For the first time in history, most Americans no longer attend church. Even as many as 1 in 3 Christians have stopped attending church services! Churches can no longer assume they will maintain or grow their numbers simply by investing in their in-person experience.
So why are some churches thriving, growing, and having a big impact on their communities at a time when in-person attendance is down? One of the biggest secrets to their success is that they’re using digital tools to foster meaningful church engagement!
Church Engagement, Defined
First things first: What is church engagement, and why is it important? Church engagement is the connection, commitment, and belonging that individuals experience in relation to your community and mission. Whether it happens through joining a small group, watching your live stream, donating to your church, or through any other activity, engagement is what forms important emotional attachments between people and their church.
It’s true that an engaged church community will naturally grow, but engagement goes beyond merely measuring in-person attendance. In fact, almost two-thirds of all Christians are asking for their churches to provide more online discipleship resources (such as podcasts, devotionals, and Bible reading plans) to help them grow spiritually!
Church engagement should be both meaningful and measurable. Let’s take a look at six ways you can use digital tools to increase your church’s engagement.
1. Make a Good First Impression
Your church’s website is your digital doorstep. 97% of people will go online to find information about local organizations, including churches like yours. That’s why the best church website builders include features for engaging your online visitors, such as integrated media, event calendars, live streaming, digital giving, and more.
Here are some practical ways to make your website more engaging to visitors:
- Focus on your visitors: Create a “What to expect” page with location, service times, and other information to make your visitors feel at home.
- Share engaging content: Many people will watch and listen to several sermons on a church’s website before ever visiting the church in person.
- Create digital connect cards: Adding connect cards (AKA “guest cards,” “connection cards,” or “visitor cards”) to your website is great for engagement. By adding your visitors’ contact information to your ChMS, you can easily keep track of prayer requests, volunteer signups, and newsletter subscribers and easily follow up with them.
You should also keep track of your website’s performance by seeing how many visitors you receive each month, which pages they are visiting, how many visitors are filling out connect cards, and how much time visitors are spending on your website. With this information, you can make data-based decisions about what’s driving engagement on your website and what needs to improve.
2. Engage Your Church Where They’re At—On Mobile
The average American spends more than five hours every day on their smartphone, and over 90% of that time is spent using apps! Creating a mobile app for your church is a golden opportunity to engage your community—anytime and anywhere—by putting your church’s live streams, sermon videos, events calendar, Bible reading plans, podcasts, and online giving in your church’s mobile app.
The best church app builders, like Subsplash, will help you reach the broadest audience by publishing your app on all the major app stores. They also streamline communications through powerful features like in-app group messaging and push notifications. Just as important is the time your team will save by simultaneously uploading your church’s content to both your mobile app and website with just one click of a button!
Just like your website, you should also keep tabs on activity within your mobile app. Some of the engagement metrics you can track through your app dashboard include the number of app downloads, media plays, app launches, and app impressions that your mobile app has generated.
3. Create a Community by Building Connections
One of the primary reasons that people go to church is to build relationships, so fostering community is essential for boosting church engagement. Your members want to be able to share real, two-way, relational experiences with each other, but this can be challenging to accomplish online. That’s why it’s important to provide them with tools that make communication effortless and safe.
Whether it’s sharing prayer requests, coordinating small groups, or discussing Sunday’s sermon, top-tier group communication tools for churches—like Subsplash Messaging—will enable your community to create authentic connections through meaningful conversations within your church’s app or on the web. The best solutions offer unlimited users and messaging channels, so your members can keep all of their conversations and content in a safe and secure place.
4. Go Live
Live streaming sermons and other events are great ways to engage your community. In fact, people spend 27% more time watching live stream videos than on-demand videos.
The best live streaming platforms allow you to broadcast live video to your website, mobile app, TV app, YouTube, and Facebook Live at the same time. Subsplash Live goes a step further by also enabling your team to easily trim videos before publishing them on-demand media—all within a single dashboard!
5. Provide More Connection Points
To maximize church engagement, it’s important to create multiple connection points with your community throughout the week. The good news is your church is already a content creator, thanks to all the live streams, sermons, and Bible studies you produce on a weekly basis! By simply adding other content on a regular schedule—such as podcasts, devotional videos, and Bible-reading plans—you can quickly increase your engagement to create deeper connections.
How you deliver that content is also key for maximizing engagement. For example, if you post your videos to YouTube, your viewers have to watch annoying ads and see distracting “related videos.” Subsplash Media, however, hosts and publishes your content to your website, mobile app and TV app with no ads or distractions. You can also automatically convert your videos to podcasts for people to listen to while they work, drive, or clean up around the house!
6. Enable and Encourage Generosity
The more engaged your church community becomes, the more they will want to support your mission. However, people now carry cash or checks less often than ever before. Churches that adopt an online giving solution, like Subsplash Giving, see an average increase of 32% in their overall donations! This is because it allows your congregation to donate anywhere at any time while they are engaging with your content in your custom app and website.
Start Improving Your Church’s Engagement Today!
If you’re looking to increase engagement with your church community, check out The Ultimate Engagement PlatformTM by Subsplash. Over 14,000 churches and organizations use this powerful, all-in-one church engagement solution to make more and better disciples and grow their giving.