3 Ways to Develop Online Church Community

In the last several days, churches across the nation have been faced with unprecedented decisions regarding church services and events. Thankfully, we live in an age where technology offers solutions for online services, digital discipleship groups, and other unique ways to connect with your community. How can the church use this opportune time to build community, cultivate relationships and further the message of the gospel?

Streaming Services Online. If your church does not currently stream services online, there are several options available for you.

  1. Open Broadcaster Software is a free tool that mixes audio, video, and screens for your online stream to Facebook, YouTube, Twitch and other platforms.
  2. If you desire to stream to multiple platforms, archive sermons, and create video clips for social media, you may want to check out ChurchLab, for month-to-month plans beginning at $29/month.
  3. If you just need a basic option to get started, you can begin with a phone and a Facebook Page.

Regardless of the option you choose for streaming, you must have the appropriate copyright licensing. The basic Christian Copyright Licensing International (CCLI) covers songs within the four walls of your church, but once you take music outside the four walls, you need additional licensing. You can find more information in the article I wrote here.

Building Community. Whether your church is already streaming services or just beginning, now is the time to give extra attention to your online community. Digital church is much more than broadcasting a service online. We must receive our viewers as members of our church community, not just spectators. What if you walked into church on Sunday morning and no one said, “Hello.” Most likely you would not come back. The same applies to digital church. Here are some ways you can develop community online:

  1. Pin a message to the top of your stream asking people to post their location. Make sure you respond to each post by welcoming them to church.
  2. When the pastor prays for needs in the live service, ask if there is anyone online who has a need they would like to share. Respond by praying for them with a short post. If a need is personal, invite them to send you a private message.
  3. When announcements are shared in the live service, provide a link where viewers can find announcements online.
  4. Share a link for online giving when the offering is received.
  5. Ask questions and encourage discussion.
  6. Invite people to join your church Facebook Group.

Cultivating Relationships. One of the most important aspects of church life is the relationships that are developed and nurtured. This doesn’t only have to take place in a face-to-face environment. There are many ways relationships can be developed online:

  1. Hold weekly times of prayer on Facebook Live.
  2. Create a church family Facebook Group. This is a great channel to share more intimate information that relates to the church family. Is the church collecting food for a special need? Are there special announcements that don’t need to be shared on a public page? Share light-hearted funny posts to encourage your church family.
  3. Hold online Bible studies and devotions in specialized Facebook groups, Zoom or Google Meet calls.
  4. Provide resources for families who unexpectedly have children at home due to school closings.

If you or your church would like more information about digital church or need assistance with a church communications plan, please send me an email and I will be happy to assist you with a free consultation or regular communications coaching sessions for your team.