Beyond the Internet Campus: Part 2

Beyond the Internet Campus: Part 2

Why Don’t Churches Have a Spiritual Conversion Strategy for their Internet Campuses?

 

In my last post, I questioned the absence of next-steps for
Internet Churches. My first theory for this is that many pastors view Online
Church only as an outreach strategy, a tool to reach new people and serve
existing members.  They see it as a gateway to converting new people into “in person” attendees.

 

This slightly uneasy relationship with the concept of Online
Church stems from the concern that the Internet Campus is taking away people
who could be coming to their church in person.
In other words, they aren’t fully committed to the idea of the Online
Church as its own genuine, self-contained church venue.

 

If we have been taught anything by the whole social media
revolution, it is that Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn—any new medium—is initially
viewed as just an ad-on to existing marketing efforts.  However, all of those communication channels grow up and mature.  The companies that
stop treating new technologies as ad-ons and give them their own budget and
their own unique strategy capitalize on them more quickly. Could Online Church
be on a similar trajectory?

 

What is Church?

 

My other theory is that it comes down to the definition of a
church.  The modern western world defines church as a community of people that physically comes together to hear a message on Sunday.  Then, some of those
people get together in smaller groups for deeper teaching (Sunday school /
Small groups, etc.).  Those smaller groups facilitate not only deeper teaching, but deeper relationships as well.  Without physically coming together, there is no church.

 

By that definition, people who watch online are sort of
casual visitors. If they wanted to get serious, they would start going to
church somewhere in person.  By that line of thinking, there is almost no need to look for a next step online.

 

My definition of church is simply people coming together around content on a weekly basis.  Why could we not provide for the Internet Campus—as we do with a physical church venue—one kind of experience on Sunday for a larger group and another deeper, more intimate experience for those who want more? This simplification of “church” may not sound very “spiritual” and some churches may decide that they never want to provide those options online. I on the other hand, view this as an opportunity.

 

I think we can provide a platform and path for Online Church
visitors to have deeper connections and, ultimately, life-changing experiences.  The key is to find a technology that facilitates that and makes it seamless to help people in their spiritual journey online. (By the way, that is exactly what VLife has been working on for
the last few years and we are about to release those tools in Version 2. Click here to be notified when this release is available or to take a sneak peak.)

 

A journey has many steps.
It’s time for church leaders to consider what is next! It’s time to embrace
this opportunity and have a strategic discussion with your team. Think: what
are the steps in your own spiritual conversion path and how they can be applied
in the online world?  Resist the temptation to blindly copy and paste your existing process into this new setting. Instead, employ all the strengths that are applicable in the current
technology environment.  If something can’t be done online, think creatively and work with your tech partner.  In more practical terms, begin monitoring the
online attendance habits of your viewers and establish next-step
thresholds.  Think in “if then” statements (i.e. If this condition is met, then invite viewers to take this step.)  Consider offering online membership and vision classes immediately.

 

I’m curious to know what you think is next for the Internet Church:

  • What are your ideas on this topic?
  • What are the unique challenges of creating a
    spiritual growth track?
  • Share with us some steps that you would consider
    implementing online
  • Any killer apps that would simplify this
    process?

 

 

 

 

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