In this episode, Kenny Jahng talks through a recent blog post from ChurchCommunications.com titled 6 Ways to Reach out During Coronavirus. He mentions some great resources and tips to staying connected during distancing. Tune in today for the latest on ways to reach out during Coronavirus.
FreeOnlineChurch.com by Outreach Digital
ChurchOnlinePlatform.com by Life Church
Katie Allred: Welcome to the Church Communications Podcast. I’m Katie Allred.
Kenny Jahng: and I’m Kenny Jahng.
Katie Allred: We want to help you become a better church communicator.
Kenny Jahng: And this is the place we’re going to talk about strategies and best practices for your church.
Katie Allred: Let’s get started.
Kenny Jahng: Hey friends, happy March. Look what we are in. We are in for a long haul, it seems like. March 19th and we are midweek going into mostly the second Sunday where many churches, if not most across the country, are not able to meet in person because of COVID-19, the novel coronavirus. And so for today’s podcast episode, wanted to just hop on here briefly and share with you six ways to reach out during the coronavirus period. It is actually a blog post that’s on our website. You might know us by our Facebook group with 23,000 plus members in it, a very active and healthy community that you can get some sounding board advice, learning some best practices, sharing with each other, getting encouraged as a church communicator. But many people don’t know that we actually have a website, a podcast, social media, all these other things in the mix.
Kenny Jahng: So our website, churchcommunications.com, has a very robust blog that I really encourage you to look at. Today’s post that we just published is called Six Ways to Reach Out During the Coronavirus. And let me just walk through a couple of them. Number one, right, six ways to reach out during the coronavirus. Number one is don’t stop meeting, right, so even if it’s only digital, church still goes on and I hopefully think that you can now start to share with people the notion of what it means to be church. Church is not defined by the four walls of your building. The church is basically your people. And so it says here, with today’s powerful smartphones, internet connection and a website, your church Facebook account can even be the base to hold services and other updates online.
Kenny Jahng: There’s actually a free resource that our friends at Outreach have put together. If you go to freeonlinechurch.com, you’ll be able to sign up for 100% free church online streaming services for your website. So during COVID-19 and beyond, Outreach is trying to help you reach more people in your church and community. All you have to do is go to freeonlinechurch.com for more details to see the live demo and to get started. But the whole point is don’t stop meeting, plan for those services. Church online platform from Life Church is the other behemoth that offers a free platform to churches that allows you to livestream your church services across the web for your people. So whether it’s Facebook Live, YouTube Live, or any of these platforms, you should be thinking about what church online could mean. We’re going to dive deeper into that topic of church online in the past.
Kenny Jahng: I’ve got so much wisdom and experience, i.e. failures, right? Wisdom and experience just means you probably have hit a lot of dead ends and U-turns. But as a church online pastor myself, there’s a lot of things that I would love to share with you as you embark on this journey of livestreaming or offering the church worship services for the first time to your people in your community. We’ll get to that later. But this is something that we hope that every church in the country is looking at right now. There might be one or two churches or regions where you’re still meeting offline, but to be honest, that’s not going to be much longer. So being prepared so you don’t stop meeting is the first thing. Second one is to be visible. So right, people in your community and by just think that your church is no longer in business because that’s what’s happening to a lot of stores, retail outlets, gyms and other public places, and when they drive by they might see nobody in your parking lot.
Kenny Jahng: So you want to make sure that everyone who passes by knows that you can be found online and this is where banners, those banners, the pull-up banners, the A-frames, all those banners, come in. You are now able to order them and put them outside. They’re all customizable and you can promote the various ways that you’re serving the community, worship services one, but you might highlight all these other things or your website address or a phone number that they can call to get information on more. And so here’s a side note. We have partnered with Outreach to open up and launch our first online print shop. If you go to order.churchcommunications.com, that’s order.churchcommunications.com, you’ll see a full-fledged store powered by Outreach where you can order all this type of marketing collateral and customize them.
Kenny Jahng: We actually have hundreds and hundreds, if not thousands, I actually think it’s thousands of designs, professional designs, for almost every single product. So if you had one of those big plastic A-frames that you put on the street or the pull-up banners or the lawn signs, or the canvas banners, et cetera, all of them have pre-designed templates that you can customize online at our website, order.churchcommunications.com. So take a look at it. But basically you want to now customize your street signs to make sure people know that you’re still operational and you’re still making things happen, and that you’re serving the community for specific needs. Those are definitely something because there are people who are looking for hope that need help and you want to make sure they know that you’re visible and you’re aware.
Kenny Jahng: Okay, third one. The third way to reach out during this coronavirus period is specifically to love thy neighbor. Church is more than a place to go, as you know. It’s a community that loves one another and members of your congregation, they’re the ones that can help do the outreach and make sure everyone else in your community feels loved. Here is a great idea, using door hangers and invite cards that you can quickly print and get printed within a week, right? This whole period is going to last eight weeks at the minimum, so you’ve got at least two months ahead of you. We need to start doing something to get the word out and start helping people. So there are designs that are freshly made, put into the store that we’ve had and some of them say, “I am here for you, an offer for help.” It shares how people can get in touch with you and your church in case they have some needs. These are the types of things that you want to get to your volunteers so that they can go down the block and hang these door hangers on people’s doors.
Kenny Jahng: So it’s contact-less, right? It’s not like they’re knocking on doors and talking to people. You’re leaving something behind and then there’s room on these templates, these designs, for a person to fill in their own contact information so neighbors can reach out to them. And it’s also a great place on the back of the design to includes online service times and details. Because in a time like this is when people turn to their faith, even though they might not be regular churchgoers, but you want to make sure you give them that opportunity to convene with you online if they want to. So number four on the list, promote your church on social media. This seems to be the no-brainer, right? During this time of social distancing people in your church and community will spend more time on Facebook to connect with people and get their news, more time on Instagram to get the news and connect with other people.
Kenny Jahng: You can use this opportunity to reach a completely new audience potentially because your people will be on Facebook and if you put the right stuff out there, you will actually have them share those posts and they’ll be seen not just by your followers but their friends, right? Ads are something that you might be actually trying to use right now. Geographically targeted ads is definitely something because everyone is on social today. Everyone, especially during this period, is glued to their phones. This might be a great time to have an efficient ad campaign. So we actually have the ability to reach our people in our neighborhoods, in their homes, through social media, to push them to different places, your website, to your livestreaming, maybe to other resources in town, et cetera.
Kenny Jahng: Number five on the list, ways to reach out during coronavirus is be where they are. So during this time when people are isolated, their use of Facebook and other social media explode. How can you not only encourage your church members but also empower them to be digital missionaries? This is what I want you to start thinking about. How can they become digital missionaries? So this is the type of thing where you want your people to really think about your stuff as a missionary. So you might send out a video message, you might call people, you might basically have leadership training during this time to say when we publish stuff online and you see it and it’s outward-facing, please share it because the average church sees something like a three times increase in likes, comments and shares than their posts alone when your people are doing something with it, right? So this is the type of thing that you really want to do and you want to engage people in a way that’s not just about the virus but about all these other things as well.
Kenny Jahng: One of the great things that we’ve been talking about, seeing and hearing is Jeff Henderson down at Gwinnett Church, part of North Point’s ecosystem, has published a book For, F-O-R, the word For. It’s a great book. You should buy it on Amazon, get it delivered by Prime so you can devour it before the weekend. But one of the basic premises is that it’s kind of like a StoryBrand thing, right? In StoryBrand, we preach that you are not the hero. Your audience is the hero. You are the guide. Same thing in the For framework that Jeff Henderson has is that the church wants to be for the town. The church wants to be for the citizens. The church wants to be for the other peer organizations across town.
Kenny Jahng: And so celebrating all the things that are happening and trying to shine a spotlight, say for example, on all the small businesses that are across town that are suffering. I guarantee you that they are all taking a hit in business because they’re no longer getting foot traffic and that they only have… to be able to do delivery or take out for food establishments. And all other places like gyms and other retail institutions are closing down. So how can you use social media to shine a light on the ones that are doing something to survive and try to help them get more access to people in your community to connect them with those type of services?
Kenny Jahng: So for instance, a local gym here started offering online sports coaching, and so doing workouts via video is something that gym is trying to do right now. Your church has the ability to interview them or to shed a light on that and try to maybe even partner with them. Maybe you invite them to give a weekly free lesson on your Facebook page or group as a Facebook Live so that people get a sense, a taste of it, and allow them to basically toot their own horn and say if you want to do something on a regular basis that they are able to contact that fitness instructor or that gym and have a direct relationship, so sign up with a coach. Those are the types of things that you want to do.
Kenny Jahng: If it’s a local restaurant doing take out, you might do a food tour of your main street or your town, whether it’s interviewing people specifically for different episodes or even just going downtown and pointing out which merchants are still open and what type of services that they are open for. Those are the types of things that you can use for social media that people will find useful. Okay. Number six is show how you are prepared. It does seem that every person on earth, every institution on earth that I’ve given my email address with, that I’ve registered for feels the urgent need to email me today and let me know what they’re doing about COVID-19.
Kenny Jahng: I’ve had my oil change guys, I’ve had my accountants, I’ve had anybody and everybody tell me about COVID-19. Now most of that stuff is non-urgent and almost non-essential or irrelevant. I don’t need to know the file handling, cleaning protocols of my accountants that I never see the files anyway because we electronically file. I don’t need to know all that. But what you can provide is a list of things that your church is doing for the community that is for them, of interest for them, or this is a great time to brainstorm what you guys can be doing in terms of serving the needs of the community.
Kenny Jahng: A local church that I’m working with here is pulling together daily Facebook Lives with teachers in different subject areas of kids have access to tutors or basically Q&A about doing homework together. They actually have a fitness instructor doing morning exercises for Facebook Live. They’ve got a singing teacher that’s going to actually help teach songs and sing to youth using Facebook Live on their page and their group and other ways you are helping coordinate. For instance, one side of town is having basically students who go to school and have subsidized meals or free meals and that’s critically their main source of food and nutrition for the week.
Kenny Jahng: There’s a part of town that is still getting supplemented meals at home. There’s a whole section of town apparently, part of the school district that is not, and so the church is partnering with some food pantries and other places to figure out how to get meals delivered to each of those students’ homes, those families that need it. Showing how you are doing that. We just heard of another project that a truckload, a full 18-wheeler truckload of food and supplies will be delivered. It’s one of 50 trucks across the nation that are being delivered. We’re going to be one of the access points. And so letting the people know that you are coordinating with these social services and charities and nonprofit organizations that are really trying to help in this season of need and to give some clarity, right, transparency and clarity, of who these services are for, who’s eligible and how to receive and get connected with those resources is something that you want to help people know.
Kenny Jahng: Those are the types of things. Outside of the norm, right? You’re going to want to tell people now and when people return that you’re going to let people know, it might be signs and banners to let people know that you’re taking the extra precautions to follow the CDC guidelines to ensure that your facilities are disinfected, clean and healthy and that you have social distancing in play at meetings and things like that. So those are the types of things that you want to make sure your people are comfortable and have confidence that you are prepared to really take this season on, head on, and do it with integrity and safety as your priority.
Kenny Jahng: So those are six ways that you can reach out during the coronavirus. You can dive into a little bit more details. There’s a lot of links to resources, direct links to places on our print shop online, order.church communications.com. And I’d love to hear from you. So do me a favor. There’s a couple of ways that you can find out more resources and content like this. One is stay up to date on the people, technologies, trends, best practices shaping the future of our communication strategies for the church. You can have it delivered directly to your inbox. Go to our website, churchcommunications.com and join the list. Sign up for the email list. Two is, if you haven’t already, basically there’s our Facebook group. The Church Communications Facebook group has 23,000 peer communicators worldwide who are part of the community supporting everyone else and you each and every day.
Kenny Jahng: The third way that I’d invite you to get involved is explore related topics in more depth on the Church Communications Podcast. Subscribe to our podcast. You can find it on Apple podcast, iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher Radio, Spotify. You can even trigger it on Alexa. Wherever you get your audio is where you can get the Church Communications Podcast. And the next one is connect with us on social. We’ve got everything up and revving. It’s Instagram, our Facebook page, and Twitter. All those places are places that we invite you to get involved with our community and start the conversation. So my name is Kenny Jahng, co-leader of this group called Church Communications. Katie Allred is working hard on some more content and we’ll be back soon with another set of resources, tips, and tutorials regarding Church Communications, especially during this extremely difficult period for everybody during the coronavirus. I’m Kenny Jahng. Remember be social, stay social.