This is a guest post written by Clint Rogers, Founder of Pro MEDIAFIRE and Pro WEBFIRE. He spends every day on the edge of the digital space and is here to help churches during the current crisis.
By Clint Rogers
The world and your world is currently in crisis due to the spread of COVID-19 and the crash of financial markets as a result of this global pandemic.
This is not the first time the world or nations have been in crisis nor will it be the last.
The one thing that’s different about this crisis is simply this: digital media.
Last weekend, churches around the world went to a digital-only service in response to the situation and government recommendations on social distancing.
The looming question of whether or not digital content could replace a church service was answered in a moment of crisis.
Digital will never replace the value of physical, in-person connection with a church community, yet at the same time, it will forever be an experience for those in our communities who are sick or unable to attend service for other reasons.
Digital will also be the new (and possibly only) method to reach your community and people in a time of crisis.
As a leader, you have an opportunity to unite your people and reach the community through the power of digital outreach.
People are fearful, hurting, and in need of help. In the midst of crisis, there is an opportunity to share the hope that comes through Christ to millions that weren’t interested in the conversation just a few weeks ago.
This is a huge opportunity and here are a few steps you can take to seize it.
At the end of the post, you can sign your church up for three weeks of free social media posts provided by my team.In the midst of crisis, there is an opportunity to share the hope that comes through Christ to millions that weren’t interested in the conversation just a few weeks ago. Click To Tweet
1. Double Down on the mission
People will rally around a mission during this season of uncertainty. Share the opportunity to reach hurting people online and how the community around them is listening. There is an opportunity to share the love and hope of Christ to people who are looking for answers and are desperate for a beacon of light.
Help the church understand that the mission of the church has not changed, but the methods may have shifted. Our focus will be on digital and reaching people in their homes. The world is listening and we have the hope they are looking for in the midst of uncertain times.
There is another important area that must be discussed within your church vision and in reminding them of the mission: giving.
People give to vision, whether it is a building program or a special need. Let them understand where their giving is going in this season of digital outreach. Our tendency is to hoard in times of crisis and that is the exact opposite of what the church should be doing. Our hearts should not be out of self-preservation as a church, but instead it should be generosity to serve our community in love. If the church understands the mission, the giving will not only continue in a heart to honor God, it will stay on mission.
People give to vision. Give them the vision of what the church is doing, who we are reaching, and how we are doing it. Let them know the impact of their giving, even if it is only digital outreach as you reach people in their homes and engaging in conversations online.
The moment is now to reach hurting people, and the last thing we need to do is cut the supply chains of financial support. When the congregation knows their giving is making a difference, they will arise to the occasion to meet the need. Let the mission drive the conversation of giving and not the preservation of a building. The church is people on a mission, whether it is in a building or online.
The churches who continue on the mission in this season will not only survive, they will thrive after this pandemic ends.The churches who continue on the mission in this season will not only survive, they will thrive after this pandemic ends. Click To Tweet
2. Be Creative on Social Media
During this season, the church has a great opportunity (and borderline necessity) to get creative on their social media. This creativity is two-fold: the content and the methodology.
For the foreseeable future, on-screen graphics and videos are going to need to be adjusted to fit on mobile phones and laptop displays. Adjusting content to fit a digital audience as opposed to an in-person one requires a ton of creativity and content creation. Content as a digital church is just as vital as content as a physical, in-person congregating church and even more so.
Our methodology of utilizing social media platforms during this time also has to be as creative as ever. Actually, now more than ever, we have opportunity to do things on social media we may have never even think to do before. When it comes down to the methodology, we have to ask ourselves: how can I make this digital experience as connection-driven as possible?
To inspire true connection on the social platform, work with your team to brainstorm creative and community-focused content. Make a plan to go live a few times a week for a special devotional or prayer time. Take communion with your community on Instagram live. Create a Facebook group to be used for small group Bible studies.
Social media has often been viewed as a medium that isolates us, but during this current time, it is one of the best ways to bring us all together.Social media has often been viewed as a medium that isolates us, but during this current time, it is one of the best ways to bring us all together. Click To Tweet
3. Drive People to Engagement
The main missing factor during this crisis is the inability to engage with a crowd on a large scale like many churches are used to. The lack of ability to physically partake in small groups, Bible studies, and Sunday gatherings is taking a hit at every single church. During this isolation stage, we can encourage our community to continue interacting and we can actually drive them to engage and respond.
How do we do this? We share content that is not one-sided but rather encourages conversation amongst our community. Unlike a typical Sunday monologue-style sermon, pastors specifically have a chance to have a two-way conversation between themselves and their community. Hosting a pastor Q&A is a great way to both create solidarity in the church and drive engagement.
Another way to encourage interaction is by encouraging your team to host “watch parties” of your digital Sunday service. Watch parties are a great Facebook tool that allows viewers to watch videos together and communicate via a chat thread. This will push people to really engage in service and even weekly digital gatherings, something they may have never even done before. This digital move presents an opportunity for the shy and introverted members of your community to bring their viewpoint and thoughts to life.
4. Stream Live Feeds With Purpose
Hold online services and Facebook lives during the week with purpose. Engage the audience online and push the envelope with the live experience. If you are a smaller church, pull in the audience for questions in the chat and have the speaker address them on the live stream.
Speak hope into the fear and destiny into discouragement. Hold services with the online experience in mind, making sure to engage people and not to see it as a one-way channel to broadcast a service.
View your live digital services and even quick live updates as a conversation. Have team members monitoring the chat and if at all possible address live questions or responses from the audience. Smaller to mid-sized churches can make a greater impact by reaching people in the community who are watching. They may never have walked through the church doors, but the crisis has them seeking answers so with everything live with purpose as a church.Speak hope into the fear and destiny into discouragement. Click To Tweet
5. Engage Your Team Remotely
The first place to start making a difference in the midst of a crisis is with your team. They are looking for direction, purpose, and for their leader to speak into the situation.
Share the vision and opportunity with your team. Let them see that right now, we can reach people on Facebook and Instagram with a message of hope. We can have conversations about God that would not have happened even a few short weeks ago.
In a time of crisis, your team must be ready. Just like firemen in the midst of a wildfire, your team must be willing to put in the extra time and effort that is required given our current situation. This is not a time to sit at home and wait this thing out – this is a season of action.
People need you when they need you.
That is why you must mobilize your team to seize the opportunity and to get on board with making a difference during this time.This is not a time to sit at home and wait this thing out - this is a season of action. Click To Tweet
6. Invest in the Digital Experience
If the digital has been a small item on your annual budget, it is now time for this to change. Most churches spend less than 1% of the annual budget in this area and have missed the importance of digital media until now.
The digital experience of a church just in this last weekend, has made history and proven to be just as valuable as your physical church building.
It is easy to invest in the beautiful building and spend very little on a cheap website or sub-par graphics.
Let this moment be a statement to all those making financial decisions for the church, that your digital experience as a church is worth investing in and has immense value.
Make investing in the cameras, software, and equipment for a live service a major priority. Start with your website, quality graphics and then move to your entire digital experience. Whether you are starting with a small or large budget, make investing in your digital experience a priority now and in the years to come.
In our global world and the power of modern media, this will probably not be the last time we are limited to have church online access only. As a church we need to be prepared and we need to see the digital church experience as vital for outreach and to reach those that can’t attend a church service because of sickness or other reasons.In the midst of crisis, there is an opportunity to share the hope that comes through Christ to millions that weren’t interested in the conversation just a few weeks ago. Click To Tweet
7. Launch Paid Campaigns Online
Along with making financial investments in the tools to make online church possible, it is an extremely wise idea to use some funds to invest in paid campaigns. Tight budgets have to be weighed against meaningful opportunity. You have an incredible opportunity during this time to reach people you’ve reached before.
People are bored. People are frightened and upset. They’re scrolling. They’re watching. Why not, in the middle of all of the negative news and sarcastic memes, meet them with a message of hope?
Paying for promotion of your live service, as well as any other promotional content on your social media, is a great way to reach people beyond your normal Sunday crowd. There is immense value in organic reach, but there is a lot of proven value in some paid promotion too.
As Easter approaches in the midst of this pandemic, promoting the hope of the Easter story is an investment definitely worth making.
A little money can go along way with decently priced Facebook advertising plan, so consider sharing and paid campaigns in the digital sphere.People are bored. People are frightened and upset. They're scrolling. They're watching. Why not, in the middle of all of the negative news and sarcastic memes, meet them with a message of hope? Click To Tweet
Free Social Media For Your Church
Until Easter, the Pro Media Fire team has come together to help the church spread peace and hope in these uncertain times.
Every day the team will share NEW and FREE social media graphics, videos, and strategies to reach people during this season.
With a social feed of bad news, the campaign is called Great News.
Imagine the impact of thousands of churches around the globe sharing Great News from now to Easter that comes through Christ.
If your church would like to receive these free resources and strategies over the next 3 weeks, you can join the movement and sign up here.
How Are You Responding?
How are you helping people online? What are some best practices you’re discovering?
Scroll down and leave a comment!