So far we have been focussed on creating tools to allow churches to create accessible and easy to use online services. Now we're turning out attention to helping visitors connect with local churches.
When it comes to reaching existing church members, online services, Zoom meetings and the like can go a long way. But what about those who aren't already part of your congregation? One of the big benefits to online services is that they're easily shared. We're hearing that churches who are offering online services are reaching a greater number of people than they would normally. However, these visitors don't stick around for long and unless there are easy and familiar contact options for people to use the likelihood is that you won't hear from them again.
We want to keep Church Service Planner an open and inviting platform. Adding any kind of visitor 'registration' system would no doubt put people off. So how can we encourage your online visitors to make contact?
This week we have added 3 new tools to help churches communicate with those attending their online services. Below are some brief instructions for each, so you can see how easy they are to implement. All of these options are available to our Pro members, so please sign up for an account if you want to make use of them.
By following the instructions below, you can add chat icons like these to your online services:
Add WhatsApp To Your Online Church Service Plans
Apparently WhatsApp has around 2 billion users worldwide. That fact that messages are end to end encrypted means that as a platform it's pretty secure and for many has become the default solution for instant messaging amongst friends, family, social groups and of course, churches.
To add a WhatsApp link to all your online service plans, visit your Pro account and scroll down to the 'Additional Contact Options' section:
Enter your WhatsApp number (the one you want to use to receive messages) to the WhatsApp Telephone Number field. You should format your number as an international telephone number, but with no leading zeros or punctuation of any kind. For users in the UK, that means replacing the leading 0 with 44.
Click 'Save'. Once saved into your account any online services you create will include a WhatsApp link in the bottom right hand corner.
Add Facebook Messenger To Your Online Church Service Plans
To add Facebook Messenger to your online services you will first need to have created a Facebook page for your church. If you haven't already got one, click here to get started.
Once you've got your Facebook page up and running, go to the 'About' section from the left hand menu - then scroll down to see the 'Contact Details':
Copy the Facebook Messenger URL (it's the one which starts with m.me/). Go to your Church Service Planner Pro account page, scroll down to the bottom and paste the URL into the Facebook Messenger Link box, click 'Save':
From now on, any plans you create will include a direct link to Facebook Messenger, making it really easy for people to get in touch with you.
Add Contact Forms To Your Online Church Service Plans
To add a contact form to your service plan, choose 'Contact Form' from the Pro Features section:
Enter a title and choose an email address for the responses - this does not need to be your own email address, but should obviously be someone you can trust to hand any submissions:
Click 'Add to Service' and you'll see a placeholder for the form added to your plan:
On the public version you will see a contact form - any submissions will be emailed to the address you defined:
It's hard to connect with people online - unless we already know them quite well. Churches are going to have to work really hard to reach out to their local communities during COVID-19, and part of that means ensuring that whatever you provide by means of 'services' is accessible.
By implementing widely-used communication tools, I'm hopeful that churches can connect with those who visit their online services but who would otherwise go unknown.
If there are any other similar tools you think we should add, please get in touch.