Online church isn't working? Attendance down? People Zoomed out? Here are some thoughts on how to respond. This video is in response to an email I received this week from a minister I know. A minister who is doing GREAT work online. What would I do? These are some guiding principles and targets to aim for.
1. Vision casting = your magnetic field
Vision casting creates the energetic (magnetic) field that gathers and holds a congregation together. This requires an intentional effort to share your congregation’s purpose, mission, and vision through your online communication and STORYTELLING.
2. Get to "We" ASAP! Collaborative, Non-hierarchical. Many leaders are falling into an "us versus them" — I’m creating content for them — approach. You need to get to “We” as fast as you can. You can still have roles and responsibilities, still have bylaws, etc… but your leadership needs to be collaborative and create a sense that “we” are doing this together.
3. A tribe organized in small groups
I recommend leading your congregation as a tribe organized as a network of online and offline small groups. You need to strive to help everyone in your congregation have real conversations with people they know connected to your congregation and be participating in your process.If they aren’t in a group, they aren’t connected. They aren’t participating in the life of the tribe. They aren’t participating in your process. A combination of ongoing and periodic small groups with regular connecting events with small group components can cover most schedules and levels of interest.
4. You need a ministry process
It is hard to engage people in a system and process if you can't articulate the process or don't have clarity on what it is. You need that clarity. If you’re gathering as online & offline small groups, with worship services and additional online content, what’s the spiritual exploration or faith development process you are engaged in? How do you weave in online interaction and real-time feedback? For me, that’s a combination of worship and small groups that’s informed by a collaborative approach, open and transparent communication, and constant feedback.
5. Feedback systems
To lead an online/offline hybrid tribe (sounds so sci-fi!) with a collaborative vibe, you need mechanisms for getting feedback.
6. Experimental Mindset
Everything we’re facing is new and uncharted territory. An explicitly experimental mindset will help you try things, get feedback, and adjust without it being so personal. Feedback can be via questions asked when LIVE on video, in Zoom chat and online comments, frequency micro-surveys shared online, and feedback gathered in small groups.
Sorry, but the bar is now high for capturing attention. If you need to get excited about what you're doing and channel that into your communication and collaboration. Are you excited? I know that's hard with all we're dealing with, but what you are doing needs to be exciting. Not every post, video, or email needs to be exciting, but it needs to be part of the larger vision, process, and story that is!
VIDEO CONTENTS AND TIME CODES Here are the seven points covered in this video: (0:00) In this video (1:06) About my work (2:50) 1. Vision Casting = Your Magnetic Field (3:57) 2. Get to “We” ASAP! (8:45) 3. Leading a Tribe of Small Groups (13:40) 4. Clear Ministry Process (24:12) 5. Feedback Systems (26:20) 6. Experimental Mindset (28:43) 7. Excitement and Attention