Publish his glorious deeds among the nations. Tell everyone about the amazing things he does.
– Psalm 96:3 NLT
When you’re excited about something, you want to tell everyone about it.
When I was nine years old, I received a Super Nintendo Entertainment System for Christmas. I made it my mission to ensure that every single friend I’d ever made was aware of the fact that I was in possession of the single most extraordinary object ever to reach our shores. Countless pizza and candy-fueled game nights ensued.
We should feel about God how nine-year-old me felt about my Super Nintendo: excited to share with the world about him and passionate about making sure as many people as possible can experience a relationship with him.
In today’s modern era, we have the tools at our fingertips to do just that.
Why building faith everywhere matters
Unfortunately, as I’m sure you’re well aware, the online world is not exactly a virtual utopia:
- A majority of teens [59%] have experienced some form of cyberbullying (Pew Research)
- Seven out of 10 heavy social media users, 71%, reported feelings of loneliness, up from 53% a year ago. That compares to 51% of light social media users feeling lonely, up from 47% a year ago.
Although being online can be emotionally taxing, our usage of it is unlikely to decrease:
- About three-in-ten U.S. adults (and nearly half of teens) say they are ‘almost constantly’ online. (Pew Research)
- About one-in-five teens visit or use YouTube ‘almost constantly’ (Pew Research)
- 72% of the American public uses some type of social media (Pew Research).
At the same time, 78% of Americans say religion is losing its influence on American life. Confidence in organized religion has plummeted in the last two decades, and more than a third of Gen Z identifies as religiously unaffiliated.
We take away from these data sets that people are in need and are constantly online. The ways we’re used to thinking of church and making God known to the people seeking him appear antiquated, given the rate at which churches are declining in America.
While there’s nothing flawed about meeting the needs of your local community with a brick-and-mortar location (we’re doing that, too!), the fact is that people are being influenced more frequently by what they encounter online than by in-person church events. If we stick to the old playbook, we’ll find ourselves among the other churches losing influence as the world becomes increasingly online.
We need to meet people where they’re at and provide an alternative when scrolling or searching.
I mean that you should use every opportunity you have for doing good, because these are evil times.
– Ephesians 5:16 ERV
We have an opportunity to meet the spiritual needs of people in the Bay Area and around the world in a way we never could before. By providing tools and resources to make God attractive and accessible, we can supplement our local ministry efforts while reaching people who may not have otherwise been open to him.
How we’re building faith everywhere
We are confident that God is able to orchestrate everything to work toward something good and beautiful when we love Him and accept His invitation to live according to His plan.
– Romans 8:28 Voice
When the pandemic hit, and we were all stuck at home for what felt like an eternity, your generosity gave us the resources needed to offer a weekly live stream worship service. In that nearly two-year period mostly devoid of in-person gatherings, God moved in ways we certainly couldn’t have anticipated:
- Our video catalog of live stream services and other content (nonexistent before the pandemic) was viewed 665,000 times, with a total watch time of 116,000 hours.
- Deep Spirituality, an online publication run by our digital team, grew its audience to over 60,000 monthly users and over 10,000 email subscribers (a 752% and 597% increase, respectively).
- At present, Deep Spirituality offers a free catalog of over 350 devotionals, 100 videos, 100 podcast episodes, and 25 email courses, ebooks, and study plans.
Our church uses these tools in several ways; personal Bible studies, church services, student devotionals, special events, and our Let’s Talk Nights all make use of our catalog to deepen our Biblical convictions and spur spiritual discussion. At the same time, our growing audience is reading, listening, and watching consistently.
What started as an emergency/temporary production evolved into a full-fledged digital operation. Staffed by workers in hybrid roles (everyone on our digital team also serves in a leadership role in their ministry), our team is doing everything possible to enhance our local programs while reaching more people globally with free spiritual content.
My job was to plant the seed, and Apollos was called to water it. Any growth comes from God, so the ones who water and plant have nothing to brag about. God, who causes the growth, is the only One who matters.
– 1 Corinthians 3:6-7 Voice
Almost every day, we receive emails from people expressing gratitude for how something they found online has helped them. We may never build relationships with these people, but we are excited because the seed that is God’s word was planted. Through this, God may use these connections to bring more people into a relationship with him.
By creating a growing library of relatable and accessible spiritual content, we have a chance to help more people than ever hear about the amazing things God has done and how they can develop a personal relationship with him.
We also believe these resources will continue to help our church grow. And while we’re amazed by what God has been able to do so far, we’re sure that what comes next will be even more special.
BACC Digital Team