Last week I made a statement on my personal profile that this would be a great time for churches to go online to minister. Immediately friends, especially the ones in North America, shared how their church already use social media and the internet to serve in little or big ways. However, there are many churches across the Caribbean and even in larger nations who are not yet taking advantage of current technology to connect and minister to their members.
There is nothing wrong with preferring worship in the physical building. However, with current restrictions about gatherings in public spaces this will be a challenge. Here are some ways you can use this platform and associated applications to stay connected to your members and share God’s love with them.
What you will need: A smartphone and/or laptop, access to stable internet, a team willing to learn and minister virtually.
Complete set up of your church’s Official page you began way back when. Fill in the contact details. How can people reach you if they have an emergency? Use the page to share public notices and encourage the community to heed advice. A verse of the day can be integrated from apps such as Bible Gateway and YouVersion. Post daily and often throughout the day.
Set up a Private Church Group – Facebook allows you to connect your church page to a group. Ensure the settings are private and not public. You want to create a space to reach your regular membership and those who fellowship with you although they are not a member. You can establish questions to ask the members before approving access, to ensure you are adding a legit member of the church. <(Find this Option at the top of your feed under Create, or if you click the Group Icon, there is an option to set up a group. You can connect you church’s page to the group.)
Be sure to set some ground rules for how people are to operate within the group.
Small and Effective. If your church is very large or has different locations, each church should set up it’s own group. Allow Youth, Women’s, Men’s, Singles’, Seniors’ ministries to have their own groups as well. Establish more than one administrator for the groups.
Can people promote their business in the group? Maybe you want to set aside a day when people can post what they have to offer as we know businesses are being challenged in this time. If your church has financial advisers or others with expertise which can help the body then allow them to share tips from time to time.
Manage What People Post. Don’t allow people to spam the page with unrelated content or conspiracy theories. Do give them the opportunity to share prayer requests or testimonies in a structured way.(Share a photo with a call to prayer and ask members to add their requests in the comments.)
Set a Schedule. As you would have a regular time for church meetings, establish what those times are for online meetings. You can keep them similar to what you did in person as the chances are high those times are still convenient for them.
Do Worship and Prayer Live. Take advantage of the Go Live option to conduct a worship session or a prayer service. You can add in a few members from their locations so people can engage and see the familiar faces of their worship team, their pastor, group leader, etc. Please don’t run them as long as you would a regular service. Engagement and attention on platforms drops the longer the event goes on.
Don’t Abandon Your Public Page. While this is a good time to focus on the care and needs of your immediate church family, this is also a time to offer wisdom and encouragement to your larger community. Share a word or song for the day. The pastor or the leaders can take turns writing a brief sermon which someone can read in their time. If you have videos of previous sermons, post them on the feed.
Where are your Young People? Most young people under the age of 25 aren’t on Facebook. Do you know where they are? Many use WhatsApp to communicate. The under 16s are on TikTok. Set up a WhatsApp group for them and establish rules as well and encourage them to share how they need your support. Your Youth Pastor or a trusted youth mentor/leader can manage the group and post daily words, memes. Dependent on the size of your youth group, invite them to live streamed services on Zoom or YouTube. WhatsApp is owned by Facebook and so it is possible to share your WhatsApp statuses to your Facebook stories. Instagram is an option for reaching your young adults. The stories option on Instagram, Facebook and WhatsApp is popular for young people. They may not regularly check the feed, so posting special content in the stories section of the apps can allow you to share God’s love to someone who may not otherwise see your other posts.
This is a good time to investigate how your membership use the various platforms and find a way to connect with them in a meaningful way. You aren’t using it to spy on them but to encourage their faith in these challenging times. Allow God’s wisdom and His heart to be close to use to define how you operate online. You may be able to reach someone who would never walk into your church building.
Keep the Faith.
I believe it is time to #tellyourstory. I help my clients from the private and public sector to leverage traditional and digital media to increase their visibility and make more money. I am a mentor, business strategist, a certified Business Continuity Specialist and the author of seven books, including In Plain Sight and the Making of a Caribbeanpreneur: Strategies for Overcoming Fear and Building Wealth. Follow me on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for more great tips and ideas to help you grow.