With the Covid-19 pandemic, and the beginning of the lockdowns, many churches have started to operate online in several platforms, broadcasting and recording services, among other things. Apparently, the future is expected to bring further waves of coronavirus and possibly even other pandemics, but even if it will not, and everything will go back to normal, still the online church has a lot of potential and synergy that should be untapped. We should not go back to the old normal but go into the new normal. Today we will be looking at the potential synergies of running an online church together with an onsite church or churches.
With an online church you can potentially attract more people from our local community, especially using advertisement such as Google ads and Facebook ads. Additionally, the online church can be used as a bridge. There are people in your local community that would not be open to attend a physical church but can much more easily join an online service or event, and potentially later, come to attend even the onsite church. Additionally, you can also reach busy people that have few available free time, and people with reduced mobility such as hospital or house patients, the elderly, and prisoners.
With an online church you can also potentially reach people beyond your local community, across the whole world, as long as they share your language. There are cases where people that began joining the online church started forming home groups with family and friends where they participate in the services from home listening to the preaching and worship that is taking place and interacting online, while still being able to have sharing and mutual prayer in the small group. This kind of group can even be the beginning of a church plant and a future onsite church. Furthermore, the online church can also be used to attract volunteers and donors.
These are ways on how the growth of the online church can feed into the onsite church, but the growth of the onsite church also can contribute to the growth of the online church and geographical expansion. Through the online church, church members can evangelize relatives and friends that are geographically far away. Also, through the online church, members that are moving away to another city, can still be a part of the church online. Let us suppose that one church member or family will need to move to a new city or country, but our denomination has no church in that location. Then potentially, they can still be part of the online church and attend church events remotely and continue to grow and be connected, and potentially even form a home group or a church plant in that new location. This can be especially useful in a time where geographical mobility is as high as it has ever been, and the tendency is for it to keep increasing. This trend is somehow disrupting for onsite churches that constantly see the members they have evangelized and raised leave, but it can be of great potential for the online churches.
In conclusion, as we move forward, it will be important to learn to use the full potential of the online church, but to do that without neglecting the onsite church.