Digital Strategies for Your Church in 2021
March 22, 2021
The constant pivoting that 2020 required may cause planning for 2021 to stir your emotions a bit. You may feel anxious, overwhelmed, and unsure of what 2021 looks like in the world, much less your church. We’re here to help.
Regardless of your church size, denomination, or location, we want to help keep your church on track no matter how many times you pivot this year.
Browse our top church strategies for 2021 below or connect with us for a free strategy consult.
Embrace the Hybrid Model Long Term
If you pastor a large church, you may think “we’ve been streaming for years!” Understood, but have you been connecting with your online congregation during that time? Let’s be honest, this pandemic has forever changed the way that we gather and connect. According to The Unstuck Group’s survey of 261 churches from size small to megachurch, roughly 80% have reopened their doors and have been seeing only 36% attendance compared to their pre-pandemic numbers. It is unclear if in-person attendance will ever return to what it was as churches continue to see steady online viewership numbers. Churches have been reporting that their online viewership is only 12% below what their pre-pandemic in-person numbers were! While some churches may see a spike in their first or second weekends returning in-person, regular weekly attendance is just not what it used to be. Embracing the hybrid model is going to be crucial for your church’s success in 2021.
Value and Serve Your Audiences Equally
You may subconsciously be placing more value on your in-person audience. This has to change. Moving into 2021, your online audience’s needs, opinions, and involvement matter just as much as your in-person audience. When meeting in person, it is likely that you have some form of hospitality team to welcome and serve the congregation; or maybe even a prayer team to talk with those who need prayer. It is essential that these teams also play a role in your online services. Looking deeper into The Unstuck Group’s survey, the church now has about 1 staff member for every 18 people in-person, but only 1 staff member for every 1,273 online viewers. In this long-term hybrid model, connection is going to be key and you are going to need more than 1 person manning the ship.
Your online attendees also need more than just a one-hour service once a week. Your in-person congregants are enjoying fellowship through events and bible studies and their kids are most likely involved in children’s ministry or mid-week youth group. A strategy is needed to have something for every person in the family online. Technology is going to be a key piece in this, but personal connection can not be automated.
You may be thinking, “Please, Lord. Not another zoom call.” What if your church live stream or mid-week bible studies surpassed zoom and became an engaging, holy spirit-led experience? We all hit “zoom exhaustion” a long time ago and streaming on Facebook can be extremely distracting. With online church services not going anywhere, it is time to step up your online presence. Your website is just as important as your church doors as an entryway for your online viewers.
Instead of streaming on Facebook or Zoom, what if your church had high-quality content right on your website for adults, youth, and children? A live service for the parents, a separate service for the youth, and pre-recorded worship videos and downloadable activities for the kids – all in ONE place every week. You could also incorporate live chats with staff members and key volunteers in order to also care for your online members well. Questions about a sermon? Chat live with a pastor. Include weekly links to resources for those that would like to dive deeper into the Word and prompts to engage with your church on social media in order to continue building community. In the hybrid model, using technology intentionally is going to be essential.
While it is imperative that you must strategically utilize technology, we understand that this may be a huge undertaking. No one church is the same, but if there is anything that we have seen across the board with churches this year is a need to alleviate the stresses on church staff that lead to burn-out. It has been an emotionally exhausting year with constant change within our lives, the church, and our country. Wherever feasible, it is important to consider the use of strategic partnerships that will help to alleviate the major stresses within your church staff. If you and your staff just need some solutions, consider setting up a free strategy consultation to help get you started.
It is our prayer that utilizing strategy will allow you to steward well and strive for excellence in the coming year.