How are You Engaging Your Digital-First Attendees?
A digital-first guest or member is someone who engages with your church primarily online. They may never have attended your in-person services and events, either out of preference or necessity (illness, travel, live outside your area, etc.). Or they may be hybrid members who attend in-person and through online opportunities.
Digital-first guests/members may engage as:
- Website visitors
- Virtual course participants
- Resource users
- Livestream attenders
- Online small group members
- Social media lurkers or engagers
- Online givers
Not everyone in this group will want to engage more deeply, but likely many would welcome some level of connection.
Digital Church is on the Rise
In our 2022 survey of churches of all sizes on the topic of stewardship, we discovered among our respondents that nearly 90% of churches over 1000 in weekly attendance and almost 84% of churches below 1000 offer live streamed services. That is amazing!
Overnight, the pandemic revealed a need for digital church options and most churches stepped up. Some churches heaved a sigh of relief when they could re-open the doors and abandon or de-prioritize their digital outreach.
But other churches 1) experienced an unexpected increase in reach through digital channels during COVID and 2) recognized this new channel as a legitimate evangelistic and discipling tool. So they invested in their Internet or Online Campus.
That’s the good news. We’ll call this next bit of news an…opportunity.
The Opportunity in the New Normal
The “new normal” isn’t just the decreased attendance and giving many churches are experiencing. It’s this digital reality… and it’s only going to grow.
But when we asked churches if they were tracking their live stream visits, ~43% of larger and 56% of smaller churches reported that they weren’t.
It’s safe to say that they might also not be tracking other digital channels, or implementing consistent follow-up to disciple and minister to these guests/members the same way they might in-person guests and members.
What this means is that many churches don’t actually know how it’s working.
5 Tips to Keep in Mind with Digital-First Guests
Digital-first guests need to find community that fits their needs and have access to all that your church offers, including personal ministry. You must create a strategy that includes those who don’t, won’t or can’t attend worship or educational opportunities in person in all these areas:
1. Find a way to offer a digital version for any in-person educational events you can.
2. Ensure your communication (content, channels and frequency) includes a version that is relevant to this group.
3. Point out giving opportunities during live streams and include this group in fundraising efforts that resonates with them. (They may not care to give to the capital campaign, but may be very interested in other mission projects.)
4. Create a strategy to track their involvement and set up touchpoints for discipling.
5. Connect with them in order to build community and offer ministry assistance, when needed.
Vision2 was built to facilitate both in-person and digital-first guests and members. Reach out here with your questions.