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Doing church changed in March of 2020 and although we are in a new year, the effects of Covid -19 are still evident and will continue through this year and probably to some degree the years to come. Streaming video for churches is more important than ever and connecting with those viewers is even more critical. Interaction is the key for those watching your services online. Here are some vital tips for your online hosts:

1. Preparation

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 you can get your pastor to provide the hosts with a list of additional resources. Your online host can share a link in the comments to a book or video the pastor recommends for further reading or watching, perhaps even another sermon on the topic.

2. Greeting

Introduce yourself and greet people personally as you see them log on. If you have a small congregation and want to make people feel truly known, you can say something personal (but not too personal!). Examples: ”Hi Reggie, so glad you could join us this morning!” “Brittanye, welcome back! How was your trip to Washington?”

3. Participation

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 sermon notes tab?”

4. Pray

Explicitly invite prayer requests, either right within the chat or through a link to a private page or email address. Examples: “If you’re dealing with anxiety, like the pastor is talking about, we would love to pray with you. Share your prayer request here or with our host in a private message or email us.

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. Encourage

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. Some Examples: “For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” – 2 Timothy 1:7 “I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears.” – Psalm 34:4

7. Quotes

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. An 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. Privacy

If a particularly sensitive or private issue arises, or you sense a need to pray more specifically or have a longer conversation with someone Hosts should be prepared to take the conversation somewhere else.

10. De-briefing

It’s very important that your online host(s) meet with a designated church leader to review how the online experience went and share any information or concerns to make the event better. Constructive criticism can bring improvement and raise your ministry to a higher level. Make the time to meet.