The Ultimate Coronavirus Guide For Churches
As more churches are having to move to digital services, we want to do all we can to help. This guide will help your church ramp up your digital ministry, digital services, and digital giving. Now is the time for us to serve people more than ever before!
Here is what we will help you with.
Okay, you ready? The local church has the ability to spread hope faster than this virus. So let’s get started!
Your Live Streaming Mindset
If these large group gathering restrictions continue, people are going to be starved for community and connection.
I’m gonna be encouraging churches to go live in low production environments and make their digital experiences very relational and converse with people. Give people time and permission to chat in the comments. Do acoustic sets that feels like the worship leader is with you in the living room. Have the pastor feel more like a small group leader. Provide a platform for conversation and prayer. Get rid of the production.
The church always adapts our worship to the cultural context and setting. We just need leaders to realize the platform just went through a major shift. Don’t just try and “do church” how you did it, but now online.
If this gets worse people won’t want to watch another show. Avoid just putting on a production. Go authentically live and minister to people. Provide a platform for connection. They’ll want that interaction.
The Secret to Effective Live Streaming
When it comes to live streaming and digital ministry, the secret is not buying a specific piece of equipment or using a specific platform. No, the secret to a good live stream is simply this: it’s all about relationships.
The goal has to be a meaningful digital ministry, not “likes” or subscribers. Make it all about your church getting to know people in your community, not the other way around.
This mindset shift frees you to focus on the quality of your relationship building, rather than the production value of your broadcast.
Planning Your Church’s Live Stream
So, how do you create an online experience that:
Here’s how to get started.
1. Be consistent
Your live streaming should be about showing up, not showing off. Don’t overcommit to a level of production that you won’t be able to sustain for the long haul. Instead, think: “What can we commit to, and how can we show up consistently?”
Since your goal is developing relationships, this principle makes sense. After all, relational growth requires consistency. Thankfully, your willingness to show up every single week will help your audience show up consistently, too.
2. Schedule Your Content
A big key to this is to schedule your content. You can do this by scheduling a Live or Premiere. This tells your audience when and where you are going to meet. This is huge. Think of it as giving your audience your service times and “driving directions.” If people don’t know when and where you’ll be meeting digitally, it makes it difficult for them to show up.
When you schedule your digital service, your people can start sharing that post right away. Encourage your congregation to like the post, subscribe, turn on “See First” and live notifications, share the post, and start inviting their friends and family in the comments section. They’ll also have the option to “Get Reminder” on the post. So when the service goes live, the platform will notify them.
Another benefit of scheduling your content is you can get a direct link to your service. This is called a url. You can take that link and email it out to your congregation. In the email give them instructions on how to invite their friends. Another idea is to text the direct link out to your church 15 minutes before the services goes live.
3. Cultivate Engagement
This sounds complicated, but it doesn’t have to be! Basically, it comes down to this: people will engage with you if you engage with them. So sow generously into engagement with others. Here are some ways to do this:
4. Create Thoughtful Content
Creating thoughtful content starts with an audience-first mindset. This means you need to be willing to tweak or change things in order to better serve their needs. Here are some questions to ask as you’re planning your service:
5. Create a Conversation Out of Every Comment
As you encourage and invite reactions from your audience, don’t *just* respond, to their questions. Instead, build a relationship!
Train your digital hospitality team to start conversations on the comment thread, and then move them over to direct messages. So if someone asks, “What time will service start?” Don’t just respond with, “10am on Sunday.” Instead, say “Hi Zack, service will kick off 10am this Sunday, are you going to be able to jump on and join us?” Then carry on the conversation from there.
Example Digital Church Services
Wondering how this looks when everything is put together? Check out this example 2017 Ice Storm Service from Summit Park Church. This simple service was ran from an iPad in a living room and it reached over 300,000 news feeds. We’ll be adding more examples to this Google Doc that your church can check out. We’ll also include some example digital experience for kids.
Starter Equipment Guides
While relationship-building is the most important goal of any church service (online or otherwise!), you can’t live stream your service without using some kind of equipment. Here are some of our top recommendations when it comes to equipment:
The CMU $0 Live Stream Equipment Guide
To start, use a phone or a tablet as your camera. You’ll want to get close to the camera and think through your lighting and audio environment. You’ll probably also want:
Ask around- someone in your church might have this equipment!
And that’s it- you can go live natively on the platforms you’ll be using. If you want to use Livestreaming software, here are some options:
Equipment Setup Help
If you’re looking for something besides a phone set-up, we have good news! All churches inside the Ultimate Easter Kit now have access to our Live Stream Course, as well. If you haven’t already signed up for the Ultimate Easter Kit, this is a great time to do just that- we’ll be updating it with coaching and advice that’s both Easter and Coronavirus-specific.
You can also check out this awesome guide from Blackbar:
When Things Go Wrong
Technology glitches will happen and you need to be prepared. Plus, with so many churches moving to live streaming, there is a possibility that we all crash YouTube and Facebook. Crazier things have happened.
So be prepared. If you are prerecording a service…go ahead and upload it now to a few different video hosting sites. Vimeo or Wistia for example. TItle them and have all your service information in the video details. Then if your stream crashes, you can direct people to a link where they can watch the service on demand. We’ll talk about putting this on a landing page below.
You might also have an email ready to go in case of a crash. You can also let your hospitality team know of the backup plan. That way if someone is having a tech issue, it gives you another option for them to try.
Pro-Tip – Digital Tech Rehearsals
Set up a test Facebook Page and private test Facebook Group. Put a few people from your team in the group. Then use these to test everything out before you go live.
Music and Licensing
Royalty-Free Music Libraries
Paid Music Libraries
Ways to Worship Live Streaming
Kids Ministry Ideas
Live Stream Kids Ministry Ideas
We’ve also added ideas for families to do together, and ministry ideas for weekdays to this doc. We’ll be adding updates as more churches share examples and ideas.
Example Kids Services
Generosity During a Pandemic
We want to help your church boost the level of generosity, digital giving, and recurring giving in your church. Here are a few resources we’ve created to help, and keep in mind we’ll be adding additional resources in real-time. We’ll be using this Google Doc to add generosity templates your church can utilize during the Coronavirus outbreak.
We’ll be adding more samples soon. If you’re a CMU church, you have access to our CMU Generosity Course, with training and downloads on this very topic! You also have access to our Be Courageous devotional series from Pastor Nathan Teegarden. Check out Day 3, which talks about generosity!
Mindset: Lead With Hope, Not Fear
As you see your giving decrease, you might be tempted to hit the panic button and tell your people, “We need you to give in order to keep the lights on!” Don’t. It’s tempting to use fear-based marketing, especially when you’re feeling anxious yourself. However, as the Church, we’re called to something greater.
We’re called to lead with hope, trusting in God and His plan for our communities and our world.
So, how do you lead with hope? Start with the question, “How can we best serve the people in our community right now?”
Providing a mission for your people and hope to your community is your best shot at getting people to rally generously around your church. There are actually more ministry needs in your community right now than ever before. Lead the way in meeting those needs, and encourage your people not to shrink back from giving or the work that’s before them.
Practical Steps to Encourage Generosity
Wondering what you can actually do to put these principles into action?
Online Giving Platforms
If your church is looking into online giving platforms, here are some popular options for you to explore:
Live Streaming Landing Page (Advanced)
Ok this one is an advanced tip for you overachievers.
Consider setting up a page on your website dedicated to all things Live / Digital Services. This could be something like yourchurch.com/live
This allows your team to direct anyone to /live if they have any questions, want to take a next step, or get more information about something mentioned during the live service.
Here are ideas of content that could be included in your live stream landing page:
As a church leader, you know that ministry doesn’t stop after Sunday! This outbreak is no exception. As people turn to social media to relieve their boredom, your church can be a beacon of the hope the Jesus offers the world! Here are our top ideas for ministry throughout the week:
It’s crazy right now. But don’t make this about your church! Ask the question…
“What do the people we serve need right now?” Here are some answers:
And the list goes on. Find ways to serve your community! It just might look different right now.
The church was never about a building, so let’s be the church!
[By the way…when you do that, the church advances like crazy. That is how it has always worked.]
Since the beginning of this outbreak, our CMU churches and team have been working hard to come up with ways that they can bring hope to their communities during this outbreak. You can read our full, continually updated list of ideas here. For now, here are some of our favorites:
Being home from school and cooped up can be hard on kids- and parents! This means that it’s easy to be helpful and thoughtful toward families during this time. Here are our favorite ideas we’ve seen so far. You can find our ever-growing list here.
Follow-Up And Community
Digital Connect Cards
Looking for a way to “take” Live Stream attendance or to get people to fill out a Connect Card from a Facebook Live? Here is what I’d recommend.
1. Start the LIVE and in a fun way, and also strongly encourage EVERYONE to leave a comment. That is your attendance/roll call.
2. Then encourage a next step of getting into a Facebook Group. As they request to join the Facebook Group, Facebook will allow you to ask people 3 questions. This is now your “Connect Card.” One idea would be to ask them their email and phone number and how long they’ve been attending the church.
That is the simple next step you ask people to take. It moves people to your digital community and it functions as your Connect Card.
We have a free course on how to set up and run a highly effective Facebook Group for your church.
3. Then use your Facebook Insights as your high-level metrics. Reach, views, etc.
4. Another option would be to encourage people to use keywords as comments during the live. Then use a chatbot or your hospitality team to follow up. For example, you could say, “If you are new just type connect in the comments. We’d love to reach out and get to know you.”
5. You can follow-up with anyone using keywords after the live and reply with a comment. Then look for the “message” option and send them a message from the page. You could thank them for attending and include a link to your digital connect card via Messenger.
Besides having a church-wide Facebook group, chances are your small groups want a chance to get together, too. Because they’re “small groups” there will be a temptation for them to continue meeting in person. Please provide leadership to your small group leaders on this topic!
There are vulnerable people in your congregation that are wanting to follow the advice of the CDC and not be in gatherings of 10 or more. Don’t let them be shamed by small group leaders and group members.
Over-communicate with your leaders. Let them know how to show people grace. Give them ideas on how to do group video chats.
Bottom line: when you don’t lead and communicate, bad things happen.
Group Video Chat Options
So, how should they go about doing a group video chat? The answer depends on a lot of factors- like the size of your small groups, their existing communication channels, and the culture of their group. Here are some guiding principles to get you started:
Just think: if we can get this right, our churches will come out of this pandemic stronger than they’ve ever been? What do you think is gonna happen when all of those strong online communities can get together for the first time?
One word: Revival!
Quick Tips from Barbara Carnerio
We’re bring you the best ideas we find to help your church. We’ll be adding more tips daily so be sure to bookmark this page.
Check out these quick, encouraging tips from Barbara Carnerio of 412 Lab:
For the full list, check out this post in our Church Marketers Facebook Group.
We’re moving as fast as we can to resource you during this season. Now is not the time for churches to shrink back from outreach.
So if your services, events, missions trips, etc. are at risk of being canceled…the great news is that Church Marketing University can help guide your church on a local digital missions trip right to your own community.
Let’s not shrink back in fear, but let’s see this as the perfect time to share our message of hope and faith to people who aren’t believers yet, and who may be isolated during an outbreak like this.
Last week’s article on developing a church coronavirus plan.
Brady Shearer of Pro Church Tools is providing a month’s worth of free social posts to help your church during the outbreak.
Coronavirus Resources for the Church by Wheaton College. There’s a manual, a planning template, and you can even sign up for a webinar!
The official CDC resources on Coronavirus. If you want sound, fact-based information about the Coronavirus, this is where to look.
Four Ways to Pray surrounding the Coronavirus, from the Assemblies of God.
The Coronavirus: Choosing Love in a Time of Fear by Nathan Betts
B&H Photo Video Wishlist for ideas for a digital service from home equipment kit.
Rick Warren, The Billy Graham Center, and Wheaton College have partnered together to create an online collection of resources for you as your church deals w/ Coronavirus. View resources you can use to make strategic decisions, care for members & love your community
7 Ways Your Church Can Be Present During Coronavirus Isolation by Adam McLaughlin