With social distancing becoming our new, temporary, norm, many churches have moved to online services only. The potential for even Easter services to be online-only is a real possibility. In light of these challenging circumstances, how do you serve a remote congregation? Here are a few things to consider:

No. 1: Use Digital Connect Cards

As part of your online services, ask first-time guests to fill out a card online so you’ll have their contact information (just like you would for in-person guests). If you haven’t done this before, talk with your church management software provider to see if they offer this functionality.

No. 2: Leverage Your ChMS

Once you receive a guest’s information, get it into your church management software for follow up. Create a series of emails that are automatically sent to someone tagged in the system as a new guest.

Under the pandemic situation, emails asking if they need special assistance would be appropriate. If you have small groups, include an email that helps guests connect to one. The key here is to follow-up with guests right away. Help them feel connected to your congregation even without being able to attend an in-person service.

No. 3: Make Connections

Some people may need help finding child care or would benefit from someone picking up groceries for them. Leverage your existing care team and look to expand it to meet these needs.

Most ChMS tools have the functionality to create tasks and remind people to follow-up on requests. That can make coordinating efforts much more manageable.

No. 4: Continue Small Groups

Small groups might still be able to meet in-person (guidance is continually changing on this). However, it’s wise to go ahead and make plans to help small group members meet virtually. Consider using a video conference tool like Zoom to facilitate these meetings.

Host an initial video conference with your small group leaders to train them on how to use the tool and offer tips on how to lead a virtual meeting. Ask them to take attendance just like they would in-person and record that in your ChMS. This will help you quickly see which group members didn’t attend so you can try contacting them to make sure they’re okay.

This is an unprecedented situation but one in which the church can serve and thrive. By leveraging technology, we can continue to help those in need, spread the Gospel, and faithfully serve our communities.