A recent Barna study showed that 1 in 3 practicing Christians has stopped attending church completely during the Pandemic. And you may or may not have seen similar trends with your own congregation. But as the virus maintains it’s hold and the months stretch out, it’s important to continue to minister to, and do your best to connect with, your members who are watching online.
This is even more important If your church has returned to in-person gatherings in addition to online services. You must make the effort to nurture relationships with your online congregation so they don’t feel like second class citizens or after thoughts.
But how? The very nature of social distancing and separation means that visiting in someone’s home, meeting at a coffee shop, or having a face to face conversation is beyond many people’s comfort zone.
Here are a few tips that can help you make your digital members feel for connected to your church:
1. Create a Digital Ministry Team
- Create a digital ministry team and put someone in charge of all your online efforts. Choose someone who has small group or ministry experience to lead the group and then make sure they or key members of their team are active on social media and familiar with technology and social media. Make an announcement about the team so that everyone knows you consider this team to be a priority.
- Think through volunteer opportunities that can be done by those who are connected digitally (virtual greeters, online group leaders, sending encouraging DMs/emails, etc) and include these in a ministry fair, encouraging everyone to serve in some way
2. Offer More Online Resources During Your Services and During the Week
- “Go Live” a couple minutes before your online service starts or stay on after the service ends to offer prayer, answer chat questions and have online conversations with your digital audience.
- Provide “digging deeper” questions related to the sermon and encourage people to share their thoughts. You can do this as the sermon is being preached via chat wherever you are streaming -or- in a FB group after the message (send out an email inviting people to deeper discussion with a link to the FB group/post)
- Similar to above, but set up online small groups to work through those discussion points. Invite viewers to join a small group to continue the conversation.
- Post, email or text daily doses of encouragement – Pick an encouraging verse, an uplifting story or just share praise reports.
- Check out this FREE resource from Dr. Hal Seed at PastorMentor.com and modify it to fit your community and situation.
- Auto-schedule positive social media graphics easily and quickly with Outreach Social – they have a huge library of shareable graphics that can include your church logo and that can be pre scheduled to post everyday without you having to do anything!
3. Include Your Digital Audience in Important Ministry
- Consider a “dispersed” service project, like a walk/run to raise funds for a local or international mission project. Everyone can participate from wherever they are. Encourage people to post photos or even to “go live” on their personal social channels as they participate.
- Ask your digital congregation to get involved in ministry they can do from home – like calling and checking on older members of your church each week, writing notes and cards or members who are sick or those going through a difficult time, or being a “tutor” to children who are doing school at home and need extra help or a break from the teaching parent.