Stepping Onto the Edge
by Dan Bracken, Communications Director
When I was studying media ministry in college, I had to read a book called “Out On The Edge” by (none other than) Pastor Mike Slaughter. Some of you know him. It was an interesting read about the media reformation that was happening in churches across the country in the 1990s. Ginghamsburg (which Pastor Mike was leading at the time) was on the cutting edge of media ministry, having installed a projector screen in the sanctuary. 
 
“Reform,” the book says, “always happens on the edge–never from the center.”
 
Recently, I distributed a survey about digital discipleship. With so many new digital tools at our fingertips (social media, online gaming, virtual reality, cryptocurrencies, artificial intelligence, etc.), I was curious to know how interested and engaged our congregation was with our existing (and soon-to-exist) digital channels. The results were interesting…
 
The survey generated 160 responses. 
 
  • 107 of the responses were from individuals over the age of 45
  • 133 lived within 20 miles of a Ginghamsburg Campus
  • 110 follow Ginghamsburg on Facebook
  • 102 follow Ginghamsburg on Instagram
  • 72 have subscribed to the Ginghamsburg YouTube channel
  • 41 read the church blog and 62 didn’t know we had one
  • 118 have never experienced an online Ginghamsburg class
  • 51 said Facebook was their favorite Ginghamsburg social media channel
  • 140 have downloaded the Ginghamsburg App, but only 55 regularly use it
  • 113 reflected a moderate to strong dependance on Ginghamsburg social media channels to stay connected
  • 60 said the app is their go-to source for Ginghamsburg-related information, while 1 said direct mail
  • 147 said they participate in online worship at least once a month
  • 98 said they are intrigued by the idea of digital discipleship
  • 81 reflected working knowledge of cryptocurrency and 68 for VR
  • 156 said they do not use VR in their workplace
  • 18 currently own a VR headset
  • 20 reflected a passion for online gaming
  • 37 see no problem with virtual baptism, while 55 say "Nope!" and 67 had no opinion
  • 85 see no problem with online communion, while 19 say "Nope!" and 55 had no opinion
  • 15 people reported having skills in software development and SEO
  • 23 are interested in being trained to reach people for Jesus in digital, virtual and augmented places and spaces, while 70 said "Nope!" and 66 are still on the fence
Interesting, yes? I would love to hear your thoughts. Reply to this email and let me know what you think!

While we're at it, let me share with you another insight from "Out On The Edge":
 
“It is easy to confuse core values with cultural practices. On December 17, 1994 Ginghamsburg Church moved from our tiny campus, where people had gathered since 1876, to a modern, 100-acre campus with 60,000 square feet of space. We joined the Media Reformation that weekend. The high-tech equipment was a novelty that none of us really knew how to use. For the first six months we were fortunate if the presentation was in focus! The opposition, rather muffled at first, grew louder – ‘This doesn’t seem like Ginghamsburg Church anymore. It looks like a slick production.’ And ‘We’ve changed. We are not committed to the same truths anymore!’ – Yes, we did change. We changed our methodology in worship for the sake of remaining true to our unchangeable core value: unchurched people matter to God (Luke 15:4)!”
 
As we explore the edges of digital discipleship, things might get a little weird. Referring specifically to the emerging metaverse, even society at-large can only speak in theoretical terms. But what I know is this – behind every virtual avatar or Discord comment thread is a real person. Our methodologies will always change, but our core value to reach unchurched people remains as strong as ever.
 
If you have a nudge to join the rest of us on the digital frontier, the first step is to READ THIS and join our Discord server. Then, if you’re interested, contact me about setting up an experience in VR (we own 7 Meta Quest 2 headsets thanks to a research grant from the Texas Methodist Foundation).
 
If the digital discipleship thing ain’t your cup-o-tea, then double down on reaching the unchurched in physical ways… either way you swing it, just don’t forget the poor (Galatians 2:10).
 
Love Regardless,
Dan
Dan Bracken
Communications Director
By the Numbers...
  • Offering this week was $90,840 from 281 individual or family givers.  
  • Individuals who participated in worship at all locations:
  • In-person adults, students & kids: 844
  • Online (YouTube & ginghamsburg.church): 330

Online worship is also available on Facebook.
Fort McKinley In-Person Worship Time:
Sunday: 10:30am

Tipp City In-Person Worship Times:
Sunday: 9, 10:30am
Ginghamsburg Online Worship Times:
Sunday: 9, 10:30am
YouTube on demand after 9, 10:30am