Let’s all face it: the future of the church is a hybrid church model.
But what does that mean?
Most churches will say hybrid means offering both an online and an in-person option for watching a weekly message. But if we stop there, our idea of “hybrid church” is no more hybrid than gluing a Polaroid camera, an alarm clock, and a notepad to a landline phone and calling it a smartphone. It just doesn’t work that way.
What is the Hybrid Church Model?
When you Google “hybrid,” you find a much more intriguing message that offers two options for consuming a message.
Hybrid is . . .
- the offspring of genetically dissimilar (sources)”
- “crossbreeding of two unlike cultures”
- Good hybrid “works well in a range of conditions” and “blends the wild”
- “a person or group of persons produced by the interaction or crossbreeding of two unlike cultures, traditions, etc.”
Don’t miss this: In science, hybrid isn’t just two options coming together. It’s also what results from marrying two dissimilar origin stories to create something entirely new.
What could this mean when it comes to how we invite a generation to do church and be the Church?
Hybrid Church Model in Our Ministries
Here’s the thing – we have hybrid experiences everyday. But because of how seamlessly integrated these experiences are in our lives, we don’t always think of them as hybrid.
Daily Examples of Hybrid Model in Our Everyday Lives
- Your car switching from gas to electricity because you hit a certain speed
- Bluetooth technology pulling up last streamed song on Spotify when opening Airpods
- GPS predicting which address you’re headed to based on time of day and location
- Weekly meal planning including grocery store, Hello Fresh subscription, take-out orders, and farmer’s market
You see, hybrid is what happens when we look at the big picture. It’s what happens when technology becomes a little more human. By remembering, empathizing, and anticipating our audience, we create a seamless user experience.
Perhaps the goal of hybrid church isn’t offering two message options. Rather, the goal of the hybrid church model is engaging students in an seamless and authentic faith strategy.
Seamless Hybrid Church Model Strategy
For clarity, “seamless” might look differently across the various aspects of ministry. It might mean students taking the next step in their current church service, not waiting for the next one. “Seamless” might look like aligned messages whether in-person or online. This model is seamless when the small group leader, daily devotion, and parent have similar messaging on topics learned in church. As kids engage with God daily, they are being supported by their faith community online and in-person.
What’s my point?
Your church shouldn’t be hybridizing because we’ve experienced a global pandemic that forced us to stay home. Church shouldn’t go hybrid simply because “people aren’t coming back anytime soon.”
No, your church should be hybridizing because the human experience is hybrid. Your audience is a hybrid of young and old people, traditional and modern styles. The content is a hybrid of live and prerecorded messaging. Small groups are hybrids of social life and spiritual formation.
That means that our discipleship models should create opportunities for discipleship that meet all students spiritually, whether in-person or online. Also, it means we use digital tools like teaching videos, devotionals, and social media that strategically feel like they were created as a whole, not in isolation.
Rethink the Hybrid Church Model for the Human Experience
Truthfully, we must stop defining hybrid only as offering two options for convenient content consumption. That way, we can start rethinking hybrid as an opportunity to create a holistic, seamless strategy to build authentic faith in a generation. Here is when we begin helping students love God with all of their heart, soul, mind, and strength whether your church is in the room or not.
Hybrid churches crossbreed technology and empathy to help humans be better humans. They fearlessly intersect timeless tradition with futuristic innovation to create an authentic faith. When we create a hybrid strategy that emphasizes the human experience of connecting to God and others, we innovate the future of the church.
Let’s all face it: The future of the church is hybrid.
But not because a global pandemic ripped across the globe.
No, the future of the church is hybrid because when Jesus challenged us to do the only things that matter . . . to love God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength and to love others as God loves them. It was a challenge to go from attending a convenient weekly service to living out a daily, moment-by-moment commitment in an authentic faith. To go from rigid, religious checklists that took place at specific times, in a specific location and to embrace a new lifestyle.
So here is your challenge: If you agree that good hybrid invites students to an everyday faith, find and reach out to an Orange Specialist today to set up a time to talk through your church’s hybrid strategy.