As your church creates an online presence, there is one key thing to remember – you have to create a seamless worship experience online and off.
You want everyone who interacts with your church to have a similar experience. This includes your members and site visitors who may not live anywhere close to your church.
Of course, for your members, having a continuous worship experience all week keeps them more engaged. And that is always a wonderful thing.
Maintain Contact Throughout The Week
Church shouldn’t just be one or two days a week. Your members and online followers need you to stay in contact with them throughout the entire week. More and more, even your most devoted members aren’t attending nearly as often and this is for a wide variety of reasons.
However, a lack of engagement is one reason. If members are only engaging with you a few hours a week, they might not make church a priority.
If you creating a seamless worship experience that continues all week, you keep your members engaged. You give them new things to think about, more inspiration and valuable resources to take on whatever challenges that may try to shake their faith.
For your online followers, you show that you’re a church that ministers every day and not just once or twice a week. This leads more of those silent online followers to come by your church if they’re in town.
Align Blog Posts With Recent Sermon
Random blog post topics are great, but for a more seamless worship experience, align at least a few of your blog posts with your most recent sermon. This gives you a chance to go more in-depth into your sermon. While you obviously couldn’t talk for three or four more hours on Sunday morning, your blog posts fill in those areas where you wish you could’ve said more.
One way to engage your members even more is to ask them to submit questions they had about your sermon. This will give you ideas for the coming week’s blog posts. Those questions may also spark great ideas for upcoming sermons.
If you have your sermons online, ask your online followers to submit questions too. This makes them feel more like a true part of your church.
Upload Sermons Online
Speaking of having sermons online, start uploading your sermons to your website. Your members may not always be able to attend regular services. This doesn’t mean they’re not interested in worship.
Plus, think of members who can’t attend anymore. They may be elderly, bedfast, sick or located in another city or state. They still may want to be a part of your church. However, if your online worship experience doesn’t give them the chance to stay engaged with your church, they may move on.
Give all of these members the same incredible experience they had within your church. The first step is to upload your sermons online. Then, they can still worship wherever and whenever.
Live Stream Sermons
One of the best ways to create a seamless worship experience is to live stream sermons as well as just uploading them afterward. Not only do viewers get to still worship from home or wherever they might be, they to worship in real-time with all your members.
In a digital world, it’s not always easy to bring people together in a good way. Yet, live streaming gathers people together for a shared purpose.
Your church has the power to bring together not only those who are physically seated in your church, but people from all over the world. They all gather to worship at the same time and feel more like one large community.
Live streaming can be daunting. After all, it’s a bit more complex than just uploading a video. However, we’ve created a great guide to help you get started with live streaming your church services. We’ve also created a list of common mistakes and how to avoid them.
Provide Ministry Groups Online And Off
Often times, churches only have ministry groups at the church. However, you have an online presence now, so you have to go a step further. Create online versions of your ministry groups.
You can do this through forums on your website, social media groups and even team collaboration tools like Slack. The idea is to give your members and online followers a place to continue studying God’s word and interact with each other.
Make sure you assign volunteers as moderators and to guide members. This keeps your online ministry groups a safe, welcoming place for everyone.
Create An Active Social Media Community
Many of your members are likely on social media. In fact, Facebook has over two billion users, so some of them are probably your church members. Create a seamless worship experience online and off by continuing to engage with members on social media.
Not only do you interact with them where they hang out online, but you listen to their conversations and make a note of their questions to incorporate into future sermons and blog posts.
While Facebook isn’t your church’s only option, it is the most popular social network and members share over 100 billion messages daily. This makes it a great starting point for churches. Plus, with Facebook Groups, it’s easy to create an active social media community for members and online followers to interact with each other 24/7.
This goes back to maintaining contact all week. You can set as many rules and limits on your groups as you want to keep them friendly and safe. For instance, you might make groups for kids and teens private to avoid just anyone joining.
Just remember you have to stay active on whatever social platform(s) you choose. You can ask volunteers to help out in responding to comments and moderating.
Use Online Feedback For Sermons
While it’s easy to just think about your church members when it comes to crafting your sermons, you have to remember your online followers too. Many of them attend your church weekly too by watching your sermons. They interact with your social media page and groups. They engage with your blog posts.
So, make them feel more included by asking for online feedback about the sermons you upload. Your online viewers are happy to give you advice on everything from the quality of the video and audio to topics they have questions about and would love to know more about.
Sometimes, your online viewers are more likely to tell you the truth about your sermons. Your members are a bit shyer since they see you in person. Listening to online feedback and help you improve and create a seamless worship experience online and off.
Offer Daily Readings For Upcoming Sermon
Help prepare members and online followers for your upcoming sermon by offering daily readings on your blog and via social media. Of course, you could do this the other way too and offer daily readings related to your previous sermon.
Either way, your church is giving everyone a way to continue worshipping every single day. Even the busiest members will have 5-10 minutes a day to devote to a daily devotional.
If you need some ideas on coming up with daily readings or you’d just like to provide your members, both online and off, with resources to find more devotionals, the following sites can help:
- Christianity Devotionals
- Our Daily Bread Daily Devotionals
- Upperroom Devotionals
- Crosswalk – 25 Free Email Daily Devotionals
- Crosswalk Daily Devotionals
You may even suggest a few apps for your members to use to make it easier and more convenient for them to worship.
Allow Real-Time Engagement During Services
The last thing you probably want is to tell your members it’s okay to use their phones and tablets during services. However, real-time engagement using online tools helps create a more seamless worship experience.
Instead of just sitting there listening, they can respond to polls on social media and your website. They can take notes in their favorite Bible app. They can share quotes with their friends on social media. You might consider putting up quotes on a screen behind the pastor to make this easier to share or have someone posting the quotes in real-time during the service.
Remind your members to please silence their devices to avoid any distractions. While some members might abuse this privilege, others will enjoy it, especially millennials and younger members.
Offer Online Worship Times Too
It’s not always easy for everyone to attend church at the same time. Work, kids’ events, illnesses and more get in the way. So, offer online worship times too.
For instance, if you have the availability, live stream an online-only service on Tuesday evening or Friday afternoon. These are special services that can be as long as or shorter than your standard service. Your members and online followers are all welcome. Try to find times that work best for the majority of people.
While you can use the same sermon, it’s a good idea to do something at least a little different. Otherwise, members who attend regular services probably won’t attend online services too.
Maintain The Same Personality And Tone
The easiest way to create a seamless worship experience offline and online is to maintain the same personality and tone everywhere. Whether members are talking to you in church or engaging with you on Facebook, it should feel the same.
You don’t want your online presence to be drastically different. Otherwise, people who visit your church are going to be surprised. Plus, your members may prefer you one way over the other.
So, try to keep the same personality and tone throughout all interactions. This consistency makes people feel like they’re in church wherever they’re interacting with you.
Avoid A Members’ Only Approach
One mistake churches make is to make their online worship experience all about their church members. After all, these are the people you see regularly, so it’s natural to engage more with them.
However, your online followers are a part of your church family too. So, try to avoid having a members’-only approach. Open ministry groups to people who don’t attend your church. Respond to comments from non-members.
Encourage online followers to talk about sermons and invite their comments on your blog posts. When you address your community, include them. This inclusion shows your online followers you care and makes your members more likely to engage with their extended church family.
Offer Online Prayer Requests
The rise of online prayer has helped bring the entire world together. It’s also a great way to grow your church and increase engagement. Prayer isn’t limited to the inside of your church.
Give all your website visitors a way to ask for prayers and mark a prayer if they’re praying for a person. This show of support for your church family helps bring everyone closer together. Sometimes, it also gives people a way to ask for prayers that they may not be comfortable doing in public. For instance, a prayer about an embarrassing illness could be submitted anonymously.
Online prayer is easy to implement, but it does a world of good. As you implement it, ask all your users for feedback. They may want additional features to make it easier to use.
Encourage Members To Engage With Online Followers
To create a seamless worship experience online and off, your members need to feel comfortable engaging with more people online. If they only interact with each other, they may miss out on the larger online community that worships right along with them every week.
Remind your members about your online worship opportunities. Encourage them to reach out to those who follow the church online. Ask them to help your church create a thriving online church family.
Ensure parents that all children will be protected. Sadly, not everyone who interacts with your church online has the best intentions. This is why you should have rules in place to protect everyone, especially kids. Also, introduce your volunteer moderators so members know who to reach out to if they encounter problems.
Otherwise, just encourage everyone to treat your online church family like another member.
Need a church website to improve your online worship experience? Contact us today to find out how we can help.
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