In the last four weeks we've worked hard to develop the best way to connect unconnected people to new online groups. Although our connection strategy is far from refined, we've made some discoveries and have the beginnings of a very good end-to-end solution.
Before our online services were the only way our congregation and crowd could attend a service, the first step toward connection was often Guest Central (a physical location just outside of the auditorium). Guest Central was conceived as a baby step out of the auditorium, intended to be positioned to point as many as possible to Next Steps, our two session "orientation" to what we imagine are the most likely and most helpful next steps (baptism, join a group and join a team).
Once our on-campus gatherings were suspended and online services became the only way anyone could access our weekend worship services, we immediately saw the need for a "virtual" first step out of the auditorium (that would provide an important step toward connection.
Here's what we're doing now (as of April 2nd, 2020):
- We've made great progress in crafting the invitation to more (the online service now begins and ends with a host welcoming attendees at the beginning and inviting them into Facebook Live if they've got questions or would like to talk with someone).
- From the Facebook Live session a link to a Zoom meeting is posted in the comments and attendees who are hoping to find a few friends are encouraged to check out What Now? happening live "next door."
- What Now? is the current name for the Zoom meeting taking place at the end of every service. It's staffed by a few friendly people just looking for opportunities to engage with those who join the meeting.
- When guests pop into the Zoom meeting, they're greeted warmly by a diverse team, and invited into further conversation.
- As conversation begins, the guest and the team member move to a Zoom Breakout Room where the guest can hear about a next step. They're provided with a link to sign up for an online connection happening on Wednesday or Thursday night, at which they will be connected with an online group.
- Once the guest has finished their conversation and "left the meeting," the team member returns to the Zoom meeting and is available for another conversation.
Although we've made very good progress, we know we are not finished designing the most effective virtual first step out of the auditorium.
- Improve the invite from Facebook Live (and possibly remove that step from the pathway)
- Add additional diversity to the Guest Central team (so that guests feel welcome and have things in common)
- Improve the data capture for follow-up
- Add an email to the follow-up pathway acknowledging sign-up for the online small group connection.
Why does all this matter?
This matters to all of us because the next steps out of the auditorium need to be easy, obvious and strategic. In order to connect the largest number of unconnected people, we need to always be looking for a better way to connect people. As we all know, unconnected people are always one tough thing away from never being at our church again. Taking the time and making the effort to innovate, looking for an even better solution that connects even more people is an essential activity.
Unconnected people are always one tough thing away from never being at our church again. Taking the time and making the effort to innovate, looking for an even better solution that connects even more people is an essential activity. Click To Tweet