3. Share your worship services online.
Your church may already live stream your messages. If so, you are ahead of the game. If not, you can get started live streaming or use the easier tool of Facebook Live.
• Start live streaming. Live streaming multiplies the reach of your church. While there may be certain aspects of community worship that are difficult online, you can serve through technologies like live streaming.
There are fundamental steps you must take first.
- Boost your internet connection. Live streaming requires 5 Mbps per second at the very minimum, and really, 10 Mbps should be your base rate.
- Get your gear:
• external microphone
• HD Box/Computer/Broadcaster/Video Encoder,
Enlist someone who has the technical know-how to manage production and streaming. For more information, read this: Live Streaming 101: How to Get in the Game
For gear, check out these recommended suppliers:
• Use Facebook Live video. Some larger churches have video streaming of their services on their church websites, but most small churches don’t have the equipment, knowledge, or finances for live streaming. Facebook Live allows a church to stream a message from staff members or a church service directly onto Facebook. Outreach is offering a new free solution that provides your church a Live Stream page that links from your website and automatically features your Facebook Live or YouTube Live streams. This allows online viewers to easily connect from your site to your live online services. This tool is expected to go live March 20, watch for updates at FreeOnlineChurch.com.
If your church cannot meet for a time, here are a few ideas to continue discipleship and Christian education online.
• Convert face-to-face lessons into online lessons and train teachers to do so.
• Determine how to triage technical issues if faced with limited IT support and staff.
• Determine how to deal with the potential lack of access your congregants may have to computers and the internet at home.
• Remember the children. Use online resources to continue their Christian education. Check out resources from Life.Church Open Network.
INCREASE YOUR MARKETING AND OUTREACH.
During times of fear and uncertainty, people will be looking for hope and will be more open to the Gospel. As they are searching both locally and online, will they find your church? This is not a time to decrease your communication but a time to increase it.
Here are some practical things your church can do to let your community know there is hope.
• Increase your social media presence.
• Invite people to your church. Make invite cards for your members to hand out that invite people in your community to join your church services online or on Facebook. People will be more open to receiving an invite card right now. Outreach has many ready-made designs that you can customize in a few minutes or upload your own artwork.
• Share hope with outdoor banners. Consider putting up a banner outside of your church on the street that says “We Are Here for You!” to let your community know you are a church that cares. Add your website and phone number to the banner. Or put up a banner that says “Join us online for church at ________” to let your community know that you have an online ministry that they can go to. Outreach has many ready made designs that you can customize in a few minutes or upload your own artwork.
PROVIDE ONGOING PASTORAL CARE AND LEADERSHIP TO YOUR CHURCH MEMBERS.
A pastor’s job is to shepherd the flock–even if the flock is somewhat scattered. If your church is unable to meet regularly, there are still practical ways you can provide counseling, encouragement, and pastoral care during this time.
• Address people’s fears with the hope of Christ.
• Use phone calls, texting, and emails to check in with your congregants regularly.
• Communicate through podcasts. Podcasts are a great way to provide comfort and communicate biblical perspective during times of crisis. You can use Facebook Live as a simple tool for podcasting. For more detailed podcast guidance, read “Your Complete Guide to Podcasting.”
• Pastors have an obligation and duty to their flock in sickness and death. In a health crisis, the demands on pastoral staff may greatly increase for funerals and comforting the bereaved. Consider live streaming funerals as people may not be able to attend due to isolation or quarantine.
• Plan for outreach to shut-ins, people with special needs, and the elderly.
CONTINUE COMMUNITY OUTREACH.
People will be more open to the Gospel in words and in deeds than maybe ever before. Determine to speak the truth of the Gospel at this time and to serve in Jesus’ name. Whatever you decide to do to serve your community, ensure that you tell people what you’re doing. You can use invite cards, your website, your Facebook page, Facebook groups, other social media accounts to inform people of your services.
Here are a few ideas to get you started.
Provide food and household supplies.
• Stock up on food for those who may be quarantined and coordinate delivery teams. See what local food donation organizations you may be available to partner with. They may be looking for help in food distribution and you can serve there.
• Encourage local grocery markets and pharmacies to deliver. You could even help facilitate these deliveries.
• Help elderly people set up online ordering systems so they can order from home.
• If there is community spread of COVID-19, design strategies to avoid distribution in group settings. Consider options such as drive-through bagged lunches or meal delivery.
Provide varied types of assistance.
• Care for families who may have someone sick or in the hospital.
• Provide burial care if necessary. Again, consider live streaming these services for people who cannot attend.
• Set up a “hotline” for people to call with any needs you haven’t yet identified. Then connect your church members to meet these needs.
• Consider how to help with pets. There may be medical needs with pets that quarantined people cannot accommodate.
• Provide financial assistance for people who may need to miss work because of illness, to care for someone, or to care for children should schools be closed.
OFFER YOUR BUILDING FOR MINISTRY.
While a virus outbreak may require members of the congregation to quarantine themselves in their homes for a period of time, the congregation and its facilities may also be of great benefit to the wider community. Hospitals, clinics, public health agencies, and disaster-response organizations may be able to use your facility to serve the community.
• Identify people in need and designate people within your congregation to check on these people regularly.
• Your church may be able to serve as an immunization site or a spillover facility for a hospital or a disaster service center. Prepare a description of your facilities (i.e., a list of rooms, offices, kitchens, bathrooms, and other details of your building). Reach out to emergency-management officials in your community and offer to let your facility be used during a crisis.
Keep reading this Church Guide to Coronavirus to discover three more possible disruptions.