As churches around the world prepare to resume in-person gatherings, what will the “new normal” look like for your community? This is one of the most critical questions pastors and leaders are facing today. Weekend services have traditionally been one of the focal points for fostering meaningful interaction and relationships, but now more church services can be watched live online, and even small groups can meet virtually.
As many churches are beginning to phase in physical gatherings, they’re also intentionally focusing on digital engagement opportunities for their community. Having a plan in place is important for successfully maintaining in-person and virtual worship experiences.
Here are five engagement insights as your ministry focuses on entering back into physical gatherings:
1. Mobile use is at an all-time high
Time spent on mobile devices has increased to over 7 hours every day since the onset of the pandemic, with 90% of that time spent using apps. With the convenience and speed offered by mobile devices, it’s apparent that they are the primary devices used to stay connected more than any other communication tool.
People will continue to engage with your church through their mobile devices even after physical gatherings start again. The pandemic has required that people learn how to connect digitally more than ever before, making having a mobile church app an essential component of successful engagement. A good place to start is by making sure your mobile app has the most engaging features, such as:
- Live streams of your church services
- Audio and video media, as well as podcasts
- Information about in-person and digital engagement opportunities
- Upcoming events
- In-app giving
- Push notifications
2. Digital connections build real relationships
Audio podcasts have seen huge jumps in their listeners over the last few months, and 90% of people who are working from home are streaming audio content. Churches that create more digital connection points find that their engagement grows dramatically. Some easily produced touchpoints allow you to effortlessly and quickly connect with your audience. These include podcasts, devotional messages, Bible studies, community group material, and more!
For example, Cornerstone Church of San Francisco recently added a daily video devotional to their custom church app. As a result, their content saw one million more media plays in 2019 than in 2018!
Publishing your content to multiple channels creates more opportunities for people to easily find it and engage with your message. As your church considers strategies for gathering together and maintaining digital engagement, it’s important to find ways to reach your audience beyond the weekend.
Finding tools that help streamline your process will save you time as you focus on engaging people where they’re at. Subsplash Media allows you to convert your audio or video content into a podcast with the simple click of a button, automatically publishing them to your mobile app and website. You can also upload them to third-party podcast services like Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or Spotify, all within your Subsplash Dashboard.
3. Live streaming services increases engagement
In recent months there has been an increase in churches live streaming their services during the pandemic, with regular attendees and first-time visitors tuning in.
As churches explore in-person gatherings, some church members may be considering transitioning to fully remote attendance. This means your church’s live streaming, mobile app, and website are more essential than ever before.
Creating digital connection points isn’t just for your church community and regular attendees., More people are using this time as an opportunity to re-engage with their faith or explore new churches. 40% of adults who had previously stopped attending church have been streaming church services during this time. Churches that are live streaming or using features like simulated live to share their services are able to reach a substantially larger audience who previously did not attend their physical gatherings.
Live streaming your services provides an impactful way to keep your community connected, and it doesn’t have to be complicated. Learn more about Subsplash Live, the simple, powerful, and affordable streaming solution.
4. Online giving is essential
Due to abrupt nationwide stay-at-home mandates in the U.S., thousands of churches raced to set up digital giving in order to continue receiving donations.
A recent survey shows that many churches have seen a decrease in giving since March 2020 due to the global pandemic affecting churches’ ability to gather. Over the same period, only 8% of churches reported seeing their giving increase!
Having a powerful, simple, and secure giving solution that offers key features like one-time or recurring gifts; Donor Covered Fees; mobile, online, and text giving; a simple signup and implementation process; and more can make an impact on your communities’ ability to effortlessly engage in generosity.
5. Digital forms are contactless and easily accessible
Technology can play an impactful role in eliminating some of the difficulties of previous methods that required more physical interaction than is currently allowed. One example is limiting the use of frequently touched printed materials within the church.
Technology can be a simple solution to help gather and share critical information while also adhering to some of the new norms and limitations of physical gatherings. Consider replacing your printed materials—bulletins, sermon notes, connection cards—with digital forms on your mobile app and website. Digital forms are paperless and contactless, and they also save you time and money on printing costs. These forms are available anytime and on any device, allowing people to easily revisit those materials during the week.
As you prepare to begin in-person gatherings, make sure to take advantage of the new digital engagement tools that allow you to reach and connect with a wider audience. Having a mobile church app, creating digital connection points, live streaming your services, offering online giving, and making your forms digital are all effective ways to engage your community.
To find out how Subsplash can help your church reach and stay connected with your community, let’s chat.