Here are some challenging quotes from Craig Groeschel, the Sr. Pastor of Life.Church, known for their embrace of technology and online worship long before churches "had to." I've excerpted these quotes from his 2021 podcast with Cary Nieuwhof where they discussed the POST-PANDEMIC CHURCH and digital engagement.
I'm quoting him with Sunday School and Christian education in mind.
In the post-pandemic church, your most engaged people may not be in the room.
Crisis leadership is not as hard as you think. There are some basics: You have to communicate over and over again. You have to bring the why behind everything that you're doing.
Some pastors will try to fill auditoriums while others focus on fulfilling the mission. Full auditoriums do not guarantee a fulfilled mission.
My identity was wrapped up in the number of people in the room And then when I was preaching to nobody, I just realized... that was super emotionally and spiritually disorienting to me. And I was like, "how real is it without the people there." So I had to adjust kind of my emotional barometer to that.
(On the quality of online engagement/views...)
So the quality of engagement is in question. The number of people, how long they're on is in question, where they're coming from, all that kind of stuff, what they actually do with it? Can they process it? Can they pay attention? I'm incredibly concerned that we have to work way, way, way, way harder to retain them, to connect them relationally, to give them an experience that engages them with other people. I believe that church is not just absorbing content. That's TV ministry, that's podcast, that's YouTube, and those are all really important. We should celebrate it, applaud it, and a lot of people should do it. But if we're pastors and if we value the church gathering, then we may still stream our content but our strategy of how we engage people needs to be different, needs to be intentional, we just need to be clear about it.
Be what you are --without being against what you're not.