During uncertain times, people are looking for spiritual answers. They are willing to hear reasons for the hope Christian believers have in Christ. And when they feel comfortable with a trusted source, they are willing to ask.
They are even willing to go to your church website and watch a recorded message.
The Corona virus has forced congregations to provide online messages for its members as a temporary replacement for corporate worship. Whether live or on-demand, members are watching and listening by themselves or with family members. Every congregation is reporting an impressive number of viewers. If each view represents two and a half people, then average worship attendance is receiving a major boost.
It is safe to assume that pastors are currently reaching a new audience with every on-line message.
Though we eagerly look forward to the day when we can all gather as God’s people to worship, the Lord may be providing us with unique opportunities during this time to connect with our online visitors.
Here are some suggestions on how to do that.
Get to know the audience
An important first step is to carefully and thoroughly investigate your online audience through Google Analytics. The total number of views is a part of the story. There is a bigger picture that can be drawn by looking closely at the data. Here are just a few questions to consider
What percent of people came from my county or within a fifty-mile radius of my church?
What percent of people watched the entire message online?
What is the average length of time people are watching the message?
When people are clicking to watch the message online, are they visiting other pages on your website?
Data gleaned from your Google Analytics can provide valuable information on how to effectively reach your online audience and your non-member visitors.
Offer a next step
It is good to welcome and acknowledge online visitors within your video message as you would normally do on a Sunday morning. I encourage you to consider providing a next step.
- Point people to your contact page on your website. Encourage them to send you an email.
- Let visitors know that you care about them. Ask them how they are doing during this time of uncertainty. Let them know that your church family is willing to pray for them. They can use your contact page to submit prayer requests.
- Offer a free resource. There may be a book that helps people with anxiety or parenting.
- Offer to subscribe to an email newsletter that is not the official church newsletter that is designed for members. There are non-members who would be interested to receive an email newsletter. They are interested in receiving regular devotions from the pastor. If you have a K-8 school or an early childhood program, school-age parents would welcome tips right now from your teachers to help with their child’s home learning or deal with parental stresses of having kids at home all the time. Your church can further position itself to be an excellent and trusted resource.
- Provide an on-line survey (e.g. survey monkey) link next to your video message. This is an opportunity to ask non-members their opinion and let them know that they are valued. Some of the questions could include type of events or programs they would be interested in attending at church.
A new normal
This world-wide pandemic is forcing us to enter a new normal. This is a time for gospel ministries to be proactive by carefully examining our activities to deliver the Word. When it is eventually deemed safe by our governing authorities to gather and worship together, the potential online audience will not be going away. I believe we are discovering and implementing new entry points to reach the lost, de-churched, or people who are looking for a good church home with solid biblical teaching. Instead of encouraging members to invite friends and neighbors to walk through threatening church doors on Sunday morning, this can be an opportunity to teach them to send online invitations to hear God’s Word on your church website by providing specific links.
Let’s continue to grasp this fascinating time the Lord has placed us in to spread the Good News of what he has already done for the world.