Okay, so we’ve been running our churches for two weeks now in this COVID-19 pandemic. Every single church leader, to some extent or another, has been thrust into ministry strategies and opportunities in technology that were unexpected. Below is a list of 11 things, amid the current challenges, that you possibly should either have in place at this point and/or consider implementing at this point.
1. ARE THERE ANY GAPS IN YOUR WORSHIP STREAMING EXPERIENCE?
In response to this pandemic, many churches have moved to streaming their worship on Facebook Live. I think this is great, but not everyone is on Facebook. At the same time, some churches are streaming through a service whereby people connect by going to the church website. Again, I think this is great. But what about people who are looking for a church in these trying times and don’t know these protocols? Now that we’re a couple of weeks into this virtual worship emphasis, look to see where your gaps of viewership might be, then attempt to close those gaps. Many of the streaming services simply have a button you can push to also stream to Facebook, Instagram, etc., simultaneously. There are a lot of easy solutions for whichever gap you may have. The key is to provide as many “on ramps” as you can for people to connect and worship with you.
2. LEVERAGE SOCIAL MEDIA LIKE NEVER BEFORE
So many churches I am working with are having people post pictures of their people sitting at home watching worship. Many small groups are meeting virtually now, and churches are having small group leaders post screen shots of their group meeting online. People within your church need to see each other by every means possible right now. They also need to see all the different ways you are ministering to others in your church and your community during this crisis. If people in your church are delivering groceries to the doorsteps of those who are quarantined right now, have them take a picture and post it on social media. People need to connect and see how their church is making a difference and hopefully be inspired to do the same. And don’t forget to respond to what they post. Be very intentional to engage with the people who are posting by "liking" and “commenting" on their posts which is a great way to get more people to pay attention to your posts.
3. PERSONALLY CONTACT ALL “NEW” GIVERS
Each week, if there is someone in your church that has chosen to become a new giver during this time of crisis, then you need to say thank you in a personal way. Send them a personal, handwritten note expressing your appreciation that they have chosen to start giving to your church and that they have done so in such a time of need. I would strongly suggest it should be the pastor/minister. If you’re concerned the people receiving the card would think you look at individual giving, assuming that isn’t a part of your polity, I can help you navigate this concern. During this time of crisis in some of my churches, the pastor/minister is taking this a step further and personally calling new givers to express their appreciation.
4. ONLINE GIVING
I spoke with a church today, that even two weeks into this crisis, had not implemented online giving. The present crisis has given every church who doesn’t currently have online giving a golden opportunity to do so. Right now, you need to give your people every available opportunity to give. Online giving is one of the most convenient.
5. DO A SHORT VIDEO ON THE WAYS TO GIVE TO YOUR CHURCH
So many churches are implementing new strategies and technology for people to give to their church. At the same time, many people are using the existing technology for giving their church already had in place for the first time. I would acknowledge this situation to your church in your announcements and offer help via a short video. Place a video on your giving page which walks someone step-by-step through the different technologies by which they can give. I personally recommend using screenshots, so it looks just like what they’re going to see when they do the process. Another tip would be to not use actual dollar amounts in your explanations because it could be well above or below the giving level of the person watching the video. I think it is better to use something like $X,XXX than actual numbers. In addition to the giving page, some churches will send out an email with the link to this video after they have made an announcement in their service(s).
6. HAVE SOMEONE WATCHING YOUR GIVING DATA
At Generis, we put a lot of emphasis and even resources into the significance of giving data. The leading indicator of someone in pastoral need or someone who is growing spiritually is giving. Many people think the reason we put so much emphasis on giving data is for the sake of giving itself, which is simply not the case. The primary emphasis we put on giving data is to help you with pastoral direction and strategy. During this pandemic you need to have someone watching to see if there are people who were consistent givers who have stopped giving during this time. Those names need to be gathered and they need someone to check on them. You’re not going to call them about their giving. You’re going to call and ask how they are “really” doing and how you can pray for them. You definitely need to understand giving patterns so someone doesn’t end up on this list erroneously.
7. ASSUME YOU HAVE NEW PEOPLE EACH WORSHIP SERVICE
I’ve been watching various churches in their online services and many are assuming everyone in attendance is a member or regular attender. The internet essentially broke last week because so many people were going online to worship. And a number of those folks were new to the churches they were attending virtually. You need to speak to these new people and thank them for attending. Not only does it make these new folks feel welcome, but it also encourages your current attenders and members that new people are connecting with your church during this time of crisis.
8. SHORT AND FREQUENT MEETINGS WITH YOUR LEADERS
Many churches have secured virtual meeting rooms through Zoom, Microsoft Teams, etc. for their small groups to reserve and have small group meetings, youth meetings, children’s ministry moments, as well as other things. During these challenging times you need to be connected with the leaders of your church more than ever. Setup a 30-minute meeting with your leaders either weekly or every two weeks. Give them a quick update of what you need them to know, execute, and communicate, as well as dedicating a time to pray with them. This meeting not only promotes accurate information transfer, but it helps these leaders feel connected and encouraged. Don’t make this a one-hour meeting or I believe it will negatively affect attendance. Tell them the meeting will be 30-minutes or less. In order to help maintain this commitment, ask them to text any questions they have and you will answer all of those one-on-one.
9. PERSONALLY SAY THANK YOU TO CONSISTENT AND GENEROUS GIVERS
Develop a list from your giving data of the people whose giving has remained consistent and even increased during this COVID-19 crisis. Each week take time to send them an email, text, or even make a phone call to thank them for remaining so faithful and/or even increasing their giving during these trying times. Ask how they are “really” doing and how you can pray for them…then pray with them over that need and thanking God for their faithfulness and generosity. This is a core center of generosity for you and they need to be thanked now more then ever.
10. OFFERING MOMENTS PROMOTE GENEROSITY
I have attached a link to a resource our CEO, Jim Sheppard, did to help churches with their Offering Moments during this crisis. An Offering Moment is a short 60-120 second moment before you receive the offering to thank people for their generosity and help them understand the difference their giving makes, both in the lives of others as well as making ministry happen. Sometimes this moment is done by sharing a story, a ministry report, an announcement of a new ministry/strategy, or even a testimony. While we are in the throes of this pandemic, I think all your Offering Moments each weekend should be stories and testimonies of victory that are happening within your church related to this COVID-19 crisis.
11. FIRST QUARTER GIVING/IMPACT STATEMENTS
This is another strategy we coach at Generis with our churches and we are coming to the end of the first quarter of the year. Once you’ve closed this first quarter, you need to send a Quarterly Giving/Impact Statement. This statement should include:
Letter from the pastor/minister thanking them for their generosity and expressing the reality of the situation we find ourselves right now
Celebrations/Stories of the victories won in the last quarter and the victories to be won in this next quarter