Guest: Kyle Ranson
Kyle is Director of the Experience Team at Crossroads, the group that creates everything from videos to music to articles to apps to weekend services. He joyfully fulfills stereotypes about Millennials with his love of craft beer and woodworking and is passionate about people finding God.
He’s also the brother-in-law of our very own Meagan Ranson!
Is online church even biblical?
The big C church and your church specifically, is heading toward an unavoidable tension point on the other side of the COVID-19 pandemic.
You’ve likely already had these questions swirling in your head at night:
Do we keep doing online church when we can do in-person at full capacity?
Is it even biblical to have online church?
Questions that weren’t on your radar a year ago.
Kyle started dealing with questions like this in 2015 when his church was rapidly growing but in an alarming way. Most of the growth was happening due to the addition of new sites instead of current sites getting bigger and bigger. To create growth in the communities Crossroads was already planted in, and have an impact on the people in those areas, Kyle and his staff started looking at using online church as a way to reach new people.
And the first question they wrestled with was, “Is this biblical?”
Like Kyle in 2015, you don’t want people to just hear your sermons. You people in your community to plug into your church and be involved with a healthy community of people. When COVID-19 first hit our shores online church was the only option if you wanted to continue making an impact for the Kingdom, but now you’re left to figure out if online church is a viable option for your church to continue creating a growing body of believers.
What Kyle realized, and the same is true for your church, is that one of the church’s primary jobs is to reach people. If the bulk of people in your surrounding community are online that is where you need to be.
Maintaining an online presence with your church will ensure that you continue to be seen by people who would never set foot in a physical church, and give your church a chance to impact more people in the community. Some churches like Crossroads started making the virtual world a mission field as far back as 2015, but you can keep reaching people online even when in-person services are completely back to normal.
Everybody is still learning!
You are not the only one still trying to figure out how to do online church in a way that feels exactly right and super effective. Online church hasn’t been around long enough for there to be an expert or an exact formula on how to do mission work online.
At this point, if your church is doing the very best it can, you’re heading in the right direction.
In reality, the place that you reach people has never been static. People are always moving and it is part of the hard work of your church to meet them where they move to.
The people who are aching to be back in the building and see people in person are going to come back to your physical building. But give yourself room to improve your church’s online experience so that the friend of a friend who would prefer a link over a ride to church still has a place to go and hear the Gospel.
How do you disciple someone toward Jesus from a distance?
The easiest part of online church is reaching people. Millions of eyes are on a screen every single day which means millions of people could be viewing your church’s online content at any given moment.
And people want to consume your church’s content when they want how they want. As long as you have something for people to engage with, they’ll engage with it.
Discipling those people from a distance may seem foreign, but it’s not a new concept for your church or any church for that matter. Think back to Paul and the many letters that he wrote to churches in places like Ephesus and Corinth. He wrote those letters from hundreds of miles away! With ink and pen, he was disciplining people from a distance.
Paul used what was at his disposal to disciple people he could not see, or sit down with in-person to disciple. So what is currently at your disposal?
Kyle’s favorite tool for learning is Youtube.
Use videos like this to learn how you can reach and disciple people online.
Watch this webinar replay of our Reaching People Online webinar to learn more about specific and easy to do strategies your church can use to make the virtual world a mission field.
Listen to this recent podcast episode about using local SEO to make more people aware of your church. The more people who notice your church online, the more people you can turn into disciples.
Whatever it is, use something that is at your disposal to not only reach people online but make disciples online.
Online church isn’t a nuisance.
According to the Barna research group, the majority of people are going to become hybrid churchgoers over the next five years. You’ve probably already seen some of these people. They’re at church one week and viewing your online service from the tennis court in Florida the following week. They attend small groups via Zoom but prefer in-person worship on Sundays.
So even if your church isn’t going to be a fully, “online church,” people are going to expect to be able to engage with your church online.
That is why it’s so crucial to have a healthy mindset in your church’s online efforts. If you feel like it’s a chore, or that it is useless the quality of your online content will diminish. When it starts to diminish the hybrid churchgoers, the group of people that are becoming the majority will look elsewhere for a church that meets their preference.
If you feel like creating a quality online experience for people, whether they’re online visitors or online members of your church, is important even though there’s a steep learning curve your efforts will certainly not be in vain.
Instead of becoming the church that is stubborn and behind the times, you’ll become the church that people rave about to their friends who are hesitant to engage with or attend church in-person.
For help creating a sound and scalable online strategy check out our Systems Course.
Whatever strategy, or approach you decide to use in your church remember two things:
- Creating disciples from afar is not a new thing
- No matter what make your church a place where everyone feels they belong
Read or download a free PDF transcript of this episode HERE.
Quotes from Episode 2.4
“Our job is to reach people and where people are is online. That is where they will discover us. And that's where they will discover Jesus. And if we're not there, we're not really being effective missionaries.” – Kyle Ranson
“I'm called to reach people who are online. And coming out of seminary, or in my first job, when I was a youth pastor I started learning how to talk on a stage. I had to acquire these skills and learn how to get people to pay attention. Now it's the same, there's a new set of skills that are easily acquirable. You can go to a YouTube channel and you can watch video creators for free. And you can pick up 10 things within 10 minutes that you can learn immediately.” – Kyle Ranson
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