The coronavirus outbreak is a global crisis that is calling out to church and ministry leaders.
The world needs to hear the message that you and me have. We have an important role to play in this season of chaos.
On 11th March 2020, Tedros Adhanom, the Director-General of World Health Organisation (WHO) declared the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic, confirming what many of us knew will happen but were afraid to admit – the virus will likely spread around the globe.
How do we as church leaders react to this?
Is there anything we can do as vessels of God’s word of life? As people who are entrusted with the Good News that is full of life, healing, power, and eternal hope, as people entrusted with the Great Commission, is there anything we can do as we watch fear and panic occupy people’s hearts and minds?
Yes, we can.
Not just do something, but do impactful things and be a powerful catalyst of transformation in this world.
From my vantage point, as a digital and social media consultant, this is one of the most significant and important times for the church. It is time for us to rise to the occasion, go out into this hurting world and be a source of hope, love, faith, and healing.
Yes, I said ‘go out’, not ‘stay in’.
In this digital era, you don’t have to go out physically. You can go out digitally. You and your message can go out through your videos, your podcasts, your blog posts, your social media comments, your messenger chats, and your Story video clips.
Double Down on Digital
Your online ministry is one of the best ways to serve people at a time like this. It is time for you to double down on your digital efforts.
Whether you a ministry that has an established presence or just starting out, whether you are a one-man missionary or a megachurch, it does not matter. It is time for you to expand all that you are doing (or not doing) on digital and social media. Double your efforts, if not more.
Because with digital, you can reach more people, create more impact and speak more love, hope, healing, and faith into people’s lives right from where you are, if you have the tools and strategy.
3 reasons to double down on your digital ministry efforts now, during this coronavirus outbreak:
1. People have more time
People have more time to consume digital and social media content.
Yes, on their phones.
And what do you think they will do on their phones?
Yes, they will watch YouTube videos, chat with their friends on Facebook and laugh at silly TikTok videos.
People already spending a lot of time on the digital and social media space. Jan 2020 edition of the Global Digital Overview report from Hootsuite said people spend 6 hours and 43 minutes on the internet every day! And out of that, 2 hours and 24 minutes was spent on social media.
I predict that that number is going to increase significantly in the next few months.
People are going to stay in their houses (some of us even working from home) and they are going to be spending a major portion of their time on digital and social media.
If you, as a church, have your content available for them to consume, you have the chance of reaching and communicating with these audiences. But not any content – relevant, timely, educational and entertaining content. Content that will build faith, drive fear, give clarity, instil confidence, teach wisdom and spread love.
Think about that.
2. You have more time
Not only people, but you have more time to produce digital and social media content.
Your speaking events are being canceled, in some places churches are not allowed to congregate for Sunday services, megachurches (like Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church) have already announced that they are only going to stream their services live without a live audience. We will see this happen more around the world.
So, you have time in your hands too. Maybe not a lot, but surely more than what you had earlier.
And you not only have time but also the remedy for this situation. The most powerful solution to the current pandemic or any pandemic that will come our way in the future – the life-transforming, powerful word of God. Supermarkets have run out the sanitizers, but we as the church have an eternal sanitizer that can cleanse people of all their sins and set them free.
Ok, that was a bit dramatic. But it is true.
What a time and opportunity for us to talk about the cleansing power of the Blood of Jesus to a hurting world. Of course, in the most relevant and sensible way possible. Through the most effective and efficient medium possible – the digital and social media.
So, plan to use your extra time (and the time of your ministry team) wisely by creating excellent content for the digital and social media world. Give people more to consume in their free time at home during lockdowns and travel-free days.
3. You have all the tools
Yes, you have all the tools necessary to produce digital and social media content.
Before you ask, “Natchi, wait, what do you mean ALL the tools? I don’t have any.” just stop and look at the device in which you are reading this article now. THAT is the tool I am talking about. Your smartphone.
You don’t have to start looking for a videographer, light setup and production studio. In fact, unless you already have them in place, I recommend you don’t. We don’t have the time for all of this well-produced content. If you can do it with your phone, why prolong it?
We don’t have much time.
The rate at which the virus spreads is rapid (see graph), and there is no time to lose. Just pick up your smartphone and start sharing that message of hope what God places in your heart.
You don’t have to travel, you don’t have to hire a place, you don’t have to sell tickets, you don’t have to organize a conference, just pick up your phone and start speaking (or writing) the message of hope, healing, and love.
It is not about how perfect you look, it is about how impactful your message is, and how relevant your words are to the situation that your audience is facing.
Having said that, I have given a list of more than 50 digital and social media tools for various tasks. CLICK HERE to check them out.
Some strategic steps
- Discuss: Call for a meeting with your leadership team AND your media/marketing team (and your consultant, if you have one). Do it on Zoom or Skype if you have to.
- Plan: Come up with a digital and social media plan for the next few months. Be aggressive. Try to cut the production time and plan for content that can be created quickly.
- Create: Create a content calendar
- Promote: Allocate some ad budgets for digital and social media
- Get help: Find areas where you need help and look for volunteers, professionals or agencies that can fill the gap.
Some immediate steps
Here is a list of practical steps that you can take right now:
- Live Stream on Social Media, for Free: Even if you don’t have a website or mobile app for your church, you can straight away start streaming your services on social media channels like YouTube, Facebook and Instagram. The streaming service is free. Which means there is no streaming server fee. You can stream with your phone, which means you can get started with no cost.
- Promote it on social media: Once you stream your services, almost all channels will create a post at the end of streaming and give you a link. You can then copy this link and share it with a wider audience.
- Setup Zoom and Skype groups: One thing that most churches will miss is the small group meetings. You can replicate that environment with online conference tools like Zoom and Skype (won’t be the same as face to face, but it is the closest you will get to it).
- Setup Facebook Groups: You can also setup various Facebook groups for various ministries and start using that to keep the conversations and devotionals going. One for your men’s group, one for your children’s ministry, etc.
- Setup Private Messaging Groups: Depends on what is popular with your audience, set up groups and broadcast list in Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp so that you can send useful content to your audience using private messenger (I call them private media).
These are some of the low cost, immediate steps you can take. If you need more help with advanced strategies or specific help in any area, please get in touch with me.
Available Resources: Reach out if you need help
If you need any help, reach out to me. I have spent most of my 19 years of work life helping faith-based organizations with digital and social media, so I can give you some inputs if you need them.
Some of the resources that I already have made available that can help you (and your ministry team) learn and educate yourself in a time as this:
- My blog posts
- My weekly email newsletter
- My weekly #AskNatchi question and answer show
- The podcast – The Connected Church podcast
- The book – The Connected Church book, that helps you build your social media strategy with a 6-step implementation framework
- The online course – Social Media Fundamentals for Churches and Ministries, a 4.6/5 rated course with more than 4 hours of teaching.
- The live shows and webinars that I plan to do. Follow me on social channels to stay informed of these when they happen.
ACCESS & GIVEAWAYS – If you (or a church or ministry that you know of) are unable to get a copy of the book or online course because of a financial constraint, please let me know, I am happy to send you a copy of my book or give you access to my course. We will find a way to get you moving! Send me a DM on social media or email firstname.lastname@example.org
50+ DIGITAL AND SOCIAL MEDIA TOOLS (click title to expand)
CONTENT CREATION TOOLS
- Written content creation – Scrivener, iA Writer
- Audio content creation: Recording – Your smartphone, Blue Yeti USB Microphone
- Audio content creation: Hosting – Anchor FM, BuzzSprout, Libsyn
- Video Content Creation: Recording – Your smartphone, Logitech WebCam
- Video content creation: Hosting – YouTube, Vimeo, Wistia
Now, go double down on your digital efforts.
May our God be with you and keep you. May he give you the wisdom and creativity you need. May he make you a blessing to many in these times of chaos and confusion.
Stay connected. Stay blessed.