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Welcome to the COVID phase of church history. Our doors are closed, our congregations are online and all of the rules have changed. Yet, that doesn’t meant that the work has stopped. Luckily, there are a couple key rules to keep in mind that will help you not just survive but thrive through this time.

Go Beyond Live

At this point, your live stream is your church gathering. However, it is only one part of a complete online strategy. For context, your Sunday stream is only 0.008% of an attendees week. That’s in contrast to the 70+ hours a week people consume media of any type online.

Get to the point

On average, people scroll the length of the Statue of Liberty every day, and that was before social distancing and shelter in place orders.

So if the first minute of your video is an introduction, they’ve moved on to a cooking video 40 posts down.

* Bonus Note: Facebook considers a quality video view to be only 10 seconds… How long is the last sermon you posted?

Release Control

The offline world is based on Monday through Friday – nine to five. The internet is not time-bound, and people’s schedules are not normal anymore.

Community can happen online anytime and in any place. Don’t expect them to engage on your schedule. If you only live stream at 9:00 a.m. and then sign off for the day, you’ve missed a chance to connect with everyone who was still trying to get their kids to finish breakfast.

Caption Everything

A few basic numbers will prove the point here:

  • 85-90% of videos on Facebook are viewed without sound.
  • 30% of people say they turn the sound on when a video has subtitles.
  • 80% say they are more likely to watch a video with captions.

Now, look at your phone… Is the sound on?

Embrace the Mess

You’re at home… be at home. Let the kids run in. Let the dog bark. Everyone else is dealing with the same issues. Be human and be relatable.

With the rise of live stream, social stories, and TikTok, the drive is towards authenticity over production quality began long before this time but will certainly be the norm from now on.

Know Your Limits

There are a lot of churches out there doing amazing things on multiple platforms at a time. They’re posting all of the time. They are putting out a ton of content. And they have a huge following that is actively engaging.

However, I promise you they also have a large staff spending a lot of time on those things. The take-away, do what you can within your means. Every little bit will help build a lasting community during these hard times.