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The growth of online church

How a Baptist church in Australia created an online congregation around the world. By Steve Fogg 


My story isn’t unique amongst church leaders. Your story is probably the same.

We want our community to know that our church exists, and that we would like them to be a part of our church.

It’s pretty much the same story that I hear over and over again when I speak with church leaders in different countries.

There is a deep desire and heart for their own church to be outward looking and share a message of hope and redemption that Jesus offers all.

About six years ago a member of my church - Crossway Baptist Church here in Melbourne Australia - approached me because they knew I was the Communications Pastor and said: “I have this Facebook group of about 200 people all from Crossway and I think you should be in charge of it."

I was very new to Facebook at the time, but immediately saw that this young man had the initiative to gather different members of our church community together here in Melbourne and talk in the group about matters of their faith. This was my starting point into the world of using social media for my church as an outreach tool.

A month later, after speed learning about the potential of social media for ministry, I closed the group and invited everyone to join our Facebook page, because a page at the time was more outward focused. About 150 did so. A month later our Facebook page grew to around 400 followers. As of August 2015 our Facebook page had about 12,000 followers.

Two years ago as I also saw the potential of starting to have our church services online to reach those who were now a part of our social media community. I talked it through with my Senior Pastor and he agreed for us to start the journey to creating an online congregation. In August 2015 we launched our first online service.

The service wasn’t just video from our regular Sunday service. It was created with the global online community in mind. That meant that people come to watch a service and can interact in a chat wall with service hosts who attended each service. They can pray with our service hosts privately too with any prayer needs that they have.

Fast forward to one year on from our launch date. We have 13 church online services every Sunday and have over 2,300 people from over 50 different countries attending. People are putting their trust in Christ from diverse places such as Northern Africa, Turkey, the Middle East and the far East. Our Facebook page now has over 73,000 followers on it who follow our church from over 80 countries around the world. About 8,000 people call Crossway their spiritual home.

People look amazed when I tell them our story. It isn’t that remarkable really. We live in a hyper-connected world. Your ‘neighbour’, wherever they are in the world, is just one click away from your church.

Along with being obedient to what God would have us do, using social media has been the engine that has driven much of this story.

Steve FoggSteve Fogg is the Communications & Church Online Pastor for Crossway Baptist Church in Melbourne, Australia. He emigrated to Australia in 1992 from Derby, and became a Christian there. One of his dreams has been to share with his British Baptist church family and other denominations who have the same passion to the live out the Great Commission what he's learnt using social media.

He’ll be training church leaders in Derby about Social Media and Church Online on Thursday 13 October. The one day conference takse place at the Riverside Centre in Derby. Find out more and book your tickets here

Baptist Times, 23/09/2016
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