Guest Impressions of Online Worship

In the past three months, most churches either expanded their online worship opportunities or some went online for the first time.  For some churches, this was a pivot.  For other churches, this was a huge shift.  But regardless of how you got to this place, you are now providing an online worship experience.  How is that experience for the first-time guest who happens upon the service or perhaps is invited by someone in the congregation?  Where are you gaining your thoughts on their impressions and experiences?  Is it coming from your guest or it is simply a guess or maybe even a hope?

Of course, we want to use information that is a clear reflection of the guest’s experience and impression.  How are you gaining this valuable information so that your church can continuously improve your first-time guests’ experience?  If you would like more information on providing first-time guest evaluations for your church, visit

For guests attending online worship, here are some of the top impressions guests are sharing for how churches could improve a first-time guest’s experience and impression:

  1. Allow me to engage or not as I feel comfortable.  But do indeed give me the option.
  2. Use language that a guest clearly understands leaving insider language and acronyms aside.  Otherwise I feel excluded from the conversation.
  3. Make the experience as interactive as possible.  This means do not just put a recording out there in cyberspace.  Provide an opportunity to stream with an interactive worship host.
  4. Have all those presenting, introduce themselves and how they are connected to the church (i.e. pastor, children’s coordinator, lay leader, etc.).
  5. Acknowledge first-time guests.  Welcome them.  This does not mean calling me out specifically by name (please don’t) as a guest, but to acknowledge there is a guest or guests and you are so glad to see them morning.
  6. Be careful with the “we” and “us” language.  Although the sentiment is coming from the right place when someone says “we” are glad you joined “us,” it makes me feel like I am the outsider peeking in on “them.”
  7. When I am ready, I want to know what are the possible next steps.  In other words, I may not be ready the first, second, or third time I join the service, but I am curious what ministry opportunities are available if and when I am ready.  Part of knowing what is available is helping me decide if I want to engage at all.
  8. I appreciate the quick texts just to let me know you acknowledge and appreciate me attending the worship experience without any pressure.  But I also appreciate knowing how to respond and connect if I want to connect.
  9. I did not attend onsite worship for a reason, so please do not just tape the traditional service you were already offering onsite in your robe behind the pulpit reading from a script for thirty minutes like there were people in the room.  Instead, I appreciate online being more of a casual approach.  Make it more conversational.  Look into the camera so it feels like you are speaking and connecting to me.  Lose the robe!  Lose the pulpit!  Sit in a chair sometimes.  Choose different places to film the message.  Bring in conversation partners occasionally.  Talk about real things that matter to me today.  Relate it to the world and culture.
  10. Just because the onsite service was an hour does not mean you need to fill an hour online, too.  If the worship experience can be meaningful and impactful in 30 minutes, it is okay.  I would much rather have a short experience I can relate to than a longer experience that feels like it is just filling the time.

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