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Digital Discipleship Guide

One of the last things Jesus told his followers was “Go and make disciples.” The words are simple to understand. But after 2,000 years, they are still hard to put into practice.

Why? Because we like to be comfortable. We like predictable patterns and systems. It is difficult to change, to grow, and to lead others in doing the same thing.

That is why we have created this Digital Discipleship Guide. Leadership and ministry are rapidly changing. The rate of change in culture has been accelerating for quite a while, but the pandemic shifted this change into high gear. 

This guide will help you use digital ministry tools to adapt to a quickly changing landscape. Here at Ministry Pass, we believe it is important to invest in the digital public square. We should follow Jesus’ example and go to where the people are.

Our mission to “go and make disciples” should never change, but our methods must always be relevant to the culture we are serving.

Here are eight effective ways to go beyond the sermon and make disciples through digital ministry.

1. Blog post

Does your church have a website? Most likely, the answer is yes. This is one of the easiest ways to reach people because all you have to do is make use of your website’s blogging capabilities. You can use your sermon or sermon series as a basis for these posts.

However, we don’t recommend just posting your full sermon—that is too much text to read at once. Instead, break up your sermon into several posts of 500-700 words each. Add a short introduction and conclusion to each post.

If your sermon manuscript is 2,500-3,500 words, this equals four or five shorter blog posts. You can also adapt portions of your sermon series into daily devotionals on your blog. Turning your sermon series into daily devotional content is a great way to stay connected with your congregation throughout the week and help them continually grow in their faith. 

As a pastor, your preferred delivery method is speaking, but there are lots of people who would rather read your sermon than listen to it (no offense!). It all comes down to learning style. In addition, there are people who would like to revisit your sermons in written form.

2. Podcast

Your church is probably already recording your sermon audio, so why not repurpose it as a podcast?

Most churches have their own podcast these days, so this is a great time to join the podcasting movement. But you are not limited to just sermon audio. You can also host conversations with other pastors, church members, or even community leaders on topics that are important to your ministry. This can also be a great tool to use to dive deeper into parts of the sermon you didn’t have time to preach on from the pulpit. 

If you don’t have a podcast for your church, consider doing this as soon as possible. For those who miss your live services, the ability to listen to your sermon as a podcast is a big convenience.

3. YouVersion

The YouVersion app is a fantastic resource not only for reading the Bible, but for other types of devotional content as well. 

You can use the YouVersion app to post your own devotional or sermon content as well as Bible reading plans. In addition, you can post special events or even details about your church services and location. You can learn more about this resource and how to use it here.

For more thoughts on using your sermon material for devotionals, check out these helpful posts:  Turning Sermons into Devotionals and Using Your Sermons as Devotional Content.

4. Video

We have already mentioned podcasting, which is a simple way to repurpose your sermon audio. If you don’t already record the video as well, we recommend doing so because it’s an easy way to reach more people.

However, you are not limited to only using your sermon as video content. You can also record short daily or weekly devotionals or keep people up to date with announcements about activities or special events at your church.

Consider allowing others on your staff or volunteer teams to make videos as well. This is a great opportunity to offer a variety of communication styles and to bring more faces to your church’s social media platforms. It also takes the burden off of you to produce all the content. 

The best places to use your video are YouTube, IGTV on Instagram, and Facebook Live. However, you can also take short chunks of your sermon and use these as teasers on those social media platforms such as Instagram Reels or even TikTok.

5. Email

Some people believe email is an old-fashioned technology that has run its course. But if you talk to any marketing expert, they will tell you that email is still very effective in reaching people.

Why? Because your message is going straight to the other person’s inbox, rather than getting drowned out in their endless social media feeds. Nearly everyone has an email account and checks it at least several times a week.

If your church is not using an email marketing service, you should definitely consider it. Some of the things you could include in email are:

  • Blog posts
  • Links to videos and social media pages
  • New sermon series updates
  • What’s new in the church or specific ministries
  • How to get plugged into a ministry
  • Daily devotionals that correlate to your sermon series

Email is an effective way to communicate with people and help them become stronger disciples. You can pre-schedule emails or even determine which specific groups of people in your database receive different content.

There are lots of email marketing tools, with a range of prices and functionality. Some of the most popular ones include ConvertKit, Mailchimp, MailerLite, and aWeber.

6. Social Media

People have all kinds of opinions about the value of social media. Some people love it, and others despise it. With nearly half the world’s population on social media, one thing is for sure: platforms are more accessible than ever before, and they are a powerful gateway between your church and community.

It seems that almost every month, there is a new trendy social media platform popping up. However, we recommend focusing on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, since that is where the majority of your audience probably hangs out.

However, TikTok, Instagram Reels and Clubhouse are quickly gaining momentum, so you will want to keep an eye on those as well.

Keep in mind that certain ministries within your church will have more engagement from followers depending on who they are trying to reach, and what type of information they are sharing.

If you are only going to do one thing on social media, we recommend creating a Facebook group for your church or ministry. This is an excellent way to build community on the platform where most of your people are probably already engaged.

7. Virtual Small Group

Most of your church members are familiar with Zoom and similar video conferencing technologies. Many of them have already been using it for their jobs for a while now.

Why not use the same tools for a small group or study group? You can even use your sermon series content as the basis of these groups. There are a couple of major advantages to having a virtual small group.

First, you can include people who are not able to attend in-person events at your church, or perhaps don’t even live in your area. This opens up your group to the whole world.

Second, you will attract and engage people who may not normally participate in a live setting. Those who are introverted or shy often come alive in a virtual setting, whereas they might not even attend an in-person group.

8. Book

When you think of “digital discipleship,” a book is probably not the first thing that comes to mind. However, it’s a powerful tool to serve your church members as well as disciples all around the world.

Well-known pastors such as Andy Stanley, Craig Groeschel, Max Lucado and many others write books based on their sermon series. Regardless of the size of your church or platform, you can do the same.

This doesn’t mean you should just slap a dozen sermons together to create a book. A book is a complete package where each chapter is a carefully thought-out piece of a larger whole. A good developmental editor can help with this process. 

If you have a passion for books, you can reverse-engineer your sermon series to make it more book-ready. In fact, some pastors write book chapters first, then adapt them as sermons. This is a helpful option to keep in mind during your sermon preparation process.

Regardless of how you approach it, a book can be a great tool to disciple others. This is especially true because people can consume a book in a variety of formats: 

print (hardcover or paperback), audio, ebook, and even a workbook or companion journal.

How to Get Started Today

If reading these eight suggestions feels overwhelming, you are not alone. Many pastors today feel intimidated by the huge range of options in getting their message to people. 

But instead of feeling frustrated and giving up, choose one or two of these options and give it a try in the next week. You might be surprised at how much you enjoy it, and how effective it will be in making disciples for Jesus.

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