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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7 Keys to Becoming a Leader People Like and Want to Hear From On Social Media

Here’s a theory.

Everytime someone sees your name online or via social media, they have a reaction.

An emotional reaction.

Come on, you do.

When you see someone’s name, picture or status roll across your phone, you feel something and think something, don’t you?

While you might never say it out loud or think it consciously, on the inside:

You smile, or wince.

You think ‘awesome’ or ‘oh no’.

You say “I wonder what’s wrong this time?” or “they always post such great stuff”.

It’s true, isn’t it?

I think that’s just the reality in which we live these days.

So now a question: Any idea what other people think of you when they see you online?

I promise you, they have a reaction. They really do.

And most of us have no idea what it is.

The good news is if you think about your presence online, you can leverage it the same way you would if you were in the room with someone.

In my last post, I outlined 6 subtle ways leaders undermine their influence online.

Today, I want to flip it and outline 7 keys to building a great online presence as a leader.

 

Your Platform Online Is Only as Strong As Your Presence Online

If you want to grow your online presence out there, there are some really smart people out there who can help you build your online presence.

A couple of my favourites these days include Justin Wise, Chris Lema (Chris writes some technical posts, but he’s a must read because of the general advice he gives about life online as well) and people like Michael Hyatt, Pat Flynn and Amy Porterfield. All of these people have great advice on how to grow an online platform. If growth is your goal, start clicking those links.

But your platform will only ever be as strong as your presence.

In the end, it’s as much about who you are as it is about what you’re trying to accomplish.

In fact, who you are could sabotage your strategy.

And–here’s the reality–many of us leaders will never have big platforms.  And many won’t want them.

But you should still be on social media.

But even though you may not want to grow your platform or find 10,000 followers on Twitter or have 2000 friends  and a fan page on Facebook, who you are online still impacts everything you do.

And it impacts your ministry.

 

7 Keys to Building a Great Social Media Presence as a Leader

So how do you engage social media and build a great presence, even if it’s for 100 people who track with you, or if its 10,000?

Sure, it’s about what you say and what you do.

But it’s also about how you do it.

In my experience, here are 7 keys to building a great online presence:

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6 Subtle Ways Leaders Undercut Their Influence on Social Media

You probably see it every week—leaders who undercut their influence.

Sometimes they blow it completely through one or two dumb moves. And sometimes you end up thinking “I’m not really sure I want to follow them anymore” but you’re not exactly sure why.

The loss of influence is subtle, but real.

Because of constant—even daily— exposure, social media makes influence easier to gain…and that much easier to lose.

Almost every ministry leader I know is on social media today. And so is almost everyone they lead.

So the opportunity to squander your influence is that much higher.

And often we do it without even realizing it.

 

Leadership Is Influence

Before we jump into how leaders lose influence on social media, a word on why influence matters.

Properly construed, influence is not actually about ego at all.

Gaining and building influence is critical for all of us who lead because, as John Maxwell has famously said, leadership is influence.

Nothing more. Nothing less.

Lose your influence and you’re not leading anyone.

Build influence and you can take people places they wouldn’t ordinarily go, which is the essence of a leader’s job.

Moreover, if you’re a follower of Christ, you believe the influence you’ve been given is a trust.

You’re not leveraging influence for your sake, but for the sake of cause much bigger than yourself.

Which is why it’s so sad when ministry leaders squander trust or undermine influence.

 

6 Ways Leaders Undercut Their Influence on Social Media

So how do leaders undercut their influence on social media? Here are 6 subtle ways I’ve seen it happen.

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