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What is Hybrid Church?

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Recent changes in the way we have done church have meant that the phrase hybrid church has become popular. But what does hybrid church mean?

Put simply hybrid church is an attempt to bring together the traditional, in-person church, where people gather in a building with online church, where people gather virtually.

The Story So Far

Some pioneering churches have been working to bring together the best of physical gatherings and online gatherings for some time but most are just waking up to this possibility.

For many churches this global pandemic has awoken them to the possibility of digital ministry. Many churches were forced online as their buildings were shut. They discovered that through the use of digital media and social channels they could reach many more people with the good news of Jesus. It has been a challenging time for most as they have wrestled with this brave new world. I shared my reflections on church online here.

As we have begun to emerge from this pandemic many big questions have been asked about what our new normal will be. Many are simply keen to return to life as it was before however some want to create a new hybrid model – bringing together the best of both an online and in-person church.

WHY HYBRID CHURCH?

For the churches that want to pursue this new hybrid church model there are big questions to be answered. Some of it revolves around how to best resource both online and physical gatherings, which is no doubt an increase in work load for most. For those who can invest there is huge potential.

A local church can reach people far and wide, whilst having a strong impact locally. The hybrid model also fits so much better with many peoples lifestyles. In our culture we all jump between online and physical interactions all the time. We shop online, then pop to the shops for milk, we chat with a friend in a coffee shop then message a distant family member on WhatsApp. Our lives are hybrid. A hybrid church simply seeks to engage people across all the possible means.

It explores geographically dispersed discipleship and it seeks to make an impact locally. It lets people connect in person one week and then watch online the following week when they are away on business. It seeks to show value to the people engaged, whether in the room, or behind a screen.

I think hybrid church is here to stay, but time will tell. For the brave there is opportunity aplenty. What do you think?

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