Leading up to the end of 2020, many pastors, church leaders, and ministry department heads were reporting the same discouraging findings.

We’re having a hard time staying connecting with people.

People aren’t signing up to serve, attending online services, and seem to have disappeared.

We just don’t know how to help people connect with the church in this strange time.

And church attendees sing similar tunes, mentioning “Zoom fatigue” and feeling isolated from their church family.

So, how can churches re-connect with their members after a period when many fell out of the holy habit of churchgoing? What can churches that are at least partially online-only do to help people stay connected in community?

Smaller churches have a leg up in this area. Because of their size, they can more easily gather contact information, notice when people are missing, and make personal visits without using a lot of resources. Many smaller churches are already doing the types of personal contact activities that help people feel more connected.

It’s time for every church to learn from and act as a small church. No matter your church size, here are a few ways for pastors and church leaders to stay connected with their congregations.

#1 – Create spaces for connection.

To help your congregation stay connected with the church is to provide ways for them to stay connected with each other.

Whether your church is meeting online, in-person, or both, something is better than nothing and even the simplest initiative can be a widely-appreciated space for people to fellowship.

Try these ideas:

  • A Zoom Lobby. Set up a Zoom meeting where people can log in and chat “face to face” before and after online services.
  • Facebook Groups or GroupMe groups. These services are free and can create a simple, accessible space for people to connect.
  • Small events for people to look forward to. Events outside of traditional small groups and church services, such as craft night, worship night, toy/coat/food drives, weekly live prayer services, or book discussions, can happen in-person or online and can be run by a layperson.

Church leaders can provide blueprints to help these spaces succeed (activity ideas, discussion questions, etc.) while allowing these connection spaces to be run by members of the congregation. Everything doesn’t have to be led by church staff. Simply creating the space and opening it up for people to connect can be a powerful way to see more engagement in your church. 

#2 – Go old-school.

With all of the emphasis on online connection in 2020, one of the best ways to re-connect with people effectively is to not do it from behind a computer screen.

Bring back the more “old-school” ideas. Your congregation is probably so used to Zoom calls, emails, and social media everything that it would be a welcome change of pace and a touching surprise.

Try mailing or dropping off special packages. We heard about one church mailing scavenger hunt kits for kids. You can create Sunday School bags or Advent boxes for kids or adults. Send a personalized card that includes instructions for how to share prayer requests. One Church Fuel member said that their church’s Christmas card ministry was booming and people really appreciated it more than ever.

If you’ve sworn off the old church directory or church cookbook, it might be time to bring them back or update them. Making contact information available makes it easy for people to reach out and check on each other. You can even make them more modern by including social media handles.

Sharing a recipe can be a nostalgic experience that not only gives people a tangible thing to connect over, but makes great memories that are tied to the church community. And both of these ideas (creating a church directing and compiling a church cookbook) can be done digitally.

Or as Stephen Brewster, a creative leader experienced in the music industry and church leadership, said on a recent episode of our podcast, take the time to call volunteers and donors just to say Merry Christmas. Or ask how their summer went.

A phone call or snail mail might seem like outdated ways to reach out to an actively online congregation, but they’re effective ways to make people feel seen, loved, and connected.

#3 – Keep it simple and personal.

When you think about staying connected to your congregation, you might assume that you need to set up a fully-staffed online campus, hire a Social Media Director, or start 50 small groups around special interests.

Those are all great things. However, some of the best ways to connect with people are also the simplest.

A quick text message or a one-sentence email (“How can I pray for you today?”) gets the job done.

Consider sending a survey with a few straightforward questions to find out how people are doing and make a plan to follow up with them.

Ask a few members to share stories in service of how they’re handling the current season or how they’ve stayed connected at the church (these can even be pre-recorded and shown virtually).

If you’re feeling disconnected from your congregation and wanting to help people remain strong in their ties to church community, give these tips a try. Your efforts don’t have to be fancy, expensive, or even managed by staff, but they can make a big impact for creating connection in your church.

Take the Next Step

We have pre-written emails that will help you communicate with clarity, care, and concern and offer the hope and consistency that people need in these uncertain times.

Our free 12 Emails to Send Your Church resource includes twelve prewritten emails to help you save time and communicate well.

You can serve through communicating and these emails can help you get started.

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12 Emails to Send Your Church