There has been a murmur growing all across the globe among church leaders regarding what to do about the increasing number of Covid-19 cases among our communities and church members.
Mask Mandates? More Sanitizer? Additional Services? Shut Doors and move online? Stay open and keep moving forward?
One thing I think we can all agree on is that this isn’t where we thought we would be a year ago, but here we are. The first round of shutdowns came quickly and most weren’t prepared. I use prepared loosely because that means many things to many churches. We weren’t prepared from a technology standpoint. A shepherding standpoint. A financial standpoint. The list, I’m sure, could go on.
Our purpose here at Your Church Media isn’t to tell you what to do, but to be a partner to help you continue to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ regardless of the present circumstances we find ourselves in.
Many have argued that a purge has been coming for the Church. Covid just sped the process up. So do we just say, ‘Well, it was coming anyway!’ and keep on doing the same old?
I believe we need to begin looking past the virus and on to the question, “How can we reach people more effectively?”. I understand this is a question churches have been asking for decades. Actually, ever since Jesus commanded us to go and make disciples.
Are we ready for another shutdown?
If our churches need to shutdown either by mandate or from a decision made by church leadership in order to care for our members, how can we continue to connect with and encourage them with Jesus?
Live streaming Sunday services is a great way to keep do this. Many churches are now set up to live stream. But what about the rest of the week? If a shutdown happens and people are home, they will be spending more and more hours on devices. So back to our earlier question: How can we reach people more effectively? We need to meet them where they are.
I will be the first to say a ‘digital’ church isn’t the goal. Many are being deceived that watching a live stream on Sunday (or watching one on some other day during the week) is just as good as attending in person [Box checked!]. What they are missing is the fellowship and personal contact of being surrounded by a body of believers. If I’m being honest, this CAN NOT be done digitally to the level it can be in person. With that being said, digital is what we have if we are shut down. So how can we make it the best it can be?
If we are serious about reaching people through digital means, we need to develop a plan, execute it, and adapt it. This would be a sample of a simplified blueprint.
Step 1: Develop a Plan
Maybe the most important part of step one is being honest and realistic about what you are able to do. From there, look at the resources you have available. Are you able to live stream? Do you have people who are able to create video? Do you have communication lines to your members (and others in the community?)
After you access your resources partner with your leadership team. Figure out how to use those resources to share the gospel and unify your members. These are just a couple of examples of what a digital plan may look like.
- Go live and take some questions from members on Facebook. Hear what they are concerned about and how they are doing. Give them some hope!
- Record conversations (on video) as a staff or leadership team about how you are leading your family and those in your circle.
- Release quick, simple videos with conversation starters that will engage teens.
- Get kids involved by sharing gospel-centered activities (coloring sheets, crafts) that they can do with older siblings or parents (you could even have parents send in a photo of the final project and share them on your church’s social media pages!)
- Challenge your musically inclined members to record a video of them playing their favorite worship song.
- Go live and spend some time in prayer. (this may be better if your church has a private group)
- Have teens or young adults join you in a recorded video where they share their perspectives and how they are finding peace in Jesus.
At the end of the day, work within your resources. Also, notice, these are things your church could be doing even if there wasn’t a global pandemic. Part of your plan should be communicating your plan to your members. Let them know what is going on and how they can get involved. This would present a simple way to begin equipping them for shepherding too. Get members equipped and get members involved. I shared some other ideas here:
Step 2: Execute the Plan
Having a plan is good. Executing the plan is better. The reason I stressed working within your resources is that the work needs to get done. If your plan relies on outside people coming through on promises and schedules hopefully working out, then you need a better plan.
Everything in your plan should be able to be accomplished by your leadership team or with a committed partner. Some of the suggestions I mentioned above need to be done live. Most of the other ones can be pre-recorded. This allows you to record and have content prepared ahead of time. Take advantage of free tools that Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and email delivery services offer by scheduling your content out ahead of time. This eliminates the worry of something coming up and taking you away from posting at the exact time you want content released. Should someone get sick or is unable to get something finished, someone needs to be able to take over their part.
Step 3: Adapt the Plan
Not everything is going to go according to plan. While parts of your plan will have great intentions, it may fall flat on its face. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t a good idea, it may just mean that the execution wasn’t what it needed to be. That’s okay! This is where we need to be willing to have open and honest conversations as a staff or leadership team and identify what is and what isn’t working. We then need to strategize how we can adapt our plan to fill in those gaps.
Some good questions to ask during the adaptation phase could be:
- Are we pointing people to Jesus or just trying to get content out?
- Are we missing any demographics of our church body?
- Have we listened to what people are tracking through and addressing those topics?
- Do we have the right people in the right positions?
As we work in the ministry, we oftentimes try to avoid conflict. Here’s the thing, we are sinful people and we make mistakes. How we handle addressing mistakes is crucial to making sure we are caring for people on our teams. Figure out where people’s strengths are and work with them to find a role where they can excel in their talents. It might just be they need some training or direction, which ultimately comes from senior leadership.
By no means am I saying this is the perfect plan or the only plan for that matter. But these are some general ideas to make the most of using digital media to connect, unify, and build up members of our churches. It’s also a great way to show from a digital standpoint how the body of Christ works together.
If your church body needs help developing a plan, we are here to help. Our goal is to be a committed partner with churches to help you utilize digital media. Our experience in video, social, and web along with discipling within the church has given us some insight as to how to use digital resources to effectively shepherd and disciple online. We offer free consultations and love to hear ideas and things churches are doing. We would love to hear from you!
About Scott Cunningham:
Scott has worked in digital media for the past 12 years helping companies and organizations clearly communicate their vision, mission, and purpose. As opportunities became available to serve in the Church, Scott felt led to use his experience to help churches create and communicate Gospel-centered resources. Your Church Media partners with churches to create quality online resources that help to equip, train, and communicate the Gospel of Jesus Christ in your local community.