Ministry in the Digital Age: Challenges

by:  |  January 6th, 2016  |  Communications  | 

The Challenges:

Missing In-Person Interaction

When we get caught up in the online world, it’s easy to miss making time for in-person interactions and conversations. This can lead to a decreased sense of community and an increased sense of detachment from the church and its members. We need to be intentional about creating gathering and meeting opportunities outside of church where our members can interact and engage. Scheduling regular coffee gatherings, dinners, and events can help out a lot in this department. Ultimately, we need to find a good balance between the two to ensure that we don’t completely lose in-person interaction.

Distracting From the Point of Worship

Sure, social media, video, great music, and graphics can all enhance the church experience, but sometimes we need to take a step back and make sure that these elements aren’t distracting us from our one true point of worship. Amidst all the glitz and glam, it can be difficult to discern and see God’s word and truth clearly. It’s important that we keep our focus on Him rather than focusing on the “experience.” After all, the experience will be temporary, but absorbing God’s teachings and being able to apply them to our own lives is ultimately what will lead to real action and change in our hearts and in the way we live and treat others.

Online Church: Convenience or Cop-Out?

With the onset of the digital age, many churches have started offering live-streams or recorded versions of their sermons on their websites. While this offers convenience in terms of viewing the church service, a major downfall is that it also distances church members from personal relationships with others and with God. Streaming services put a lower emphasis on being present at church, and as a result, we lose the opportunity for God to facilitate relationship-building, communal worship, and spiritual growth amongst the presence of others. In fact, staying at home is becoming a growing option for many churchgoers. While watching services online is practical and valuable to people who are considering going to church but haven’t yet committed, it simply can’t replace the opportunity to worship with other believers, study the Bible alongside others, and serve together. Sure, it can be a convenient option for those who can’t attend church, but we should seek to encourage those who can (and just may choose not to).

Out With the Old, in With the New?

Digital media trends are appealing to the younger generation—millennials who are paving the way for the future. And yet, we must ask ourselves: is our focus on reaching a younger audience causing us to neglect the older generations within our church? Though new technical advances naturally appeal to more of a younger congregation, they can often alienate older audiences. An important question to ask may be: how do we retain older audiences through digital updates and changes? Not taking these things into consideration can result in big losses, and we definitely don’t want to lose out on the wisdom, insight, and experience that older generations have to offer our church.

Ministry in the digital age has its fair share of advantages and challenges. And yet, as we wrestle with this ever-changing landscape, one thing is clear: we must continue to retain and elevate the importance and power of God’s teachings and written word—no matter how much the flashiness of digital media seeks for and fights for our attentions.