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5 Digital Shifts That Are Impacting Church Growth

digital trends

This guest post is written by Angela Faith, Digital Strategist at one of our trusted partners, Pro WEBFIRE. Pro WEBFIRE spends every day on the edge of the digital space, and I’m excited to share what Angela and the team are learning.

The ever increasing shifts in culture seem to be at warp speed. That which would have taken years can now happen in a matter of months.

For example, a church with a few hundred attendees can reach a thousand or more when viewed online. Or a church with a few thousand people during a live service can turn into a church of hundreds of thousands. And while lots of people have questions about whether this is a good thing or not, the truth is, this is the age we live in.

In the past, the church has often been a late bloomer in cultural trends racing behind to keep up instead of being a trendsetter.

There are elements and shifts that are beyond our leadership that affect church growth.

You can be a good leader and communicator and yet your church can be in decline simply because you’re not making certain shifts toward the digital world. After all, everybody you want to reach is online. If you’re not there, you’re missing them.

After all, everybody you want to reach is online. If you're not, you're missing them. Click To Tweet

Here are 5 digital shifts that affect church growth:

1. Digital has become the New Normal

The new normal for many growing and multi-site churches is for people to watch the message on a video screen. The pastor preaches at one or maybe two services and the message is aired in other services or campuses on a big screen.

What was strange years ago, is now normal. We all consume large amounts of content on screens.

Younger adults have fully embraced a digital platform and are very comfortable watching the message digitally at a live service. This is revolutionary. Embracing the digital platform helps prevent burnout of the lead communicator (if you have multiple services) and allows for easier expansion to reach the community beyond the traditional 4 walls of the church building.

You may be asking, why would people attend a service to experience the message digitally? Great question.

Because they want a non-downloadable experience. People come for the community, live worship, kid’s ministry, relationships and to bring their friends.

Churches that understand that the platform has become digital are experiencing a reach that far extends the weekend services. The digital platform expands the reach of messages to thousands more online than those that walk through the doors of the building and can be re-lived and shared over and over again. 

And online church is a front door. Many visitors watch online services for a few weeks to months before attending an actual service.

When you focus on the digital platform experience online, you can expand your reach which will, in turn, affect the growth of your live services.

Churches that shift to a mindset that the pulpit is not just live but is also digital, will reach more people and experience growth over the next decade.

Churches that shift to a mindset that the pulpit is not just live but is also digital, will reach more people and experience growth over the next decade. Click To Tweet

2. Apps Aren’t Your Front Door. Websites Are.

With the invention of smartphones came the rise of apps. 

There was a short trend that suggested church apps would completely replace church websites. It was similar to those saying email would die. But today, the opposite has happened.  Emails and websites are stronger than ever.

Surprisingly, nobody visits an app to check out a church. Why? Because they Google their question, and Google leads them to websites, not apps.

The venture through the church website creates a digital experience that allows the church to have a voice and speak into the person’s life or it repels them.

The website isn’t nearly as much for the congregation as it is for unchurched people who are searching for answers.

Surprisingly, nobody visits an app to check out a church. Why? Because they Google their question, and Google leads them to websites, not apps. Click To Tweet

In today’s culture, the main purpose of the website is for the unchurched and the first-time visitor. Sure, your church website will have information for those in the church, but you could put that on an app (for attenders) or on the back pages of the site.

Websites are the digital foyer. Your website is the gateway for new people to discover amazing leadership,  preaching and a faith of their own.

Websites are the digital foyer. Your website is the gateway for new people to discover amazing leadership, preaching and a faith of their own. Click To Tweet

3. Right or Wrong, Decisions Get Made In Seconds

Digital decisions are lightning-fast decisions.

In a matter of seconds, you make decisions about whether to keep watching a video on YouTube or click away bringing the level of expectation higher than it’s ever been. Quality media is expected by those in your community for this reason.

Stopping the scroll goes beyond social media and translates into your church website.

When someone lands on your church website what do they think?

Your digital presence is sending a message from you that a generation is welcome or not welcome.  This message is not done in words but the actual design of your website.  Just like stopping the scroll, the decision is made in seconds.

Your digital presence is sending a message from you that a generation is welcome or not welcome. Click To Tweet

Before they watch a message or read what your church is about, the website visitor has already made a snap judgment about the church. The decision is made visually and through the power of design.

How often do you buy a product at the grocery store for the package and you haven’t even tasted it?  You liked the packaging so that is the one you choose.  The other product may have tasted better, but you make a snap judgment based on the package.  Whether you buy it again, will depend on the taste, but trying it out was based on the brand packaging.

Today, people make a decision to visit your church because of your brand and design.  Your digital presence and design matter more than the building you meet in for services.  

Again, that might not be ideal, but it’s real.

Today, people make a decision to visit your church because of your brand and design. Your digital presence and design matters more than the building you meet in for services. Click To Tweet

People have already made a decision about you before ever walking through your doors.  This changes the visitor experience and how you need to treat them in your services.

If the digital experience is one that greatly affects your weekend visitors at your services, it only makes sense to get digital right. 

When someone visits a church today, they have already decided they like it through a digital experience. They are one step away from becoming part of the church. Click To Tweet

4. Outreach is Also Shifting to Digital-First 

Some of you remember the days you would go door to door as a church to evangelize. 

But today things have changed. Almost nobody knocks on doors anymore (except couriers) and when they do, it’s almost counter-productive. What if you could knock on every cell phone within 30 miles of your church? 

The good news is you can through Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.  

You can literally reach your community digitally and single out those in need. Then with a simple follow-up strategy in place, you could call or meet face to face with those needing prayer for a personal tragedy. 

Your church has the biggest opportunity in history to reach your community for Christ. But are you maximizing the digital platform of our church?

What if your social media became a beacon in your community that said, “we are here to help?”

Over the next decade, the church that invests in digital will reach more people for Christ.

Over the next decade, the church that invests in digital will reach more people for Christ. Click To Tweet

5. Rural and Urban Have Become More Equal

Digital and the internet has reshaped the world.

Even in rural communities, people have access to the same media as the big cities.  It’s flattened our experience and broken down divides that used to exist because of geography and culture. While there used to be a big gap based on location, the average kid in the country has the same access to YouTube and TikTok the average urban kid does. 

What does this mean for the church?

Churches that are intentional about creative media will be the ones who are heard in the future. Most young millennial couples will be reluctant to share a post from their church that has an outdated design? 

Media brings the entire world together, and that means the geographical divide that impacted churches a decade ago isn’t nearly the factor it used to be.

Media has brought the entire world together. The geographical divide that impacted churches a decade ago isn't nearly the factor it used to be. Click To Tweet

Want to Get Started? Some Help.

If it all starts with a google search for a first-time guest, the questions become: will your church’s website be the first to pop up? If so, does it make the people landing on your site want to go further not just digitally, but personally? 

Most churches have room for significant improvement when it comes to their website.

A lot of churches wish they could hire staff, but just don’t have the wiggle room financially to do it.

That’s where Pro WEBFIRE steps in. They provide a done-for-you website, podcast, digital outreach, and more, for a monthly fee that’s a fraction of a staff member. 

Plus, this month only they are providing up to 35% OFF plans for LIFE until October 31st. This special ends soon, choose a plan at www.prowebfire.com/carey. 

When you work with the Pro WEBFIRE team, they provide:

  • Web design and management.
  • Monthly Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube Outreach.
  • Your own weekly podcast included for free.
  • Outreach campaigns for Christmas, Easter, and more.
  • Real growth in your congregation.

If you want to learn more about how these services can rapidly grow your church, check out Pro WEBFIRE at www.prowebfire.com/carey.

What Are You Seeing?

What are you learning about decision making, evangelism and online reach?

Scroll down and leave a comment!

8 Comments

  1. driving directions on November 9, 2019 at 4:41 am

    Thank you for sharing this useful article information. I am really impressed with the article you provided.

  2. steve on October 31, 2019 at 5:23 am

    NRA Members beware…!!! I joined the NRA wine club on the exact day I received the offer email (6/12/2012). I received my wines today (6/19/2012) HOWEVER… None of the wines promised in their email and still being offered today were included in my shipment. Also the Free Wine Tote or the $25 gift certificate that was to be shipped was even shipped yet…

  3. Extruded aluminum heatsinks on October 27, 2019 at 11:50 pm

    Thank you

  4. Extruded aluminum heatsinks on October 27, 2019 at 11:49 pm

    Thank you for so succinctly articulating my arguement to ramp up my church’s digital presence.

  5. Randy on October 24, 2019 at 9:12 pm

    Thanks Carey and Angela. This is so very helpful as I work staff at my church to improve our website.

  6. Steve on October 24, 2019 at 12:12 pm

    I’m curious about the first point here. The young adults I have talked to have been turned off by “sermon on a screen”. But probably most were used to a smaller church with more personal community. Have you done any research on this?

  7. Janelle on October 24, 2019 at 10:45 am

    Thank you for so succinctly articulating my arguement to ramp up my church’s digital presence. We have nearly completed a 400K renovation to our sanctuary, but our website is a sad misrepresentation of that physical space. The website, as you stated, is our “digital foyer.” I appreciate the validation your article provided me in convincing our church that it needs to graduate into the 21st century.

  8. Candice on October 24, 2019 at 8:37 am

    OFF-TOPIC

    When you were reaching out for feedback about a new logo, not one hit me.

    BUT, today, I must admit how the new logo is a stand-out. Clean and crisp; your name the compass and the lines are the needle pointing upward- a perfect reflection of your ministry: Always upward!

    Thank you, Carey, for your ministry and yet another useful post.

    Candice

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