A McKinney-based church, Christ Fellowship, is garnering national news attention for its creative use of technology to reach new congregation members.
USA Today prominently featured Christ Fellowship in its recent story on how churches across the country – and even the Vatican – use technology to reach followers or potential followers.
After the USA Today story, Christ Fellowship was then featured on CNN; CW33 News, a Dallas-area television station; and a host of other news agencies. (See links at end of story.)
Bethany Russell, Christ Fellowship communications director, says the church’s mission to help people find and follow Christ sparks creativity in how it reaches people.
“A powerful website (christfellowshiphome.com) offers information about everything at the church, as well as an archive of sermon videos and digital Bible studies,” she says. “Christ Fellowship leverages live streaming and online chat to provide an online campus with services eight times a week.”
Senior Pastor Bruce B. Miller says technology helps Christ Fellowship connect with those who would never attend church, or those who are physically unable to attend.
"Our online campus (christfellowshiponline.tv) reaches people around the world,” Miller says. “These people include expecting mothers on bed rest, people in countries where Christians are persecuted, and businessmen/women out of town on business. Grandparents who live out of state can log on and watch their grandchild being baptized.
"We also know there are people who simply aren't comfortable stepping into a physical church building," Miller adds. "Through online church, they can explore the faith and meet people from their home computer."
Christ Fellowship's online campus utilizes a Facebook application to bring in the element of live chat. "We like to say it's OK to chat in church. In fact, we encourage it," Miller says. A sense of community forms in these conversations, and people reach out to each other, he says.
The church is also using technology in its effort to be good stewards of its resources. It found low-cost and even free forms of technology to reduce paper waste and increase involvement.
“We provide our daily study guide in Kindle and epub formats, for example,” Miller says. “We also recently created an online worship guide that has replaced the traditional church bulletin for some. With links to the Bible passages, links to submit prayer requests and more, the online worship guide is a powerful tool." (This is available at myworshipguide.com.)
Russell says that when attendees come to a Christ Fellowship service, they see a QR code that can be scanned with your smartphone or iPad. The QR code links to a mobile website with helpful links. Newcomer information, the worship guide, giving, prayer requests, connecting to a pastor or staff can all be done right from your smartphone or iPad.
Miller says that "Facebook and Twitter allow us to stay in contact with our membership throughout the week, and more importantly, they are forums for our people to invite others to experience church and find help, hope and healing."
In addition, Christ Fellowship has an online group called Moms Connection, and plans to launch an online campus in Spanish later this year.
The CNN video is linked from Christ Fellowship's Facebook page: facebook.com/christfellowshiphome