The Gulf States Conference started an online church to expand into the digital society.
Published on: 12-13-2022
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” (Matthew 28:19, 20) 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 high-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 took place on December 9, 2022, 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 senior pastor and GCS president Brian Danese, associate pastor Marcelo Mansur, media pastor Daniel Claudet, and worship pastor Edwin Quinjada.
Another exciting purpose of this digital church is to provide the local churches with contacts who 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 an article titled “A New Chapter in Millennial Church Attendance,” the Barna Research Group reported that “millennials [are] most likely … [to] 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 percent) is still primarily attending online, and one in four (26 percent) is mixing online and in-person worship.”1
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 more than 13,000 members congregating in 89 churches (as of 2021). 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.”2 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.