I don’t know about your church, but around 70% of our congregation is still attending online.
Depending on where you live, this likely will be the norm for the foreseeable future.
So, how do you effectively engage your online church audience?
This is an important question to ask right now, but also for the future.
Beyond the pandemic, it’s possible a percentage of church attendance will continue digitally.
I have some ideas I’d like to share on how we might effectively engage this segment of our congregation.
Here are five ideas I hope will help.
Provide Excellent Digital Content
If you want your people to engage, you’ve got to provide excellent content.
By this, I mean content that is truly helpful, but also content that is technically solid.
At the beginning of the pandemic, we all scrambled to get our services and programs online.
Quality and excellence weren’t as important as presence. This is no longer true.
There is a baseline of video and audio quality expected from churches streaming online, which is pretty much everyone these days.
I would argue that to continue effectively engaging our people, we need excellent content in terms of our worship services, but we also need excellent content in terms of audio and visual quality.
Now is the time to invest in technology and expertise because this is our reality, and it’s our future.
If you don’t know where to go for help, I would encourage you to reach out to a church that is doing this well.
More often than not, their technology team will be very helpful.
If you’re still stuck, reach out to me. I know a guy.
Make it Findable
If you create great content but nobody can find it, you have a problem.
About midway through this past summer, we realized we had a lot of great content going out, but you needed the “secret code” to access it.
Our student ministry emailed a link to a YouTube channel.
Our young adults’ ministry emailed a link to a Zoom meeting.
Our church services lived over here, women’s ministry over there, and that one men’s ministry event…no one could find it.
We needed a centralized place for our congregation to access everything. Here’s what we came up with:
It’s not fancy, but it’s clear and simple.
What I’m saying is, I believe it’s important to create excellent content for your people to engage with AND make it easy to access.
If someone has to go digging through their email history to find the link, they’ll probably give up.
An essential aspect of engaging your online audience is relationship.
There’s a reason social media is called “social.” It’s relational.
Here’s what I mean: If your church has an Instagram and people make comments or ask questions, you need to respond.
It’s a relationship.
Whatever platforms you’re using to distribute content or information, you need to monitor them and respond appropriately.
Here’s a question you need to ask: Whose job is that?
Who on your team is looking for these comments and questions and making sure they get answered by the right people?
These responses need to be quick—same day if possible, because quick responses build trust, and trust is the bedrock for relationships.
Keep in mind the vast majority of visitors to your church will visit digitally, at least initially.
If they ask a question and you take a week to respond, you’ve probably lost them.
Here’s a question: How do you know if you’re creating helpful content for your online audience?
How do you know if your content is easy to access?
The answer. Ask them.
I encourage you to regularly survey your online audience.
- Was this helpful?
- What would make this easier?
- What would make this better?
- Would you share this? If not, what would encourage you to share?
- Is there a way we can serve you and your family?
- Can we pray for you?
Questions will make your online audience feel heard and validated, and they will help you fine-tune your content.
I would make this a regular part of your online strategy.
Create an Online Atrium
Something we are working on is making online church more of an interactive experience.
I know many other churches are way ahead of us on this; maybe your church is too.
In my opinion, an integral part of the church experience is the atrium.
It’s making connections with other people, learning about their lives, and making guests feel welcome.
I think there is a way to create an atrium experience with your online church service.
It’s called live hosted chat.
What if you open up a moderated chat and train a few staff or volunteers to greet attendees and ask a few strategic questions:
- Is there any way we can serve you today?
- Could we pray for you?
I believe it’s possible to create an atrium-like experience in your online church service.
This will help your online attendees feel more seen, heard, and connected.
Well, there you have it.
Five ways I believe we can focus on engaging our online church attendees better.
I hope this has been helpful.
If you have additional ideas to add, please leave them in the comments below.