Online Church - 10 Ideas to Keep Your Members Engaged During The Coronavirus Outbreak.
The online church has made it possible for churches to distribute the gospel, but if delivering sermons is the only thing you’re doing, then you are missing out.
It's been over two months now since the coronavirus 🦠 changed the way we live and worship.
In the past two months, we've come from washing hands to practicing social distancing, wearing face masks, to lock down and the church being declared non-essential, to online church.
If I had written this article before the coronavirus, I would have used a good part of it to convince you that your church needs a digital or virtual ministry. But I don’t have to do that anymore.
The authorities have declared the church non-essential, but it is truly up to us to either give in to the declaration or adapt and make the best out of it.
One of the wisest men I know, my boss Russell Rice always begins his meeting by asking the question, "what's going well?" In the beginning, I didn't like this question because it went against everything I knew. I thought my job as a childcare worker was to identify the issues and fix them.
I wanted to talk about the issues and how we could make the rules more robust for the boys to impact change. Every morning before the meeting, I would write down a list of negatives so I could present them.
But when we got to the meeting, my boss started by asking what’s going well? As you can imagine, I had nothing good to say and so I kept quiet.
Things began to change when I started to scan for what's going well. I discovered that even in a bad situation, there’s always something good that happens. Unless you look for it, you might miss it.
I began to take time to notice the little things the boys were doing, and the results were simply amazing.
Before I knew it, I was able to change my attitude and perspective towards the boys and my job. I had trained my brain to choose what to focus on rather than my default negatives.
The "what's going well" question is even more profound now as we go through the coronavirus pandemic.
It is a question about you, your attitudes, and perspective on things around you. It's easy to dwell on the adverse effects of the virus ( which are many), but we only lose when we choose to focus on the negatives.
We are indeed experiencing something we've never experienced before, and the fear is that this might be the new way of life.
It is safe to say that people are scared, confused, and don't know what to do. Usually, when this happens, people tend to run to the church for answers, but this time is different.
The church has been deemed non-essential and ordered to close its doors till further notice.
The question is, what is your church doing to keep your members engaged?
Most of all, even though the government has deemed you non-essential, what are you doing to remain an essential part of your member's lives during these difficult times?
In this article, I highlight eleven simple things you can do to keep your members active and engaged in the virtual space.
Table of contents
- Implement the Del Method
- What's Going Well? Sessions
- Virtual Bible Study Groups
- Host Virtual Games
- Provide Virtual Help
- Share what's working
- Physical activity
- Story Time for children
- Create a Virtual Choir
Before we go into the list, you need to know your members, their needs, and pain points. If you need help doing this, please check out the DelMethod Blueprint.
Implement the Del Method
The DelMethod is a process-driven digital evangelism and outreach strategy for churches and faith-based nonprofits.
It is based on a simple premise that in order to serve people, you have to first know what their needs and challenges are and then prescribe the right solution.
The DelMethod suggests you ask a simple open-ended question:
When it comes to ....... what is your greatest challenge?
If you don't know what your member's needs and challenges are, you run a risk of prescribing wrong solutions and streaming programs that have no impact on their lives right now.
What could be wrong with prescribing Christ or prayer during this time? you may ask.
The answer is nothing wrong. We are to use every opportunity we get to point people to Christ.
However, Christ also expects us to be real and provide real solutions to our constituents.
Image a situation where you go to the hospital, and before the Doctor asks you any questions or reads about your health history, the Doctor prescribes medicine and sends you home.
How would that go? Would you go back to that hospital?
I know I wouldn't.
You see, the church is like a hospital full of people in need of help. You and I are like doctors, and our job is first to find out what the issues are and then prescribe.
So before you do anything, please find out what your members are struggling with.
To find out what your members are struggling with during the coronavirus lockdown, you'll have to use some digital tools. Here is some free software you can use.
Survey Monkey is one of the best survey software; It has everything you need to create basic or complicated surveys. Best of all, they have a free plan, so check it out and take it for a spin.
For people who want a quick and easy way to run a survey, then Google Forms is what you need. It is not as robust as Survey Monkey, but it'll get the job done. Google forms are free to use, and you'll be up and running in no time.
Once you've run the survey and gotten some responses, it's time to get to work. You must provide those solutions to the people who take the time to complete the surveys.
It is also necessary to keep the survey running so that people who didn't get a chance to complete the forms would also have a voice.
1. What's Going Well? Sessions 🙋🏼♂️
Many mental health professionals are worried and warning us about the spike in depression cases during and after the pandemic. If you 'ever spent the last couple of months quarantined at home, then you understand why the warnings are apparent.
As a church, we must also be worried about our people going through depression. Prayers are good but we also need some practical measures to help our members during this time.
My boss, always told us that we can change our attitudes or perceptive by choosing what we want to focus on.
The “what’s going well?” phenomenon has never meant more to me than it does right now.
I am sure your church has a video conferencing tool you're already using, be it zoom, Facebook live, YouTube lives, etc.
You can implement the "What's going well session" before every meeting. Make sure you ask one or two people to share with the group what is going well in their lives.
Example: I was reading some posts on one of the groups on Facebook, and most parents are complaining about homeschooling. For a moment I found myself being sucked into this negativity and I started complaining about so much work we have to do.
But then something beautiful happened during my son's zoom meeting. He talked about how he's enjoying his time at home with his family, and that changed my attitude completely.
What's going well? - I get to spend time with my kids, an opportunity to teach and also learn from them. We now have a set routine that working for all of us. And when I feel like not doing something, guess who's there to remind me?
As you can see, the "What's going well session" is not only useful to the presenter but the audience as well. People love to hear positive things going on.
Try what's going well session in your next zoom meeting and let us know how it goes.
2. Virtual Bible Study Groups
The authorities have declared the church non-essential, but don't let that be a reality when it comes to your members.
You see, we have quickly discovered that church is not a building but the people and so where ever the people are is where the church is.
If you are meeting online, then you must find ways to keep your members engaged and connected with virtual Bible study groups.
We thank God that technology allows us to reach even in smaller groups. If you are already using zoom, then you know that it's free for the most part, and you can have multiple members create free accounts. This will allow you to meet in smaller and manageable groups.
3. Online church - Daily Devotional Meetings
Daily devotionals are an essential part of every Christian household. Why then would you bring it to the cyberspace when people can do it in their homes as they usually do?
Well, the answer is simple. Your goal as a church is to encourage people to connect, and since this is new to all of us, we must do so online.
Here is how to run devotional meetings online.
- Choose one family to present every evening.
- Chose a topic or allowed them to share whatever problem they want. This is also an excellent idea for the Sabbath school quarterly study.
- Have other families follow along and ask questions if you chose.
4. Host Virtual Games
One of the most common complaints we see is that people don't know what to do. So they turn to watch television all day.
Virtual games are a great way of keeping your members connected.
The games are especially great for the youth, but adults need them too.
Here is a great article highlighting some games you can play on zoom.
5. Provide Virtual Help
One of the essential duties of the church is to help others and don't let the lockdown stop you.
When it comes to people needing help, the internet is full of them, and it's easy to find them.
If you are on social media or part of any online group, you will notice that everyone is talking about coronavirus.
I just went back to one of my local" sell everything" Facebook group and found a countless number of people talking about coronavirus in some form or another. Topics from face masks to toilet paper to food delivery, to homework help, name it.
Some people need material help while others just need someone to pray with and for them letting them know everything will be alright.
As you can see, people are looking for help, and if your church/members have some extra time or resources, then you have an excellent opportunity to spread love and the gospel, especially now.
Finding people looking for help is easy; all you have to do is:
- Join a Facebook group
- Visit sites like Quora.com
- Post on your profile
6. Share what's working
One of the best things about church is that people get to talk about what they are going through. At my church, people rush to the parking lot to catch up and fellowship with one another.
Although we cannot replicate the real fellowship, we can still use our online church to connect and fellowship virtually.
For this example, let us look at Parents with young children.
These are challenging times, as we all know. Unlike the summer holiday where our children are out of school, this time we have to homeschool them. In most cases, we have to learn new things to teach them or even help them with their online school.
To facilitate the "What's Working Session," all you have to do is create a group that is specific to parents and share what's working and what's not.
This is an excellent way for parents with similar challenges to connect and help each other.
7. Share recipes
I did not know how many people relied on fast food every day. Now that all these places are closed, people are struggling to find food. Why is it essential to share recipes with your members?
Well, people are on lockdown and probably running out of food ideas. Most people can not go out to the grocery store to get food. So you could help by suggesting things they could make using the food they already have in the house.
8. Physical Activity
Physical activities are essential not only for our physical health but mental as well.
The other day I saw my 5-year-old son take a break from school work to do exercise. I asked him why he got up before time, and he told me uncle from the children's church zoom call told them to exercise every day.
As a parent, I was happy to see my son doing something positive. I was also especially proud of my church for teaching my son something positive and valuable during the lockdown.
You see, everyone has had to adjust, including the children. They know that they can't go to the park to play and so they find ways to exercise even if it's for a minute.
9. Online church Children’s Story Time
The internet offers an excellent opportunity to engage and connect with the children as well. You may say that the internet has so many resources for children. From YouTube videos to online books and so on. These are all fine, but the children need to see some familiar faces.
Thank God that the internet makes it possible for us to engage with our children without travel. We can do this from the comfort of our home.
Better yet, we can allow the children to share stories with others. Implementing the children's storytime is easy.
- Use video conferencing like zoom
- Chose one child to tell or read a Bible story each night.
- Encourage the children to have prayer and fellowship virtually.
One thing I've heard over and over again among parents is, "thank God for our teachers."For the first time, most of us know how it is to teach or manage homeschool.
This past week alone, I have had to help three parents with connecting zoom for their children. I know that parents everywhere are struggling with tech or merely helping their children with school work.
This is an opportunity for you to help members of your church or community with tech or tutoring.
11. Online Church Virtual Choir
Lockdown and social distancing have nothing on people that love the Lord. We will do everything in our power to praise God through songs.
Create virtual choir videos and your online church will thank you.
The virtual choir concept is not new people or producers have been doing this for a long time. However, due to the coronavirus, we have seen quite a number of them come up.
If your church has a choir or only a children's ministry and you want to sing together, you can simply create a virtual choir. Above all, the process is simple and fun.
Here is a step by step guide to creating a virtual choir.
The government has deemed the church non-essential, but the reality is that most churches where non-essential long before the coronavirus.
If your church is only meeting online to deliver a sermon, then you are deeming yourself non-essential. You are leaving it up to the circular world to feed your members during the coronavirus lockdown.
Technology has advanced so much to the point where we can still reach and connect with our members at any time we want. It's easier to get people to attend online events during the lockdown than at any other time.
Have you tried some of these topics for your online church yet?
Please let us know how that worked, and if we left out something, please let us also know so we can add it to the list.
Thank you, and God bless! 🙏🏼