By Nikole Hahn
You wouldn’t invite people to an empty church. Likewise, you don’t invite someone new to the church to an empty chat. Risking All as a Christian means seeing technology as an opportunity to make Gospel Impact in your community and beyond. While chat options are available on most social networks during a live stream and even on website streams, we will focus on Facebook for today’s topic.
A live stream isn’t a podcast or like watching Netflix on your device, where you turn it on and focus on other things. The live stream is a two-way conversation that reaches even unreached people groups around the world. Where there is an internet signal, an opportunity exists for someone in the world to find your church or ministry’s livestream. Social platforms like Facebook view the church as a product, and the Facebook algorithm favors meaningful interaction during the live stream.
Some churches have expressed the kinds of pushback they receive from congregation members to chat during a service, and congregation members have shared their reasons. Objections include fear of technology and, “Isn’t it like whispering during church?”
I have even heard someone ask, “What would I say?”
We’ll cover that and more in this article.
Facebook is a Church Growth Tool
People will visit your live streaming for up to a year before stepping inside the walls of your church. If you show you are friendly and caring online, people will assume this much about your church. For most churches, the person handling the live stream also handles the social media, soundboard, and video editing, sometimes on staff or as a volunteer. In other words, if you currently attend a church that live streams on Facebook, you’ll want to help them by being talkative online.
At the bottom of this article is a handout to help your congregation invite people to church using Facebook and what to say when your church live streams.
Talking Online is Serving Like a Greeter at Church, Even Like Your In-Person Prayer Team
Online church is different than in-person church. You can chat during the entire service. In fact, some might say having some kind of interaction helps you absorb the message better. Unlike the Greeters at your in-person service, if a person needs someone to listen, you can continue to talk without the music drowning out your words or distracting from the service.
The best way to start is,
- “How are you?”
- “How can I pray for you?”
- “Where are you watching from?”
- “What’s the weather like where you are?”
When the message starts, instead of penciling in your notes on the back of the bulletin that you’ll throw away later anyway, you can repurpose your notes to disciple others online. You can tap out your notes in the chat as something about the message inspires you. If your church has more than one service, you can attend in-person undistracted, take your notes the old-fashioned way, and watch the second service online, sharing your notes, praying for people, and helping your church make Gospel Impact.
When you pray, rather than just use the prayer hands emoji, why not use this template…
“Dear Jesus, I lift up [insert name] to You…” It’s as simple as that!
Ensure you hit “reply” in the chat to the person, so they get a notification that a conversation is happening. Putting in that extra effort of tapping or typing out the words to God for that person is an act of generosity towards others and affirms their prayer request didn’t just disappear into the dark void of Facebook.
Someone heard them, and someone cared.
Fear is a natural reaction to social media, especially if you didn’t grow up with the technology.
Exercise these precautions when serving online:
- Don’t give money to anyone.
- Refer any requests for food, money, or clothing to your local outreach or trust your church to handle the matter. Some are not genuine requests. Your local outreaches and church already have processes to handle that chat.
- Use your personal social media rather than a church account. It makes it, well, personal.
- You don’t have to accept every friend request when you serve online, especially widowed or divorced men who request or comment. These are usually fake accounts that target women.
- Know your privacy settings on Facebook.
- If you meet anyone online in person who lives in your area, tell someone, and meet that person in a very public place. Check their profiles out first.
- Remember Proverbs 15:12 when interacting online. Do not participate in conversations that turn into debates. Go where God has created opportunities for good conversations.
If Your Church Isn’t Friendly, Technology Won’t Resolve the Issue
It’s possible to build a healthy online church with great numbers and interactions, but with most of your followers attending other churches or not attending at all.
Inviting people to church should be a hybrid ministry.
- Share your church’s live stream to your profile with a friendly invitation to your friends to private message you with any questions or send it via private message to a friend.
- When you are out and about in person, find out if someone you just met is on Facebook and friend them. Whip out your phone and friend each other at that moment.
- During the week, bring people “back to church” by hitting “reply” on last week’s prayer request in a previous live stream chat and ask for an update. They will get the notification and return to your “church” to respond. It also shows you care by making this extra effort.
Live streaming your service is an excellent way to grow your church. You have much to do as a church communicator or pastor, and involving your congregation in the chat is an easy first step to increasing your online presence and making disciples. If you attend a church that live streams, we hope this has been helpful to you in how to use it to make Gospel Impact and support your local church.
If you have any questions, feel free to put your questions in the comments or email email@example.com.
- We have created a handout for your church. It’s a printer-friendly half-sheet (front and back) that you can hand out to your congregation. Download here.
- How To Do Ministry With Your Family (Video Workshop & 5-Day Devotional). Click here.
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