eREFORMATION & Tara Isabella Burton on 3 ways the Internet is reshaping how people congregate. “Growing the Post-pandemic Church” in paperback & Kindle on Amazon https://www.amazon.com/Bob-Whitesel/ my #14thBook. #Post-PandemicChurchBook

Tara Isabella Burto; “There are three major elements that I would point to in looking at the way internet culture led to our modern religiously remixed culture. The first is the development of a kind of tribalization that transcended geographic limitations. The idea that you could seek out people who were like you, who thought like you, and share your desires and your goals, without those things being based in your geographic community. That fostered a different way of thinking about gathering and tribe based on affinity interest rather than on, perhaps one might say, a fixed point. Secondly, I think there’s the idea rooted in consumer capitalism that our choices define us. What we buy and what we consume can be indicative in how we build our personality. The internet has made this all the more possible, especially as various algorithms determine what news we see and what movies are suggested to us. The narrower an affinity base becomes, so too our approach to spirituality becomes something that should work for us and work for our choices, or so the prevailing cultural ethos goes. Thirdly and finally, I think the internet culture of user-generated content, where we are not just passive consumers but active creators—whether it’s making memes or posting on Twitter—has lent itself to a more participatory and polyphonic understanding of spiritual life. Again, there’s a hunger for ownership; we don’t want to passively consume a text but rather kind of write our own.”

From “The New Godless Religions: An Interview with Tara Isabella Burto, by Kenneth E. Frantz | September 22, 2020. More at … https://religionandpolitics.org/2020/09/22/the-new-godless-religions-an-interview-with-tara-isabella-burton/

More insights can be found in “Growing the Post-pandemic Church” in paperback & Kindle on Amazon https://www.amazon.com/Bob-Whitesel/ my #14thBook. #Post-PandemicChurchBook

#SundayChurchHacks – Record your live service & starting streaming it early Sunday morning. Don’t make online attendees wait around until it is convenient for you.

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

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

But many churches wait to live-stream their worship at the customary Sunday hour (10:30 or 11 AM).  This requires online attendees to wait around until you are ready to start.

But is holding it “live” with an audience always necessary? Aren’t you hoping that people who watch it later in the week will experience the same worship encounter and connection with the Holy Spirit as you did when you recorded it?

So, why not record and post your worship service early on Sunday morning (or even Saturday night) so more people can experience it when it is convenient for them?  More people may watch it this way.

The eReformation coming upon the Church means the Good News can be more accessible through electronic means, just as it did in 1500s when the printing press allowed people to read the Word any day of the week.

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

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

ATTENDANCE & Over half of pastors (54%) said their online attendance was higher than their usual in-person attendance … with fully 1 in 4 reporting it was “much higher,” according to #Barna data.

“Higher attendance, lower giving: Survey shows how churches are responding to COVID-19” by Emily MacFarland Miller, Religion News Service, 3/31/20.

…Barna surveyed 434 senior and executive pastors online using its Barna Church Pulse tool, starting one week after President Donald Trump declared a national emergency related to the pandemic; 222 pastors responded between March 20 and 23, and another 212 between March 27 and 30.

… Most have moved those services online. Even churches that hadn’t been online previously are trying it out to reach their congregants at home: While 32% of churches were not offering any digital options in the first week, that number had shrunk to 7% by the second week, Kinnaman pointed out.

Just over half of pastors (54%) said their online attendance was higher than their usual in-person attendance this past Sunday (March 29), with fully 1 in 4 reporting it was “much higher,” according to Barna data.

But nearly 8 in 10 (79%) said financial giving is down, with nearly half (47%) reporting it is down “significantly.”j

Still, almost all of the pastors surveyed (95%) felt confident their churches would survive and said they haven’t made any changes to their staffing (71%).

“The church is adapting to the new normal, and they’re starting to use the language about the indefinite future, about working remotely,” Kinnaman said.

Read more at … https://religionnews.com/2020/03/30/higher-attendance-lower-giving-new-survey-shows-how-churches-are-responding-to-covid-19/

ONLINE CHURCH & 4 things leaders should do immediately if a virus prevents your church from meeting.

by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., 3/12/19.

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Stream your services online.

Streaming is becoming more popular, but too often it is treated like an afterthought.The current pandemic means this cannot be the case anymore. Streaming can be easily accomplished via Facebook streaming, YouTube Live streaming or streaming services such as SermonCast.And you can post them as videos to video hosting sites such as Vimeo or YouTube.

But, don’t limit the streaming to just the sermon. It is also important to allow those watching to enter into worship. It is called a “worship service” because worship literally means drawing people into a “close, face-to-face connection with God.” Therefore, when streaming becomes an alternate to church services, it must not just carry the message (sermon) but also seek to foster a worship experience in which people can feel God is present and moving.Therefore, include prayer in your online services too. Your primary focus should not be to encourage people to stay home (though illness or legality may dictate they do), but to encourage people who stay home to experience God’s presence.

Don’t forget funding.

Oversized churches may have oversized budgets. And thus, when services are not convened a lack of income can impact a church significantly. Online giving tools have been a helpful option. In the nonprofit sector online giving has increased 15-20% each year. It seems logical that giving may increase when people can do it easily through texting or giving online.

Because many new tools have emerged for online giving, be sure to compare the cost (they vary widely). Also check with your denomination, since many offer an official tool for online giving. An online giving portal allows people to continue to support the church even though their presence isn’t possible.

Also explain to congregants how many of the church’s expenses continue.Salaries, some facility costs and benevolence spending are just a few of the expenses that will continue. Helping the congregation understand the nature and size of ongoing expenses will remind them why consistent giving is needed to support a faith community in its efforts to do good.

Expand congregant support through online alternatives to small groups.

Though smaller groups of 10-25 may still be permitted to meet, wise church leaders will increasingly emphasize that Sunday school classes, small groups, prayer groups, etc., can have online alternatives. This will address any hesitancy attendees may have about catching a viral infection.And online small groups allow people who self-quarantine to still receive support during this time.Just like streaming and giving, be sure to compare the many online tools that make online small groups productive and meaningful.

Many people may still resist online groups because they feel face-to-face fellowship is more effective. I once was one of those people. But, having taught classes both onsite and online for 24 years for a large university, I’ve found that online small groups can sometimes be as deep and robust as face-to-face groups. There are many reasons for this including not judging by appearance, allowing reticent people to speak up, choosing one’s words carefully rather than blurting them out, etc. Yet regardless of the reason, online fellowship reminds a congregation that a church is a community that communicates two ways, and not just an audience.

Use it as a teaching opportunity about the Great Commission.

Jesus commissioned us in Matthew 28:16-20 to “go and make disciples.”The term “make disciples” can be misleading today, because when people hear “disciples” they immediately think of a title, like “the 12 disciples.” But in the original Greek, the words “make disciples” was a verb that meant: “to make active, ongoing learners.”Donald McGavran said, “It means enroll in my (Jesus’) school…” And Fuller Seminary professor Eddie Gibbs stated, “(it) is an apprenticeship rather than an academic way of learning. It is learning by doing.”

If nurturing others to become “active, ongoing learners” is the Great Commission’s goal, then we must seriously consider online leaning environments which are increasingly being confirmed to be excellent learning platforms. By utilizing discussion forums, downloadable resources, online Bible studies and other tools you can develop more robust learning avenues for your church.

Use this as an opportunity to remind congregants that while technology changes, God’s Word does not. Recount how the printing press democratized the reading of the Word amid protests over the feared loss of hand-written Bibles. And today, there are those who prefer an ink-and-paper Bible (I am one of them) to an electronic version. But such changes in technology present opportunities for church leaders to discuss that though methods may change, “our God’s Word stands firm and forever” (Isa. 40:8, MSG).

Read the original article at …

https://www.biblicalleadership.com/blogs/4-things-leaders-should-do-immediately-if-a-virus-prevents-your-church-from-meeting/

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

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

TELEWORKING & A typical business would save $11,000 per person per year

What Is the Potential Bottom Line Impact or Return on Investment of the Widespread Adoption of Telework in the U.S.? (updated March, 2016)

  • If those with compatible jobs and a desire to work from home did so just half the time (roughly the national average for those who do so regularly) the national savings would total over $700 Billion a year including:
    • A typical business would save $11,000 per person per year
    • The telecommuters would save between $2,000 and $7,000 a year
    • The greenhouse gas reduction would be the equivalent of taking the entire New York State workforce permanently off the road.
  • The Congressional Budget Office’s estimate of the entire five-year cost of implementing telework throughout government ($30 million) is less than a third of the cost of lost productivity from a single day shut down of federal offices in Washington DC due to snow ($100 million).

Read more at … http://globalworkplaceanalytics.com/telecommuting-statistics

TELEWORKING & 80% to 90% of the US workforce says they would like to telework at least part time

Global Workplace Analytics’ research finds that:

  • 50% of the US workforce holds a job that is compatible with at least partial telework and approximately 20-25% of the workforce teleworks at some frequency
  • 80% to 90% of the US workforce says they would like to telework at least part time. Two to three days a week seems to be the sweet spot that allows for a balance of concentrative work (at home) and collaborative work (at the office).
  • Fortune 1000 companies around the globe are entirely revamping their space around the fact that employees are already mobile. Studies repeatedly show they are not at their desk 50-60% of the time.
  • On average, a telecommuter is college-educated, 49 years old, and earns an annual salary of $58,000 while working for a company with more than 100 employees. 75% of employees who work from home earn over $65,000 per year, putting them in the upper 80th percentile of all employees, home or office-based.

Summary of trends:

  • Regular work-at-home, among the non-self-employed population, has grown by 103% since 2005.
  • 3.7 million employees (2.8% of the workforce) now work from home at least half the time.
  • The employee population as a whole grew by 1.9% from 2013 to 2014, while employees who telecommuter population grew 5.6%.

Read more at … http://globalworkplaceanalytics.com/telecommuting-statistics

STUDENT SUCCESS & A Schedule to Pace Yourself for Maximum Online Learning

by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., 10/16/15.

It began about two decades ago, when a new friend (Russ Gunsalus) and I were trained to teach online IWU courses. And over that time the most important lesson I’ve learned has been to pace yourself.

If you are an online student you may initially get overwhelmed at the many postings and comments that keep appearing on the online interface.  But, don’t get overwhelmed.  No one is expecting you to respond to all postings.  Rather, as professors we are looking to see that you understand the concepts we are studying, and that you are helping each other apply them to your unique situation.

Thus, don’t try to comment on everything other students say.  But rather, add to the conversation with good ideas, further insights, or germane experiences.

Also, here is a typical schedule I see many students utilizing (you don’t have to use this if it does not work for you, but I have found it very beneficial to take two days off each week 🙂

Friday: read material, answer one question in each forum from the downloadable syllabus.

Saturday: off

Sunday: off

Monday: Read other posts and reply (bringing in 2-3 textbooks and 3-5 outside sources per forum for maximum points).

Tuesday: Read other posts and reply, begin working on your paper that is due Thursday at midnight.

Wednesday:  Less posting and more writing on your paper.

Thursday: Very little posting and mostly working on the paper that is due at midnight

Friday: start again.

I’ve used this schedule and I find it very helpful. In fact in the decades I’ve been teaching online I’ve discovered that I am a better teacher if I take off Saturday and Sunday to recharge (and that is also when I conduct a lot of my research). Thus, I will not be online on Saturdays and Sundays … but will be back with you Monday morning. If there is an emergency you can always email me on the weekend and I will respond.  But if not, just know that I will connect with you again on Monday.

And, very soon you too will get into the rhythm of online education  and what works best for you (just like you did in college).  Though you are in graduate school now, you will soon find that navigating this online interface will be easier, you will know how to organize your online comments/schedule and you will be whisked away to more fruitful ministry in the company of some very good online friends

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

SEMINARIES & Their Future: My Interview w/ #OutreachMagazine #Forecast

Rphoto 5ecently I was asked by a writer for Outreach Magazine to talk about the future of seminary education.  Since, I’ve written on this since the 1990s, I’m often asked my thoughts.  Here are my (unedited) replies about what I think the future seminary will look like:

Outreach Magazine:  What shifts or trends are you seeing in culture, in the Church, or in your students that challenge you to change the seminary experience for today’s students?

Whitesel:  Christian leaders today want accessibility, practicality and economy. That is why we designed our seminary from the ground up. We are like a church plant, we started with a clean slate. And that is why we’ve been able to be so innovative. All of our courses our team taught by a theologian and an application (praxis) professor. That is probably why we’ve grown in a little over four years to over 400 students.

Outreach Magazine:  How are seminaries meeting the needs and challenges of emerging leadership?

Whitesel: Many seminaries are experimenting with online education. But often there’s a great deal of pushback from the professors and even the administration. Seminaries have not historically been organizations that embrace innovation.

However our seminary, because it is a new and growing young seminary, has established innovation as one of our founding principles. And, we are part of Indiana Wesleyan University with over 10,000 students that has utilized online education for over 15 years. So we have an experienced with online education that most seminaries just don’t have. That’s allowed us to led the innovation of tomorrow’s education of seminarians.

Outreach Magazine:  Anything else you could say about this?

Whitesel:  You didn’t ask this, but here is a good question: “what will the seminary of the next 20 years look like?”  I believe it will use virtual reality to bring to life some of the great historical seminary minds, either through holograms or video. You will be able to have George Ladd appear in your class on New Testament theology, and then have Geoffrey Bromley appear in your course on church history. Those were two of the famous professors from Fuller Seminary in the 1970s. And so the seminary professor of tomorrow will be more of a curator. I’ve already begun to do this by curating http://www.ChurchHealthWiki.com with almost 500 articles on church leadership and growth, curated for tomorrow seminarians.  So the future the seminary will be much more virtual and relevant with videos of historical and contemporary theologians – but curated for their practical insights by practitioner professors.