During COVID-19 lockdowns, churches were forced to make greater use of online provision. Most saw significant engagement with their output beyond their regular congregations. Of course, early figures may have eld to false optimism, once we had accounted for people clicking on and off links and other Christians “church surfing” the numbers weren’t as huge as initially suggested. However, we know from feedback that people were joining in who did not usually go to church.
As we increasingly return to normal opening, we should be aware that although those people engaged online, they may still not be ready to come along to church, especially off their own back. So, let’s not forget about these outreach opportunities as we return to in person meetings. Here are some thoughts on how we can do this.
- Continue to offer some online provision. This might include making a live stream of the service available and also to continue to run some midweek online provision.
- Run a well-being course. This is something that some churches offered during lockdown and found that it was a good bridge builder as well as providing a general good to the community. A lot of people will find the return out of lockdown and the months ahead just as challenging for their health and well-being and we have an opportunity to love them practically with something like this. Offer in person and online options.
- Run Alpha/Christianity Explored or First Look and invite people who have been joining you online to come along. Once again, offer online and in person options.
- Offer to post out to people a gift such as a Gospel or an evangelistic book. Alternatively provide a link to a free e-book to download.
- Encourage church members to plan or join in with social activities in their neighbourhoods such as BBQs, to invite neighbours into their gardens over the summer or to go for walks with them. There is a huge need for people to re-build or to discover social contact for the first time.
- Publicly invite people watching online to come to your in-person services and other activities as you re-start them. If they have given you their personal details, then send them a personal invite.
- Run some “taster” in person events enabling people to familiarise themselves with the building and any safety measures that will continue to be in place.
- Plan some special events to commemorate the end of the pandemic to include thanksgiving for God’s care and protection as well as time to reflect, mourn and remember those who have lost their lives during this time. This should include something once we are free to gather normally and probably something to mark a future anniversary. No doubt, there will be plans to commemorate the anniversary of the beginning of the pandemic on a national basis.