I just recently listened to a speaker say that, beginning now, our online presence is MORE IMPORTANT than our physical presence.
I'm sorry. But I can't accept that. I won't.
A screen CAN:
be accessible any where
provide endless entertainment
be convenient for parents
offer brilliant and captivating colors, sounds, and images
BUT...a screen CANNOT:
hug a child
listen to a child's prayer
see a need
provide warmth and comfort
sooth a hurting heart
give a high-five
make a disciple
engage a parent that looks worn out
In the church's rush to make things available for families during the pandemic, I believe we've run too far the wrong way. Instead of helping our families stay engaged in the body of Christ, we've given them an excuse not to. They are now consumers of religion instead of participants in the body.
They have church at the tip of their fingers. So, why would they go through the struggle to get their kids to church. They've got hours of endless, "Bible" entertainment to show, so they can get more done.
I'm not saying that videos for kids, families, and adults are bad. I still make one for the kids at our church. But...why the push to do MORE? Why are we rushing so far to one extreme that we think our digital presence is MORE IMPORTANT that our physical presence.
Are we so blind that we don't see the countless families who have stopped engaging in ANY of our "important" online content? If it's more important to be online, then why have they given up on watching what we're producing? Is it because it's bad? Is it because we're not doing enough? Is it because they don't like us? Is it because they found something more entertaining? Or is it because they are tired of trying, and they just don't want to?
I have had conversations with several parents, in my own church, who have stopped engaging in any type of online "Bible" content. They are just done. They missed it one Sunday, then another, and another until it just wasn't on their radar anymore.
I have a theory...
I believe that the majority of our families, parents, church members, were not where we thought they were spiritually speaking.
We thought they were 10's and they turned out to be 2's. What made the difference? They stopped coming to church for several months.
But that's kind of on us, right? We considered their attendance a sign of their spiritual strength. When in reality they were just doing what they had always done...Go to church. Now that there is a legitimate excuse not to, we have seen how reluctant families are to engage in anything we offer online. They are disconnecting at an alarming pace and dying on the vine.
What can we do to stop it? How do we reengage parents and families who have disconnected?
I believe that our physical presence is MORE IMPORTANT than our online presence.
I really believe that our families need...us! They don't need more videos, no matter how amazing they are. They. Need. You.
Whether you're a pastor, volunteer, or just a plain old church member. We need each other. We need community. We need accountability. We need friendship. We need encouragement.
We need to:
No matter how much a person believes they can go it on their own, they need the body of Christ!
"[N]ot giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another--and all the more as you see the Day approaching." ~ Hebrews 10:25, NIV (emphasis added)
I'm not an expert. I'm not a guru. I don't even have a masters or PhD. But I am human. And I know that a screen will never be able to replace the physical body of Christ in the spiritual growth of the family of Christ.
It's time to be the hands and feet of Jesus so that lives will be impacted by His wonderful grace! It can be as simple as...
Having coffee with a parent
Calling a volunteer on the phone to chat
Visiting a family at their home and playing a "socially-distanced" game with the kiddos
Sending a card to a friend you know is struggling
Taking coffee cards to the teachers at a nearby school
Will our digital presence reach people we have never met? Probably. Will our videos help some learn more about what it means to follow Christ? More than likely. Will our online presence ever be more important than our physical presence in the lives of those we touch. Never.
What ways are your showing up physically in the lives of families, friends, and kids at your church? Let me know by sending an email to email@example.com.