Tools and Tips to Help in Your Journey Toward Digital (Online) Ministry
The need for change is no longer something that can be ignored. It is time to re-think how we do vital ministry and reach our communities. Now more than ever, having an online presence is crucial for staying connected and in relationship with your church members and community.
An organization’s survival in the weeks and months to come depends far more on radical innovation than on tactical cutbacks. This will mean iterating and experimenting very quickly in the coming weeks. We must all commit to learning and adapting (some experiments will be more successful than others) as we continue building trust with one another to discern together how to advance redemptive entrepreneurship in a completely changed environment.
This is also a time for vision and hope. A time to take all kinds of risks to create new things in the world. A time to be willing to learn and change. A time to see new opportunities, even through our loss and grief.
And, once you’ve done the hard work, don’t stop!
After this crisis has passed, doing the work now, will make our churches, our organizations immeasurably stronger for having done the hard work. When you can resume regular worship together, keep the electronic advances that you have made.
Some of our churches are already doing well is creating and having worship services online. Facebook live, YouTube, and other online services are making these worship services an indispensable option for our communities, to “reach people we are not already reaching.”
TOOLS AND RESOURCES:
Digital Discipleship Resources
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting restrictions around in-person gatherings, the conference office, in partnership with several UM churches and organizations, developed and launched "Digital Discipleship," a well-vetted hub of resources to help you develop a sustainable digital ministry.
Both/AND Hybrid Worship
The Both/And: Maximizing Hybrid Worship Experience for Online and In-Person Audiences training and follow-up with Jason Moore of Midnight Oil Productions was informative, engaging and powerful. Jason Moore, known for his pioneering work around collaborative worship, design and guest readiness, has led seminars across the United States, including with most of the United Methodist Conferences. He is an expert in best practices and proven strategies for creating powerful transformative worship experiences for both in-person and virtual worship.
Or copy/paste this URL into your browser to watch the follow-up session here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=URu-k2MQlFc&list=PLhVXxJQ10kT6dZOQKftfejKW4Gov2ws_Y&index=6
If you missed the first session, watch the first training session, by clicking here to access the video recording of the Hybrid Both/And webinar training, September 30, 2021 (available until December 31, 2021).
Online Discipleship Booklet (provided by Discipleship Ministries)
As many churches begin to shift adding an online presence, it is important that we not neglect vital elements of our discipleship system. You may have added online worship, but what is missing? Using this Online Discipleship Booklet challenges your church leaders to think through what a balanced approach to online discipleship looks like.
Use this booklet to strengthen what you are currently doing and expand your online discipleship efforts around Worship, Generosity, New member orientation, and so much more!
Click the links below for some additional helpful resources to help you get started or expand what you're already doing:
- Tips, Tools and Resources
- Guidelines to Tracking Attendance & Generating Growth
- Basics of Facebook for Churches
- Visit the MS Conference Digital Discipleship page
- Churches Who Survive the Pandemic Will Do Three Things
- Virtual Meeting Platforms (UMC Communications)
- Explaining Facebook Metrics (UMC Communications)
- How Multimedia Storytelling Can Elevate Your Message (UMC Communications)
- Local Church Learning Sessions: Technology for Worship, Small Groups and Giving
- Vital Signs Online Worship Reporting
- Basic Facts of Facebook for Churches (Why do we need a Facebook page?)
- How to Create a Facebook Page
In addition, here are a few ideas and criteria that might be helpful when creating an identifiable faith community where people can grow in discipleship, relationships and faith:
- Registration: People should be able to register their attendance online so they can make a personal connection and commitment to the service they are attending and/or the New Faith Community with which they are connecting. Online worshipers should be welcomed and treated just like those who are physically present.
- Online Pastor: There should be a designated online worship or New Faith Community (NFC) pastor that people can connect with if they have a concern or need. This makes the online NFC more identifiable and singular as a community of faith. This can be the solo pastor in the church, another staff pastor, or even a lay chaplain in a smaller church. People should know who they contact if they have a need.
- Prayer Requests: A great way to increase the value of this experience is the ability to submit prayer requests online. This builds relationships with God, with the NFC itself, the pastor of the service, and makes a connection that is much more powerful that just listening to a service.
- Giving platform: A significant part of any NFC is giving. Having a way to give online as part of the worship experience is a necessary part of making disciples of Jesus Christ.
- Next steps: Ready information that allows an online participant to join a small group, step up in Bible study or other discipling opportunities, and/or connect with others in the church community as well as the online community.
- Notes: A way to take notes if they choose. This can include a resource with key points in the message and/or a way to follow through on the message through Bible study or other readings.
- Communion: There should be a way communion can be offered by making it possible for people to request the sacraments and then scheduling a time for them to come to receive, or if unable to come in person, a pastor goes by to serve the invitation to Baptism in much the same way.
And finally, create an entire online service connection on your church's present website or create a website of its own for your Digital Ministry that can include a link to the main site or use YouTube or Facebook live. Promote your online service on social media and elsewhere, so attenders can go to the site and register, turn in prayer requests, connect, etc.
If the online service is presented and understood as its own Faith Community it changes how people interact, participate, and experience the service itself.
Our prayer is that you will become more intentional about discipleship and community engagement (whether online, in person, or some hybrid variation) in your church.
Need help getting started? Contact the Faith Community Formation Team: