factors to consider when deciding whether or not a virtual church is a viable option in the future.
Meeting People Where They Are
Before the pandemic many churches were already utilizing their online platforms to grow their congregations. Transformation Church, Elevation Church and Hillsong are more well known churches that have adopted this method of furthering their reach. This is mostly due to the fact that the majority of their congregations are Millennials and/or Generation Z.
Future church planters should take this into consideration because in 2020 outreach isn’t limited to just serving the community around them. But it’s reaching those that might not otherwise be able to physically attend a service.
Someone might be scrolling through their timeline and see a link to a sermon that changes their life. Or a college student who needs an uplifting message for finals week can find plenty on YouTube. Regardless of the situation the word can spread a lot quicker when sermons are available online.
A Sense of Community
“And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:25; NLT version)
Growing up in the church I remember going to Sunday school, singing in the young people’s choir and feeling the Holy Spirit moving throughout the building. Churches that are exclusively online will be missing the interpersonal interactions that really make church special.
Creating a sense of community and effectively leading a flock virtually could pose a challenge to church planters who choose this route. But, if workplaces and universities are able to go entirely remote churches should be able to do the same.
In this scenario, church leaders would need to go out of their way to speak with members to better understand where they are in their walk.
Growing a ministry entirely online isn’t going to eliminate expenses such as compensating musicians, people behind the camera and/or possibly renting out a space to stream services out of. Church planters could still digitally collect tithes to cover these costs and any others to ensure that their online church can stay afloat.
Although some fundamental elements of church would be missing if churches were started online, that shouldn’t alter the good news of the Lord. Technology allows for church (or some version of it) to be accessible 24/7 which is something we’ve never had before. So a church that’s exclusively online could be something on the horizon.