Would you invite someone to your home and not welcome them or not talk to them? Of course not! The same is true for church online. For many churches, just getting online is a great accomplishment and something to be celebrated…and do celebrate! However, this is just the beginning. We cannot stop there.
How can we engage our online community and help them feel a part of our church family instead of mere observers? Online chat is your first step to developing this connection. We must treat our online guests the same way we would treat them if they arrived on our physical campus by welcoming and talking to them.
For optimum engagement, each online service should have at least two chat hosts. One host posts on behalf of the church and the other host (or pastor) posts as themselves to provide a personal connection with guests. Here are seven tips that have helped increase visitor engagement by over 250%:
1. Welcome Guests – View your online guests as friends or family members and talk to them like family. When you see your guests this way, you naturally communicate in a loving, caring manner that connects with people and builds relationships.
2. Encourage Engagement – Encourage guests to join the chat by asking questions: Where are you watching from? What is your favorite worship song? How can we pray for you? How is this message speaking to you? How long have you been attending? Once they have responded, greet them by name and begin a conversation.
3. Reply to Comments – The best way to engage someone is by replying directly to their comments. This acknowledges your guest’s comment and avoids confusion about who you are addressing in the chat.
4. Share the Love – Like people’s comments and encourage them to share the service or invite their friends.
5. Watch your Words – Spelling, grammar, capitalization, and punctuation are vital to the success of your online chat. Accuracy provides clear communication, shows professionalism, and represents Christ and your church in a positive way.
6. Share Information – Post links to announcements or calls to action. Letting people know how they can become involved in church activities or online small groups helps them feel accepted and connected. Also, sharing scriptures and sermon points in the chat helps reinforce the message and gives a point of reference if someone misses a key point.
7. Invite them Back! – As you close the chat, leave your guests with a positive, encouraging point from the message and give them an opportunity to receive prayer. Always remember to invite your guests to join you for your next service.
Online church should be an important part of every church’s ministry. There are people who would unlikely come to a physical campus but will visit an online service. Oftentimes, people are more receptive and inquisitive when they are online and hiding behind a computer or phone. If the church is going to reach the lost, we must go where they are!