Online Worship: 9 things your guests wish you knew [How to improve your online worship services]
It’s Sunday morning and you’re about to head into the sanctuary for worship. You get everything in place, attach your mic – and look into the camera. You know there’s a sea of people on the other side of the camera. They watch from their phones and laptops. They’ve pulled your live stream up on their television. Like every Sunday, you pray, “help me reach those watching today’s online worship service.” Ever wondered what they would say if you could talk with one of your online guests? Below you’ll find what your online worship guests would tell you.
1. I’m still getting to know your church.
This might be my first time. Or my fifth. Chances are I’m still getting to know your church.
It’s ok to repeat every week what to do, where to go. Even if I’ve heard it a few times, today might be the first time I decide to take a step forward, so your guidance helps me do so without feeling frustrated or confused.
2. I know you want me to connect with your church. But… why?
Churches want my contact info. But I’m not sure I want to give that up. What will happen if I give your my phone number/email? I’m not sure I want to have a conversation with anyone today.
Perhaps some more information that makes sense? Like how to apply the sermon series message. Or a reminder about next weekend’s service. This is all new to me, and sometimes I forget that another service is coming up!
3. Tell me event highlights and what to do next.
It’s cool that you do things beyond Sunday morning. To be honest, though, my mind starts to wander when the announcements portion goes too long. I don’t need to know everything – just enough to pique my interest.
If you could hit these main points, that would be helpful:
- Name of the event and who should attend.
- What I’ll get out of attending.
- When is it? Is there a cost?
- What’s one easy thing I can do to get more info?
4. How should I participate in online worship at home?
I haven’t been to church (or at least, not in a long time). And watching in my living room is so different. Sometimes I’m with people. Sometimes I’m alone.
What should I do? If I should pray along, can you give me that nudge? If there are certain words I should use, can you show them on the screen?
I might not feel comfortable doing it the first time. Or even the third. But maybe today. Your guidance helps me get beyond watching and to taking part in what’s going on.
5. Help me follow along in the Bible.
If I have my Bible with me, I’ll appreciate a little help in figuring out where the verses are that you are talking about. (For example: where exactly is 1 Peter?)
If I don’t, it’s great to have the verses on the screen or a link to the verses in an online Bible.
6. Explain that “churchy” word so I can follow along better.
Church leaders sometimes use words that I’ve never heard before. For example, I can get from the way you’re talking that sanctification and justification are important. But – what do they mean?
Explaining it helps me to feel more comfortable with you and that it’s ok that I’m learning. With the last church I watched online, the pastor would say things like, “And we all know what happened to Moses then.” I didn’t, and it wasn’t a great feeling.
7. Stories inspire me to give. Make it easy and secure.
I give to a few organizations that I believe in. Frankly, I kind of expect your church to ask for money too. If there’s a ministry that’s doing great things, tell me a story about what’s happening and a life impacted.
If I decide to give, make it easy and secure.
8. If I want to talk to someone at your church, make it simple.
Seeing people saying hello in the chat lets me know there are people there I can talk to. If I want to talk to someone – privately – what’s the best way to do that? Can I do that now? Or do I need to wait for someone to contact me?
What would be great would be to have a direct conversation with someone at the moment – just like I do when I’m talking with friends. Or shoot, even have a question on a lot of the websites I’m on nowadays.
9. I want to be treated like an individual, not just a number.
I can’t see you (directly). And I can tell by the count of people watching, there are a lot of folks like me out there.
I’m considering reaching out today, and I know from watching last time there are a few different ways to do that. I have questions, things I’m dealing with, and it means a lot to know someone cares enough to get that and to do what they can to make it easier.
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