We reopened our physical services at Christ Fellowship Miami in October. We chose to go exclusively online for our year end service and it was a huge success. So I want to give you five compelling reasons to consider doing this next year at your church. I’ll also give you four best practices to execute with excellence. And lastly I’ll suggest three additional services you should consider going exclusively online. Sadly, this blog contains no partridge in a pear tree.
FIVE COMPELLING REASONS
It Gives Your Guests A Break – Churches call guests to a lot during December. Extra services. Extra serving opportunities. Extra giving opportunities. Extra. Extra. Extra. So instead of giving them one more thing to do during an already busy month, give them a break.
It Gives Your Volunteers & Staff A Break – They have already poured themselves into the Christmas services. One of your biggest services of the year. So at this point they are probably running on fumes. Eliminating physical services gives them a well deserved break.
It Reinforces The Importance Of Online – Canceling a physical service allows you to play up the importance of online. It allows you to remind everybody going into a new year that spiritual discipleship can take place on digital platforms. This helps pave the way for increased online engagement for those who are sick, working, or vacationing during your physical service in the coming year.
Staying Connected Is No Longer A Concern – In the past a Pastor may be forced to cancel a service because of extreme weather but wouldn’t dare choose to cancel a service. This was because it eliminated their ability to connect with their congregation that week. This is no longer the case. We now have plenty of opportunities to shepherd the sheep outside of a physical service through online avenues. Also, canceling a physical service will help narrow your focus and strengthen your abilities in church online.
Collecting An Offering Is No Longer A Concern – Fifteen years ago I was on staff at a church in a cold climate. During a very heavy snow storm on Saturday we wrestled with closing services on Sunday. We listed the pros and cons to help make the decision. At the top of the con list was “loss of revenue”. We hadn’t moved to electronic giving. So our whole offering was collected physically by passing a plate. Last year 90% of giving at Christmas Fellowship Miami was online. This percentage will only continue to increase. So ditch the outdated concern that you are losing 2% of your giving when you close a physical service.
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Be Clear On the Goal – This is a chance to give a break to your guests during a busy month. So let them know this is for them. Now it also has an additional benefit for your volunteers and staff, but don’t publicly frame it that way. If you do, it may inadvertently give the false impression that your volunteers and staff are lazy. Which after working in ministry for 20 years, I can attest, is not true.
Be Clear On The Reopening – You need to tell people you are online for one weekend and then online AND in person for the following weekend. If you don’t, you might not get people back the first Sunday in the new year.
Over Communicate – We communicated this change at Christ Fellowship Miami ten different times and in a variety of ways ranging from in service, website, social media, email, text and app push notification. Do not rely on one email sent out on Christmas Day or you will have a bunch of people pulling into the parking lot on Sunday morning.
Place Someone At Your Church – Even after over communicating you need to assume that a couple of people will forget. So place a super volunteer at your main entrance to turn away the forgetful. Or at least a sign indicating your exclusively online.
Memorial Day – A lot of people leave their city for this three day weekend. So you can either continue to do a service for half your guests, or you can acknowledge this mass exodus and drop this physical service. Dropping this physical service also gives you extra bandwidth to do something inspiring online like recording a message about sacrifice at a local landmark that honors the fallen.
Labor Day – Similar to Memorial Day, a lot of people will be out of town. The additional reason to consider this day is because it also gives your teams a needed break before the big push the following weekend when all ministries restart after the summer break. If you cast this vision to your staff and volunteers at the beginning of summer, they will blow you away with an incredible kick off at the beginning of fall.
Day Of Service – Some churches put their money where their mouth is when it comes to compassion. They teach on the subject one Sunday and then put it into action the following Sunday. So instead of meeting at church for another message, they go into the community with acts of service. This not only helps your folks apply what they are learning, it’s also an easy way to generate some free local press.
Hopefully you found these five compelling reasons, four best practices and three additional services helpful as you plan 2021.
For over 20 years Ben has created & captured moving and memorable moments for individuals, non-profits & corporations across the globe. Ben serves at Christ Fellowship on the executive team as the Weekend Experience Director overseeing worship, creative, production, online, communication & guest services. He also consults for churches and speaks at conferences about leadership, communication and creativity.