You've likely heard the term Hybrid Church before. In the constant shifts we've all had to make in the last year, this is a term we've had to come face-to-face with, perhaps for the first time.

Welcome to the Hybrid Church series! In this collection of articles, we’re going to be exploring what makes up an effective Hybrid Church, shifts required to make a meaningful jump forward, and how you can prepare for (and enjoy) the journey ahead.

If your church is like most churches, you probably doubled down on some form of digital media over the past year out of necessity. But now, you may be asking yourself if it should be here to stay? Do you need specialized content for your online presence? Can’t you just stream what is happening in-person?

We know how it feels! We want to take you beyond “getting butts in seats,” online or in-person, and into the hard (but rewarding) work of making connections that build relationships.

What is a Hybrid Church Model? 

You've likely heard the term Hybrid Church before. In the constant shifts we've all had to make in the last year, this is a term we've had to come face-to-face with, perhaps for the first time.

In our 17+ years getting to know churches, we’ve arrived at two defining characteristics that make a church a Hybrid Church:

1)  A Hybrid Church is focused on both physical and digital ministry.

You may have read that a bit quickly, but we really want to emphasize the digital ministry side of this. Your church may stream services online, but still not have a robust digital ministry. Carey Nieuwhof has said that church leaders who understand the Hybrid model "see digital not as an ‘accommodation,’ but as both real ministry and an abundant opportunity." We are talking about more than a digital service. We are talking about digital ministry that is equal to your physical ministry.

2) A Hybrid Church’s measure of success, for both physical and digital ministry, is relationship building through connections.

Across the board, we firmly believe that genuine connections to people are what build relationships and make a church successful. A Hybrid Church carries this perspective over to digital ministry in a way that helps them see real effectiveness in connecting with the people they want to reach.

"If 90% of your staff time or more is going to the one hour people are at service on Sunday, you are not doing the Hybrid Church model."

- Shayla Kenworthy, Fishhook Partner & Director of Business Development

Why Hybrid Church?

We recognize that you may not feel called to become a Hybrid Church. If that’s you, we don’t want you to stop here. The tips we will explore through this series are valuable for anyone that is building a digital ministry. Even if you don’t want to go full hybrid, we hope you stick around because every church needs to have a digital presence!

Hybrid Church is beneficial for many reasons:

1) By having both a digital and physical ministry, you aren’t constrained by the size of your building.

2) Hybrid Church allows you to minister all week rather than at prescribed days and times. 

3) People are able to connect with your church when and how it fits best with their lives.

4) This last one may come as a surprise, but the biggest benefit we see to Hybrid Church is that it focuses more on connecting people to people and less on connecting people to experiences or a physical building.

The list goes on, but it really comes down to flexibility and holding a focused presence where people are spending their time.

Okay, our church is ready to take the first step! How do we begin to think like a Hybrid Church?

The first step is to look at your current communications plan and start thinking about it with fresh eyes and big dreams. It’s helpful to imagine real people you already know who are participating in digital ministry and people who are participating in physical ministry. Think about how they connect with people.

Do they have a way to pray for another person? Or ask for prayer for themselves? Do they have a way to take a next step? How do they form community?

Start making a list of how they have interacted with your church and how they got more deeply connected. Once you have your list, run through each item and identify if that connection item exists in your physical ministry, digital ministry, or both. If a connection item only exists in one form of ministry, ask yourself if there is a way to offer it across both!


We know this topic can feel pretty overwhelming. especially if this is the first you are learning about Hybrid Church. We are here to tell you that you don’t have to compete with other churches. (Small churches, you don’t have to feel limited by less resources! Your church’s unique story plays out online just like it does in-person.) There will be some churches that do different aspects of ministry better than others, but it is NEVER a competition. Find the distinct value your church brings and let that shine throughout every aspect of your ministry.

Friend, you have what it takes, we are so excited for the future of your ministry, and we look forward to digging in deeper to what it really looks like to be an effective Hybrid Church.


We also covered this topic on a recent podcast episode. You can listen to the full episode here!

Up Next: Staffing for Communications and Marketing