I encourage church leaders to pastor people digitally as well as in person because I’ve seen absolute life change occur and relationships with Christ strengthened because of online church. Here are three examples:
Last summer I was heading on vacation. Near my destination lived an entire family who had been participating in online church. They were ready to make commitments for Christ, and a man and his son and his grandkids all wanted to be baptized together. The tricky thing was—they lived 1,500 miles from the church they were involved with online, and they didn’t know how all of them could travel together to be baptized at the physical location. I found out about this and was going to be traveling by, so we made it happen.
On a hot summer day in a freezing cold river, I had the privilege to baptize this family. It was a blast!
This family continues to be an active part of their long-distance church every week—worshiping, tithing, joining in small groups—all because of the online availability.
Living in San Diego, I meet a lot of military families. Almost everyone I know has at least one person in their lives who is deployed somewhere. Years ago, such separation meant instant isolation for the service member. Now through online church, I’ve seen the blessing that comes when deployed church members can remain engaged with their church family while serving our country far from home.
Likewise, some entire military families are moved every few years or months. Everything changes—new home, new schools, new church search. Having ties to a faith community through digital methods offers stability in a time of upheaval.
Finally, I personally benefit from online church. My mom is a nurse living full-time in India, taking care of 25 leper villages. Though she’s on the other side of the world, she and I attend church together online.
When we talk, I get to go deeper than how’s the weather? We delve into what the message was, how it applies to our lives, what Scripture she’s using this week, and how it all makes sense in her world. Families like mine get to keep the faith conversation happening because they remain connected online.
Read more from Andrew on this topic: The Digital Age of Church: Ask the Right Question.
Read more from The Cornerstone Summer 2019
We hope that you are inspired by the stories in the issue of The Cornerstone. Thanks for being a part of God's work to transform churches and lives.