Embrace Your Online Campus and Virtual Volunteers

The idea of a virtual or “not in person” ministry may have seemed foreign to many of our current church leaders just ten months ago and yet, Solomon said there was nothing new under the sun.

As I pondered that thought, I realized Paul had a “virtual” ministry of sorts.  He often could not minister to people face to face. He was perhaps on one of his missionary journeys or detained in prison. Yet that did not keep him from influencing other Christians and sharing God’s Word and God’s plans.  Paul had to innovate. He had to write his message and then rely on someone else to deliver the letter and he often poured his knowledge into others.

So, with that thought in mind, I wonder how many church leaders have embraced the idea of a lasting “virtual campus?” By virtual campus, I mean, having to reach people without actually seeing people face to face or them physically coming to your church building.

Now, you might say you’ve figured that out. You’ve got your services on You-Tube and Face Book. But I would challenge you that you may just be broadcasting. Like the television.  With television there is no way to interact or provide conversation, feedback or engagement- other than changing the channel of course! How do you allow… no, encourage people to interact, engage or respond when using digital ministry? I am far from an expert on this topic but I want to encourage you to think differently.

What if you started to engage people with your Face Book and You Tube ministry? Most of us were raised to not talk during church. And, to be honest I see that on our own church’s Face Book page. Show up and listen. Now, on our church Face Book page we can indicate through clicking on a button that we are “there.” But, can you imagine what it might look like to have virtual greeters that were intentionally trained to interact with people during your Face Book or You Tube time?  You would need just one “virtual greeter” per service but this person would be part of your outreach team. Imagine them typing, “Hey everyone welcome! Feel free to introduce yourself, we’re happy to have you join us!” Someone who could actually interact and communicate with them personally! They could ask questions or ask for prayer requests… and allow people to message privately if they need some follow up help our encouragement from a member of the church. You could actually be building a relationship with people. Face Book, in many ways can be your new front door beyond your website and it allows for two way communication! You could be helping people to take their next step to connecting with God and your church.

It’s said that churches grow old naturally. The reality is churches grow young intentionally. Is your church prepared to reach out in a virtual way? Are you? I’d love for you to tell me about it!

Finding ways to engage the next generation depends and you and your ability to embrace new ideas. Did you spot the virtual volunteer in the story above? It was your virtual greeter! Your virtual volunteer may already be watching your services online and is just waiting for permission to take this important step. Imagine what new doors could be opened if we considered how to engage people in new ways!

I’m going to leave you with a few ideas that have left me thinking in new ways.

  1. If you were going to start your church or your ministry today, what would you do now that you wouldn’t have done before? So often, we try to squeeze today into yesterday’s mold.
  2. Allow your team to brainstorm ways to reach people through new avenues…. Pick a couple things to try!
  3. Don’t be afraid to experiment and evaluate it. Too often fear of the unknown holds us back. Do it scared!
  4. Stay connected with your people- and find innovated ways to connect with new people.
  5. Begin it all with prayer! “God, what would you have us do today?”