One of the event hosts, CTE’s Principal Officer of Mission and Evangelism, Rev Dr Ben Aldous reports…
A sure sign of cementing the growing partnership between HOPE Together, the Evangelical Alliance and CTE took place on the 20 May as part of our “Hybrid” webinar series. Following on from our successful first webinar in April, this online event brought together people from across England to think about the challenge of working out how we respond to the growing number of people who initially came to church via an online service and may well find that their preferred way of engaging.
At this webinar it was a joy to host with Rachel Jordan-Wolf (HOPE) and Rachael Heffer (EA), alongside three great guests from a range of backgrounds and contexts.
Firstly, we heard from Ben Elliott the founder of The Church Comms Collective (on Facebook), a peer-peer support group for anyone involved in church communications that has grown from 400 to 1200 members during the last 12 months. Ben’s gentle approach reminded us that the last 15 months have been a kind of glasshouse effect for the church – people can peer in and take a look before stepping over the threshold and into an actual building. Ben said it’s helpful to remember that people who are new to the Christian faith may very well need a step by step guide to what’s happening during a service and why. He mentioned that a new Christian had found the teaching aimed at children much easier to understand than the adults teaching! Ben also encouraged viewers to not be intimidated by hi tech equipment but to try using the most basic tools. Recording an audio file on your smart phone and uploading it to Anchor can be a helpful starting point.
Next up, Wole Agbaje who is currently planting his second church called ‘Imprint’ shared how the online presence of the church on Zoom is pretty much normal for anyone who is a ‘digital native’. Besides seeing the church grow by 25% during lockdown he also noted that it was not only young professionals from the millennial generation but also their parents who were responding to the gospel. Wole shared how there were a number of very creative responses to the lockdown one example was creating a film to help people reflect on the experience of dealing with life during a pandemic. Watch the film here.
Richard Battersby who has been in post at five rural churches for close to five years in the Healaugh area of North Yorkshire. He shared his story of making hybrid church work in a rural context where one of his churches had no electricity and, obviously, no wifi. Richard’s story was a narrative of hope. Rather than churches shutting and struggling. Richard shared how during the pandemic he helped people find a rhythm of morning and evening prayer via Zoom. He helped those who were using technology for the first time ever by miming instructions through windows. He helpfully showed exactly what type of tech he used and offered some practical tips.
Watch the whole webinar:
Look out for details of the next webinar “Mission to a hybrid world” on Thursday 22 July 2021.