The Digital Revolution
In part 1 of this post, I talked about the danger of leading from the past. I wrote, "Holding on to the past - whether it is celebrating the success or lamenting failures - hinders our capacity to move forward with effectiveness." While our tried-and-true methodologies and mindsets about ministry (aka '67 Mustangs) have value, they also can lack some of the requisite features that make it functional for those who will be driving it in the future. Leading from the past means that "what we have done" remains the determining factor for "what we need to do". This is a limiting." What are those features? What are some distinctives that must describe next generation ministry? I will offer three: Digital. Discipleship. Diversity. This post will address the Digital Distinctive.
The “shelter in place” and social distancing directives that were put in place to control the COVID-19 pandemic have had paradigm-shifting impact on schools, businesses and churches.
At... There is a shift from... To...
Work Office buildings and bosses Work at HOME and self-
School School buildings and teacher Learning at HOME, parent-led,
driven education student, ownership of education Church Church buildings, pastors and Focused instruction, parent-led
staff worship, and spiritual instruction
What does this mean? The reality of the pandemic has precipitated a shift of the locus of control and responsibility for personal and spiritual development from external sources to households.
What should be our response? We must develop a new strategy for that focuses on equipping and empowering individuals and households.
How do we implement this response? Digitize and Decentralize.
D I G I T I Z E
Learn to package and deliver our training and instruction in digital formats.
Utilize the available technology to scale our message for delivery to a wider audience and for broader impact.
Understand that “digitizing” is not just about the technology. It is also about understanding how the digital era shapes those who are living in it.
D E C E N T R A L I Z E
There needs be a series of shifts:
Ministry shift - Lead small, Impact big.
While we must continue to preach, we must also continue to place deep emphasis on:
Creating a leadership development model that empowers and releases people for effective leadership (Ex. 18:15-26)
Equipping and expecting the saints to do the of ministry (Ephesians 4:11-13)
This will enable us to be nimble, pivotable: the ability to make decisions and changes quickly and effectively.
This will only be possible if we have a unified vision that is communicated and implemented at every level of the church: Pastoral, leadership, staff/ministry and congregational
Mindset shift from programming at the building to resources development.
We must begin to think in terms of developing resources for leadership development, spiritual growth, disciple making, parenting, etc. etc.
We can make these resources available digitally thus enabling people to be equipped anywhere and anytime.
Message shift – from “Ya’ll come” to “Y’all go”
Circumstances have shifted the focus of ministry away from the church building to the church body. The implication of this is that we can no longer rely solely upon inviting people to attend a church service as the primary means of growing the kingdom.
We must consistently and passionately communicate a message of personal responsibility for outreach and community engagement. If we expect this from our congregants, we must equip them for the task. This will require the implementation of a digitally-based strategy.
Part 3 looks at the revolutionaries that will carry out this digital revolution: Digital Natives and Digital Immigrants.