Hybrid Church and Ministry – “Phygital”
Recently, Barna Research released some data on the Black Church, and one of the articles spoke about the use of hybrid church and ministry in the future. Hybrid meaning both digital and physical ministry, Bishop Walter Thomas shared a term for this I love “phygital”.
This study shares that Black leaders and churchgoers agree that a mix of both in the future is the best way to go. However, they also shared that for the Black Church, the in-person experience can’t be matched. There is just something different about the worship experience in the Black Church.
After reading the study, I thought of a few areas that we must consider to make sure we’re really Phygital:
As some churches can go back to in-person worship, we must not forget about those who have joined the church or began to follow the church from out-of-state or out of the area.
There are several ways to engage in worship here, but I like having an online host address those watching online while in the room and continuing to use the chatbox on your online platforms. If you cannot do a live online host for several reasons, it is then up to those on the pulpit, from the Pastor to the praise and worship team, to consistently address those online.
You want those in the room to be mindful that this worship experience isn’t just for them but also everyone watching from all over the world.
Several months ago, our church began incorporating a study guide for each sermon on Sunday morning. The congregation and others anywhere can text the number 313131 with the word “Study,” and they will receive a link to the study guide for that message and all of the previous messages.
This resource allows for Biblical engagement with the sermon and reflection questions to help them dig deeper into God’s Word. Those in the congregation for in-person worship can also download the study guide and follow the sermon.
At the point of writing this article, we still have no vaccine available for younger students. If our church has a worship experience for students, it will look different and most likely will be with fewer students than before.
As a result, providing students and parents with digital options for worship and growth will also be critical. If you can get a team to create “short” (maybe 10 to 15-minute songs and message videos to load onto your platform), this can go a long way to help your students stay connected in this season.
It would also be good to have resources for the parents to use to disciple their students with God’s Word. A simple resource can be a “family time” question sheet based on the scripture and lesson from the worship experience.
This area is also vital as we hope and pray that as people come to in-person worship and worship online, they are compelled to make a decision.
They can join the church, receive Jesus Christ, and/or join a group or ministry. These should be options available for them whether they are in-person or joining through worship online.
We use a text message system at our church to help people take this next step by sending a text message to our church number with a keyword. Whatever you do, it is essential to allow people to connect with Jesus and the ministry right from their phone or another device, utilizing the potent power of hybrid church.
Reverend Russell St. Bernard is the director for ministry operations at Kingdom Fellowship AME Church in Silver Spring, Maryland and a guest blogger for Givelify.
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