Australian authorities have just announced their ‘Roadmap to a COVIDSafe Australia’ which outlines the government’s plan to re-open the country following the COVID lockdown.
The majority of Churches are just getting their head around reaching their communities online, and are suddenly having to consider what Church looks like in the building again. We’ve put together some recommendations for your ‘back to Church’ digital strategy and have included some free resources you can use to ensure you’re communicating with your congregation clearly and effectively.
If you’re reading this, you probably already know, but communication is incredibly important as things begin opening up again. A clear and concise strategy for communicating your Churches approach to reopening is incredibly important.
Fill your ministry leaders in on your post-covid plan prior to announcing your plans. These are the people your volunteers and congregation will go to for clarification, so ensure they are aware of all the specifics. This is a good technique for ensuring you have some gatekeepers to answer all the questions that inevitably arise with significant change.
Consider members of your congregation who are not active on social media. You may have to jump on the phone and make sure everyone is caught up on the plan. Communicating your plan via text message may also be worth considering.
The federal government’s 3 step plan means that we can plan ahead, and be proactive with announcements to the church community. I’d urge you to put together a communication plan for each of the steps outlined in the COVIDsafe roadmap so that you can react quickly to changes in restrictions.
Get all your content and captions approved ahead of time by church leadership. This will allow you to communicate quickly and effectively with your congregation, and get ahead of the questions and confusion that may arise.
Streaming / Online Services
The majority of Churches have taken up streaming or pre-recording in order to continue reaching their congregation during the COVID shutdown. Reopening does not mean you should be stopping.
Unfortunately, we do not yet know how many people will be physically returning to church as soon as they re-open. A significant number of congregation members will likely want to continue attending online even while their Churches start to gather in the building again. As Church communicators, it’s important we consider this and make sure we’re meeting these people’s needs too.
We’ve all been forced to figure out how to stream or deliver services online in this period, but make sure your setup is appropriate for a physical Church gathering as well. If you’re using a mobile device, you may find it’s far less suitable for streaming from the back of your sanctuary than from your living room. We have an article on some good options for streaming camcorders at different price points that might help you understand some of the options out there for suitable cameras.
We’re working with a number of churches to adapt their streaming solutions to their sanctuaries, and will be publishing some new content on the subject over the next couple of months.
A Quick Note on Volunteers
A lot of your volunteers will be itching to come back and serve the church again. Moving services online means the majority of volunteers have not been involved in church at all for a number of months.
The one group of volunteers (and potentially staff) that the lockdown has not reduced the load for, is your tech volunteers, and if you have them, any volunteers responsible for your social media presence or website.
Make sure to consult with these people prior to reopening. Especially if you are planning a partial reopening which will see online and face to face services running concurrently. These folks may be less ready to hit the ground running than the rest of your team.
I’m sure everyone is excited to start getting their church community back into the building and return to ‘normal’. The federal government’s phased relaxation of restrictions has the potential to be extremely confusing for church communities, so make sure you have a proactive strategy for communicating your church’s intentions.
Hopefully this has helped you formulate your own communication strategy for re-opening. Feel free to get in touch with us if you have any questions, or need any advice!
Last but not least, we’ve put together some resources you can use to help with your communication strategy, feel free to use them wherever you’d like.
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