Why Online Ministry Matters

I love blogging, working with websites, and exploring new online technology. In fact, I’m planning on starting a ministry podcast later this Fall. For me, it’s a hobby. It’s something I enjoy. However, there are other reasons why I utilize, what I call, online ministry. Here are several reasons why you should as well.

1- It enables you to engage your church throughout the week.

An online ministry can allow a pastor to continue to engage his congregation past Sunday. Blog posts can reinforce the message. Audio of the sermons can be available for those who were sick or on vacation. Prayer needs can be shared through a private Facebook page. Bible verses can be tweeted out as an encouragement. Podcasts can be published to offer additional guidance throughout the week. The opportunities are endless.

2- It spreads the message of Christ.

All of the available avenues that can contribute to an online ministry allow a church or a pastor to spread the message of Christ beyond one local address. While a pastor’s primary responsibility is his local congregation, there is nothing wrong with the message of Christ being spread beyond that congregation. The truth is that an online ministry allows you to reach and help many more people.

3- It is where many people spend much of their time.

Many people live on social media – spending hours a week wrapped up in the online web of information. We need to be putting out information in a format that is accessible to those people.

4- The cost is very low.

While there can be some costs associated with some online services, much can be done for free. This enables us to drastically further our gospel impact without drastically increasing our financial investment.

5- It keeps your content accessible.

In years past, a pastor would preach a sermon, and unless it was put on a cassette tape or published in a book, it was no longer accessible after the message was over. Websites, blogs, podcasts, and other online tools make that content available for anyone at anytime.

6- It’s a way to build relationships with other pastors.

Pastors need encouragement from other pastors. There have been many times that I have had the opportunity to communicate with other pastors, teachers, and missionaries as a result of what I do online. Those conversations have been a source of encouragement for me.

7- It allows those who are skeptical about church to listen and learn before attending.

I heard someone say that 80% of people visit a church’s website before attending their service. What does this mean? It means that having an online ministry allows people to learn more about you before the make the intimidating decision to visit your church for the first time.

I am sure there are many other reasons why online ministry matters, but the point is that we should be leveraging online ministry to further the Kingdom of God. That is a worthwhile cause.

How Churches Can Make the Most of the Fall Season

Many churches see growth in the Fall. As ministries begin and programs resume, attendance usually increases. The 3-month cycle of families being on vacation ends, school starts back, and people settle back into a routine. All of these factors make the Fall a great time for churches to focus on growth. There are several specific things churches need to do to capitalize on this time of year.

1- Ensure that all of your programs, ministries, and activities are contributing to your church’s stated purpose and mission.

It is easy to simply start back programs that you have always had simply out of habit or routine. There needs to be an evaluative process to ensure that everything the church is doing is helping accomplish the church’s mission in the most effective way. If it’s not, you either need to make adjustments to it or get rid of it. While this is hard, doing it will propel your church’s effectiveness forward.

2- Focus on connecting the casual attenders to your church.

During the Fall you will see an increase in casual attenders. These are people who may not be members, who don’t attend regularly, who have no relationships with others in the church, and who are not involved in a ministry. Make it a point to reach out to them. Seek to connect them more deeply to the church. Create a ministry team whose task is to visit each of these people.

3- Reach out to those in the community.

It’s not just the people in your church who settle into more of a routine in the Fall. Everyone else in the community does as well. This makes it a great time to reach out to them.

4- Seek to impact your community.

Most communities have events in the Fall. These events are a great opportunity for the church to make a difference. As a pastor, I am involved in our community’s Veteran’s Day celebration. Our church is planning to partner with our local elementary school in providing our community a Fall Festival. Our senior adults are involved in a school supply drive for our schools. Whatever your community does, get involved. Doing so will allow you to meet people who you would not otherwise meet — people who need a relationship with Jesus.

The Fall is right around the corner. Spend some time over the next few weeks determining how you and your church can make a difference for Christ.

Some Vacation Bible School (VBS) Cautions to Consider

Vacation Bible school has become a Summer tradition for many families. Churches usually have the goal of getting as many kids as possible to attend from the church and surrounding community. Some families even send their kids to VBS at multiple churches throughout the Summer. With VBS being so popular, there are some cautions churches should consider.

1- Be Cautious in How You Present Salvation.

It is easy for children to be manipulated into ‘making a decision.’ Years ago I heard VBS workers ask, “Who doesn’t want to go to Hell?” Many kids raise their hands (I would as well). They were then told that they needed to pray a prayer to keep from going to Hell. I have even seen prizes given to those who “get saved.” This kind of manipulation is simply a poor substitute for the convicting work of the Holy Spirit, and does not lead to true salvation.

Understand that there is a difference in trusting in a prayer and trusting in Jesus for salvation. If more attention is given to the child repeating a prayer than to understanding what Christ did for them and what it really means, then there is a major problem.

2- Be Committed to Following Up with Those Who Make Professions of Faith.

The command of the Great Commission is to make disciples; not just converts. To simply lead people to make a decision for Christ, but then fail to follow-up with them either demonstrates a concern only for numbers or disorganization. Either way, it is the kids who are hurt. Develop a system to follow-up with those who make decisions during the week of VBS.

3- Don’t Try to Steal Families from Other Churches.

Let’s be reminded that the goal is to reach the unchurched. If people are involved in a Bible-believing church, we should encourage them to stay there. The goal is not to grow our kingdom (church) by adding more ‘already’ saved people. The goal is to see people give their lives to Christ. Keep the focus on evangelism and reaching the unchurched.

4- Don’t Neglect Worship.

Sometimes the focus in VBS programs is so much on entertainment that kids never understand that the church is to worship. They are passively taught that church equals entertainment. Nothing could be further from the truth.

I’m not saying that kids shouldn’t have fun. But I am saying that kids should be able to understand the importance of worshipping God in the context of the Church.

VBS is a great opportunity to reach unchurched kids (and families), teach them about God’s love, and demonstrate love to the community. Let’s be cautious to avoid the dangers that have a tendency to plague VBS programs.