07 Apr 9 Tips for Church Connection during COVID-19
There’s no better time for churches to take advantage of technology than during the COVID-19 crisis. If this pandemic had happened several decades ago and everything was shutdown in a similar manner, it would have been devastating to churches. But in 2020, churches have the opportunity to thrive in the midst of this pandemic by leveraging various social media platforms, live-streaming services, creating interactive websites and utilizing email, text and video communication.
What About Smaller Churches?
Were some churches more prepared for this than others? Sure. Many larger churches have been video streaming services and utilizing social media for a while now. But that’s no excuse for smaller churches not to adapt now and make changes that will position them to reach more people long after the toilet paper shortage of 2020 has come and gone. The best thing churches can do right away is start leveraging the tools that they already have access to.
1. Use Facebook Live
Many churches are turning to Facebook Live to connect with their congregation and livestream their services. I know one church whose pastor is getting on Facebook Live for about 15 minutes every day at 1pm and sharing a little hope and Bible verse and a few thoughts. Any pastor could do this on their lunch break or even from home (did I mention Facebook Live is free?)
2. Livestream with an iPad or iPhone
If you don’t have a fancy camera setup, that’s okay. Use what you have. I know of a church pastor in NY is live streaming using their iPad and a little microphone. It allows them to get a video to their church each week and stay connected. Personal and relevant is more important than professional and fancy.
3. Pre-Record Videos
Other churches are pre-recording a message and posting online at the beginning of the weekend for their congregation to access on-demand. I know of another church that didn’t have a video camera and hired a local freelance videographer. It’s costing them a few hundred dollars per week, but it’s lightening the load of the pastor and enabling him to continue speaking to his congregation. Life.Church has made complete online kids services for churches to use for free.
It doesn’t have to be big, fancy, or expensive. Just start small and meet your people where they are at. People are scared, losing their jobs, sick, or struggling financially. Christians have an opportunity to share hope and peace in the midst of the storm. It reminds me of Jesus on the boat with the disciples when a huge storm was raging around them. Even though Jesus was with them, they were terrified. They thought the storm was never going to end and they wouldn’t make it through the night. That’s how people feel right now. We can be givers of hope.
4. Use Zoom for Groups
I was in the middle of leading a 9 week Financial Peace University (FPU) class at my church when it was announced that we could no longer meet at the church (or have groups of more than 10 people anywhere). There were 40 people in the class and we had two weeks left. I knew people valued the connections they had made in the class and accountability of doing it together, so I decided to do the last two weeks on Zoom. I emailed out a link, everyone logged on at the same day/time and we did our class. We watched the video together, we had discussions and people asked questions. It was pretty amazing. We did the same thing with my bible study group.
5. Hire a Consultant to Improve
Just in the last 10 days I’ve consulted with five churches about their livestream or digital communication, helping each of them figure out ways they can reach their congregation during this time. Some are investing in new equipment that they will be able to utilize long after this crisis is over and others are improving their website or making small tweaks to what they are already doing to make it more effective. Contact us if you want help improving your church communications or livestream.
6. Host Services Using the Church Online Platform
ChurchOnlinePlatform.com by Life.Church is a free tool churches can utilize to broadcast their church services and it is packed full of interactive features. Life.Church just announced that the weekend of March 28-29, 31,166 people accepted Christ on the platform from the more than 20,000 church services that utilized it. That is reason to celebrate!
7. Have a Church Strategy for Coronavirus
You need a strategy and plan for how your church is going to deal with COVID-19 in your community and with communication. Chris Gibson
“Your communication around the Coronavirus should be a two-fold approach: pastoral and tactical. Communication should be pastoral because, in a time of fear and crisis, people will need to be reminded that God is their refuge, strength, and an ever-present help in times of trouble. Communication should also be tactical. People will want to know there is a plan and to be reassured that you are taking their health needs seriously.”
8. Provide Online Giving Options
Online giving options are key for churches to maintain giving while they are not able to hold in-person church gatherings. Many churches already offer a number of electronic giving options and have grown their online giving to 60-75% of their monthly giving. This is huge, especially during these times. If your church has not crossed the 50% online giving threshold, then now is the time to provide more options for giving and review 9 things you can do to increase online giving. People should be able to give easily on your website (without an account) and through a mobile app or text to give option. Be sure to have all of the options easy to find on your website and mention them during your online church service.
One thing that some churches don’t realize is that their website, social media, online video recordings and broadcasts are the new front door of their church. They were before this stay at home order, but now they are even more so. Most people will check out a church’s website at least once before they visit for the first time. Oftentimes they will watch several sermons before they ever show up for a service in-person. If they can’t find the information they are looking for or get a taste of the church through videos and other online content, then it’s easier to hit the back button and pick another church in the list of Google search results. Most people will not risk spending a few uncomfortable hours on a Sunday morning to find that it’s not a good fit.
If you don’t have a lot of visitors showing up on a normal Sunday then they either couldn’t find enough helpful content online or were underwhelmed by what they did find. What better time for churches to double down on their online efforts? If you need help with this, we’re here to help. Changes you make now will continue to have an impact long after this crisis is over. You can do this. You need to do this. People need Jesus.