The Second digital Easter is almost here. You’ve scrambled. Pivoted. Prepared. For a whole year. 🤦♂️
And even if you’re open for in-person gatherings this year (which most, but not all churches are), this Easter is still a digital Easter.
At least if you’re passionate about reaching people it is. The more serious you are about reaching people who don’t go to church, the more seriously you’ll take digital ministry.
That’s because digital scales in a way that physical church simply does. Even in a fully open, post-pandemic world, your biggest opportunities in the future will start online.
Still, a year into the pandemic, church leaders a little too eager to run back into the in-person world still have the potential to fall into the trap of doing neither in-person or digital church well.
So as we move into another holiday, here are 5 quick things to do during your second digital Easter that have the potential to make a long-term difference.
1. Focus on Engagement, Not Just Views
Attendance growth is like crack to pastors. And in the digital era, the number of views can do all kinds of weird things to attendance.
And please know I say this as a leader who can obsess over size and attendance as easily as anyone. Not blaming. Just calling us all out. (Note: those who say attendance doesn’t matter and criticize growing churches are often jealous of those who lead growing churches. There…now we’re all called out.)
While views matter because people matter, views are less valuable than engagement.
Just ask any pastor who had a message watched 10,000 times only to have not a single baptism spring from it.
One of the best things you and your team can do this digital Easter is to get viewers to become engagers. Viewers watch. Engagers participate.
Here are a few quick ways to do that.
First, use the comments in YouTube, Facebook or your LiveStream chat room to have people check in, identify themselves and say where they’re watching from and what they’re hoping to experience during today’s service.
Second, ask questions during the service. You can do this on video (e.g. During hosting, say something like “I’d love for you to share what your favourite family Easter memory is in the comments”).
Third, have your staff or volunteers staff your channels to engage commenters, moderate discussion and get dialogue going. Don’t just ask trivial questions…start to engage people with open, honest dialogue about faith.
Fourth, create a quick digital equivalent of the ‘welcome card’ via a text in number or a quick easy form to fill out on your website (Go to www.XYZchurch.com/new) that will help you follow up. Or better yet, create a short, helpful digital e-book based on a former series that people can get for free in exchange for their email address.
Finally, you definitely invite people to leave questions they have about the message or service in the comments.
Viewers may watch, but engaged people are far more likely to return and continue the journey.One of the best things you and your team can do this digital Easter is to get viewers to become engagers. Viewers watch. Engagers participate, and engagers are far more likely to return. Click To Tweet
2. Have a Clear Next Step
“Tune in next week” is better than nothing, but it doesn’t really help people explore, engage or grow their faith.
Also, the idea of ‘watching’ a service creates consumers and critics, rather than disciples and contributors.The idea of 'watching' a service creates consumers and critics, rather than disciples and contributors. Click To Tweet
Many congregations had a clear next step for physical attenders. It’s even more important to have one clear next step for digital attenders.
Some pastors have taken their ‘Pizza with the Pastor’ events online via Zoom. Others have moved their orientation or next step forum to a Facebook Group or to Zoom.
Honestly, it could be as simple as capturing people’s data so you can give them a phone call or email next week.
This is even more important for people who make a decision to follow Jesus during a weekend experience. You want to somehow connect with them personally and build a relationship. Again, this doesn’t have to be the pastor’s job, but you need to have someone on your staff or volunteer team who will follow up.
The alternative to a clear next step is no clear step, which is the perfect way to lose the very people you just reached.The alternative to a clear next step is no clear step, which is the perfect way to lose the very people you just reached. Click To Tweet
3. Assume Intelligence, Not Background
The reality is you will likely have more unchurched people this Easter than ever before. That’s how the internet works. Clicking on a link is much easier than getting in the car and driving down the road.
So how do you engage people who don’t have a background in the bible, in the Christian faith or even know what the resurrection is?
Don’t speak down to them. Assume intelligence, just don’t assume background.
Many of your new attenders will be open spiritually and have a belief system. They’re not all atheists. And they’re thoughtful people.
Just don’t assume they know the scriptures.
So when you go to a Biblical story or idea, give a 30-second introduction to orient everyone watching to the passage “We’re going to read from the New Testament, which is the section of the Bible about Jesus. Jesus had taught for three years, died on a Friday, and his body had been put in a tomb. The disciples, like everyone else (and maybe like you,) thought dead people stayed dead. But early on that Sunday morning, we meet some of the women who followed Jesus on their way to the tomb to pay their respects. And that’s when they discovered something they never expected.”
With someone as simple as that, everyone is up to speed. And you didn’t assume. And it didn’t take forever. Plus…there are many church attenders who will be grateful you brought them up to speed too. They didn’t really know the background either.
Be inclusive without being condescending. Everyone will thank you. And respecting your audience and making it easier to join the conversation will make them far more likely to want to come back.
I had a fascinating conversation with NYT bestselling author and Wharton professor Adam Grant (an amazing leader who doesn’t attend church) on how to preach to unchurched people that releases in March on my leadership podcast that frames this issue so well. You can subscribe to my podcast for free here.Preachers, this Easter, be inclusive without being condescending. Everyone will thank you. Click To Tweet
4. Think Monday…Not Just Sunday
It’s easy to see Easter Sunday as the finish line. The (hard) reality is that it’s the starting line.
Please, take a day off and rest up. You’ve been through a ton.
But do think about how many opportunities online presents Monday-Saturday. And trust me, the people you reach on Easter Sunday will be online again Monday looking for hope, insight, guidance and meaning.
So think through your social channels and how you can come alongside people the week after Easter with encouragement, questions, reminders, and maybe even an online gathering or two to follow up.
If people live every day in need of hope and resources to live out their faith (or to find faith) every day, church leaders have to start coming alongside people every day. Again, don’t take this all on yourself.
Get your team (staff and volunteer) to help. Online ministry is a team sport.It's easy to see Easter Sunday as the finish line. The (hard) reality is that it's the starting line. Click To Tweet
5. Give People More Access to the Real You After Easter
While many pastors love production, the rest of the world is getting to know people personally.
Perhaps as a post-Easter follow up, do something extra, like some good Instagram stories, or a bonus podcast or video on YouTube that goes deeper and shares more personal.While many pastors love production, the rest of the world is getting to know people personally. Click To Tweet
One of the chief challenges unchurched people (and churched people) have is they don’t think pastors are real. I know that sounds weird to put that in writing but just probe a little deeper with people and you’ll discover they have a hard time relating to pastors personally. Kind of like when you were in 7th grade and finally realized your teacher was an actual person with a family and normal life, not just a ‘teacher’ who went back into a box and came out 5 days a week at 8 a.m.
So think about doing a Q and A from your house, or taking people into your kitchen, or doing a video call with a staff member or friend just to chat about faith and life and take questions.
Deeply personal beats highly produced.
In fact, the more produced you are the less engaged people will be.
In an age where everything is uncertain, people are looking for authentic.
So do something real and personal the week after Easter to connect with people in real life. Your real life. Their real life.Deeply personal beats highly produced right now. The more produced you are the less engaged people will be. Click To Tweet
What Are You Doing For the This Easter?
We’re definitely in the place where no one has all the answers.
What are you doing to reach and engage more people on this second digital Easter?
Scroll down and leave a comment!