4 philosophies and 5 tips for digital campuses

March 22, 2021

The coronavirus pandemic has led churches of all sizes to discover the digital world. Platforms such as Facebook Live, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter and Zoom are now common in church language and literature. Many churches that had no interest in digital media before COVID-19 are finding amazing platforms for the gospel.

However, a true gauge for success will be applying what we have learned and moving forward after the pandemic. Each church must ask itself, “What is our long-term biblical plan for engaging the digital world?” This question has many pastors and churches searching the Scriptures for how digital campuses fit into biblical ecclesiology.

Here are four common philosophies for digital use:

  1. Anti-technology
    Some will take an anti-technology stance, attaching the digital world to a view of culture that is negative or even evil. However, God’s mandate in Genesis 1:26-28 for us to exercise dominion over the earth should lead us to recognize that culture is neutral and can be used, even post fall, for good or evil. We must, therefore, leverage technology for the gospel.
  2. Stand-alone
    Some will assume that digital platforms can create viable stand-alone campuses in themselves. People in this camp will point to the changing culture to support their view. However, many Southern Baptists will cite Acts 2:42-47 and Hebrews 10:25, which establish the need for in-person fellowship as essential to a biblical church. These differences will lead many to identify with one of the final two categories.
  3. Leverage to in-person
    Many churches will use their digital platforms to draw people into their in-person gatherings.
  4. Complement
    Some churches will not legitimize the digital campus as stand-alone, but do recognize that it is a complementary option in a skeptical and decentralized world.

Given the ever-changing nature of our world, each church should resist “going back to normal” and start or continue their digital presence. Searching the Scriptures for ecclesiological understanding is a great start to establishing and communicating the viability of a digital campus.

No matter which philosophy a church chooses, here are some key points to consider:

  1. Do a few things well.
    Don’t try to be all things to all platforms. Choose a few platforms, based on your context and resources, and do them well.
  2. Have a champion for your digital platform.
    This person can be paid or unpaid, but they are a necessity. The people connecting to your digital platforms are real people with real problems, not just a number on a screen. Faithfulness to the Lord means being a good steward of this opportunity and shepherding them well. Focus on the character of your digital champion. Technology can be learned. Make sure your champion has a pastor’s heart. This opportunity is also a great way to get younger adults involved in leadership (but pay attention to point 3).
  3. Have guidelines.
    Guidelines will help guard against predators and staff trappings that are magnified in the digital world.
  4. Build community.
    One key to a successful digital campus will be the use of relationships to build community and make disciples. This point will be a key to churches choosing to use their digital platforms to draw people into their in-person gatherings. Encourage current membership to participate in online discussion, Bible studies and worship services (in addition to their in-person attendance). Challenge them to build relationships that lead to invitations to in-person worship. Don’t be afraid to use hobbies to build bridges to on-campus worship.
  5. Online and in-person are here to stay.
    Humans are relational beings. God made us this way (Genesis 2:18). Many have struggled with depression and even thoughts of suicide as the coronavirus pandemic has restricted in-person relationships. In-person worship is here to stay, but so is the digital world. The world has changed. Digital media is how many people find new relationships and inquire about a product before buying it. This is and will be the case with the church as well.

As Thom Rainer writes in “The Post-Quarantine Church,” the post-quarantine world will no doubt include churches that move to the extremes of only in-person or only digital gatherings. The church must see its mission as both.


by Terry Long  
Church Health and Revitalization  /  Baptist State Convention of North Carolina

15 vital things you can give your pastor

October is pastor appreciation month. As a pastor for 25 years, here are some ideas for things your church can give your pastor:Give him a place.Give him a place where he is free to preach the gospel.Give him a place where he is accepted for who he is, not compared to who he...

Why I’m excited about this year’s Pastors’ Conference

The past year has been difficult. The world we live in today looks quite different than it did just 18 months ago. Many things we were accustomed to doing have either disappeared, been restricted, or have changed, for better or worse. One of the biggest changes was the separation...

The local school: A great place for church ministry

For the most part I really enjoyed school. However, there were some aspects of the time that I enjoyed more than others. I enjoyed the learning, the socialization, and of course, the sports. I found most of the assignments manageable with the exception of writing papers. Sitting...

Ready or not, here they come! Evaluating your church with fresh eyes

Is your church ready for guests who may visit your church after first watching online? Are you ready for members who may return after an extended COVID-19 break? What steps can you take to make a great first impression and reintegrate those who want to reengage with your...

Why personal evangelism is a key ingredient for turnaround churches

Many pastors and churches today are struggling. Pastors are discouraged, and some are leaving the ministry altogether. It’s been estimated that more than 80% of churches are plateaued or declining. Yet, some churches are seeing a turnaround. A fresh wind is blowing. These churches...

Looking forward to being on mission together

In late August, a series of organizational changes were unanimously approved by our state convention’s executive committee aimed at advancing all of us forward as a movement of churches on mission together. We’ve been working toward implementing these changes, and I hope that our...

Fostering and adoption: Why forever matters

“Which one is my mommy now?” I never imagined a child asking someone to point out who their mother was. However, the little blonde-haired girl named Ally, who I was holding that day, had already lived with three different families in the span of 15 months since she and her sister...

10 principles for leading in church revitalization

Many churches in our world today are in deep need of revitalization. In order to lead your church in revitalization, there are some basic principles you must follow. Here are 10 principles for a revitalizer: Be humble. You must swallow your pride, humble yourself and love even...

0 Comments

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Stay connected by signing up for the N.C. Baptist monthly newsletter.

Select Language ^

Share This

Share this with your friends!