Church Online

Books, Videos, Articles and other Training Resources to help your Church thrive meeting online.

The Church Online Guide

by Carl Barnhill and Steve Dirks

This guide will give you helpful tips and resources for how to set up your Livestream, how to record from home, ideas for your online Worship Experience flow, tips for your website, Kid’s Services, Online Giving and more.

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Church Online Tips

The Church is not a building. It never has been.

So, there are two questions we are tackling when it comes to Church Online. 

  • How can we be the Church online?
  • How can we enhance our Online Worship Experiences?

Through the videos and resources below, we will explore the answers to both of these questions. When it comes to gathering as a body of believers in a digital environment, the secret sauce is not what equipment set up your have or what web or social media platform you use. It’s about people. It’s about the lost coming to Jesus, it is about your members growing in their faith. So, whatever gear, software or platform you use, be authentic. Be you. Pastor your people first. We can help you with some of the technical aspects of gathering and growing your online presence, but the key is for you to make decisions based on your church and your culture. 

 

#1: Start with what you have.

We serve churches that the COVID-19 pandemic has pushed them into an Online Worship Experience where they haven’t had one before. You might be at a church like this. You might have very little online presence if any at all. You might not know where to start. You might not be a “techy” person. That’s okay.

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#2: Pre-Record your Worship Experience and Simulate Live

Here are my reasons why I’m suggesting this:
  1. You can record multiple services in one setup if you needed. This might save you trips to the church or trips to someone’s house, that sort of thing.
  1. If you’re streaming provider goes down or has any glitch (and several have over the last few weeks), you’re sunk. If you have a pre-recorded video, even if you’re simulated Live stream goes down, you can easily point people to your website to an embedded full video of your service and you’re back up and rolling quickly.

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#3: Think through your Online Service Flow

In the last video, I shared that I think the best way to engage your audience online during COVID-19 is with a Pre-Recorded and packaged service video, simulated live on all your social platforms.
If you’re pre-packaging your service, I want to give you a simple, easy Service Flow you can use for your services.
Then you can add your own flair to it.

 

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#4: Use These 3 Buttons on your Homepage

So what are the buttons?
WATCH LIVE
KIDS SERVICE
GIVE ONLINE
Let’s talk through each.

WATCH LIVE:

  • Because you’re probably 100% online right now, the #1 thing your people are looking for right on your homepage is how to watch church.

 

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#5: Test your Stream before Sunday

Test everything you can. Test how your streaming provider interacts with Facebook or YouTube. Test how the stream goes to your website if you’re using something like Church Online Platform or FreeOnlineChurch.com. You can test your stream privately by sending it to a page or place that your congregation can’t see.

One thing our team has done, that might work for you, is create a Dummy Facebook Group. The only people in the group are your core team of testers.

 

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#6: Make it Easy to Find your Online Service and Schedule

On your homepage, you should have a WATCH LIVE button that takes people over to a page where your Worship Experience Livestream lives. This is the place where you’re going to embed the Livestream of your service.

 

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#7: Follow Up is Key

Your probably seeing more people on watching your church online than every before. I’ve talked with several pastors who are amazed at the attendance they are seeing online. Some churches are seeing 3-4x the amount of people watching online as would attend a physical gathering. And people are watching your service from all over the world. Not only do you want to present an engaging Online Worship Experience, be intentional about how your following up with your members and guests.

 

 

Here are a couple of things that Tyler suggested from our conversation:

 

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#8: Provide a Clear Online Giving Call to Action on your Homepage

 

Here are 4 reasons to put a ‘give’ button on your homepage….

 

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#9: Communicate Ways Ministry is Still Happening

Here are 5 Easy Ways you can communicate the ways that ministry is still happening at your church.
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#10: Focus on Audio

 

In this moment, it is okay to bring down the video production quality of your service.
If your service is overproduced right now, it will not connect as well.

 

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#11: Emphasize Mobile Giving

 

As you know, expanding your giving methods from beyond just passing the plate is important to any giving strategy. It can not only prevent passing a virus but it can also increase your giving potential. But, when your church can’t meet on a Sunday due to something like COVID-19, it becomes even more important.

 

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#12: Record in Bulk

 

This tip is really easy. If you are pre-recording your services and not Livestreaming or if you are doing a hybrid of the two, record content in bulk.
If you’re bringing your worship team into the church to record songs, go ahead and record 2 or 3 weeks worth.

 

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#13: Put your Pastors in the Chat

 

If you are using something like Church Online Platform, Living as One, Vimeo Livestream or Facebook Live or another platform, most Streaming Providers will provide you with a dedicated chat window to use to interact with viewers during your Livestream.

 

My suggestion to you is this: have dedicated Staff Members, Volunteers, and Pastors in the chat ready to greet people and answer questions

 

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#14: Engage your Givers

 

Now is the time to meaningfully and regularly engage with the donors in your church.

 

Though you don’t want to over-communicate giving, it doesn’t mean that giving can’t be present in your normal communication to your church body.

 

You can connect donors to the reality that their giving is making an impact in your community. You can talk about giving, without only talking about giving.

 

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#15: Use Zoom for Small Groups and Bible Studies

 

In the past, connection has been limited. People had to work harder to be engaged in each other’s lives. It’s technology like ZOOM that has made our world smaller. If we were to take advantage of the tools available to us and use them to meet real people where they are and care for and engage with them, even while doing it from a distance, God can use that.

 

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#16: Craft Online for Online

 

What do I mean by that?
I mean plan your Online Worship Experience with your Online audience in mind.
Be intentional about crafting your services specifically for online participation.
And online experience is different than in in-person gathering.

 

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#17: Put Videos in your Countdown

 

Countdown Timer Videos, especially on your Online Worship Experience is real estate that I think churches don’t use to their fullest potential. Certainly, you can put just countdown numbers in your countdown.

 

But you can easier put the actual countdown numbers in the bottom corner and use that 5 minutes for video content that people can engage with.

 

 

#18: Link Directly to Specific Giving Categories

 

When it comes to your Online Giving, you always want to keep the WHY or What People are Giving To in front of your people.
You might be communicating through Email to your congregation each week.
By adding category buttons, you are giving your donors a quick and easy way to give to a specific cause.

 

 

#19: Share Fun, Personal Videos

 

If you are still 100% online, now is a great time to get creative with your Online Worship Experiences.

 

 

#20: Make Your Kids Service and Resources Easy to Find

 

Watching a Worship Experience Online with small kids is not easy.

 

 

#21: Take your Production Quality to 2.0

 

You might have tried different things during COVID-19 as a church.

 

You might not have been Livestreaming before COVID, or you might have had one camera mounted in the back of the room that you streamed the service on Facebook with, or you might be at a church that is really intentional about the Online Experience.

 

 

#22: Engage with your Kids with Online VBS

 

Even though churches are slowly reopening – I’ve heard from many different churches that kids and student ministry they are not touching with a 10-foot pool. For a lot of churches, its just not smart or safe to open back up Children’s Ministry, Nurseries, Awana, things like that.

 

So what are you going to do with your kids?

 

 

#23: Provide Multiple Service Times for People to Watch

 

If you are fully online, there is no reason why you can’t offer your service at multiple times throughout Sunday and even through the week.

 

 

#24: Use Pre-Made Kids Worship Experiences

 

Even though churches are opening back open their doors for Worship Experiences, most churches that I know aren’t touching Kids and Students yet. You might heavily consider a joint family service approach when you invite people back to your building.

 

 

#25: Play to the Camera, Not Just the Room

 

If you are still 100% online if you are Livestreaming your service from the church or you are recording from your home, play to the camera.

 

If 95% of your audience is watching you on a screen, talk to them, not an empty room.

 

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#26: Put your Cameras in places you Might Not Normally Put Them

 

Using different camera angles and putting your cameras in different places is a great way to make a small space seem larger. It also gives the audience interesting views to keep them interested and engaged.

 

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#27 – Be Authentic

 

People need you right now. I want to encourage you to start where your church is and be consistent.

 

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#28 – Use a Graphics Package

 

A Graphics or Broadcast Package is a term used in the TV and video world that refers to the video branding used with a show.

 

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#29 – Use your App

 

When it comes to your Online Worship Experience, it’s wise to put your service everywhere you can.
Stream it on your website.
Stream it on Facebook.
Stream it on YouTube
And if you have an app, stream it on your app.

 

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#30 – Excellence is Important

 

Here are a few things to take your Online Experiences from good to great, some of these I’ve talked about in more detail in other videos in this series, but I want to list them here so that if you’re a church that has just been using Facebook Live with your pastor on his iPhone, you can start adding improvements to your Online Experience.

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