As churches all over the world take their worship services online, the next question that naturally comes up is how to build community and keep connected while people are social distancing and sheltering in place. And as Easter approaches, it’s going to be vital to provide encouragement and connection for your congregation, men’s and women’s ministries, and youth programs, while reaching out to a new digital audience.
There are already some amazing stories, ideas and innovations from around the country of new ways that the Church is adapting and moving to provide care and support and share God’s love. To help spark your creativity, here are some ways you can try to connect:
1. Realize that online Church is more than just a Sunday event.
One of the benefits of taking your church online is that you now have more opportunities to “go live” during the week with minimal effort. Services like FreeOnlineChurch.com ensure that every time you use Facebook Live or post a video to your feed, it shows up on your church’s website for everyone in your community to see.
And during this trying time, when people feel isolated and fearful, it’s more important than ever to provide positive, encouraging God-centered content. Here are a few creative ways you can use your online church to connect during the week:
- Offer Online Bible Studies and Small Groups – change the format of your mid-week programming and begin offering different studies or group meetings online. Use provided chat rooms to facilitate discussion.
For very small meetings or more personal meetings, use an online meeting service like Zoom or Whereby to get “face to face” and talk with one another using computer cameras.
- Schedule Worship & Prayer Hours – Ask different ministry leaders to lead a time of prayer and worship online everyday. It doesn’t have to be fancy – you can have a person on guitar or piano sing one or two well known songs. You can ask people to post or email their prayer requests and then spend 10 -15 minutes praying for needs in your city, state, country and the world. Post a Praying for Our City banner outside your church and take prayer requests on your website.
- Post Daily Encouragement – A simple prayer, scripture or quote from a book posted to your church’s Facebook page can become something your members can look forward to each morning. Be sure to watch the comments and reply to anyone who seems to need additional help.
Posting daily can be difficult, but Outreach Social can make it much easier. Outreach Social has a huge 2000+ graphics library and auto-posting services so you don’t even need to think about it once it’s been setup. Try it free for 14 days – click here
- Create Facebook Groups for your ministry teams –Facebook groups for your Youth group, women’s ministry and children’s areas are a great way to provide online care, increase connection and provide targeted programming. Encourage ministry leaders to be highly engaged and active in these groups and to not just post announcements but to create posts that get people interacting and having fun.
2. Find creative ways to care for your community!
While we may not be able to meet regularly or conduct our regular ministries and services, this is not the time to take a break! Instead find new ways to put faith into action and show love. Here are some creative ways to involve your members in community outreach (Be aware of your community’s ordinances and make sure your members adhere to local safety directives):
- Promote Good Neighboring – Encourage everyone in your church to reach out and offer support and help to the people who live near them. Provide easy to use doorhangers or invitation cards to your congregation that they can distribute to their neighbors. These “Love Thy Neighbor” and “Neighbors Helping Neighbors” (coming soon) designs include room for personal contact information.
- Set Up a Service Hotline – Have a designated phone number to be available to provide assistance to the elderly and people with compromised immune systems. Ask for volunteers to help field calls and provide needed assistance. Services you could offer include: picking up supplies, walking or caring for dogs, and simple home maintenance issues like changing light bulbs and smoke detector batteries.
- Offer A Balanced Meal – Make sack lunches for families who are out of work and having trouble making ends meet. Offer drive through pickup service at your church. Partner with a local food bank and other services to help these families during the tough times.
- Provide Tech Support – Ensure that everyone can watch your online services. Some people in your community may not be up to date on how to watch live streams or even how to get to your website or Facebook page. Make an easy to follow video and ask volunteers to answer calls.