It wouldn’t be helpful to anyone involved to go into all the details of where the content of this post originated and how it came to us. In a rough sketch, it was intercepted on the dark web. If it wasn’t for a friend who works in cyber security, we probably would’ve never stumbled upon this.
I am issuing this immediate bulletin, because I feel my voice is essential to the current conversation about online church.
I have been forwarded posts, read memos within our organization, and tuned in to external chatter, which suggest that some are fearful of this trend. Others wonder how it can be most effectively used to capitalize on our cause.
I would suggest that we undertake a massive promotion of the idea that church attendance has grown in this period of pandemonium, when so many have taken to the internet for live streaming or posting their services.
Church attendance has risen as much as 50% in the first few weeks of this current crisis. This calls for much jubilation!
And who are you?
Before I get into the rationale for my argument to follow. I would like to briefly remind those, who may be reading my words with a degree of skepticism, of my exemplary track record.
Though like many, I’m currently working from home, I have consulted and coached some of the most productive and influential minds in our enterprise. Many with large teams and sweeping networks have looked to me for perspective and training for decades, if not longer.
Drawing from the deep well of my vast years of experience, I coach you, dear apprentice, to cheer on the trend toward digital church.
Without getting into the weeds on any theories—conspiracy or documented—related to the origin of the economic and social season we find ourselves in, I commend to you online church.
Hannah and Harold go to church…
Picture this: Hannah and Harold have to get out of bed, brush their teeth, dress their kids, and drive somewhere, all the while, doing their best to avoid tearing one another to pieces in the process. It goes without saying; this requires significant effort.
Fast forward to the present. Not only do they remain in their pajamas, their kids likely sleep in. They exude the most energy making their morning cup of Joe themselves. They might have personally invested some by checking their email to access a link or connecting their television or streaming device of choice.
Consider this powerful thought. People, given to religion or seeking a semi-regular hit of social connectivity, can be consumers at an even deeper level now.
They can get their dose of the Ghost in the morning, or anytime throughout the week as fits their schedule, while otherwise doing whatever they want.
When self-professed believers gather in one place, there is always the concern they will agree in prayer or inadvertently cross-pollinate in such a way that they spur one another on toward so-called love or good deeds.
This must be avoided at all costs.
Of course, spin stories like mine above (about the pjs) to positive tones.
It has become so much simpler to join us for worship online from the comfort of your home! You don’t even have to get dressed or travel anywhere!
Little do they know their worship may have shifted from our Enemy to the online experience itself. And worship of self is simply a cleverly-designed mask for the true worship our Father Below seeks.
If your peabrain hasn’t followed me thus far, permit me to summarize:
- Accessing online church requires less personal investment than ever for people to scratch their religious itch.
- The spiritual dangers associated with assembling together have all but been neutralized.
- Self-focus and self-worship are often inspired, directly or unintentionally, through these online performances.
I charge you to avoid fixating on the online element itself. There are some, hosting online gatherings in dangerous ways, which focus people on helping one another and looking outward to creatively do damage to our cause in their communities. Of course, these factions must be opposed at all costs.
However, this scenario is rare. Most church leaders are so focused on and exhausted by orchestrating the online experience itself, they have no capacity left to create space for our Enemy and his priorities.
Make people busy or exhausted. Keep them distracted or discouraged. Pit them against one another. Pull from our toolbox of most used, best loved, timeless strategies.
Metrics, Analytics, & Merry-go-rounds
While they are forming consumers at a higher level, we must let religious leaders think they’re winning.
Don’t fear. The religious establishment has chosen the wrong metrics yet again, so let them veer off on their newest tangent. It will lead to our ultimate success, not theirs.
Keep them inept with internet analytics, so they’ll be convinced they’re gaining more attenders when they don’t even know how to read their own stats properly.
Bind them so fast to their own merry-go-round, they’ll never ever think to ask dangerous questions like: are online attenders applying or sharing what they’re hearing?
This is to our great advantage. Most of the “growth” that’s being celebrated by voices online is coming from smaller churches, amazed at their increased reach. This is also often the population with the greatest lack of acumen and capacity to process the data about online engagement.
Bind them so fast to their own merry-go-round, they’ll never ever think to ask dangerous questions like: are online attenders applying or sharing what they’re hearing?Tweet
Doublespeak & Doubt
There’s also a delightful doublespeak taking place among church leaders reporting and at times competing over online attendance. Few have stopped to ask: what does your hosting platform vs. mine actually count as a view?
And what does it matter! We couldn’t care less ourselves!
In fact, we are delighted that these conversations and infighting about online engagement fall hopelessly short of advancing our Enemy’s kingdom priorities.
I want you to encourage the self-doubt and hidden pride in some megachurch leaders, which has led them to keep silent about their concerns and discouragement over how few are truly participating in their services online.
As my final statement and the nail in the proverbial coffin, at risk of sounding like I am merely name-dropping, I wholeheartedly state that we must focus our firepower on fueling the current trend toward defining “church” as a user-friendly, consumer, isolated, passive, digital experience. Truly, I tell you, our Father Below loves online church.
Ever Yours, a True Luminary in My Field,
Distinguished Former Department Head, Messenger of Light Inc.
(Currently on a furlough of undefined length. Seeking contract work. References available upon request.)
If you’d like to talk more about disciple making that multiplies, reach out to us... Roy Moran roymoran.com Marcus Constantine livingtruth2.wordpress.com