Reaching new and different people, in new and different ways
WHERE IT ALL BEGAN:
As a vibrant, growing United Methodist congregation in Concord, North Carolina, Central UMC did not want to simply remain comfortable where they were. In 2012, Senior Pastor, Andy Langford and Assistant Pastor, Daniel Wilson were part of a conversation that challenged the congregation to ask what was next for them.
As a result of the
conversation, the staff learned that eight out of ten families joining the church, found them first online. Central was already posting their weekly sermons and music online, but what would it look like if people could interact and really “connect” with their congregation? How could they moved from simply pushing information out to creating a platform that would allow the sharing of information, but would also welcome new and different people to engage in the life of a congregation? Yes, even those who can’t, or choose not, to worship in our brick and mortar sanctuary!
And so began a year of research and discernment. Ultimately, The Reverend Daniel Wilson was appointed as the first Full-Time “Online Campus Pastor” in The United Methodist Connection. The launch of centralonline.org
on December 24, 2013 was viewed by 1,408 unique IP addresses around the world!
HOW DOES THE PHYSICAL CAMPUS CONTRIBUTE?
The physical campus
contributes not only financially, but through strong leadership, support and content generation. Even before the launch of Central Online, volunteer positions quickly opened up! Central Online functions, thanks to 37 volunteers working behind the scenes! Everything from video recording, video editing and marketing is facilitated through volunteer efforts.
CELEBRATE THE VICTORIES:
1.) We celebrate that 39,764 unique IP addresses, from 80 different countries, have participated in the life of our online campus.
2.) We celebrate the many ongoing relationships that have been formed through the engagement of Central Online.
3.) Maybe the most fun, for me the Online Pastor, we celebrate the launch of three online small groups! These groups meet online, with occasional dinner gatherings for those that are able and want to join.
I can ramble on and on about statistics and successes all day, but I would rather you hear from some of our participants.
“It is so amazing that we, as college students, are able to connect from all over the state, and often times multiple states, to talk about how God is working within our lives. For me personally, Central Online has motivated and inspired me to really grow in my relationship with God. I have begun journaling my thoughts and reflections.” - Meredith Moore
“Due to my summer job, I was not able to regularly attend church this summer and also put me in a situation where I was not regularly surrounded by people in general. Online Bible study not only kept me connected and focused on my faith, but also made me feel like i had an awesome group of people behind me who genuinely cared about my life and my walk in faith.” - Lindsey Richardson
“Our kids love your videos for children! It has been so hard to find a church here in Italy. We are so thankful for the opportunity to worship with familiar faces back home.” - Kelly Lange Moore
WHAT HAVE WE LEARNED?
Over the past year, we have learned a great deal about interacting with people online. On the other end of this technology, we are still dealing with real people. We all have real thoughts, real ideas and real feelings.
People who join us online want to see frequent changes and shifts in how we deliver our messages. They expect a new experience regularly. We create new content series frequently to keep things fresh!
There are only a handful of things, concerning only ministry, that I will passionately debate and one of them is the fact that real and sacred community ABSOLUTELY exists in an online world!
WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?
From the very beginning of the Central Online conversation, I have said this endeavor is not about Daniel Wilson or Central Concord, this is about learning, growing and sharing with others for the sake of making disciples and transforming the world. So, I am happy to offer myself, the training I have received and the things we have learned, to any congregation that has a desire to enhance their web presence. You do not have to launch an online campus, but there are many free ways to make your congregation stand out from the one down the street!
I invite you to stop by www.centralonline.org
and check out our latest content! If there is ANYTHING that I can do for you, please do not hesitate to call, text, e-mail or send an old fashioned smoke signal! I pray God’s richest blessings upon all who read this and those who wish to engage in ministry #beyondthesteeple !!!
May God bless and keep you,
Rev. Daniel Wilson
E-Mail - firstname.lastname@example.org
Cell - 828.342.2836
Twitter - @crosseyed08