14 Ways To Engage Your Faith Community with Active Learning Techniques

  Sunday, May 22, 2022

According to a survey from Pew, although many places of worship are resuming normal operations after COVID-19. However, in-person attendance has remained unchanged since the fall. In the United States, 43 percent of adults who attend religious services currently report their place of worship is open and hosting services, up 14 percentage points in the last six months and 31 points since March, similar to before the COVID-19 pandemic. Meanwhile, 47% say their congregation is open, but with limitations imposed by the pandemic, such as mask requirements or social segregation. 

Internet worship services were a novel concept before the COVID-19 pandemic. However, with the acceptance of digital streaming in nearly two years, churches have changed and reached new individuals. According to Scott McConnell, executive director of Lifeway Research, "the distance to one's nearest church has shifted nearly overnight." "A means of communication that most churches did not use before the pandemic has now touched nearly half of all Americans." Now, it's all the rage. 

In a survey conducted by Lifeway Research in early 2021, 85 percent of Protestant churchgoers claimed their congregation offered live-streamed worship sessions, and 76 percent stated their church posted a video of the worship service for later viewing. Furthermore, 53% of churchgoers indicated they would watch more online worship services at their church in 2020 than in 2019, while 21% said they would watch more online services at a different church.

Like online schooling, many have realized that classes and sessions can be conducted in a virtual space rather than physically and still work. Now, many universities offer online courses for their students abroad. Teachers are also moving their lectures online. Pastors can do the same for the Sunday services. They can ensure that their parishioners learn using resources offered by modern technology. For more information on moving online, check out our article on increasing church attendance during these times. 

14 Ways To Engage Your Parishioners

Video journaling is the best way to engage your parishioners with online services. Video journaling entails clips uploaded online for people to see and answer journal questions regarding the topic. This method is tried-and-tested. Teachers and professors use it, and it has become an effective way of making students learn and comprehend better. A similar theory applies to parishioners and churchgoers. Learning and studying the Bible is something required for rightly practicing Christianity. 

There are things you can do to assist these people to feel more like part of your church, whether they are local, across the nation, or on another continent. Engaging your online community can assist some people in making a move to attend in person or motivate them to introduce others. As you make internet connections, you may see that a rising number of fellow Christians are joining you worldwide.

We give you 14 ways to engage your parishioners through video journaling!

1. Find the right platform.

You are not doing enough if you use Youtube to live-stream your services. Youtube is free, easy, and simple to use. However, it is not efficient for interacting with people or encouraging comprehension of your message after they have attended the service. Did you know that your congregation likely walks away with 10% recollection of your message? How can you change that? Would you be able to give them some tasks regarding the service? Short answer: with YouTube you are limited to publishing your video and interacting through the comments. 

Don't worry, we've got your back. JournalOwl is now offering a new service known as JournalClips™ to aid you in video journaling. You may change this by using JournalOwl to "clip" your recorded movies and transform them into JournalClips™, then craft thought-provoking questions that your parishioners answer from each segment of your message. As a pastor, you'll still post your video to YouTube -- but JournalClips (from JournalOwl) will give you the ability to transform that Sunday service into a rich interactive journal challenge that you're parishioners can complete after the Sunday service or as a homework assignment to aid in their faith journey. 

When you create a channel on JournalOwl for your church, publish your videos, and create your challenges -- parishioners can subscribe to the channel and then participate in a challenge after the Sunday service to improve their understanding of your sermon. What better way to encourage deep learning of the message you are working so hard to deliver on a week-to-week basis? 

2. Introduce them to journaling.

Going to church is the equivalent of going to school. You go to church to learn, grow as a person, and become more involved in your community. However, simply attending church is insufficient. You must also learn. Writing down what someone has just heard or seen is one of the most effective strategies to help them remember it—taking down notes. In essence, journaling. Writing down your ideas after gathering them can provide you with a clear picture of what's on your mind, whether it's a belief or something else.

Your congregation can either jot down their feelings or keep an online journal with JournalOwl. The more we learn as humans, the more we return to seek out new information. Pastors and Educators can use JournalClips to create Faith Challenges for their congregation. 

3. Switch to active learning strategies.

As someone with a Youtube channel, you may have seen a fall in your view counts. The world is beginning to reopen, and we want to spend less time in front of our screens. People can't watch Netflix and YouTube all the time, resulting in viewer fatigue. At the beginning of March 2020, channels averaged roughly 40,000 views per day. As a result, view counts skyrocketed, reaching as high as 100,000 views each day! As countries eased restrictions, view counts declined by 20% to 25%. 

This is where active learning strategies can help you. People do better when they can actively engage with the knowledge they are learning. It nourishes the brain by giving it more time to connect new and old information, correct earlier misunderstandings, and reevaluate previously held beliefs or viewpoints. You can ask questions from your parishioners alongside each clip, whether questions about the service topic or feedback. It's a better way to engage your parishioners than just having them watch a video. 

4. Provide high-quality digital content.

You must produce great material if you want your audience to interact. This includes both useful stuff and content that is technically sound. We all hurried to get our services and programs online at the pandemic's start. Presence was more important than quality and excellence. This no longer holds.

Churches are streaming online, and almost everyone these days must meet a particular video and audio quality standard. To continue to engage people effectively, you need unique content in terms of worship services and excellent audio and visual quality.

Wide pictures of the sanctuary should be avoided. Ascertain that the speaker is well-lit and near the camera and microphone. Instead of looking at your image on the computer or paper notes, look directly into the camera. If necessary, download a teleprompter program for your tablet and put it up close to the camera, or write your notes on a whiteboard just behind the camera.

5. Build online relationships.

In England, a minister at an Anglican church devised a multimedia event transmitted to her congregation. This includes informal greetings in front of a house altar, a virtual procession on Palm Sunday using Google Maps' street view, and video recordings of congregation members reflecting on worship events. These instances tell us that individuals want to form social connections online. People seek engaged spiritual connections with one other online, as experts studying online church developments over the last decade have underlined.

A 2017 study on the live streaming of worship activities backs with this conclusion. Researchers discovered that when religious organizations give opportunities for close and personal online contacts, individuals become more invested in the community, significantly beyond the online event.

6. Counter distraction with journaling. 

Researchers at the University of Minnesota tested the listening abilities of thousands of students and hundreds of business and professional professionals. No matter how attentively he thought he was listening, the ordinary individual only retains around half of what he has heard after only a few moments. According to Florida State University and Michigan State University, the average listener will recall only around 25% of what was said two months after hearing it.

During the service, people don't pay attention. They leave the "message" with only a rudimentary understanding of what the Pastor attempts to convey. People cannot "digest" information because they are constantly distracted and have forgotten how to focus. JournalOwl's goal is to stem the tide by creating a platform that encourages people to write "focussed" expressively on thought-provoking issues.

7. Hook viewers from the beginning.

People will scroll past and choose another stream to watch if you start your live-streamed or video service with a usual welcome and announcements. Give them an immediate return on investment (ROI). Moore proposes beginning by explaining what attendees will be able to learn and take away from the service. Make announcements at the end, framing them as actions to carry out the sermon's central theme.

8. Consolidate and adapt. 

"Think about shortening but broadening the scope of online worship," Moore suggests. Consider holding a more condensed service on Sunday that encourages people to have an online prayer time on Monday, a youth group meeting through Zoom on Tuesday, or another midweek event. Determine how you can make the service more engaging and participatory. For example, the pastor or worship leader can respond to remarks in the live chat. People can also text their prayer requests to the Pastor, who will immediately pray for them. You can make them feel even more cared for and heard during the live webcast.

9. Address them directly.

Perhaps a family from South America joins you every week from their living room. Perhaps a church in transition has relied on your lessons while looking for a teaching pastor. Maybe you were discovered while sitting at a nearby coffee shop. In any case, you want these individuals to feel that their contribution is valued. During the service, mentioning them by name or highlighting regions with a large audience accomplishes two goals:

  • It allows your local congregation to see how God uses your church to reach out to people outside your immediate area.
  • It gives your online community the impression of being a part of your church.

With JournalClips™, you can keep track of your viewers and engage with them every day. 

10. Choose a name for your online community.

When a single facet of your church's purpose is essential, you often give it its brand. This shows your congregation that you respect and prioritize this, making individuals feel like they are part of a real community. If a thriving online community is an essential element of your church—or you want it to be—you might want to give it its own identity. If live-streaming is the extent of your attempts to develop an online community, you shouldn't do this. Still, if you're actively working to grow this area of your church and increase your online services, this could benefit your online participants.

Use JournalOwl's resources and ask your parishioners to vote on a name! This will engage them even more. 

11. Invite them to tell you about their experiences.

One of the difficulties in developing a genuine, meaningful online church community is that it frequently feels one-sided. Your internet audience sees and hears from you frequently, but you don't have as many opportunities to get to know them.

Consider encouraging online viewers to tell you more about themselves during your announcements or at another appropriate point during the service—where they're from, how they heard about you, and what made them decide to check you out. Allowing people to share their tales makes them feel known, even if they are not physically present. It also provides you with valuable data that may influence how you view, discuss, and expand your online community in the future. You can also refer to these individuals during future services. Of course, having them contact you opens the door to opportunities for follow-up.

Make sure people can reach you easily and quickly, whether through a pastor's email, a comment form on your live stream page, social media, or a church admin. Have them write down their stories where they would typically journal their thoughts, as a break but not entirely from video journaling. 

12. Be responsive and accessible over the internet.

Responding swiftly to someone who contacts you via social media, email, or a website form shows them that: This is an excellent approach to communicating with your congregation. You are concerned about them.

If it takes days for someone from your church to respond to a Facebook message, it's a powerful signal that this channel isn't as vital to you as it once was—which means people will use it less and less. That may not sound like a big concern, but if the most significant way for someone to communicate with you is online, and their first interaction with you makes them feel unimportant, that's not exactly going to drive people to stay in touch with your church.

Responding to online contact immediately and intelligently encourages your online community to keep sending you questions, opinions, and needs, allowing you to form relationships and minister to them regardless of whether you ever meet them in person. This is much easier with the JournalOwl platform, as you can see for yourself by signing up.

13. Provide accountability.

The things we do are often the things we are held accountable for. It's why most people have gym subscriptions but never use them. They are not held accountable. Do you have any idea who goes the most? For those who have coaches counting on them to turn up and whether offline or online, providing actual accountability is one method to increase church online engagement. For example, you may form a parent accountability group where each parent is invited to help them keep accountable in leading their children in faith at home using the materials you provide.

14. Consider alternatives to the live stream.

Those who feel the most isolated during the pandemic are frequently those who face the most technological difficulties. Find innovative ways to provide access to worship if your church's high-speed Internet connection is poor or if any of your members are not tech-savvy. Consider pre-recording the worship session rather than live broadcasting it to avoid lag. While giving messages through podcast episodes is critical, podcasts also offer other benefits. How about a weekly podcast where the message is discussed? Or how about a Bible-themed weekly podcast? What about a weekly parenting podcast? There are many options for providing on-demand content that encourages consumers to listen to podcasts.

Give folks a phone number to call to listen to the worship service in addition to a live broadcast. Some churches use radio transmission to provide a drive-in service in the parking lot. Printing and mailing copies of the sermon and liturgy to people is an even more low-tech option.

Make grandiose plans. This is the perfect opportunity to try something different in worship. Now is the time if there's something you've wanted to try but are afraid members may object to. Nobody can claim, "We've never done it that way," because we've never done anything like this before.

Health Disclaimer

JournalOwl is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis, medical treatment, medication, or therapy. Always seek the advice of your physician or qualified mental health provider with any questions you may have regarding any mental health symptoms or conditions. JournalOwl is not authorized to make recommendations about medication or serve as a substitute for professional advice. You should never disregard professional psychological or medical advice, or delay in seeking treatment, based on anything you read on JournalOwl’s website or platform.

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