Does your church have ghosts? I think you do. Now, to be clear, I am not talking about New Orleans ghosts … lol … or even the Holy Ghost. I am talking about the ghosts that churches have whether you are a new or old church. Ghosts are the people who watch you from a distance. These ghosts used to be on the outside of the church, observing the activities of the church. They used to stay away unless there was something they felt was safe for them to attend, like a VBS or cookout. But now they are inside our churches. Have you seen them? So, before you think I am losing it, let me share what I am talking about. On Monday, I received an email from a couple who has been worshipping with us through FB since March of last year, and they requested to meet. They had been a ghost attender for almost a year, and we had no idea they were worshipping with us. We had no idea they were watching to see if this is a safe place to belong and be accepted. If you broadcast your worship, you may have ghosts inside your church. So, it raises the question – “How do you recognize or engage those worshipping online?”
Here are a few quick tips to help you connect with ghosts.
1. Recognize Them
Realize that people are watching who you don’t know. They are checking out the church – not from afar or a drive-by, but inside at the very heart of ministry. Therefore, welcome those online. Talk to them directly and thank them for coming. Make sure your announcements and other elements of worship are understandable for those at home.
2. Engage Them
Ask them to post their name at the welcome, or a word in the sermon. Recruit a volunteer to host the worship on Facebook, to engage in conversation with those online. The host can welcome them, pray for them, post a connection / guest card, post important points of the message, ask questions, etc. I encourage you to make a goal to engage those online 3 to 5 times in the worship service.
3. Offer Next Steps
Invite the people online to other events like Bible study, prayer group, ladies’ or men’s gatherings, especially if they are also online. You could simply invite them for coffee with you or give them a way to send in prayer requests. The goal is to provide a path for them to make another step in connecting with the church and their faith walk.
If this is new for you or you would like help to improve, please reach out to me. We are constantly learning as we go along in this new phase of ministry, and we can help. If you want to see how this is done for traditional and contemporary worship settings, then I recommend Pastor David Moerbe at Good Shepherd in Gardendale, AL. His church is one of the most proficient and consistent in engagement of online guests. He is also very helpful if you want to know what technology to use for worship.
by: Rev. Jason Scheler, Mission Executive of the LCMS Southern District