5 Tips for Preaching Remotely

March 27th, 2020
This article is featured in the Sustaining Worship issue of Ministry During The Pandemic

The threat of the coronavirus has forced pastors into an unprecedented time of ministry. There is no ministry manual to reference when you must practice social distancing. This is especially true when it comes to preaching. While most pastors stream or record their sermons and make them available on the internet, these sermons are typically preached when people are in the pews. The vast majority of pastors are not used to preaching to an empty room. How can preachers remain effective preaching from a distance?

Speak to the Curious  

Sermons are now being shared with more people who don’t go to church. They are watching and listening because they are anxious and have time to explore. A video is a nonthreatening way for them to check out how people of faith are responding to this crisis. Be sure your sermons are speaking to this group of people. Preach on topics that answer their questions. Speak directly to them in your sermons so they feel included and welcome. Take advantage of this opportunity; you just might see them when your church doors are open again for worship.

Consider Pre-Recording Rather than Live Streaming

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The idea of live streaming your sermon during regular worship hours seems like a good idea but there are some advantages to pre-recording. When you pre-record, you are not at the mercy of livestreaming glitches and problems. You can also record when it's convenient to your schedule. In addition, pre-recording gives you the time to plan and edit your video. Consider pre-recording your worship service and making it available Saturday evening or early Sunday morning so people can worship at their convenience.    

Stick to Preaching “As Normal”

Right now people are desperate for normalcy. Although worshipping remotely may not be how many in your congregation typically worship, they do feel comforted by watching and listening to your sermons each week on their phone or computer. Be sensitive to this need for normalcy by preaching sermons you would normally preach when worshipping “in person.” Resist the temptation to treat each weekly sermon as a “crisis sermon” about the coronavirus. Your people are inundated every minute of every day with news of this pandemic. Give them a break and stick to your regular preaching plan. They will be grateful.

Create a “Sermon Talk Back” on Facebook

During your sermon ask your congregation to post comments and questions about your sermon on Facebook. Create a sermon “talk back” thread by responding to their comments and facilitating a discussion. You can also promote a time to go live on Facebook to respond to comments and questions. Many folks are more comfortable asking questions and sharing through social media rather than in person, so use this time to create a robust and helpful conversation about your sermon. Some pastors have been doing this long before this time of social distancing. You may find it so useful that you will continue this engagement on a regular basis.

Use This Time to Grow Your Online Ministry

Many pastors are doing some very creative things with sermons and worship during this unique time. Take a few minutes to look around online and get some ideas. Call up your colleagues and ask them what they are doing. Since you are not being pulled in all directions by a regular church schedule, you have the time to grow your online ministry. There are now a myriad of free media tutorials and resources available to help you up your game and presence online. Take advantage of this opportunity!

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