While churches have been forced into the confines of only having content to connect with people during this pandemic, it’s become a thing of the past to consider how we get our churchgoers to connect on a deeper level. And it makes sense! We have been frantically scrambling trying to digitize ministries and pump out live videos and devotionals, it’s been easy to put the concerns for deeper engagement on the back burner.

 

But now it’s time to shift your focus.

 

After the initial surge of online church service viewings at the start of the quarantine, studies show that 48% of those who watched online at first, have not watched a service in the past month.

 

What does this mean for churches? People were originally buzzing with the novelty and newness of their online church viewing options, but now many are realizing that it’s just not “enough” to suit the needs that they look to the church for.

 

Churches need to prioritize online relationship over online reach, and eventually it will result in higher reach.

 

You need to find ways to connect viewers to:

  1. Your staff
  2. Each other

Ideas for how to connect people to your staff:

  • Host a Facebook Live on a recurring basis. This enhances accessibility and adds a personal touch to an otherwise isolating season.
  • Open up a prayer line for your viewers and congregants to call if they need prayer. While it doesn’t need to be an option throughout every day of the week, find some designated time to open the lines for people to call in (30 minutes after each service, Monday mornings, etc.).
  • Utilize a chat function during service and have your staff on the chat engaging people with “welcomes” and answering questions. When the pastor invites a call to action in the service, prepare your staff with links that they can paste in the chat where the viewers can easily click it to sign up for the newsletter, I’m New, contact forms, or any other action they’re asked to take.

Ideas for how to connect people to each other:

  • Tailgate church: we love this fun idea that many churches have started testing. Invite your congregation to drive up in their cars to your parking lot, spaced apart, and to watch the service on a large blow-up screen outside. While there’s still no live worship or teaching, you can repurpose content that would have otherwise been viewed alone at home, while still creating a fun sense of community and togetherness.
  • Watch party: encourage people to gather in groups of 10 or less (or whatever your state mandate recommends) to watch service on a Sunday. Groups can turn it into a brunch and watch experience, or just to join together and watch the service in someone’s living room. Creating connection points like this enhances accountability to watch, as well as enhances the community aspect that so many people crave with church.
  • Kids Zoom Calls: while all us adults are used to the Zoom platform as options for connection, incorporate this into your kids ministries. Maybe it’s just once a week or every other week, but keep the kiddos in your church connected with their favorite Sunday School teacher or Kid’s pastor.

While much of this feels time consuming, it’s a crucial element to keeping your congregation engaged and to getting viewers who have never attended in person to feel connected and cared for enough to join once your doors finally open. Keep creating your great content, and now let’s start engaging at a heightened level.

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