When interacting with online visitors, remember the goal is to make them feel as part of the church service as those who are attending in-person. Have one or more designated virtual hosts who watch the live stream and actively participate in the chat.
Here's our to do list for your online host(s):
1 – PRE-SERVICE PREP
Encourage your volunteer hosts to spend some time preparing before the service. If you have access to the pastor’s notes, have hosts read them over so they can be ready to reiterate the main points, the “take away,” or application challenge when it is said. See if your pastor can provide the hosts with a list of additional resources, so they are prepared for any live questions a visitor may ask.
2 – PERSONAL GREETINGS
Introduce yourself and greet people personally as you see them log on. In some platforms, using @UserName will highlight their name (only in that user’s view), drawing their attention to your comment. If you have a small congregation and want to make people feel truly known, you can say something personal (but not too personal!).
3 – ASK QUESTIONS
It’s important to seek feedback and participation. Let them know you are listening. Ask simple, non-intrusive questions that people will want to respond to, like:
- “Where are you watching from? Anybody out of state?”
- “How have you been handling having the kids at home instead of at school?”
- Even a simple survey is okay and can provide you with valuable information.
- “Who’s watching on a phone/tablet?”
- “Any first-time watchers?”
- “Did everyone see the link to the sermon notes page?”
4 – PRAYER
Your never know what visitors expect from an online church service and some may not realize asking for prayers is an option. Explicitly invite prayer requests, either right within the chat or through a link to a private page or email address.
Example: “If you’re dealing with anxiety, like the pastor is talking about, we would love to pray with you. Share your prayer request by emailing us or using the private prayer button.
5 – LINKS
Make it as simple as possible for people to give their tithes and offerings or to fill out an online “connection card” where they can give you their information or access additional resources. Having links in the description or notes section of the webpage is helpful so they’re always visible, not only within the chat.
6 – ENCOURAGEMENT
Everyone needs encouragement, and the live chat of your worship service is a great place for that. Post a brief Scripture verse related to the sermon topic (or used directly in the sermon) or a simple reminder of biblical truth.
Example: “For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” – 2 Timothy 1:7
7 – QUOTE THE PASTOR
People generally need to hear something (or read it) multiple times before it sinks in. Help your congregation really take in the main points of the sermon by putting them in writing. Repeat a significant point after the pastor says it.
Example: Did you hear that? “God will never leave you or forsake you!” That’s a promise! Do you believe it?
8 – NEXT STEPS
Perhaps the very best way to turn viewers into participants is to help them take the next step to engage beyond their device screen. Make sure you provide a clear invitation for people to take whatever their next step may be and include a link or clear instructions on how to take that next step.
Example: Life change happens best in a small group. If you’re interested in connecting with others, either in person or online, and building real relationships with other people just like you, click here to connect with me in a private session and I’ll help find the right group for you.
9 – PRIVATE CONVERSATIONS
If a particularly sensitive or private issue arises, or you sense a need to pray more specifically or have a longer conversation with someone (chat messages usually have a limited number of characters), hosts should be prepared to take the conversation somewhere else. Set up a Facebook Group where you can then invite them to a private one-on-one messaging platform, to a separate texting platform, or give them your email address to which you can immediately respond.