The Multichannel Church

From The Lutheran by Tom Ehrich:

I think it’s time we saw that the world has changed and what we know how to do — Sunday liturgies, capable preaching, Sunday ministries of teaching and welcoming — stopped being enough many years ago.

In drifting away from church, you see, people aren’t saying no to God or to faith. They are saying no to Sunday church.

They do so for a variety of reasons. For some two-income families and hard-charging young adults, Sunday is the one day to get a slow start. Audience-style worship is too passive for a Web 2.0 world that is customer-centric and transactional.

The Multichannel Church will incorporate some or all of these avenues:

• Sunday on-site: Sunday worship, Sunday education, fellowship (e.g. coffee hour).

• Weekday on-site: Weekday suppers, education programs, mission work, volunteering.

• Regional gatherings: Neighborhood assemblies, workplace and other targeted interest groups. Larger congregations will have multiple sites for all that they do, including Sunday worship. Medium and small churches will have satellite centers for weekday community-building, but worship at the central site on Sunday.

• Home gatherings: Small groups, including informal devotion and prayer.

• Personal spirituality: 24/7 access, self-determining, using classic devotional tools, Web-delivered content and personal ingenuity.

• Virtual community: Blogs, discussion groups, chats, polls, social networking, Q&A venue.

• Special community events: One-time events that facilitate mass participation by the entire congregation, with a focus on forming identity.

• Published word: Possibilities include magazine, self-published books, shared journals and homegrown devotionals.

• E-mail marketing: Strong use of e-mail to market opportunities, to draw people to the Web site, to facilitate sharing with non-church friends, and to promote transactions such as registering for an event.

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