16 Ideas for Better Facebook Live Videos

Is your church doing regular Facebook Live broadcasts? Why or why not? The popularity of this tool continues to grow and flourish, and it is a powerful communication method that your church should be taking advantage of. While the service has been around for almost three years, which is comparative to something like 30 “social media years”, there are still a lot of churches that aren’t utilizing this tool to reach people.

That being the case, the goal of this article is to convince you to start doing or do more Facebook Live videos. You’ve been warned.

Facebook is still the default social media network for many people in our communities. In fact, in most communities, 68% of adults are accessing the platform regularly. [ref] Stop and think about that. If two-thirds of the people in your town participated in the same thing on a regular basis, wouldn’t you want to know more about it? Even further, wouldn’t you want to figure out how to best use that trend to see people connected to your church and the message of Jesus? Within Facebook, live videos continue to be a thriving and growing feature of the platform. In fact, 2 billion people have watched Facebook Live broadcasts. [ref] And the number keeps growing every day!

4 Ingredients of Great Facebook Live Videos for Your Church

Here are the four basic elements that your Facebook Live video broadcasts need to have to help you leverage this channel to reach people.

  • A “Hook” // You need to start with an interesting premise or quick hit idea at the beginning of the video that draws people in to watch more. Like the title of a great news article, a good hook’s job is to grab and hold people’s attention.
  • Educate or Entertain? // Your video needs to either entertain people by making them laugh or it needs to educate them by revealing something. If you use Facebook Live to just “advertise” what’s coming up at your church your audience will tune out. How can you provide value to them? Use one of these approaches to do so.
  • Show, Don’t Tell // This is a visual medium so leverage it. Broadcast from a visually interesting location. Show a prop on camera that will get people’s attention. Avoid the temptation to just be a “talking head” on the video.
  • Call to Action // What are you asking people to “do” because of the video? What is their next step after watching the video? Don’t let people just sit back and passively consume the content but entice them to take a next step!

Facebook is Still Pushing Live Video

It’s no secret that Facebook continues to encourage people to produce, view, and engage with live videos. In a very real way it seems like Facebook is transforming itself into a video-driven platform. We have all noticed that our “organic” posts on Facebook being viewed less and less. However, the platform continues to push the video content form in front of our audiences. Some churches have reported as much as 200 times more views on a Facebook Live video over a typical status update post.

“Live is like having a TV camera in your pocket. Anyone with a phone now has the power to broadcast to anyone in the world,” CEO Mark Zuckerberg has said. “This is a big shift in how we communicate, and it’s going to create new opportunities for people to come together.” [ref]

People Love Behind-the-Scenes Videos

87% of audiences would prefer to watch online videos if it included more behind-the-scenes content than a standard TV broadcast. [ref] One of the major “stickiness factors” of live videos is that we get access to things that we don’t normally get to see. Take your audience backstage at your church and allow them to experience something that is usually only experienced by a small group of leaders or community members.

3 Examples of Behind-the-Scenes Videos

  • Mid-week Message Prep // Do you prepare your messages in a unique location? Take us there with a quick two minute video to show people what that space looks like and discuss the upcoming week. Use this opportunity to ask a question or two about an upcoming message to draw people in and help you write that message!
  • Early Morning “Backstage” // More and more, we’re beginning to see it be a “standard practice” of churches to do a quick early morning video inviting people to come to church. Resist the urge to do these videos from the lobby, and take us backstage to see the behind-the-scenes activities of the morning prep. Is there a cleaning crew vacuuming the hallways? Is the guest services team planning something extra special this morning? What does it look like from the “tech booth” while the worship team rehearses? Find an interesting visual hook that people don’t normally see and show it to them!
  • Team Training // Training volunteers and leaders is a critical part of any growing church. Why not shoot a quick live video from your next training event? You could invite a person who just experienced the event onto camera and they could share what they learned! Sometimes at training events we do an “appreciation” segment where we go out of our way to thank a particular volunteer. What better way to turn up the appreciation by broadcasting it live as well!

Live Positions Your Church with the “Big Leagues”

Increasingly, huge brands and entertainment organizations are leveraging the exact same tools to broadcast to their audiences. For example, Facebook has secured exclusive rights to 25 MLB games this season [ref]. When your church chooses to leverage this channel, it puts your ministry on par with other brands.

While it’s a great thing to have your live broadcasts compete alongside some of the largest content providers in the world, it does require us to continually increase the quality of our content. We need to develop best practices for the type of content we’re providing as well as improve the technical quality of our broadcasts. Your church will need to pay particular attention to ensure that you are evaluating how the content is being received and what is working “best” to increase engagement with your community.

3 Tools to Increase the Quality of Your Church’s Live Videos

  • Rode Lav Mic // This mic provides great quality audio for a single presenter on a live video from your phone. It not only provides clear audio but requires little technical set up! Just plug the mic into the headphone jack of your phone and then clip it to the presenter’s shirt.
  • Mevo Camera // This is a clever, super high definition camera with a novel smartphone interface. It allows the users to present what looks like a “multi-camera” shot all with a single lens through some fancy programming. This product is great for when you want to shoot something six to ten feet from the camera.
  • Selfie Light Ring // Sometimes when you’re backstage at the church there just isn’t enough lighting to allow your audience to clearly see the presenter. This little device attaches directly to your phone and helps light up a subject when in selfie mode.

Engagement is 10X Higher on Live vs. Pre-Recorded Video

Have you ever stepped back and asked why your church does anything on social media? What’s the goal of all this effort you put into these channels? It’s all about engagement! We are attempting to connect with people in churches and the surrounding community in a way that draws them in to dialogue and connection. Live videos are the highest form of engagement in social media today. In fact, viewers comment “more than 10 times more on Facebook Live videos than regular ones.” [ref] The reason social media networks are pushing this content is because they know it’s engaging, which is what we want!

3 Easy Ways to Drive Up Engagement

  • Lead with a Question // In the first ten seconds of your video lead with a question that you want your audience to answer. What’s your favorite worship song that we’ve been singing at our church these days? If we could talk about one thing in our messages, what would you want that to be? What would you love to see us change in our kids ministry? A sticky question drives people to stay connected with the video and gives them the opportunity to interact and contribute.
  • Ask for the Share // Again, early on in the video the best practice is to ask people to share the video so the content can reach more people. Don’t beat around the bush but directly ask people to share the video so their friends can see it too. Point to where the “share” button is and ask them!
  • Give a Gift // At the end of the video, tell people to do something in order to receive a free gift from the host. For example, the first ten people to comment with a fact or point from the live broadcast could receive a gift certificate to a local coffee shop.

Online Live Video is Leading to Offline Engagement

Social media isn’t the destination but a stop along the road! Ultimately, we’re using these tools to encourage people to connect at our “offline” locations. There are industries that demonstrate that live video is an effective tool for driving “real world” engagement, not just “likes, comments, and shares”. For instance, 67% of audiences who watched a live stream purchased a ticket to a similar offline event the next time it occurred. [ref] Real estate mogul and social media guru Grant Cardone used a swarm of live videos to drive over 9,000 people to his conference in 2018. [ref] It would seem like live video is a shortcut for building an online community that “knows, likes, and trusts” a communicator or organization. That social capital can then be translated into real-world responses.

3 Ways to Bridge Offline Engagement

  • Show Your Campuses // Use your live streams to walk people through the Sunday morning experience. Park in your parking lot and then walk through various entrances to help people picture themselves arriving.
  • Introduce Pastoral Staff // Oftentimes, it seems like churches are using secondary team members “on screen” during live videos. However, brands that are moving people to offline engagement have the primary communicator and “face of the brand” at the center of their live videos.
  • Call to Action // Don’t be afraid to ask people for an “offline” action! Ask your audience to join the church at an upcoming special event. Ask them if they are willing to get in their cars and join the church at the next service. A well-timed call to action can motivate more people to connect with your church!

> Read more from Rich.


 

 

Download PDF

Tags: ,

| What is MyVisionRoom? > | Back to Communication >

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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.

See more articles by >

COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> good article. Where I would take exception in the seeming negativity to plant a church more organically/biblically through missional communities due to the slowness of growth. I think that's the problem with church planting in the US today is that speed of numerical growth has taken priority over true and authentic spiritual growth
 
— evansavage1
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Thanks Thom, You’re exactly correct. Now how about some solutions when confronted by one of these wayward actors?
 
— Mike
 
comment_post_ID); ?> This is hilarious. Well done!
 
— RussellC
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

6 Places Where Vision Communication Must Be Clear

Clarity is the highest goal of all church communications. Our role is to cut through the clutter and deliver the message we are giving with as much precision as possible. In order to do that we employ a wide variety of tactics to persuade people towards the goals that we’ve set. In an effort to persuade our communications can slip to a place where they stop being clear and become just clever. We can become too self-impressed with how we’re communicating the message that the content of the message is lost.

Here are a handful of times that I’ve seen churches lose clarity when communicating with their community:

  • Family Ministry Environment Names // When a first time guest sees the names of your kid’s and student’s ministries do they make sense? If I have an infant do I take them to “WhizBangLand” or “GrowUpGang”? Too many churches employ clever ministry names that don’t make sense to people outside of the church. It’s the ultimate insider focused tactic to use names that are not self-evident to guests. Make sure people can clearly understand the signage and printed materials about your family ministry environments without having to interpret what they mean.
  • Campus Location Labeling // Too often churches attempt to be clever by naming campuses using relative locations to the original campus … Crossroads Church North, St. Paul’s East … the problem is that naming convention assumes that the new campus is a small satellite of something larger. Quickly after you launch people will attend the new location that have never been to the original campus … when you use a naming convention that points back to the first location it diminishes the work in the new campus. Pick an approach to labeling the new location that casts vision for the community for want to reach … Crossroad Church Essex County, St. Paul’s Uptown.
  • Graphic Design // Can I speak to the graphic designers for a minute? There is a difference between something looking amazing and it communicating clearly. Most of the great art I’ve ever seen is ambiguous and hard to understand what the artist is saying. The fact that I need to wrestle with the meaning of the piece is what makes it art. Your role as a graphic designer is to use elements of design to communicate a message. Communication leads … art follows. It would be prettier to have the super slender font on that flyer … but people wouldn’t understand that it’s talking about. This isn’t a tension to be managed … communication comes before beauty … function before form.
  • Next Steps // Once people start attending your church for a while they will be looking for their next steps to getting connected. Often I’ve seen churches call their first steps for new people some fancy name that just doesn’t make sense on the surface … Discovery Class, Engage, Connection. By definition, people who are new to your church don’t have any sense of your “integration process” and are just wondering what they should do first. At our church we call this environment First Step because we want it to be the first thing people who when they come to our church. This is also the case when you ask people to take any sort of “next step” in their spiritual journey. Make the right next step obvious and clear.
  • Financial Reporting // Report your finances in a way that can be easily understood by “non-financial” people. Use plain language, simple charts and clear commentary when talking about the financial state of the church. Financials are not self-evident to most people. We need to provide simple commentary that helps people benchmark what is happening in the life of the church. Bold clarity in this area will build trust with your donors and ultimately encourage them to give more to your ministry. If people don’t understand this part of what happens at your church they will be less likely to give. Active obfuscation of the truth is the shortest route to financial ruin of a church.
  • Online Calls to Action // Your church’s website probably has too many options on it. When people arrive at your site what do you want them to “do”? Are you focusing their attention on just a few next steps rather than a wide variety of options? Every ministry wants to be “featured” on your site … but if you “feature” them all you will just generate clutter and noise for your guests. Often we use our websites to move people to action in our church … asking them to donate, join a small group, volunteer for a team, connect with our team, etc … but when we pile on the “calls to action” each new ask erodes the impact of the last.

Read more from Rich.


Want help keeping your communication clear? Find out more about Auxano’s Communication service.

Download PDF

Tags: , , ,

| What is MyVisionRoom? > | Back to Communication >

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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.

See more articles by >

COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> good article. Where I would take exception in the seeming negativity to plant a church more organically/biblically through missional communities due to the slowness of growth. I think that's the problem with church planting in the US today is that speed of numerical growth has taken priority over true and authentic spiritual growth
 
— evansavage1
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Thanks Thom, You’re exactly correct. Now how about some solutions when confronted by one of these wayward actors?
 
— Mike
 
comment_post_ID); ?> This is hilarious. Well done!
 
— RussellC
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

5 Surprising Reasons Streaming Services May Be a Mistake

If approached incorrectly, online church might actually be a distraction for your church. Church online can stunt your church’s impact if you don’t manage it correctly. Before you send me hate mail or decide that you’re no longer going to read my posts, please know that I have been involved in church online since 2009. Over the years I’ve spent an incredible amount of time, effort, and money on making online church work, and I speak from a place of experience with both failure and success in this area.

We spent several years trying to figure out how to connect live video (or at least simulated live video) to a chat room so that we could minister to people digitally. A funny thing happened in 2015 when Mark Zuckerberg and his team at Facebook developed Facebook Live. This innovation, undoubtedly, made it much simpler for many churches to provide an online church experience to their guests, which was great because too many of us were spending too many resources trying to develop our own online platforms. While I’ve heard some interesting stories about churches that made somewhat of an impact, for many churches online church can become more of a distraction to our calling to build local churches where people meet face-to-face.

Before your church jumps headfirst into church online or if you’re questioning whether your current investment of resources is worth it, here are five reasons why I believe church online might be a distraction to your church’s vision.

Does it move people towards community?

At its core, the tension within church online is achieving the movement of people from anonymity to community.

When we first started playing with the church online world, we had chat rooms where users could make up their own usernames. At the time I remember struggling with how we were going to help someone with the username “FancyBear213” become a fully devoted follower of Christ. If someone couldn’t even identify themselves with their own name and profile picture, how were we going to move those anonymous contacts into community with each other and get them plugged in?

Now granted, the folks at Saddleback Church have done an incredible job developing online community groups. You should study them and learn from how they are making that happen. Even so, most churches experience online groups as an anonymous mass. I’ve also seen churches count the attendance at church online in the same way that we count heads on Sunday mornings. However, there is a significant difference between counting IP addresses or “seven-second watch-times” and the people who come in person and actively participate in our communities.

I’ve written so much about how difficult it is to move people from sitting in a seat to plugging them in.This is a struggle we’ve all shared. How much more difficult is it then to move someone from the anonymous space of their phone or laptop to connecting with others in “real” life? There isn’t a clear path, and investing time, effort, and energy at this point would be a waste of your resources.

At the same time, there are people attending your live services today, the old-fashioned Sunday morning crowd sitting in rows, who also aren’t plugged into community. Work harder at what could be a real growth opportunity in your “IRL” services.

Online tends towards amalgamation.

In the end, there will probably be one or two very large online church presences. There aren’t hundreds and thousands of online retailers; there’s Amazon. There aren’t thousands of places to stream shows and movies; there’s Netflix. There aren’t hundreds of incredibly popular, niche search engines; there’s Google. The same is bound to happen with church online. The drive of the internet is to reward a few very large content and community providers. The network effect takes over and those providers with the largest communities win in the end.

Over time, some churches will figure out how to use this medium for outreach, but chances are it’s not going to be your church or my church. The contenders could be churches like Saddleback, or North Point, or Life.Church. These churches are indeed doing incredible work already, but the reality of it is online media tends to amalgamate into one or two very large, dominant leaders. The way that Amazon, Netflix, Google, and a myriad of other online sectors have narrowed down to one or two leaders will also happen with church online.

On a Sunday morning sometime soon, take the opportunity to scroll through different online church experiences. What do you notice? They’re all very similar; they’re not differentiated from each other. Over time, what happens in an undifferentiated market is some player ends up becoming more dominant through significant differentiation. Every other player in that market offers a “commodity offering” while a single player or two stand out with above average differentiated offerings and gain the majority of the mindshare. Today we might not see a clear leader, but I believe that over time one will emerge.

Instead of focusing on how you can outdo some other large church on the other side of the country, consider how you can attract people who live within the vicinity of your church to come and attend. In fact, the act of trying to differentiate online could take you away from the value of reaching people in your own area.

On demand beats scheduled live every time.

One of the secrets of the church online movement is that most online churches have exponentially fewer viewers of live broadcasts than on-demand services. Ask a church how many people view their video for longer than five minutes on a Sunday morning and ask that same church how many downloads their podcast receives. You’ll find that the on-demand content of churches outperform live scheduled content at a rate of at least five to one, if not 10 to one.

Of course, it’s no surprise this is happening. The internet is moving towards more time freedom and away from scheduled content. We’re used to binging content rather than waiting for new content to be released every week. In fact, “long form live video” on Facebook—the clear leader in live video—is considered five minutes long. Typically anyone trying to engage in a Facebook Live environment will warn you not to go beyond 60 to 90 seconds in a live video (whereas most online church experiences range from 60 to 90 minutes!).

These forms don’t fit the style of what’s happening in our churches. I think that trying to leverage a live format rather than an on-demand style is distracting. You already have a significant, on-demand audience downloading your podcasts, so instead of trying to develop an entirely new schedule of live content, how are you leveraging what you already have to increase numbers at your services?

Churches are “family ministries”.

Churches have consistently grown on the back of family ministries as they provide an opportunity for parents to attend with their kids. There is a well-worn path of providing excellent age-appropriate programming for both parents and children as a way to make an impact and see your church grow. As Carey Nieuwhof has said, “Very few church people are lying in bed tonight wondering how to parse a Greek verb but they are lying awake at night wondering about their kids and how they can raise their family.”

Church online, on the other hand, is tending towards a solitary adult experience. Facebook does not allow anyone under the age of 13 to view any videos, which eliminates a significant market. Nearly half of all people who become Christ followers did so before the age of 13. So imagine a church online experience where there are no ministries available to individuals under that important age! For the most part, churches haven’t figured out how to develop church online where the family attends together. These experiences are solitary, lonely ones rather than shared experiences for the entire family.

Just as it would be strange to have a church where there was no kids’ ministry, church online seems to be saying it’s okay for you to come by yourself. This is a distraction from the purpose of developing community and connection within our churches. Your church needs to continue to invest in and understand how you can attract families to attend your church together. Families in your area are looking for a church like yours. The question is how are you developing ministries that ultimately draw them closer together within the community of your church?

We are a gathered community.

The word “church” literally means gathering. I’m waiting for the day when virtual reality replaces the act of gathering physically. In the same way that Second Life rose and fell from popularity, I’m still waiting (in vain) for Oculus Rift or other virtual reality environments to offer the same experience as gathering together.

I’ve even seen attempts to do communion or baptisms online. In fact, I’ve been a part of crafting some of those experiences. The truth? They fall flat compared to the live equivalents. There is something about the gathered body of Christ worshipping in the same room that transcends. In a western world with such an emphasis and focus on the individual, church online offers the opposite of what it means to be a community.

Church online focuses on people being separate from each other, whereas the physical church focuses on the literal gathering. You could invest a significant amount of time, effort, and energy figuring out how on earth to have an online gathering in a way that is appropriate and feels connected, but it’s just a distraction. You already have people attending your church. Consider this: how are those in-person interactions maximizing the sense of togetherness and experience of something transcendent?

Years ago, Christian television featured men sitting at desks talking into microphones. What they had done was transform an old format, radio ministry, to a new medium. However, they merely replicated their radio ministry to a moving picture format. Similarly, the notion of a schedule-based video format feels like a stale representation. Yes, your church should be thinking about how people connect seven days a week with your ministry. I do believe that you should leverage social media as a way to stay in front of people consistently, but I also encourage you to examine how others in the medium connect with their audiences and build a community around those connections.

What you won’t see are scheduled, live videos once a week where you feel as if you are sitting in an audience. You experience much more intimate and interactive approaches. If:Gathering is paving the way on this point. Jennie Allen and her visionary leadership of this group hint towards what the future of church online will look like. This organization is a collection of live events, apps for your phone, books, videos, and incredible social media all working to see people grow closer to Jesus, which is the ultimate goal of all this connection. I think the future of online engagement as a church will look more like If:Gathering than what we tend to see in the church online world today.

Finally, I believe that it is right to wonder how we can use digital platforms for engagement; however, church online itself is not the answer. It’s asking the right question and it’s pointing in the right direction, but I don’t think it’s the answer. It’s a stage between knowing there’s a problem of connection and needing to figure out how to best resolve it.

> Read more from Rich.


 

Download PDF

Tags: , ,

| What is MyVisionRoom? > | Back to Execution >

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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.

See more articles by >

COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> good article. Where I would take exception in the seeming negativity to plant a church more organically/biblically through missional communities due to the slowness of growth. I think that's the problem with church planting in the US today is that speed of numerical growth has taken priority over true and authentic spiritual growth
 
— evansavage1
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Thanks Thom, You’re exactly correct. Now how about some solutions when confronted by one of these wayward actors?
 
— Mike
 
comment_post_ID); ?> This is hilarious. Well done!
 
— RussellC
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

The Astounding Difference of Extraordinary Clarity

Dennis Richards is the executive pastor at Preston Trails Church in Texas. Listen in as he walks through how the church gained extraordinary clarity using Auxano’s Vision Framing Process and the difference that made in the life of their church. This episode is a great guide for your church to wrestle through what elements you need clarity on and how to move to action once you have it!

At Preston Trail we have a very clear understanding of who we are as a church. This clarity comes from an awareness of our mission (what we’re supposed to be doing), our values (the shared convictions that guide our decisions and reveal our strengths), our strategy (what we do to accomplish our mission) and our measures (how we know when we’re successful). The desired result in all of these is that the mission of Jesus would become the mission of our lives.

Play the podcast here.

Read more about Preston Trail’s Vision Frame.

Connect with an Auxano Navigator to learn more about the Vision Framing process.

 

Download PDF

Tags: , , ,

| What is MyVisionRoom? > | Back to Vision >

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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.

See more articles by >

COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> good article. Where I would take exception in the seeming negativity to plant a church more organically/biblically through missional communities due to the slowness of growth. I think that's the problem with church planting in the US today is that speed of numerical growth has taken priority over true and authentic spiritual growth
 
— evansavage1
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Thanks Thom, You’re exactly correct. Now how about some solutions when confronted by one of these wayward actors?
 
— Mike
 
comment_post_ID); ?> This is hilarious. Well done!
 
— RussellC
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

5 Tips for Making Meetings Actually Work

Stop and think about how much of your time is spent in meeting in an average week at your church. Now, do some quick math to calculate that across your team. Wowsers! That’s a lot of time! (Bonus: Assign some monetary value to each of those hours.)

Clearly, you need to work on ensuring that your team is being a good steward of all that meeting time.

Although it can seem like a “plumbing” issue of how the church does its work, in many ways the meeting culture of your church could be a make-or-break aspect of what is either pushing your ministry forward or holding it back. As I’ve had the honor of being in the orbits of some fantastic churches over the years, I’ve noticed some healthy habits that those leadership teams live by to get the most out of their meetings. Rather than seeing meetings as a necessary evil of “doing church”, these teams are looking for ways to optimize their meeting culture towards performance that pushes them forward. Here are some healthy habits I’ve seen in churches that are making a difference today:

Use meetings to make decisions, not to disseminate information.

Meetings are disagreements to move the organization forward. Healthy teams use meetings as a place to come together to make decisions. More pointedly, leaders use meetings to make decisions. A good meeting should be built around ideas that need to be debated and discussed in the context of an impending decision. Meetings are not a place to simply pass out information or keep everyone informed. It’s a waste of your team’s time to use meetings as a place to ensure they are up to speed on what’s happening at the church.

Adults are basically “just in time” learners, so when you use a meeting to simply pass along information, they are almost hardwired to not pay attention because they can’t put the information into practice right away. However, you can turn this same dynamic on its head by using meetings to present a desired and debatable outcome that you’re going to discuss. People can’t help but lean in and want to participate when change is on the horizon based on this meeting. When there are consequences to meetings, people show up and are ready to jump in. If the meeting feels inconsequential, your team will disengage at best or maybe even resent the meeting.

3 Other Ways to Disseminate Information to Your Team Besides Calling a Meeting

  • Voice Messages // You’d be amazed how much information you can pass in a 5 minute audio message recorded on your phone. It’s easy to record your voice and email it out to your team.
  • “What to Expect” Documents // In just one page, you can outline a lot of information that people need to know about an upcoming event or activity at the church.
  • Weekly Check in Email // Many churches have a standard report email that is generated every week with data that the entire team needs to know. Get your information to hijack on the back of that communication.

Ensure people come prepared to discuss.

No agenda? No meeting! If whoever is calling the meeting doesn’t have time to prepare the people attending the meeting for what is being discussed, it’s probably best not to meet. People don’t like surprises and it’s a bad use of people’s time to get their gut reaction to issues without them having time to prepare. If the decisions being made in the meeting are of such low consequence that people don’t need to think about them ahead of time, then they should be delegated to a team member to make the decision and inform the team later. The prep is both an agenda that outlines the decisions that will be made at the meeting and reading materials to help people as they process the decision.

5 Elements of a Compelling Agenda

  • Decision: // What is the big decision that is being made at this meeting? This is the overall driver for why you are calling people together.
  • Attendees // A clear list of who will be at the meeting. If people don’t know each other, a one-line bio is helpful.
  • Please Read // A list of resources designed to bring the team up to speed on the issue at hand.
  • What’s at Stake // Why is this such an important decision? A clear and compelling reason why this decision needs to be made at this time.
  • Rules of Engagement // Some ground rules about how the team is going to go about “doing” the meeting.

Healthy teams work to avoid the feedback bubble.

Learning teams win. Churches that are making a difference in their communities are led by teams of people that are looking for ways to learn from other organizations and apply those lessons to their church. Stagnant churches keep to their own small tribe and shout into the echo chamber of their community. Healthy meetings seek to bring in data from a wide variety of sources to push to a better answer, not the answer that was assumed from the outset. Too many churches just run the same plays over and over and aren’t committed to bringing in outside voices to help them make better decisions. If you are looking for a way to improve your decision-making as a team, you need to bring in voices from other circles to help you make better decisions.

This is particularly important when we think about our ultimate mission as a church. Every church needs to find ways to leverage opportunities to reach people beyond their own church. In fact, the local church is the only organization in the world that exists not for its member but for people not yet connected to the church! As Colossians 4:5 says, “Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity.” The hard truth is the voice of the “insider” will always be louder than the “outsider” and so your church needs to find ways to include those voices at your decision-making table. If you only listen to those people who are already with your church, you will miss the opportunity to reach people who haven’t been reached yet!

3 Ways to Add Outside Voices to Your Decision-Making Process

  • Data is Your Friend // Find hard numbers that talk about what is actually happening rather than just your opinion or hunches. There is no bad information, just information you don’t like.
  • Invite People In // Who is attending the meetings at your church should be driven by the decisions being made, not by tradition or hierarchy. Pull in people who can speak first-hand about the decisions being made.
  • Coaches // Growing churches bring in people who have been down the road they are looking at before. A day with a coach or consultant can help bring added clarity to the decisions you make as a team.

Capture action steps and assign responsibilities.

Take massive action. The reason you’ve called meetings at your church is to make decisions. Therefore, coming out of the meeting should be a series of decisions that need to be assigned to team members to follow up on. In fact, the very essence of what “happens” coming out of meetings is new and vibrant energy that has been released. If your meetings aren’t leading to people taking action, then you are just using your meetings to inform people of decisions that have already been made and you should stop meeting.

3 Vital Pieces Needed to Record Next Steps After a Meeting

  • Owner // Who is the person responsible for the next step coming out of the meeting?
  • Outcome // What was the decision that was made by the team?
  • Due Date // When does the owner need to make sure the item is completed by?

As important as the agenda is the pre-reading material, someone from the meeting needs to follow up quickly with “action steps” that are going to be initiated because of the meeting. Ideally, those are recorded in the meeting and sent right away. Again, the meeting should be a tool to push the church forward, so now that decision has been made, the organization should move to take action on that decision!

Meetings should be an exciting event, not a total bore.

All meetings should be optional and exciting. If you are just getting together for the sake of getting together, stop it. Don’t force your people to sit through another meeting just for the sake of meeting. Cut your “repeating” meetings out or at least in half. As a team leader, you need to ensure that each meeting is exciting and engaging, not boring. If the meeting is putting people to sleep, then the team leader isn’t doing their job.

6 Ways to Make Your Church Team Meetings More Exciting

  • Make Them Optional … really! // If people can choose not to come to the meeting and won’t suffer any retribution from the team leader, you’d be amazed how creative the team leader will get to make the meeting great.
  • Add Food // Something almost magical happens when you add food to a meeting. Have a favorite exotic food? Add it to the start of your next regular meeting and see what happens. (Skip the donuts … it’s been overdone.)
  • Standing Meeting // Okay … this might not be fun, but it is just effective. Take all the chairs out of the room that you meet in and have the meeting standing up. You’ll be amazed at how quickly you move through the agenda!
  • Thank You Notes // Kick off your meeting with some gratitude! Hand out thank you cards to everyone on your team and have them share something that someone else on another team at the church did that was fantastic. After people share, have them write thank you notes to the people that they shared about!
  • Get Rid of the Table // The physical space you meet in matters. Get rid of that big table that blocks everyone. Paint the walls a bright color. Making a physical change can switch people’s attitudes about your meetings. What if you themed the room something fun? Hawaiian Luau Theme? Christmas in July?
  • Stick It Up! // In preparation for the meeting, put 3-4 pieces of poster board around the room with short sentences describing issues your church is facing. As people arrive for the meeting, give them a pile of post-it notes and a marker and ask them to jot down solutions for each issue and stick it up on the boards around the room. Take some time to discuss the ideas generated.

It is important to connect with your team relationally, but don’t do that poorly through something masquerading a meeting. Cut out some meetings and then use that freed up time to go do something fun with your team and actually connect!

Interest in learning more about meetings? Listen to Al.

If you are interested in diving deeper in great meeting culture, you need to follow Al Pittampalli and Modern Meeting Standard. He is a leader in thinking about how organizations do meetings well and is leading a revolution to get all kinds of organizations to improve them! Much of my thought has been shaped by Al on this front and I find myself coming back to him time and again when I’m faced with needing to retool our meeting culture one more time! I’m grateful for his leadership.

> Read more from Rich.


 

Download PDF

Tags: , , ,

| What is MyVisionRoom? > | Back to Execution >

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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.

See more articles by >

COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> good article. Where I would take exception in the seeming negativity to plant a church more organically/biblically through missional communities due to the slowness of growth. I think that's the problem with church planting in the US today is that speed of numerical growth has taken priority over true and authentic spiritual growth
 
— evansavage1
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Thanks Thom, You’re exactly correct. Now how about some solutions when confronted by one of these wayward actors?
 
— Mike
 
comment_post_ID); ?> This is hilarious. Well done!
 
— RussellC
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Going Old School with Church Communication

Is your church leveraging chatbots to reach people? Are you leveraging a social media listening tool to understand the sentiment towards your church? What’s your Instagram story strategy to engage people in your community? Is your church ready for augmented reality and the impact that will have people attending your services?

STOP!

Too many church leaders are running too quickly to optimize the latest communication tools to reach people in their community while they are ignoring “low hanging” fruit with “old school” technologies with proven abilities to do the same. Before your church figures out the latest tool or trend, you need to make sure that you are leveraging existing channels.

In January, Facebook announced its latest changes to the news feed which means organizations like ours are going to see even less “organic” reach on that channel. In fact, many brands are reporting a 50% drop in traffic from the social media behemoth in just a matter of weeks. [ref] This underlines that no church communications strategy can be single source dependent but needs to employ a wide variety of channels to reach your people and your community.

3 Reasons Church Leaders Are Drawn to the Latest Communication Technologies

  • Shiny Object Syndrome // Too many of us are drawn towards the “latest” thing because it’s the latest thing. We hear some tech blogger talk about the latest whiz-bang service and we’re convinced that will solve our communication issues. The act of jumping from one shiny object to the next means that we don’t take time to dig deep and optimize any given channel.
  • FREE is in our Budget // Most of us are trying to figure out how to reach more people with little or no financial investment. Lots of digital marketing solutions start out using “free” as a marketing tactic to get businesses using their platforms, and we’re drawn to that pricing! Over time, these platforms end up charging for what they were giving away, which means, we need to move on.
  • We’re Aware Consumers // Lots of church leaders I know are actively engaged in the world around us. We spend time not just floating through life but are curious individuals. This is a great way to be! We see other organizations and businesses communicating with their communities and wonder what would happen if we applied those lessons to what we do in our church. In the end, we can be left bolting on one new strategy after another and ignoring legacy approaches that are still highly effective.

Your Church Should Be Sending More Emails

The industry’s average open rates for email for churches is 25.62%, and average rate that people will click on links in those emails is almost 8%. In fact, in a recent study it was found that as an industry, religious organizations have the highest open rates among dozens of tested industries. [ref] In a world where less than 1 in 100 people will see a post on Facebook that your church publishes, the fact that 1 in 4 people will open an email you send them starts to seem like a great opportunity!

Most of us have a love/hate relationship with email. In fact, if we’re honest most days we hate email. However, don’t allow your stress around managing your inbox drive assumptions about how your people think about receiving emails from your church. Well-crafted emails need to be at the core of your communications strategy. Regardless of how many emails your church sends on a regular basis, you need to increase the frequency. Email isn’t going anywhere and continues to be the go-to channel for driving engagement with people.

6 Emails Every Church Should Be Sending on a Regular Basis

  • “New Here” Guest Welcome // When guests arrive at your church, you need to acknowledge that and send a quick email to them. Ideally, this email is received within hours of them visiting your church.
  • Saturday Emails Before Series Launch // In my book, Church Growth Flywheel, we talked about using email in some ways to grow your church. One important way is through sending an email to your people the day before you launch every new series.
  • Donor Acknowledgements // When people give to your church they are doing an incredibly special thing. Ensure the emails you send to them not only thanks them for giving to the mission of the church but also point towards how their giving is fueling the mission of the church.
  • Volunteer Reminders // Send your people a reminder about the fact that they are serving with your team. Use this email to reinforce the vision of why they are serving and give them vital information so they know what to expect.
  • Sunday Recap Emails // Not everyone attends your church every weekend so why not tell them what they missed. Give them insights about what the message was about. Tell them what the big “call to action” announcement was.
  • Year-End Giving Email // 10% of all charitable giving is done in the last 48 hours of the year. You need to leverage that opportunity through a well-crafted email asking people to give to the mission of the church. Read more about this here.

4 Ways to Increase Open Rates on Your Church’s Emails

  • Pay Attention to the “Sender” // Experiment with who the emails are sent from to see what increases open rates. People are more likely to open emails from the Lead Pastor than a generic inbox.
  • Write to Real People // Don’t overdo the graphics and fancy stuff. Lots of studies show that the best responding emails are underwritten as if they are going out to just individual people.
  • Ask Questions in Subject Line // As a rule of thumb, when you use a question as the subject of an email it will see higher open rates. Humans can’t help but click on that to see the answer.
  • Email is a Mobile Tool // Remember that most of the people who open your emails will do so on a phone or other mobile device. Keep your email short and to the point!

What’s the open rate on a postcard mailed to someone’s house?

Your church isn’t leveraging the postal service enough. This is about as “old school” as it gets to when it comes to communication strategies. However, there is a great opportunity here because there are only two types of mails that most people get at home anymore:

  • Junk Mail – stuff they don’t want.
  • Bills – bad news they wish didn’t exist.

When you send any form of direct mail to your people, it’s received as an oasis amid that desert. Your direct mail gets their attention and can drive deep engagement with your church. Often the mail that you send to people’s homes has long lasting staying power as people will put it up on the fridge or the coffee table.

5 Direct Mail Pieces Your Church Could Try This Year

  • Series Invite Cards // Instead of just handing out invites to the next series coming at your church you could mail two copies to all your people and ask them to invite two friends.
  • Volunteer Thank You Cards // Everyone loves a handwritten note. It brings a smile to people’s face when we take a minute to write out a few kind words to people who serve in our ministry.
  • First Time Donor Gift // A tool something like “What Happens When You Give” is a perfect way to acknowledge people who choose to fuel the mission at your church.
  • Recall Letter // If someone comes as a “first-time guest” at your church but you don’t see any evidence that they’ve been back in the last two months … send them a letter with a coffee shop gift card and ask them to join you again!
  • Annual Report // Taking time to celebrate what is happening through an annual vision report is a perfect thing to mail out to your community. A well-crafted vision report reinforces that people are making the right decision being a part of your community.

Like most forms of communication, direct mail needs to be regular and high quality. You won’t see an immediate response from one single print piece that you send to people’s home. However, over time as you submit pieces to people’s homes, you’ll notice that your people will respond to what you’re sending their way.

Calling People Still Works

Perhaps one of the greatest ironic twists of technology’s fate is that as the “phone” became ubiquitous and went from being used for calling the homes that people live in, to calling people directly, we call people a lot less than we used to. In fact, lots of people seem to be allergic to talking on the phones that they carry around in their pockets all the time. The availability of this technology is a tremendous opportunity for churches.

… like really calling people.

Your church could organize a small team to ask people who they are inviting to the upcoming “big day.” A few years ago, we assembled a team to call 2,500 people connected to our church to ask them to come to our Easter services, and in the end, it was part of us setting an attendance record that year. [ref] With a little organization and motivation your team can make hundreds of connections at scale and see people more plugged in with what God is doing at your church!

… or at least texting people.

The “open rates” on texting are nearly 100% because people are reflexively answering those little notifications that happen when someone texts them. A well-timed text can be received by your community as a small gift on their phone. Texting is also a perfect tool to drive “call to actions” like registrations because you know it’s being received on a phone that can open online forms and registration systems.

… the 1% factor.

Experience shows that about 1% of your audience will be annoyed by this personal approach to communication. Be ready for a tiny group of people that will think you’ve stepped over some line and are invading their privacy. You have just reached into their pocket or purse and asked them to pay attention for a moment, so it’s somewhat understandable. Don’t be put off by this group though … the clear majority of people you reach out to will be thankful that you reached out to them!

Why don’t more churches blog?

This one baffles me. Why doesn’t your church have a blog where you’re communicating with your people and your community regularly? This free communication channel continues to provide considerable benefits to churches who invest the time to make content and share it on a regular basis.

5 Benefits to Churches Who Blog

  • Google Sees You // We all know that if people can’t find you when they search online, you practically don’t exist. Regularly and thoughtful blogging makes your church more “search engine friendly” and ultimately makes it easy for guests to connect with you.
  • Content for Social // Rather than another graphic square that tells people your service times for this weekend, your blog content is a fantastic fuel to feed your social media channels.
  • Make Your People “Famous” // People love seeing their names in print, posts like “volunteer of the week” and “small group profiles” are great ways to celebrate people in your church.
  • Test Content // Blogging is a fantastic channel to work on ideas that you are going deal with in other venues in your church. This could be through passive channels of merely sharing ideas that you’re thinking about or effective methods like polling & surveys.
  • Extend Learning // Prevailing churches are looking for ways to extend the learning beyond just the weekend and into rest of their people’s lives. Blogging gives the church an opportunity to take what you’re talking about on Sunday and push those lessons into the rest of the week.

NewSpring is probably the most beautiful example of church blogging around. They provide helpful articles on a wide variety of topics and are committed to creating regular compelling content. In Church Growth Flywheel, we pulled their strategy apart and looked at how you can apply lessons to your church.

Maybe it’s time to go old school?

When it’s all said and done it’s about being effective. Rather than jumping just to the latest trend, you should be looking for what is an effective approach to ensuring that the right message is getting to the right people at the right time at your church. As we’ve shown above, oftentimes the solution is right under our nose and we just need to apply it. I’d love to hear from you about what you’ve done that seems kind of “old school” but has worked well in your community!

> Read more from Rich.


 

Learn more about the effectiveness of “old school” communication – connect with an Auxano Navigator today!

Download PDF

Tags: , , , , ,

| What is MyVisionRoom? > | Back to Communication >

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

VRcurator

VRcurator

Bob Adams is Auxano's Vision Room Curator. His background includes over 23 years as an associate/executive pastor as well as 8 years as the Lead Consultant for a church design build company. He joined Auxano in 2012.

See more articles by >

COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> good article. Where I would take exception in the seeming negativity to plant a church more organically/biblically through missional communities due to the slowness of growth. I think that's the problem with church planting in the US today is that speed of numerical growth has taken priority over true and authentic spiritual growth
 
— evansavage1
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Thanks Thom, You’re exactly correct. Now how about some solutions when confronted by one of these wayward actors?
 
— Mike
 
comment_post_ID); ?> This is hilarious. Well done!
 
— RussellC
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Key Learnings from a Massively Multisite Church

In the early 2000s, I started on my multisite journey. In those days, we were just trying to solve a space problem at our growing church. We had some innovative volunteers at our church who asked if they could take the video that we were using to run an “overflow” and host a small group, 45 minutes away from where we were meeting. It was an incredibly simple idea that flourished to the point where I’ve seen thousands of people connected to the churches I’ve served at through this approach to “doing church”.

Since then, I’ve had the honor of being at the forefront of fourteen campus launches. We’ve seen around 1,500 volunteers join our mission and actively work to see those campuses launched. Today, over 9,000 people attend the campuses that sprung from our efforts. It has been a privilege to have a front row seat to this amazing approach to reaching new people with the message of Jesus. Seeing a revolution from the inside gives one a perspective that is second to no other!

As incredible as it’s been to see this movement from the inside, there are some lessons I wished I had known before we started this journey. These facts have been birthed over years of launching different sites and I wanted to share them with you here. These tips will help to save you time, effort and energy as you launch new locations! Lean in on these lessons and you are bound to find a few shortcuts to reaching more people in your community.

I’m still as much of a “fan” of the multisite church approach today as I was all those years ago when I was setting out to launch with so much hope in the first campus. I really do think that every growing church should consider this approach to multiplication. It’s been breathtaking to see this movement in a few churches grow to the point where one in six churchgoers in North America now attend a multisite church! Wowsers! I would have never predicted that back when we started sharing our video with that small group 45 minutes away!

The size and health of your launch core is the critical success factor.

Having watched so many different dynamics associated with these launches up close, I am convinced that the campuses that launch strong have a large and healthy group of volunteers kicking it off. In fact, when I talk with churches who have struggling campuses the problems can often be linked back to a lack of passionate people on the launch team. Moreover, it indicates that the volunteers weren’t trained enough before the campus started.

Yes, you can launch too quickly.

The best volunteers are not early adopters but are, counter-intuitively, the “late majority” folks because they are most likely to stick with the campus long term. The problem with that is that most church leaders are more “innovative” than the people they need to make that campus work. Innovators love the pressure of getting the campus out of the door but the vast majority of volunteers prefer to take time and need to be “wooed” into the process. Once you win these folks over, they will stick and stay for the long haul. Too many churches rush the launch process and miss the opportunity to build long-term leadership teams.

Campus Pastors are hard to find … but are most likely found within.

I wish I could get back all the hours I wasted worrying about where we were going to recruit campus pastors from. There is a clear evidence that campus pastors are being found within the church that is launching the campuses. In fact, 87% of campus pastors are found internally. [ref] This means you should get busy considering that fact that your next campus pastor is most likely already attending your church. Instead of looking far afield for them, invest your energy in identifying them and bringing them up.

It’s not about video-driven campuses.

Too many times people assume that all multisite churches are just pumping video from one campus to others. However, what we’re seeing is the majority of multisite churches are doing some combination of both local live and centralized video teaching. [ref] It’s healthy and good for local campuses to get a chance to teach on a regular basis in “video-driven” multisite churches. (Of course, “regular” is up for discussion and debate.) In churches that do some form of “team teaching” where the campus pastors do most of the communication, it’s valuable to have occasional video messages to keep the church rowing together. The fact is, the bigger the church and the more campuses you have the more video you are going to use among your locations. [ref]

Student ministry is hard in multisite.

At its core, the idea of multisite church is about delivering a smaller and “closer to home” experience. For adults, if there are 150 or 1,500 people in the room, the experience is a close approximation. For most kids, the small group leader is the key to delivering the best experience possible. For students, critical mass matters. If there are 20 people at an event or 100 people at the event, it’s not 5 times better but more like 50 times cooler! This is challenging in multisite because it tends to subdivide your church into small communities. Lots of churches struggle providing student ministry in this approach.

It’s way more financially efficient.

Multiple times over the years I’ve been in the situation where we are building a large box to house one of our campuses; at the same time as working on new “portable” locations. When you do a side by side financial comparisons of “cost per seat” to launch a new “big box” versus launching new campuses, the new portable locations are in an entirely different language on the cost structure. Many churches are driven to launch new campuses rather than build a bigger “box” because the cost structures are just so compelling. In fact, when talking with organizations that build a lot of churches they just aren’t seeing people building the “big box” churches anymore as a direct impact of the multisite movement.

Think Regional not National.

There are a few churches that have used this model to launch campuses across the country. These should be seen as an exception, not a guideline for you to follow. Those churches usually have a uniquely gifted communicator with a national platform that can speak to that audience. Most multisite churches should be thinking about how they can use this strategy to saturate the region they are from. As a rule of thumb, that region usually extends to where people cheer for the same sports teams. First, figure out how to reach people in that region before jumping to national aspirations. (By the way, why do so many multisite churches in the north have campuses in Florida?)

Nail it before you scale it.

You’ll get more of whatever you multiply through going multisite. If you have problems with parts of what you do, those parts will just grow. If there are aspects of your ministry that are full of pain in the process, you’ll just have more pain. Before you head out to launch make sure there is a modicum of health.

Teaching is the biggest “non-issue” long term.

There is a lot of conversation and discussion up front about how to deliver teaching at most multisite churches. Teaching pastors do a lot soul-searching around them being the “face on the screen” all over town. Campus pastors jockey for more stage time and want to get in the saddle and teach. However, long-term this becomes the smallest issue in launching, sustaining, and growing a multisite campus. All of the “people” issues are much more pressing realities in making this approach work. Developing teams, connecting people to the community, raising financial resources and attracting new guests are far more pressing issues for campuses than how you’re going to deliver teaching.

Don’t launch a campus but launch a system for launching campuses.

At last survey, 85% of multisite churches are stuck with less than two campuses. [ref] This is a shame for kingdom impact. These churches have started down the road of multiplication but stalled out. Imagine the impact this movement would have if we could move all of those churches to launch a few more sites! My conviction is that the reason that most churches are stuck at that point is because they just launched a campus or two but didn’t build a system for regularly launching new locations. They need a multisite church launch flywheel to help them in this endeavor!

Small towns are the horizon for multisite.

This movement started in relatively densely populated suburban areas but I’m seeing a new movement among churches reaching small towns and rural contexts. These communities are often places where no viable gospel oriented church exists and so these new multisite churches are leading the way to inject the message of Jesus back into these locations. I look forward to learning from these trailblazing churches in the coming years!

There is no better way to drive engagement at your church than launching new locations.

Campus expansion is a robust way to engage new volunteers at your church. Typically, we’ve seen that 2/3rds of the volunteers in new campuses haven’t served in the church before. I’m convinced that there is no better recruiting tool than to launch new locations. In fact, I haven’t seen anything in all these years that comes close to driving up volunteer engagement at a church than launching new locations. If you are wanting to see more people engaged in what your church does, get busy launching new campuses!

Fall is the best time to launch new campuses.

Generally, there are three windows that we see new campuses publically launch, sometime in the fall, early in the New Year and at Easter. The best time to launch is in the fall because you get a few “growth periods” before that next summer season comes along. The first summer can be a tough time in the life of a new campus as attendance and momentum naturally wane a little bit. When you launch in the fall, you are maximizing your ability to see momentum built before that happens.

Again, the size and health of your launch core is the critical success factor.

I can’t overstate how important this factor is. Your launch process needs to be built around the single factor of building a large and healthy volunteer team. Everything else is secondary to that decision. In fact, I would suggest that every decision during the launch process needs to be made in light of this one overall driving factor. Build a big and healthy team and your campus will thrive for years to come. If your team is small and weak the campus is almost certainly destined to limp for a long time.

Read more from Rich.


 

Connect with an Auxano Navigator to learn more about multisite churches.

Download PDF

Tags: , ,

| What is MyVisionRoom? > | Back to Execution >

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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.

See more articles by >

COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> good article. Where I would take exception in the seeming negativity to plant a church more organically/biblically through missional communities due to the slowness of growth. I think that's the problem with church planting in the US today is that speed of numerical growth has taken priority over true and authentic spiritual growth
 
— evansavage1
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Thanks Thom, You’re exactly correct. Now how about some solutions when confronted by one of these wayward actors?
 
— Mike
 
comment_post_ID); ?> This is hilarious. Well done!
 
— RussellC
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

4 Things to Improve the Communication Culture at Your Church

Cornerstone Christian Fellowship is one of the fastest growing churches in the country. It has a lot of activities for the family with a very practical, biblical message. As the Executive Pastor, Marty oversees all staff and is part of the executive team which oversees every part of the church.

Communication breakdowns are a fairly common challenge in all types of interpersonal relationships, including ministry, and can be linked back to causing most problems. Marty is talking with us today about how Cornerstone has tackled the challenge of improving the communication culture among its staff.

  • Find the problems. // The first evidence that the communication culture needed work among the staff at Cornerstone was a general sense that something wasn’t right. Marty says they did the Best Christian Workplace Survey, which is a standard 55 questions regarding the workplace, plus Cornerstone could add a few extra questions specific to them. The survey revealed some consistent themes that needed to be addressed. The biggest issue was that the staff just wasn’t talking with each other very well, both up and down, top to bottom, and side to side.
  • Examine the problem. // Not everyone may realize there is a communication issue, but if some people on the staff are saying it, it should be looked at closely. Approach it ready to listen and admit, “We have a problem, so let’s talk about it.” At Cornerstone, everyone was sent off in their divisions and asked a series of questions. The executive team wanted to know what people thought it would look like to have a healthy culture of communication from top down, between ministries, and on their own team. They also asked about some specific examples of the existing issues. After compiling the data and looking for trends, they developed a couple of focus groups among the staff.
  • Include everyone in the solution. // It can be difficult to get honest because no one wants to put themselves out there. As a result, no one on the executive team led the focus groups. An outside HR consultant was brought in, which provided a feeling of security and comfort. Staff were able to open up and share things they might not have said to Marty or other staff members. Marty knew as people felt safer being honest, it would contribute to a better communication culture – one where the staff understood the executive team really wanted to listen to them. As Cornerstone began implementing strategies to address the existing issues, Marty emphasized how important it is that the staff be a part of the solution. Everyone needed to own the steps the church as a whole was taking to improve the culture.
  • Communication reminders. // Very practically speaking, when a decision or change is made, Cornerstone now makes sure everyone who needs to hear about it does. Sometimes it’s just a matter of casting vision and helping people understand why a decision was made rather than just sharing what the decision was. The staff wants to get on board with these decisions and be a part of supporting them. Remind your staff leaders to communicate with their team. Explain that while a decision may be more impactful to a specific department, it does affect the entire church. That constant conversation and sharing with your team keeps spreading the vision and will help people feel included.

You can learn more about Cornerstone Christian Fellowship at www.cornerstoneonline.com.

> Read more from Rich.


 

Connect with an Auxano Navigator to learn more about improving your church’s communication culture.

Download PDF

Tags: , ,

| What is MyVisionRoom? > | Back to Communication >

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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.

See more articles by >

COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> good article. Where I would take exception in the seeming negativity to plant a church more organically/biblically through missional communities due to the slowness of growth. I think that's the problem with church planting in the US today is that speed of numerical growth has taken priority over true and authentic spiritual growth
 
— evansavage1
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Thanks Thom, You’re exactly correct. Now how about some solutions when confronted by one of these wayward actors?
 
— Mike
 
comment_post_ID); ?> This is hilarious. Well done!
 
— RussellC
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

5 Lessons about Church Giving that Amazon Can Teach Us

Way back in the mid-1990s there were a lot of companies gunning to be the leader in “online retailing.” (Who remembers Pets.com?) Amazon was an early leader. Since then, it has cemented its place as the “everything store” by offering a massive selection of items that are delivered at a shockingly quick rate.

Google is the search engine for knowledge. Amazon is the search engine for purchasing. 

In fact, 44% of all online shoppers go directly to Amazon to make purchases. [ref] When people give, our churches’ digital giving interfaces are being compared to Amazon’s. We need to learn about how this e-commerce retailer handles their customers and apply those lessons to our donors.

  • Reduce Friction // Have you ever noticed how easy it is to purchase something on Amazon? Over the years, they have focused on reducing the friction in the online shopping experience to encourage more people to spend with them. It’s beautiful to watch all the various pieces working together. Amazon Prime removes the “added shipping cost” from the “shopping cart” so we don’t slow down at check-out. They store multiple credit cards so you can decide where you want to charge individual purchases. The Amazon Dash buttons allow you to push a button and have common items ordered and shipped to you. The latest tool, Amazon Echo, literally allows you to call out orders from your home and they’ll ship them to you! Is your online giving system complex and hard to follow? Are you asking people to go through extra hoops that add to your convenience but to their annoyance? Is it easy to find how to give to your church on your website?
  • Send More Emails // If you are a regular Amazon shopper, you get a tremendous amount of email from them. Every time you order, you receive a confirmation email, a “your order is shipped email” and an “order arrived” email. You also receive regular marketing emails about categories of products they believe you might be interested in. If you browse certain items but don’t purchase them, Amazon will send you “recall” emails to bring you back to the site to purchase the item you were thinking about. You might not like all this email … but it works. It drives the behavior they are looking for. Most churches don’t send enough email. They are afraid to junk up inboxes. I’m not advocating sending the same amount as Amazon — just yesterday I received 8 emails and I didn’t purchase anything! — but I am saying churches need to send more. Obviously an acknowledgment email … but what about monthly statements rather than waiting for quarterly ones? Emails that show the impact of giving, or ones that show how people can set up a new aspect of online giving? These may move people from regular “one-time gifts” to “recurring donations.” Send more emails … it’s okay.
  • Invest in Long-Term Solutions // One of the things I admire about Amazon is their commitment to investing in long-term customer satisfaction rather than just chasing short-term trends. They have steadily sped up the delivery of their products over the years, reducing the time they call “click to ship” from days when they started to minutes in some instances today. This is an impressive feat for a company with 244 million customers. [ref] Investing in your digital giving solution is wise over the long haul. People are moving closer toward this approach than traditional donor channels from the past. It might take you a while to get it right, but people will be using this system for years. Gather your team and start working on this for your church. It’s not a short-term fad but a long-term shift that you need a solution for.
  • Don’t Miss Mobile // The Amazon app is a beautiful experience. It has a UPC scanner where you can walk into traditional “bricks and mortar” stores, scan items and compare the cost to purchase it on Amazon. I’ve purchased many items over the years after looking at them in the store and then buying them online. Mobile is the way people increasingly interact with the web. Your site needs to be “mobile optimized” so it works cleanly on a wide variety of phones, tablets and other interfaces that people carry around. In fact, your digital giving solution really should be seen from a “mobile first” perspective because all the trendlines are pointing toward that being where most people will interact with you.
  • Be Customer “Obsessed” // Amazon is crazy-obsessed with making people happy. They work hard to ensure customers love their service more than any other online store. It’s the first of their fourteen values and it permeates how they talk about and live out their mission. We know that when people give to your church, they are giving to what the Lord is doing — but sometimes it can feel like we ignore our donors out of a false sense of not wanting to show favoritism. Everyone who chooses to give anything to your church is vital to your mission. They are as important in making your services happen as that core volunteer who is “first in, last out” every Sunday. We go out of our way to treat volunteers with love and care … we need to do the same with our donors. On top of that, some of them have the spiritual gift of giving and, like other gifts, we want to see it exercised well within our churches. If we ignore people who give, we’ll miss the opportunity to develop those gifts!

Read more from Rich.


Connect with an Auxano Navigator to learn more about Generosity in your church.

Download PDF

Tags: , , , ,

| What is MyVisionRoom? > | Back to Resourcing >

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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.

See more articles by >

COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> good article. Where I would take exception in the seeming negativity to plant a church more organically/biblically through missional communities due to the slowness of growth. I think that's the problem with church planting in the US today is that speed of numerical growth has taken priority over true and authentic spiritual growth
 
— evansavage1
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Thanks Thom, You’re exactly correct. Now how about some solutions when confronted by one of these wayward actors?
 
— Mike
 
comment_post_ID); ?> This is hilarious. Well done!
 
— RussellC
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

3 Movements Toward a More Outward Focus

I’m so excited to have Omar Garcia with us today. Omar is the missions pastor at Kingsland Baptist Church in Katy, Texas.

Omar arrived at Kingsland 12 years ago as the first missions pastor. The church had a great reputation in the community, with a great prayer ministry and great family ministry. However, everything at Kingsland was very inwardly focused. The church needed help in reaching beyond the church and into the community.

  • Take ownership of ministry initiatives. // Omar wanted to help the Kingsland membership to stretch themselves and step into situations they never had before, locally and internationally, while demonstrating God’s love in practical ways. One of the first steps in reaching beyond the church’s doors was to challenge the community groups to take ownership of a local initiative. The church stepped outside of Katy’s upper middle class neighborhoods and into the inner city of Houston, forming an urban alliance with a church there. Omar took 45 moms and kids to deliver fans during the summer to elderly within these neighborhoods in Houston.
  • Care for your community in various ways. // Once the local initiatives took off, Kingsland faced the issue of remodeling their worship center and having to be out of the church for a Sunday. The staff discussed the plan of finding another place to worship that day and what building they could rent. But instead the initiative of Caring for Katy was born, which filled the problem of needing a place to come together to worship. On that Sunday, everyone stepped outside of the church, found needs within the community and determined how they would address them. Caring for Katy is now in its tenth year and reaches out to people throughout the Houston area to bring the love of God to them in practical ways.
  • Find passion among the staff. // An important part of finding success in initiatives like the ones Kingsland has done is to be passionate about seeing people grow in their relationship with Christ. Kingsland’s senior pastor is a passionate supporter of everything the community missions has done in reaching beyond the church. He recognizes that as his congregation grows in sharing their faith, they are investing in and contributing to the Kingdom of God. Often these kinds of outreach initiatives don’t work because there is no passion or full support from the senior leaders in the church. A senior pastor who is just as passionate about these projects as the groups doing them will encourage success and help provide resources needed for local missions.

You can learn more about Kingsland at www.kingsland.org and reach Omar at omar@kingsland.org.


 

Read more from Rich.

 


Learn more about living out the values of your church – connect with an Auxano Navigator.

 

Download PDF

Tags: , ,

| What is MyVisionRoom? > | Back to Vision >

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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.

See more articles by >

COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> good article. Where I would take exception in the seeming negativity to plant a church more organically/biblically through missional communities due to the slowness of growth. I think that's the problem with church planting in the US today is that speed of numerical growth has taken priority over true and authentic spiritual growth
 
— evansavage1
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Thanks Thom, You’re exactly correct. Now how about some solutions when confronted by one of these wayward actors?
 
— Mike
 
comment_post_ID); ?> This is hilarious. Well done!
 
— RussellC
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.