Coronavirus and The Church and Online Ministry

The Coronavirus has forced the Church into all sorts of innovative and advantageous positions. I believe we can actually take ground for the gospel and come out AHEAD during this time.  If we are good stewards with this opportunity, we will be poised to increase our influence and impact as we reach the world through innovative ONLINE ministry.

In this episode, I share how churches should view the coronavirus crisis, how we can think with an opportunistic mindset about this season, and I give you a whole BUNCH of ideas for how your church can effectively do ONLINE ministry and reach new people with the good news of Jesus!

Definitely send this episode to your Senior Pastor or any other staff who are involved with vision and strategy.  Let’s do this!!!!



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Alex Enfiedjian 00:09 Hey everybody, welcome back to another episode of the worship ministry training podcast, a monthly podcast for worship leaders and worship team members. My name is Alex Enfiedjian, your host, it is October, which means the podcast is another year older. So our little baby is now seven years old, can you believe it. And it’s been such a privilege to spend the last seven years growing alongside of you. The purpose of the podcast, if you’re new is to give worship leaders who are serious about their role, the practical tools and training that they need to grow in their craft and calling. And so if you’re listening to this, it shows me that you are serious about your role as a leader in God’s church, and so good for you for being the kind of person to invest time out of your busy schedule to grow in the gifts and responsibilities that God has entrusted to you. And I pray that this podcast will be a blessing to you for many years to come. If you’re a new listener, I would encourage you to hit the subscribe button so you get notified of new free episodes every month. And also, if you’re new, check out the last seven years of episodes and download any topics that would be relevant to your ministry in this season. So I try to make the titles as clear as possible. And each episode focused on only one topic so that you can really be helped in the areas that you need help in. Alright, enough intro, today we are going to be talking about COVID COVID. Yes, specifically, how COVID is impacting ministry, and how we should think about all these changes to make sure that we are staying fresh and adapting and evolving to remain effective ministers of the gospel in this new era. So I actually think it’s possible to wisely steward this season, and come out ahead of where we were before COVID. And so I want to share my thoughts with you about that, like how do we come out ahead from this pandemic, and really take ground for the gospel. So I’ll be honest, I was pretty hesitant to do an episode about COVID. Because I always want my content to be evergreen, meaning all the topics are perpetually relevant whenever you find it and listen to it. And I thought, you know, if somebody finds this episode on COVID, in 2025, it’s gonna feel outdated and irrelevant. And that’s why I wasn’t sure if I should do one or not. But the further we move into this moment in history, the more I see that what’s happening right now is going to impact the future of the church for years to come. And at the urging of some of my mentorship students, I decided to turn one of the answers from one of our q&a sessions into an episode about the topic of COVID and online ministry and how our churches should be thinking about this time period. So what you’re going to hear next is a short recording from a q&a session that we did on one of our mentorship nights. And then I’m going to come back after that clip to share with you a whole bunch of practical ideas that you can try at your church to continue to be effective and fruitful in this new era of ministry. And two things I want to say quickly before I play that clip from the mentorship. Number one, if you’re interested in being part of the next worship leader mentorship, I will be taking a new batch of students through the program in February 2021. So the mentorship is for anyone who is ready to take their ministry to the next level. But maybe you’re just not quite sure how, like if you’ve ever secretly thought to yourself, I wish I had someone to show me what I should do. Or if you thought I have no idea what I’m doing right now. The mentorship is for you like I will literally show you step by step how to build a thriving worship ministry. It’s 10 weeks long. And we cover the foundations of being a worship leader, team building administration, set building platform leadership, and a whole bunch of other topics. So if that sounds like something you’re interested in, go to worship ministry training, comm slash mentor, worship ministry training, comm slash mentor to sign up today. And for a limited time only if you sign up before December 2020, you’ll get 10% off the price of the mentorship. That’s a limited time offer. It’s going away after December. But if you want to save 10% on the mentorship, go apply today, worship ministry training, comm slash mentor, that’s the first thing I want to tell you. The second thing I want to tell you is that you should definitely send this episode to anyone on your church staff that’s in charge of overarching vision and strategy. So that might be your senior pastor, your executive pastor, or if you have a web team or a social media person or communication person, you should send this episode to them as well. Okay, so those are the two things I want to say. Now we’re going to listen to the clip from the mentorship. And I’ll come back right after that with a whole bunch of ideas that you can implement at your church.

Alex Enfiedjian 04:37 I’ve been thinking a little bit about it actually a lot about it. And I feel like COVID is I call it the great shake up for churches. It’s the great shake up actually not just for churches for entire industries. It’s the great shakeout and you know the the industries that adapt will thrive and the businesses that refuse to adapt will die. I mean, it’s changing, everything is changing. Like, I mean, even think about like retail property like now that 90% of business has figured out, they can run remote teams and not have to pay for an office space. Pretty soon we’re gonna have entire complexes empty or skyscrapers empty because nobody needs to work from an office anymore. You know, like, so it’s not just in the church that it’s a great shakeout, but it is I do call it the great shakeout for churches, because here’s what’s happening, people who used to go to church regularly have stopped, and some of those people will fall away and never come back to church. I know that’s kind of a depressing, grim thought. But I think it’s true, I think people who are kind of just coming out of habit are going to stop coming and maybe never come back. Then you also have people who didn’t go to church who are in need, see their need for a savior, and they’re going to start coming to the church. So you’re losing people and you’re gaining new people, then with all the churches going online, you have people finding other churches that they resonate more with, and they’re going to move from your church to that church. But you know, simultaneously people from other churches are going to find your church online, and come to your church. So when we do finally gather back together, it’s we’re gonna have completely different congregations. And I will say, it’s never going to go back to what it was before. And I think people are foolish to think that, oh, it’s going to go back to how it was before it’s not. And it shouldn’t. And I think God forced our hand in a good way to get churches on the internet, which is the biggest mission field in the world. You know, people are literally on Google typing questions, which by the way, let me if you have any sort of tech savvy person at your church, let me tell you about something that you could use to reach more people for the gospel. So there’s a thing called Google Ad grants, you know, Google makes so much money, and they get taxed so much, that they try to give money to nonprofits as a way to lower their taxes. So Google will give your church $10,000 a month, not money, but in advertising credit. So they will give your church $10,000 a month in advertising credit for you to use however you want. So you could use it to say, churches near me. And when someone searches for churches near me, your church pops up at the top of Google. Or you could use it for that. And you could do online evangelism, where you take like one of the most searched terms, how do I get saved, or what happens to me when I die, and you create a five minute video of your pastor, sharing the gospel, this is what happens is how you get saved. This is why you need to be saved. And you create a landing page. And when someone is literally searching, how do I get saved? You can give them the answer, which is Christ. So God is forcing churches to finally begin thinking like this. So God is forcing churches to consider that we can do ministry online, we just had a 10 week discipleship ministry right now with you guys. This was real to me, I think it was real to you. I never touched any of you. But it’s real. And we can do real ministry through the internet. And I God is forcing churches to reconcile with that. So I think it’s a beautiful thing. I also think God has put basically 50,000 churches on the internet, and church services, reaching whole groups of people that have never been reached before, who never would have stepped foot in church before. So I feel like God is accelerating gospel advancement in the world through COVID-19. And the ability for our churches to go digital, and the churches that take that seriously are going to be effective for the gospel. And I always thought that verse that talks about the gospel will be preached to the end of the earth, and then the end will come. I always thought like, that’s missionaries getting on planes and boats and trains and going to the ends of the earth to preach the gospel to people groups. But what if the internet was the primary medium of reaching the ends of the earth, and then the end will come. So God just forced, you know, 50,000 churches who weren’t online to start streaming their services. And now whole bunches of people who never would have been exposed to those churches are seeing the gospel being preached in those services. So God is on the move, and he’s using COVID-19 to do it. And I think it’s a very exciting season. And if you have any sort of, say, over your churches like web presence, I would encourage you to start thinking along these lines. So

Alex Enfiedjian 09:22 that’s how I would answer that question. Alright, so here’s the biggest thing to take away from this guy’s because of the internet, we have access to nearly the entire world. 4.3 3 billion people in the world regularly use the internet. Okay, and we can and should use this tool to reach them with the good news of the gospel. I’m not saying we shouldn’t neglect our local congregation. I’m not saying that. But we should also not neglect reaching the nation’s with the hope of Jesus Christ. Think about this. a health food blogger who lives in some rural part of the United States might have 100,000 People on his mailing list might reach 30,000 people through their Instagram account. And through Facebook and Google advertising might take 10,000 people a month through their online health food course, that online blogger is being extremely effective at reaching people, and then engaging them and discipling them in their specific discipline, in this case, healthy eating. Okay. Why should the church not do the same thing that that health food blogger is doing? Like, why shouldn’t we be doing that sort of online outreach and engagement and reaching people and discipling people on line? Jesus said to make disciples of all nations, he didn’t say they have to live in our neighborhoods. Okay, can we make disciples through the internet? I think we can. Again, I don’t want to downplay the importance of the local assembly of believers. But in addition to ministering to our own local body, we should be spending significant time, energy and resources figuring out how to make disciples online. Because I don’t know if you figured this out yet. But most of your church has not come back to in person gatherings. Like at my church, three fourths of our church membership are watching services online only, and only 1/4 of our church is showing up in person. So before COVID happened, those numbers were flipped, you know, we would have three fourths of our people coming in person and a fourth watching online. But now you and I live in a new era where the majority of your church is engaging strictly online. Okay. Welcome to a whole new world of ministry. Most of your church is engaging with your church online. And this isn’t just my church that’s experiencing this, surveys are finding that 30% of church attenders have returned to in person services, the rest of your church has either fallen off the radar, hopefully not, or they’re engaging strictly online. And even for the people who do gather in person. They’re only at your church one hour per week. That means the influence and input that you have in their lives is only one hour per week. And that’s if they even attend every week. You know, before COVID, the average church attender came to church 1.6 times per month. So Wow, we are barely getting input and influence into our church members lives in an in person format. And all the while those same people are getting YouTube, Netflix, Instagram, and CNN, the other 167 hours per week. Okay, so do you wonder why Christians are so worldly, because they’re getting one hour of input from you at church? And then they’re getting 167 hours of input from Instagram, and news and media? Okay, so how do we reach and engage people online? Like our own people, and also people outside of the faith? How do we reach and engage people on like, you and I, we need to start asking those questions for our church, we cannot ignore it any longer. And I would encourage you first first thing you can do is to find guys online like Carrie new Hoff and Brady Shearer, who have been for years now telling us that we must figure out how to do online discipleship and engagement with people. And so I’m gonna put links to their websites in the show notes. But a good starting place is for you to just find their stuff and start to read some of their stuff and get familiar with it. But Brady shear, his tagline for his website is CS, the 167, meaning let’s figure out how to do ministry during the 167 hours that people aren’t in our church buildings, right? churches who spend time figuring this out are going to be the most effective and making disciples in a digitally native generation. So what are some things that you can do to make disciples? Well, I’m going to give you four major categories to think in. And then I’ll just give you a bunch of ideas and examples to implement those things. What are some things you can do to make disciples First of all, gain access, you must gain access, write that down, or don’t write it down if you’re driving, but gaining digital access to your people is the number one most important thing you can do right now. Okay? You need to be able to connect with people in the middle of the week, you need to be able to ding their device or land information in their inbox, okay? If you don’t have access to your people, you cannot disciple them. And so the first thing you can do is create a mailing list for your church and email list. If your church doesn’t have it, it’s time to just bite the bullet and go for it. Okay, you can check out companies like MailChimp or mailer light, or send Fox and I’m gonna put links to all these things that I’m telling you in the show notes, but create a mailing list and then create a landing page on your church website and ask people to sign up. Get as many emails as possible emails are gold emails are gold, okay. That’s one way you can gain access to people. Another way would be to create a church app through a company like subsplash. Okay, you can for a pretty small fee every month, create an app through subsplash. And ask your church members to download the app. And of course try to make the app as Beautiful and useful as you can, so they actually want to use it and download it. But once they have the app on their phone, you will be able to send them push notifications anytime you want. Okay, that’s gaining access. If you don’t want to do an app, you can try getting a text messaging service, like texted Lee, or you can send your entire church a text message notification about something important, or some link that you want them to click on, okay, or do all three of the things that I just told you about, because different people prefer different methods of contact, okay, but at the very least get an email list started. And then figure out as many ways as possible that you can collect emails, here are some ideas for collecting emails, offer a guide to prayer that is downloadable if they enter their email address, offer a class that they need to sign up for via email address, take baptism, signups via email address, do in person services, and have an RSVP system that uses

Alex Enfiedjian 15:54 you guessed it, email addresses, okay, but get as many email addresses into your database as possible because you need to gain digital access to people. That’s the number one thing churches should be figuring out right now. And that’s the number one thing that your church needs to do right now. And then once you gain access to the people, you want to serve them, right, you don’t want to annoy them, because then they’re just going to unsubscribe, you want to serve them, you want to help them, you want to encourage them, you want to bless them, add value to them, share things with them that are going to help them during this time, once you have access to people digitally, treat them, like real people who need real encouragement, because that’s what they are. They are real people. And that’s the second thing that I would tell you about ministering in this new era. Treat the people online as real people treat the people online as real people. You know, in the past, I think we didn’t treat the people online as if they counted for anything. They were kind of just anonymous numbers, they took a backseat to the people who were actually in our buildings, right? And I think this is all wrong, right? People are people regardless of if they’re behind a screen or in a Pew, they all have hurts. They all have needs, they all have hang ups, they all need hope. They need help, and they need the gospel. Right. So who cares if they’re in person or online? Let’s put equal value on the people who choose to engage with us, especially those online do not ignore them. Do not treat them like second class citizens, they have real needs. Let’s use the internet to meet those needs. Well, practically, how does it play out to treat the people online as real people? Well, first of all, it means acknowledging them, it means greeting them in your services, talking to the people watching online, addressing them in their living rooms, or their backyards, or wherever they’re watching. Okay, so start to talk to the cameras, and imagine the people where they are and lead them through the screen to engage in the service. So when I start a service, I always welcome people in person. And then right after that, I say unto those of you who are watching online, we are so glad you’re joining us this morning that you’re setting aside time to hear from the Lord and to worship and the Lord is with you in your living room or your backyard or in your car, wherever you’re watching us. He’s with you, just as he is with us here. And we believe God has beautiful things in store for us this morning. Right? So you just you acknowledge them, you talk to them, and you lead them through the screen. Okay. So that’s one way obviously to treat them as real people is to greet them. But also it means creating ways for them to engage while they’re watching the service. So they’re not just sitting there passively, like taking in, but they’re able to participate in the service. That means they should be able to give a means they should be able to request prayer, it means they should have a way to be able to say Amen, just like the people in the room do. So we need to create ways for them to be able to engage while they’re watching. And you can do this through setting up giving online through companies like push pay, or tiredly again, I’ll put links in the show notes, or by including a chat feature in your live stream where they can say amen or say hallelujah or praise the Lord or I love this song. And you can easily create the chat function by using a feature like Facebook Live or YouTube Live or the church online platform, which is free and amazing, by the way. Okay, so check out the church online platform if your church is not using that. It also means putting real pastors or prayer warriors in the chat to encourage and pray for people or to backup what’s happening on screen by posting proper links at relevant times, or by answering people’s questions. So you should have a little army of chatters whose job is to minister to the people in the chat box. Okay, so you want to have volunteers that are scheduled and regularly engaging the people in the chat. It also means that when your pastor is preaching he’ll say something like hey, if you’re watching and you agree type amen in the chat or during the greeting time telling those watching online to Hey, let us know where you’re watching from and who you’re watching with. We would love to hear where you’re watching from. So treat the people online as real people Because they are Alright, the next thing you want to do this is the third thing is to set up

Alex Enfiedjian 20:05 next steps setup. Next steps, making disciples is the goal not gaining viewers. And so we want to figure out what it means to help people take steps of faith. Whether it’s your own congregants or someone who accidentally stumbled across your live stream, we want to help all the people online to take a next step of faith. So what is it? Well, obviously one of them would be that you want people to come to know Christ. So one way you can do this is by building a no Christ web page on your website. Okay, this could be a simple page that explains the Gospels ABC, and gives a prayer that they can read and pray along with to receive Christ. And then they can click a button at the bottom that says they made a decision. Now, what we did, and I’ll put a link to this page that we built in the show notes. But what we did is if they say the prayer and they click the button, it asks them to put their email address in. And once they put in the email address, it triggers an automated sequence of emails, one email per day, for eight days, each email covering a topic that’s relevant to a brand new baby Christian. So basically, consider it a new believers class, delivered daily to their email address, it’s kind of like we want to help you get started, here’s how you pray, here’s how you read the Bible, who is God, all the things you would teach it a new believers class, create an email sequence using MailChimp, or whatever, and create an automated sequence that sends new believer emails to people once they accept Christ. So when our pastor gives an altar call, we asked him to remember to tell the people watching online about the no God page. Okay, so hey, if you’re watching online and you prayed to receive Christ, you can go to cc, slash No, kn o w, that’s the next step for them. And then in the ninth and final email of the new believers sequence, we encourage them to sign up for our next online class. Now, this is something new that we’ve begun at our church. But we started offering online discipleship classes that people can take via zoom. It might be a theology, 101

Alex Enfiedjian 22:05 class, it might be a new believers class, it might be a marriage class, or a practical Christian living class. So maybe for your church, it’s the same thing. Or you might want to look at getting people plugged into like zoom groups, or a zoom midweek Bible study, or prayer groups, something online along those lines. And we found that people who attend our services in person still engage in the online activities that we offer. And this keeps them connected to us during those 167 hours per week that they’re not in our church building. So for you, maybe you look at a next step being an online course. So maybe you create an online course website. And this site has all sorts of pre recorded courses that people can take on demand. Like if the health food guru can make disciples through his online courses, why shouldn’t the church create online courses that makes disciples that’s what I’m saying? Like, let’s get creative. You guys, let’s be innovative. Let’s dream and think outside of the box on how we can make disciples on the internet. And the beautiful thing about online is that it’s infinitely scalable. Like Once you’ve created these courses, or the classes or the email funnels, the number of people who can go through them is 4.3 3 billion, okay? If someone has an internet connected device, they can be discipled by your church, and they don’t even need to live in your area to take your courses. You can make disciples from New York to Nairobi. And I want to say something if you know if you’re a senior pastor listening or your worship leader sent you this, and you have some sort of say over your churches, staffing, I would say that the potential of this new mission field is so great that your church should seriously staff for it. You should staff for it, there can be entire departments dedicated to figuring out and executing online ministry and the reach of online is so much greater than who you can reach in your neighborhood. Why would we not put resources and brains and manpower behind this incredible opportunity. This is the new mission field. So let’s staff for it. Okay, the return is too great to not invest and staff Towards this end. Alright, the last thing that we want to do when we build our online ministry is to get the word out, get the word out, okay. And there are lots of ways to get the word out. But here are just a few ideas. Number one, ask your online audience to become online evangelists. So at our church at the start of each service, we asked the people who are watching to share the live stream link on their social media accounts. You know, Facebook has that reshare button. Twitter has retweet, right and we just say hey guys, take the live stream link copy and paste it into your social media and invite people to watch or email a friend and invite them to watch with you or text a friend the link and invite them to watch with you turn your people into online evangelists. And we’ve seen several people come to the Lord because they were sent a link by a friend or family member, okay? And I want you to think about this. Thank you. About the multiplicative nature of asking people to do the sharing for you. So if each of your 500 church members sends it out to each of their 200, Facebook friends, and only 10 of each of their friends, watch the service with them. You just went from 500 viewers to 5000 viewers simply by asking your church to become online evangelists. So ask your people to share and spread the love. Okay, that’s one thing you can do. Another thing you can do is to encourage the people watching from home to host a watch party. Okay, a watch party is super simple, super non threatening. It’s basically inviting a few close friends or relatives over to your house to watch the service with you on Sunday morning, and then to discuss the sermon once the service is over. So at our church, we have a little web page, and we provide the watch party discussion questions each week. And we just update those each week based on the pastor’s sermon. And then we just regularly encourage our people to host a watch party if they aren’t ready to come back to in person services yet. And so this is a great way to invite friends who may not have been comfortable coming to church to come to your house and watch a church service. It’s much less threatening than stepping foot in a church building, if they’re not Christians. So watch parties are a great way to get the word out. You can also use things like Facebook ads to boost your livestream posts so that your church service gets exposed to more people on Facebook. And of course, you can do the same thing with Google ads, a huge thing to do is to use inbound traffic, inbound traffic. So you heard about this a little bit in the clip that I played at the beginning. But Google will give your church $10,000 a month of ad spend money $10,000 to advertise your church. So you can use this free ad spend to show up in front of people who are searching specifically for what you have to offer. So you might create a Google ad campaign for when someone searches church online, or when they search church near me or church in your city? Or even better? What if we use that money to reach the last? Because look, people are literally searching for answers. They’re searching? How can I be saved? The number of people searching for that is in the millions? Or they’re searching? What happens when I die? Or who is Jesus? or How can I save my marriage? These are high intent search terms, meaning people are searching looking for the answer. They literally want you to give them the answer. And there are millions of people searching for those questions every day. And your church can create a video answering that person’s pressing question. And then Google can deliver your ad as the top search result, thus connecting that person to the answer that they’re seeking. And also connecting them to your church. And if they receive Christ on that little web page that you created with the answer, then they can get tied into the new believer email sequence that you created, and then begin a discipleship relationship with your church. So that’s the power of inbound traffic, inbound traffic, okay. And then finally, of course, you can get the word out using social media. So one thing you can do with social media is you can use use your followers to repost your church’s post or to tag people in your posts. So you could be like, who’s one person you’re thankful for? tag them in the comments and tell them why you’re thankful for them. So now you just tapped into your followers network of friends, and you’ve connected them to your church by being strategic with your social media.

Alex Enfiedjian 28:28 The point is, guys, and the whole point of this episode is it’s a big, wide world out there on the internet. And there are real people looking for real answers and hungry for hope. And we, as the church have the answer Jesus, right. And so we should seek to disciple our own people who are now mostly engaging with us online anyway. And we should also seek to reach the lost and hurting with the good news of the gospel. And so May God give us the wisdom and the grace and the innovation to succeed in this wide open mission field, and to actually take ground for the gospel in this new era of ministry. So I hope this episode was thought provoking for you. And I’m going to ask you again to take a second and send this episode two, your senior pastor or to your executive pastor, your missions pastor, and anyone on your web or your social team at your church, okay, and I put links in the show notes for all the different items I had mentioned through this episode. And if you’re interested in going through the next mentorship with me in February 2021 if you want to take your worship ministry to the next level and spend 10 weeks with me with direct coaching access to me, go ahead and sign up before December is over for the early bird discount. You can sign up at worship ministry training comm slash mentor, worship ministry training comm slash mentor. Alright, that’s it for today. I will see you guys next month for another helpful episode. God bless