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Is Church Online a Front Door—Or a Back Door—for Your Church?

It wasn’t that long ago you actually had to work hard to access anything you missed at the church you attended.

You had to show up in person to pick up a CD (or cassette…remember those??) or ask someone to mail you a copy. Or you simply missed out.

Fast forward to now, and almost every church has their messages available online.

Many also have podcasts and even apps. At Connexus, where I serve, we have all three.

And like a growing number of other churches, next year we’ll launch on online campus—a full broadcast of our morning services like North Point Online or Cross Point’s Internet Campus.

It’s always good to ask some questions when things are changing quickly.

What are the rapid rise of messages online and experiences online doing to the church and to people’s faith?

Are they acting as a front door to ministry and attracting people, or are they acting as a back door for people slowly leaving the church?

In other words, is the option of church online moving people closer to Christ, or further away?

It’s a great question every church leader should think through.

 

So What’s Happening, Exactly?

When the option of churches podcasting and launching online campuses became real 6-8 years ago, it looked like it was all upside for the local church

A chance to reach more people.

An opportunity to get the Word out.

A chance to reach people who are scared of walking through a church door.

More exposure.

And, in many ways, all that upside is still there and amazing.

But another trend has emerged that no one really saw coming. Or at least I didn’t.

A growing number of Christians seem to be watching the local church rather than being engaged in the local church.

It’s not usually a huge number, but talk to even the mega-church people behind the scenes and they’ll tell you that as many as several thousand who used to attend in person aren’t any more. They’re watching from the comfort of a bed or beach instead.

While this hasn’t killed attendance by any stretch, it has dented it. The churches that offer numerous online gateways are still growing, but they are also seeing a smaller exodus of Christians no one is sure what to do with.

And it’s alarming for many more reasons than it being downward pressure on a growth curve.

 

4 Questions About Church Online For Christians

If you’re a Christian and your primary experience of church is online, my question is “why”?

Here are 4 questions I would ask:

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The Secret to Creating a Highly Motivated Team

One of the most significant challenges of leadership is aligning a group of people around a common mission, vision and strategy.

Some of you are trying to rally a dozen people around a common cause. Some of you are trying to rally hundreds, others thousands.

Sometimes I feel like I spend half my time as a lead pastor trying to keep people aligned around a vision mission and strategy that’s bigger than all of us.

How do you do that?

There are a lot of factors.

But today I want to share a secret with you.

Something that I think has gotten us more mileage than many of the other things we’ve done.

And something you can do too. If you have the courage.

And I believe you do.

 

 

We Discovered the Secret By Accident

We have groups of leaders visit our church on a fairly regular basis. They usually come to see how we do portable church, what it’s like to be an Orange church or details on being a North Point Strategic Partner.

To the best of my knowledge, nobody has ever called us up asking to study our volunteers.

But almost every team—without fail—wraps up their visit with a question that goes like this. What is the deal with your volunteers? How do you motivate them? 

I can understand the question. It takes between 300-400 volunteers to run our church at this stage. We only have 10 staff spread out over two locations.

We’re a fully portable church at this point.

That means volunteers roll out of bed as early as 3:30 a.m. to pick up trailers full of gear and drive them to our sites.

Others arrive between 6:00 and 6:30 a.m. to start set up, and others flood in to serve in our production, family ministry, guest services and other environments.

And what’s amazing even to us is that they do it with a smile. You can’t buy the kind of energy, commitment or joy they bring.

For a while, we didn’t have a good answer to people’s questions about our team’s energy and motivation.

We usually said “I don’t know” and “God’s been good to us”, both of which are true, but neither of which is particularly helpful to the leaders who were  asking the question.

Then one day our team sat down to talk about it, and we came up with an answer.

 

So What’s the Secret?

So how do you motivate a team to serve with joy and without pay?

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5 Reasons People Have Stopped Attending Your Church (Especially Millennials)

Ever wonder why generating momentum in the local church seems harder than ever for most leaders?

You’re not alone; the conversation about momentum and shifting attendance trends is happening at every level of church, including some of the largest and fastest growing churches in North America.

Everyone is feeling at least two realities:

First, even people who attend church have stopped attending as frequently as they used to (I wrote about how to reverse that here).

Even in communities that are home to growing churches, the overall percentage of the population that attends church continues to drop, especially among under 30s.

Recently, the Barna Group released a new survey citing (among others) five compelling reasons church attending continues to decline, particularly among Millennials (those 30 and under).

The good news is that once you spot the trends, you can work at reversing them.

 

5 Reasons People Have Stopped Attending Your Church

In the study, Barna cites 5 specific reasons Millennials have stopped attending church that drew my attention:

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