We’re celebrating the 10th anniversary of online church this year. We started this two-part series with 7 Trends of Online Church in 2015. This time we’re going to look at 4 predictions for the future of online church.
These predictions mirror the movements happening in both technology and in western church culture. If you want to see where church technology is going in the future, keep your eye on the intersection of technology and culture.
PREDICTION #1: FUTURE ONLINE CHURCH WILL BE MOBILE-FIRST.
Forcing people to sit at a computer and use a browser to interact with your online church will create diminishing returns over time. Alan George, Online Pastor at LifeChurch.tv has been focusing on mobile engagement for a couple years with great results.
Integration of your online church with an app, perhaps even your church’s app, can increase engagement. Use push notifications to create on-ramps for people to re-join an online experience they’ve participated in before.
Finally, a dedicated mobile app can provide features that a strictly in-browser experience can’t touch. Beyond push notifications, you’ll be able to accomplish better social integration and sharing content between apps will open massive opportunities if you know what you’re doing.
PREDICTION #2: FUTURE ONLINE CHURCH WILL CROSS LANGUAGE BARRIERS.
The next massive hurdle for online churches to jump will be reaching people in multiple languages. Your online church is already global just by the nature of the international web.
Translation of video content, multilingual chat, and prayer coordinators that speak multiple languages will give you the ability to reach people in more than your native tongue.
PREDICTION #3: FUTURE ONLINE CHURCH WILL BE FULLY INTEGRATED INTO THE LIFE OF THE LOCAL CHURCH.
We’re moving beyond the concept of an “Internet campus” that functions as a rogue team with its own rules and culture. In the future, the online church team will function within the context of every other campus in the multisite church structure.
Of course, shared resources are already common. But in the past online church campuses ran their own social media and communication channels and often had completely different followup/assimilation processes. In the future, the online church campus will blend into the existing processes of the local church, sharing social spaces and discipleship processes.
PREDICTION #4: FUTURE ONLINE CHURCH WILL EFFECTIVELY WALK PEOPLE THROUGH A FULLY DIGITAL DISCIPLESHIP PROCESS.
The challenge many online churches face today is helping people take next steps in their faith. Most churches nurture discipleship with in-person experiences like Sunday afternoon lunch or evening Bible studies.
Online churches that want to effectively make disciples and not just converts will figure out how to help people walk through every step of faith after they’ve committed to follow Jesus. That means helping them understand their decision to become a Christian, showing them how to live like Jesus, and assimilating them into a community of Christians that can build them up.
LifeChurch.tv will soon be celebrating 10 years of Church Online. With online church ending its first decade, I think we’ll continue to see numerical growth in the number of churches shifting resources to digital and new innovations making online church more effective than we ever thought possible.