One of the many perks I’ve enjoyed since starting my career in full-time vocational ministry in 2006 is serving alongside some of the most intelligent, innovative, and professional people in their fields. These are professionals who voluntarily give up their time and their talent to help accomplish the church’s mission. We’ve had professional photographers capture events for our website and social media. We had a genius-level software developer who wrote code over ten years ago that is still running core pieces of our website. We have a retired CPA who just spent countless hours (willingly!) to clean up our asset depreciation schedule. Their skillset blesses me, and our church is better because of their contribution. Another way our church continues to benefit from the expertise of our volunteers is through a talented marketing/website expert who volunteers untold hours promoting our events and mission on social media while keeping our website safe and on top of Google searches. As an added benefit, he helped us to get our podcasts on several platforms besides Apple – something I couldn’t have even conceived as a possibility when I started in ministry.
Changes Come Fast
When I started this journey, having a cassette tape ministry was cutting edge. We could crank out twenty tapes at a time to hand out after the service so people could share the message with others. It didn’t take long, and we purchased a CD burner because the way people consumed audio changed. Thanks to major technical advances, we livestream our services each Sunday, and a podcast of the message is available within an hour after the service. The former tape/CD room now serves as a storage area. Since changes are happening faster and faster, churches must find ways to understand, adapt, and prepare for the future.
Less than twenty years ago, options were limited if you wanted to listen to a sermon. You either went to church, heard to one on the radio if your area had a Christian station, or you could share a cassette tape of the message. The limited options most likely contributed to the large on-campus church gatherings. But today, there are so many options to choose from – livestream, podcast, YouTube, Vimeo, etc. and it’s not limited to your local church. You can select a dynamic speaker who perfectly aligns with your ideology and theology and choose when you want to listen. I’m not here to debate the virtues of these options; I’m simply acknowledging them and wondering how your church is adapting to the new reality. With all these options available to anyone anytime, is your church thinking about what will cause people to gather to worship Jesus?
Shifting the Focus
Even though post-pandemic on-campus church attendance is slowly returning, it’s still nowhere near pre-pandemic numbers. Your church’s sermon series and teaching may be exceptional, but you still compete with on-demand content from the best of the best. It may be time to put the focus on what makes the on-campus experience worth coming back to each Sunday.
- Groups: Creating community in the church keeps people connected and wanting to return each week. Be creative and go beyond study groups; include groups that serve together or play together as ways to connect people.
- Children: Invest in making the children’s ministry an excellent and safe place for kids to learn about Jesus and have fun. Find volunteers passionate about the church’s mission – not just people showing up to meet child safety ratios.
- Youth: Could there be a better place for today’s youth than the church? All day, every day, school, social media, and other advertisers bombard students with messages and information. Make the church a place where they can process this through the lens of scripture, acceptance, and love.
- On-Campus Connections: There are things you cannot do online – find ways to make your on-campus experience unforgettable for all the right reasons. In my experience, when people have a role and a relationship, they love their church and want to spend time with others doing the same.
Changes will continue for all of us, even those in ministry. That means now, more than ever, churches must remain focused on the mission. We don’t hand out cassette tapes anymore; strategies have to change. But mission-focused churches will adapt and prepare for the future.short url: