Talk to any church leader over the last decade, and they’ll tell you it feels more challenging than ever to get people to come to church on a Sunday.

Talk to any leader who is reopening his or her church, and they’ll tell you it’s even harder now.  Current in-person attendance levels appear to be almost universally sparse.

Even in growing churches, the competition for peoples’ time, attention and devotion seems to get more intense every year.

You’ve felt it, too.

So, what’s up? And where is future church attendance heading?

I’m a firm believer in the future of the church and the gathered church. It’s here to stay not because we always get it right, but because the church is Jesus’ idea, not ours.

Still, with everything in the culture changing, how do you navigate toward a better future?

One step is to start asking solid questions.

Why? Because usually the future isn’t pioneered by the clarity of the answers nearly as much as it by the quality of the questions.

Asking the right questions will lead you to better answers. Click To Tweet

Ask the right questions, and you’ll eventually get the right answers. Fail to ask the questions, and you’re sunk.

Here are ten questions worth asking.

Long-time readers might recognize some of this. I actually did the original version of this post back in 2018 long before anyone imagined a world disrupted by a virus, but crisis accelerates things.

As important as questions about church attendance were before, they’re even more urgent and critical now.

So, with that in mind, here are 10 really big questions about future church attendance as we move into a whole new world.

As important as questions about church attendance were before, they're even more urgent and critical now. Click To Tweet

1. Will infrequent church attendance become the universal default?

If you grew up in church, you were likely raised never to miss a Sunday. Long before COVID, those days were already pretty much gone. I outline ten reasons for that in this post.

Prior to the COVID disruption, frequent church attendance (say 2-3 weeks a month) seems to be most prevalent among:

  • Volunteers
  • Long-time (and older) church attendees
  • Families with very young children
  • Some new attendees and new Christians (at least for a season)
  • Quite honestly, lower-income families for whom travel is not an option

For everyone else, regular church attendance is giving way to non-engagement or online attendance.

As infrequent in-person attendance becomes more normative, it raises a series of other questions.

Hunch

Infrequent church attendance is usually a sign that people don’t see value in what you’re doing. And that’s a problem.

When parents who never ever miss their kids’ soccer practice regularly miss church, it’s a sign that they’re more engaged in soccer than they are in church. In other words, they just don’t see the value in attendance.

Now that people have had a few months of digital access, this trend will be even harder to combat.

Want to drive engagement? Here are some ideas.

2. Does infrequent attendance lead to lower devotion among Christians?

Some might argue frequent church attendance is not an indicator of devotion to Christ. But the bigger question is Is infrequent church attendance a sign of lower devotion to Christ?

Obviously, there is nothing that inherently says that’s the case, but generally speaking, people are less committed to things they attend less often.

Naturally, the goal of faith is to get people to commit to Jesus, not to a local church, but still, as I outline here, Christ and his church are intricately connected.

Add to that the data that 48% of former churchgoers didn’t attend a single online service when church facilities were closed is starting to paint a picture of attrition.

Consider this: Skipping a weekly date with someone you’re supposed to be in love with is usually a sign of something deeper.

Most often, attendance issues signal discipleship issues. That’s true for both online attendance and in-person attendance.

People usually commit to things they’re devoted to. Until they’re no longer devoted to them.

If you think you can be a devoted follower of Jesus and opt-out of the church, here are some thoughts on that (the comments will curl your hair).

People usually commit to things they're devoted to. Until they're no longer devoted to them. Click To Tweet

Hunch

Infrequent attendance is almost always a sign of sliding devotion. You participate in the things you value most.

Infrequent attendance is almost always a sign of sliding devotion. You participate in the things you value most. Click To Tweet

3. Will online church replace in-person attendance for many?

So, if people aren’t attending church as regularly anymore, even after a vaccine (which seems likely), what’s the new default?

The last decade has seen an explosion of online options for Christians, most of which are free: From social media to podcasts and to services streamed both live and on demand.

And the pivot to online for most churches in March 2020 just accelerated that.

The opportunities are endless and will only grow from here.

Even if your church doesn’t have any online presence, don’t worry—thousands of other ministries do. There’s no way to shield your congregation from a changing world.

And actually, come to think of it, there’s shouldn’t be. The church has always adapted to a changing world because Jesus loves the world.

If you’re in the early days of being a digital church, here are 8 tips on how to lead digitally.

There's no way to shield your congregation from a changing world. Click To Tweet

Hunch

While I think that (at least at this point) increased in-person engagement almost always leads to higher devotion, for some people online will be their only form of church.

I don’t love this, for reasons stated elsewhere in this post, but if you ignore your online strategy, you lose the chance to reach new people, even if it means some of your less-devoted people step back.

4. Does online participation feed consumption or drive engagement?

One of the key goals for Christians is to engage the mission in front of us: To share the love and salvation of Christ with the world.

But does online participation drive Christians into deeper engagement with that mission, or does it drive us deeper into consumerism?

The challenge with technology, of course, is that we are both its parent and its child. We shaped it, but we’re unclear on how it’s shaping us.

The challenge with technology, of course, is that we are both its parent and its child. We shaped it, but we're unclear on how it's shaping us. Click To Tweet

So, given the rise of digital options, are Christians increasingly seeing their faith as something to be consumed?

The Gospel by nature demands sacrifice, engagement and risk.

Christianity, at its best, has never been about consuming much and contributing little. We shouldn’t start now.

Hunch

When you design your online strategy, you can shape it to fuel consumption or to fuel engagement.

While many churches will shape it to fuel consumption, the more effective churches will shape it to fuel engagement.

To drive engagement: Make it interactive, get people to take steps, build community and equip people to grow in their faith by things other than just a constant drop of more content consumption.

Christianity, at its best, has never been about consuming much and contributing little. We shouldn't start now. Click To Tweet

5. What happens to evangelism in a low attendance world?

Of all the things that concern me most about lower attendance patterns, this one is the highest on my list.

If you’re consuming your faith online and only attending sporadically, how do you invite your friends into that? You can, but the share link isn’t enough.

Sharing a YouTube link on your profile is not the same as personally sharing your life with a friend.

Sure, theoretically, you can share your faith around a kitchen table. But let’s be honest, not many people actually do that. And something tells me that most people who attend infrequently rarely share their faith.

Christians should live like the good news is good, not just for them, but for everyone.

If you're consuming your faith online and only attending sporadically, how do you invite your friends into that? That's right, you don't. Click To Tweet

Hunch

Many Christians will continue to see their faith as something to be enjoyed, not shared. But they won’t be the future church.

The future church will be followers of Jesus who unite around a mission to change the world through the love and hope of Christ.

Church leaders who realize their new job is to equip people to live out their faith at home, in their neighborhood and at work will ensure that evangelism continues and perhaps even grows.

Many Christians will continue to see their faith as something to be enjoyed, not shared. But they won't be the future church. Click To Tweet

6. What happens to discipleship in a virtual environment?

Christian maturity is not marked by how much you know, it’s marked by how much you love.

And love has an outward thrust.

Christian maturity is not marked by how much you know, it's marked by how much you love. Click To Tweet

Sure, to grow as a disciple you need to have some knowledge. So listen to messages and podcasts, take online seminary classes… do what you need to do.

Consumption has never been the goal of true discipleship. Jesus never asked you to be a disciple; he called you to make disciples.

Hunch

The future church will be filled with Christians who realize they’re called to make disciples, not just be disciples.

Churches that help their congregation do this will prevail.

The future church will be filled with Christians who realize they're called to make disciples, not just be disciples. Click To Tweet

7. How much of a virtual experience actually translates?

With almost every congregation now streaming their services, it raises the question of what happens on the other end?

First, as we all now realize, the attention span of viewers and listeners is fractured and intermittent. Watching while running on the treadmill or having kids running around the kitchen chasing their siblings is not the same experience as being in the room live when something is taking place.

Sure, people have been distracted in church for centuries, but it’s a different kind of distraction.

Second, even if you sit in rapt attention to what’s being streamed on your device, is it the same as being in the room? If you only watched online for a year or attended for a year, would your faith be different?

These are questions we don’t know how to answer and realities leaders will have to engage.

Hunch

Because so much online content consumption is often done while people multi-task, it will lead to a distracted discipleship unless leaders decide it won’t. The key, once again, is to get online viewers to engage.

The post on 7 NEW Disruptive Church Trends can help you formulate a strategy.

8. Is a digital relationship with Christianity enough?

If physical attendance continues to decline and digital engagement increases, will it be possible to have 100% or near 100% digital relationship with Christianity, much the way you have a completely virtual relationship with gaming, movies or Hollywood?

I really think something gets lost by a mainly digital experience.

A high percentage of couples today meet online. But no couple who meets online wants to stay online: The goal is to meet in person and (maybe) start a life together.  Should Christians be different?

If the goal is to do life together, to engage in a mission together, to quite literally change the world together, well… that involves actual human relationships.

But in a world where more and more are choosing virtual connection over real, we’ll have to see what that produces.

Hunch

Forward-thinking churches will realize that gatherings don’t always need facilities and foster home groups, pop-up gatherings and regional connections that foster in-person community facilitated by the church.

This could happen nationally or globally because, as you know, digital church scales in a way that physical church just can’t.

Church online will increasingly become a front door for growing congregations, and back door for declining congregations. Click To Tweet

9. What happens to kids whose parents only attend online?

This one bothers me more than most. Parents will often skip out on attending church because they’re busy or want a day off.

And parents can easily catch up on a message and maybe even still get to a small group.

But what about kids?

We’ve built a relational ministry at our church for all ages based on the Orange strategy and curriculum because, well, I think the Gospel is inherently relational.

You can’t download a relationship or a friendship.

When parents skip church, kids lose far more than their parents.

What happens to a generation of kids who grow up relationally disconnected?

Actually, I think we’re seeing the results of that already. Just read the news.

Hunch

Again, some churches will figure out digital ministry that enables virtual and real-life relationships, even if they happen off Sunday.

When parents skip church, kids lose far more than the parents. Click To Tweet

10. Will fragmented individual believers carry the mission forward?

Whether the future trends are toward more online engagement or just more sporadic attendance with no online supplementation, the question is whether fragmented individual believers will carry the mission forward?

The church has always been strongest when it’s been a movement of people gathered around a common set of mission, vision, values and strategy.

The hyper-individualism of our current culture (I’ll do what I want when I want to) runs at crossed-purposes to the Gospel and the mission of the church.

I realize many Christians argue they’re done with church, but that still doesn’t change my view that the only one who believes Christians are better off alone is the enemy.

The only one who believes Christians are better off alone is the enemy. Click To Tweet

Hunch

I know I’m repeating myself here, but forward-thinking churches will enable physical gatherings that happen in their buildings, but also far beyond their buildings.

In the future church, forward-thinking churches will enable physical gatherings that happen in their buildings, but also far beyond their buildings. Click To Tweet

Position Your Church To Grow Again

The problems associated with church growth have been around for decades.

Heading into the future, the solutions are even more important now.

Whether you’re a church that isn’t growing, has plateaued, or whether you wish your church was growing faster than it is, I’d love to help you break through. That’s why I created the Church Growth Masterclass.

The Church Growth Masterclass is everything I wish I knew about church growth when I got into ministry more than 20 years ago.

Naturally, I can’t make a church grow. You can’t make a church grow. Only God can do that.

But I believe you can position your church to grow.

You can knock down the barriers that keep you from growing. You can eliminate the things that keep your church from growing and implement some strategies that will help you reach far more people. That’s what I’d love to help you do in the Church Growth Masterclass.

In the Church Growth Masterclass I’ll show you:

  • The 10 reasons your church isn’t growing
  • Why even committed church-goers aren’t attending as often as before
  • How to tell if your church leaders are getting burned out
  • The 5 keys to your church better impacting millennials.
  • What to do when a church wants to grow … but not change
  • 5 essentials for church growth
  • 5 disruptive church trends to watch—and how to respond
  • How to increase church attendance by increasing engagement.

The Masterclass includes a complete set of videos that you can play with your team, board or staff, PDF workbooks that will help you tackle the issues you’re facing, and bonus materials that will help you navigate the most pressing issues facing churches that want to reach their cities today.

You can learn more and gain instant access to the course today.

So… What Do You Think?

The church is far from dead, but asking the right questions will breathe life into it.

Is there any question you’d add to this list?

Any hopeful answer you’d like to offer.

When everything’s changing, we need each other.

Scroll down and leave a comment.

Where is Future Church Attendance Heading? 10 Questions. 10 Hunches.

24 Comments

  1. steve on June 4, 2020 at 10:20 am

    I’ve been a HUGE fan of Paula for a few years now—she is one of my favorite accounts to follow. Always gracious, funny, and elegant, she shares her English countryside life so wonderfully. I love her morning walks on Stories accompanied by her dog Coco and beautiful music.

    Lovely post, Carly. I’m excited to explore these other accounts.

  2. Vito on June 3, 2020 at 4:33 pm

    I would attend church weekly only if it is safe. I don’t like doing anything on the internet. Sorry but that is the way I feal.

  3. Walter Swaim on June 3, 2020 at 3:41 pm

    Carey, of all the blog posts you have written . . . THIS. IS. THE. BEST. ONE. you have ever written (IMHO). I caught myself retweeting statements from this too much today (LOL). I will be adding one quote a day from this article on Twitter & FB. You nailed it like never before. Thank you.

    I sat down today with a circle of pastors from different denominations and church sizes and they all reported that their online attendance had already begun to decrease (though their in-house attendance has not increased by much), citing the observation of the novelty of it (and drive-in church service as well) has begun to wear off. I am passing this article along to my affiliation of pastors, we need to read this while at the same time be forward-thinking. I have not always agreed with you (though it is not often – and doesn’t matter in the end anyway) but this one nailed it, and also gripped me more than ever before. Thank you again.

    • Carey Nieuwhof on June 3, 2020 at 8:24 pm

      So glad to help!

  4. Cameron Truett on June 3, 2020 at 5:48 am

    Thanks for this! We’ve been getting tons of content on how to go more digital- and now that we’ve all done it for three months a post on bridging the gap and asking the hard questions around what the church actually is and what we potentially lose online is a topic that needs to be discussed.
    Thanks Carey!

  5. Randy Erickson on June 2, 2020 at 8:21 am

    #9 is huge. The kids are the losers when they are not able to attend a church with their peers and develop relationships with kids of like mind. In their teen years, Christian kids need each other to encourage each other in their faith and stand as allies when challenged by the secular world. Intervarsity, CRU, Navigators and other college ministries help college age youth to stand together. The meeting in person is what makes these mininstiers effective. Putting your arm around a hurting friend is an important part of being a church. The Church is not a group of separate individuals doing their own thing, but a body functioning with every part being important to a healthy functioning body.

    Virtual church can build a bunch of knowledgible believers, but the body needs to come together to be effective.

    • Chuck on June 2, 2020 at 8:33 am

      Amen and amen. Community will suffer to a notable extent. But in the end the biggest losers are the kids.

  6. Mark Short on June 2, 2020 at 5:18 am

    Thanks Carey for a thought provoking post! Another question/concern for me is whether online engagement will encourage more or less cross-cultural , cross-generational and cross-political diversity within the church. On the one hand we know that this has always been a challenge for physical gatherings. But given that social media already sorts people into tribes of various types I worry that this may be embedded in church life if online becomes the front door or indeed the only door for many. I think this means that in the future Christian leaders will need to be even more intentional in reaching ‘across the aisles’, including in their online engagement, if the Body of Christ is to be a compelling witness to the power of the gospel in our fragmented society.

    • Carey Nieuwhof on June 3, 2020 at 8:29 pm

      You are probably right. Many challenges ahead for sure, but we can overcome them.

  7. Richard Dawson on June 1, 2020 at 5:35 pm

    Carey, as usual you ask great questions and pose some wonderful ‘what-ifs’ for the church. Thanks for another great post. In the end I suspect there are two ket issues which the church will have to grapple with going forward. The first is the issue of communication. Are we, in what we offer both face to face and on line communicating with people – are we engaging them, are we listening to them?
    The second is the issue of change or adaptation. Your podcast with Nicky Gumbel reminded me forcefully again of how important it is for leaders to be prepared to adapt and lead in change in response to new information about how well we are communicating with the people we’re serving (both inside and outside the church).
    The last 10 weeks of lockdown have been the wildest ride of change and adoption I’ve experience in many years as a leader and yet my team has uncovered gems of creativity and innovation and joy which have created new life in our church. Even the worship, which has had to be very pared down and raw has become a place of wonderful local innovation which has only served to encourage the congregation. My problem now isn’t so much about meeting again – it’s about how to continue the journey of intimacy we’ve discovered on line.

  8. Caroline Lindsay on June 1, 2020 at 1:14 pm

    One demographic which struggles with attendance and is not often considered is that of single people (of all ages). Whether it’s from divorce, choice or circumstance, not being in a ‘family’ makes you almost invisible in a church. I know from experience just how incredibly isolation and lonely it feels to have to travel to church alone, sit alone, hope to connect, push yourself to join a conversation, and then travel home alone. Much of the social referencing from the pulpit is about families (how many times do we hear “turn to your husband or wife….”).
    Solo occupant households are nearly a third of households in the western world. Our churches don’t seem to reflect the societies they live in with this lack of diversity. I am totally a believer in the church, and realize Jesus is the head cheerleader, so I think it’s super important for our churches to take this opportunity to tilt more towards Sunday as connection and relationship building day not just time for talking at people. Studies show the enormous benefits of social connection on not just our mental health but our communities overall.
    For what it’s worth, I’ll always be a church attendee, but as a now single person after 30 years married, I sorely notice this issue which I really had no idea about before.
    Thanks for listening.

    • Mark on June 1, 2020 at 5:18 pm

      We singles are generally second- if not third-class church members. Fortunately, Episcopal churches are really good at not making singles feel like total outcasts.

      • Chuck on June 2, 2020 at 8:35 am

        Escpecially singles just out of college. My wife is particularly driven for this group.

  9. Mark on June 1, 2020 at 12:04 pm

    Many people need reminding that Christianity was for many years an illegal religion. Daniel was put in the lion’s den and the 3 Hebrews were put in a fiery furnace. The world at and not too long after the time of Christ had Athens and Rome with their many gods and temples to them on every corner with activities that would make a fraternity house look like a convent in comparison. Yet, Judaism continued and Christianity flourished even in secret.

    That said, it needs to be easy to participate in church activities once things resume. It should not be difficult nor should those activities just be done to keep people busy. Merely having one’s bum in a pew on Sunday should not be the mark of a good Christian. The faith needs to be taught and that covers the other days of the week.

  10. Alvin Weiss on June 1, 2020 at 11:52 am

    Carey said: “Scroll down and leave a comment.”

    I do have some thoughts on #07

    How much of a virtual experience actually translates?

    Virtual experience?

    What does that mean? How do we define virtual? As if virtual is not real and not engaging?

    Ask (and watch) your children (maybe age 30 – 40) and grandchildren if their online games are engaging?

    Ask them after they have spent 2.5 hours and lost track of time. Ask them if virtual is engaging?
    And ask them why they just spent 2 hour and 35 minutes playing a virtual (?) game.
    Does it seem virtual to them? Or real?

    Was it engaging? (Lost track of time for 2 hours and 35 minutes and missed a meal. And forgot to walk the dog.)

    And ask the adult male (age 42) who did not hear his 10 year old son walk in the door excitedly talking about his morning football game. Ask him, “Is that virtual game engaging?”

    Maybe church people are not skilled at so-called virtual experiences. And would rather spend 20 million dollars on a physical facility (looks good and makes every body proud and your community notices your lovely campus) and then spend an additional 2.0 million dollars annually to maintain and upgrade a highly prized and visible landmark facility.

    But that same church is not willing to invest $200,000 annually to create a quality virtual experience with live streaming and interactive sermons and teaching events and multiple breakout rooms with eight diverse people in each room.

    Now what I just described becomes interactive and engaging. And many people actually pay thousands of dollars to attend such events.

    And at these online events develop life time friendships and business relationships. Where people have never met in person and will probably never meet in person, but who will maintain a vibrant ongoing relationship.

    The normal church service is usually focused on (1) production and (2) performance (sadly the motivating factors may be to look good and to meet the assumed approval of the audience – just like news channels promoting the sensational events and playing to the ratings and to paying sponsors and not focusing on quality content) and no focus on audience engagement nor audience feedback.

    The average church service has never (seldom) seemed engaging to me.

    For example, during the average church service, the worship team performs.

    And the pastor produces and delivers his/her normal three-point sermon (with no question and answer session for learning or for unanswered questions that would help that listener to grow and to deal with today’s life problems).

    Without any immediate feedback, how does this leader know whether or not he/she has been effective?

    And what to deliver during the next meeting?

    In that respect, the average church service has never been engaging. So I would not blame a virtual tool for not being engaging.

    The average church is just bringing traditional ideas and methods and using new technology tools to do so.
    Without any real creative thinking. And trying to call all of this production and performance new and innovative.

    But just delivering the same old and tiring 3-point sermons with scripture graphics online accompanied by a band with a cool light show. Nothing creative here.

    And bringing no real innovation.

    Nona Jones and Facebook are bringing fresh and innovative and engaging ideas. (Thank you, Carey, and Barna Group for featuring her and her ideas.)

    Michael Todd is engaging. And knows how to work the online tools and the online brain of his listener. (Thank you again, Carey, for introducing him to my world.)

    In the business world, my virtual experiences with live streaming video and conversations and break out rooms have been engaging and interactive. Much more interactive and engaging than any church service that I have attended in that last 60+ years.

    For me, the virtual business experience is more real and genuine than the traditional live church experience.
    I plan to start attending Alpha online. Because of what I have experienced so far, Alpha is engaging and authentic.

    Time will tell about “virtual” church not being as good as in person.

    The church needs to bring some fresh thinking to virtual. Coupled with small in-person meetings. In a conveniently located coffee shop, not a church building. This environment encourages and develops community.

    I believe “virtual” experiences will depend on how agile and adaptive and creative that church leadership can be.

    So far (on average) I have been unimpressed and disappointed with the delivery of virtual church.

    And very impressed with my business-related experiences using virtual tools.

    I don’t believe there are any boring Zoom Meeting. But just boring leaders.

    So called Zoom Fatigue has been a combination of work fatigue and stress fatigue and low energy and boring leadership. Just people working with unfamiliar tools without any training.

    Carey, you and your team and Church Pulse Weekly and you video podcasts – all have been high quality. You and your team and your peers have experience using virtual tools and it shows. And you are willing to change (Kaizen) to meet what your audience wants.

    Traditional church leaders just need some experience and some training. And some lessons in gamification. To engage. They need better content and better delivery. Or just get out of the way and let others lead digitally.

    This may seem harsh, but there is a real sense of urgency now. We have a world in pain.

    We need to be direct with our church leaders, not kind.

    The church has been given a wonderful opportunity of a century thanks to Auntie Rona. And they are not responding quickly enough. Nor are they listening to what their audience wants.

    The church seems to be blind to the pain points of the un-churched and the “I don’t want to go to your church building anymore” people.

    Church leadership can continue to bring the same old methods and ideas to virtual and live streaming and have the same unauthentic and staged church services that may look good but be just as ineffective as in the past.

    The ineffective church leadership just needs to take your 30 Day Pivot course.

    Get some private coaching. Invest in yourself. Pay for speed in learning.

    And do a Kaizen (continual improvement) evaluation of all of their events. Starting with their staff meeting.

    And then do a 5 minute Kaizen evaluation of all their events. Continually.

    (1) What’s working?

    (2) What’s not working so well?

    (3) What 1% improvement can we make now. Right now. In the next 10 minutes. (A 1% improvement every day equals a 37 X return in 365 days in the business world.)

    My apologies: I meant to make a quick two sentence comment.

    Thanks for listening – AWW

    • Mark on June 1, 2020 at 12:25 pm

      There is also the issue of an inaccessible leadership not really worrying about the people nor taking questions from the mere mortals. Those who understand how to work in the modern world and would offer suggestions for improvements that can be made are not typically those who are allowed to offer input, much less have the authority to make them. It is the old management vs employee system. One knows the problems and can’t voice them (and won’t be listened to) while the other may have created the problems or does not want to hear about them.

      • Alvin Weiss on June 3, 2020 at 10:40 am

        Mark,

        Great insights.

        I have found that in my business ZOOM meeting, leaders can be (and are) very interactive.

        Watching the chat box – answering questions as they go. Or their teams does this.

        And creating high value engagement.

        Church meetings AND SERMONS could be handled the same way. And actually engage the audience and meeting felt needs to concerns IMMEDIATELY.

        But unfortunately, the average church leader does not understand the capability of tech tools.

        Most churches still focus on production and performance and not meaningful engagement during services.

        So much wasted opportunity during a critical time when people want to hear leadership.

        Thanks for listening.

        AWW

        • Mark on June 3, 2020 at 7:42 pm

          I have never seen any interactive leaders at any level or any who answered questions. That said, as long as the large donors are happy, no one else matters too much.

        • Brian Simons on June 4, 2020 at 12:19 pm

          One issue that seems to go unmentioned regarding the online experience is what happens when the tech companies decide Christianity is no longer relevant or is offensive to their belief system. One push of a button and goodbye online access. Just ask the Chinese.
          I believe that if we want to see the future of the Church in Western civilization we should be looking to the Christian experience in Saudi Arabia, Syria, North Korea, and China. We are entering a new era but it will not be normal nor pleasant. The fact that pastors and church leaders have not prepared their congregations for the tough times ahead is a sad testament to how much of its saltiness the Church has lost.
          As Jesus wrapped up his earthly ministry He continually reminded His followers that He will return and we will see Him face to face. And throughout the epistles we are exhorted to remain faithful to Jesus so that one day we can see Him FACE TO FACE. I believe the Church’s willingness to give up face to face interactions has only resulted in it being pushed even further to the fringes of society.

    • Gerald Faulkner on June 8, 2020 at 9:18 am

      Alvin, bless you for this excellent response! You have some great insight and have said much to make me evaluate as a start-up church, (in my home basement), called INNOVATE. We began with two central ideas, 1. be interactive, allowing and creating discussion. No rows! 2. be active in our communities. We want to serve our community where they are, not sit back and say come to us.

      With that said, I almost feel as though we took a step backward due to Corona. I tried to do a Zoom time of worship…setup videos to play along with Scriptures/words to encourage during the beginning of this pandemic. We had 3 of us on Zoom. The videos were choppy…the music on our end sounded fine, but then we also had to deal with the dreaded echos of mics/phones, and feedback. So I didn’t try Zoom again. Instead, I went to delivering daily Psalm readings/messages and the usual Sunday message (after Passion Week). We are gaining viewership, but we are not at all interactive now. I am almost afraid to try again lol. But it is on my heart to try and get back…we were doing a straight study and encouraging word I called “The Red Letters” where we were going verse by verse on Jesus’s own words. We have also not been over 7 people in an in person meeting yet either FYI.

      As I read Carey’s post I could help but echo many of your own comments/thoughts. We do not need large buildings anymore! We do not the upkeep expenses! The staff expenses! I see opportunity for smaller gatherings, new missions created, new businesses created for missional purposes, micro loans for these start-ups because we don’t have overhead!

      So much of Carey’s own words here go along with that idea if “bring your friends to church so they can be evangelized.” And my thought is no! Go evangelize your neighborhood by inviting your neighbors to your home for lunch, barbecues, and pray for one another. Get to know your neighbor! Get out into your neighborhood! Be a community CHURCH!

      What about the kids? Where are the parents? They are the ones tasked in Scripture to LEAD their children! It is not the church, or pastor’s job to lead the children. We are to EQUIP the parents, and ENCOURAGE, EMPOWER the parents to lead their children. Let’s give them tools, even virtual tools, to do so. Let’s give the responsibility to do so. No, the church doesn’t need a children’s pastor, or a youth pastor…or maybe we do, but their work, their title needs to change. If they are so in-tuned with the culture of children/teens, then their passion can move them to help the parents teach the kids, put on experiences for the kids, etc. (As a 15+ year vet of youth ministry, I know the parents are the key).

      Alvin, you are right, that we can create engaging virtual experiences, we just need to put the work in to do so. What is happening now is what I was afraid of, and maybe even doing myself. We are simply doing as little as possible virtually to maintain until we can gather together again. My heart breaks for the Church because of us who are not innovating as we should be. This was our time. This was the opportunity to try new things. Sadly, most of us did the same old same old via a screen.

      I am convicted!

      Innovateccc.com

  11. Chuck on June 1, 2020 at 10:48 am

    This is a total geek moment for me but if I were Ian academic advisor at a seminary right now, I’d be ripe with thesis topics. So many subtle culture changes going on right now about how aspects of church culture manifest differently in front of a camera or screen vs in front of a live crowd. Possibilities are endless!!

  12. Robert Dunsmore on June 1, 2020 at 9:48 am

    I agree that on line/virtual contact is a great way to reach people but I have a few questions. When many people start to replace virtual gatherings instead of in person and recognizing the social networks disdain for the Church’s worldview, “What prevents the censoring or altering, or elimination of Christian content when it flies in the face of secular values?”
    “Is there a social platform available or in a planning stage that will safeguard the message from corruption?”

  13. Tom Sharpe on June 1, 2020 at 9:15 am

    Sticking take always for me last few months podcasts. Experiment. Leaders ship (Steve Jobs?), be a friend ( Annie F. Downs).

    Encouragements. I have not heard “I get that” from you in a while. Don’t over do it, but it is Unique to who you are and it connects to your hearers stuckness (not a word). Mix up your superlatives. Find your top words when a gem comes from your guests and how often you want to use these words.

    I am working on my Umms. They need to go.

    Thanks for being an encouragement

    • Carey Nieuwhof on June 1, 2020 at 4:04 pm

      Glad to be one Tom!

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