Each Sabbath during the 11 a.m. worship service at Sligo Church, you will hear either myself or the pastor leading worship pause to welcome members of a unique group that are with us each and every week. Some weeks they may number only a few hundreds, while at other times their numbers could be in the thousands. And what makes these guests even more unique, besides their numbers and their frequency in attendance, is that most of them have never walked through the doors of our church. Who are they you may ask? They are an increasing number that have come to be known as “online worshippers.”
In today’s digital age, more and more churches are streaming their church services online as a way to advance the mission of the Kingdom by helping to spread the gospel throughout the entire world. Many times the church has been accused of being “behind” the times, but when it comes to using technology to reach beyond the walls of the physical church building, for the most part, we have kept in step. At Sligo we too have taken advantage of this technology, because we see it as a tremendous opportunity to expand the Kingdom of God. On any given Sabbath you can go to sligochurch.org and click on the media tab and within a few seconds you will be able to experience the worship of Sligo from anywhere in the world. Recently I too joined the numbers of these online worshippers due to my surgery. And because of this, I must say, I have gained a new appreciation for those in our media team who make this happen each week, as well as the experience of being an online worshipper.
What I believe many of us who are present and accounted for each week in the physical sanctuary of Sligo church have failed to realize is that there is a very large community that is also with us, although they are hidden from sight. And this online community is just that, a community; and a growing one to boot, so much so that our staff is working feverishly to create ways in which we can engage the members of this community beyond the Sabbath worship experience. We are not completely sure what this will be, but we feel it is an opportunity that we cannot allow to slip through our fingers.
It is definitely an exciting time to be the Church because God is placing before us new ways to advance the mission of His Kingdom. Yet, I must admit that for some it might make them feel a slight bit uncomfortable because it’s not what they are accustomed to. But my response to this is simply that sometimes in order for the Kingdom of God to grow it will mean that the church might have to experience a sense discomfit. In the end, let us never forget that we weren’t called merely to be church members but we have received an even greater calling, to be citizens of the Kingdom of God.