During the next few weeks, and possibly months, many churches across the country will rely on the online church experience to keep both physical church attendees and online communities engaged with all things church.
The important thing to know is that engagement is possible! This is a great opportunity to show everyone in your church the value and importance of having a good and reliable online church experience.
Here are few tips to help take your online church experience to the next level and to keep your audience engaged during this time and even beyond:
Welcome EVERYONE Online.
When welcoming everyone online, recognize those who are regular attendees at the physical church, but chose to stay home on this particular day. This will show them that you know they are there and that they count.
Bring them in with you. Remind them to share the broadcast on their own social media pages and even start a watch party on Facebook. For your chat room volunteers, instruct them to welcome everyone by name and make themselves available to answer any questions your audience may have.
Provide a time of offering from both a local and global perspective.
Remind your online audience of the WHY behind giving during this time. Online audiences usually give from a global prospective, but when adding the local audience some adjustments will be necessary. You want to remind people of the many reasons the church needs those resources, and it goes beyond the weekend experience. If possible, display lower-thirds with text to give number, weblink (make sure it is easy and quick to read), QR codes, and even an address to mail a check.
Remember, make online giving as easy as possible for your online audience. The “one click” Amazon experience is what they are looking for. For first time givers, allow one click small amount options like: $5, $10, $15 and $20. Don’t forget to make sure your chat room volunteers have the correct verbiage to share during the service.
Recognize the online audience during preaching.
Focus on looking at the camera and add notes to your message that are specifically directed towards the online audience. This will allow you to connect, and ultimately engage better with the online audience! Let them know that you know they are there and that they matter.
Announcements for both audiences.
Let people know of all the different opportunities that are available to connect with your church, both online and offline. Connect with both audiences during this time.
Equip your chat room volunteers to engage with the audience.
Prepare your chat room volunteers to answers questions, connect with your audience, and make everyone feel welcome and cared for during the broadcast. You can do this by providing a basic script for each portion of the service. The scripts are great conversation starters, and will also provide consistency across the board. They will also give your volunteers the freedom to chat outside of the script knowing that the main conversation points are taken care of. Here are some examples you can use:
“Welcome to Church Name, we are so glad you are here to worship with us. I am (NAME). Let me know if there is anything I can do to assist you during our worship experience // Please, sign in to access additional features like Prayer Request, Live Prayer, Weekly bulletin, and more.”
“Simple and secure. Give a single gift, or schedule recurring giving using your checking account, debit, or credit card. Click on the (link) for more information about our new giving platform - Give now or Download the App from the Android Play Store or the Apple App Store. You can text “your key word” to your text number and receive a link to download the app. Open the app, choose who to give to, enter the details, and you’re done!”
“Every weekend at Church Name we celebrate the Lord's Supper together. We invite you to join us by using elements to symbolize the body and blood of Jesus (cracker or wafer and juice). Jesus says in Luke 22 that when we partake in the Lord's Supper, we are to do it in remembrance of him. Our prayer each week is that our hearts would be drawn to the cross as we partake, and we would remember the sacrifice of Jesus.”
Take Advantage of Facebook Bots.
The Facebook Bot service is a great way to guarantee that no message on Facebook will go answered and will engage your audience for you instantly. I recommend using Many Chat (https://manychat.com/) as it has a great price and is easy to setup. With the potential of your online audience increasing in the next few weeks, you want to make sure you will connect with everyone who decides to use Facebook messenger during your live broadcast.
As you can see, this can be a great opportunity for your entire church to experience the true value that an online church experience can have in your local and global communities. Invite your congregation to experience how technology can impact your communities in a way that was never possible before and don’t miss this opportunity to bring your church and community together. Know that for the next few weeks and beyond, the church will NEVER close, no matter what. Church is always available and ready to change people’s lives both at your physical church address and through the online experience. Share your thoughts and let us know how you will use an online church experience to impact people’s lives for eternity.