Using Onsite Relationship Opportunities to Think About Online Relationship Opportunities

Every church is excited to see a new face!  But, sometimes we don’t necessarily share our excitement or have the belief that someone else will welcome the new face.  Other times, the new face would like to slide in and out of the back pew/chair anonymously.  Sometimes new faces are completely ignored because the existing faces are so caught up in connecting with existing friends.  How to greet and connect with guests is one of those topics that seems to be a hot button for most any church.  And, now that most churches have moved into online worship, the topic is even hotter as churches struggle to connect with those lurking in the virtual pack pews/chairs while new faces feel completely ignored in the virtual church.  What’s a church to do?

Consider all the potential connection points we have created for the onsite church.  This includes greeters in the parking lot, greeters at the exterior doors, greeters at doors to the worship area, meet and greet as a part of the worship service, coffee before, donuts after, connection points/areas, gathering spaces at the front door, information centers, connectors, hospitality teams, etc.  All of these strategies are in place to help people extend hospitality, connection with others, and build relationships.  

How is your church thinking through all the different portions of the online experience to offer the same sort of variety and opportunities for hospitality, connection and relationship building?  For example, what is your virtual equivalent of the greeting in the parking lot and exterior door?  Are you greeting people as they sign on?  What is your virtual equivalent to people gathering at the coffee bar before worship to visit?  The Gathering in St. Louis is offering a pre-game experience starting 15 minutes before worship to allow people to check in and engage with one another.  What is your virtual equivalent to the meet and greet?  Some churches are showing pictures of other congregants in ministry or using more people for the worship experience making sure to introduce themselves.  What is your virtual equivalent to the information center and connectors?  Many churches are inviting guests for a coffee break in a virtual room after worship to connect and visit.  Other churches are texting guests during or after worship to connect.  How are you offering a next step like learning more about the church, how to join a small group, or how to serve?  What is your process to follow up with new faces and build relationships?

There is one common denominator that weaves through this entire strategy.  This common denominator is that you are live streaming the worship experience (that may be pre-recorded) in a way that allows interaction.  If you are only recording and having people view it at their leisure without a strategy for interaction, we are missing the opportunity to connect with both existing and new faces.  We ARE in the relationship business (with others and with Jesus Christ), so everything we do needs to be through the intentionality of building relationships.

How is your church being intentional in building relationships in your online worship experience through hospitality and connection?  Are you offering a variety of opportunities like you do in onsite worship?  What is your connection process?  Take one new step this week to improve your church’s hospitality and connection in this new virtual ministry world.

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