Top 5 Suggestions for Improving “Hybrid” Church

The Commission on Congregational Mission has been wrestling with an issue that has probably come up in most every congregation: how to better incorporate online participants in worship and church life.

The pandemic forced congregations to change. We all changed and relied on technology probably more than we could have imagined beforehand. Many churches learned about Zoom or Facebook live. We found a way to worship and to remain connected.  As we’ve slowly shifted back to primarily in-person worship and congregational life, we have also retained some technological options that have impacted how we do church. Some folks continue to worship using technology. Often committee meetings can take place through online meeting platforms. This adjustment has created a new situation that some people are calling “Hybrid” church.

We are just now beginning to wrestle with how to do “Hybrid” church and what that means.

The question examined by the Commission was one of inclusion: how do we help those who remain online feel more included in the worship service and in the life of the community? The Commission assigned itself the task to do research on this question and to report back. Several helpful suggestions were discussed. Here are the top 5 suggestions culled from their research.

5 Suggestions for Improving “Hybrid” Church

  1. Acknowledge online presence and participation early and often.

Worship leaders should acknowledge online worship participants at different points in the service. Welcome those worshipping remotely. Encourage them to participate throughout. Acknowledge their participation and importance as part of the family.

  1. Make sure microphones are of good quality and projected image is relevant.

Technological hardware requires investment and maintenance. That investment pays dividends as people feel connected to and aware of what is happening in worship and in the congregation. Be sure that communication is clear both in the sanctuary and through the remote connection.

  1. Designate a moderator to interact with chat.

Worship has changed significantly. Acknowledge that truth by assigning a person to fulfill a new role created by this change. Just as the role of musician, scripture reader, or usher is filled by a faithful servant, this role can contribute to the fellowship experienced in worship. This person can moderate the chat to Include online participants through prayer requests and announcements.

  1. Understand how electronic giving is a tool for everyone.

Online giving tools have been around for a while now. But in some circumstances, these tools could be perceived as the only connection to or contribution by online participants. Integrate the tool into the full service just as you integrate online participants throughout the service.

  1. Encourage online participants to share photos of themselves.

Ask online participants to contribute their “presence” through sharing pictures of themselves as they worship in their own unique context. Encourage this visual sharing and representation to help online participants be more present and for in-person participants to know their presence better.

Every congregation and context is different. Different size congregations might work better with different tools and online platforms. Select and know your tools well. Does your service need the interactivity of Zoom? Does Facebook Live work better for you? What sorts of communications are you seeking from online participants?

We have entered new territory with “Hybrid” church. Embrace the opportunity to see how the gospel that we have received and embraced is being incarnated anew. Be open to BEING church in a new way.

Here are a couple more suggestions that were discussed.

  • Find appropriate ways to follow up with online participants. Or perhaps a link for submitting private requests?
  • Create opportunities for interaction and fellowship outside the worship hour.

If you have more suggestions or more questions about “Hybrid” worship and how to DO CHURCH in a new way, please reach out to the Commission through the office email:


Posted in Church Resourcing, Commission work.