Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: Nathan Clark is the online minister of Northland Church in Orlando, which was one of the nation’s first churches in the nation that embraced online community. Here is what I learned from Nathan’s presentation at the Great Commission Research Network annual meeting Oct. 19, 2018 at Asbury Theological Seminary, Orlando, FL.
How does a large church do online ministry?
Large Church (300+).
In a large church, you can stream your Sunday service. Northland Church does, and its megachurch stature means it can offer a level of followthrough and excellence that makes the streaming of worship work.
- Use a live chat with church counselors to interact with the watchers during your live services.
- Make your goal to get people into a face-to-face experience.
- There are churches in the neighborhoods of almost all online watchers.
- Create a system to connect online watchers to connect with Christians in their local community (which Nathan calls an “offline church.”
- To connect people to a local “offline” congregation, Nathan suggests three steps:
- “We tell people to look around for people that exemplify the fruit of the Holy Spirit, ‘the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law” (Gal. 5:22-23).
- Go to them and hang around with them.
- Ask where they go to church and go with them.
How does a small church do online ministry?
Small Church (300 or less)
- A small church should not try to stream their Sunday service.
- According to Nathan it is too expensive.
- The support and followthrough needs to be trained and extensive.
- And the overly large territory you will reach (potentially hundreds of watchers) is beyond the person-power and financial ability of a small church.
- Instead a small church pastor/leader should …
- Check Facebook 30 minutes every day.
- Call people on the phone if you see they have a need.
- Don’t just like their post or tweet, that means very little – only that you noticed.
- Instead, talk to them on the phone and pray for them.