Holiday-Inspired Ways to Build a Stronger Online Community
The 2020 holiday season can be a time of incredible community building within your church… contrary to how it may feel. Even though so much of church engagement is going to remain virtual as we enter the beloved and important time of feasting, celebration, and worship, it can still be a life-giving season in your church.
We’ve created this resource to help you implement some impactful ways to foster a stronger online community among your congregation as we all look to celebrate Thanksgiving, Advent, Christmas, and (really celebrate) a New Year.
Creative ways to use short videos to build online community
It doesn’t have to be fancy or complicated. And, in 2020, we are all a little more gracious when it comes to the homemade quality of a personal message, filmed at home on a smartphone.
A powerful way to facilitate engagement among your church members this holiday season would be to create and distribute a series of short videos. We have a few ideas for you to take and utilize immediately… you don’t even have to give us credit:
- Advent video series. Four videos, one for each week of Advent. Focus on an aspect of the Incarnation, the power of generosity during the Christmas season, how to love and serve your neighbor, or even look forward to 2021. What do your people need to hear? That’s your theme. Plan on dropping them the same day each week (send them each Wednesday?). Extra credit for encouraging comments and interactions from your parishioners.
- Vocations videos. Take a moment each day–or week if that’s better–and pray for your church members and attendees who work in various industries. Medical professionals, educators, first responders, engineers, accountants, service workers, and more! Take it to the next level by including a “special guest” for each video–a church member from the highlighted industry. For even deeper engagement, utilize features built into our church management software to manage and distribute prayer requests within your church community.
- Scripture reading videos. (Featuring congregant participation.) Recruit and encourage participation from any and everyone in the church. Request short videos from church members reading one verse from the nativity passages, and surrounding scriptures (Luke 1-2). Edit the clips together to form a cohesive presentation, starring your people! The public reading of scripture, church member engagement, and proclaiming the Truth. It doesn’t get much better than that.
Ideas for how to engage your youth group online
Middle-schoolers, teenagers, your youth group. Are you intimidated by the prospect of trying to engage your young and perhaps most restless demographic of church members? It’s understandable. Trying to connect with your youth group virtually feels a little bit like you’re on their turf. However, that’s actually to your advantage.
Digital church engagement with your youth group will have much less of a learning curve. They’ll let you know what you need to know… or when you’re off base, don’t worry. In fact, that’s probably the best guidance we can offer: listen to them before you engage. When they feel heard and respected, you’ll be poised to create genuine engagement. When you’re at that point, take these ideas and make them your own:
- Holiday Movie Watch Parties. Tap the kids on their social media platform to vote for which movie they want to watch. Encourage lively conversation and don’t be afraid to let nostalgia play a role. The comfort and connection from watching a beloved, classic Christmas film can be a powerful thing. Bonus points if you can arrange a discussion after the movie on the same streaming platform you watched the film.
- Q&A. Instagram live or Zoom are both platforms that could serve you here. Zoom is better for an experience that feels more “face-to-face,” but Instagram live is likely to garner more participation and probably more interesting questions. Basically, you’re just inviting your youth group to engage in thought-provoking discussions. They can ask you questions they’ve long wrestled with, you can toss tough (or fun) questions to the group, or you can use our gratitude conversation starters to facilitate a holiday-inspired discussion.
- Daily Devotional or Morning Prayer. With perhaps more downtime than ever, what’s better than helping your youth dive into God’s Word? After all, this is the heart of your mission, isn’t it?
- Advent Devotionals like this one are perfect for the season.
- You could also implement a YouVersion Bible Reading Plan. (A great way to start off 2021.)
- Prayer from the Book of Common Prayer is a scripture-rich way to incorporate a rhythm of worship into their lives.
- Bonus: Youth Group YouTube channel. It’s a private (invitation-only) channel where your youth can post videos of them performing skits, crazy dances, updates, and more. It would be the perfect place to live-stream a special holiday worship service or lead some Christmas Carolling.
Easy ways your church can use social media to create online community
One of the most powerful ways you can engage with your church members–and meet them where they’re at on the internet–is also free: social media.
With a little motivation, just a sliver of technological aptitude, and some organization skills, you can have a surprising impact on your church’s digital presence and online engagement. We’ve put together some helpful insights and encouragements about how to best use social media within the Church.
Ideas for your church’s holiday social media efforts:
- Thankful Campaign. Leading up to–and perhaps beyond–Thanksgiving, engage your church members on their favorite social platforms and have them share what they’re thankful for. Actually, we believe in this idea so much, we are doing something similar. To further your impact, come up with a unique hashtag and tag every post (and encourage your people to do the same.)
- Countdown to Christmas. Every day in December, leading up to Christmas Day, drop a new social media post. Each post should have:
- A consistent visual theme
- A new countdown number (e.g. “23 Days Until Christmas”)
- Short copy offering encouragement, devotional, and more.
- Links directing users to download your church’s custom app.
- Celebratory, Christ-Centered post on Christmas Day.
- Pro-Tip: You can schedule any and all posts ahead of time, using a solution like Hootsuite.
- Invitation Campaign. Inviting friends and neighbors to church has never been this low-pressure. In this era of live-streaming, house churches, and church service watch parties, inviting someone to participate in your church community is easy. Utilizing social media to invite others multiplies the impact of each invitation. We’ve built out an entire social media invitation strategy for you.
Engaging your church members is no small task. And, it seems as though it’s only getting more complex. Pushpay and Church Community Builder have joined together to create a solution that is truly all-in-one: ChurchStaq.
ChurchStaq brings together digital giving, custom church app, and church management software, to deliver a fully integrated engagement platform. We’re here to equip churches of all sizes with the technology they need to connect and engage with congregants both in-person and online.