Integrating digital can be a confusing process. Almost every part of your church could have a digital component and it’s much bigger than streaming your services. Understanding digital is not a savior for your church, but an amplifier of your strengths and weaknesses is important. Focus is vital because digital is distracting. The key is understanding your vision, where you’re trying to go, and how you’re going to do it with the right digital approach. There are four major digital approaches we talk about here at Future Church Co., outlined below.
Many churches used the Broadcast approach prior to Covid. You just push your content out to the world and never cater to those engaging digitally. Everything you do happens in-person. We jokingly call this the aquarium strategy because your digital audience can peek into what’s happening at your church online but everything really happens in the tank.
Example: Streaming services only while never talking to those watching and a website with general information to plan a visit.
A majority of churches have started to realize the benefit of investing into digital and lean toward the Front Door Local strategy. Your church is fully rooted in a geographic area but part of your disciple making model is released digitally. You aren’t afraid of digital but still put some limits on integration for various reasons. All the deeper ministry happens in-person.
Example: Streaming a service with a host talking to those online, engaging social media presences, and website with ways to try out the church in various digital experiences like training and special events.
In the Phygital Assimilation approach, you understand that digital is a tool that—if you wield it correctly—can amplify your vision. You’re not afraid of offering some of your key training and classes digitally while still thinking through in-person ministry being the rooted experience. You saw the benefit of things like online small groups for some members of your church and experienced overall the gains of digital-only offerings during COVID. You aren’t taking your foot off the gas pedal of in-person ministry but see the potential of decentralizing your church with digital.
Example: New member classes offered via Zoom, online small groups options, and many events are offered digitally as well as in-person.
A few churches have fully embraced digital as a key component of how they bring people into their church and send people out. They’re using the Phygital Multiplication approach. They know in-person is a compelling experience that doesn’t compete with digital, but only amplifies everything they are doing. They don’t get distracted by new trends or flashy technology but capitalize on digital when it helps them accomplish their vision. All staff and volunteers are encouraged to leverage digital to get their task done while still having a rooted in-person experience.
Example: A custom website experience, maybe an app, that allows the new person and member to track their journey with the church and jump into digital experiences and in-person offerings seamlessly.
Digital is not an enemy if you know what you’re doing. Digital can remove all friction. Everything is easier with digital. It’s easier than ever to start a business because of the digital and easier than ever to fail at starting your business. It’s easier than ever for people to watch online and easier than ever to not get connected. The approaches laid out above are integrating digital into the strategy of the church from high friction to low friction.
Where is your church on the spectrum? Don’t be scared of digital. Embrace this moment.
Interested in learning more and building your church’s unique digital strategy? Sign up for our upcoming Digital Cohort by clicking below.