MY REFLECTIONS ON COVID-19 CRISIS: WELCOME to CHURCH 2.0
It was April 1st, 2020 when I called my dear friend Pastor Dammy Adeyemi, the Lead Pastor of Ambassadors Christian Centre, Festac Town, Nigeria, to celebrate him on his birthday. The occasion enabled us to even discuss and share with each other as we’ve done during the last twenty years. “Tolu, I saw your online reflection on COVID-19 and I share your perspectives about the potential opportunities we have this season as ministers”, he said. I had just written volume #1 of this series (you can read it here (https://tolusajobi.wordpress.com/…/my-reflections-on-covid…/). “You should come and speak at ACC this Sunday”, he requested as we were concluding the phone conversation. And so it was, on Sunday April 5, I had the opportunity to speak at AAC (Nigeria) from my home office in Canada, thanks to online technology. The preaching/seminar was followed by almost an-hour long insightful Q&A and discussion session about how the church and individuals need to position themselves during and after the pandemic (you should check out ACC!). After the service, Pastor Damilola and I spoke at length about the endless opportunities this crisis has now afforded the church. As I reflect more about the current situation and our future after this crisis, I am compelled to share some additional thoughts Pastor Damilola and I shared on the role of technology in what I would call Church 2.0.
#1. Technology, Data Analytics, and the Church
Data is increasingly being collected ubiquitously around the globe due to increased use of technology. Statisticians and data scientists, like me, have made careers analyzing this data and using the emerging information to inform policy and management decisions in several organizations. The church has been seating on this pot of gold for years and has not really tapped into the enormous power of data to inform church management, evangelization, social outreaches, and strengthening of within-organization networks. For example, data on participants’ demographics (age, sex, household size) can be used to inform planning of programs for different subgroups of the church, social media data can elicit information about geolocations of participants, tithes & offering data can provide information about the financial health of the church members, other details such as employment information can inform how welfare departments of the Church can assist members who are struggling. Every church is a mirror of the community where its members live. Church member’s data may even inform the design and implementation of social programs for the community where the church is located. While a few mega churches are already ahead of the curve, the modern church need to invest in data architecture and optimize its information to be effective in ministering to their people. Inbox me for more ideas and support if interested!
#2. Technology & the Gospel
As ironic as it is, I’m filled with gratitude for how COVID-19 has forced our churches to explore every social media/online platform to preach and reach out to the world. Seeing church services being live streamed across all social media platforms fills my heart with joy. But it’s important that we don’t forget the key lessons this crisis is teaching us: technology can amplify the gospel message. As we move into the post-covid19 era, the church needs to be more innovative in using advanced technology to push the frontiers of evangelism unlike before. This involves a bit of paradigm shift in our thinking about how church should be run and the quality of our messages. Pastors are longer preaching to the local audience but to a global audience. It’s easy to reach thousands/millions of people globally with one social media broadcast. I encourage church leaders to invest in their media department just like the music/technical department team. If you can hire a worship leader for the church, hiring tech folks & social media experts should be considered equally important. While a few mega churches are ahead of the curve regarding this, we need many other churches on board. Think about it and you will thank me later.
#3. Technology and Effective Ministry
For years, the church organization has been run from a purely spiritual perspective with less emphasis on excellence in leadership and effective management. But this modern age requires excellence in time management, public relations, people management, financial management, and leadership, in addition to anointing, in order to lead an effective ministry. Technology can help us accomplish this. Here are a few ideas. First, rather than hold service/church program every day of the week (something I call “church activity overload syndrome (CAOS)”), consider transitioning some of your activities online so as to avoid CAOS burn out. For example, transitioning bible study materials into massive open online courses, online video conferencing for some subgroup activities, use of holograms at church conventions, are examples of frontiers where can make more progress. Second, our churches can avoid burnout due to inefficient organizational processes and activities. For example, pastors can suffer burnout due to endless travel (Peru today, Australia tomorrow, Singapore the day after, etc) for ministry. The excess times spent in-between airports can be effectively managed by leveraging technology. Third, leveraging technology can lead to more cost savings especially for the smaller churches. For example, given the growing costs of running special programs, smaller churches are bound to run into financial deficits especially when hosting special programs that features “big” speakers/pastors & music ministers (e.g., consider flights, hotels, honorariums, etc). Leveraging online technology will help optimize resources and while enhancing effective ministry to the people of God. There are many more ideas, can you add to the list?
#4. The Final Word
As I conclude, let me clarify that this article is not to criticize any church organization but to offer ideas about how churches can leverage technology for management and ministry purposes. I am not a Pastor neither do I have experience running a ministry. But this conversation with my dear friend (who is a pastor) was born out of a passion to see church organizations excel in their inreach and outreach ministries by leveraging emerging technology. While some churches are already ahead of the curve, many church organizations need to do more and get on the train. Finally, it is worth noting that technology cannot replace the importance of in-person meeting of the church family neither will it replace the power and ministry of the Holy Spirit to the body of believers. Instead, technology is a tool that can amplify our message of hope and faith to a world that is already hurting. We can all do better.
Stay safe everyone!
@Tolu Sajobi 2020