More ministries are moving online every year, and many pastors are afraid of losing personal touch with their congregation. But this fear may be invalid? How could you take something like prayer and turn it into an online prayer ministry?
On today’s show, we interview Billy Taylor, who has created multiple online prayer ministries. He now has the opportunity to connect with 25,000 people around the world…and he does it through email.
About Our Guest: Billy Taylor
Billy Taylor is the founder of the online prayer ministry, National Prayer Room. A ministry focused on encouraging prayer and spiritual awakening. He has a passion for helping Christians experience all God has for them.
Billy has served in churches as a worship leader and Senior Pastor. He served as the Executive Director of LaMar Boschman Ministries and the International Worship Institute. Most recently he was the Director of Major Gifts for Rise Against Hunger.
He is the author of Praying for Her, Praying for Him, and Praying for Pastors, which have been used by over 45,000 people in 129 countries.
Billy is a native Texan, has 3 grown children, and lives in the Ft Worth, Texas area. He is a graduate of Oklahoma Baptist University.
Why An Online Prayer Ministry?
About 14% of everyone who signs up for the National Prayer Room is international.
Pastors tend to think about ministry in small numbers…our community, our city, maybe even our state.
But with the internet, once you put something out there, people that are searching will find it. And when it comes to internationals, there are more people searching than here in the US.
The greatest mission field is the internet.
Over the next 5 years, 1.5-3 billion new users will come online. Most of whom will be from developing countries.
Now a pastor has the ability to be a digital missionary and create content in the office and reach people across the globe.
Your church may not be able to send a missionary across the world, but with the internet, you can reach people in any country with little time and budget.
How Do You Start An Online Prayer Ministry?
Praying For Him started as just a simple website created in Dreamweaver. There was nothing fancy about it…
But it worked as an email collection tool. Slowly it was discovered by people all over the states, then the world.
The virality of any ministry starts with creating something that people enjoy and meets a need.
An average mission trip costs around $10,000. But $10,000 invested in a website and online content can reach 100 to 200 times more people. And as a bonus, reaching those thousands of people online can serve as a jumping off point to fund an in-person mission trip.
Now think about your sermons. As a Pastor, you stand in church on Sunday morning and deliver a message to your congregation all at once. There is no personalization there. There is no individualism or even room for immediate response in the moment.
But creating content for the internet, you get to speak to the individual. This gives you a greater chance to build a relationship. Even with an email list of 25,000 people on it like Billy’s, you can still speak to each person individually. It seems counter-intuitive, but remember that your emails are one-to-one communication, even if they are all happening at the same time.
It’s an unfortunate truth that as your church grows, you lose time with your congregation. A pastor of a church of 600 just can’t have lunch with every person throughout the year.
Little touch points using email keep the relationship alive and give you access to check in on the flock when you can’t have lunch with them more than once a year.
Report: 1,100 Prayer Requests From One Email
One year ago on Super Bowl Sunday, Billy had the thought to email his list asking if there’s something he could pray for.
Over the next 24 hours, Billy got ELEVEN HUNDRED prayer requests.
This is what your online prayer ministry comes down to – little bite-size pieces and touchpoints that reach people in a whole new way.
The Right Media For The Right Medium
A church has to compete with other media’s attention. Your sermon live streams are not just competing with other churches, you’re competing with Netflix and HBO.
Your content needs to fit the platform you’re delivering on.
For example, Billy had the hot water stop working in the shower. On YouTube, Billy found a 30-minute video…which he immediately said, “Forget that!” He then found a 3-minute video to help.
People do the same spiritually. We want bite-sized content that can help us spiritually, especially on a platform like Facebook.
A 40-minute sermon works on Sunday morning because your audience is captive…they’re in the building with nowhere to go. But your church Facebook video is only a thumb-flick away from being scrolled away.
So think about the platform you’re on. Social media is like stopping someone for a quick 3-minute talk on the street. They want to get on with their lives, and you don’t want to intrude. So be concise and to the point with your church social media.
Make your content fit the platform and the time of delivery. During the week, you’ll have more success with short snippets and brief emails.
Social media is all the rage in churches right now. No one is really talking about email.
Facebook is rented property. You’re living in their home with no contract. Zuckerberg can change the rules at any time.
But email is yours. You control the time of delivery, the amount that people see, and you know that it is available to them (unlike with Facebook’s algorithm).
Facebook’s average page post is only served to about 4% of your followers. But with emails, you know that your message will be delivered.
A Note On Collecting Emails
Billy relies mostly on SEO (Search Engine Optimization) to obtain new web visitors.
But once they are on the website, the form to collect the email is simple.
Each field required is relevant to the content. The form does not ask for an address, phone number, or family size like many church contact forms. The more you add to the form the more likely visitors will not fill it out.
Keep your online contact forms brief.
As attention moves away from Sunday morning, the Church needs to discover new ways to reach the congregation and the world.
Billy uses email as his ministry to meet a need among husbands, wives, pastors, and more. And just because his list is large doesn’t mean he’s lost that personal touch.
You too can start an online prayer ministry like Billy. It doesn’t take a large budget and you can reach more people than in your church Sunday morning.
Just make sure when you meet a need in your community using a digital medium, communicate in the way that platform was created for. In this case, keep your emails under 400 words and your videos under 3 minutes.
Have you thought about using email to reach new people? What success or struggles have you found with email? Do you run your own online prayer ministry? Let us know in the comments below!