Twitch Does Church Better Than You
In the work of digital ministry, I have had to learn plenty about adaptivity. I've grown through failure, success, and mentorship every day, no exaggeration. But there is one piece of clarity that I've known and shouted from the rooftops since Day One: if the church wants to survive and thrive in digital spaces, then we must learn to collaborate and connect. As a proud United Methodist, this should theoretically be second nature. But, the truth is - platforms like Twitch, Discord, and YouTube are doing a way better job at connecting than the church has done, at least since I've been alive. Heck - even Facebook connects us better.
This past Monday, we were raided by XtianNinja on Twitch. It's not as violent as it sounds (it can be, but that's another bridge entirely). A raid is essentially an act that allows for one streamer to end their stream by sending their viewers to another streamer's video feed. Typically, it results in a huge rush of adrenaline when a crowd suddenly shows up in your stream. As time goes, the crowd dissipates and fades as they go onto other things. But there are usually one or two who have never heard of your stream and stick around. Maybe they join your Discord. Maybe they come to the next stream. Maybe they tell a friend. Maybe they do none of that and hop off never the wiser. Regardless - it's a connection made right then and there. A connection made by direct digital evangelism - whether that's the word Twitch would use or not.
Can you imagine a pastor encouraging their flock to go to the church down the road after worship wraps up just to go and encourage that pastor? Can you even comprehend the possibility of a crowd of a dozen church-goers attending another church in solidarity for the work of ministry being done? That's my dream, but I've certainly never seen it done in my contexts. The church is bafflingly insular. Twitch, despite it's fault, is exceedingly outward-minded and is doing ministry that even Billy Graham didn't do. It is our obligation as digital pioneers - point your viewers, participants, worshippers, etc towards the next thing. Make connections. Build others up. It is the only way this ministry will ever work.