The COVID-19 pandemic changed our lives indefinitely. Church services went virtual. Gatherings scheduled on calendars were labeled Zoom meetings or virtual Bible studies. And church leaders intentionally invested in developing a robust digital evangelism plan to meet the needs of this ever-changing world. Then, things went back to “normal” (ish). Churches resumed their physical gatherings and in-person services. The call from Jesus to “make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you” (1) is the same as ever. But a new platform for sharing the gospel became part of the fabric of church outreach in the digital space. Recognizing the constant need for quality and consistent online content within their territory (and the world), the Gulf States Conference of Seventh-day Adventists (GSC) decided to plant a digital church.
The Gulf States Digital Church was founded with a driving purpose: to share the everlasting gospel in a new and expanding digital society. It is the first fully digital church in the Southern Union Conference. Its services are held weekly, every Friday evening, on social media platforms. The launch is set for December 9, with its first sermon series entitled “Jesus,” a fitting series for the Christmas season that is upon us. The Gulf States Digital Church’s pastoral team consists of Brian Danese, senior pastor (GSC president), Marcelo Mansur, associate pastor, Daniel Claudet, media pastor, and Edwin Quinjada, worship pastor.
Another exciting purpose of this digital church is to provide the local church with contacts that may have watched the service online and are now looking to attend a local congregation. The Gulf States Digital Church is set to include a prayer service, worship, Bible study, time of fellowship, online giving, weekly devotionals, and real-time interaction with viewers. Daniel Claudet, GSC Communication director, said, “I am thrilled about this initiative. We are moving forward by God’s grace and by the guidance of the Holy Spirit.”
In their article entitled “A New Chapter in Millennial Church Attendance,” the Barna Research Group reported that “millennials most likely … embrace hybrid worship. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, most church attendance happened exclusively in person. Today, that’s only true for about half of churched adults. In fact, one in five (20%) is still primarily attending online, and one in four (26%) is mixing online and in-person worship.” (2)
It is fascinating that 20 percent of churchgoers are still attending online worship as their primary way to “go to church.” The Gulf States Conference has a total membership of 13,054 (3) congregating in 89 churches throughout the GSC territory. This initiative is expected to expand the conference's reach.
Ellen G. White wrote, “It is our duty now to employ every possible means to help in the proclamation of the truth” (4). The Gulf States Digital Church heeds this call. It strives to serve its people by developing engaging social media content, biblical messages, and online interactivity within this new service.
If you would like to subscribe to the Gulf States Digital Church Community, email email@example.com, or follow on the Facebook page @gulfstatesconference; or the Instagram page @gulfstatesconference.
1 Matthew 28:19-20. All Bible references are from the New King James Version unless otherwise noted.
2 https://www.barna.com/research/church-attendance-2022/, accessed Wednesday, October 25, 2022.
3 As of September 14, 2021.
4 Ellen G. White, The Publishing Ministry, Accordance electronic ed. (Silver Spring: Ellen G. White Estate, Inc., 2017), pp. 57-58.
— A version of this article will appear in an upcoming edition of the Southern Union Tidings magazine.