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If you’ve been a pastor or church leader longer than just a few weeks, by now you’re well aware that anytime you bring a group of people together, even if they share many common experiences, they’ll also have a broad range of opinions.
You may also have discovered that some people express their opinions … let’s say, more passionately than others. Navigating relationships around strong opinions can be a significant challenge. And of course, people who haven’t served in church leadership before may be unaware of the burden that ministers carry. God entrusted us with His people, a calling that He takes very seriously.
…guard yourselves and God’s people. Feed and shepherd God’s flock—his church, purchased with his own blood—over which the Holy Spirit has appointed you as leaders.
…most of you shouldn’t become teachers… because you know that those of us who teach will be held more accountable.
Individuals tend to prefer what’s best for themselves. Leaders must find solutions that serve the whole church.
That doesn’t mean you should ignore people’s opinions. It just means you need to weigh all your options carefully. In fact, inviting your staff and your board to share their perspectives with you about Hybrid Church will most likely strengthen your relationships. They may even raise new possibilities you wouldn’t have recognized on your own.
Some of your staff may see so much value in gathering inside a physical building that they want to concentrate all your resources exclusively on in-person church. Others may be so excited about the potential of digital solutions that they struggle to be objective about timelines and cost. Regardless of where people fall on that spectrum, we’ve seen three misconceptions about Hybrid Church surface again and again.
Here’s some good news: if you’re currently running in-person church services, you already have all the staff you need to do Hybrid Church—whether that’s paid staff or volunteers.
And here’s even more good news: you’ve probably already been doing Hybrid Church in some form, even if you didn’t realize it. Does your church use email or social media? Do you run services online? What about hosting small groups online? Or occasionally doing events live on Facebook or Instagram? Those things are Hybrid Church!
Hybrid Church doesn’t mean forcing every digital and online option you can think of into your existing church services. Hybrid Church is more about your team’s mindset—applying strategy and intentionality to all the things you’re already doing. It means constantly experimenting to find new ways you can increase your impact and reach, often by leveraging tools, technology, and people that you already have access to.
To shift toward a Hybrid mindset, start thinking more about mission than about location. Ask yourself what—rather than where.
When Life.Church started doing church online in 2006, we structured that experience like one of our physical campuses. As much as we could, we basically tried to re-create online everything we were doing at our physical campuses.
That was location-based thinking.
When our Church Online team embraced a Hybrid Church model, they began seeing themselves as an expression of Life.Church. Church online is just one of the many ways an attender can engage with our church. With this mindset shift, our Church Online team now partners with other ministry teams to set goals and brainstorm together how we can all lead our church.
That’s mission-based thinking.
Rather than imagining what cool things we could do online to generate excitement and draw people, our entire team focuses instead on what might be happening in an individual’s life. How are they choosing to engage with us? Where are they coming from? What do they need? How can we serve them?
Our staff now collaborates more closely, working together to answer, How do we create a seamless, holistic experience for people, picking up where we left off with each individual, whether they’re in person or online?
This shift in thinking is already making our interactions with people more effective, while at the same time increasing how efficiently we use our resources. Hybrid thinking has led us to change many of our processes, while at the same time strengthening the bonds of unity between teams who rarely worked together in the past.
Of course, we didn’t start with questions like these. We actually began by investing time together as a team to answer, What’s our goal right now? What are some ways we can accomplish it?
We’d encourage you to dream together as a team about how you can serve people better with the tools you already have. And as you do, try to erase any lines that currently exist between your physical and digital expressions. Prioritize your team’s best ideas—high impact, minimal effort—and you’ll begin to see a mix of in-person and digital connection points emerge.
In Part 2, we’ll address what’s probably the biggest argument against online spaces: authentic community.
YouVersion for Churches is developing tools and resources to help you lead and minister in an increasingly Hybrid world.
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