By: Greg Curtis
When I was a kid, I never dreamed I would watch TV the way I do today.
In first through third grade, one of my all time favorite cartoons was “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”. It came on once a year. That’s not a typo. I’m talkin’ once a year. About the 2nd week of December. I thanked God for commercials so I could run to the bathroom and not miss a minute of it. We had to be home when it came on because, well, if we weren’t there when it aired, I would have to wait one year before I could possibly see it again. A whole year. No rewinding, no DVR. The grinch was live or he was nothing.
As an adult, I never dreamed I would experience church the way I do today.
I lead Next Steps Online during services so during the last 3 months of quarantining, I haven’t experienced church live. I haven’t even experienced it with my wife. I watch it on demand (like it was Netflix) the next day. No need to be there at a certain time. When i am ready, church is always there for me. I can even sign up for things using my phone during the announcements. If I was new to the idea of following, I could make a first time decision to do that by texting “Isaidyes” and receiving a congratulations back with a link to discover my next step.
Amazing. My church experience is more like watching Netflix now and less like watching the Grinch around Christmas time. Who’d a thunk?
This has made me realize 3 things that I shared on my 9th Facebook Live session.
1. Members don’t use your website like you think
We think they are using it to find the latest information on events at the church. What they are are really using it for is registering events they find out about during announcements or through emails. They also share links to pages that describe the latest event or message series with friends who they think will benefit from them. They share these links via text, email and on social media.
2. Guests don’t use your website like you think
Some people think guests are searching their website to find out what the church believes before they decide to come. Nothing could be further from the truth. If you can see a ranking of what pages are visited on your website, most of the time your statement of faith registers dead last. Few people care. One of the highest ranking, if it’s easy to find, is your service archive. Guest are wanting to experience portions of your service to see what it would be like to attend there before they actually do.
No longer does the average church seeker visit 5 churches over 5 weekends before making a decision. What they do instead is watch 5 services from 5 different churches over one or two nights to figure out the one or two they might actually visit with their family.
These leads to the following realization…
3. Your website is your new lobby, your new “front porch”
Your website is where people “check you out” and form their opinions of you before actually attending. Even in this online zoomified post-COVID world, a guest may not attend a live service until they have sampled it on demand.
In fact, once they have sampled and tasted something they like, they will binge watch an entire sermon series that spoke powerfully to them in your archive. I know this because guests have told me many times that they have done this.
Basically, they are watching church in the same way they are watching Netflix: watching trailers and then binge watching all the episodes that they connect with the most.
How can you connect with guests who are not even attending your live online services but watching on demand midweek?
Here’s an idea. Make a decision that your website is primarily for your guests since they use it more than your members do. Then, put what guests are looking for right on the homepage where they first land.
Here’s what they’re looking for:
A quick look at your Lead Pastor, so put a 2 minute video from him introducing himself, sharing something personal about himself, a quick statement of the church vision and an invitation to watch last weeks service online and click on the “get an answer” button if you’d like an answer to a question or get more info. Remember what they want to figure our about your pastor: Do I like him? Do I relate with him? Can I understand him?
A video of last week’s service, so put it write under the pastors intro video so they see it clearly and can get an idea what your service feels like, what you all really look like (“is there anybody here like me?”) and what the current message series is.
Answers to questions that matter to them. Put that “get an answer” button in a prominent place so that when they click it, they can type their question and choose whether they want to get their answer from a person via live chat, text or email. If you can get their contact info, you can design a drip campaign to invite them to a live service online or otherwise and make them feel like they know someone by name through personal texts or email replies.
Remember: she’s not your girlfriend till you got her phone number and they’re not your guest until you have their contact info. Getting their contact info allow you to begin building a relationship with them and if you use it wisely, you can get yourself a date!
It is not uncommon for us to get contact info from 10 guests watching on demand midweek. We even get around 5 people making decisions to follow Jesus during the week by text. Our follow up will invite them to Next Steps or Next Step Online at the right time.
2 ways to go deeper
Watch here for more I shared on this topic including what we learned about matching people to online volunteer positions.
Get ready to to receive 4 bonus sessions on assimilating people online, free keynote presentations and new checklists for each part of your assimilation strategy via my Climbing the Assimilayas Video Course for FREE if you already have it (it will all just appear soon when you log in to watch) or included when you purchase the course from now on. Click here for more info.
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