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Our Online Ministry by Ernie Gutierrez

With each new year comes new possibilities and new opportunities, and 2022 didn’t disappoint! This year, Lakeview decided to move forward with bringing on board an Online Minister to engage with and effectively minister to their vast online viewership. In May 2022, after being a member of the Media Arts team for the better part of 2021, I was chosen to be the church’s first Online Minister. It’s a very gratifying and humbling call that I’ve excitedly answered. And I have thoroughly enjoyed these last several months getting up to speed and putting in the work to help take the church’s online ministry and its ministry at large into the next era.

Since officially launching the ministry, the main focus has been determining how to reach our online audience (whose age demographic ranges from 35 – 65) more effectively or, better put, in a more impactful way. One way we’ve chosen to do that is by ramping up our presence on social media. We have rebranded all of our social media accounts (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, TikTok) under the Lakeview Online name instead of the previous Lakeview Alive. As a result, we’ve already seen positive gains in new followers, more engagement, and more interaction. We’ve also noticed that this rebrand and the more modern and engaging posts we’ve been sharing on said social media has attracted the attention and support/encouragement of fellow Methodist churches and other churches in the area. Another way we’ve decided to reach our online audience better is by offering a streamlined/compact online service that will primarily feature that Sunday’s sermon alone (with an introduction from yours truly). After studying our analytics, the numbers show that the sermon portion of the service is when the bulk of our viewership is logged on and watching. We feel that if we can offer them exactly what they’re looking for, the impact will be more significant, and we can continue to maximize and grow our online audience further. This new online service will go live at the end of October 2022.

In addition to the work mentioned above, I continue working with the Media Arts Team in creating modern and dynamic videos/promos highlighting the church and its various ministries. These videos are featured prominently during our weekend services and shared online (via the website and social media). We are also creating lively video devotionals that primarily feature the pastoral staff, which are shared both on the website and through our social media channels. We feel that these promos and devotionals help build on the connection with our online audience and trigger a more significant engagement on their part.

One of the great pleasures of joining the staff as the Online Minister is that I’ve gotten to take on a more prominent role in the church overall. From regularly participating in Sunday morning services to co-hosting TNT dinners to hosting concerts, I’ve enjoyed all of it because it’s given me a more significant opportunity to get to know the members of our in-person congregation better and develop personal relationships with them. I also look forward to getting to know more of the in-person congregation and our online viewers better in 2023.

The work has just begun for the online ministry here at Lakeview, but with the continued support of the pastoral staff and our congregation, I’m excited about the promise and potential 2023 holds.

LAKEVIEW UMC ONLINE MINISTRY PLAN

  • Create a focused/slimmer version of worship for our YouTube platform.
  • More fully utilize social media to reach and engage online audience.
  • Offer the “Socializing” (how to use social media class) to church & community.
  • Ways to engage online audience, help them respond and connect with our ministries (akin to a virtual “Golden Ticket” for meals at Amazing Grays/TNT.

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