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CNLP 369: Greg Atkinson on How to Grow Engagement in Online Attendance, Best and Worst Digital and In-Person Church Practices, and Improving the Church Guest Experience


by Carey Nieuwhof: Greg Atkinson returns to the podcast to talk about welcoming guests online.

So much has changed since COVID hit, and Greg shares best and worst practices for engaging online and in-person guests, how to move attenders into engagers, and how to best deal with trolls and other people who threaten to take you off mission.

Welcome to Episode 369 of the podcast. Listen and access the show notes below or search for the Carey Nieuwhof Leadership Podcast on Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts and listen for free.

Plus, in this episode’s What I’m Thinking About segment, Carey talks about vanity metrics and why we should stop focusing on attendance.

Guest Links

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Episode Links

Pro Media Fire

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The Ascent Leader

This is a unique season that is often the most challenging environment to lead. You may find that you’re inheriting a prior leader’s staff, culture, elders and much more.

If you’re a new lead pastor who is leading a church after a recent senior leader transition, I want to invite you to The Ascent Leader cohorts.

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First Impressions Conference

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Church Online Platform

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ChurchPulse Weekly: with Thom Rainer and Myron Pierce

Some Awkward Questions About How to Measure Online Church Attendance (+ 5 Growth Strategies) by Carey Nieuwhof

The Online Church Engagement Summit

Text CAREY to 33777 to join more than 70,000 subscribers to our leadership content


1. Questions your team should be asking in the online chat

It seems like most online chat experiences are either trivial or divisive. People are asking questions like, “What’s your favorite flavor of ice cream?” Or, there are trolls who make everything political, making it a point to disagree with anyone who speaks up. How can you avoid this?

To avoid trivial conversations, have the members of your greeting team intentionally go into the chat and ask highly emotionally intelligent questions and give great answers. The quality of your questions will determine the quality of your chat.

For the trolls, Greg recommends that you try and take the conversation offline. If they’re a member of your church, have a phone call or text with that person. If they’re someone you don’t know, and refuse to take it offline, you will likely have to ban that user. Greg and Carey both often have to ban people online. It’s okay.

2. You’ll be tempted to view your online audience as “secondary” to your in-person audience, don’t

Greg has watched pastors completely forget about their online audience over and over throughout his career, and he thinks that pastors will begin to fall back into that habit as they come out of the current crisis.

Many pastors are already saying things like, “The 30% who have returned to in-person church are the devoted ones, and those staying home are less committed members.” This simply isn’t true.

Some of your most committed members have serious health risks that are keeping them at home. Don’t forget about them in your quest to refill your room.

3. Your church’s future depends on what you learned (or didn’t learn) in the crisis

One of the big questions coming out of the COVID crisis is, “Will church attendance go back to what it was pre-COVID?” Greg thinks that it will return for some churches and won’t for others. He thinks it will totally depend on whether a church learns the lessons that we need to learn from this pandemic.

If you go back to the old way of doing things, your church isn’t going to thrive. But if you learn from this season about how powerful online can be, reinvent yourself, and add a healthy online experience and community to your church, your church will likely thrive.

Quotes from Episode 369

If a church feels like they can’t be a church because of missing a one-hour service out of building, we were missing the point all along, ministering to people. @GregAtkinson

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During times of uncertainty, lead with your humanity. @Andy Stanley

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The gospel has never been proclaimed so largely, so broadly, so loudly as in the past five, six months of this COVID experience. @GregAtkinson

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Never forget your online audience. We’re in that phygital world from here on out. There are always people watching at home. @GregAtkinson

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That front door experience, that very first impression, starts online. @GregAtkinson

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When you tune into an online experience, there should be somebody that sees you and acknowledges you and thanks you for tuning in. @GregAtkinson

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Pastoral care has never been so important. @GregAtkinson

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Let people see your heart, because people really resonate with emotionally engaging content. @cnieuwhof

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Read or Download the Transcript for Episode 369

Looking for a key quote? More of a reader?

Read or download a free PDF transcript of this episode here.

Watch Back Episodes of The Podcast on YouTube

Select episodes of this podcast are now on YouTube. Our YouTube Channel gives you a chance to watch some episodes, not just listen.

The Online Church Engagement Summit

So you’ve got people watching your church online. How do you turn them into engagers?

On October 8th, 2020, Carey Nieuwhof is hosting The Online Church Engagement Summit. It’s a free, 90-minute value-packed event where Levi Lusko, Nona Jones, and Bobby Gruenewald will give you their best practical strategies to turn viewers into engagers.

If you feel like you don’t even know where to begin, or if you’ve had success but want to reach and engage more people, this is for you and your team.

Learn more and register for free.


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Spread the Word. Leave a Rating and Review

Hopefully, this episode has helped you lead like never before. That’s my goal. If you appreciated it, could you share the love?

The best way to do that is to rate the podcast on Apple Podcasts and leave us a brief review! You can do the same on Stitcher and on TuneIn as well.

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Thank you for being so awesome.

Next Episode: Brad Lomenick

Brad Lomenick returns to the podcast to talk about his new podcast, H3 Leadership, and how to grow your influence without producing more content. Brad explains the power of curating content and connecting people, and how he used that to build one of the largest leadership networks out there. Brad also discusses future trends every leader should watch. Plus, Carey and Brad talk about the launch of a brand new podcast network: Thrivicity.

Subscribe for free now so you won’t miss Episode 370.

CNLP 369: Greg Atkinson on How to Grow Engagement in Online Attendance, Best and Worst Digital and In-Person Church Practices, and Improving the Church Guest Experience

The post CNLP 369: Greg Atkinson on How to Grow Engagement in Online Attendance, Best and Worst Digital and In-Person Church Practices, and Improving the Church Guest Experience appeared first on CareyNieuwhof.com.

Source: CNLP 369: Greg Atkinson on How to Grow Engagement in Online Attendance, Best and Worst Digital and In-Person Church Practices, and Improving the Church Guest Experience