Social media is becoming a bigger part of churches, especially during the holidays. More than 500 churches will stream Christmas sermons this year, compared to only a few six years ago, according to the Social Media Church.
“The next generation of millennials and beyond are really embracing technology differently,” said Kenny Jahng, the media and innovation pastor at New Jersey-based Liquid Church. “If you have a digitally native culture, shouldn’t we have a digitally native church?”
Jahng embraces the idea of taking church “to the people.” Last year, Liquid Church organized a “virtual choir,” where hundreds of its members sang silent night.
“We want to invite and encourage all of our attendees and we thought how can we do that with our church online community … we invited everyone to sing along different parts, they submitted them on YouTube and our video team put it together,” said Jahng.
This year, the church is planning to host a “virtual communion.”
Jahng said the idea for a “virtual communion” is to make his church’s online community feel included.
“Because we see the people that regularly attend online from across the globe who participate in our online Bible study … they are not virtual people, they are real people,” said Jahng. “Jesus teaches us to gather around the table and it’s his invitation to partake in what we call communion.”
Critics have said that the sacraments, like communion, must be administered in a community, not online.
But Jahng disagrees: “What we are trying to do is take the technology and how can you make it about being selfless and really bring the community together.”