This is such a challenging time as we navigate engaging with our communities online only. Below are some pointers to remain consistent, relevant, and engaging as you create the best experience for your church and the community you serve.
It may seem impossible to be consistent as things seem to be changing by the hour, but the more regular you are with your communications the easier it is for your congregation to stay engaged.
This could include…
- Developing a consistent streaming process that will help your congregation feel comfortable and willing to share it and invite others. If you are switching between platforms, it can cause frustration and confusion.
- Maintaining a fully integrated and consistent message week to week. Parents and kids are all living and watching videos together. How could you create devotionals, spiritual exercises, and crafts or activities with content that prepares families for the main message on Sunday?
- Creating a weekly email that you send at the same time every week with a rundown of all you’re offering that upcoming week with links and a recap of the previous week.
- Having one landing page where all of this content lives. This can serve as a one-stop shop. It will help people find what they need and save you from creating multiple links for different calls to action throughout the week.
People’s lives are completely different right now and there is an opportunity to adjust your content and serve them in this time. Although the statements below are generalizations, they are meant to help you rethink and reframe the types of content you are sharing.
- People may have more time. Instead of just quickly scrolling, people may have more availability to read further. You can take this opportunity to go deeper with your content.
- People might be sick of video meetings. Although face to face meetings and services are crucial during this time, some people may not want to watch that daily devotional video. They may prefer to read or meditate on a few passages instead. Creating a written blog post from your video devotional with a few verses could allow users to engage with the content in whichever way they prefer.
- People are looking for advice. This is uncharted territory and people are looking for practical tips for navigating this time. Your church can offer advice and ideas or link to outside articles and resources on topics like online activities for kids or how to effectively work from home. You could make this more interactive by asking your community to join in on sharing links and helpful resources.
Not only is it important to provide relevant content, but it is also important to engage your community online and invite them to participate.
Engaging your audience might look like…
- Asking for their feedback. Invite them to share what they would like to see in your weekly services or resources.
- Sharing community members’ stories. What a great time to virtually get to know the people in your church. Ask your congregation to share a photo and short blurb or fun fact about themselves and you can share on a weekly basis.
- Building anticipation. Post leading questions and short descriptions of the upcoming message. Use quotes or scripture to help encourage your followers to tune in. People want to know what to expect. Instead of posting, “Don’t forget to tune in this Sunday at 10am” Maybe you can change that to, “Wondering how you can invite God’s resurrection power into your home and relationships? Join us tomorrow.”
- Responding. There is a lot of online noise right now and lots of things competing for our attention. Don’t just share content, but respond to others by commenting on people’s posts, encouraging them and saying the church is praying for them. This personalized response can really help people feel hopeful and part of the community.
I am praying for all of you and your churches during this time! I hope you are able to see this as an extraordinary opportunity to engage your community in a time where they are actively looking for hope and belonging.
We recognize that our movement is made up of a diverse range of churches and communication styles. We would love to hear how your church is responding and engaging your community in light of COVID-19. Please share with us!
Taking Your Church Online
About the Author
Abbey Mahoney is a project manager for the development office at the University of Chicago Medicine and Biological Sciences Division. Abbey has spent the past 7 years in marketing communications serving as the Director of Marketing at a nonprofit human service organization, then jumping into the advertising world, and now in higher education development. Abbey is a worship leader at the Evanston Vineyard and an amateur joke maker living in Chicago with her husband Jonny.
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