Over the past few months, churches all around the world have learned that the old way of church is passing away. The way we operated in our churches pre-COVID is just not a reality anymore as we have gone through this season of online church and continuing restrictions.
At the beginning of the pandemic, most churches simply made the quick switch to the online church model. Church looked a lot like this:
On top of culture transitioning to online education, remote working, and online everything, the church did the great migration to online-only as well. As time has gone on and restrictions have been lifted, some churches have opened back up to full capacity but many still have not.
Those who have been tightly gripping the older model have been forced to loosen their grip as they realize that though they might be ready to gather again, their congregation may not be.
This time of accepting the truth that the pre-pandemic church is fading away has been difficult, but recently it has been a propellant of a brand new wave in the life of churches all over: the hybrid church. We believe that the hybrid church is not merely a phase in the church’s history, but it is the church that will rule the next decade and beyond.
The hybrid church model is simply a combination of two driving forces in the church: an online presence and in-person gatherings. This model marries together the innovative, far-reaching, multi-faceted digital experience with the personal, relational, vital physical experience. This model is more of a “both/and” instead of an “either/or.”
This model looks very different for every church that has incorporated it and truly is a great way to bring the best of both worlds in church.
Albert Einstein once famously said, “The measure of intelligence is the ability to change.” This quote stands true for us today — it is not a matter of what we think is correct or right, it is a matter of being willing to change. This means changing for the sake of others, for the sake of our churches, and the sake of the unsaved people in this world.
If we truly want to be the church Christ called us to be, we must be willing to go where the people are. This means reaching people in our communities, in our social circles, and especially online.
Right now, you can access almost everything you need to live right from home. You can talk with family, get groceries, order clothing, and more. The future is bound to be filled with even more technological advances that enable us to access all the things we need right from home.
Although the convenience of eCommerce and virtual meetings is great, we cannot deny that we are human beings who desperately need human interaction. We were created to be in community because God knows how dark things can get when we are constantly isolated. The author of Hebrews hits on the idea in Hebrews 10:24-25 :
“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not 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.”
Gathering together is vital for the Body of Christ, but gathering may just look a bit different than it once did.
The future is not a strictly digital church and the future is not a strictly physical church. The future is bringing these two worlds together to have the biggest impact possible on all people. It is a form of being “all things to all people” as Paul speaks of in 1 Corinthians 9:22-23:
“To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.”
The hybrid church model makes a way for us to reach people in every arena.
There are a few different ways the hybrid church can look and there certainly are a ton of different ways the church can execute this model. Who knows, maybe years from now there will be brand new technology that makes the experience even more transcendent than it is now!
Many churches over the years have been in a multi-site model where they have one mothership campus and a few (or even a few hundred) campus churches in different cities and towns. Now, churches that never could have imagined having another church campus have an opportunity to launch one.
The church’s online presence can no longer be an afterthought but it can be a full-blown, intentional campus. There are a few different ways you can ensure your online campus is not forsaken but is an actual part of your church’s DNA. The online campus can have its own leader or pastor, a monitor who interacts with online viewers, and the ability to still get involved, serve, and give.
There are a plethora of different programs you can use to make a holistic online church experience, but you can even take advantage of YouTube or Facebook to engage with your online campus.
Incorporating the hybrid church model might look a little more like “dipping our toes” in the digital waters. Many churches are still getting the hang of live streaming their churches period, so implementing an online campus is just not in the cards right now.
What these churches can do moving forward is to bring in several digital elements and content that can be shared online. This might look like recording a sermon to share on YouTube, pre-recording a short devotional to share, or even Bible study or leadership content. There a ton of other things you can sprinkle in here and there to boost your online presence and engagement.
The aim is to get creative! There are endless amounts of ways you can utilize social media, email, your website, and more to reach people online. If you are looking for new ways to interact with others online, our Pro MediaFire team can help you with graphics, videos, social media plans, and more!
Another way that the hybrid church can play out is through a house church model that marries physical, smaller-scale gatherings with a digital flare. The first-century church was known for its small group gatherings where believers met from home to home. They met around the dinner table, with their neighbors, and not merely in just a huge group. This model of church is perfect for this present moment as well as years to come.
This model can also vary depending on the church, but it just looks like groups gathering in homes and streaming church service. This method is similar to how churches operated at the beginning of church shutdowns but brings in the essential element of community. House churches can have either live or pre-recorded worship, can feature a recorded message, and any other element you want to incorporate such as communion and giving.
House church is great for those who want to experience an in-person community but may prefer a more intimate, smaller-scale environment.
As we look forward to this next decade, there are so many possibilities for the church to grow and further expand their reach to people they never could before. Digital media has made it possible for the church to reach beyond their four walls which has proven vital during the pandemic of 2020. However, physical gatherings in churches are not going away anytime soon. People need to be around people to thrive and grow, but we may just need to adjust the methods in which we gather to accomplish this.
The hybrid church model brings together in perfect harmony two incredible methods of church into one so the church can have the biggest impact possible.
As time goes on, we can rest in the promise of God to establish and uphold His church. He will always make a way for people to hear His Gospel of peace. Whether it is online, in-person, or somewhere in between, the news of Jesus Christ shall go forth to all nations!
The church is at a decline in this post-pandemic era. How can you overcome this emergency in your church?
Community is greater than competition every single time. How can you emphasize community in your church?