Equipping lay leaders to lead: what tools do church governing board members need to imagine and provide the necessary resources for the hybrid future?
These are some of the questions/comments I have heard in recent weeks about hybrid church:
- What difference does it make that we offer [fill in the blank]…live-streamed worship, hybrid Sunday school, virtual formation/programming, zoom options for weddings and funerals)
- How important is social media?
- I don’t have/want a FB account (so I don’t see any of what the church does).
- Why do we need a [fill in the blank]…media engineer, zoom account, subscription for Switcher?
- Why can’t we get volunteers to [fill in the blank]… teach (hybrid) Sunday school, lead a zoom meeting, record for a virtual choir?
I am going to assume that hybrid church is here to stay. In fact, I would argue that it has addressed some problems for which we had been unable to figure out solutions in recent years such as:
- Do we cancel evening meetings/programs when school closes for snow/ice or other bad winter weather?
- How do we keep families engaged when their kids are gone all season for travelling sports teams?
- Our pool of people to serve on the church governing board is limited to those who don’t go south/away in the winter.
- When do we schedule Christmas pageant rehearsals when families aren’t able to commit to a rehearsal schedule?
All (ALL) of these issues have been positively impacted by technology in one way or another:
- If we get hit with a late afternoon snowstorm, meetings and programs can pivot online.
- When families travel for sports, they can still watch worship online from their hotel room, or the recorded version later when they get back home.
- People who go south for the winter, continue to participate in Bible study, centering prayer, participating as leaders in worship, attending meetings.
- This year, our church’s entire Christmas pageant was recorded with a few children at a time in front of a green screen.
The challenge, however, is helping governing boards envision and get behind the necessary investment of personnel and finances.
Here are some suggestions of ways to equip lay leaders with the vision and information they need to lead in this hybrid world.
Our governing board has historically had a covenant, asking them to commit to experiencing a breadth of church activities and worship styles. Perhaps we add to this list, that board members commit to:
- following the church’s social media presence.
- volunteering/participating in one hybrid program or formation opportunity per year
- shadowing those responsible for running tech during worship
- hosting a zoom meeting
- periodic review of worship recordings especially if they are typically at in-person worship
- hearing reports from the webmaster about metrics and use of the website
What other ideas have you found that are beneficial in equipping governing board members to lead in this hybrid, high-tech world of church?
Learning Forte’s Digital Ministry Initiative, in partnership with LEAD, with funding provided in part by a leadership grant from Trinity Church Wall Street.
The Rev. Dr. Rebecca B. Coerper is the rector at St. James’ Episcopal Church in Skaneateles, NY.