Carey Nieuwhof once said in a conference I attended, “The church that connects people is going to eclipse the church that just gathers people.” Connection is key. In fact, connection has always been key to any business or Church, but going through a pandemic has heightened that need for connection. Church can not be just a place where people gather on Sunday morning, experience the service and then leave. It needs to be a place where people connect.
Covid changed a lot of things and it changed us in a lot of ways. One of the ways it changed us was that it caused us to take a step back and re-evaluate our lives. Who are we? What are we about? Who are the people I care about and want to be around? These are just some of the self-reflective questions people were and still are asking.
People were also asking questions about the Church they were attending. Why should I go to Church anymore? What am I getting out of it? Who am I connected to? There are probably a lot of reasons why Church attendance has ultimately declined nationally since Covid started, but one of the reasons why I believe a lot of people stopped attending is because they weren't connected. People realized it was just a place they went to. It wasn't a place they connected.
People weren't connected to serving. People weren't part of a Home Group/Life Group/Small Group. People were just coming and going to Church - they weren't part of something more. So, as the re-evaluated their life, they stopped attending.
Churches need to have a mindset shift. They need to stop thinking about Church as a place to gather at, but a place people connect with one another. They connect with true purpose.
And the great news is that this isn't just limited to in person Church. This applies to Church Online as well. Church Online is so much more than just watching Church from the comfort of your home. It CAN and SHOULD be about connecting with people.
So how do you connect people within Church Online? What can you do?
- Identify the people who are chatting in your Chat Room or who are sharing consistently in Online Bible Studies. Connect them with a next step. As the leader you could say something like, "Hey Johnny, I notice that you are sharing a lot in the Bible Study. Would you like to be part of this group I am starting talking about x, y or z". Here you are taking people who are already engaged and sharing to take another step in growing in their faith and connecting with other people.
- For those who aren't chatting, provide Visual Next Steps. This can be done with a Slide in your pre-service or post-service mix, an announcement during stage, or a social media post. Not everyone is going to want to be in the chat room in your service. But, they are committed to attending your Church Online every week. So, share with them in other ways they can hear about taking a next step in their faith.
- Provide Online Service Opportunities. Yes, you can serve online. There are a variety of roles people can do online. Chat Hosts, Prayer warriors, social media encouragers and champions. When people connect in service opportunities, even online ones, it helps them grow in their faith.
- Provide Online Meet Ups outside of Church. Game nights, Zoom "Happy Hours" without the alcohol, and streaming movies online together in watch parties are just 3 social and fun things people online can connect and build relationships in. As technology develops, there will also be other opportunities for people to meet up online and connect.
People are busy these days. There is a lot to do both online and in person. They don't just want to gather and be part of something. They want to feel a connection. Real relationships CAN and DO happen online. These are just 4 ways people can connect with Church Online. Keep thinking of other ways and see how God helps people not only connect but also grow in their faith.
What do you think? What are some other ways people can connect online? Share your ideas below or on social media.
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