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Why Your Church Needs A Digital Ministry

By Chestly Lunday

Funnels, triggers, automation, simulcasts, squeeze pages, websites, content management systems … The list can get overwhelming for Church Leaders regarding digital platforms and tools, and often digital leaders make it more complex than it needs to be. The influx of digital systems and the technology that makes it possible, coupled with unclear communication by those with the knowledge to help our churches, create massive confusion among a large majority of leaders that are not native to digital spaces. We "know" we must create a digital strategy for our faith communities. Still, with all these new technologies, gadgets, and a complete misunderstanding of how it all fits to serve our church's mission, it feels like better stewardship of our time and resources to focus on strategies and tactics we understand. Because of the overwhelm, we begin to ask why our church needs a digital ministry. Before we know it, the tyranny of Sunday and the weight of caring for our community and staff drowns out the subtle feeling that we need to figure this "digital thing" out.

Confusion creates complacency

Complacency caused by confusion will accelerate your irrelevance. And with irrelevance comes organizational decline. So, we need a guide to help us demystify digital ministry and give us a clear, compelling picture of the church "firing on all digital cylinders" so that your church can remain relevant in its methods while remaining faithful to its mission. That is why StartCHURCH and Digital Church Network have teamed up! We aim to help you win at using Digital ministry to create a vibrant faith community using relevant tools to make new disciples of Jesus. My name is Chestly, Co-Founder of the Digital Church Network (DCN), a global digital church planting catalyst and community of over 600 digital ministry leaders, missionaries, and church planters in 12 countries. Over the following four articles, I will be your guide as we learn the why, what, how, and who behind successful digital ministry. So, the first question we must answer is, “Why"?

3 Reasons Why Your Church Needs a Digital Ministry

Why does your church need a digital ministry? Here are three foundational reasons your church needs to put digital ministry on top of its list of priorities.

1. The World Is Decentralizing

Have you ever heard of the term "digital nomad"? While still not as popular as it will continue to become, the group of people this term describes increases every day. A Digital Nomad is a person who travels while working remotely. Before the iPhone, this was all but impossible. Now, it is becoming more commonplace. Honestly, if you could winter in Jamaica while making $50,000 per year and living on 40% of your income in the process, wouldn't you? With this sort of Mobility, people are rethinking their rhythms, environments, and communities, and many find the freedom irresistible. If becoming a digital nomad were all you had to worry about, that still wouldn't be enough to tip the scales. What is coming in the next few years will turn everything we know about geographically-centric churches on its head.

Marchetti's Constant says that a person will tolerate a commute of roughly 30 minutes-- the more advanced the locomotive technology, the more people will allow a longer distance for a commute. Well, in five to ten years, we will have a hyper-speed system that will travel 350 miles from Los Angeles to San Fransisco in less than 30 minutes. You read that right. This is not conjecture; this is what companies are working on presently. They call it Mobility as a Service (MaaS). When Hyper Mobility happens, and it will happen, the changes in where people live versus where they work versus where they play versus where they learn will shake this country up so that COVID's influence in the mass exodus from urban areas looks subtle in comparison. Coupled with a growing need for creative and thought-based professionals, most workers will work in hybrid workplaces, creating less dependence on Geography.

When MaaS scales nationally, which churches will thrive? The ones reacting to yet another technological disruption, or who discerned the times and structured accordingly?

2. Your Digital Presence Is Your Reputation

My friend has a concrete company in the same town as his father-in-law (whom he learned from). When he moved from California to Ohio, he decided to start his own company with a 4000 dollar loan to buy a truck. In three years, he built the company to seven figures. His father-in-law has been in the business for over 35 years and has never made more than $50,000. What's the difference? My friend built a digital presence and made more in one month than his father-in-law earned in a year. His father-in-law refuses to use the internet because sales should be made face to face. 

The best-known beat the best, and today, if you don't have a digital presence, it doesn't matter how great you are at something, no one knows about you, and they are less likely to trust you. It is your reputation. If you have a dated website, people see that as a reflection of your church. If you don't interact with people on Social how they interact, you will hurt your reputation... If you read this and decide it isn't worth the mistake to jump online, know that not being online is worse than messing up. First, people digitally interact with you. Then, they decide on your reputation, capacity to care, and excellence as an organization based on the content and infrastructure you have invested in online. 

You can be like my friend and implement a relevant plan congruent with how our society works, or you can grumble and complain that the world is different and should go back to the good old days! If you choose the latter, you will continue to lose relevance until you never even enter their consciousness. So which churches will thrive in a world of Search Engines and Social Media?

3. Digital Relationships Lead to Physical Ones

Funny, my friend who owns the concrete company is also a pastor who struggles with wrapping his mind around digital ministry. Until recently, we had never lived near each other and had spent most of our relationship FaceTiming each other. Over seven years have gone by, and we have become great friends. So much so that I moved next to his family, 2000 miles away from our home in Phoenix, to live close to his family. We met online, then we built relationships online, creating a bond that urged us to be close to each other. 

The truth is that digital relationships don't take away from our church's attendance; they influence a desire to connect. It's inevitable. We want to be close to people we love. While not everyone will do what I did and move across the country, digital relationships will lead to lasting communities that can scale faster and farther than any geographically based model I know. We are doing it at DCN. The church can utilize digital platforms to create a community that is as vibrant as the group of people who show up on Sundays. We just have to try something new!

This season of ministry will test our imagination and creativity and unearth a new type of church ready to be more resilient and flexible in times of disruption. The Teams at StartCHURCH and Digital Church Network are eager to help your church thrive as you lean into our new reality. 


You do need a digital ministry, and now you know why. Next, I will share with you what Digital Church Network means when we say digital ministry-- and it's not your typical online service.

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