Preparing your church for uncertain times

September 21, 2021

For pastors, leading their congregations through the uncertainties of the pandemic has been an uphill climb. It’s no wonder that 29% of pastors have seriously considered quitting full-time ministry within the last year! No seminary course could have prepared them for handling such a situation. 

Most agree that this season has introduced a massive shift in the landscape of church life. As pastors look to the future, you may be asking, “If I knew 18 months ago what I know now, how would I have approached ministry differently?” 

We believe that churches can learn to thrive through any situation by innovating, adapting, preparing for the unexpected, and trusting in God’s sovereignty in the middle of it all.

Check out these actionable tips and strategies for responding quickly to changing circumstances while keeping your church connected and healthy.

       

Understand the changing church landscape
                                               

Understand the changing church landscape

Major events have a way of reshaping our priorities and perspectives, and we’ve all been impacted by a worldwide shift in recent years. What are the new realities facing churches now?

Church membership is declining

Since its founding, the U.S. has largely been populated by Christians. Regularly attending church is an activity that’s been ingrained in our culture for generations! But now, for the first time in history, less than half of Americans are members of a church.

Even fewer Christians are attending church, with one-in-three practicing Christians having stopped attending church during the pandemic. Among them, young adults are the least likely to go to church. 

Live streaming is on the rise

Watching live events has steadily grown in popularity over the last decade, with live streaming growing by 99% in 2020

Church leaders have realized that live streams can increase their reach and allow them to stay connected with their congregation even amidst unpredictable events. In fact, 74% of churched Americans have watched online church services during the pandemic. People have also appreciated the freedom to connect with other churches, with 34% of Christians watching live streams from churches other than their home church.

       

Create a “theology of technology”
                                               

Form a “theology of technology”

Churches have leveraged new technologies to preach the gospel and make disciples throughout history. The Roman Roads allowed early church leaders like the Apostle Paul to travel and preach the good news to people around the world. The Gutenberg Press allowed for mass distribution of the Bible. Evangelists like Billy Graham used radio and television to share the gospel with millions of people around the world. 

At some point, every church has to decide how they’ll use the technology of their age. Today, digital technology is a central component of our society, with the average American spending over 8 hours every day consuming digital content—including over 5 hours on their smartphones and 3 hours watching TV!. 

For churches to effectively use technology to share the gospel and disciple their congregation online, they need to form their own “theology of technology.” Here are 3 important questions you should ask to help you use digital tools wisely. 

  1. How is technology forming our community?
  2. Is technology designed just for consumers, or can it be used for discipleship?
  3. How does technology point back to your mission? 

After going through this process, you’ll have a better understanding how technology can help people stay engaged with your church and become better disciples. As one pastor put it:

The longer I’ve wrestled with this problem in my own family, the more convinced I’ve become that the ultimate answer is not “no technology” or “more technology” but “more theology.” If we want a deep, lasting, and spiritual solution, we need to learn and teach deep, lasting, and spiritual truths. Sound digital theology is the answer to digital technology; the oldest truths are the best rebuttal to the newest challenges.Rev. Dr. David Murray

Most Christians say that they prefer a hybrid (online and in-person) approach to church, and they’re looking for more digital discipleship resources. As pastor, your effective use of technology will largely be shaped by how you view, interact, and leverage digital tools for your church.

       

Create a communication plan

   

Establish effective communication channels

Rapidly changing situations require instant and effective communications. By working with your team to create a robust communication plan, you can help your congregation stay connected and navigate through circumstances of any kind.

How are we going to communicate? 

  • Add a dedicated page or section for updates on your church’s website and mobile app.
  • Send push notifications through your church’s mobile app.
  • Use text messages (SMS) to communicate directly with your congregation.
  • Post updates on your social media channels.

       

Staffing needs for the church today have changed.

Have the right people in place

Staffing needs for the church today have changed. Most churches are opting for a hybrid church model that includes both in-person and online experiences. In times of uncertainty, many people will look to technology to stay updated with what’s happening at your church. 

Here are some key staff roles that your church should consider to maximize your online presence. Depending on your church’s size and budget, these can be paid roles or staffed by volunteers. 

  • Online pastor: The online pastor is responsible for everything related to your church online. From caring for your online community to deciding which digital tools your church uses, this role will be vital for successfully running an online church. 
  • Communications director: This role is essential for developing, executing, and refining your communication strategy. The communications director is the go-to person who partners with the ministry team for all communications, event coordination, outreach activities, and content creation, as well as ensuring that your church’s message is represented accurately across all communication channels. 
  • Social media coordinator: Growing your church’s social media presence requires understanding which platforms are relevant and how to use them. Your social media coordinator will encourage people to follow your church, engage with your content, and connect with your church’s vision. 
  • Creative director: Do you ever wonder how some church videos and graphics look so professional? A creative director is responsible for managing their church’s photographers, videographers, and graphic designers. They also work with the production team to ensure that all visual content is consistent and on-brand.
  • Photographers, videographers, & art directors: Don’t let lackluster videos, photos, or graphics distract from the significance of your message. Hiring professionals or recruiting talented volunteers can make all the difference! 
  • Remote roles: Some roles can be managed remotely, like graphic designers and video editors. This allows you to expand your search for people to help your church.

       

Your church’s website serves as the digital front door of your church.

Prepare your digital front door

Your church’s website serves as the digital front door of your church. That’s why it’s key to make your website as welcoming, informative, and useful to visitors as possible. Be sure your contact information on your website can easily be found and is up to date. 

For communicating critical information in times of uncertainty, create a special section or a separate webpage that can be updated regularly with relevant information and resources. Using a powerful church-focused website builder, like SnapPages™, makes it easy to create church websites with customizable templates that integrate with your online giving, live streaming, event calendars, and more! 

       

Increase accessibility to your church

Increase accessibility

In emergency situations, it’s crucial to provide your community with easy access to your church’s resources, messages, and support. Here are some of the top tools for keeping your community connected and engaged:

Subsplash Messaging allows your church community to have meaningful conversations and build real relationships. Whether it’s sharing a prayer request, planning a meal, sharing a document, or coordinating volunteers, you can create a message and share it with private or public channels. It also integrates with your mobile app and web browser, keeping your content and conversations in one place! 

Subsplash Media delivers your audio and video content, such as sermons, Bible studies, devotionals, and podcasts on your website, mobile app, and TV app. Your audience can view high-quality videos with no ads, restrictions, or censorship, you can be sure that your content stays in front of your congregation. 

       

Connect with your church in real time.

Engage your community in real time

Even if people are unable to attend your church services in person, they can still feel like they’re connected through your live streamed services. Subsplash Live makes it simple to live stream to any device on your website, mobile app, TV app, YouTube Live, and Facebook Live. You can also easily trim your live streams before publishing them as on-demand content in your media library!

       

Allow people to continue giving to your church

Enable generosity through digital giving

When faced with adversity, most Christians become more generous with their time and money. However, churches need to ensure that their congregations can continue to express their generosity through online giving solutions. 

Today, 94% of churches with over 100 people in attendance have adopted online giving. In fact, online giving has become the primary way that churches receive tithes and offerings, surpassing cash, checks, and other forms of donations! 

Even if your church already has a giving solution, it’s important to note that not all giving platforms are the same. Some charge hidden fees, monthly fees, or high processing rates. Subsplash Giving, however, allows your community to give online, within your church’s app, or with text-to-give, while also offering the industry’s best processing rates with no monthly or hidden fees. 

       

Overcome distractions

Overcome distractions

Digital is dominant and people are spending much of their day online. So how do we capture their attention, cut through the noise, and create a focused place for engaging with gospel-centered content?

To help deepen your connection with your community and keep your content at the forefront, Subsplash created The Ultimate Engagement Platform™. It seamlessly integrates with your mobile app, TV app, website, group messaging, live streaming, and online giving—all in one place. Your church can create a safe, distraction free environment where your community can communicate, be discipled, and grow in their spiritual journeys. 

Over 15,000 churches and organizations use Subsplash’s tools to engage with millions of people around the world every week. To find out more about how your church can use technology to thrive in uncertain times, let’s chat! 

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