063 - Digital Content vs Digital Community and Participation vs Spectators - Leaders.Church

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063 – Digital Content vs Digital Community and Participation vs Spectators

What’s in this Episode?

You know, even during COVID, there are churches that are thriving, there are churches that are flat, and there are churches slipping. All of us want to be a church that’s thriving. What are some things that are happening in churches that are thriving, while maybe 25% to 50% of the people are showing up in person? What is it a church can do to really energize and build community during this time so that when we come out of this thing, we’re bigger, better and stronger than ever before? Stay tuned to this episode of the Church Tips Podcast to find out.


Read the Transcript

Dick Hardy 0:38
Hey, friends, great to be with you on this episode of Church Tips. I’m with my good friend, Ryan Wakefield with Church Marketing University. CO-founder with some guys named Dick and Jonathan Hardy, but Dick and Jonathan Hardy have gone down the road. And now he’s taken Church Marketing University to brand new levels. But I will tell you, I’m really excited to be talking to Ryan today, because he has coming up, in just a few days here, the Church Marketing Conference, that is the first, right?

Ryan Wakefield 1:06
Yep!

Dick Hardy 1:06
And it’s going to be… I mean to tell you, we’ve had conversation about the kinds of things he’s got in the conference and Jonathan and I are privileged to have one small piece of it, but it’s going to be a great conference, just go to leaders.church/conference. And you can get your free ticket. Do you need tickets if you have your staff coming or?

Ryan Wakefield 1:13
One ticket will cover your entire staff.

Dick Hardy 1:27
One ticket covers your entire staff, but we wanted to, we’re going to talk to you a little bit about that in this episode. But the central piece of what we want to talk about today is, while we’re in the midst of COVID, and there are people that are upside down, right side out, and some churches are thriving, and others are really struggling. And so Ryan’s just, he’s right there on the frontlines with lots of churches. So I wanted to kind of throw it to you Ryan, say to the pastors who are watching this, or listening to this episode. What are some things that pastors and churches can be doing that help move them to thrive? Even during COVID?

Ryan Wakefield 2:04
Yeah, well, let’s go over some really simple tips on this. So tip number one is as you’re thinking about what your church is doing, whether that’s you’re online only, digital only Facebook, YouTube, think in terms of is our approach creating spectators or creating participators? If your approach is creating spectators, warning signs should be going off because the church was never designed to be a spectator school right? That’s what my mom said. They ever caught me in the balcony as a kid. No, Wakefield’s don’t sit in the balcony, because…

Dick Hardy 2:34
Problem child right there.

Ryan Wakefield 2:36
So I think without really knowing it, what a lot of churches are doing is they’re creating an approach that essentially puts their entire congregation in a digital balcony. It’s like they’re… everybody’s just watching. Yeah, and I would even say a tip on this would be, get rid of words that connotes spectating. So don’t say, “hey, welcome. Thanks for watching online.” Nope, that’s a spectating. You wanna say thanks for worshiping with us. Again, don’t even use the word online. Don’t say hey, welcome to so and so church online. You say, welcome to The Rock Church. We’re so glad you’re worshiping with us gathering with us together today. I think a lot of times our language communicates, “oh, if you’re not here in person, then you’re spectating. You’re not worshiping with us and our language is creating spectators not participants?

Dick Hardy 2:38
No, that’s good. That’s good. I mean, so with with a church that, you know, that is now dealing with this, oh, my goodness, I’ve had to go online, that advice is very pertinent to what they’re doing as they’re moving forward. So what about the whole issue of the digital content we’re creating? Can you talk to us a little bit about that?

Ryan Wakefield 3:46
Yeah, I think one really big mindset thing is when you’re looking at what your approach is on digital, think to yourself again, another question to ask, are we creating digital content? Or are we creating digital community? Because I think a lot of churches and rightly so we’ve, we’ve had to react really quick, like, okay, we went from having an in person service, we got the video up. You did a good job of creating digital content. It’s a lot different thing to create digital content than digital community. And I think again, the church was never designed to be a show. The church is designed to be a body, a family. So I think you want to move from okay, we got our content now digital to now, how do we create a thriving digital community? It’s a much different conversation. And so in that, yes, it’s great, thumbs up that you moved to digital content. But now the next level. The next tip is, let’s move that to now a thriving digital community.

Dick Hardy 4:38
And how does I mean, how does a pastor mechanically go through that? I mean, is that a… I don’t know. Let’s start from scratch.

Ryan Wakefield 4:44
Yeah, well think about the things that really are true about community that maybe aren’t necessarily true about just content. Okay. So community community is about conversation of engagement relationships, getting to know people, you want to think the difference between a Facebook group and a Facebook page. You don’t have a community in and around like a Netflix show, right? Like, it’s one way that’s digital content. Digital community is all about, hey, we’re getting to know each other, we’re showing up and we’re having relationship conversation. And so anything a church can do in and around your services, or your prayer meetings to make it more about that community. It’s more of a time of gathering together, everybody’s involved, everybody’s participating, people are commenting. Even the way that you do your message isn’t just one way content, it is a conversation back and forth with your people. That helps you shift to, no this is about building community. And when you build a community, what you’ll find is people stick, people will be… discipleship happens because of community more so than just, content is helpful. Community is essential.

Dick Hardy 5:49
Well, are you recommending then, that churches that if they have a staff person can really be driving that kind of conversation? Or if they’re a smaller church volunteer, you referenced, you can’t just post something up there and let it sit? Because that’s content. I mean, somebody has to be engaging what’s going on with the content?

Ryan Wakefield 6:10
Yeah. And my tip would be that needs to be the entire church leadership, digital community.

Dick Hardy 6:15
Okay. It’s not just okay, Joe, you’re assigned to it…

Ryan Wakefield 6:18
Hey, we got one coordinator over on that platform. And they’re good, that undercuts community, that’s digital content. But if you’ve got a team of seven leaders, all seven, those leaders need to be doing it and they’re all engaging. Yeah, I would say all your leadership team of your church is all on board in creating the community, whether that’s in person or digital, and so we need to be leading the way we need to be in the comments.

Dick Hardy 6:41
So pastor Bill may have done the sermon and the worship service, but everybody is in there generating activity. Oh, that’s good. That’s good. Well, what other things should, you know, the church that’s stuck. COVID has really pounded them, they’re having trouble, there maybe getting 25, 35% of the people back live with them. What are some things they can do that can help them thrive? While we’re not going to be in this forever. But we’re in it now. Are there some things you can think of?

Ryan Wakefield 6:41
Two other mindset things maybe to consider, number one is, do not have the mindset that if a person can’t be in person, that they’re dead to you. Like, I feel like there’s so many churches like, unless you can come be in person, like you don’t exist.

Dick Hardy 7:25
You’re kind of second-class citizens.

Ryan Wakefield 7:26
Yeah. And you can’t do that, and if you’re going to have a next step that you’re asking your churches to take, give a next step that everybody can take, whether they have a compromised immune system, they’re living with somebody who does like don’t make those people feel secondary. That again, goes back to our language, how we communicate, people who are gathering digitally, are equally worshiping with us as gathering online. So it’s a mindset, don’t allow it to say, hey, unless you’re, unless you’re here in person, you’re dead to us. That’s right. So be very, very careful about that. And then secondarily is make the shift with your volunteers of get them on board, even if it looks different. So now is not a time for volunteers to take time off. Hey, you might have been running the sound or you might have been in the nursery, which we don’t have right now. That doesn’t mean like, okay, you’re on a four month sabbatical. That means okay, how can we use the gifts God has given you in this new format in this new way, When you get your leadership’s leading your volunteers making the corner, that’s how you get that momentum again. And then everybody matters, whether if they’re in digital or in person.

Dick Hardy 8:29
That’s good. That’s good. Talk to us a little bit about the conference coming up. In the show notes. We’ve got leaders.church/conference, and the CMU Church Marketing Conference. Give us a little snapshot of what that’s all about.

Ryan Wakefield 8:40
Yeah. So if you’re listening this you’re like, Ryan, that all sounds great. I’m on board I’m tracking I just don’t know how to now implement that. I don’t know how to take that and actually flesh that out over the next 12 months. That’s exactly what the conference is for. If you want like, hey, it’s feels like we’re pushing a boulder uphill. And I’d rather be pushing this downhill with wind at our back, a plan in place, confidence to know that God is with us, and we have a good plan. And we’re going to start around the corner from man, we were just surviving to now, man, no, we’re thriving God is at work. We’re seeing visitors come digitally and in person, if you’re able to that is what the conference is designed to do, give you encouragement, but also give you the plan. And what you need to implement it over the next year to move from just hey, we were surviving this whole thing to now no the kingdom is being built.

Dick Hardy 9:26
That is so good. I’m just telling you a friend, this is gonna be an outstanding conference. It’s free to you. You just register at leaders.church/conference, and get your ticket for you and the entire team and then Ryan does advocate that the team watch it together. It starts at 10 o’clock central time on Tuesday, the 29th and ends at four o’clock, Wednesday, central time, the 30th, but we’re hearing by the grapevine that he’s going to come up with all sorts of fun surprise stuff, so I don’t know. So I mean, I may just tune in for the surprises. The content is gonna be outstanding. I can’t recommend it enough. Leaders.church/conference any final parting comments?

Ryan Wakefield 10:04
Nope. That’s it. Thanks for being a part. You guys are doing a session that’s going to be incredible on how you develop a leadership team to do this because it’s gonna take leaders.

Dick Hardy 10:11
It takes leaders to do it.

Ryan Wakefield 10:12
And so if they’re not in leaders.church, they need to get in there as soon as possible.

Dick Hardy 10:17
I like this guy right here. So hey, thanks very much for watching this or listening to this podcast. And certainly, if you’d be willing to go and rate and review it, we certainly would be honored to have you do that, subscribe to it on any of the podcast platforms that you watch or listen to. In the meantime, thanks very much for being with us. Make it a great one today, and be blessed.

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