I am on a strategic project team at Resurrection that is looking for three small churches, currently led by lay speakers, local pastors, or student local pastors, who would be interested in testing a new model for ministry – these churches would, for one year, become a part of a multi-point circuit with Resurrection. The aim is to see what we might do together to strengthen small churches. Resurrection would provide 36 weeks of sermons via video, coaching, and other resources.
I am excited to see what fruit may be born with this model of ministry. What would you see as some of the greatest benefits and biggest challenges to exploring ministry in this way?
A local church with a mission (Why do we exist?) and a vision (Where are we going?) is more likely to be a vital congregation. The clarity of purpose and direction helps shape the life of the congregation in both subtle and significant ways. With the lack of a clear statement that people can remember and understand the leadership may go from one “next best thing” to another in ministry and never realize their full potential as a congregation.
“After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go. … The seventy-two returned with joy and said, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name” (Luke 10:1, 17).
The seventy-two returned to Jesus with joy. Their task was one that led to joy. I appreciate this perspective, as there are times that the work of ministry does not feel like joy. Maybe it is a change in perspective, change in task or change in remembering who is responsible and in charge. Whatever the shift may be, these followers of Jesus encourage me to approach God‘s work with joy.
Currently we are not offering Coffee with the Pastors online, however I hope to be able to offer that possibility in the next few years. Being a member offers no benefits at Resurrection and only expectations. You can participate in nearly everything at Resurrection as a member or a visitor. Our membership expectations are to:
Be in worship every weekend
Be actively growing in your faith outside of worship
Serve God both inside and outside the congregation
Give in proportion to your income with a tithe (10%) being the goal.
I want to make sure that people who join online would have the opportunity to live out their membership expectations online. We are not there yet.
For those that worship regularly at Resurrection Online and are interested in becoming a member, I suggest two possibilities: Seek to live out Resurrection‘s membership expectations where you are. If you want to travel to be a part of a Coffee with the Pastors in person, you could become a member of Resurrection in that way.
Will you please share your thoughts, feelings or opinions about all this?
In some ways it is both. There are people who are primarily connected at one of Resurrection‘s physical locations that worship online each week. These are people that are sick, out of town, recovering from surgery, have a sick child and any number of other situations that leads them to worship online that week. There are people who are not at all connected with one of Resurrection‘s physical locations who worship online most weekends during the year. For the former group of people, Resurrection Online is an online extension of Resurrection. For the latter, Resurrection Online is one of Resurrection‘s campuses and this is the way that these individuals connect with our purpose of building a Christian community where non religious and nominally religious people are becoming deeply committed Christians.
While Resurrection Online may be experienced in different ways for different people, it makes sense to focus on one vision for the ministry and continue to move forward in that way. That vision is that Resurrection Online is one of Resurrection‘s campuses. Our goal is to move toward offering the opportunity to live out all the membership expectations of the church online and encourage people to get connected in person, when possible. I hope that Resurrection Online will be a tool for people to be more engaged in their faith and not less engaged. Developing the opportunity to grow in your faith outside of worship and serve God inside and outside the church are key areas that Resurrection Online are key areas ahead for this ministry area.
I continue to appreciate the work of Lovett Weems and the entire team at the Lewis Center for Church Leadership. The offer a great number of resources for pastors, congregations, students and denominations at http://www.churchleadership.com. I wanted to draw your attention to Leading Ideas – a biweekly newsletter from the Lewis Center. You can find more information here.
At Resurrection, I do many, but not all, of the things on this list. My experience in serving in this place is that I am responsible for a deep dive into my ministry area and am free to let others be responsible for other areas. What do you do or what does your pastor do?
I have heard these words from those who were officiating at Holy Communion, but for some reason had not realized that they were from scripture until recently. They are beautiful and true.
“Is not the cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks a participation in the blood of Christ? And is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one loaf, we, who are many, are one body, for we all share the one loaf.” 1 Corinthians 10:16-17
I came to SXSW Interactive 2011 to gain perspectives, discover technology and learn practical steps that will help Resurrection Online fulfill our purpose of building a Christian community where non and nominally religious people are becoming deeply committed Christians. I hope to share some highlights and next steps from the day for Resurrection Online and myself.
I was on the front row for the show and really enjoyed it.
There were a series of comedians that will be on the show that will be on Comedy Central.
The best part was during the final act, John was sitting just off stage and I could see him laugh and respond to the comedian on stage. It seems rare to see a professional comedian laughing along with the rest of the audience. It was fun!
Next Steps for Resurrection Online
Pay careful attention to the updates that we encourage people to make about Resurrection Online
Do not force people to log in or share contact information to worship
Clearly communicate what will be done with information that is received in the attendance form
Audit the Resurrection Online website
Create a vision onesheet for Resurrection Online
Intentionally design a user experience strategy for Resurrection Online
Design game mechanics for Resurrection Online including: Come and Try It – intial engagement; Bring Friends and Play Together – social; Come Back – creating repeat engagement
Next Steps for Me
Intentionally create boundaries for my use of social media and communicate them with friends and family
Paul is brought before the city leaders in Athens and preaches the good news of Jesus Christ. In response,
“Some of the people became followers of Paul and believed. Among them was Dionysius, a member of the Areopagus, also a woman named Damaris, and a number of others.” Acts 17:34
The text clearly states that people “became followers of Paul and believed.” While the example of a deeply committed Christian is worth following, I would have first considered that they became followers of Jesus. Is there a difference between belief and practice? Can you help me make sense of this verse of scripture?
Each year, Resurrection takes an anonymous survey of the congregation. This year there were 134 people who took part in the survey that indicated they primarily worship with Resurrection Online. I have completed some analysis of the survey. What do you make of these results?
More gender balanced than the rest of the church with 56.7% females and 43.8% males
Highest % of 18-24 year olds
Older than West and Downtown; Younger than Blue Springs
Shortest length of involvement at Resurrection
Lowest participation in small groups by more than 20%
Attend the most infrequently
Give least percentage of income across all giving levels with 28.3% giving 0% of their income
Aspects of worship service to change to better experience God, more than the rest of the church: sermons, length of service, interaction with other worshipers
59.8% with few social connections in the church; almost twice as many as any other location
The church could help grow toward becoming a deeply committed Christian by: teaching me to pray on my own, hep me increase my financial generosity, improve my experience of God in worship, teach me to study scriptures on my own
As Pastor of Resurrection Online, I hope to help build a Christian community online where non religious and nominally religious people are becoming deeply committed Christians. A key to this purpose is building community. There has been a good deal of conversation about whether there can be authentic Christian community online, so how about a bit different question.
The 2008 Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church indicates that “The members present and voting at any duly announced meeting shall constitute a quorum.” (¶246.6) If Resurrection live streamed our church conference, had a member login and people could vote, would that count? Is that even the right question?
I go back and forth about my own response to this question. Will you please share your thoughts, feelings or opinions about this topic?