Does your church live stream? If not, you can skip the rest of this post and read this on why you should.
If you do stream your worship services, are you greeting your online guests? If not, keep reading.
Your church may be missing out on an opportunity to enter into relationships with new people. And those new people have already shown an interest in your church!
As a pastor, I have heard many comments like, “I visited your church, but no one even said hello to me.” Churches facing this dilemma invested time and money in hospitality training. We trained greeters and ushers to be welcoming, especially to new people. Greeters were assigned to the parking lot and welcome desks were created. First-time guests were given coffee mugs. Creative ways were developed to collect guest information so we could send them a welcome letter, email, or text.
Being a Live Stream Guest is Lonely
Last Sunday, I was stuck at home, so I visited two churches online. These were all churches with a quality live stream. I could see and hear. The words to the hymns or worship songs were on my screen. These were churches that had clearly put some thought and investment into this ministry. One of them even had a chat box designed to encourage interaction.
But you know what was missing from the live stream experience? Any welcome or greeting. The one without a chat box didn’t have any vehicle to interact. I entered my name on the other one and said “hello,” but there was no response.
This feels odd in a world where more and more websites are using chatbots and live chat to offer engagement to anyone who stops by (sometimes anytime day or night.) eCommerce websites have learned that building relationships is important and who better to build relationships with than the people already showing an interest in what you have to offer.
I am not naming these churches because my point isn’t to criticize them. The fact that they have managed to launch and maintain a quality live stream is a huge step. But it is time for churches to take the next step. We are missing a golden opportunity every Sunday morning. People are visiting our websites, watching or participating in worship and then leaving without anyone saying as much as, “Hello.”
Yes. It is true that some people like the anonymous nature of online worship. That’s fine. People can choose not to interact, but shouldn’t we be engaging with the people who are looking for engagement?
That One Thing You Can Do Now
Churches that offer live streaming should have a designated volunteer (or even a staff person) to engage with guests who join worship online.
It seems kind of obvious once I see it in print. Imagine a church where no one greeted anyone, and there was zero interaction. As an introvert, there are days that might sound nice, but it just wouldn’t feel right. And what if I am there looking for more? What if something in the worship service clicked and I am now ready to take the next step? Can anyone help me?
But, It’s Hard Enough To Find People!
I know the objection. It is hard to get enough ushers, greeters, and others to staff Sunday morning worship. Some leaders have trouble just getting someone to hit start on the live stream, let alone sit in front of the computer for the whole hour chatting with people.
In my next post, I am going to expand on this a bit and answer questions about how to find people who might feel called to the ministry of online hospitality, what to look for in a virtual greeter, some things you should think about to help that person get started, and some ideas for how to get people to engage during a live stream.