Okay, we know no one wants to look back at 2020. It’s been a crazy year and we’re hoping that when the ball drops on New Year’s Eve and we all shout “happy new year,” that such a year is actually what we get. From the global pandemic to massive business closings and unemployment to civil unrest to crazy elections to the celebrities singing “Imagine,” it seemed like everything that happened this year was bad.
But that would be ignoring what God did in 2020, including through the Indigitous movement. Though I saw only a fraction of what God did through Indigitous, here are some key moments.
2020 was the year of the live stream. Early in the year, churches around the world were forced to close their doors due to the pandemic, many of which remain closed today. Unable to hold in-person services, churches looked to different ways to communicate and join together in worship and fellowship. After a number of churches asked Indigitous if we can help them figure out how to live stream their service, we decided to put on a webinar. That webinar, called “So You Want to Live Stream Your Church Service,” along with a webpage with live streaming resources, was launched February 27.
As churches went online throughout February and March, many reported that they were pleasantly surprised with the engagement. In fact, we’ve heard a lot of church leaders say they were able to reach larger audiences than before. by embracing digital. The obstacle of the pandemic created a new opportunity, which God blessed with great fruitfulness across the global church (you’ll see a theme of this happening).
I remember sitting on a Zoom call with the Indigitous Leadership Team one day in March discussing how to respond to the pandemic. Not only had churches stopped in-person services, but most ministries around the world had shut down as well. Campuses and workplaces and social gatherings were closed, with most people locked down in their homes, so in-person ministry was impossible. The only way to do ministry was from a distance, something most had never attempted before. Indigitous had quite a bit of experience along with a global community of people who had developed tools and strategies for digital ministry. So during the meeting it was decided to put on a series of Ministry From a Distance webinars where we would share, at a beginner’s level, ways to do ministry even if you can’t meet face to face.
People needed information right away, so it was decided to launch the webinar series in a week’s time. I remember thinking, and perhaps saying, that was crazy, that there wasn’t enough time to put together the webinars. God, as He often does, ended up showing how small my faith was. A week later, with the content and speakers all lined up, we put on a series of webinars, each tailored to a different region of the world, and done in English, Spanish, French, and Russian. Thousands joined those webinars live, with many more watching on YouTube afterwards.
We also posted a new webpage for Ministry from a Distance Resources, which we continue to update with tools, strategies, training, and case studies for digital evangelism, discipleship, outreach, and more.
Also in March, our friends at FaithTech held #CovidHack, an online hackathon held to meet the needs of the local church during the pandemic. More than 600 people around the world worked on 55 solutions during the eight-day event.
Following the success of the Ministry from a Distance webinars, in April we held a series of Digital Outreach Workshops, each showing how to use a specific tool for an outreach strategy. The workshop topics included “How to Start a Spiritual Conversation Using the Jesus Film App,” “How to Have a Conversation About Jesus Using the GodTools App,” “How to Take Steps of Faith in Community,” and “How to Host a Digital Day of Outreach.” Hundreds joined those workshops live, while many continue to watch the recordings on YouTube.
Throughout the month of May, Indigitous partnered with Global Outreach Day for GO 2020, a campaign to mobilize digital missionaries all month long. Through our trainings, resources, and a 31-day social media campaign offering a single simple step to take, we encouraged the body of Christ to take a step of faith. As a result, we counted more than 10,000 people praying, caring, and sharing the Gospel.
In June, our friends at Jesus.net decided to take their annual conference online, creating the Jesus.net Masterclass. The event spread out seven lessons over 6 months, with material that helps inspire and equip people for digital missions.
On July 3, we debuted a new video series called Indigitous PULSE, a YouTube series where we discuss important digital missions trends and topics with the practitioners who have their fingers on the pulse of digital ministry. The first two episodes were on topics relevant to those trying to pivot strategies during the pandemic. There have been four PULSE episodes so far, with many more planned for 2021.
Indigitous has held our global missional hackathon, Indigitous #HACK, every year starting in 2016. When the pandemic hit and canceled a lot of our plans, including our Digital Missions Summit that was going to take place in Singapore in August, we wondered whether #HACK would even happen this year. After consulting with Indigitous community leaders who had led the hackathon in the past, we decided to move forward and scheduled the event for two weekends in October. At the time, I assumed it would be much smaller than the previous years of the event, but God showed me again that my faith was too small (seeing a trend?). It ended up being our biggest event yet, with 1,088 hackers from 141 cities participating on 225 missional projects. Most of the locations convened online, which while creating additional challenges, also created an opportunity for expanded reach (seeing a trend?).
It’s easy to focus on the bad things that happened in 2020, but as the year draws to a close, let’s praise God for what He did this year, for the new opportunities, for the people He blessed, and for the way more and more people are coming to know Him.
As Ecclesiastes 3 says, “For everything there is a season.” 2020 had its share of times to weep, times to mourn, and times to break down. Now let’s take some time to laugh, to heal, and to celebrate what God has done with the seeds He planted this year.