What Has “Online Church” Taught You for when Gatherings Resume?

By Eric Geiger

The title of the post is one of the most insightful questions I have been asked by friends in ministry during this season. Several have texted or called and posed, “What are you learning in this season during your online gatherings that will continue when you gather again physically?”

I have started asking other leaders that question too because I believe it is helpful and clarifying. The question is optimistic and faith-filled, believing that there are great lessons to learn in the midst of the current constraint — lessons that are transferrable to our physical gatherings when they can resume.

As a church we have not gathered physically for seven weeks, and here are four things we have done that I envision will continue when we resume in-person gatherings. There are certainly more and several of these are simple and not earth shattering, but they are small tweaks I believe can have a big impact.

1. Pastoral prayer moment for specific groups of people

Each week we have taken time in our worship service to pray for specific groups of people: health care workers, exceptional families, single parents, those being served by our food pantry, etc. By doing so, we have been able to minister to people through prayer and invite our church to pray and care for one another. As is always the case, we find ourselves loving and rooting for those people we pray for. I don’t want to stop those corporate moments of specific prayer after this crisis is over.

2. Highlighting how we are serving communities

Our church has a long history of serving externally, a legacy I am honored to have joined. During this season we have been extra intentional in communicating on a weekly basis what we are doing to serve the vulnerable because we know how important this is to our church. By doing so we have been constantly reminded of our own vulnerability and fragility and the tender grace of God given to us.

3. Texting as our “connection card”

This is a small change, but I don’t think we will go back. While we have used texting in our weekend worship services before, we also used printed “connection cards.” Suddenly we were forced to live without a printed “connection card,” and texting is allowing us to follow-up more quickly with people.

4. Pre- and post-service announcement loop

One of the most surprising things in the seven weeks of “online only church” is how many people watch the loop before and after the services. We noticed this early and pivoted to using that time to communicate important information. Am hoping that will remain a strategic time for us in the future – which means I am dreaming about people coming to church on time!

I am thankful for what the Lord is doing in the midst of this craziness, and the lessons He is allowing us to learn that will help us serve people better in the future.

This post originally appeared on EricGeiger.com,

Published May 14, 2020

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Eric Geiger

Eric Geiger is the Senior Pastor of Mariners Church in Irvine, California. Before moving to Southern California, Eric served as senior vice-president for LifeWay Christian Resources. Eric received his doctorate in leadership and church ministry from Southern Seminary. Eric has authored or co-authored several books, including the best-selling church leadership book, Simple Church. Eric is married to Kaye, and they have two daughters: Eden and Evie. During his free time, Eric enjoys dating his wife, taking his daughters to the beach, and playing basketball.