Taking Church Online: Outreach & Care


In partnership with the Church IT Network, we hosted a series of webinars with sound advice and tested tips and Q&A from churches already "doing church" online! Second in the series is...

Taking Church Online: Community Outreach & Care

Take community outreach and care online in this season of "social distancing" due to COVID from experienced churches in the Church IT Network and MinistryPlatform communities. Support and empower your community by engaging volunteers and connecting, coordinating, tracking, even providing care online.

Special thanks to our panelists:
Jason Lee @ Northwoods Church
Jennifer Miles @ Resi
Jennifer Decker @ Westside Family Church
Stephanie Johnson @ College Park Church
Kerri Taliaferro @ Brentwood Baptist


Resources (and how our panelists are using them)

Find out what people are already doing and join in. You don’t have to be an originator of an idea. Such as:

  • Partner with a food bank. Purchase pallets of food and have church members volunteer to distribute it.
  • Contact local foster adoption agencies and ask for the families that are struggling the most. Do a resource drive and get supplies out to these families.
  • Check with your local emergency response center, many of them are looking for people to help man phones or to coordinate things.
  • See how you can support your local shelters.

For group/team meetings and gatherings:

  • Zoom – staff/volunteer meetings, small groups and care groups, counseling appointments; great for doing a large group "session" and then break out into smaller groups because Zoom allows you to disburse the room, including those that phoned in. (note: free version only allows up to 40 minute sessions, if you're an .edu you may be able to request them to lift the 40 minute limit)
  • Teams – great for staff/meetings, but not the best tool for creating community 
  • Google Meet – keep a standing meeting open anytime you are at your desk or in the office for anyone to pop in just as they would in person
  • Church Online Platform – for nightly devotionals; in the chat people are typing prayer requests and people are typing prayers for them as well as joining in private prayer chats. Kids ministry used this and kids were in chat and interacting with each other.
  • Jitsi – Great for small group using digital content: you can put some kind of video on screen and everyone can watch it together, and then discuss it.
  • Facebook Groups – for groups that cannot meet at the same time; asynchronous conversations.
  • Marco Polo (app) – video chatting; asynchronous conversations

Phonelivestreaming.com - create a phone number that anyone can dial into and listen to a live event; people with no internet are able to participate.

OnlineGiving – texting for prayer

Facebook Page or Group – users can post needs/requests so that others can see and respond (note: Pages are not private)

Watch2Gether – share a video

NextDoor (app) – regularly check in with neighbors and post to see if there is anything you can help with

Need Connect – New MinistryPlatform application that provides a way for people to indicate needs or assist with needs, and can be managed in the platform. 

Nabor – "help" management system

SimpleChat – chat bot for your website where people can chat a question and you can respond from your phone

YouVersion Prayers (app) – share prayers with groups you are doing Bible reading plans with

Phone calls – go old school and pick up the phone!

  • Divide up lists of all of your congregants and check in with everyone
  • If you come across needs or prayer requests in the process, share them!
  • Westside Family Church is filling out this form after each call, then any needs are posted to a Facebook group where others can see them and respond
  • Call, rather than visit, people in hospital
  • Elders/deacons praying everyone in their geographical area

Set up an email address and post it on your website or email it out; people can respond with needs, prayer requests, etc. Ensure it is monitored by a team of folks that can respond in kind.

Church members write their contact information on little slips of paper and distribute among their own neighborhoods, letting neighbors know that if they need anything to just call!

Reach out to a local coffee, donut, or sandwich shop, offer to put signs in their windows that offer medical personnel and emergency responders to have a free coffee if they show their ID/Badge, and pay the tab for the shop.

Try to reuse as many of your current avenues as possible: Post regular updates on website or blog. Send emails.

Free may not always be the right choice.

Be willing to try something! Be ready for it fail, or be ready for it to be bigger than you can imagine. :)

How to work from home in a healthy way (pdf)
How to lead a remote workforce (pdf)

More webinars in this series

Taking Church Online: Services & Prayer
Thursday, March 19, at 3 pm ET

Taking Church Online: Classes & Groups
Thursday, March 26, at 3 pm ET

Taking Church Online: Giving & Financials
Tuesday, March 31, at 3 pm ET

Taking Church Online: The CARES Act
Tuesday, April 14, at 3 pm ET