Church & Technology

How COVID-19 Changed Church Outreach

Church outreach has changed dramatically and become more difficult. Explore the factors behind this change and learn creative ways your church can revitalize your outreach efforts!

COVID-19 brought significant changes to how people interact with churches.As worship gatherings around the United States closed down, churches had to quickly adopt digital tools to continue ministering to people. As a result, digital platforms like church websites, Facebook, and YouTube have become essential for maintaining a sense of community.

Fast forward to today, and churches continue to rely on digital tools to stay connected. On the other hand, outreach activities such as in-person activities, social media campaigns, and even online advertising are yielding fewer results, leaving pastors and their teams feeling perplexed and frustrated. 

Let’s take a quick look at the root causes of why outreach has become more difficult and look at creative ways your church can revitalize your outreach efforts! 

The Shift to Digital Church Outreach

The pandemic caused an increase in social media addiction and social anxiety, and this has created a fragmented church visitor journey. For example, church leaders now face:

  • Distracted Audience Attention: People jump from Google to Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, etc., creating a need for churches to reach across multiple platforms.
  • Evolving Social Behaviors: Shifts in how people research, find, and commit to visiting a church in person.
  • Greater Online Competition: Nearly every ministry is now online, resulting in more noise to cut through to reach potential visitors.

To make outreach effective, people now expect personalized, authentic digital interactions (or “touchpoints”) across a wider range of channels, including social media, email, and online ads to name a few. 

Visitors Now Require 12–15 Touchpoints Before Visiting

The pandemic caused a sharp decline in trust and confidence in public institutions, especially in the Church. Today, only 31% of Americans say they have confidence in churches—an all-time low, down from 60% in 2001.  

Confidence in churches has been cut in half since 2001

Prior toCOVID-19, conventional wisdom suggested that churches typically needed between 3 to 5 touchpoints with potential visitors to get them to attend a service in person. The rise in social anxiety and mistrust in institutions like the Church means that churches have to work extra hard to reach and connect with people before they’ll visit in person. 

“Our research has shown that today’s potential church visitors need 12–15 touchpoints before they’re ready to attend a service in person,” explains Pastor Poncho Lowder, co-founder of VisitorReach™. “It’s a matter of relationship. People want to feel seen, heard, and connected before walking through a church’s front doors.” 

Let’s take a deeper look at how churches can do this. 

Implementing A Holistic Outreach Strategy

Effectively creating 12–15 digital touchpoints requires churches to take a more holistic approach. Here are some strategies that can help revitalize and broaden your outreach efforts:

  • Omni-Channel Outreach: Implementing a comprehensive digital strategy that spans multiple platforms (social media, Google Ads, Facebook Ads) to maximize visibility and engagement opportunities.
  • Personalization and Engagement: Crafting messages and interactions that are personalized and meaningful, ensuring that digital touchpoints feel authentic and build trust with potential visitors.
  • Adapting to New Social Behaviors: Recognizing and adapting to the ways people now research and commit to visiting a church, including the increased importance of digital presence and accessibility.
  • Building Trust Through Engagement: Responding to social media interactions, live stream chats, Google reviews, and emails promptly and thoughtfully to foster a sense of community and trust.

The shift towards digital outreach represents both a challenge and an opportunity for churches. By understanding and adapting to the new landscape of digital engagement, churches can find innovative ways to connect with their communities and beyond.

Help Your Church Grow Exponentially

The good news is that you don’t have to do this alone. More and more churches are using VisitorReach for digital optimization, customized ads, and personalized 1:1 SMS conversations through the VisitorReach App. They also offer exclusive NuturePoints™ that lead people on a personalized journey to visit your church and become a connected part of your church community.

Discover how your church can effortlessly reach more people and receive more visitors with VisitorReach. Schedule a quick 15-minute consultation call today!

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Create 100+ monthly connections with people in your area, have meaningful SMS conversations, and watch new visitors walk through your doors — All through the VisitorReach App!

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