These days, lots of folks are having trouble connecting with people at church. I’m not only thinking of people who worship with you via live stream but also people who have lost family members or jobs, people who feel lonely, or those with health issues. (I could go on, but you’re probably already thinking of a few people you haven’t heard from in a while or who have reached out for help.)
Here are five ways to bless your congregation by focusing on connection.
1. Send handwritten notes.
Sure, you can send an email, and that’s beneficial, too. But there’s just something special about receiving a handwritten note. Copy and paste is impossible—and the intentionality it takes to mail a letter demonstrates care and consideration that many people are missing these days.
I recommend sending notes to a few people a day until you’ve made it through your entire congregation. If your congregation is too big for you to write a handwritten note to each member, you can split up the list with other staff members or leaders. If you write to two people a day, four days a week, you’d send 32 notes a month or 416 in a year. A little bit adds up!
I suggest having a rough message that works for the majority of people that gives you the flexibility to tweak it to fit each group. An example (use it if you like) for a note to anyone in your church:
I’m glad you call [church name] your home! Just dropping a note to let you know I’m grateful for you [and your family]. I pray that God will bless you in your everyday life and work.
Please let me know if there’s anything I can do to serve you!
Another way to do it: send notes to specific groups in your church. You can easily tailor messages to groups like
- First-time visitors or first-time givers
- Medical professionals
- Small group leaders
- Ministry volunteers
If you’re using Faithlife Equip, you can quickly access your church directory or sort by specific groups in your church. Here’s how.
2. Pray for each person by name.
We all need prayer, right? (The correct answer is yes.) So a great way to bless and connect with people is to come to God on their behalf.
You’ll know exactly how to pray for some people because they’ve been in steady communication with you or your church staff. But others won’t ask for prayer unless it’s an emergency—or unless you ask.
Instead of waiting for emergencies to happen to hear from your congregation, you can contact 3–5 church members (and attendees/guests, if you have records) each week to ask them how you and your leadership team can pray for them. Imagine how much better you could know your congregation if, every few months, you asked each person how you could pray for them!
Your weekly gathering is one of the best ways to connect with people who have prayer needs. Of course, having connection cards with a spot for prayer requests is an easy first step—and one most churches take.
But what about people who attend online? In your church live stream, you can pause and invite people to share prayer requests in your live chat or using an online connection card, and then follow up after the service with anyone who asks for prayer. You can even create an email alias like email@example.com where people can send requests day or night.
No matter how you’re set up to receive prayer requests, remember that you’ll need to respond to prayer requests in a timely way. Sharing prayer needs can be incredibly vulnerable, and the best way to make people feel connected and cared for is to follow up as soon as you can, whether it’s by email, text, call, or carrier pigeon.
In your church’s Faithlife group, anyone can post and respond to prayer requests. You can also share a custom form for connection cards or prayer requests. And then, you can follow up right inside Faithlife.
3. Remember the important dates.
True story: I recently discovered that people search “my priest forgot my birthday” online. Yep, there are real people who type that into Google and click search.
Now, your pastors may not be called “priests” (though in some denominations they are—it’s not only a Catholic tradition). But if you’re forgetting birthdays or anniversaries or other important dates, you may be missing opportunities to connect with people in your congregation and make them feel appreciated.
After all, if Chipotle remembers your birthday, wouldn’t it be great if your church did, too?
Of course, this requires keeping track of all those dates (especially in families with lots of kids) and being able to quickly find who’s got a big day coming up.
This is where your church management software comes in. You’ll want to make sure you have a way to collect this kind of info—even if you have a system like Faithlife that allows people to add their own dates. But you’ll also want to add important dates like the death of a spouse or child. People in your congregation will need extra support on those dates, but you can’t offer support unless you know when those dates are coming.
Want to pull a list of upcoming birthdays and anniversaries? It’s a couple of clicks away inside your church’s Faithlife group.
4. Make multi-format worship feel connected.
Even though it can be incredibly difficult to make your in-person and online services feel connected, there are some easy steps you can take—without changing your whole order of service.
Here’s one: even though meet-and-greet time is every introvert’s worst nightmare, it can be incredibly valuable for people attending online or in-person. You can try it before the service starts, or you can carve out a couple minutes during another part of your service (preferably toward the beginning, so online guests have time to warm up). Instead of making meet-and-greet a free-for-all, ask a question to spark a conversation between people in the pews or the live chat of your online gathering. Some ideas:
- What’s the best book you’ve read recently?
- If you could visit anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?
- What’s something that happened this week that really encouraged you?
Another way to connect multi-format worship services is to talk directly to people on your church live stream and in the sanctuary. The pastor could say something like this at the beginning of the sermon or beginning of the service:
We’re so glad you’re worshiping with us today. Whether you’re here online or in person, we would love to meet you and pray with you. If you’re online, you can say hello by filling out a connection card—you’ll see a link in the chat. And if you’re in person, there’s a connection card for you, too. We read every card you fill out, and we pray for every request that comes in.
Simple steps like these take almost no time—but they bring creativity to the ways you’re connecting with people in your church.
If you want to bridge the online/in-person gap with video conferencing, you can start a video chat right from your church’s Faithlife group. Here’s how to do it.
5. Set reminders and follow-ups.
How much does your heart sink when you realize you forgot to do something you said you would? Granted, not all forgetful moments are equal, but when you realize you forgot to follow up with someone—particularly if that someone wants to be part of your church—it hurts.
Two easy ways to quit forgetting stuff that matters:
- Create automatic follow-up emails for first-time visitors. When I was on church staff, I created a four-email welcome series for people who visited our church. (You can find more info about that welcome series here.) I found it was really helpful to introduce guests to our church and help them get connected to small groups and other ministries. And since it was automatic, I didn’t have to worry about forgetting—and guests didn’t feel like we forgot about them.
- Set follow-up tasks in your church management software. When you can log your interactions and set tasks to check back in with someone—all from the same software—you’re creating less work for your future self. All your notes and next steps are kept in a place where you can use and reuse them as you care for the people in your congregation.
You can assign and manage tasks in your church’s Faithlife group—even assign them to others on your leadership team. Here’s how to do it.
If you’ve gathered anything from this article, it should be this: the cure for disconnection is communication. Strong personal communication is the key to helping people feel rooted in your church—even when they’ve been a member for over a decade. Taking 10 minutes a day or a few minutes in your service to reach out to those who need prayer or community causes a ripple effect of blessing for your entire church.
Good church management isn’t just about keeping a list of names and addresses. It’s about creating and seizing ministry opportunities, and ultimately, it’s about blessing your people. But not all church management software is alike.
Instead of piecemealing your church’s software, find a completely integrated solution that’s built to work like a church—one that helps you keep people from falling through the cracks, builds online community, and makes communication easier for everyone. Take a look at Faithlife Equip to see how you can use it to keep your church connected.