How to Effectively Start and Lead Your New Online Service Remotely

There is nothing normal about any of this. 

There are no metrics for success, no stats on how to be effective during a crisis; no one right way forward. But there is a way forward that meets the needs of the people we serve and the communities we live in. While the world is in pandemic crisis from the Coronavirus, the church can lead people to God effectively through calm and relatable services.

I say calm, because the church has an opportunity to draw people toward a calm the world cannot provide now. I say relatable, because absolutely everyone around the world is in the same position as you are. There has never been a better opportunity to present the whole of the Gospel to people anxiously awaiting a way out of madness.

How did your church service go this weekend?

You know what I heard this weekend more than anything?

  • Facebook is glitching.
  • Church Online Platform is down.
  • YouTube is experiencing delays.

Let me repeat: There is nothing normal about any of this. 

90% of churches around America are attempting to figure out how to do church online right now. And 100% of America is experiencing changes on a daily basis. If you manage to feed your children fish sticks today, you're hitting a home run. Before I give you ideas on how to run an effective online service, I want to affirm you with these truths. Please let them sink in. Breathe them in and out. Absorb it and just be.

People will not live or die based on the effectiveness of your weekend's sermon. Your worship will not make or break their mood of the day. There is nothing you can do apart from the power and presence of God that will move the needle one bit. Understanding this and taking truth in, we can move forward and show you how to start and lead an effective service online, remotely.

The Best Thing You Can Do Is Reflect Our Shared Reality

We are all at home. We spend nearly 24 hours a day locked inside our home, only to break for quick store trips or walks around the block with the family. Your church is not expecting a full blown worship service with production levels off the chart. Things have changed, and expectations have changed along with it.

We are looking for: 

  • ... connections with other Christians.
  • ... someone to help calm our hearts and minds.
  • ... stability; provided by those who lead us every week.

We are not looking for:

  • ... a full blown worship set.
  • ... an exhaustive sermon.
  • ... 90 minutes of content on a screen.

While the people in your church are looking to you for guidance, they are only looking for this guidance in the context of our shared reality. A fully produced service may seem like the best way to keep things consistent in an ever-changing reality, it negates the context that has shifted and ends up ostracizing your audience. Over the weekend I watched this play out online. The churches that stayed in their lane with a fully-produced service saw their online viewership decrease, while those who adapted saw engagement and views increase. Turns out, people just want to know everyone is in this together.

Looking for some examples? 

  • Newbreak Church, a 3000 member church in San Diego with five campuses across the county. This weekend they stitched together various people remotely, connecting an acoustic set with Mike Quinn's preaching in front of his computer. Their service perfectly reflected our shared reality and provided the stability we are looking for.
  • Saddleback Church, a 24,000 member church in Orange County with dozens of in-person and online campuses followed this pattern as well. While their worship was produced, Rick Warren preached with a single camera from behind his home office, looking carefully into the camera and our hearts, calming us with presence and words. This was a masterclass of peace through the storm.

Be Like City Church

A 300 member church in Anaheim is one of the most technologically advanced churches around. They took everyone online, remotely, presenting a complete service with multiple screen-shares. They showed that you can fully produce a complete and excellent church, fully remotely. This gave them the best chance to show solidarity with the people they reach, as well as give them a sense of consistency, something we are all desperately craving right now.

Your New Way Forward

10 Keys to Start and Lead Your Service Online, Remotely

My hope is that you have read this and felt calm; that you have taken truth in and exhaled lies. You are good enough as you are; not as you think you need to be. People need you right where you are at, because they are right there with you. You CAN do this.