Content Overload, Conversation Scarce
Well, Church, we’re a month into this whole Covid-19 Pandemic here in the US. Let me just say up front, I’m proud of you. Church Online Platform has reported onboarding 22,000+ churches onto their platform. Zoom reportedly grew from 10 million accounts to 200 million accounts, and many of those are churches and groups, moving easily onto the new platform. There has literally been so much Internet traffic on Sundays that the Church broke the Internet several times in March 2020. (Fortunately, Palm Sunday was mostly stable as platforms held up their end of the bargain. Let’s see what happens Easter Sunday.) All of this content is helping the church do something it’s struggled to do since Acts 2. (Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts… Acts 2:46).
Church Services, Devos, and Bible Studies, Oh My!
Church, I’m watching you. While watching, honestly, I’m learning from you. Don’t mean to give you the creepy Rockwell (I always feel like somebody’s watching me) vibe right now, but for years I’ve been advocating for the church to create content seven days a week. In this season of Covid-19, seeing the content come in so quickly has been rewarding. That being said, take this lesson I’m learning in real time. We, as a culture in Coronavirus season, are on content overload, while at the same time being conversation scarce.
Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime… we’ve got content all over the place. Even resources like Right Now Media give you access to thousands of hours of bible studies and content from some of the most popular pastors and speakers around the country. (They’re even giving some content away for free in this Covid-19 season). Content is an excellent way to get information to your head. TED Talks are 18 minute educational talks meant to be informational. Content can challenge established norms. Content is not the way to get information into your heart. That takes a different approach.
High Tech, High Touch
The more technology we use, the more cold/distant/impersonal our communication will become. This fact leads us to a primary lesson with online content: as important as the content is, it’s not the most effective way to communicate online. With Church Online today, we have an opportunity to engage in two-way communication, not just one-way. Content is one-way communication. Watch this video. Read this devotional. Attend this online service. These forms of content are not engaging. They are not leading us to two-way communication. And, as much fun as Chat Rooms are during online services, or even social media, these are a step in the right direction, but they are not your final solution.
Pastor, in this Covid-19 season, encourage your staff to get into two-way conversation with your church. Personally call every person in the database (utilize staff and volunteers to help). Ask how they’re handling the Covid-19 season, or maybe what God is teaching them in this season of difficulty. Write snail-mail thank you notes to high level volunteers. Schedule Zoom meetings with entire staff and volunteer departments to celebrate. Create Whatsapp threads allowing ministry departments to communicate with each other. Use Apps like Hit Em Up for iPhone to send personal text messages directly from your phone.
In this Coronavirus season, I’ve got all the content I need, and when I run out there’s always Tiger King on Netflix. I don’t need content. I need relationships. It’s easy to forget that we, the Church, are in the people business. And in this new, post Coronavirus culture coming up… the Church will need to remember how to be in the people business.
Better to Ask Questions Than Make Statements
The best part of all of these two-way conversations is that you, Pastor/Church Staff person, get to listen. Take this season to improve your listening skills. Be a better leader by learning to listen on a deeper level. Truthfully, we as a church can’t predict where people are in this season of Covid-19. Rather than assuming we have the answer, let’s stop and pause.
With about 20 years experience serving the church in the digital/technological realm, Jeff loves working with churches. As passionate about Discipleship as he is Technology, Jeff uses his passion to help Churches develop technology systems to bring people far from God closer to him. Oh, and he loves Digital Church & Church Online.