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What is the Church Hybrid Model?

by Nathan Artt, on November 2021

THE CHURCH HYBRID MODEL

What does the "Church Hybrid Model" actually mean? And furthermore, how does this actually apply to your church?

Great question, but only you can answer that. The key to understanding the differentiated strategies of a church hybrid model is to start by asking the question: how can each group of people in your organization benefit from this experience.
Here’s an example of what the church hybrid model is not: simply putting a sermon online. Again, that is a differentiated delivery model (delivering the same product to the same customer through a different medium), not a hybrid approach. Our friend, Kyle Ranson—online campus pastor at Crossroads Church in Cincinnati— insightfully compares this approach of digitizing a Sunday morning experience to recording a play and calling it a movie. For the people who like movies, it lacks all semblance of high-quality production. For people who like a play, it robs the viewer of the intimacy of being in the room and experiencing the art. Key Takeaway: By taking one thing and trying to make it both, it becomes neither.

A true digital experience reaches someone who is looking for something specific at the time they need it most.
 
When someone who doesn’t want to come to church is invited to a church website or engages with a piece of church content, it’s usually because of the relevance of the topic. Based on everything we have seen in the retail world, the true digital platform is at its best when it caters to the people who are not already “customers.” Meaning, it was never designed to cannibalize the existing, in-store customer base. The digital platform is about reaching new markets and is best utilized when it meets people in their greatest area of need at the time they need it most.

The biggest danger in recording our Sunday morning experience and putting it online as a “digital experience” is that we are conditioning people to believe that in-person church attendance is simply not relevant to their lives..
 
“Why go to a building when I can just watch this right here? So I can volunteer? No thanks, I like my Sundays.” Is it as good as being in person? No, definitely not. However, it’s an unnecessary choice that we are forcing people to make! If we do not differentiate our digital offering from our in-person model, we are potentially commoditizing the worship experience and missing our digital and our physical audiences simultaneously. Our digital and physical experiences both have to be tailored to the audiences they are designed to engage.

TEAM QUESTION:

"What can we do online that we cannot do in person? What can we do in person that we cannot do online?"

If the digital platform exists to reach people far from God and the building exists to create an amazing in-person experience to connect people with God and one another, then who is the third audience? For the church, it’s the equivalent of the Shipt customer. We believe that this audience is potentially the most important but also the most underutilized audience in the Church. It’s the people who want the tools and resources of the church at their doorstep.

At the core of every human in this world is the desire for significance. It’s the reason we desire relationships. We want to exist for something, to be meaningful to people who are meaningful to us. However, not all of us are equipped to evangelize, mentor, disciple, or lead. This audience of people who want to be more significant for the Gospel in their own communities needs the church as their equipping mechanism more than they need it to be a sermon machine. Now that buildings are not a requirement for facilitating programs, we’re seeing more and more people want their church to exist to make them more significant in their own communities, not so much to make their church significant to their communities.


TEAM QUESTION:

"How can we use technology to equip people to “make disciples” in their own communities? What can we do in our buildings to train and equip our leaders in new and innovative ways?"


Are you interested in hearing more about The Church Hybrid Model? Schedule a FREE 30-min call with Nathan Artt today!

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Topics:MultisiteChurch GrowthLeadership

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