Since last year’s release of my ebook “The Art of Online Ministry“, I’ve connected with countless church leaders and volunteers. You’re all very passionate about connecting with people who are unwilling or unable to attend a local church, and it’s fun hashing out plans to try to make our approaches even more effective for God’s glory. Every good leader has blind spots, though, and I think it would be wise for us to lift our heads from our work at this time and look around to gain perspective.
It’s been just over a year since I released my ebook “The Art of Online Ministry“. Thousands of you in many different countries have read it and contacted me with questions or success stories about your online church launches. This is exciting! Now it’s time for those of you who are ministering online to move into new phases of development and expansion.
Our family began dreaming about and focusing on expanding church online globally about 5 years ago, and our overseas online church planting adventure launched shortly thereafter. It’s been thrilling being a thought leader in online ministry, and I remember back when there were only one or two online churches. Today there are hundreds worldwide!
I’d be failing our community of online ministers if I didn’t challenge us all to accelerate our efforts in some key areas. Let’s discuss them! After reading today’s question, feel free to reply here, on my Facebook page, or via Twitter.
At this point in time, there are 3 key areas of discussion I believe those of us who are ministering online must process. Today we’ll discuss Question 1:
1) How do we gather passionate church online leaders in a global network to learn from each other? (Trust me, fellow Americans – some online churches I know overseas are more creative than we’ve had to be due to limitations. There’s much we can learn from each other!)
There’s currently an active online ministers Facebook group. If you’d like to join, add me as a friend on Facebook and send me a note asking to join the group. Give me a little bit of information about yourself, and I’ll introduce you to the group.
Can you share with us your ideas or what you’re already doing to engage with other online ministers or online church teams?
My jaw drops open when I review the list of BlueDoor.tv partners and observe the growing number of online churches worldwide these days. At the risk of sounding like your great-grandmother, I remember the days when no one knew what an online church was.
Today there are hundreds (if not thousands) of people ministering to others online around the globe. Some of you are trained online prayer volunteers, and some of you have simply taken opportunities to pray for others as they come. You’ll all needed.
When I consult churches who have online outreach ministries, they often communicate that finding online prayer volunteers can prove to be difficult. Here are my suggestions for helping prayer warriors minister well online:
1) Make it personal. Remember that your individual prayers aren’t being broadcast for the whole world to read. Typed out prayers in a chat room are just as heartfelt and personal when you keep in mind to Whom you’re praying and the person for whom you’re praying.
2) Be prepared. As with a local prayer ministry, volunteers who show up to serve without having taken the time to seek God and read His Word on their own are not prepared.
3) Be bold. The person who has asked you to pray for him can exit the chat room at any time. Don’t water down your prayers in the hopes of dragging him along on a mediocre experience with God. Pray (and type out) the words that come to mind from the Holy Spirit and leave the person’s response (acceptance or rejection) up to him.
4) Respect the opportunity. I suggest each team have more than one prayer volunteer if possible so that you’re not left alone to juggle prayer sessions with multiple people. Each individual has a unique need, and every situation matters deeply to God.
5) Get out there. I’ve been told by people who are prayer warriors that they’re uncomfortable using their gift in an online setting. We receive God’s gifts and are to use them as He leads. Please don’t limit your gift for use only in face to face settings. Millions of people around the world are seeking God online and you could be His helper in reaching them!
Have you ever prayed for someone in an online setting? What was the experience like?
I was asked to leave, and being fired meant I could run after what was in my heart.
How do you really feel about your cause? If you don’t assess your commitment, you won’t be ready for a change in circumstances that forces you to make a choice.
I was once invited to serve in a church overseas, was then notified a person in this particular church requested that the online ministry I was involved in be investigated by a third party, and – though our online ministry was deemed appropriate by the powers that be – I was asked to choose between the local church and participating in the online outreach. In my mind, it was an “and” situation; in their minds it was a case of “or”.
I’ll never forget the phone conversation with the lovely foreign accent on the other end of the line asking, “Dana, you’re not going to give up this Internet church thing, are you?”
My answer was clear, firm, and said with all the passion I felt for reaching people online with the love of Christ. “No.”
So I was asked to leave. They didn’t want to encourage something they felt wasn’t biblical.
Since that phone call in October 2008, I’ve been lied about, mis-quoted, and misunderstood regarding my passion for getting the Gospel out globally via the Internet. Wrong assumptions have been made. Fortunes have been spent. Years have been devoted. And it’s all been worth it.
My friends in Poland at KosciolOnline.tv recently added a Facebook “like” button to their archived messages. When a person likes an archived video, it appears on their Facebook wall. The result? About 500 more attendees to their regular online services!
What tweak can you try that might lead to more opportunities to serve?
Would you like to be social media savvy by Christmas? Download your free guide to using social media during the month of December to engage your network in spiritual conversations. Remember – we’re not out to condemn and rack up conversions. We are relational beings and connecting to our social network is the key to one day having the opportunity to share our hope in Christ with them. So start taking steps towards knowing your online friends better this month!
Use this guide to:
* Create church Facebook page content for Christmas
* Share your faith via social media
* Guide Church Online chat room conversations
* Train your team how to use Twitter and Facebook to be evangelisic
What are you waiting for? Open up your gift from BlueDoor.tv!
Here’s a true statement that most of us believe but don’t live out:
GOD’S STRENGTH + YOU = SUPERNATURAL RESULTS
This map is a visual example to me of the statement above.
(CLICK TO ENLARGE)
In March of this year I was praying to connect to a few church leaders around the world who are as passionate about global evangelism as I am. On April 1 I published “The Art of Online Ministry” as a means of helping people who began asking me questions about launching online churches. Now we’re partnering with one or more teams in each country that has a blue pinpoint on the map above. Today we have over 200 partners with whom we’re sharing content, resources, and/or equipment.
The funny thing is, my dream keeps growing and changing as I live it out. No matter where you live, I am eager to help you. Check out our community page to have questions answered by other online ministers, apply to receive equipment, or download my ebook or some of our partner resources at BlueDoor.tv.
Imagine what God will do in your life when you begin living out the dreams He gives you that are greater than your current strength and influence can accomplish!
Don’t be like the creepy guy in high school who wanted you to wear his class ring moments into your first date.
Recently I attended a new online church that’s based in America for the first time. The message was excellent, and I was moved to share a comment in the chat room. But…when I tried to type a comment I discovered I’d have to register a new account to participate. Suddenly I forgot what I’d wanted to say and was a little put off…and I’ve been part of The Church for decades now. Imagine if someone who is far from God were met with a registration form. I bet she’d close the experience widow just like I did, perhaps never to return.
The irony here is that church online critics say it exists for lazy people and that community really can’t occur via online evangelism. My experience over the past 5 years – starting at LifeChurch.tv then planting online churches in other languages through BlueDoor.tv – is those accusations are totally false. People want to talk with you and discuss what’s being shared in your online messages. They have questions. Your online church might be the only honest attempt a person makes at seeking God. Don’t turn them away and risk ruining the opportunity for community by asking them to give you information before interacting.
It’s been explained to me before that some online churches require registration as a means for opening the door to relationship with casual attendees and not letting them slip away without contact. I say if you’ve launched an online church to add peoples’ names to a registry or e-mail list you’ve missed the point. They may never attend your local church. I encourage you to plant spiritual seeds in their lives when they give your message the time of day and leave the rest up to God.
The bottom line is registration signifies commitment, and that’s asking a lot from the people for whom I believe online church exists. Let’s all consider changing our platforms or processes in order to lower the barriers to entry for our church online attendees.
BlueDoor.tv partners in Slovakia launched their online church last week at http://live.cirkevonline.tv/ using the BlueDoor.tv platform. 189 people attended with no Google AdWords assistance – incredible!
A great big congratulations to our friend Milan and his team for a successful launch! Join us in praying their Kingdom influence over those in Slovakia who are far from God would only increase.
My dream is to see indigenous church leaders like Milan come forward everywhere around the world to mobilize local churches to minister to lost people online in their native languages. We provide free resources and equipment to teams just like Milan’s and endeavor to plant online churches in every country by 2020. Those of you who’ve given to BlueDoor.tv in the past helped provide a laptop for the Slovak team as well as training. Will you help us on future projects?
I believe that if you’re going to take time to create an excellent online experience, you want as many people to join you there are possible. Google AdWords are one of the best ways to connect with people online at their moment of need so you may minister to them. I’ve seen it countless times – a man sees a Google Ad pop up while searching for porn online and chooses to attend church and ask for prayer rather than view inappropriate content. A suicidal woman Googling ways to end her life comes across a Google Ad for church online and finds hope while connecting to a volunteer team.
If your team of volunteers are seasoned enough to start serving a greater number and variety of people, watch BlueDoor.tv’s instructional video to learn how to get started.