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7 Steps Toward a Digital Church Response to the Global Crisis

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!

7 Steps Toward a Digital Church Response to the Global Crisis

17 Comments

  1. Derek Napoleon on March 23, 2020 at 10:05 pm

    Like so many others our church (One Love Ministries Hawai’i) went from a physical church at a central location with an online presence, to an online church with a physical location and no physical presence overnight.
    We are currently looking at any way we can engage with people online to share the message of hope in Jesus Christ. That’s the main reason I read this blog, which I have found super insightful.
    You asked about best practices. Here are a couple of things we’re doing. 1. Our pastors and ministry leaders will be posting digital devos, Monday – Saturday. These will be 3 to 5-minute devos with the goal of bringing encouragement, peace, and hope in Christ during this crisis. 2. Our ministry team will gather around this very blog and others like it to see what insight we can implement to keep our mission alive. Thanks again for the great content Cary and team!

    • Carey Nieuwhof on March 24, 2020 at 3:53 pm

      Glad to help!

  2. Tim Schmidt on March 22, 2020 at 6:12 pm

    This is great stuff. Our church hired ProMedia Fire and we highly recommend. They are a team of amazingly talented people who have amplified our ministry and message – they make us look great!

  3. Celia on March 21, 2020 at 1:07 pm

    Could you post a little more information about the radio transmitter Justin posted at 9:49 am today? When researching radio transmitters I only found equipment you plug into your car. Thanks

    • Chris Dixon on March 29, 2020 at 3:33 am

      Hi Celia,
      I own a small FM transmitter, and in New Zealand, I can legally broadcast 1 watt without a license. I have used it as a link to satellite speakers during airshows, for drive-in movies, and much more. I purchased it from 108Mhz.com, and got the package that came with the antenna. It fits in a small briefcase. It could also be used in an auditorium to broadcast live translation of the service in another language. Hope this helps.
      Regards,
      Chris.

  4. Carolyn Lott on March 21, 2020 at 10:49 am

    We are so fortunate that we hired Clint and his team to help us. We had no idea COVID-19 was coming. We are in a rural area and online solutions are not as easy as they seem because of lack of access to high speed upload capacity. However, Clint’ s team has helped us make what we can do, more effective and engaging. We have had help from another church video specialist whom we would likely never have interacted with. We are beginning to reach people digitally, not just in our community, but across the country and in other countries. If you haven’t started digital outreach and you are in a small community, don’t be afraid. Little by little you will figure it out. And people don’t expect perfect. They just need to hear from you with a message of God’s hope and love.

    • Clint Rogers on March 21, 2020 at 11:32 am

      Thank you for the kind words, Carolyn. Our team has been honored to serve your church by helping you reach more people for Christ now and in the coming days ahead. We are beyond excited about the digital outreach taking place in your community. There is nothing more important than sharing the hope and love found in Christ and we are thrilled to help partner with you to do this through new outreach means. May we continue to serve you in excellence!

  5. Justin Chaisson on March 21, 2020 at 9:49 am

    Our Church did what we called a Park and Pray last night. We built a scaffold, bought an FM transmitter, and our lead pastor shared a short encouraging word, and prayed over families present, and for our community, and world while people turned to the specified radio station and listen in their cars. It was a big hit!

    • Paul Aiello on March 21, 2020 at 10:14 am

      Fantastic!

  6. Don Hardy on March 21, 2020 at 8:15 am

    A most gracious thank you! I am a technologist helping a very senior church membership. Digital is not our strength. Tomorrow I will attempt to present a live message from our church online for the first time ever. God wiling it will be a success. Thanks for the encouragement and ideas. It is not the same anymore. Who would of thunk Online Communion!!!!!!.

  7. Bob on March 21, 2020 at 7:08 am

    I pastor a small church. I want to do Wednesday night interactive bible study and Thursday night prayer meetings. What is the best video conference app that will allow me to teach and allow me to hear others speak?

    • Jane R. on March 21, 2020 at 8:13 am

      We used Zoom, Bob. Go to Zoom.us on your computer, or download the app on your phone. The free account allows meetings up to 40 min. The paid subscriptions have more options. It’s a good idea to make sure everyone knows how to get on before the meeting actually takes place. Hope this helps!

    • Marnie Stitzer on March 21, 2020 at 9:54 am

      A lot of churches including ours are using Zoom! It works great.

    • Lucas on March 25, 2020 at 10:08 am

      There is a free video chat/conference tool by jitsi.org. Super easy to use and highly recommend — we have been using it with the small group community in our church.

  8. Brian McMichan on March 21, 2020 at 2:04 am

    For many years (virtually from the day I made my commitment to Lord Jesus on 7 October, 1990) I have had deep concerns as to the reliance on “worldly/flesh diven” solutions to “issues” plus in teaching and directing people who are, so called, “believers”.

    We are to follow Christ Jesus’ example and be led and directed by the Holy Spirit … In His words ((Amp) John 3:3 Jesus answered him, I assure you, most solemnly I tell you, that unless a person is born again (anew, from above), he cannot ever see (know, be acquainted with, and experience) the kingdom of God. …. NOTE THE MUST FACTOR …… it means that THE FLESH MUST DIE and you must receive the Holy Spirit AND, as Christ Jesus did, be led and directed ALWAYS by the Holy Spirit.

    Read Rom 8:13 for the consequences of the flesh doing the leading. Plus Father’s wish in Rom 8:14.

    The old phrase says it all …. (Be fleshly dead to the world and ) … LET GO AND LET GOD.

    Who is responsible for leading man away from Father’s will? (Amp) 2 Thess 2:3 Let no one deceive {or} beguile you in any way, for that day (Lord Jesus return) will not come except the apostasy comes first [unless the predicted great falling away of those who havePROFESSED to be Christians (Christ-Ins) has come], and the man of lawlessness (sin) is revealed, who is the son of doom (of perdition), … SATAN
    2 Thess 2:4 Who opposes and exalts himself so proudly {and} insolently against {and} over all that is called God or that is worshiped, [even to his actually] taking his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming that he himself is God.

    For about 2000 years and ever increasing, Satan has been deceiving “professed believers … those NOT born again and being led by the Holy Spirit” into “twisting/changing the Word of God so that the vast majority of “the Christian world” will be spewed out of Lord Jesus mouth (Rev 3:16).

    SOME of the blatant deceptions/common practices by “professing to be believers” are …. so many DO NOT follow Jesus’ example in baptism (sprinkling not “baptismo” (immersion); Jesus’ birthdate is not mentioned anywhere in the Bible (so Father doesn’ want His birthdate celebrated) BUT Christmas (set by Constanatine on 25 december … between two pagan feast days) is “celebrated” by the vast majority of “professed believers”. Easter (another pagan term) is “celebrated from Friday to Sunday” … where as Christ Jesus advised that He will be in the tomb 3 full days and 3 full nights (as Jonah spent in the belly of the sea monster) Matt 12:40 … so Christ Jesus was crucified on Wednesday NOT Friday; So many “professed believers” have in their “churches” and necklaces Christ Jesus still on the cross ….. HE IS RISEN!; Mark 11:26 {But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your failings and shortcomings. …. How many “professed believers” are still to forgive anyone for a past wrong (INCLUDING THEMSELVES)?

    So, the battle re Satan’s continual attack on man (including Coronavirus) is Rom 8:37 Yet amid all these things we are more than conquerors {and} gain a surpassing victory through Him Who loved us. …. plus John 3:16 and many other truths from the Word of God …..including, Matt 8:17 And thus He fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah, He Himself took [in order to carry away] our weaknesses {and} infirmities and bore away our diseases.

    ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE TO HIM WHO BELIEVES ….. NOT seek by the flesh to TRY and do God’s job for Him.

    Look to Lord Jesus … the Light, and you will see that He has freed all mankind on the cross (Read Luke 4:18-19 … His purpose of coming to earth PLUS John 19:30 …. His closing words ON THE CROSS were “It is finished!” …… believe! ….. and repent of your unbelief and being led and deceived by Satan and men who have taught Satan’s deception.

    Then, after proper baptism and being born again, follow Eph 6:10-17 …. THEN intercede for ALL the saints (Father knows who will be saved) IN THE SPIRIT!

    • Zan on March 21, 2020 at 6:54 am

      I have no idea how what you just said fits with what this article was about. Maybe I missed something. Or, maybe you did.

      • Brian McMichan on March 21, 2020 at 5:59 pm

        Zan,
        Maybe my reply was added to the wrong article.

        Please read what I submitted carefully … maybe it was specifically meant for you to read … the “issues” the world is confronted with at present ARE NOT going to be solved by technology or man’s efforts, or fear.

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