The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has advised many people to observe “social distancing” as a precautionary tactic for slowing down the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. In practice, it may be as simple as declining to shake hands or as complicated as canceling church events making it hard to stay connected.
But just because you can’t congregate the way you normally do doesn’t mean you can’t connect with one another. We have so many resources for communication these days—you may even find it a bit overwhelming.
But don’t worry. We’ve got you covered. Here are six ways you can connect with and better serve your community with the help of technology during the COVID-19 pandemic:
Be Seen and Heard
You may not think you’re much to look at, but your members will find it comforting to see your face.
Share important updates about your coronavirus response and the words God has laid on your heart by recording videos and uploading them to your website and/or platforms like YouTube and Facebook Watch.
Live-streaming options are great for members who don’t feel comfortable attending services and want to watch from home to reduce their risk of exposure to COVID-19. If you already have a Facebook page for your church, it’s easy to use Facebook Live to stream your services and connect with the people already following your page. Or Outreach.com just launched Free Church Online to help churches live stream their services.
All you need is a steady tripod and your smartphone.
Write it Out
Share a message of hope and peace. Write a blog post or email to reassure members and keep them up-to-date on schedule changes and ministry needs. A simple email can also alert congregants when a new video is posted online.
Text it to Them
Send out notices through your church app or via an SMS texting service. Apps like Realm Connect allow church members to chat about needs and concerns in real-time. Small groups can quickly work together to identify and meet one another’s needs.
Make a Call
Some congregants may not be as comfortable with technology as others. Enlist church leaders to call and check in on those in their care. Have them ask if they need any groceries or supplies and offer to deliver them to their home.
Meet Up (Virtually)
Many people are familiar with Facebook groups and it’s fairly easy to start one if you haven’t done so before. Use this service to continue to inform and encourage one another to trust the Lord during the coronavirus pandemic.
A small group could even “meet” to study God’s word using video chat services. Google Hangout can handle a video call with up to 25 participants and a free personal account with Zoom allows for up to 100 people.
Emphasize Online Giving
When people don’t attend, they often don’t give. Use the above methods of communication to share with people the needs of your church and point them to your easy-to-use online giving webpage.
Encourage them to be generous even when no one is looking.
BONUS TIP: Mix it Up
Be sure to use a combination of these options for any given message. For instance, text a link to a new blog post. Send an email with directions for how to join a video chat. Or post a video to answer people’s questions about the online giving process.
Most people favor one form of communication over another. So be sure to get your messages out in multiple ways.
The key factor in making these technologies work for you is having everyone’s current contact information. Now is a great time to remind everyone to update the church with any changes to their information so they don’t miss important communication about the COVID-19 pandemic and how your church is responding.
Today’s technologies have so much to offer. Let’s use them to connect with and serve one another during these uncertain times.