Global society is currently working through one of the most challenging seasons we’ve ever faced in combating the spread of COVID-19 and instituting shelter-in-place mandates in response to public health and safety concerns. While everyone has felt the adverse effects of this governmental response in our daily living, from employment to schooling and more, faith communities have also found themselves forced into an unfamiliar territory as in-person ministry and interaction has largely shifted to remote means of communication.
Now, as churches are beginning to reopen their doors and host in-person services once again, many have learned ways to leverage technology, such as church management software, more effectively to reach and engage audiences they would have never thought possible before. In fact, there’s a large contingent of churches who are making the steps to move to a “phygital” (digital and physical) approach to reach and engage these new audiences on a consistent basis.
With a mixture of congregations eagerly returning to sanctuaries around the world, along with those who have discovered new churches online or find the online experience more compatible with their lifestyle, this moment in time gives churches the perfect opportunity to reset their digital systems and move forward as more effective digital communicators in a post-COVID society.
Tracking Service Attendance
For many churches, local governments are still requiring certain limitations on gathering sizes. This provides an opportunity to ensure that your ChMS database and directory are up-to-date as you can create registration forms for your services that visitors will need to fill out in order to help you keep an accurate count and stay within regulations. Here are some sample questions you should include on your attendance registration forms to make sure you have all the info you need:
- How many people are in your family?
- What are their names?
- What are their ages?
- Which location do you plan to attend? (For Multi-site churches)
- Which service time will you plan to attend? (For multiple services)
These sample questions help you understand your needs for seating, childcare, and attendance limits for service times and locations.
PRO TIP: Set an online registration limit that leaves room for potential visitors who come unannounced to still make it without having to be turned away. You never want to make a bad impression by telling a newcomer to hit the road if they weren’t aware about regulations or just happened to be driving by and decided to come in. Talk with your team about what a reasonable amount would look like that still gives you some wiggle room.
Establishing a Virtual Connect Desk
In addition to your physical Connect Station at your church, online visitors should be given the opportunity to learn more about your church and engage with a real person, even when they can’t attend in person. You can use your church management software to act as a virtual connect desk with a few components.
Create an online attendance form where online viewers can provide their information that can be kept in your ChMS database. Once submitted, use the communication workflows in your church management software to send a follow up email or text message with links to helpful resources and next steps for visitors who want to get more involved with your church.
Here are some examples of follow-up communications you can incorporate into your church communication strategy:
- Schedule a team member to follow up with a phone call to get to know the visitor
- Send a welcome email with information about planning a visit if they’re in the area
- Invite them to connect via social media
- Invite them to subscribe to weekly service streams
Your team can decide what messaging works for you, but making that initial connection will go a long way in securing and building a lasting relationship with your online attendees and making sure they feel just as much a part of the body of your church as those who attend in-person. Spend time with your hospitality team and any volunteers that interact with new visitors so they know proper guidelines and resources to use when following up with them.
PRO TIP: Remember, this isn’t just about checking the box to say you reached out to someone. Make it a priority to use your church management software to schedule multiple interactions with new visitors that provide their information. Show them that your church values them and wants to see them grow in their relationship with Christ. In addition, make it a point to talk about things outside of church and theology. Develop a rapport and get to know them like you would a friend.
Get Your Volunteers on the Same Page
Your volunteers need to be kept in the loop on what’s going on and should have clear explanations given to them for guidelines, procedures, and schedules. ChMS users can activate their free Worship Planning Deluxe account to sync their database contacts with volunteer teams in Worship Planning.
Once you have your teams built out, make sure they have access to whatever they need, including presentations and sheet music for your worship setlist. Worship Planning makes this simple with assigned roles for the worship team that gives them the lyrics and sheet music for their specific instrument for each song. As you add in new songs and parts, your database will save those and keep track of them for future services.
PRO TIP: Use a centralized location to keep guides, access information, and shared creative files, such as: logos, print templates, slide designs, and other commonly used resources so they can access it whenever they need to add or update content. It’s also important to have designated personnel to handle things like technical issues or proofreading and editing to help the rest of your team stay on top of their tasks.
Building Bridges for Deeper Connections
Whether you’re engaging with someone online or in person, the goal is the same: to build relationships that lead people to Christ. When someone expresses interest in becoming a part of your church, you need to be ready to equip and empower those people through whatever means are at your disposal. And setting yourself up to reach and disciple in person and online is an essential component of planning for a post-COVID future. Your church management system can actually help you minister to your people, as well.
PRO TIP: Think about how you want to shepherd people that attend your services online and in-person and how much crossover you can manage between both scenarios. Determine virtual means for engaged members to meet and grow spiritually, such as Zoom Bible studies, online classes, and other ideas, then setup interaction workflows with your people to keep in touch on a regular basis and stay engaged with remote attendees.
Being prepared is key as new digital inroads are being made between the home and the Church. That’s why it’s more important than ever to have a church management software that can grow and integrate with your infrastructure to meet the needs of digital and physical attendees. Elexio offers a 60-day free trial of our platform so you can see for yourself why our churches are ready to reach the people where they are in a post-COVID society.