2020 can likely be summed up as one giant curveball. All areas of life were impacted by COVID-19, including how our faith communities interacted and met (or didn’t meet) together.’
Of the many outcomes from the last year, one rises to the top: Technology has the ability to both divide us and connect us. When harnessed well, the connections can run deep even during times of crisis and physical isolation.
Choose Life Churches was born out of a deep desire to see the Church utilize technology to more closely connect to their parishioners. The opportunity for greater connection online was highlighted by the pandemic, but exists today even as life returns to some semblance of normalcy.
In this guide, we’ll walk you through a number of ways you can reach younger generations specifically. Even if they’re attending Mass in person, there are numerous opportunities to reach and connect with them online throughout the week, deepening your impact.
Getting to Know Millennials & Gen Z
As you think about developing a strategy for forming deeper connections online with these two generations, here are a few things to remember:
LEAD WITH YOUR VALUES AND BE AUTHENTIC
Think about how your church is perceived in the community. What’s your brand, your identity? Being true to that and leading with your mission will speak more to these two generations than flashy programs or technology or by trying to be something you aren’t. They will see through that, it will come across as inauthentic and cheesy, and you’ll likely drive people away instead of drawing them to your church.
BE BRIEF AND ENGAGING
Millennials have an average attention span of 12 seconds, and Gen Zers’ attention span is about 8 seconds. This doesn’t mean your entire message has to be summed up in that time, but you only have that long to capture their attention.
Best Marketing Strategies to Impact Millennials & Gen Z
Now that you know a little more about these two generations, let’s dive into some of the best marketing and communication strategies your church can use to better engage them.
In case you see “video” and immediately panic because this is an unknown world to you, let us put you at ease. While fancy cameras and equipment are nice, they aren’t essential when it comes to creating engaging videos for the Millennials and Gen Zers in your parish. There are different styles of videos you can produce that will go a long way towards cultivating the connections you want.
Here are some ideas to get you started:
You can go live on YouTube, Facebook, or Instagram as a way to engage with your younger parishioners. Streaming your services is an easy way to start putting out video, but there are other types of live videos you can focus on as well. You can go live on Instagram and Facebook on a regular basis to share a liturgy, prayer, or daily reading. These are short, and since they are scripted, takes the pressure off of you to post an off-the-cuff live video.
Instagram launched IGTV (Instagram Television) a few years ago, and it has since grown in popularity. This is a place for you to pre-record videos and upload them to Instagram where people can watch at any time. They will show up in your main feed and you can share them to your Instagram story as well for more visibility. The options for IGTV are nearly limitless. You can use these videos to answer commonly-asked questions about the faith, doctrine, or other topics. You can post one at regular intervals (weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, etc.), creating a series of sorts that people know to watch for. This is a time for you to share knowledge, encouragement, and thoughts with your parishioners.
Similar to IGTV, you can create video series to live on YouTube. These can be on topics similar to what you’ve posted on IGTV, and can even be the same videos to reach people in different places. Additionally, you should stream your services and other events to YouTube for anyone to be able to watch, especially since viewers don’t need an account to access the content (like Facebook or Instagram).
Even when people regularly attend weekly Mass, it’s easy to feel disconnected throughout the week. Developing an online community can help people feel connected — to the faith, the Church, scriptures, and daily disciplines — on a daily basis.
While community can be developed on both Facebook and Instagram, Facebook Groups offer a unique place for people to “gather” and share. Groups offer the opportunity for people to engage with each other in a more confined space than on a public Facebook or Instagram post, for example. And you can recruit people from within your parish to help moderate content and keep conversations going.
To foster this kind of close-knit online community, here are some tips for success:
RECRUIT A TEAM
Who in your parish loves people in big ways? Who has a heart for people and helping form connections between people? Who are the enthusiastic and committed people who consistently reach out to people in the body and help meet needs? You can recruit them to help run your group! This team can be in charge of posting regularly in the group, responding to comments, and reaching out to people to include them in conversations happening in the group.
MAKE A PLAN
Now that you have your team assembled and excited, sit down with them to create a plan. Talk through your vision and goals for the group and brainstorm ideas for engaging these younger generations.
Here are some ideas:
- Host regular times for prayer. You can do a live video from inside a group, and you and people on your team can go live to pray at specific times on certain days of the week.
- Share daily readings, post a saint of the day, or celebrate feast days. Pose questions about these posts and ask people to leave their reflections in comments on the post.
- Post reminders of special services, events, and seasons. For example, posting regular encouragement for people during Lent can be powerful and helpful as people prepare their hearts for Easter.
- Lean into your team and listen to their ideas, especially people on the team who are Millennials and Gen Zers. They will be able to help guide your group and help you understand the kinds of content that will speak to the younger generations.
In Conclusion …
As you put together your plans, recruit your team, and start sharing content to reach Millennials and Gen Z, we’d love to help! Our passion is the growth of the Church and the expansion of the Gospel and we’d be honored to partner with you in that mission.
We know investing in online strategies can be time-consuming and difficult to manage with your already busy schedule. We’d love to talk with you about the monthly services we provide to take this off your plate. Contact us to learn more about how we can help with your marketing endeavors: