“There are no experts in online church space.” That’s how Mark Meyer, Granger’s Online Church Director started Wednesday’s panel session on the topic. But these guys come as close as it gets to experts, with years of experience developing strategy and figuring out the best approach in a relatively new aspect of the church. That’s why I was stoked to be able to sit in—being a part of the Communications Team means I get to work pretty closely with Daryl McMullen and Ethan Hoinacki, but this was a great chance for me to get more of the “whys” and “hows” behind the “whats” of our church’s online strategy. Enjoy my bullet-point notes!
How we define online church:
- Anything that happens online, 24/7, all week long, that helps people take steps toward Jesus
- Facebook page where people can ask questions (e.g. “Why do bad things happen to good people?”)
- Didn’t always think that way – started with “campus” mindset: expected it to be its own space, with giving, serving (somehow)
- With 2016 Vision realized church isn’t a campus, it’s the people; in whatever setting it takes place
2009 – had custom-built church website
- lots of added functionality, not needed or useful after a few weeks of “new” feeling
moved to LifeChurch.tv platform
- bugs, glitches,
- not very good metrics
- not top priority; YouVersion‘s success demands more resources
Currently using Media Social
- now offering live services online, in addition to “simulated live”
- currently have 1-2,000 people watch on-demand services; a few hundred live per week
- using combination of Google Analytics with Media Social’s stats
Churches can have online church presence with $100/month and a great volunteer posting videos
Videos on YouTube can be a facet of online church
Things Other Churches are Doing
Community Bible Church in San Antonion – 220k Facebook Likes
- Use Facebook ads
- Use Google AdWords
Elevation Church app
- contains 2 years of Steven Furtick’s messages
- “The best communicators across the world are now available to everybody.”
- great content, great messages are now a commodity
- services playing all week long
Northland Church – Orlando
- prayer wall
Online church community is extremely unified – Great resource for online churches:
- Facebook.com/thenatemerrill “Online Ministry and Church Practitioners”
What comes to mind when think of Kansas?
- Wizard of Oz
Alan Hirsch talks about subgroups. Mark Meyer fits into these:
- lives in Indiana
- Dallas Cowboys fan
- has kids
- lives in certain neighborhood/high school district
- all these groups start alienating people
- psychology: in-group, out-of-group
These things aren’t necessarily good or bad, they’re just who we are, and when we define ourselves or others by these things they can be alienating. A church in Indiana probably won’t reach people all over the world through online church without investing lots of resources into catering messages, times, etc, to people outside of the region.
Questions to ask before starting online church:
Why do we do this?
What’s our church’s strategy?
Who are we trying to reach?
Align your online audience to what your physical audience is, as much as possible.
- our content screams Indiana
- unless willing to neutralize content
- pastors are willing to do specific message just for online community
- not 1 hour 15 minute service to reach the world online
80 % of any ad budget should be to your core sphere of influence
- for us, core is 50 mile radius ~ 600,000 people
20 % aimed at outer circle – 150 mile radius
40 % of people in America will visit a physical church campus
Mark closed the talk by saying that 2 billion people in the world are online. It would take 2 million churches, reaching a thousand people each, to reach them all. There is great need and great opportunity for churches to reach people in this way.