As he inspected the renovation and preservation efforts currently underway on the Salt Lake Temple, President Russell M. Nelson used three words: “massive, amazing and inspiring.”
In recent months, the social networking giant has been connecting with large faith groups and figuring out ways to shape the future of the religious experience.
One of those partnerships was with Hillsong. Facebook look at what apps they could create for video capability, livestreaming or financial giving, Yahoo News reports.
In a recent news release, Hillsong said it was “partnering with Facebook” and would begin streaming its services exclusively on the platform.
In an interview, Sam Collier, the pastor of Hillsong, recalled that Facebook wanted to use the church as a case study to explore how churches can “go further farther” on the platform. While Collier couldn’t share specifics, as he had signed a nondisclosure agreement, he did share that it has been a learning experience on both sides.
“They are teaching us; we are teaching them,” Collier said. “Together, we are discovering what the future of the church could be on Facebook.”
Facebook may seem like an unlikely partner for a church, given the church’s primary goal is to share the gospel of Christ. In addition, the large social-networking entity recently surpassed the $1 trillion mark in market capitalization. However, this isn’t the first time Facebook has connected with religious organizations.
The company has been cultivating partnerships with several faith communities in recent years, ranging from individual congregations to large denominations.
The coronavirus pandemic is likely a significant play in Facebook’s recent moves. It has pushed many religious organizations to figure out new ways to operate. Facebook continues to see more strategic opportunities to engage users on the platform.
Facebook appears to want more users to connect with God directly on the platform, aiming to become the virtual home for all religious communities. This includes using the platform to host worship services and socializing more casually for donations.
Some of the things users can be on the lookout for are the development of new products, including audio and prayer sharing which will be aimed at faith groups.
While the virtual experience will not replace in-person church, and supporters continue to acknowledge the limitations of exclusively online experiences, religious groups see the benefits of being on the large, most influential social media platform.
What are your thoughts on Facebook’s partnership with religious organizations? Are you a fan of the online church experience?