Platform-Shaped Digital Ministry

Platform-Shaped Digital Ministry

As vaccination rates increase we can imagine a time when our communities will worship in-person. So it is natural for us to think about digital ministry in terms of our principal worship service, that is the worship service that is livestreamed or pre-recorded and premiered on Sunday mornings. Hybrid worship (worship with simultaneous in-person and digital participants) is one option, and thanks to the pandemic, is often the option we imagine going forward. 

In this article rather than defining digital ministry as a broadcast of your Sunday service, your church might consider creating a worship service that has been designed for a specific social media platform and style. During the past year most of us have altered our worship services for digital in order to improve engagement. Now is the time to reimagine what digital ministry can look like in a post-pandemic world. 
In the following examples, you not only retain but grow the digital community you built since the start of the pandemic. For example, why not host a 15-minute digital-only mid-week service that is completely different in feel from your Sunday morning service? Perhaps it could be one that is not found in the Book of Worship or will originate from your building. Most importantly, it uses the resources you already have.  For example, the church that I co-pastor in East Longmeadow, Massachusetts offers a brief guided meditation led by a few people every Friday entitled “Be Still and Know.”  Such a service does not require a large investment in equipment or a highly trained digital ministry team.  A smartphone, smartphone stand and a nine-dollar lavalier mic purchased from Amazon is all that is required. 

Another option is to consider designing liturgy using short-form video. Short-form video is a video that is up to 2 minutes and 30 seconds in length. Short-form liturgy can be highly effective right now given the intense popularity of short-form social media sites such as TikTok, Instagram Reels, and YouTube Shorts – but short-form videos also work well on established platforms such as Facebook, too. Most people remain time-deprived so why not meet them where they are? 

Another option that is gaining traction is podcasting. This may sound old-school to some, but in a pandemic world, many who rely on video conferencing platforms for their day-to-day work are experiencing screen fatigue. Podcasting, which has been around for a while, is a departure for many who want to engage in the aural experience while giving their eyes a rest. To this end, Clubhouse, an audio-only social media app, launched in April 2020 with great success. Recognizing this trend, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Slack, and TikTok are working on their own versions of the iOS-based app.   
These different approaches to digital ministry offer churches a lower financial point of entry and a higher promise of sustainability than a full-on livestreaming setup. But perhaps most significantly, these platforms meet people where they are. So take a human and technological inventory of your congregation and be creative. Don’t be afraid to set out into new and exciting territories. 

As always, I am eager to be of assistance.  


eric elley - collar.jpg
Eric M. Elley

Eric Elley provides consultant services to Conference churches that need assistance defining and creating a digital presence. Eric can: Recommend hardware and software solutions for digital ministry that fit within your church's budget and technical...

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