In Q3 2020, we released survey data on how churches were engaging digital ministry strategies.
Our research found that:
- Only 21% “had a well-defined digital ministry strategy to engage with people who are outside the church and outside the faith.”
- Just 26% “had an intentional strategy to create digital content and online experiences designed specifically to engage people who are not interested in faith and/or spiritually curious.”
- Only one in five survey respondents said they “monitor what people in our congregation are sharing through their social media networks to help shape our content strategy to reach their friends.”
- Just 21% of participants agreed that their “digital ministry strategy encourages people to become subscribers before we encourage them to become attenders.”
If only 21% of churches have a well-defined digital ministry strategy, that means 79% don’t.
Based on our conversations with church leaders in the last year, we know that many churches today are still struggling with developing a digital ministry strategy. And many of the inquiries we get around this topic are simply looking for a solid example of another church who is doing this well.
Need to take this conversation back to your team? Download our free PDF guide on Designing Your Digital Ministry Strategy.
While there are probably no “experts” in this rapidly-changing field, we sat down with OneChurch.to in Toronto, Ontario, to discuss their journey with digital ministry and their commitment to digitally engaging their community as one of their “five bold moves” for the next five years:
When did you start to sense the need for a shift toward digital/hybrid ministry?
We started to sense the need for a shift to digital/hybrid ministry back in 2017. We began to think through what was needed to launch a digital gathering and launched our onechurch.to/live platform in 2018. Since then, we’ve seen that ministry grow and show strength year-over-year.
What did the first few steps of pursuing digital ministry look like?
The first steps included purchasing equipment, building an environment for people to watch and engage online, and developing volunteer teams to support both the physical and the digital space. We continue to evaluate our staffing and systems on a regular basis to ensure that we can support both spaces and reach more people.
How did The Unstuck Group assist and contribute to the process?
The Unstuck Group helped us in a variety of ways, but the major one was to help us define our 5 bold moves. One of our stated bold moves is to digitally reach over 1,000,000 Torontonians every year. By defining this goal, we can ensure that our staff and volunteers are contributing to the bold move, and as they see the bigger picture, we can rally more people around the vision.
Which channels are you finding most effective and what metrics are you tracking today?
We are finding YouTube effective in sharing our teachings to people who are outside the church. We are also using Instagram a lot to engage with those in our community and we love to see what our followers share back with us. We are tracking Awareness, Engagement and Next Steps metrics on this channel.
What’s one piece of encouragement you’d give churches who are hesitant to dive into digital ministry?
Starting new things always brings on anxiety, so it would be helpful to start by digitizing one small part of your ministry. Take the learnings from that simple start and build them into another test on that same ministry. Keep testing and learning—that is the main way to get comfortable with the digital space. Before you know it, you’ll be rolling out tests on many ministries and begin to see the results from taking those steps.
Let’s get practical!
Download our free PDF guide on Designing Your Digital Ministry Strategy. It’s packed with content, exercises and tools to help you take this conversation back to your team and get things moving in the right direction at your church.