Fishhook

Coronavirus Communications Resources

The Fishhook team has been planning and working with churches all across the country helping them communicate clearly and effectively with their congregations and communities in light of COVID-19. We hope you can find the following information helpful. If you're looking for answers or suggestions for something you don't see, feel free to reach out and ask.

Our team wants to serve your church in whatever way we can. If you have questions or need help, let us know!

CORONAVIRUS SERVICES

Unique circumstances create new leadership and communication needs, for churches and church leaders. Below, you'll find specific services we're offering in this season, to help you lead and communicate with clarity, confidence and commitment. 

Digital Ministry Planning

COVID-19 has propelled us to do ministry in new ways. Churches are investing in their digital ministry presence because it is the best way to connect with their full congregation and community. Our team wants to help you engage with these groups during this time and then help you continue this new way of thinking digitally as we eventually return to a new "normal." What has been helpful? What is sustainable? And what are things that can be updated moving forward?

This digital ministry planning is designed to help you assess your digital ministry, find the gaps in engagement, and then help you tackle next steps in updating and carrying out your mission in this season and beyond.

DETAILS:

  • Data analysis and viewing - We’ll track data through Facebook/social media, live services, content, etc.
  • Interviews with key staff and survey with your full staff.
  • Recommendations for the current season.
  • Recommendations for how/what to keep doing post-COVID-19.
  • Coaching with leadership and/or ministry leaders and communications teams about implementation.
  • Total cost–$4,000

Executive Coaching: Leading Remote Teams

You probably didn’t sign up for this. You’re leading or working with a team that you aren’t sitting in the same room with. In addition, people are feeling emotional and disconnected trying to make sense of all that is going on within their own hearts, homes and our world. Yet, this is our reality right now.

Remote work has become increasingly common, and research has helped identify data-based strategies and tools for making it work for any team. Our Executive Coaching service will help you learn new ways of leading, troubleshoot challenges you are facing, and strategically invest in the stability and growth of your team.

DETAILS:

  • A weekly 60-minute coaching call to help you assess, troubleshoot and plan for leading your team well while working remotely.
  • Access to strategic worksheets, assessments and tools designed to help your team not only get through this season, but to grow and thrive.
  • Coaching sessions can be done through Zoom online video or phone.
  • A six-week coaching sprint is available for $1000. 

EQi 2.0 Emotional Intelligence Assessment

We believe Emotional Intelligence is a spiritual development tool God uses to grow leaders and teams. Listening well, problem-solving efficiently, giving and receiving feedback and managing our emotions are all skills that help leaders thrive. Now more than ever, every leader can invest in their development through one-on-one coaching and strategic learning.

The EQ Leadership Assessment and Coaching Plan is designed to help you assess your level of EQ skill, find the gaps in awareness or ability, tackle real-life challenges and thrive in your leadership. See a sample of an EQ Assessment here.

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Adam Bouse is a certified EQi 2.0 Assessment Facilitator. He holds an M.A. in Organizational Leadership from Huntingtin Unversity and the John Townsend Institue for Leadership and Counseling. 


DETAILS:

  • A personalized, EQi 2.0 Leadership Assessment Report and one-hour unpack session.
  • Coachings sessions can be done through Zoom online video or phone.
  • Assessment with one-hour unpack: $350
  • Assessment with six additional coaching sessions: $1200
  • Upgrade your Assessment with a powerful 360-review for an additional $300.

Brand Experience and Content Development

We believe sharing your brand experience strategically with your congregation and community can make a big impact. Creating a narrative that connects with your audiences is key to motivating them to engage with and continue growing with your church even during a global pandemic.

To do this we will create a visual direction and craft messaging that will connect with your audiences. Our team wants to help you create an outlined journey that helps foster assimilation into the church body and engagement in your discipleship path even when you're not meeting onsite at your church.

DETAILS:

  • Identify your church's brand traits.
  • Outline the church's audience(s).
  • Create a mood board that captures the visual direction.
  • Create key messaging,
  • Outline key ministry priorities.
  • Provide language for the church’s next steps journey.
  • Total cost–$3,500

Social Media Coaching

Right now, social media is the number one tool churches have at their disposal to connect with and minister to your audiences. We've heard from church leaders that more than 70% of the ministry they are doing is being facilitated through their different social media channels.

But we also know that for many church leaders, this is a very overwhelming and somewhat daunting task. You aren't trained social media marketers or communicators. You may not even be using all the tools personally. And, each tool changes on a regular basis.

Through one-on-one coaching and planning sessions, we'll help you and your team navigate all of these changes and create a sustainable plan that allows you to use social media for ministry during this season and beyond.

DETAILS:

  • Provide analysis
  • One-on-one coaching
  • Group coaching
  • Ghost-writing
  • Campaign/advertising development
  • Social media services available at an hourly rate $120/hr

Website Strategy and Implementation 

More people are visiting your website than ever before. They are looking for connection, to feel the hope and peace we have in Jesus, to grow spiritually and for opportunities to serve.

Yet you might feel that your site isn't set up for any of that. We'll help you assess wins and identify gaps with your current website, give recommendations for how you can update navigation and content throughout, and then help you implement these changes - all without having to start over from scratch.

DETAILS:

  • Assess your current site.
  • Navigation recommendations.
  • Recommendations for updating content throughout the site.
  • Recommendations for additional pages.
  • Update your site based on recommendations.
  • $750 for the analysis and brief report recommendations

  • $120/hr for implementation

EQUIP

The message and ministry of your church hasn't changed, but the tools and resources you need look different right now. As you create new rhythms of connecting and communicating in this unexpected time, we are provding strategic thinking and practical tips for the important work you are doing. 

The news, social media and watercooler conversations are buzzing about the coronavirus (COVID-19) right now. It’s at the forefront of public attention and the spread of this contagion is beginning to impact more U.S. cities, which means it’s impacting churches and ministries around the country, too. 

We always encourage churches to proactively plan for situations that require strategic communication, whether it’s an overnight crisis situation or something developing over the course of weeks and months, like we are seeing play out nationally right now. 

As you consider how your church will respond to local developments and public health recommendations surrounding coronavirus, here are a few things to keep in mind. 

How to Communicate
  • Communicate calmly and with clarity. The people in your community likely already view you as a trusted, safe voice. You can do a lot to help calm fears and ease anxiety by communicating, through words and actions, a steady, reassuring presence. Be sure to keep things simple and clear, too. Sharing too many details or scenarios can amplify feelings of uncertainty. 
  • Practice empathy. Some people will have stronger responses to this situation. Don’t dismiss their experience or fears. Whether they are in the high-risk population or they know someone directly impacted, it’s important to help them feel heard and comforted. 
What to Communicate
  • Your pastor and staff do not need to be health experts.
    The main thing you will be communicating is how the public health circumstances are impacting how you do the work you do as a church. Most people will generally be informed about the health risks, so focus on acknowledging how this is or isn’t directly impacting your congregation and your local community.
  • Rely on trustworthy, official sources.
    When providing context, resources or additional information about public health recommendations, rely on trustworthy, official sources. To instill the most confidence and trust, rely on governmental organizations like the Center for Disease Control, the World Health Organization, or trusted medical experts, such as Johns Hopkins University. Avoid sharing sources, through social media or through organization email, that are opinion-based, political or controversial. 

    If it would be helpful for your community to hear some of the standard public health recommendations and guidance, keep it simple: 
    • Stay home if you are feeling sick.
    • Wash your hands often, with soap and water, for at least 20 seconds. Do so after using the restroom, before and after eating and after touching your face, especially when coughing or sneezing. 
    • Even if you are not in a high-risk group for coronavirus, remember that everyone can transmit the germs that could affect those who are at higher risk due to age, a compromised immune system or other contributing factors. 
  • Let people know what is changing and what is not changing.
    There may come a time when your congregation, based on an abundance of caution or at the direction of official recommendations from your local or state health officials, will not be able to physically meet for a period of time. As colleges and universities begin to make changes to their class schedules and as large public events are being canceled, this may be a reality for many churches as well.

    Even if you are not canceling weekend services and there are no confirmed cases in your immediate area, people have questions and concerns. Be proactive and communicate with the full congregation. Build their confidence by telling them how and why the church is anticipating this situation. Offer them a way to get more information and let them know if and when there will be additional updates going forward. 

    If you are canceling weekend (or mid-week) services, communicate with clarity which specific dates and times are affected. If possible, communicate a date for when services will resume–or at least a date when you will reassess resuming services. 

    These larger gatherings are the experiences most likely to be disrupted. Provide guidance on other gatherings as well–small groups, classes, service projects, etc. Be proactive and over communicate when cancelations are put in place. 

    If you do need to cancel services, also communicate the programs, scheduled events, and ministry that will not be affected, or at least not canceled. Because Sunday gatherings are so central, it will cause some to think the church as a whole is shutting down for the same amount of time. Reiterate and over communicate what ministry and organizational functions will continue as expected. 
  • Communicate what steps you are taking to keep your facilities clean and safe.
    Consider updating your procedures for cleaning and sterilizing your facilities, then communicate what you are doing to the congregation. 

    If you’re adding hand-washing or hand sanitizer stations, share that information. Consider elements of your service (handshaking, passing offering plates, communion) that can contribute to the spreading of germs and adapt or eliminate them. Get creative if you can, and, more than anything, communicate clearly what will be changed and make the necessary adjustments. 
What’s your plan for going online? 

While having online services has become more common in recent years, not every church is set up with the technology or ministry support to make the switch if you need to cancel in-person services. Even those churches who live stream their services already may need to make changes if the weekly gatherings are put on hold for an extended period of time. 

The most important question to ask is, “What do people usually expect and need to be able to do when they are at church each week?”

The goal is to try and maintain the core elements you offer in person. Teaching and worship are key elements, but don’t forget offering, prayer requests, announcements, signing up for new classes or groups and even communion are elements of service you will want to plan to lead the congregation through if you aren’t going to be able to meet in person for a number of weeks. 

If you already have live stream services…
  • Identify what it is you want to continue providing on a weekly basis.You already have a weekly rhythm for live stream, but are there other elements you will want to provide now? A self-guided devotional experience? Kids curriculum parents can use? Determine what is both important and sustainable for you to maintain over the course of time you aren’t meeting in person. Don’t overcomplicate things, but consider what will be encouraging and helpful in the absence of a weekly physical gathering. 
  • Build around what you already have in place. Not everyone in your church has used your live stream before, so don’t expect a seamless transition. Increase messages about when and how to access the live stream. Add bandwidth if needed and anticipate additional costs if you see a significant uptick in traffic. Provide additional technical support so that people who aren’t comfortable with technology can learn how to get help if the stream isn’t working or they are having issues getting connected. 
  • Enlist the help of those who are good with technology. Use your imagination to rally people in your church who can help others learn where and how to use technology to stay connected. Offer up tutorials on using social media, the church website or even video conferencing tools like Zoom or Skype (especially if you want to do pastoral care or counseling sessions without being in person). Find others who have influence through social media to help share messages, updates and resources from the church. And of course, you may end up needing a group of volunteers to help answer email, Facebook or other incoming messages about schedules, changes and needing support. Ask for people to help out and help them make the connection that this is ministry work and it requires a variety of skills and availability. 
  • Encourage your pastor and/or leadership to be visible and engaged. Not only will this instill a sense of confidence and comfort amidst change, it’s a way for the church to actually draw closer. People may already be used to seeing your pastor on screen or through social media video, so use this to your advantage. Make video updates a regular part of the week, including teachings as well as more conversational or informal opportunities part of the plan. 
If you don’t have live stream services yet…
  • Take a deep breath. You don’t have to reproduce service exactly as it is in person. This is a chance to get a little creative and even pull in some individuals who can help you bring fresh ideas to the table. You don’t have to overcome these challenges on your own. 
  • Identify what it is you want to continue providing on a weekly basis. A sermon/teaching? Probably. Worship through music? Possibly. A self-guided devotional experience? Kids curriculum parents can use? Determine what is both important and sustainable for you to maintain over the course of time you aren’t meeting in person. 
  • Once you determine what you’re trying to create, consider what tools you can use to make it happen. If you have the technical support to make it happen, you could set up the Church Online Platform pretty quickly to offer a live stream and live chat. But that may feel like too much. Consider doing a Facebook Live video if you are doing a sermon/message. Pre-record a sermon or devotional and upload it to YouTube or Vimeo, then distribute it through social media, your website and your email lists. Leverage your ministry-specific email lists to send out kids resources, written devotional content and anything else that can help individuals, families and small groups continue to be encouraged and supported. 
  • Enlist the help of those who are good with technology. Use your imagination to rally people in your church who can help others learn where and how to use technology to stay connected. Offer up tutorials on using social media, the church website or even video conferencing tools like Zoom or Skype (especially if you want to do pastoral care or counseling sessions without being in person). Find others who have influence through social media to help share messages, updates and resources from the church. And of course, you may end up needing a group of volunteers to help answer email, Facebook or other incoming messages about schedules, changes and needing support. Ask for people to help out and help them make the connection that this is ministry work and it requires a variety of skills and availability. 
  • Encourage your pastor and/or leadership to be visible and engaged. Not only will this instill a sense of confidence and comfort amidst change, it’s a way for the church to actually draw closer. Start a new rhythm of having your pastor do a Facebook Live video once or twice a week, to either offer encouragement through a devotional or to simply say hello, pray for others and to give a show of life continuing on even if it is in a different rhythm. 

No matter how the coronavirus or any other major event is impacting your church, it is an opportunity to remind people of God’s faithfulness and His care for us all.

Invite everyone to join you in prayer for those who have been directly impacted with the illness, for those whose schedules or routines have been disrupted and for the quick end to something that is impacting millions of people around the world. Be a source of calm, helpful information and encouragement and trust that God is at work in the people of your church and those impacted around the world.

We need to accept that this is going to be a significant disruption to life for at least the next few weeks and possibly months.

This moment calls for an entirely new way of thinking about ministry. Not panicking but demonstrating the utmost prudence, wisdom and creativity.

Your church does more than give a lecture and entertain with music. The Body of Christ and the local church is an embodiment of God’s presence in the world. We gather to encourage and pray for one another. We meet to study scripture and serve one another. We approach the altar to serve and be served communion.

In order to keep being and doing all that Jesus has called the Church to be, we will need more than a live stream and a weekly email update. 

My own church meets on the campus of a state university. That school has announced the end of all in-person classes and is limiting group gatherings of more than 100 people at a time, in an effort to limit the exposure and possibly transmission of a pandemic disease. We’re still figuring out what that means for our church of 400 people. So I completely understand what pastors and churches are having to think through right now. 

Our encouragement is that you can rise to this challenge.

A disruption like this is an opportunity to see your community, your church and your own ability to contribute to the building of God’s Kingdom with fresh eyes.

We need to elevate our thinking beyond patchwork solutions that get us through a few weeks where we can’t meet in our building.

We need fresh inspiration from God’s Spirit to creatively, uniquely and with hopeful resolve reach out and meet people in real, tangible ways. God has given us everything we need to move into unknown circumstances. 

Here are a few ideas that you might start with as you continue planning for a fresh and inspired way of being the church if you aren’t able to gather on Sunday mornings for some time: 

  • Going online for a service is a great starting point. Don’t limit your thinking and planning to just Sunday services.
  • Rally your church to think about those who are at the highest risk if they were to be exposed to the virus. Make telephone calls, set up grocery delivery and write them notes. Social isolation in these circumstances can lead to loneliness, anxiety and depression. 
  • In addition to an online service, set up a network of “house churches,” places were groups of 10-15 people can gather to watch the service together, pray and even take communion. Encourage existing small group leaders to organize these gatherings while still keeping them small and practicing good hygiene based on recommendations. 
  • If schools or daycares are closing in your area, start organizing ways for parents to find alternate childcare options. Safety is critically important, so don’t skip any steps when it comes to screening and accountability. The most concrete way to love families may be by relieving the burden of totally disrupted schedules and being stuck between earning a paycheck and staying home with kids who can’t go to school. 
  • Food insecurity is a real issue for many kids and families. If schools are closing, connect with local organizations that are already working in that space. Make donations of food and finances to help relieve the burden or even think about how you can contribute to distribution and awareness. 
  • Give updates regularly. The Church has a real and genuine source of confidence, hope and joy. These are the precise moments where the goodness and faithfulness of God can shine brightest through His people. By calmly and confidently communicating updates, praying, offering encouragement and rallying the church to do good and be hopeful, we can bring light into circumstances and moments that feel dark to the world around us. 
  • Start an online community for your congregation. You want people to be able to stay connected with each other and you as leaders. Start a Facebook group as a centralized place to keep relationships going, communicate updates and resource your people to share the love and hope of Jesus. 
  • Decide what your digital ministry strategy will be. More than ever, people need hope. And thanks to technology, each church has the opportunity to share hope on a daily basis. This is your new ministry strategy. This is your new ministry goal. Will you write a daily blog post and share it on social media? Start going live consistently with a message of encouragement and perspective? Resource your congregation with messages of hope to share? Give people a place where they can go to find peace online. 

Today the White House announced the Annual Easter Egg Roll on the White House lawn is being canceled “out of abundance of caution.” This celebration dates back to 1878, when Rutherford B. Hayes was president and has only been canceled a handful of times during World War I and II and in the late 40s-early 50s because of food conservation and construction at the White House. My family had the honor of attending this tradition on the White House lawn last year. We met a family that prioritizes this event every year because they enjoy it so much. 

I’m guessing this cancellation came after much discussion and ultimately there will be a lot of people who were looking forward to attending that will be disappointed. Let alone all the work that has gone into making this event happen even weeks before the actual event. But White House officials had to make this hard call to protect our public from the spread of the coronavirus.

Churches need to start making decisions about how to communicate and encourage people to take part in your church’s Easter services this year. And we probably need to assume that they won’t be held onsite and in-person this year. So instead of hoping for the best with onsite guests, we need to start planning on other ways to connect with people to share the hope of Christ during this season. 

This is the beauty of Christ’s church. We can still be the Church. Unlike a canceled Easter Egg Roll, we can still host our guests in other ways online. We can still use technology as a ministry tool. We don’t have to cancel the whole thing, we just have to think about it with fresh eyes. 

So what’s Plan A for Easter this year? Let’s strategically think through “off-site Easter” so we can invite and welcome first-time guests and then help them get connected as a follow up. 

Here are a few things to think through:

  1. Shift your thinking that “off-site Easter” is a Plan B. Start thinking about it as Plan A and swiftly start planning and implementing because there are less than four weeks till Easter Sunday. 
  2. Where are the places for you to be consistent? What makes Easter Sunday special? How do you bring these elements into your online experience?
  3. What can you let go of during this time? What have been things your church has done just because you always do? This is a great time to let go of things that aren’t working as well anymore.
  4. Where are the opportunities to be creative and/or to try something new? This is uncharted territory, so dream big.
  5. Once you know the answers to the above questions, start communicating to your congregation as soon as possible. Acknowledge the disappointment and then ask your congregation to rally with you to make the most of this new way to reach out to people who aren’t close to Jesus.
  6. Give your congregation online tools to connect with and invite their friends and family to your online experience. Create shareable social graphics, send them an email invite they can forward on to their friends and give them ways they can serve your church and others during this time.
  7. Because your church won’t be spending dollars on special bulletin printing, stage design, etc., use these dollars to promote your services in new ways. 
  8. One of the biggest misses we see with churches each year is not strategically planning for the follow up with guests after Easter. We put so much time and effort into Easter services and the publicity of the dates but not enough time in planning for post-Easter. Make sure to create a plan on how you will invite people to engage with your ministry ongoing. We want guests to continue to want to know more about Jesus and provide them with the resources to help them do this. What are new ways this is going to happen in light of not being able to meet in-person? Maybe you create a Facebook Group to encourage community while we are socially distancing ourselves. Maybe you post follow-up videos each day post-Easter to reinforce the message and encourage people in a time when we all really need it. Maybe you provide counselors for people to chat with or people from your church to pray with. 
  9. The most important question to answer and act on is how are you living out your mission during this time? The church is poised and ready because Christ goes before us. We live with hope because of what Christ has done for us. He has commanded us to be strong and courageous. To not be afraid; to not be discouraged, for the Lord our God will be with us wherever we go. (Joshua 1:9) 

Here is a free Easter Planning Worksheet 

So be bold and dream big because God can do immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine. I’m excited for the church in this time. I’m not fearful. COVID-19 is forcing us to all think differently about how we connect with people online. Being the church in this time in history has to look different if we are going to reach people that desperately need Jesus. 

Our team at Fishhook is praying for you each day. You and your work matter. 

You probably didn’t sign up for this, leading or working with a team that you aren’t sitting in the same room with. Most church leaders, communicators and pastors are used to working face-to-face and they tend to be relationally-minded. Within the last week, many churches in the U.S. found themselves caught up in the ripple effects of a global pandemic, leading them to cancel in-person services and sending their teams to work from home for weeks at a time. 

You aren’t alone if this feels entirely overwhelming. We’re all trying to figure out ministry, work, e-learning with our kids and where to get toilet paper in a season unlike any other we’ve experienced in our lives. 

The good news is that remote work is something that many organizations have been doing and research has been collected on what works best for many years now. We can rally, we can learn from and lean on each other and we can rest assured that God has given us everything we need for today. 

For four years, I worked for the YouVersion Bible App and was part of a team of roughly twenty-five team members. Partially remote, about half of us worked in the central office, with the other half being spread out across several states (and one in France). We also leveraged the time and talents of over 400 volunteers from dozens of countries, working in more than thirty languages and providing user support, translation and software development. My experiences taught me a lot about leadership, especially when it comes to collaborating and leading with people who aren’t in the same room.

Here are a few principles and lessons I learned in that time. My hope is that this post helps you find a new rhythm and builds your confidence as you continue to put your whole heart into the work of building God’s Kingdom. 

Trust is the essential foundation. 
If you only have confidence and trust because you can see people do their jobs with your own eyes, this is going to be a big change for you, but one you can make. You need to work from a foundation of trust, that your team is responsible, trustworthy and just as motivated to continue doing good work like you are. Any time there is a gap between two people–whether that’s a communication gap or a physical gap like only being able to connect through video or phone calls–you have a choice: fill the gap with trust or with mistrust. By choosing trust, you give people confidence and empower them to make good choices. If you choose mistrust, they’re more likely to get defensive, feel protective of their role or territory and reflect mistrust back to you. Deciding to trust first is what great leaders do, because it has a positive ripple effect that impacts every other aspect of your leadership and the work environment. 

Create predictable rhythms of communication. 
Churches across the country are in the midst of massive changes in rhythms, routines and expectations. While you communicate to your congregation and staff what is changing, you need to start building in predictable rhythms of communication. Plan regular, scheduled times for the whole team to connect by video if possible. For some teams, this will be a daily rhythm (that’s what it is for the Fishhook team, a quick 30-minute check-in each morning). For others, it may be every couple of days. 

The full team should be connecting at least once a week. You may also want to set up a weekly 30-minute check-in with each individual team member. During these times, don’t just focus on work–ask how the person is doing, what their family needs and pray with them. Your staff is part of your church and need pastoral care in this season as much as anyone. We also have a worksheet to help you think intentionally about the questions and conversations you have during one-on-one meetings any time of the year. 

Consider other ways you need to communicate as well. If there are weekly decisions being made about an online service, service opportunities or other ministry decisions, commit to an update day and time where everyone can anticipate final decisions and directions for the week. In this season, you honestly can’t overcommunicate. People are comforted in the midst of uncertainty by clarity and confidence. Be honest about reality, but be clear about how and when you’ll be making decisions, communicating changes and providing updates on important information. 

Establish some new norms early on. 
One reason why it may be hard to be productive for a week or two after dramatic changes to your work environment or routine is because we don’t have a sense of normalcy that helps us focus. If you are used to having a commute, sitting at a particular desk or drinking a certain type of coffee, then your brain is having to process all this new information and can’t spend as much energy focusing on the work you still have to get done. So you need to create new routines and norms as quickly as possible. 

Create a new morning routine and stick to it. If you don’t have a 30-minute commute now, resist the temptation to sleep in and get up at the same time each morning, showering, getting fully dressed and eating breakfast like you would if you were going to head into the office. 

If you’re working from home, set up a specific spot to work from rather than moving from the couch to the kitchen to the dining room table throughout the day. Help your brain know that when you sit in this particular place in your, whether it’s a makeshift office in the corner of your living room or in a spare bedroom that you’ve taken over, that you are ready to focus and do work. 

Not everything has to be rigidly scheduled or structured. It can’t be, especially if your kids are on perpetual e-learning days and crawling around at your feet every thirty minutes. Pick a few things each week to establish as normal and let those be anchors that help you build a new sense of routine and stability. Then, roll with the punches and own the fact that things are simply going to be different for a season. 

Limited communication channels doesn’t have to mean limited communication. 
You don’t have a watercooler or lunchroom and you likely aren’t grabbing coffee on Sunday morning, but that doesn’t have to mean your team has to be less informed or connected. In fact, research shows that having a limited range of communication methods doesn’t mean overall communication effectiveness will decline. What does have a negative impact? Infrequent, vague, unpredictable communication. That’s true in any environment, even more so when you can’t see the people you are working with. Make it clear that communication is a priority by establishing a rhythm of communication, formal and informal, that fosters personal connection and clarifies goals, progress, feedback and success.

If your team is new to digital communication (beyond email), here are some tools you can check out. Pick one or two, communicate how you’ll be using them, and only keep using them if they’re helpful. 

  • *Zoom - video conference, one-on-one or group calls
  • Marco Polo - popular mobile app that is a combo of texting and video chats
  • Loom - record your screen, voice, and face to create an instantly shareable video 
  • *Slack - communication platform with plenty of integrations
  • *Basecamp - project management and communication platform
  • iDoneThis - daily tool to share progress and increase transparency
  • Know Your Team - designed to help mid-sized teams stay connected
  • 15 Five - weekly check-in platform to increase dialogue and transparency

*currently used by Fishhook

Your leadership style will probably need to shift. 
Many who are leading a remote team for the first time find their default style falls flat or isn’t as effective as it usually would be. Leading a remote team takes almost everyone out of their comfort zone, at least initially. The impact of how a leader leads is magnified in remote environments, for better or worse.

Leaders who just want to get stuff done (i.e. “transactional leaders”) make remote work harder for individuals and the team. Leaders who demonstrate inspirational or transformational leadership qualities (evoke enthusiasm, loyalty, and trust; leverage positive emotions; demonstrate empathy and active listening) are much more effective and successful. In fact, research shows that inspirational and transformational leaders can actually be more effective in a remote environment compared to when they lead in a traditional face-to-face environment. 

Look for opportunities to empower “informal leaders,” those on the team that rise up to support, encourage and develop the team through their own relational connection. Because you will likely have less interaction with each person, great leaders understand that informal leaders play an important role filling in gaps you won’t be able to fill single handedly.

Establish some new goals so everyone gets to succeed.
While spring break plans are getting canceled and other plans are being put on hold, disappointment and grief is very real for most people in some way right now. It’s likely that Easter may look very different for most churches this year as well.

As a leader you need to find a way to help your team (and your church as well) feel a sense of satisfaction and progress. People like to win and having a sense of progress toward success is motivating and good for our mental health. You may need to come up with new ways of measuring success as a team. Invite your team to brainstorm things that will be a success each week and then celebrate when you hit the target. These can be just for fun (most laps walked around your neighborhood) or they can be ministry-related (meals served, phone calls made, Facebook posts responded to, etc.). At the end of the day, especially in ministry, you want to continue to point people to your mission and celebrate stories of how you are living it out as a staff and as a church. 

Emphasize grace and flexibility. No one imagined most churches across the country would need to shut their doors and go online for weeks at a time. These are such unprecedented circumstances. That makes it even more important to practice empathy, grace and compassion for others. This includes your team and your co-workers.

If there is flexibility in work hours or being accessible by email or phone, communicate that. Where you can offer people the comfort of knowing they aren’t being expected to be as productive because of the circumstances we are all wrestling with, encourage people with that perspective. Don’t assume anyone knows where things are flexible or when an expectation has changed. Keep an ongoing conversation about the kind of culture, values and relationships you want to see being created within the team, even at a distance. 

As you step into the coming days and weeks, give yourself space and grace, to slow down and stay connected to Jesus so that you can sustainably continue serving your church and community. 

Fishhook is here to help. If you need a sounding board for ministry ideas, help building a communication strategy for social media or your website or if you are looking for leadership coaching in this season, we’re ready to jump up in and support you all the way through.

 

On March 18, the Fishhook team hosted two live coaching video calls. Thanks to everyone who joined us on our live Coaching & Encouragement call! Here are the playbacks. 

Call with Churches 700+ in Weekly Attendance 

COVID-19 Coaching (700+)

 

Call with Churches less than 700 in Weekly Attendance

COVID-19 Coaching Call 700-

In recent days, I’ve had a few ministry leaders ask the question, “How long should our livestream last?” 

As churches have been forced to take their ministries online, they have also started asking questions about engagement. How long are people’s attention spans when joining a service online? How can we connect with people post-service? How do we continue discipleship in our congregation? 

While COVID-19 has caused us to pause and ask these questions, honestly, they should be asked during non-pandemic days as well. This disruption is giving us time to ponder how we are choosing to do ministry. It’s helping us shift priorities and think in new ways to reach and disciple people in our congregation and community.

So, how long should livestreams be? I believe each church needs to make that decision based on how they are engaging with their people, but let’s take a look at a few facts (because facts are friends) for additional support. 

In June 2006, TED Talks posted their first six talks online and by September they had reached more than one million views. By 2009, TED Talks’ views had grown to over 100 million. And by the fall of 2012, TED Talks had celebrated its one billionth video view. If you’re not familiar, TED Talks are short-form, powerful talks lasting 18 minutes or less. TED says its agenda is “to make great ideas accessible and spark conversation.” According to TED Talks curator Chris Anderson, the length is “short enough to hold people's attention, including on the Internet, and precise enough to be taken seriously. But it's also long enough to say something that matters." 

People at TED have done the research on presentation length. They’ve figured out what helps make things stick in our brains and what doesn’t. I’ve watched my fair share of TED Talks and can mostly remember what I’ve learned from each of them.

One of the most famous speeches in history was 17 minutes in length. You can probably guess which one I’m talking about because, no matter how you heard it, you remember how captivating Martin Luther King, Jr. was as he shared his dreams about equality. 

When you’re forced to keep something succinct, it forces you to be intentional about every word, finding clarity in simplicity. And when words are clear and clutter is removed, we hear and understand.

As we’re asking questions about what ministry should look like now and when things go back to “normal” (whatever that will be), I encourage everyone to think with fresh eyes and perspective. Look at data to see what is culturally sticking with people, then let’s adapt how we do church to reach more people. My prayer is we can present the gospel in a clear and simple way and remove the clutter that hinders us.



Thinking about how to re-open your church? Wondering what you need to do before you begin gathering in person again? 

6 Priorities Your Church Must Have in Place Before Gathering in Person Again

The Table - Virtual - July 2020- 720

 

ENCOURAGE

The work you are doing is incredibly important, but it's also challenging. In this season, be sure to take time each day to take a deep breath, find encouragement and trust in God's faithfulness when we hit our limits. 

In recent days, there have been a dizzying number of updates about the coronavirus that have seemed to come at the top of every hour. As major events, mainstays of the spring calendar, and even daily routines like going to work and school are getting upended or indefinitely postponed, it’s enough to stun you into a state of inaction. It’s overwhelming and it’s okay that it’s overwhelming. 

And now, for most pastors and church leaders, there is a scramble to figure out how to keep ministry happening when public health officials are calling for us all to avoid larger gatherings, limit physical contact and practice social distancing. 

But that’s not what this post is about. We need to accept that this is going to be a significant disruption to life for at least the next few weeks and possibly months. 

This moment calls for an entirely new way of thinking about ministry. Not panicking but demonstrating the utmost prudence, wisdom and creativity. 


Your church does more than give a lecture and entertain with music. The Body of Christ and the local church is an embodiment of God’s presence in the world. We gather to encourage and pray for one another. We meet to study scripture and serve one another. We approach the altar to serve and be served communion.

In order to keep being and doing all that Jesus has called the Church to be, we will need more than a live stream and a weekly email update. 

My own church meets on the campus of a state university. That school has announced the end of all in-person classes and is limiting group gatherings of more than 100 people at a time, in an effort to limit the exposure and possibly transmission of a pandemic disease. We’re still figuring out what that means for our church of 400 people. So I completely understand what pastors and churches are having to think through right now. 

Our encouragement is that you can rise to this challenge.

A disruption like this is an opportunity to see your community, your church and your own ability to contribute to the building of God’s Kingdom with fresh eyes.


We need to elevate our thinking beyond patchwork solutions that get us through a few weeks where we can’t meet in our building.

We need fresh inspiration from God’s Spirit to creatively, uniquely and with hopeful resolve reach out and meet people in real, tangible ways. God has given us everything we need to move into unknown circumstances. 

Here are a few ideas that you might start with as you continue planning for a fresh and inspired way of being the church if you aren’t able to gather on Sunday mornings for some time: 

  • Going online for a service is a great starting point. Don’t limit your thinking and planning to just Sunday services.
  • Rally your church to think about those who are at the highest risk if they were to be exposed to the virus. Make telephone calls, set up grocery delivery and write them notes. Social isolation in these circumstances can lead to loneliness, anxiety and depression. 
  • In addition to an online service, set up a network of “house churches,” places were groups of 10-15 people can gather to watch the service together, pray and even take communion. Encourage existing small group leaders to organize these gatherings while still keeping them small and practicing good hygiene based on recommendations. 
  • If schools or daycares are closing in your area, start organizing ways for parents to find alternate childcare options. Safety is critically important, so don’t skip any steps when it comes to screening and accountability. The most concrete way to love families may be by relieving the burden of totally disrupted schedules and being stuck between earning a paycheck and staying home with kids who can’t go to school. 
  • Food insecurity is a real issue for many kids and families. If schools are closing, connect with local organizations that are already working in that space. Make donations of food and finances to help relieve the burden or even think about how you can contribute to distribution and awareness. 
  • Give updates regularly. The Church has a real and genuine source of confidence, hope and joy. These are the precise moments where the goodness and faithfulness of God can shine brightest through His people. By calmly and confidently communicating updates, praying, offering encouragement and rallying the church to do good and be hopeful, we can bring light into circumstances and moments that feel dark to the world around us. 
  • Start an online community for your congregation. You want people to be able to stay connected with each other and you as leaders. Start a Facebook group as a centralized place to keep relationships going, communicate updates and resource your people to share the love and hope of Jesus. 
  • Decide what your digital ministry strategy will be. More than ever, people need hope. And thanks to technology, each church has the opportunity to share hope on a daily basis. This is your new ministry strategy. This is your new ministry goal. Will you write a daily blog post and share it on social media? Start going live consistently with a message of encouragement and perspective? Resource your congregation with messages of hope to share? Give people a place where they can go to find peace online. 

This Easter Sunday is going to be unlike anything in living memory. 

It’s likely every person reading this post has been impacted by the fight against coronavirus over the last few weeks. In most states, public gatherings have been limited or restricted. Many churches we work with have canceled services at least through Sunday, April 5–Palm Sunday. That specific Sunday was chosen intentionally, with some sense of lingering hope that churches can “get back to normal” and gather in person for Easter. 

Most churches I’ve spoken to or heard from have already made the hard decision, even if it isn’t public yet. To move forward with a full, in-person gathering–even a few weeks from now–would go against almost all local, state, national and global health recommendations being made by scientists, doctors, and health professionals. Schools here in Indiana are closed through May 1 and some states (Kansas and Virginia, at the time of writing this post) have canceled the remainder of their school year. 

I understand how hard the choice to cancel individual church services, and especially Easter services, feels. Canceling feels like giving up control. It takes us out of a place of routine and familiarity. It stirs up feelings of sadness, disappointment, frustration and even fear. When we delay making any hard decision, personally or in leading a church, it feels like our only way to keep those uncomfortable and unwanted feelings at bay, at least a little bit longer. It’s less about the decision itself and more about our own grief and disappointment. Thousands of churches are wading through this and countless pastors are wrestling with choices they never imagined they’d have to make. 

In the Gospel of John, the writer paints a picture of Mary Magdalene going to Jesus’ tomb the morning after he died. There’s something powerful in her willingness and choice to simply be present, to get up out of bed and walk to the tomb. I can imagine myself being in the same position and using the deep and devastating reality of a crucified Jesus as a reason to sleep in, to isolate, to just hide. But because Mary was willing to step into an uncertain future, she “went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance.” 

You know how the story unfolds from there: she sprints to Peter and John, telling them Jesus’ body is missing. They all run back to the tomb and see with their own eyes this troubling, confusing news. The cloth was still there, but Jesus’ body was gone. In the NIV, verse 9 is in parenthesis and says, “(They still do not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.” Outside the tomb, Mary stood crying. Jesus meets her, speaking her name and surely bringing a joy she had never experienced before. 

We do not understand all that is happening in our world right now. The science, the scope and scale, how long closures and isolation will last. We only see in part what God knows in whole and so we are left with disappointment, sadness and anxiety. For some, it’s a daily choice to get out of bed and face this new reality we’re in now. 

If you are willing to choose hope and faith, we can have our own moment of meeting Jesus in the midst of disappointment and confusion. This is what Jesus has to offer us and what the Church has that no other company or organization can lay claim to: a hope that does not disappoint. 

The history of the Church is filled with stories of unexpected twists, unwelcome oppression, disappointments, confusion and more. It’s also filled with stories of perseverance, resilience, hope and the faithfulness of God. If you need encouragement as you face hard decisions, be encouraged that the Church will not fail and that God is inviting us into a unique moment, to co-create with Him new ways of experiencing resurrection comfort and love, ways we couldn’t have imagined even a few weeks ago. 

As you make the decision to not meet in-person for Easter in the coming days and weeks, here are a few things to keep in mind as you move forward in faithfulness to your people: 

  • Nothing about the Gospel or the Church is at risk in these times.
    Our “success” can only be faithfulness to what God is calling us to do, not numbers or events. 

  • Scientists and public health officials have made very clear recommendations that we should not be gathering in large groups right now.
    Though there are voices in the public conversation pushing for a quicker return to normalcy, wisdom says to listen to the science and the facts over any kind of wishful thinking. If you are afraid of looking fearful by not gathering or returning to meet on Easter Sunday, remember that it is wise to limit gatherings. Protecting the health and wellbeing of everyone is the wise choice. 

  • God has not been caught off-guard by all of this.
    The Spirit is ever-present and always active, working in ways we can’t fully comprehend or see. Trust that as you move forward God is still the one drawing people to Himself, empowering people to grow in their faith, and meeting needs that we aren’t able to. 

  • You have a unique opportunity to tell the story of Jesus’ resurrection in a new way.
    Expectations (kind of) go out the window at this point. Keep things simple, but look for ways you can try something new, take risks and share the Gospel in a compelling way that is both celebration and comfort in this season. 

  • Empower the people of your church to take ownership of Easter.
    It was never enough to just come to church, sing some songs and listen to a message. The church staff was never meant to do all of the ministering and serving. Rally people to find ways to celebrate Easter, serve others and be a light in a season that may feel very dark to others. 

  • Keep things simple.
    You shouldn’t try to replicate the elements of past Easters. Paint on a clean canvas and ask yourself, “What is the simplest way we can share the Good News, celebrate the resurrection and love people well?” 

We know there are hard decisions ahead, but we also know that God is faithful and He has promised to make all things work for His good. Rest assured knowing that the celebration of Easter is not dependent on you, because God is already at work. Christ is risen and He is with you. 

One of our favorite things to say at Fishhook is: "You and your work matter."

We say this to the awesome church and ministry leaders we get to work with, other partners, friends and each other. 

It's a simple sentence that means a lot to us. And we hope it encourages you today - especially as we begin a new year. 

Who you are and how you serve matter so very much.
But we know it's easy to NOT feel that way. Have you been there? Are you there today? Often we struggle with feeling weary, discouraged, overworked, overwhelmed, fearful, insecure, hurt, angry, undervalued and the list could go on and on. 

I want to encourage you to pause and consider these words of truth ...

You are loved unconditionally.

You are a beautiful child of God. 

It's not about what you do or the problems you are trying to solve.

Your identity is found in Him. 

You are enough.

We hope you can find rest in Christ today. 

Know his love, grace and peace.

As for your work ... thank you so much for using your gifts and talents to serve and lead through God's church, ministry or the organization where you are employed or volunteer. God is at work, and He is using you. Trust Him - even when you don't feel it. And especially when you don't feel it. 

You and your work matter. But especially YOU! 

You are loved and appreciated, friend. 

As the seasons change, the weather turns colder and leaves fall softly to the ground, there is a sense of turning in for the season. Animals hibernate, city parks slowly go to sleep for the winter, and the pace of life slows down. Winter is a season of settling in and resting, right? 

If you work at a church, this isn’t quite your rhythm. 

With the rush to kick off the fall season in your rear-view mirror, you’ve come to realize how quickly Christmas and the new year are approaching. We’ve all noticed how the holidays have expanded to consume a larger and larger portion of the calendar. And for pastors, ministry leaders and church communicators, you feel the pressure of the season. Plan the Advent series, schedule extra rehearsals for the band or choir, attend to the “fun new ideas” that come up at the last minute, be ready for emergencies during double the normal number of services and get ready for the New Year series about starting fresh! (I'm kind of tired just typing all of that!) 

Before you go any deeper into the frenzy, I hope we can pause for a few minutes to practice something vitally important. 

I recently saw a church that was hosting an interactive event called, “Practicing Gratitude Without Pretending.” I don’t know what it entailed, but I love the title and the concept. They seem to be saying, “You can be grateful for what is while also acknowledging what isn’t.” 

The reality, for most of us anyway, is that there is hardship, pain, frustration and seasons of feeling stuck. “Rejoice always!” is the accusing little voice in the back of my head, usually when I'm feeling at my worst. (Note to self and maybe you, too: if it’s an accusing voice, it’s not God’s voice). So the idea of having to pretend I’m grateful hits closer to home than I’d like to admit. 

I can recall a specific season in recent years where I was feeling discouraged and a little hopeless. Trying to process what I was thinking and feeling, I wrote down, “It doesn’t seem honest to just be positive, to not acknowledge the pain and the missing things.”

This is the tension I feel when things are hard or overwhelming–I want to be grateful, to be present at this moment and to see the possibility, but I also have valid feelings of disappointment, confusion and even hurt at times. How do we bridge the gap between the desire and our experience? 

Sometimes hard seasons seem to come out of nowhere. Other times we can see them coming a mile away. What I’m learning right now is that, no matter the season, practicing gratitude and feeling grateful aren’t necessarily the same thing. I can practice gratitude–a posture or mindset of appreciation or thankfulness–without expecting to feel grateful or particularly happy. And this may be the way to bridging the gap between our desire to be grateful while also feeling some hard emotions. 

In rare moments (but hopefully less rare going forward) I can even find a place of gratitude for hard things, because I know from experience that tough conversations, difficult circumstances and even broken relationships or loss help to shape and grow me in the ways of humility, empathy and patience. That doesn’t mean it feels good or that I feel grateful for it, especially in real-time. But I can still thank God for His active presence in my life (even when I don’t have a clue what that is), fully feel whatever it is I’m feeling without dismissing it and also choose to have faith in the hard moments. I can have faith that "how things are here and now" isn't how they always will be. I can still practice gratitude. I can still choose to orient myself toward God’s faithfulness. And for that, I am grateful. 

As Father Richard Rohr says, “Everything belongs. Nothing is missing.” I don’t have to deny any part of my experience or my story. And God is still in my midst, giving me everything I need in this moment.

As you head into the final weeks of 2019, my prayer is that you will take time to practice gratitude without pretending. 

  • Where things feel broken or lost, share those with someone you trust.
  • When you feel overwhelmed or your schedule is dragging you from one place to another, find a way–even for 15 minutes–to sit in silence or go for a walk outside.
  • As you gather with family or friends in the coming weeks, with all their imperfections and quirks, take a posture of gratitude toward them and perhaps even express appreciation for their presence in your life. They’re probably going through some hard things, too. There’s no need to fix their problems and no need to share all of yours, at least not right now. 

Simply be grateful you have this space and this time to be grateful. Choose the posture and trust the feelings will follow. 

I’ll leave you with a prayer Thomas Merton wrote many years ago. It’s a prayer I come back to when things are unknown, when I feel overwhelmed or when I need a reminder to be grateful without pretending, knowing that God is ever with me and will never leave me. 

“My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it. Therefore I will trust you always, though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.” - Thomas Merton

Ever just feel stuck?

Whether you are trying to launch a new website, planning for the new year, finishing up the Sunday to-do list or trying to get buy-in for a new ministry, you are going to experience moments where you feel completely stuck.

In those moments, how do you respond?

Do you fold your arms and stomp your foot? Maybe you bury your head in the sand. One type of leader might clear the table and aimlessly vent his frustration. Some people just cross their fingers and hope for the best.

What’s your strategy for getting unstuck and moving forward again?

Anger, cynicism, self-doubt and even hope, passion or good intentions are false strategies. They can be fuel, but they aren’t actually a strategy and can even leave you feeling hopeless, like nothing you try will work.

“I hope this works out” is a perfectly fine thing to think, but a poor way to actually nudge an outcome in your favor. Hope, believing that positive future outcomes are possible, is a critical ingredient in helping you grow and persevere. But hope has to be paired with some other action or movement.

The same goes for anger, good intentions and having expectations. Left alone, they are mighty powerless.

On the other hand, strategies can actually move the ball down the field. Here are 10 strategies you might use to break free, bust through and get moving again:

  1. Take a risk

  2. Break a big goal into smaller, short-term goals that add up

  3. Redefine your goal

  4. Listen, empathize and assume the best in others

  5. Get direct, honest feedback

  6. Rest and recover

  7. Exceed another person’s expectations

  8. Clarify your action steps in reverse order, starting with the end in mind

  9. Cut your losses and move on

  10. Give the decision away to someone else

Which of these strategies do you need to try? Where do you feel stuck today? Do you have a strategy to get where you want to be? 

FAQs

We know you are wrestling with a lot of important questions. We have some thoughts! If you don't see a question you need help with, send us a message and we'll pull the team together to find the answer you're looking for. 

Thoughts on pre-recording and releasing a message vs. actually going live? Prayer feature? Is that on Zoom?

  • We recommend that you do what works best for your team. If you decided to go live, plan accordingly but don’t feel like everything has to be 100% perfect. Many Americans who are working from home have cats, dogs and kids running through the background of their video calls. Lean into the additional grace that is being extended to all during this time and keep in step with your church’s culture. Stay authentic and Christ-focused.

 

What recommendations might you have to get communications directly to members other than email?

  • Texting services intended for churches/non-profits could be helpful.
  • We know of churches who are calling members to stay connected and check in on them.
  • A letter, postcard or handwritten note mailed could be helpful/special.

What are suggestions for discipleship - collecting visitor data, spiritual decisions? We had visitors complete our online connection card and want to gather information so we can connect between Sundays

Here are a few responses from churches:

  • Use text options to connect with folks, identical forms for first-timers, giving and prayer.  
  • When I offered the invitation to Christ in our live stream, I invited people who made decisions to inbox us or post a comment on our page so that we can follow back up with them.
  • We’re amping up discipleship through Zoom video, Facebook Live, etc. for groups of people; daily live guided prayer together, group gatherings for study, worship together all with Zoom.

I’m really concerned about those members who aren't on email/social/online. In such a large church, we're doing lots of video, emails from pastors, etc. but I'm afraid that we're not addressing their needs. Suggestions?

Here's what we've heard from some churches:

  • One of our student pastors sent blank cards to his volunteers so that they could mail letters to students…maybe something like that would work for others that aren’t online…takes a lot of intentionality and time there though.
  • We are asking people to call people who don't have internet and put the phone by the speaker for our online service.
  • We are going back to call lists and sending DVDs.
  • I've also heard the suggestion to have your sermons transcribed and mailed to those people w/out email.

How can we do online meetings for small groups?

  • Take the pulse of your group leaders? Are they feeling confident about how to jump in and do groups online? Or are they struggling? Offer encouragement, ideas, and general suggestions to those leaders.
  • Offer detailed instructions or even do a call with struggling leaders so you can walk them through getting their groups online.
  • Available study materials - Use specific scripture passages, materials from the church, YouVersion, RightNow media, etc.
  • Tips for making materials available to the group - Sending material files/links via email, inviting members to YouVersion studies, or sending links to RightNow Media.
  • Specifying how/when the groups will read/view material - Read at their leisure then meet to discuss, read at their leisure and then share videos or chat comments as they can, read/view at a designated time together and discuss via chat/video.
  • The basics of a video call - Leaders should make sure members know how to log in, talk, and mute their microphone. Encourage people to choose an environment where they can be seen (good lighting/all participants visible on screen) and ideally, only have one video call going at a time in their home.
  • Encouraging a vibrant discussion - Just like a meeting in person, leaders should strive to make sure everyone gets a chance to share their thoughts. Pose open-ended questions and allow some time for people to share needs, prayer requests, how they’re doing, etc.

We’d like to do a Facebook Watch Party for our service this weekend and next weekend. What other platforms should we be using for those that don’t use social media/what platforms would be best to use?

  • You can embed your Facebook post/video directly onto your website. Even if someone isn’t using social media, they likely have access to your website. To embed a video or post on your website, follow these instructions. 

Building a Facebook Group for the first time! Any tips?

We have a Facebook group that’s mostly geared toward prayer requests. Should we change the name of this group so it looks less focused on prayer, or start a fresh new one? Our current group has over 300 people.

  • To keep things simple, we would refresh this group and cast vision that - given the season we’re in - this group is going to be focused on prayer and connecting. Stay focused on prayer but add other components as well to build community and sharing. 

If we have our vision-specific Facebook group, should we start a churchwide “main” FB group too?

  • To keep things simple, we would stay with one churchwide or “main” FB group. Communicate that the purpose of this group is to live out the church’s vision in this season to pray, connect and support one another. Continue to cast this vision as you tell stories, share updates, give prayer requests, ask questions, etc. 
    •  

Recommendations on the number of posts per day right now?

  • Posting on a regular basis - once a day - in this season is a great goal. But make sure the posts are sharing quality content/questions/stories for engaging. (Don’t just produce/promote quantity.)

Anyone doing anything new or unique to push people to online giving or remember to continue giving while we aren’t together?

Here are what churches are telling us:

  • We're creating testimony videos for new online givers and plan to text them out directly to members. We're thinking about how to create tutorials for folks who are new online givers. We're sending self-addressed/stamped envelopes to older members who are less likely to give online.
  • We are actually making it part of our live service, embedding links in our chat on line and FB live, reaching out to our older congregation by phone to see if they’re OK, have needs but also need help with online giving. We’re putting a lock box inside our office for drop offs.
  • We are talking about it (giving), reminding folks that it takes "fuel" to love on and support our community.
  • We are making videos as well of how the body’s generosity is making a difference.
  • We continue to talk about our food pantry and benevolent process so people can receive the support they need.
  • We added a give button below and above our recorded video (that’s the how). Also continuing to highlight that we’re providing resources to families in need through our food pantry (the why).

If you need an online giving platform, here are a few to check out:

 

Remind them that the work of your ministry is still continuing. Staff are working from home; you’re caring for expanding needs in your community and/or with community partners. Give them specific stories of how their giving is providing hope. Then, specifically let them know what to do. Give online - let them know how to do this, especially if they have never created an account before.

What about promoting events, like VBS?

  • We would hold on promoting anything for April and May. For the summer, ask people to save the dates but then let them know that a decision will be communicated as soon as possible.

What are ways that we can continue to offer opportunities for people to serve others when we aren’t gathering together like that?

  • Encourage people to serve right from their homes. Who can they call? Send a note to? Order a meal or groceries to be delivered?
  • They can check on their neighbors and offer support as they talk on a front porch or over the fence in their backyards.

How can we keep doing communion? 

  • Some communion vendors are sold out of prepackaged communion elements. If your theological or denominational beliefs allows for it, encourage people to use items they have at home to represent the elements.