Lessons in Live Polling at Your Church

Last month we hosted a series of messages at Liquid where we featured “live polling” as a core part of the message.  The “big idea” of the series was to use national interest in the upcoming election as a jump off point to talk about the Kingdom of God.  Tim did an amazing job with the entire series.  [Click here to check out the series and see the live polling in action.] [Download this infographic of some of the things we learned from polling our people.]

Live Polling gives your services an incredibly dynamic feel. Our people are used to interactive everything but when they come to our church services they are often seen as just “one way” monologues where people on a stage dispense information.  By using the cel phones that are in people’s pockets you are able to access what your people are thinking and create a fun dialogue with your people.  Here are some lessons we learned about live polling in church:

  • Choose Technology Wisely – I spent a bunch of time over the summer looking at a number of different technology solutions for live polling because I didn’t want to have any problems once we actually got to the services.  I would highly recommend [Poll Everywhere] because their service is robust and gives you tonnes of options for conducting your live polls.
  • Set Autoresponders – When people submit their poll answer make sure the service sends back an acknowledgement text because as important as actually taking in people answers is … having your people know that you got their answer is even more important! People want to know that their vote counted.
  • Do “Demo” Questions – Every week we had our Campus Pastors walk our audiences through fun questions earlier in the service to show how the technology works.  Each demo included the campus pastor asking everyone to take our their cel phone (wave them in the air!) and then actually explaining how the “short codes” work for the polling.  We asked questions like “Which Pastor is most handsome?” and “Who is going to win the Super Bowl?”
  • Tell the Press About it – Make sure to send out a press release to local and regional news outlets about the fact that you are attempting to garner your people’s feedback through polling.  It’s counter to the broader culture’s perception of what “churches do” and therefore it’s a great news story!  [We had coverage from both local] and [regional news outlets about our use of this technology]. [Check out our press release.]
  • Ask Questions with Wide Variety of Opinions – Try to craft your questions in such a way that they don’t lend themselves to “binary” responses.  Our participation was more dynamic and engaging when we had responses that became a horse race between 3-4 answers.
  • Practice the Technology – This probably goes without saying … but make sure you test the questions multiple times before you get to Sunday morning.  Make sure you know exactly how you are going to display the response screen … make sure the shortcodes work … make sure everyone is well aware of what is happening.  Spending extra time on the front end will make sure it’s a smooth experience for your people!

Live Polling could add a nice interactive piece to an up coming series at your church!  How could you see using this technology in your ministry?

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Rich Birch

Rich Birch

Thanks so much for dropping by unseminary … I hope that your able to find some resources that help you lead your church better in the coming days! I’ve been involved in church leadership for over 15 years. Early on I had the privilege of leading in one of the very first multisite churches in North Amerca. I led the charge in helping The Meeting House in Toronto to become the leading multi-site church in Canada with over 4,000 people in 6 locations. (Today they are 13 locations with somewhere over 5,000 people attending.) In addition, I served on the leadership team of Connexus Community Church in Ontario, a North Point Community Church Strategic Partner. I currently serves as Operations Pastor at Liquid Church in the Manhattan facing suburbs of New Jersey. I have a dual vocational background that uniquely positions me for serving churches to multiply impact. While in the marketplace, I founded a dot-com with two partners in the late 90’s that worked to increase value for media firms and internet service providers. I’m married to Christine and we live in Scotch Plains, NJ with their two children and one dog.

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comment_post_ID); ?> I am a senior citizen who has lived in many areas of the US, the farthest south being Virginia DC area. There are several church plants in the area--some failed, some doing well. One of the sadist failures was a plant in NW Washington near a large Presbyterian Church (I had been an elder in the church, so I knew the area) where changes in church doctrine was driving many away from the PCUSA churches. There were many mature Christians who lived in the area who were very willing to participate and give generously to the church. Its failure was a loss. The pastor and his wife lived in a VA suburb, wanted something that would appeal to their tastes, which included "praise music". There was a professional piano teacher and several people who had sung in choirs in the area. Their suggestions were completely ignored. Forget that there was joyous participation in singing hymns and silence by many for the praise music. The experienced church leaders that were attending were expected to seek the wisdom of the pastor who did not live in the area rather than have any role in leadership. There is another church plant in Northern Virginia that seems to be going the same way. My take: the pastors should get past their high-school and college days culture and get to know and appreciate the people of the community. Do not try to reproduce Intervarsity or Campus Crusade. Hymns are not a sin and "uneducated" (never graduated from college) should not be ignored as uninformed or stupid. People who have served in and/or live in the area are needed in leadership and not just to serve coffee and give. We all need to pray together and serve God in the community in which there is to be a plant. Glenna Hendricks
— Glenna Hendricks
comment_post_ID); ?> I like it Mac and do agree with your opinions on the matter. Thanks much
— winston
comment_post_ID); ?> In this era, we have the opportunity of professional church staff today who utilize their gifting to shape the image and atmosphere of the church organization. But the 100% real impact on the church visitors is genuine evidence of changed lives by the gospel and the active growing discipleship (just as it was in the first century church). One demonstration is financially rich believers ministering equally together with poor believers (how odd, and incredibly miraculous; all humble and bow at the foot of the cross.). It is the awesome contrast of church members vocations, race, gender, age, maturity, gifting, humility that demonstrates to visitors "there is a Spirit in the place". That first-time guest list of 10 are "physical excuses", not spiritual excuses. Those don't tell the story. The condition of facilities and publicly greeting people have zero to do with it. The power of God in and through believers lives dedicated to impact other people with their relationship bridge-building of acceptance of the lost around them. Empowered believers are infectious, loving, helpful, giving, self-less, dynamic, compelling, bold, Christ-filled. As I have been in many church settings domestically and internationally, the facilities can be poor, and yet the fellowship can still be rich. We need to operate with first church humility. People come to Christ on His terms, not on our human abilities of hospitality. A huge catastrophe in a community, disaster relief brings lots of people into churches – many come to the church in those terrible conditions no matter the physical condition of the local church. Off the condition of facility, and onto the condition of God's people (living stones).... and everything else will grow.... and the other physical issues will be corrected by the staff.
— Russ Wright

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