Physical distance is as much an issue for churches as it is for business. Think of “Extended Reality” (XR) and the role it could have in your church, your missional activities and creating discipleship.
If you think about all the ways, we connect with our congregations, and when you look at the core, it is all about information/data. People are connecting with people through information, experiences, and reality of each other. Why not start to add to the repertoire of communication avenues, “extended reality.” Think about virtual and augmented reality with your congregation, and the making of disciples. Extended Reality is bringing about the end of the distance problem.
The gospels and scripture are already digitized. You can start to digitize your missional efforts with little effort and optimize your preaching, teachings, and counseling to those wanting personalized advice. In our world today, “distance” has a price tag associated with it, we call that travel. There is also the elements of distance being inefficient and inconvenient.
Reaching various age groups from millennials to baby boomers can become easier if churches start to use XR technologies to manage the distance problem better. Think of how much access to people will be enhanced through the use of XR. Members of your congregations are already becoming familiar with XR technologies with the banks and insurance companies they work with daily. XR technologies allow for you and your staff to “be” anywhere at any time. Think of live interaction with homebound members, foreign missions, how members of the congregation can be more involved in the ministry working with various ministers in prayer, counseling, and advice.
XR technologies are not your grandfather’s video conference.
We all know we are limited in the work we do by access to information. XR can eliminate the distance between the congregation and the information they need to be active disciples. Think of training ministers in cities across a diocese or the country and reskilling the workers on an on-going basis. Ministers, staff, and students can meet in virtual reality, and share learning experiences interactively with many, giving it a sense and feel of being in a small group setting or a classroom. You can run realistic simulations giving your ministers and staff real “hands-0n” experiences of real-life situations.
The goal is to provide a 3D simulation to speak to the training matter at hand. Imagine for a moment your preaching in 3D across numerous cities and countries. The goal is to provide an immersive, personalized, meaningful experience to XR. Like all technologies over the next several years, we will witness the cost of XR to be very manageable even for small churches and missionary denominations.
To prepare, you must start today, and the best way is to focus on tactical uses now in our ministry. Plan for the future on how you will immerse your congregation with the XR experience.
Keep in mind, that XR is to help augment the congregational experience, it is not a substitute for worship. It is to build the capabilities of your ministers, staff, and congregation need to transform discipleship tomorrow.