Churches: Be Present online through COVID19 / Coronavirus.
At the risk of sounding like an opportunist (both in recommendations to churches and in the timing of this blog post), I hope that churches understand that while we’re not attempting to capitalize on the COVID 19 / Coronavirus situation, we can optimize how we serve people in our community while it is taking place.
This is going to take a shift in mindset for a lot of us.
Too many times we think of ‘church’ as a building. It’s not uncommon to say “See you at church,” or “We’re going to help set up at church.” I’m not refuting the thought that ‘church’ can be used to represent a building, but I am suggesting that the Church is more than a building.
If NONE of us owned buildings, we would still be the church. Not just in the sense of meeting where available – like a library or a high school – but also that church is a group of people, and THE Church is many groups of people participating in 1 central focus: Going and making disciples.
While not every person is choosing social distancing, many are. We saw more churches than ever broadcast their service online this week, and many in lieu of having an in-person gathering; AND we still had church.
Small groups gathered, families gathered, neighbors gathered, and people who were bored tuned in just to see what this thing was all about.
It was incredible to see the number of churches adapting and shifting their mindset.
AND We’re missing a massive opportunity to bring hope to our community if we stay silent until next Sunday
Yes, your Sunday morning service probably takes a fair amount of production. I saw everything from Pastors doing a quick selfie video to full-scale edited productions (in one case, I know the production team was up REALLY late on Saturday making it happen).
BUT there’s plenty of opportunities to continue to make an impact online for people who are choosing social distancing and self-quarantines.
Here are 7 ways you can continue to serve your community online over the next week (7 ways, 7 days… hmm)
1.) Have Pastor follow up the sermon from Sunday with a live devotional/prayer
Pastors often have a gold nugget leftover they didn’t have time to fit in, a topic that they wish they could have dug deeper on Sunday, a scripture that reinforces their idea, or feedback – like a question someone asked them after service – that they could clarify.
Have your Pastor go live – all that’s necessary is a phone and admin access on the Facebook page – and talk about that extra tidbit, that follow-up idea, that additional piece of clarification.
Offer to pray for anyone who would like prayer by leaving a comment in the video.
If you’re not sure about the value of Live vs Pre-Recorded, Ben Stapley talks about it here:
2.) Have your Kids Pastor do a live video to talk with the kids at your church
Kids, especially right now, are feeling bored and probably isolated. Many are used to going to school with a large classroom filled with kids their age – everything from recess to lunchtime to group activities to evening sports are grinding to a halt in their world.
Did your church put all of your efforts on Sunday into recreating your main service? Did you have a time and place for kids who were watching this week?
If you didn’t, it may be worth considering for next Sunday, but in the meantime, have your Kids Pastor do a live video (Create a Facebook event, send out an email newsletter and announce it’s coming so Parents can get ready). Read a bible story, do an object lesson, play some kids worship songs, and then offer a follow-up, like a YouTube playlist of the worship songs your kids sing in church each week, so the kids can worship at home, and have a familiar experience to what they’re used to on Sunday.
3.) Decide what you’re doing next Sunday and send out an email/text message to let everyone know
As early as possible, decide what the future holds, and for how long until you’ll make the next decision. It’s really easy for us to go stir crazy considering the possibilities for a situation. Make a decision and announce it so that your team can understand what the strategy is moving forward and announce that to your church.
A simple email like “For the remainder of the month, we’ll be having church online only. By the last Sunday in March, we’ll let you know how we’ll proceed together for April. Join us on our Facebook page (or YouTube or your website) for daily updates this week from our team.
Side note: if you don’t utilize text messaging for your church, text messages have a much higher likelihood of being read than emails, and Text In Church is offering a free 30-day trial. This would be the perfect 30 days to connect with your church via Text Messages.
4.) Have your band/worship leader do mid-week worship
You don’t have to go overboard on multiple camera angles, lighting production, audio remixing and lyric overlays. Take the pressure off, and just go live with a guitar or keyboard and a singer. Sing familiar songs that you’ve sung recently.
Paste your song lyrics in the live video description so viewers have the words to sing along. After the live video is done, download the video and add it to your YouTube channel so you can send out the link to that song later in an email.
Done Beats None. Don’t overthink it, just do it.
5.) Youth night live broadcast
Your youth don’t want to just sit at home and practice distancing. They’re probably on their phones more this week than they’ve been able to with classes and homework at other times.
Run through a typical youth setup – if you usually have icebreaker games, figure out a way to do an icebreaker with an Instagram story poll, or voting system. Have 2 of your key leaders on video, and have the viewers vote on who has to eat different types of food, or use a system like Kahoot to do group quizzes.
There’s no question your teens are on their phone. Meet them there.
6.) Do some online leadership or volunteer training
Well, that hasn’t changed, and probably won’t.
BUT we’ve learned that giving people online resources that they can watch at their convenience has become really effective, and not time-sensitive. Now would be a great time to create and publish some online learning opportunities.
Masterclass, Lynda.com, and many others have proven this method.
If you have volunteers willing to do some online video learning to help your church, my recommendation is ChurchMarketingUniversity.com, or if you’re more of a podcast learning, check out the ChurchMarketingIdeas Podcast.
7.) Focus on your people, not your church
Every time you’re ready to communicate something, be sure you’re asking yourself if your motivation is to help people or to help your church.
In a time of emergency, or crisis, or isolation, people’s sensitivity is at an all-time high. Instead of saying “Share this so we can get more views” consider “Do you know a friend this could help?”
- Highlight key volunteers in your church with posts on your channels.
- Highlight a local business
- Share a positive article from your local newspaper or blog post from your radio station
- Take prayer requests and offer to pray for people in your community.
Let the community know that you’re part of the community. Keep the focus on the people you’re helping, not on what your church is doing, or how your church is helping.
This is really all about people.
I hope these 7 ideas help your church to make an impact this week in your community by staying present in a time when people are feeling isolated.
Have an idea that’s worked for you? Leave it in the comments so we can all learn together!