STREAMING & #SundayChurchHacks – Ensure you have a pastor interacting in the “chat room” of your streaming worship. A technician might be tasked and capable. But ensure it is someone with pastoral skills. Ck out this example.

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: Online guests can have a more interpersonal experience if they can dialogue with others before, after and when appropriate during an online service. But, there should be a pastoral “moderator” who can answer questions, guide and encourage. Here is how one church does it, by utilizing an “online campus pastor.”

PRAYER & #SundayChurchHacks: Include a “prayer chat” on your worship streaming page. And, keep it going during the week, monitored by the prayer team. This client church has a robust online prayer session during the Sunday worship.

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This does not need to be limited to live streaming sessions. Because a prayer chat can be monitored by the prayer team and continue during the week or at designated times.  The idea is to offer more opportunities for people in need to connect with congregational members with the gift of intercessory prayer, c.f. James 5:14-16, 1 Tim. 2:1-2; Col. 1:9-12, 4:12-13.

STREAMING & #SundayChurchHacks: Lineup camera(s) so that nothing distracts or covers speaker/lessons. It could have improved a powerful message by one of my #MissionalCoaches in-training (they shadow me to learn my coaching skills). MissionalCoaches.net Leadership.church ChurchLeadership.university

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STREAMING & #SundayChurchHacks – Include information on preacher’s name, scriptures used, main points & downloadable application ideas on your streaming landing page. Leadership.church MissionalCoaches.net ChurchLeadership.university

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STREAMING & #SundayChurchHacks – Be sure to list the “timezone” on your online streaming schedule. Regular attendees know the timezone, but distance attenders may not. Leadership.church MissionalCoaches.net ChurchLeadership.university

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This client congregation has a well conceived online presence. In fact, the software they use translates the time from their timezone to the watcher’s timezone.  However, without the timezone designation (ET or CT for example) it is confusing when the service will start. Readers should emulate the well-conceived design of this client congregation, but add timezone designations to help remote watchers.

 

 

 

#SundayChurchHacks – Continue to improve online worship after onsite worship returns. Some people may never be able to join you onsite (or choose not to).

by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., 5/2020.

We are entering “age of the eReformation,” an electronic re-formation of the way the Church shares the Good News.

Yet I have noticed that some churches regard online worship as a “stop-gap” measure required by a pandemic that prevents face-to-face encounter.  But, as I noted in a recent article titled, St. Paul’s guide to leading remotely, Paul faced similar challenges of guiding and discipling the far-flung churches he led.

So, use this time of forced online worship as an opportunity to begin to offer both onsite and online worship that is anointed, powerful and life-changing.

Read the entire article by clicking on this title below:

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For more ideas see another article I wrote for Biblical Leadership Magazine

eReformation: Leading post-pandemic church growth – 10 things to start doing now

LEADERSHIP & “St. Paul’s Guide to Leading Remotely” by @BobWhitesel published by @BiblicalLeader Magazine

St. Paul's Guide to Leading Remotely 2.2

Look at Paul … 

Some degree of social distancing will most likely be part of future leadership practices. This will require church leaders to develop new skills and embrace new leadership methods. But for many church staffs, volunteers and ministers leading remotely may feel awkward and unnatural. However, leading remotely is a skill found in the New Testament and the early Church. St. Paul himself provides a fascinating example about how to lead remotely through the letters he wrote to congregations he guided. Here are 12 principles drawn from his writings.

Paul’s Guide …

Be personable. Paul greeted leaders personally. This created a human connection to Paul’s remote location (and sometimes his imprisonment). Whether at the beginning of his letters (Philippians 1, etc.) or the end (Romans 16:1-16, etc.), Paul recounted his personal connection with his readers. When critique was called for, Paul even prefaced it with personal histories. In Romans 16 he spends several paragraphs thanking God for those who helped him, but then warns about those who divide the flock. In verses 17-18 he instructs, “Keep a sharp eye out for those who take bits and pieces of the teaching that you learned and then use them to make trouble. Give these people a wide berth. They have no intention of living for our Master Christ. They’re only in this for what they can get out of it, and aren’t above using pious sweet talk to dupe unsuspecting innocents” (MSG). Paul’s greetings not only provided personal salutations to exemplary followers, but also examples of ones to avoid. 

Reputation is based upon God’s work in a life. Distance, whether physical or created by electronic mediums, can undermine credibility. When necessary, Paul defended his credentials. But he based his credibility upon how God has changed (and is changing) him, stating, “Do you think I speak this strongly in order to manipulate crowds? Or curry favor with God? Or get popular applause? If my goal was popularity, I wouldn’t bother being Christ’s slave… I’m sure that you’ve heard the story of my earlier life when I lived in the Jewish way. In those days I went all out in persecuting God’s church. I was systematically destroying it. I was so enthusiastic about the traditions of my ancestors that I advanced head and shoulders above my peers in my career. Even then God had designs on me. Why, when I was still in my mother’s womb he chose and called me out of sheer generosity! Now he has intervened and revealed his Son to me so that I might joyfully tell non-Jews about him.” (Gal. 1:10-16). Be ready to tactfully (2 Cor. 5:20) but directly (1 Tim. 1:3) point to God’s work in your life if your credibility is questioned.

Accept change, yet acknowledge how God is behind the change. Don’t shy away from accepting change, but also acknowledge how God is changing you. Paul embraced his change, recalling in Gal. 2: 7-10 (MSG), “It was soon evident that God had entrusted me with the same message to the non-Jews as Peter had been preaching to the Jews. Recognizing that my calling had been given by God, James, Peter, and John—the pillars of the church—shook hands with me and Barnabas, assigning us to a ministry to the non-Jews, while they continued to be responsible for reaching out to the Jews. The only additional thing they asked was that we remember the poor, and I was already eager to do that.”

Go deep theologically, but give them something to do with it. Don’t be afraid to give those you lead remotely something on which to theologically chew. But also make sure it’s something they can readily apply. Pauline scholar Herman Ridderbos stresses the general character of Paul’s preaching was the kingship of Jesus (1997:48). And, as a result Paul urged his readers to exemplify lifestyles that attested to living in a new realm. And knowing it might be some time before they would hear from him again, Paul literally gave them something to do. He told them to act upon what they heard, saying, “It’s the word of faith that welcomes God to go to work and set things right for us. This is the core of our preaching. Say the welcoming word to God—‘Jesus is my Master’—embracing, body and soul, God’s work of doing in us what he did in raising Jesus from the dead. That’s it. You’re not “doing” anything; you’re simply calling out to God, trusting him to do it for you. That’s salvation. With your whole being you embrace God setting things right, and then you say it, right out loud: ‘God has set everything right between him and me!’” (Romans 10:9-10, MSG).

Use stories, to help others endure the unendurable. The early church experienced an increasing loss of civil and human rights because of mounting opposition by the Roman regime. To this predicament Paul encouraged his listeners to embrace perseverance, steadfastness and in the more modern term championed by Angela Duckworth, “grit.” Paul wrote to the church at Colossae, “As you learn more and more how God works, you will learn how to do your work. We pray that you’ll have the strength to stick it out over the long haul—not the grim strength of gritting your teeth but the glory-strength God gives. It is strength that endures the unendurable and spills over into joy, thanking the Father who makes us strong enough to take part in everything bright and beautiful that he has for us” (Col. 1:10-12, MSG). And in Gal. 6:9, Paul famously intones, “So let’s not allow ourselves to get fatigued doing good. At the right time we will harvest a good crop if we don’t give up, or quit” (MSG).

Learning how God works, brings strength to endure the seemingly unendurable.

When you must correct, do so with a parent’s firm but loving touch. Paul sometimes had to pen a painful response to his critics. In 1 Cor. 4:14-16 he admonished, “I’m not writing all this as a neighborhood scold just to make you feel rotten. I’m writing as a father to you, my children. I love you and want you to grow up well, not spoiled. There are a lot of people around who can’t wait to tell you what you’ve done wrong, but there aren’t many fathers willing to take the time and effort to help you grow up. It was as Jesus helped me proclaim God’s Message to you that I became your father. I’m not, you know, asking you to do anything I’m not already doing myself…” (MSG). As we saw earlier, Paul’s critiques sometimes begin with positive salutations. But here Paul prefaces his critique by reminding his hearers of the nature of their leadership relationship, not as a boss to a hireling but as a father to a child. 

Face-to-face leadership is sometimes still required. Continuing the 1 Cor. 4 passage above Paul warns, “I know there are some among you who are so full of themselves they never listen to anyone, let alone me. They don’t think I’ll ever show up in person. But I’ll be there sooner than you think, God willing, and then we’ll see if they’re full of anything but hot air. God’s Way is not a matter of mere talk; it’s an empowered life” (1 Cor. 4:18-20, MSG). A key to critiquing remotely is to lay out clearly your intentions if remote leadership is ineffective. Face-to-face leadership may still be necessary and should be understood as an option by all parties. 

Be authentic & humble. Paul regularly acknowledged his status, as one Christ appeared to lately, but genuinely. In I Cor. 15:8-9 he recalled, “…He (Jesus) finally presented himself alive to me. It was fitting that I bring up the rear. I don’t deserve to be included in that inner circle, as you well know, having spent all those early years trying my best to stamp God’s church right out of existence” (MSG). And in Ephesians 3:7-8, he said, “This is my life work: helping people understand and respond to this Message. It came as a sheer gift to me, a real surprise, God handling all the details. When it came to presenting the Message to people who had no background in God’s way, I was the least qualified of any of the available Christians. God saw to it that I was equipped, but you can be sure that it had nothing to do with my natural abilities” (MSG)

Put others first, as exemplified by Christ. Paul knew that each leader who read or heard his letters would need to make a myriad of subsequent decisions. To guide decision-making, Paul emphasized that the arrival of Christ’s kingdom meant putting others before oneself. Paul summed this up in Phil. 2:1-7, “If you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care— then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand. Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human!” (MSG).

Reconciliation and transformation are pivotal in the community of the king. Christ’s death and resurrection signified the arrival of his kingdom. A new community emerged which Paul calls, the saints, the elect, the beloved, the called. Over and over he would remind his readers they must decide if they will take up God’s offer for personal kingdom life, reconciliation and letting the Holy Spirit transform them. And so, Paul’s emphasis upon conversion was not just a theoretical concept, but also a noticeable change in people. Paul famously intoned, “So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.” (2 Cor. 5:16-20, MSG).

Be thankful & prayerful for those you are entrusted to lead. Paul believed thankfulness must characterize every step in a Christian’s journey, saying: “And cultivate thankfulness… Let every detail in your lives—words, actions, whatever—be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way” (Colossians 3:15-17, MSG). In addition, Paul’s mentees were never far from his prayers. In Phil. 1:3-6 (MSG) he recalls that “Every time I think of you, I thank my God. And whenever I mention you in my prayers, it makes me happy. This is because you have taken part with me in spreading the good news from the first day you heard about it. God is the one who began this good work in you, and I am certain that he won’t stop before it is complete on the day that Christ Jesus returns.”

Regardless of difficulties, pestilence and/or persecution Paul’s leadership is a guide to how to lead God’s people in difficult, even remote, times.

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Read more at … https://www.biblicalleadership.com/blogs/st-pauls-guide-to-leading-remotely/

GIVING & Why it changes during a crisis (and how to crisis-proof your budget).

by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., April 28, 2020.

Many churches are experiencing a downturn in giving during the recent quarantine.  And what they are seeing is not a typical. Here are some thoughts I’ve gleaned over the years and from clients.

During an “external crisis” (meaning job layoffs in the community, people leaving the area for a different town or quarantine due to a pandemic) the following occur. In addition, below are actions that can help crisis-proof a church’s budget.

1. Giving is down roughly 25 to 40% for churches that have not strongly emphasized online giving before the external crisis. Those that have emphasized online giving beforehand still drop but only about 20 to 25%. The lesson here is to robustly embrace online giving going forward.

2. During an external crisis there is usually a loss of long-time givers. This is because the external crisis exacerbates some frustration they have. However research by Bruno Dyck and Frederick Stark at the University of Manitoba (“The Formation of Breakaway Organizations: Observations and a Process Model,” Administrative Science Quarterly 44)  found that if people who stop giving are personally visited and listened to, the frustration can often be diffused. This is hard to do during a quarantine, but it’s something to consider as restrictions loosen.

3. New givers will usually appear during one of these external crises. This is because people see the need for the church and the good things it’s doing. And they want to support it. However new givers typically do not give as much as long-time givers. Therefore if you are replacing them one for one, it’s usually not enough to make up the difference.

4. An important strategy is to track the quarterly ebb and flow of giving. Every church has a giving cycle. e.g. certain times during the year when giving decreases. It’s important to know when these coincide with an external crisis, so that you don’t over react to a downturn fueled by two concurrent forces: seasonal and external.

5. Some of my church clients who are younger congregations put a freeze on “new spending” when they saw the external crisis on the horizon. This doesn’t help you too much when you are in the middle of a downturn, but it is a good strategy for the future.

6. During this time another prescription is to make online giving convenient and to communicate it as an important option. Allowing giving to take place online allows the giver more time to pray over and consider their support.

7. It’s critically important to teach the reason for giving. Giving not just to keep the church going, but to increase ministry during this time when more people have needs. Therefore emphasize the good you were doing, why people give and how people’s spiritual journey includes meeting the needs of others.

For more ideas see Growing the Post-pandemic Church.  

VITUAL CHURCH & Weaknesses/Strengths of Going to Church in Virtual Reality by @BobWhitesel via @BiblicalLeader #BiblicalLeadershipMagazine

https://www.biblicalleadership.com/blogs/going-to-church-in-virtual-reality/

SCREENSHOT Whitesel Going to Church in Virtual Reality.png

3. Accountability eclipsed by entertainment

4. Technology drives expenditures

5. Disenfranchised continue to be marginalized/ignored

6. Reconciliation takes more effort

7. Spiritual transformation is downplayed

Recently I had the opportunity to pull together speakers for the annual conference of the Great Commission Research Network. These were speakers who had experience leading online churches. You can find more information from the conference at these links:

SOCIAL MEDIA & Questions to stimulate discussion on how churches can more effectively utilize social media.

SOCIAL MEDIA & #NathanClark the leader of one of the nation’s first online communities tells the best thing a small church can do to connect & minister online

In addition one of my students from Kingswood University in Canada has started a church with her husband that includes an online service. Find more info about their multiplication strategy here: SOCIAL MEDIA & How a Toronto church plant uses gaming site Twitch to create online bible studies & community

Finally, here is a good video from CNN that gives a introduction to online churches.//fave.api.cnn.io/v1/fav/?video=us/2018/11/13/going-to-church-in-virtual-reality-beme.beme&customer=cnn&edition=domestic&env=prod

You can also view the CNN video here: https://www.cnn.com/videos/us/2018/11/13/going-to-church-in-virtual-reality-beme.beme

ONLINE CHURCH & 9 takeaways from recent research

by Thom Rainer, ThomRainer.com, 3/11/19.

Research is from Vanderbloemen, Pushpay, and Jay Kranda. All of the 176 churches participating in the study have an online church, so we are hearing from those who are presently very active in this ministry

Some of the key findings of this study? Here are nine insights:

  1. The plurality of churches have a volunteer lead the online ministry. This ministry is led by a volunteer in about four of ten churches. Another 35 percent give the leadership to a full-time staff person who has other responsibilities.
  2. The dominant broadcast method is live streaming. Among these churches, nine of ten congregations broadcast through live streaming. But over half also have the full service on demand.
  3. The opportunity to reach local community members is significant.Over four of ten of those attending online are people within a reasonable driving distance of the church. Most of the churches view the online community as a first step to move them toward the in-person gathering.
  4. Most of these churches do count online attendance. Of the churches surveyed, 72 percent report online attendance, but keep it separate from in-person attendance. Fewer than 10 percent include online attendance as part of the overall total weekly attendance.
  5. There is little consistency on how churches count online attendance.The most frequent response, but only by 26 percent of the churches, is “concurrent streamers at a given time.”
  6. There is anecdotal evidence that indicates the online church is actually a growth source for the in-person church. Some of the church leaders see the online church as part of a process that may progress from social media to online church to community groups to in-person worship services.
  7. Over half of the churches are considering using the online church to launch future churches and sites.Already, 17 percent of the churches are embracing this strategy. In total, over 60 percent are considering this strategy, or they are already doing it.
  8. More older churches are using an online church strategy than younger churches. For example, churches over 50 years old accounted for nearly 30 percent of the total, while churches under five years old accounted for less than 15 percent of the total.
  9. Five ministries are offered online by a majority of the churches. They are: prayer (81%); giving opportunities (72%); pastoral care (58%); serving opportunities (54%); and online groups (52%).

I am thankful to Vanderbloemen, Pushpay, and Jay Kranda for providing this information. You can get the full study here.

Read more here … https://thomrainer.com/2019/03/new-research-and-insights-on-the-online-church/

SOCIAL MEDIA & Going to church in virtual reality: examples, ideas & cautions

by Bob Whitesel, D.Min., Ph.D.,  I once was skeptical about the depth of community that could be created online. But having taught graduate courses online (as well as onsite) for over 20 years, I’ve come to believe online community can be very personable and deep.

And so, I’ve come to see online churches as another campus or venue through which to spread the Good News. Granted, it still has its weaknesses as does every type of venue, but it also has a potentiality that the strategic leader must not overlook.

7 weaknesses I have identified of online venues include (but also often occur in live venues):

  1. Hubris that comes from being personality-driven
  2. Focus on receiving and not giving
  3. Accountability eclipsed by entertainment
  4. Technology drives expenditures
  5. Disenfranchised continue to be marginalized/ignored
  6. Reconciliation takes more effort
  7. Spiritual transformation is downplayed

Recently I had the opportunity to pull together speakers for the annual conference of the Great Commission Research Network. These were speakers who had experience leading online churches. You can find more information from the conference at these links:

SOCIAL MEDIA & Questions to stimulate discussion on how churches can more effectively utilize social media.

SOCIAL MEDIA & #NathanClark the leader of one of the nation’s first online communities tells the best thing a small church can do to connect & minister online

In addition one of my students from Kingswood University in Canada has started a church with her husband that includes an online service. Find more info about their multiplication strategy here: SOCIAL MEDIA & How a Toronto church plant uses gaming site Twitch to create online bible studies & community

Finally, here is a good video from CNN that gives a introduction to online churches.//fave.api.cnn.io/v1/fav/?video=us/2018/11/13/going-to-church-in-virtual-reality-beme.beme&customer=cnn&edition=domestic&env=prod

You can also view the CNN video here: https://www.cnn.com/videos/us/2018/11/13/going-to-church-in-virtual-reality-beme.beme

SOCIAL MEDIA & An Interview w/ Jay Kranda who runs 167 online worship services for #SaddlebackChurch

by DJ Chuang, 9/9/14

“Listen in on a face-to-face conversation with Jay Kranda, Online Campus Pastor ofSaddleback Church, and host DJ Chuang on this episode of Social Media Church. Jay shares about the lessons learned in pastoring an Online Campus, running 167 online worship services every week (that’s almost one every hour on the hour), how they make online-to-offline connections through Extensions, sneak preview about future developments, and more…”

Social Media Church podcast

conversations with church leaders about social media

Jay Kranda of Saddleback Church: Episode 98

September 9, 2014
Jay_Kranda
Play

Podcast: Download (Duration: 47:30 — 21.7MB)

Listen at … http://socialmediachurch.net/2014/09/jay-kranda-saddleback-church-episode-98/

#GCRN #GreatCommissionResearchNetwork #GCRN18