We’ve written a few posts about navigating pandemics as a church. One of the most common asks we’ve received is for tools for churches through the pandemic. Not all tips or suggested tools may be helpful for every church but we hope you’ll find something for yours.
The Church Online
The Church has been online since the Internet. The question is, “How can we be more intentional with our presence?” Let’s think of this in two ways:
- What can we do to mature missional Christ followers?
- How do we leverage the apps, tools etc we use every day in sharing our faith?
We’ll now narrow this conversation down to using tech / digital tools for the Church during pandemics.
Online Tools For Your Church To Use
I couldn’t talk about your church online without starting with the simple website. This is a great place to consolidate your online presence. One of the advantages of your church having your own website is that you have complete control of your content. And, you won’t be at the mercy of third party platforms.
ChurchMag has covered these in various posts and podcast episodes.
You can post to social media platforms but your website can be the one stop shop. If you already have website we suggest making all things related to the COVID19 lockdown or changes more prominent. This could include communications or your livestream options.
Tools (We Suggest)
ChurchMag uses this option, which option requires tinkering. Be willing to do some. While there are free themes, you might want to consider looking into that and a few other plugins. You also will need to get a website host. ChurchMag uses Siteground.
This is less technical in terms of setting up. It probably might be the easiest for churches or organizations stretched in terms of manpower. Like the self-hosted option it has its own costs.
These aren’t the only available options, of course.
The point: have a functional website you update regularly, which serves as your central point of contact online.
Have a holistic approach to comms. Key people in the church should be on the same page on what you communicate. This is where communications directors / leads must coordinate. Who will communicate what, where and when?
Some church management software comes with this. If you don’t have anything in place, consider using:
Before committing check that they integrate or will work well with other solutions. That is, your website and church management systems and other solutions you’re using. In times like these, it’s easy to rush to do something and end up tangled.
bltn the digital bulletin can now livestream. With most Sunday gatherings changing, at least for now, so is the bulletin. Find out more about it here.
Facebook Groups and Facebook Pages
You can create group(s) connected to your Facebook page. The page can be used to share information, and updates and groups for small (life, connect) groups.
You can also create live stream from your Facebook page and host watch parties in the Facebook groups. Facebook groups could also be a good way for your home or life groups to stay in touch.
Bonus: You might want to ask you neigbors to create a group to check on each other. A way to build relationships with them church during this time and beyond.
Church Online Platform
We haven’t found any other tool or platform as good for the church online. Church Online Platform is built for church online as the name suggests.
This free gift from Life.Church is the simplest comprehensive tool for church online we’re aware of. Besides being free it integrates the Bible app, many streaming / video services, moderated chat, live prayer and more.
It also comes with free support. This is one of the best tools for churches through the pandemic lockdown and beyond. Find out more about Church Online Platform here.
YouTube and Vimeo
YouTube and Vimeo can be used for not only streaming but uploading videos you can embed your website. I like Vimeo for being clean interface and no noise for the audience when you have a paid account.
YouTube, on the other hand is more widely used, where most people search for video.
Create music playlists and sermon playlists. Both these services integrate with Church Online Platform.
Open Broadcaster Software (OBS)
If you have the time and are a little technical you can explore this option. Find out more about it here.
Messaging and Calling
Some church management solutions come with texting in built. This can be great for broadcast messaging.
However for small groups consider using WhatsApp and Telegram and other similar apps. These could be handy for sharing video calling particularly with small groups.
Zoom, the free version allows 40 minute (can include video) calls with up to 100 people. It’s available at discount for non-profits via Techsoup. This can also be a great webinar tool.
All these could be used for meetings with your church leadership, small group calls etc.
Podcasts / Podcasting
Many churches podcast their sermons. Now is a good time to create podcast content that isn’t sermons per se. This could be a Bible study or devotionals for example. Answer questions your congregants and community have been asking. There’s also opportunity to speak into questions like, “Where is God in times like this?” or “Why would God let this happen?”
Anchor is another great alternative. You can record directly in app from your phone and publish your recording. This is great solution needing little gear and resources.
Tip: make sure your recording environment is not noisy and has good acoustics.
Use this opportunity to encourage people to engage with the Bible more.
Over the years we’ve covered a number of Bible apps. Some of the notable ones include:
Bible app / YouVersion:
With over 400 million installations on unique devices, this is the most widely used Bible app we know. The new prayer feature is worth a mention. This way the members can create prayer items and share with others to pray.
We’ll cover this in a separate post but it is worth checking out on the Bible website or apps. Oh! there’s also have a Bible app for kids, don’t forget the kids.
Bible Reading Plans
We’ve covered options for reading plans:
Your church could create a reading plan in line with the series or study in your community. Bible app allows people to share their reading and share their experiences as they journey together.
Right Now Media
I came across this resource recently. It’s like the Netflix of resources for churches. It’s a streaming library of Bible study videos. For a church subscription, the church leadership, can, in turn, make the teaching, courses and other children’s resources available to the congregation. They also have some great content for children.
One of the features I like is that churches can curate content for their congregants as well as custom ‘courses’ or plans.
My church has used Orange for a few years now. This is one of the best resources when it comes to curriculum and resources for children and teenagers. It empowers not only the church, importantly parents to take an active part in the spiritual formation / discipleship of their children.
It brings continuity between what they learn at church into everyday life. Check out Orange here.
Create worship / music playlists on any music platform and share it with your congregants. song.link and album.link, playlistor and SpotiApp are great for sharing playlists across different music streaming platforms.
Checkout the post 3 Tools To Share Songs Across Music Streaming Services to find out more about them.
If you don’t have the means a big team or means to record worship, this is a great alternative.
While We Respond In The Now…
There are so many other tools for churches through the pandemic. To note: these tools are available and a lot of them have been for a long time. The kind of innovation the global crisis requires of us isn’t just about new tools. It’s also about how well we wield or make use of what we already have.
The Church has never had this much resource. As we respond to the crisis, let’s keep in mind that there is a ‘beyond the crisis’ and there is no way we can go back to how things were before. We have to be even better stewards with the resources we’ve been granted.
There are many tools for churches through the pandemic and beyond, keep things simple. This will allow you to focus on the things that matter most: loving and serving people.
What other tools for churches through the pandemic would you recommend?