Let's be honest: Technology has changed the way we live. It's changed how we live so much that we're planning a message series in early 2020 that will speak into this area of our lives. We need God's grace and truth when it comes to following Jesus in a digital reality.
I want to be clear that not everything about technology is good. But, disciples and leaders live in reality... and the reality is that technology has also changed the way we do ministry. For the most part, it's a very good thing! Today, I want to share three realities about technology and one exciting solution to be looking forward to in the next few weeks here at OSLC.
REALITY #1: oslc.com has become our "front porch".
If you're like me and you have a question - what do you do? We Google it. And, Google leads us to websites. A big reality is that our website is just as much to connect with a changing world searching for answers as it is for those already connected to the unchanging God. Simply put, oslc.com is the front porch for people seeking real answers about faith and life. Every week, we see hundreds of people log onto oslc.com and facebook to engage with sermons, teachings, and seek answers to their questions... our prayer is that God's Spirit leads many of them to move from screen-to-screen to face-to-face. Research shows that people who do not regularly go to church will visit your website and make a decision even to give it a try long before they grace the presence of your parking lot. We're finding that many of our first-time guests have been on our website long before worshipping for the first time.
REALITY #2: Digital Platforms have changed the way we follow up with people.
Remember the days of knocking on doors of newcomers? I remember going with my dad on newcomer visits, every Sunday afternoon (I understand that Pastor Wildermuth did that here at OSLC, too!). They weren't super deep conversations... we just wanted to say, "thanks for coming", give them information about what we do as a church, and invite them back. Wow, how have things changed! What used to take hours of driving, developing materials, not to mention people who were willing to serve in this way - now takes a few seconds through a Facebook or Text Message. Every week, a team of people make traditional phone calls as well as send text messages, facebook messages, and emails on Sunday afternoon following up on prayer requests, guest visits, and respond to other questions people have about faith and life.
REALITY #3: Technology has brought the world together.
No doubt, technology has reshaped the world. Just a few years ago, the only people who had access to you were the people physically around you. Now, everyone has equal access. The geographic divisions we've seen in churches in the past will not be the same in the future. Besides, the urban and suburban tween spends just as much time on their tech as their rural counterparts... about 4.5 hours a day. (Teens are about 9 hours a day and adults are about 3.25 hours a day.) Technology is where people are... whether we like it or not. The good news is that Jesus is there, too. Every week, this fall, real people have joined together online to discover Christian Teachings both live and on-demand. More digital resources and content is being developed to help you and all people connect with the unchanging God. Share it! It's a great thing.
AN EXCITING SOLUTION
So, where do we go from here? We know that technology is here to stay. We know people are already on their devices. We also know Jesus is real and present as ever in an increasingly disconnected and changing world.
One solution is to offer full-access to our Sunday morning services. The full-digital LiveStream Experience will begin on November 10. What does that mean? It means that we will be streaming our entire 9:30 a.m. service from beginning to end. People who engage through this platform will have the opportunity to share prayer requests, complete a connection card, respond generously, and experience the same teachings and messages as we do in-person in Tacoma. Our goal is that this is a resource and supplement to a life of loving God, loving people, and living like Jesus - not a replacement.
Thanks to our entire team and especially Matt Kees and Gerod Bass for working on this (long before I arrived!). It's exciting to see God use ordinary people for His extraordinary mission. When you see them, ask them about how tech and the gospel are making disciples who love God, love people, and live like Jesus... and tell them "thanks" for their commitment, work, and service.
The OSLC ministry team is a growing collection of women and men who live as a family on mission, leading the OSLC family in connecting an unchanging God with a changing world by loving God, loving people, and living like Jesus.