The world we live in is undergoing a seismic shift. Once people lived their lives immersed in their local communities, but now people exist as individuals networked into far-flung and loosely connected groups of people. The Internet, wireless communication and social media have made this shift possible. This shift fundamentally changes the way that churches and ministries relate to the people they serve. If you wish to respond to this change, you will need a robust online home for your ministry.
The Urgency of Online Ministry
Just as early Christians availed themselves of Roman roads to spread their message far and wide, today’s churches and ministries must use the Internet to communicate their message. If you serve a church or ministry, it is urgent that you develop an online presence. Christianity Today reports that, annually, 16% of non-church-going adults check out websites of local places of worship. Among church-going adults, 57% visit their church’s website and 37% visit websites of other churches, again over a one-year time frame.
It is clear that many people are using the Internet to find churches and other non-profit organizations. They are looking for an online home for their faith. Can your online ministry provide that home?
Online Presence Is a Ministry
Developing and maintaining your organization’s online presence is not just a business operation or a communication task. You don’t arrange web presence because it is a fad that everyone follows . It needs to be a ministry. You are creating an online home for your church, ministry or non-profit organization.
Ministries execute visions. If you have a vision for spreading the Gospel to the mobile generation of networked individuals, then your online presence is how you execute this vision.
If maintaining an effective online presence is the key for a ministry, then you need to devote resources to it. You can’t just cobble something together with volunteers. It will take funds, time and effort to do it right. You want to build your online home on solid foundations.
Organizing Your Online Ministry
If your online presence is a ministry, then you need to organize it like any other ministry, by setting up a team to execute the vision. The key is to set up a team with the right skill sets that can drive this ministry forward. These are some the people that you need on board, to build your online home:
· Pastoral Support: If your online ministry is going to be a central part of your outreach, then someone from the pastoral leadership of your organization needs to be represented. This might be the pastor who is in charge of outreach movement or evangelization.
· Content Creation: The key to your online presence is the creation of content. This could be blog posts, images, videos, or any other kind of media. The team needs someone who can develop a plan for content creation. Your organization already produces a lot of content so part of the task is simply to repurpose the existing content online. But there might be a need to create new content, as well.
· Social Media: This person develops a strategy for engaging with people on social media. He/she also promotes the online content of the organization.
· Tech Support: This team needs someone who can troubleshoot tech issues. This person will manage the website and all software required for the organization’s online presence.
Your church or ministry needs an attractive online home. It is urgent that you make your online outreach an important part of what you do. That is where today’s people are. If you are going to spread your message, you need to be doing it online.