In March of 2020 we sat as a staff and created Virtual Southside. COVID-19 had arrived, and we needed to respond. What we created that day was a ministry we thought would be able to be used by our current attenders until we were able to “get back to normal”. What God had planned was far different than a ministry to hold us over. We had stumbled into a new kind of ministry.
It did not take long to realize that Virtual Southside was a ministry that could include our shut-ins in a way we had not anticipated. We began delivering a DVD or CD weekly to our shut-ins which included the Sunday Morning Worship Service, an adult Bible study, and the week’s adult Sunday School lesson. Some of our shut-ins had devices they could use to view our live streams and our pre-recorded material. For those shut-ins who did not have access to internet, the old “tape ministry” returned. Our shut-ins did something unexpected with those DVDs and CDs. They shared them. They gave them to neighbors, friends, and family members. Soon we were receiving calls from people we had never met about how much they appreciated the DVD/CD. Our shut-in ministry took off and our shut-ins were once again involved in the work of the church. God is good!
While the “tape ministry” was being revived, we stumbled on to yet another mission field. Virtual Southside was created for us, but others were watching as well. Suddenly, people from all around the world were interacting with our country church. Some of those people even began to send tithes and offerings to Southside. We had not anticipated that people were seeking virtual ministries.
As things have evolved and we have taken steps to relaunch face-to-face ministries we have had to make a decision on Virtual Southside. In April of 2021, Southside hired a Director of Virtual Ministries. If the church is going to stay relevant in our current society, then there are two things that I believe the church must do. The first thing is to preach the Gospel. The church’s message does not change, because Jesus does not change. The second thing the church must do is keep up with the times. My guess is none of you went to church this past Sunday using your horse and buggy and sat in a room with the windows open because there was no air conditioning. Virtual ministries began as an internal ministry that has grown into a new mission field. Now we are aware of the need of both face-to-face and virtual ministry. We are working diligently to take the Gospel to a lost and dying world. It appears that there is a new method to preach the same message. That new method is virtually.
CJ Cauble—Southside Church