Fortress Press

The Holy and the Hybrid: Navigating the Church's Digital Reformation

The Holy and the Hybrid

Navigating the Church's Digital Reformation

Ryan M. Panzer (Author)

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The digital reformation accelerated Friday, March 13, 2020, when the President declared a national emergency due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Church leaders quickly cobbled together virtual worship services, assuming faith communities would be apart for only a few weeks. As weeks stretched into months, however, leaders began to acknowledge that there was no going back to a previous normal, to a time of mostly in-person faith communities.

In The Holy and the Hybrid: Navigating the Church's Digital Reformation, Ryan M. Panzer helps church leaders develop hybrid ministries through aligning the shared mission of the church with the collective values of our tech-shaped culture. The goal of the book is to help build communities that serve as the hands and feet of Christ simultaneously online and offline.

Church will be at its best, Panzer argues, when we begin our conversations on technology not with apps or IT infrastructure but with values. The more we embrace the value of collaboration in particular, the more missional our faith communities will become and the more effectively we will equip communities for faithful service.

"We take up this work," says Panzer, "not for the sake of relevance or trendiness but for the sake of the gospel, not to promote institutional vitality but to form disciples." With his guidance, church leaders will feel confident coaching their communities through this time of great change.

  • Publisher Fortress Press
  • Format Paperback
  • ISBN 9781506481913
  • eBook ISBN 9781506481920
  • Dimensions 5.5 x 8.5
  • Pages 149
  • Publication Date September 27, 2022

Endorsements

"Two decades and one pandemic into a religious reality dramatically changed by digital technologies, social media, and the new modes of communications they have prompted, Ryan Panzer's The Holy and the Hybrid advances an essential conversation for church leaders and communities responding to the ministry needs of the digitally integrated world. Not only an important exploration of communication practices required for meaningful ministry engagement today, but also a guide to innovative structural changes that will encourage and support revitalized ministries, The Holy and the Hybrid should be on every pastor's, priest's, and lay minister's digital or old-school wooden desktop."

Elizabeth Drescher, adjunct associate professor of religious studies, Santa Clara University; author of Choosing Our Religion: The Spiritual Lives of America's Nones

"The Holy and the Hybrid is a book every pastor and church leader needs to read. It invites us to reflect on the ways we were all thrown into the digital deep end during the pandemic, and most importantly, it offers a way forward for churches to develop sustainable hybrid ministries that will be essential for the future of the church."

Jim Keat, digital minister, The Riverside Church

"In this timely book, Panzer skillfully identifies and interprets the moment we are in. With one foot in the church and one in the tech industry, he speaks with a hybridized authority that few of us can muster. The Holy and the Hybrid offers a feast of insights that will be beneficial to a wide range of church leaders navigating monumental cultural changes."

Michael J. Chan, executive director for Faith and Learning, Concordia College, Moorhead, MN

"Part memoir, part manual, this readable book will help readers make sense of their own journeys into hybrid ministry--the places where the physical and the digital offer both old and new ways of doing ministry. Panzer is both committed to digital ministry and aware of its limits, which makes this book an honest and helpful guide for readers reflecting on how God is calling them to design the next chapter of ministry in their own settings."

Dave Daubert, pastor, Zion Lutheran Church, Elgin, IL; lead consultant, Day 8 Strategies; and co-author of Becoming a Hybrid Church

"The coronavirus pandemic required us all to examine our way of life. What was essential? What could be modified? While we all scrambled with that in some way, churches and ministry organizations had the challenge of sharing the gospel and cultivating faithful community when most of the traditional communal practices of church were considered unsafe. In The Holy and the Hybrid, Ryan Panzer analyzes the emotions that came with the pandemic but also helps us learn and grow from the ways in which we had to adjust. Covid-19 forced us to examine the 'that's the way we've always done it' mentality in our churches and to look at how technology and digital practices can help our churches in their mission of sharing the gospel and cultivating faithful community. This book is not a 'how to do' but a 'how to think about' our ministry, allowing the logistics of tech-enhanced ministry to meet the culture and context of each congregation. The Holy and the Hybrid is a roadmap, or perhaps a GPS, pointing us to where the church can go in this next era of our ministry lives together."

Ross Murray, deacon, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America; vice president, GLAAD Media Institute; founding director, The Naming Project; producer, Yass, Jesus! podcast; and author of Made, Known, Loved: Developing LGBTQ-Inclusive Youth Ministry

"Panzer reminds those of us who advocate for hybrid ministry what can be lost if we invest only in digital communities, and he challenges people who want to remove all cameras from church to consider what can be gained by offering everyone a front-row seat. If you are discerning to what extent digital ministry might, or might not, be a part of your congregation's future, this book won't provide easy answers. It will help you reflect on how your theological beliefs, understanding of community, and willingness to engage ethical uncertainty are important components of how, or if, you embrace a hybrid approach to ministry."

Stacy Williams-Duncan, founder and CEO, Learning Forte

"Ryan Panzer is one of the most accessible and thoughtful Christians writing about digital tech in ministry today. Following upon his excellent first book, Grace and Gigabytes, he offers a resource-rich path through the uncertain spaces we are navigating as we move into the next chapters of church in and beyond a pandemic. He goes straight to the heart of the challenges when he writes, 'Digital Reformation is not a specific response to an event, but an effort to achieve a level of inclusivity that will benefit the church well after the worst of the pandemic has passed.'"

Mary E. Hess, professor of educational leadership; chair, leadership division, Luther Seminary

"Ryan Panzer is one for such a time as this, discipled in the theology and traditions of the church, yet also immersed in twenty-first-century tech culture. From this unique position, he offers a bold path forward for pastors and church leaders weary from the struggles of the Covid-19 pandemic, yet still faithfully seeking wisdom and direction to navigate the road ahead for their churches."

Loren Richmond, pastor, podcaster, and social entrepreneur

"With a wealth of wisdom and experience in both the church and the tech industry, Panzer is exactly the voice we need to guide us into the Digital Reformation. His first book, Grace and Gigabytes, laid the conceptual foundation for the church's understanding of its place in our tech-shaped culture. The Holy and the Hybrid takes us deeper, asking what it means to be the church both online and offline. This book shines a light into the unseeable future, offering church leaders hope and instilling confidence that God is with us as we step into the hybrid adventure that awaits us."

Jimmy Bero, youth pastor, Blackhawk Church, Madison, WI

"This is not another book on how to improve your church livestream or a quick-fix guide to building social media numbers. Panzer's invitation in The Holy and the Hybrid isn't even primarily about technology. He has written a winsome, clear-eyed, and hopeful invitation to the church to meet people wherever they are right now with the good news of Jesus. I'm deeply grateful for his thoughtful work and the way he continually points to the 'why' behind hybrid ministry."

Eric Holmer, director of media, Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, Madison, WI

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