By Greg Curtis: I loved spending 25 minutes on Facebook Live with many of you, sharing what we are learning right now about engaging guests online at my church. I promised a written summary of that discussion with linked resources so here it is!
The session was built on a new conviction for Sherpas leading guests toward the summit of a fuller connection with God and others online:
“Engagement, not content will win the day. We will rise and fall during this quarantine on our ability online to engage people in community, not our ability to lead them in worship or deliver a great sermon.”
Here’s why your church’s growth will hinge on guest engagement, not worship services during the quarantine:
There’s too much competition
If someone wants to get a great sermon, they can go online at any other church. In fact, they could google and find the exact message they need to hear by topic. Or, due to the scaleability of the internet, we could all attend Saddleback Church and hear Rick Warren this weekend.
Your teaching still has to be effective. But believe me, no matter how good your sermon is, it is not the primary reason people will stay with your church during the quarantine.
A friend of mine is on the Executive Team of the largest church in his denomination. He did not attend his own church online last Sunday. He attended a small church of 200 online in Central California. Why? Because they know him when he logs on and he can chat with them and pray. He was a part of that church back in the day and loves the connection.
Great services are plentiful on the internet. Great connections are not. Which leads to this reason why online engagement wins the day.
There’s an increased need for community
Families are quarantined, so are singles and seniors. The need to know that we are not alone but part of a community that knows us, cares about us and will be there for us is more important than ever. Online engagement is how people access that now.
To create community for guests online, follow the same “Four Ps” of a successful assimilation strategy that work when churches gather physically: Send guests to One Place to share their contact info for a digital welcome gift. Use that contact info to invite them to a digital expression of your One Program. Incorporate discussion and fun into the experience, designing the program to get guests into Two Process that lead them to Two Placements (an online small group and a digital team to help others locally until we regather physically).
Because name and email is the primary ask of online engagement, there is a 3rd crucial factor to keep in mind…
There’s a huge desire for consolidation
Right now your inbox is full with emails from your kids school, your bank, as well as everyone’s thoughts on living through the quarantine. Let’s not even talk about social media. If you’re a part of a church, you are probably hearing from the pastor via a daily video encouragement, the Communication Team via e-news, and emails from your ministry team leader about the latest digital application of your ministry. Information overload is a distinct sort of stress that people are under right now, so here is how we are addressing it as a church:
We are currently consolidating emails to guest by making our pastor’s daily “video of hope” our free gift. This is in lieu of emailing an Amazon gift card (which is what we did our first week online) followed by emails that invite them to our One Program. It saves money to do this too. We increased our new guest leads from 29 to 40 when we did this.
We are asking staff to list any emails going out to groups of 30 or more on a shared calendar spreadsheet. This is to insure they go out on different days and our paced well so people don’t get overwhelmed with too much communication or redundancy.
This desire for consolidation of information is not just for our guests. It goes for you and I as Sherpa leaders as well. There are so many emails just trying to get my attention focused on the latest thoughts on ministry during the COVID19 crisis that I have decided to only open ones that come from 3 friends/colleagues that I will recommend to you now:
Carey Nieuwhof’s blog (on leadership, assimilation and church online, Carey is Canadian, an author and is a pastor at Connexus Church in Ontario. Love it podcast too)
Danny Franks Connective Tissue (Danny’s laser focused on first impressions and guest services and is from Summit Church in NC)
Jason Young’s Saturday Rundown (A Saturday morning email on hospitality and leadership. Jason was on Andy Stanley’s Exec Team at North Point in GA).
That’s it for me. Everything else get’s deleted no matter how informative it looks. You need to come up with a quick decision making filter about your inbox during this time. I realize, I may not make the cut! That’s OK. Or you might pick only one or none of my recommendations. You know what resources energize you so open or delete with courage, confidence and wisdom.
The last 2 reminders I gave on the Facebook Live session on Tuesday were these:
With probably around 2 months of not having physical church ahead of you, this may offer the margin you needed to get a new assimilation strategy designed or upgraded. You just need someone to walk you and your team through the necessary steps in 6 online sessions and a checklist. I would love to be that guy and my video course is the ticket. Find out what you need to know to make that decision here.
You can watch the 25 minute video of last Tuesday’s live session on my Facebook page by friending me and watching it on my timeline. Share it with someone who needs it, and join me for the next Facebook live this coming Tuesday at 8am Pacific Standard Time and friend me first at facebook.com/Gregcurtis63.
This week I’ll be taking your questions and covering…
A formula for figuring out what your real attendance is online
What to ask of online guests and when
Ideas for creating an online engagement pathway not just a pitstop.
See ya on the climb (even if it’s virtual),
Need this kind of stuff in your inbox once a week or so? I don’t post often so don’t worry. I wont bug you unless I have something new to say! Just let me know below.