Live streams, social media and chat rooms: Your church NEEDS to reach new people online

In the digital age there is a vast array of opportunities for the Church to build bridges rather than walls, argues National Leadership Team member Mark Pugh

 

While an on-demand society may present some challenges, there is also a wealth of opportunity waiting to be tapped into, especially for the Church
to reach communities, urges Mark Pugh.

Mark, who moved in 2013 with his wife Nita to become lead pastor of Exeter’s River Church, is always on the lookout for innovative ways in which
God is calling the Church to engage with people, and the church live streams its 11am service to an online audience every week.

“When I started at the church it had some level of camera infrastructure,” says Mark.

“And I have to be honest, my initial reaction was, ‘Why would anybody want to tune in and watch a church in Devon?’

You can look online and find megachurches across the world that you can tune into so I wasn’t convinced of its merits.

One of the River Church online producers; and online pastors communicate with viewers during the live stream service

One of the River Church online producers and online pastors communicate with viewers during the live stream service

“But God began to do a job on me. On my very first Sunday there, I was leaving church and opened up my Facebook page and someone I knew, who had
not been to church in years, put a post up about watching me at my new church and how it really made him think about his life.

“I was like, ‘Woah!’ I knew I would never get him in a building, but now he had watched a service; and a few weeks later a friend, who has been housebound for years through illness, was watching. More and more stories like this started coming in and I started to think, ‘There may be something in this.’”

Suddenly Mark’s eyes were opened to the many people who for one reason or another are unlikely to attend a local church every Sunday.

“There are all sorts of people that are unable to get to church or make decisions not to,” he says.

“Then we started to think, what about those people, the unchurched people we’re trying to reach with the gospel. We began to think of how we could connect this with them, and we have posted invitations through every door in the city, and we pay for advertising on Facebook, which has proven to be quite amazing really.

“Who do we have watching? We have people who love God who live all over the country who haven’t been able to get into church communities for
years. We’ve got people who are exploring Christian faith.

“We have friends and families of Christians from all over the world who tune in because it is where their family members attend university.”

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