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Pivoting to Proclaim

A viral pandemic glacier is freezing life as we know it. When a cure is found, and the ice has melted – COVID-19 will have carved deep ruts into our social landscape.

People are adapting – some more slowly than others. While businesses and organizations are pivoting to survive – others are pivoting to be better.

Perhaps this virus is what the church has needed to help spread the Word in a powerful way.

Despite fear and plenty of unknowns, the Christian church is here to stay until Jesus returns. Its sure foundation will remain because Christ is the chief cornerstone. Life will feel different when a vaccine is found. Old moorings attached to the way we have always done things will be frayed, unraveled, and worn out.

As societies are altered and kingdoms come and go, one thing will remain the same — the Word. Empowered and preserved by the Holy Spirit, the Truth will prevail. But the same doesn’t hold true for places of worship because the church is not a structure – but the people. Structures that do not adjust methodologies and approaches to spreading the Word will probably be closing it doors at a more rapid pace than before. This trend is occurring right now with small businesses.

Here are some questions to reflect upon during this pandemic ice age:

What outreach and evangelism strategies is your church employing this summer?

What outreach events or programs had to be cancelled?

Have most of your outreach and evangelism activity ceased this summer?

Your answers can serve as a gauge to see how well your congregation has positioned itself in a post-COVID19 world. Perhaps it may be an appropriate time to re-evaluate evangelism and outreach strategies.

New communities are emerging.

Old norms are being challenged. What had been acceptable behavior is no longer acceptable. People are being forced to re-evaluate old ways of thinking. They are beginning to listen – willing to adapt – willing to change.

Relationships are becoming more important than achieving financial security. Having the means to acquire things or passing on wealth to the next generation at the expense of relationships is being re-evaluated.

COVID-19 is prompting people to stop and get to know their neighbor. A renewed sense of community is beginning to emerge.

Making pivots

Small retail businesses, restaurants, and bars are having to adapt or make pivots to survive. They can’t rely on a core group of loyal customers to sustain them.

Churches have been making pivots as well.

When corporate worship temporarily ceased, many congregations provided taped or live streaming of worship services online. Pastors were excited to see a surge of views in the beginning, but the numbers have started to taper off.

According to Google Analytics, a certain percentage of people watched the entire service. They were probably faithful members or people connected to the pastor. The key statistic was the percentage of people who only stayed for five to 12 minutes before leaving the website. This audience was willing to hear a message, but not willing to stay for an hour-long worship service.

Thanks to COVID-19, churches discovered that its possible to reach an unchurched audience in a new and powerful way. Digital offerings on church websites are here to stay.

Even though It is good to offer a live stream or a You-Tube video of a worship service, the audience will be limited. Here are three suggestions for congregations to proclaim the Word with on-line visitors:

Provide a digital offering that fits needs and emotions right now.

There are reasons why unchurched people have attempted to connect with your congregation right now. Only people with faith in Christ are coming to worship for the right reasons, others without the knowledge of Christ are desperately looking for Truth. They are looking for hope and peace.  On the home page of the church website, provide a series of messages that addresses pertinent questions and immediate concerns.

Content is still everything

Providing digital answers does not have to be a splashy video, but real. It’s more about the content than the presentation.  This is not an excuse for poor quality, but you don’t have to spend thousands of dollars on video equipment either.  Please refrain from desktop or laptop computer cameras. Instead, an iPhone can provide quality video and allows a pastor to record messages outside their office.

Research is saying that younger audiences don’t mind the length of a message as long as its good content. Unless the pastor is a gifted communicator, keeping content within eight to twelve minutes is a good marker.

Church for the unchurched

Some church members seem to appreciate worshipping at home in their pajamas. It’s safe and comfortable. If some members are feeling that way, then its safe to assume that most unchurched families would prefer staying at home to view on-demand messages.

Create short video messages with the unchurched audience in mind. Attempt to be interactive as much as possible.  Allow them to participate in online surveys and ask for feedback. Provide a link for more information or free resources.

Church for the unchurched does not mean that the corporate worship ought to be replaced, but valuable entry points. Links that are provided at the end of each message should attempt to engage and further the relationship that eventually leads to a physical presence.

Instead of inviting people on Sunday morning to church to hear the gospel, it will be imperative for the congregation to bring the gospel to the community. This is the new paradigm for evangelism and outreach. Churches that are pivoting their digital messages to reach the unchurched will be setting themselves up to spreading God’s Word in a powerful way when the pandemic draws to a close..

Incorporate these thoughts in your evangelism strategy:

  • Continue to utilize printed materials.
  • Provide digital invites for prospects through social media and emails.
  • Word of mouth is everything. Teach your members how to do that both personally and digitally.
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