If Coronavirus has your church attendance down (and it does), then you need to do some quick work on your website in order to make sure people are coming back after the virus has gone away. Many of the megachurches out there know what to do right now, but if you are part of a small Lutheran church in the Midwest (or anywhere), you might be wondering what you need to do now.
Some churches prefer Facebook Live, but YouTube really is the best option for indexing your services or sermons. However, just be aware that YouTube, unlike Facebook, takes copyright seriously, so you might have ads from the music industry on or near your videos. If you don't have a camera (or don't want to record video), you can still make an audio recording on a smartphone. I'd recommend turning this audio into a video using a simple video editing program in order to still upload it to YouTube, but you can also stick the audio in Google Docs or on the website itself. The main point is to get relevant services on the website in a timely manner.
When you don't have church service, you don't have a collection. In some churches, that might mean you don't have money. However, any church can sign up to get online donations. While I would prefer there be a centralized LCMS option for Lutheran churches, like from LCEF or Thrivent (and let me know if there is), a lot of companies have ways to take donations online. All you have to do is add a link to your website and send out an email newsletter reminding people of their responsibility to keep the church going.
The top way to get new people to find out about your church is to write articles on your website. Now would be a good time to practice publishing an article a week. Once you get good at it, you will be able to do this quickly and without a lot of gnashing of teeth once Covid-19 is no longer plaguing the nation. It's also a good time to check to see that all of the static pages of your website are in good order. Please, do not fall into the social media trap of thinking that your post about toilet paper concerns will get real hits for your church website. Facebook is fleeting; people don't remember what was on it yesterday, and they can't ever find it again next week. A website hosts your thoughts for as long as you want them there, and the search engines can find them at any time.
I hope you don't get into the local news because you were the first church to tell members to show up during a shelter in place order, but now is a good time to think of ways to get your church's name out there. Did you just order several cases of TP or disinfectant just before closing down that can be donated to local hospitals? Can you provide a service that connects people who shouldn't venture out with food options? Can you run a parked-car service in the parking lot? Or have church members create a drive-by scene depicting the stories they normally see on stained-glass. You don't need to hire a marketing company for this: you know your members and community, and you can plug yourself in.
You might need a little help with some of these or other ideas you have. First, reach out to members with experience. When they suggest spending huge amounts of money that you haven't been brining in, then call Luthernet. We've been members at three very different LCMS churches, and we now what works and what costs a lot of money. We have talked to several churches and given basic advice, free of charge. We won't even call you back or email you with offers. Go ahead and give it a try: 414-587-6740