Outreach in the Digital Age

Our world is more connected than ever. Most people have some sort of screen-based device with them at all times -- and most of the time the device is in their hands. Don’t believe me? Walk through a restaurant this afternoon and glance as the tables as you head to yours. Just about all the people you see will have a phone on the table or in their hand. You’ll see something similar wherever you shop or when you walk through an airport, or watch people drive. The continual intake of information can be addicting. 50% to 90% of smartphone users admit to using their phones while in the bathroom for activities like checking email, social media, reading news, or watching videos. 70% to 90% of smartphone users use their phones while watching TV. And, 60%-90% of people check their phones before going to sleep or just after waking up.
As social media has evolved, the church has had to respond. We need to be where people are. As Paul became all things to all people so that by all means he could save some, so we should be willing to adapt to the preferences and habits of the digital age to reach a wider audience. Gone are the days of people looking through phone books, consulting paper directories, or depending on other analog means to find out about a local church. Long before they ever visit, people today will most likely have spent anywhere from a few minutes to several hours learning about the congregation. If the website provides up-to-date information about service times, its beliefs, events, and contact details people may spend less time searching elsewhere. I have personally seen where seekers have spent so much time watching the livestream, or on demand media that they know the minister’s name and that of other prominent teachers before they ever walk through the door. When they do visit and are greeted, I often hear, “I know who you are, I’ve seen you online.” People are watching and forming impressions of the congregation’s teaching style and atmosphere.
A recent opinion piece in the Christian Chronicle detailed how many congregations are falling short. One couple spoke of a trip this summer where they traveled across 10 states, worshipping with 13 different congregations. Before visiting, they checked the web to learn more about the congregations in the area where they would be. What they found mostly were online resources filled with inaccurate information about service times, correct locations, and unclear directions. Some of the email addresses and phone numbers no longer worked … or went unanswered. Some congregations had no online presence at all -- while others only had a social media presence. In order for a congregation to be effective in its outreach in an online world, attention needs to be given that these things are in working order, regularly updated, and provide accurate and easy to understand information.
The other thing that a congregation needs to understand is that its online ministry is primarily for seekers. It is much more than a simple database of information for members … it is a tool that communicates to the person looking for Jesus or a church family that this is a place they will be welcomed and loved. So, a congregation’s online presence (website/social media/podcasts/videos, etc.) needs to be created with a view of reaching an audience wider than within the churches of Christ. We need to remember that people often make their first impression of a congregation by the quality of the online content that is put out. It has to be professional, modern, and fresh. Didn’t Paul communicate this principle in Colossians 3.23? We need a high standard of excellence in our online outreach, because ultimately, we are representing the Lord.
This is so important as we engage with younger generations who are especially immersed in the digital world. Online content needs to be tailored to resonate in a way that it not only gets their attention … but keeps it. This means our content needs to be meaningful and relevant, sharing information and testimonies that touches the hearts of people. They also need to see how the members of the church are connected to one another throughout the week -- outside the 4 walls of the building -- engaging with each other and the world. Solomon said, a word spoken at the right time is like gold apples in silver settings, Proverbs 25.11. This verse communicates the principle of engaging in meaningful and relevant communication, which is crucial in creating online content that resonates with people. May we all come to realize that this is not a departure from the truth, but being cognizant of how we deliver the timeless and unchanging truth with a relevance for the 21st century.
Congregations that are willing to adapt and tailor their message in relevant ways will experience a tremendous response when they are willing to invest time and money in doing online outreach effectively. The number of guests will increase. The opportunities for bible study and new connections will definitely come. May we all see the value of outreach in the digital age and embrace it as part of the mission of reaching the lost.

Cornerstone's Work in Digital Evangelism

Our website at cornerstone-coc.com. The primary focus of our website is for seekers looking for salvation and/or a church. Filled with media of various forms, it serves as a showcase for the gospel and biblically based teaching.

The Cornerstone App. This is a free download from the major app stores (Apple & Google). It is tailored for mobile devices and offers the same content found on the website. For members it provides group messaging -- which many of you have heartily embraced.

Livestream. Every week we broadcast our Sunday worship service as well as the auditorium panel class and Wednesday class via livestream. We have a large audience that watches live and on demand. You can share these on your personal social media profile.

Online Blog. Located on our website and app, your ministers post regular articles that you can share in your social media feed.

Our social media accounts on Facebook, X, Linked In, and Instagram. This is where the people are! If you are not following these pages in your social media accounts, you should be. If you are not liking and sharing the posts from these pages, you should be.

Your Pathway Home. We usually have 50-60 people watching our weekly Sunday morning program … many from out of state and around the world. We’d love to have more support and viewership from the Cornerstone family. Be sure to watch, share, and like this broadcast.
Sermon Shots. These are 1-3 minute clips of our sermons that go out 3-4 times a week on social media. You can share these on your own social media profile and reach hundreds of people with the gospel.

Podcast(s) (soon to come.) We are working on creating a link for our web content to be accessible on Apple podcast, Spotify, and other platforms. Details on this will be made available in the next few weeks.

95% or more of our members have a smart phone, which means if more of us engage with the digital media Cornerstone is producing, the more chances someone will hear the gospel and receive an invitation to visit. If you are already an active social media user, there really is no excuse to not help in the congregation’s outreach of evangelism in today’s digital world. Are you involved?

Matthew Allen

1 Comment

Peter Wandera - October 22nd, 2023 at 5:48am

Hello brethren at Corner Stone church of Christ,

I'm very glad and appreciative to let you know that I have carefully been following this page and I would love to let you know that I found the materials thereon to be Bible based, Christ centered and nondenominational. Please keep up the good work.

Peter Wandera

Sirere Church of Christ

P.O BOX 324

Busia, Uganda