By Rick Moore
Although the dress code for churches on the Emerald Coast is more casual than most places in the country, I’ve never walked into church and seen someone in their pajamas. Yet, that is actually how some people view church services; in their pajamas. Watching a church service online has become more common place, but is this good or bad?
For years retail stores have tried to understand why some people shop on the web instead of going into the stores. There is much talk on Wall Street about online stores versus brick and mortar shops. The NFL has gone to such extremes as to call a game “blacked out” in a local TV market if there are not enough people who have purchased their tickets to fill up the stadium. It is doubtful any church will do the same. However, most would agree that those who physically come to church receive more than those who just watch online, especially if they attend small groups.
According to the Pew Research Center, people who report attending church less now than they used to say the logistics of getting to church is their biggest deterrent. Realizing that, ministries like Destiny Worship Center, have gone through great efforts to help people attend church near their home. There is a campus in Panama City Beach, Freeport, Crestview, Destin, and one coming soon to Fort Walton Beach. Providing church services online is one more way of making it easier for people to be ministered to.
A big portion of those who watch online are members who are on vacation, out of town due to work, our military serving around the globe, and those who physically can not get out of their homes. Some churches like Destiny also have an app for smartphones and tablets so viewers can become engaged. People are now able to ask questions and make comments online. Below is what one person from out of town shared after watching a service online:
“I watched your service online and loved it, but better than that, I now have your app and have so far watched at least 10 or more of your sermons. I am finding it a wonderful way to help me study the Bible for the first time in my 65 year old life. I truly believe God has led my path to Destiny even though I don’t live there. Your outreach is amazing.”
Many viewers are still making up their minds about Christianity. They may not want to commit, but they are open minded to the possibility that Christianity may be for them. While they probably would not show up at church, they feel comfortable listening to a service online. Most people who attend a sporting event have watched their team several times on a screen before seeing them live. The same is becoming true of ministries.
If Jesus walked the earth today, my guess is He probably would not be considered a typical televangelist. But would He use every means possible to share the good news that God loves the world? Of course. Broadcast, narrowcast, podcast, simulcast…, Jesus knew how to cast. He ministered to the multitudes and He ministered to the one. He spoke to thousands, and then, like a good shepherd, would go to places few would go, to reach people few would want.
My wife and I recently purchased our tickets to the first college football game of the season. That weekend, while many fans will be watching the game at home, we will be in the stands hollering our heads off. There’s no way we can be back in town for church that weekend so we reserved a motel room. You can guess how we will be enjoying the Destiny worship services while we are away… yes in our pajamas.