Today, most people and churches are just starting to consider live streaming as a regular part of the way they work, teach and connect. Therefore, online church is on track at being the next great tool, empowering providers of worship, and those that worship with us, to connect, create and celebrate people globally.
It helps if people see what is being provided, and feel the added value to their own lives and communities through the online site.
After live streaming for six years, Floris United Methodist Church wanted to take the next step, to be in partnership with and provide our congregation a way that is totally inclusive, while making a difference in the world. We know that partnering with our congregation is critical, to achieve the eventual level of envisioned discipleship.
Online church offers a multiplicity of ways to make this happen. Most importantly, it creates impactful connections with purpose and vision, that can be meaningful for everyone.
Church at its best is when it captures powerful storytelling, engaging people and moving them by what is said, to join us in other spaces for chat, prayer, and deeper discussion.
In these spaces, whether chatting one-on-one with a pastor, joining small groups, peer-to-peer groups, prayer groups, or being part of a real-time conversation, being held in places like a virtual lobby, during a hosted discussion or on Facebook, topics can continue to be explored in a more inspiring and fulfilling way.
Sharing and connecting may lead to discipleship through online church. It is uniquely different online, though, and at first, it can be difficult for people to overcome using technology, despite feeling strongly about a topic or event.
It helps if people see what is being provided, and feel the added value to their own lives and communities through the online site. They need to quickly know what they are getting into without having to guess, because joining an online church is partnering in a different way, which requires trust. Explain what you stand for online, and what you support, up front and out loud.
One of the easiest first steps in creating that trust is to make sure the worship experience remains consistent, unique and interesting enough, to where it draws the viewer back each and every week.
The main key in overcoming technology is to design a site where people feel welcome, where information and participation is clearly defined, the site is easily accessible and intuitive to use, especially when a large part of the goal is to have site visitors invite friends to the online campus.
Keep in mind that people will very often experience who you are as a church online, before they have a chance to visit your church building.
Capture the energy of starting a new endeavor, and then create a campaign around the new and exciting concept.
Look for effective community builders, those people who are identified as active members and contributors. Place them in key roles as impact creators. Have an encouraging member engage with someone when they are ready to explore and connect.
The same idea applies when creating groups. Make sure they are led by passionate and responsive leaders, to provide maximum impact and allow others to learn.
It helps if you can include great stories that show how participation leads to transforming lives and real success up front. These are the stories to refer to when encouraging people to share church online with the people that they are already most comfortable with.
The buy-in for trust starts with simplicity and transparency.
If people can see that you know what you are doing, by showing confidence, clarity of purpose and a mission, it sure makes it easier for them to trust.
Authenticity is magnetic and essential, but what absolutely connects people best is empathy. Empathy is what creates communities organically, and is almost always found in those spaces, where you find magical, connecting moments. Empathy also develops with responsiveness, compassion and rapport.
Learning from other churches that have been successful at having their church online, while also paying attention to these elements, can help lessen the various concerns that often arise about distance and creating a campus grown through technology.