Essentials for Great Emergency Communication
For more Coronavirus Resources to Help you and Your Congregation Stay Connected When it’s Critical check out: The Church Leader’s Guide to Coronavirus: How to Continue Ministry During a Pandemic
Whether it’s the news, your Instagram feed, or email inbox, you don’t have to look far to get another update on COVID-19. It seems you can’t turn around without seeing the latest update, the latest closure, or the latest headline. The novel coronavirus is impacting people, businesses, and organizations in ways that don’t match anything else in recent memory—and churches are no exception.
As a company with major offices in the Pacific Northwest that serves churches, we’ve been working hand in hand with many of the churches being affected by COVID-19. It’s been awe-inspiring not only to see how different churches are coming together to help their people, but also how churches are going out of their way to help other churches.
To that end, we wanted to provide some communication tips you can use and implement immediately, and share some best practices that we’ve seen from our customers. As the implications of the pandemic make its way across the country, our hope is that churches everywhere can learn from those who were among the first in the country to be forced to navigate this situation–all while staying connected with their congregation.
How to Communicate
Your typical priority of communication method for church updates or news might be your church app, then email, then social media. Your website might not even get any time-sensitive updates on the homepage. But during this time, we’ve seen churches take to social media first with short, smartphone-produced videos.
Social media is where many people start spending more time to find what’s happening in the news and with their family and friends. And since they’re seeing so much uncertainty and fear, social media is a great place for you to meet them with an encouraging word. Here’s how a few of our customers handled this:
Pastor Kevin Gerald, Champions Centre
Lawrence Fudge, Mosaic Seattle
Pastor Earl McClellan, Shoreline City
What to communicate
While each of the examples above is unique to the pastors and their church communities, there are some common elements that seem to make great communication.
Message of hope
There’s enough fear and uncertainty as it is—your church has the unique opportunity to be a voice of reassurance and reason in trying times. Your church has good news, good news that is desperately needed in a time of uncertainty.
People are also feeling more alone than ever as they practice social distancing and, in some areas, isolation. Provide your congregation with encouraging words and bible verses they can memorize.
Communicate your plan
It’s not enough to have a plan if people don’t know what it is—bring clarity to your community about what’s happening and, most importantly, what they need to do to stay connected. Letting people know they can get updates via the app and your website means they won’t be confused about where to look. Don’t hide your updates either—Churchome, a multi-site church located in both LA and Seattle, has done a great job of making communication front-and-center with clear follow-up for how to stay connected with a letter on their homepage.
COVID-19 has put many churches into situations they probably wouldn’t have chosen—no one wants to close down their weekend services due to safety concerns. But many churches have recognized that not only do people need hope and courage more than ever before, but their digital strategy has the potential to reach people in this time, where they might not be able to reach otherwise. Whether it’s live streaming a service for the first time, connecting someone with a house church, or downloading a sermon for later, your church has the opportunity to leverage digital strategy like never before.
Here are some free resources that can help your church not only manage emergency situations, but to set up a digital strategy that can help you reach your community:
- Checklist: How to Pivot to a Digital Strategy in Times of Crisis
- 211 Ready-to-Send Push Notifications That Will Grow Your Church
- Power up Your App: Stay Connected If In-person Services Are Reduced
Still need to get the right digital tools in place? Talk to an expert today to find out what Pushpay would look like at your church.