Four Ways to Start Thinking as a Two-Track Modeled Church

If you serve as a church leader, you have navigated the complexities of this pandemic for a whole year. Let that sink in for a moment.

This pandemic has accelerated change in ways that we could not foresee. I believe many of you should be commended. You took risks and got out of your comfort zone. In many ways, I hope our attitude of innovation and adaption continues.

As we look to the next year ahead, you will encounter the conversation about the two-track model for a church — bridging digital and in-person. You might also hear “phygital” or “hybrid.” Each church will have to navigate this healthy tension based on the context and the people they serve.

No matter where you are as a church leader- the Church as we know it will not go back to the normal of pre-pandemic. I keep repeating this point because I sense with many leaders this unhelpful desire for comfort. The church has changed, and God has given us new opportunities to reach the next generation. Let’s take advantage of that.

Recently, I had a conversation with my friend Adam McGuffie of the Joy Ethic. His organization supports us for the Why God Why podcast. We discussed the two-track model of church like cooking in the kitchen. Digital and in-person leaders work hand in hand to make the meal. It’s not just buying the groceries to set them on the counter, but reading the recipe, chopping the food, cooking, and consulting together. Each responsible for the other.

Yes, churches will need to hire staff and create volunteer positions for digital, but in many ways, every staff and church leader needs to think digital too. We’re working on the same team and in the same kitchen together.

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1. Plan opportunities with three month lead times.

You might have heard it said that people need to hear something seven times before it influences them. If you want to plan an in-person or digital experience, carve out three months to plan. Schedule it on social media, as the church, and personally. This new hybrid model now empowers leaders to communicate. We are not held restrictive by the bulletin or Sunday morning announcements. Plan ahead and repeat.

2. Keep the 70% rule in mind.

The 70% rule goes as follows — if you invite a person to an in-person opportunity to sit passively listening for more than 70%, you probably need to consider it becoming digital. Here’s what’s changing. I could come to the church for a two-hour class or listen to a podcast with the same topic. If you want someone to come in-person, they need to know that they can meet other people and connect.

Let’s run a scenario for a moment. Membership classes rightfully so involve a significant amount of time imparting the church’s mission, vision, and core values. If you place that content online, when you invite someone to join you in-person, you have more time to decipher in dialogue where a person is when it comes to membership.

Place more time in-person connecting and utilize digital as a space to impart content.

3. In-person ministry needs a matching the digital space.

I don’t recommend this, but three ago, I started six Facebook groups reflective of a few ministries I serve. Why? Nona Jones said so. For a significant amount of time, I managed these groups by posting content to them each day. Now, as we speak, volunteers have embraced these groups. People have found the church because of these groups.

These Facebook groups have positioned us well for in-person ministries. In the future, people will connect online to meet in-person. Digital platforms can become targeted spaces for people of the same interest and demographic to meet.

4. Something digital is better than nothing.

I serve in the small group ministry. Three years ago, we saw the eye rolls when it came to online small groups. In many ways, we’ve asked the wrong question — digital versus in-person small groups? The better question is — nothing versus digital small groups? I’ll take something over nothing every time.

You might see in the future Zoom groups continue due to scheduling and childcare. It seems that people can find real connections on these platforms. That means our focus needs to be centered on the consistency of meeting rather than how people are meeting.

Adult Ministries Director @Browncroft . Host on @WGWPodcast. Married to @RobynEnglert | Subscribe to my blog ➡️ http://eepurl.com