The New Mission Field

By Johnny Johnson

The first time I heard about this thing called “digital church” it was in reference to the pandemic and how fast many churches had to pivot from “in house” to “online”. The scramble was on for someone (anyone) to tell church leaders just how to connect to their, almost overnight, isolated congregation.

Suddenly Pastors were in front of green screens or still at the same pulpit every week preaching to empty houses of worship so that the people stuck at home could still experience some semblance of what was considered “normal”. Then something interesting happened and those of us who live online everyday, be it telecommuting to work via zoom or interacting with the world outside, suddenly realized…there might be something to this.

For churches who have engaged with “satellite” or “remote” campuses, this wasn’t that far of a stretch but overall the idea that we could engage with the body of Christ remotely went from something that made us feel “disconnected” to the exact opposite. Without warning those that embraced this rather than shying away from it began to understand what the Bible says in Luke 8:5-8:

5 A sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some fell by the wayside; and it was trampled down, and the birds of the air devoured it. 6 Some fell on rock; and as soon as it sprang up, it withered away because it lacked moisture. 7 And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up with it and choked it. 8 But others fell on good ground, sprang up, and yielded a crop a hundredfold.” When He had said these things He cried, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear!”

This passage explains the parable of the sower. Sowers don’t limit themselves to certain soils; instead, they spread seeds everywhere, including rocks, thorns, or other soils thought to be less fertile. For, though uncommon, more often than not, these seeds flourish into something beautiful.

As Christians, it’s clearly expected for us to do the same. We shouldn’t be selective in whom we extend ourselves to, but rather aim to spread Christ’s message to as many people as possible. Technology lets us connect with a bigger audience than ever before. The bottom line is just as the Word states in Romans 8:28:

28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”

With the shift in social media leaning toward what many are calling the Metaverse, beyond just its use in social media directly, there is a brand new mission field that is opening up and the Digital Church is a ministry that all existing churches should embrace or risk losing the fertile (Metaverse) ground the Lord is opening up to you.

What does a digital church look like?

The Digital Church looks exactly the same as The Terrestrial Church in all the aspects that matter. Having a firm legal foundation regardless of location or where the congregation exists, is the difference between being seen as “Those new age kids playing at church” a frequently used misnomer, to being seen as a genuine and valid legally acknowledged, religious organization.

Right now there are one of two people reading this blog…the first is the person who sees the Digital Church as something to be concerned about. I don’t have to tell you that 2 Timothy 1:7 says “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of a sound mind.” Meanwhile the second reader is the person that has felt the calling on their lives to plant a church but is seeking something that speaks to their own place in the world. Maybe you don’t have the financial resources or frankly when you look around your tribe is already online and existing within the digital space.

What do you mean?

According to Pew Research Center, the average age of users on social media (across all current platforms) is 18-29. This metric should not be seen as something unique or something that will go away. 

Of those, an entire generation is being raised to “snap” their friends and follow influencers on snapmaps. Tik Tok live streams, since that function was made available to all 18+ users, have grown to an average of 30 minutes at a time. That is significant when compared to the 15 minutes that YouTube averages for live streams. As the generations that saw the invention of YouTube mature and that platform becomes more mainstream, their children are now on Tik Tok and Snap with some giving as much attention to Instagram stories.

Why should the Church embrace the Digital Church?

Now that we have a picture of what the Digital Church is, let's explore why it is so vitally important for the Church to not only be accepting of this new appendage of the body of Christ, but embracing of it as well.

Romans 10:14-15 “...How beautiful are the feet of those who carry the gospel of peace, who bring glad tidings of good things.”

In Biblical times, the only way to “carry” good news was to bring it physically, walking from one place to another. Technological advances, however, have opened up numerous additional communication channels, all of which we must use to amplify the rate at which we spread the Word to all nations.

Matthew 28:16-20 “...Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations,”

Jesus tells us to go out and make disciples of all nations – to spread the Word to people wherever they are. These days, people spend an increasing amount of time on their laptops, tablets and iphones. Should we not use the technology available to us and meet them there? We are called to extend the message to people wherever they are, and technology allows us to do exactly that.

1 Corinthians 12:21 “The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don't need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don't need you!”

We live in a world that is constantly evolving and adapting. Emerging technologies shouldn’t contradict our beliefs; instead, they can actually help us spread God’s word. When we look to scripture for guidance, we learn that leveraging new advancements can fit in perfectly with what we are setting out to do – to reach more lives.

Never forget, the body of Christ is not and never has been a building.

The body of Christ is the people.

Be here next week when we dive into How to start and drive a Digital Church plant. Subscribe to our newsletter for more great content or our podcast Beyond The Call. Follow us on social media to stay in touch with us or if you have questions about starting a Digital Church ministry in your existing church or how to start a Digital Church on its own, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at the link in the bio or description of this post.

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