Prioritizing Your Digital Presence
Would you believe me if I told you, “Your digital location is now more important than your church’s physical location?” Or that, “Your Photography Team is now as important as your Worship Team?”
When someone walks into your building for the first time, you want them to feel welcomed, loved, safe, inspired, etc. We take great care of our meeting spaces and buildings to present ourselves well and engage with guests. So why doesn’t that same care and attention get put into our digital location!?
People are searching for depth, spiritual guidance, and a community to connect to in your area RIGHT NOW! In the U.S., over half a million people search Google for ‘churches near me’ every month. There is a digital mission field to which most churches are oblivious.
Ryan Wakefield and his team from Church Marketing University are passionate about seeing people come to Christ. Tune in as he challenges us to Prioritize Your Digital Presence.
If you’re interested in learning more about Nexus, CLICK HERE.
Andrew Estes 1:32
Awesome well thank you everybody for for tuning in and joining us I’m so excited for this month to bring in Ryan Wakefield from church marketing university I know that a Ryan especially in our context with Nexus and church planting, Ryan was a part of a church plant outside of I think is the least summit outside of Kansas City. Is that right? So So Ryan, once you once you just give us a real quick, just overview of who you are what what CMU is, and and just kind of what you guys do?
Ryan Wakefield 2:03
Yeah, well, thanks for having me. It’s great to be a part of this webinar. In this Facebook Live. I absolutely love church plants. My family was a part of a church, I was the communications director at James River Church. So little struggling Church of about 10 to 15,000. in Springfield, Missouri just came down the striking part. But I loved that and then went on to do some some church consulting all around the US in the area of capital campaigns and generosity. And then in 2013, we moved up as a part of a group that came into Kansas City, Lee’s Summit area to start summit Park church. So I’m not the lead pastor, we’re just part of the lead team in that journey. And it’s been really, really cool. So loved the church planning journey. And we’re seven years in now and actually gonna be looking at merging with another church. So we’ve done multi site, now we’re gonna do merger. So I feel like I’ve done a variety of the plant site merger. So if you’re in any of that, hey, we’re going through that same experience. But in that journey of helping start Summit Park church, we created church marketing university to help churches reach into their community using new ways and new tools. And so as a part of launching the church, we, you know, we did things like social media and Facebook ads, and Google ads, YouTube. And we started using all these tools, and more and more church plants were reaching out and saying, Hey, can you teach us how to use those tools, leverage those tools to not, you know, like a business would to make a whole bunch of money, but to reach people. And so that’s where church marketing University started, we started just making courses saying, hey, if you want to use this tool, you want to use Instagram, you want to use Facebook ads, you want to use text messaging, you want to use things like a plan of visit process, here’s a step by step process on how to do that. And we put those in courses and then that’s, that’s what we do is we help churches understand how to use those tools to reach people. And we’ve got over 1000 churches now in that journey. So it’s so crazy to see churches all over the world. Just we come together kind of every week and we go through different practical steps and we’re all in it to reach more people and so that’s been my journey and super pumped to be able to hang out with some more church planners today.
Andrew Estes 4:16
Yeah, super, super excited to have you here. So I am we I was a part of planting revive Christian church here in Loveland, Colorado a little over four years ago. And I’ve really kind of walked this journey of well having to fill the the communications role. I mean, I was like, the worship and everything else guy is kind of what I kind of described myself as you just fill a bunch of different shoes, whenever you’re planting a church and so just kind of learning about marketing for the first time, like taking dabbling at graphic design and all these different things. And I remember kind of hearing a lot about, you know, CMU, or or some of the other guys in this space that are doing some great things, doing Facebook ads and all that type of work and figuring just trying to figure it all out and There’s so much to do. And I was really excited, you know, transitioning this last year and to working more full time with Nexus, the the end of last year, I had an opportunity to, to sit down with, with Ryan and his team and sign up for their their foundations course, which I think is something you guys offer a couple times a year. Is that correct? Yep.
Ryan Wakefield 5:21
Yep. And it’s kind of a 10. Week, hey, let’s get the basics down really well. And so yeah, it’s one of our most favorite things that we do throughout the year.
Andrew Estes 5:30
Yeah. And so it was kind of interesting. on my end of things, I was actually approaching that course. Thinking about my role with Nexus as kind of a communications person with Nexus and, and figuring out how do we improve our communications? How do we improve our website to be effective, and not just informative, and all these different things? And so how do we get to that, and and it was only probably two weeks into that. But I realized, like, man, I really want to bring a lot of this content to our guys at Nexus to really up their game and in communications, to really speak into the hearts of the of the lead pastors that may not do a lot of the communications, but speaking to the heart of the lead pastors to be able to understand some of these concepts, not that they would have to do it all themselves, but just to understand like, Man, what are Why is it so important that we get this right? But But going through the foundation’s course, I just wanted to bring Ryan into to walk us through just some high level views of what is what does that content look like? What does it look like to really prioritize and engage digitally with with our church, and I think one of those big aha moments that you kind of articulate is that your, your digital presence is now more important than your your physical location, or your physical presence, things like that. And you were even saying that prior to all the COVID, COVID stuff and things like that. So once you once you kind of explain that, expand on that a little bit, and just kind of walk us through the intro of some of those ideas.
Ryan Wakefield 7:00
Yeah, I think it’s really important that we do do that disclaimer that this was before COVID. So this has been multiple years before COVID, we started just encouraging churches, Hey, your digital location, your church’s digital location is now we would consider way more important than your physical location when it comes to impact and reaching your community. So what did we mean by that part of it, what used to be like church growth or church planting used to be, hey, we could have the acreage next to the Walmart in town or next to the big thing, you know, then we could just have a good location off the highway, people would see us driving by we’d have that great physical location that was the, you know, the three rolls of real estate, location, location, and location. And then you know, people in a culture of looking for a church would obviously see our church the most. And then we would be you know, we would reach people that way. And so we started talking about how that has shifted now, when in so much is, is driven by your digital location. So we talked about when we talk about a digital location, we start off talking about how like, the highways aren’t, aren’t physical highways in your in your town, they are like the highway of Google, they are search engines, they are people who are on devices, and they are looking for any number of questions, whether they’re searching for a church, or they’re asking spiritual questions. And so really, that there’s a highway. Next in your digital location, is kind of where are you in relation to that highway. So one of them is like, if your church isn’t on the first page of a Google search result for how you want to be found by your community. It’s something like 91%, last I checked of people searching don’t go past the first page of Google. So it’s almost like, again, metaphorically, your digital location is way buried way back in the middle of nowhere where no one no one can find you. And then the the highways of search engines are just the first part, we kind of talked about how social media is like the front porch of your digital location. And that’s where relationships starting to form. And your website is like your hub of your digital location. Everything kind of revolves around that. That’s kind of where your digital location sits. And then like, if you have like a Facebook group, or that’s kind of like your, your living room where those relationships, you know, go deeper, and then we even talk about how like your cars like in your digital location. The reviews that you have on like Google, Facebook and Yelp are like the metaphorical cars on your digital location, meaning like when the Wakefield family used to do a road trip. Growing up, we didn’t have Yelp or Google to tell us where was the best place to eat in the city that we were driving through. And so what my dad would do is he looked around, be like, okay, that restaurant, passes the car test, which meant it had enough traffic that we knew the food was probably good there. And so now metaphorically speaking, your reviews, your Google reviews, your Facebook reviews, Use your Yelp reviews are kind of like the cars, you know, to your church’s digital location. So that’s just a little glimpse into we start like unpacking What is your digital location look like? Why is it so powerful? How does it help your church reach into your community, and then ultimately, how it does play if your church is fortunate enough to have a physical location, how those two strengthen each other. But that’s just kind of a little bit of a mini glimpse into what we’re unpacking? And why it’s so important for church leaders to pay attention and think about Okay, is our website effectively representing our church? is it helping us get visitors every single week? Do we have reviews that if somebody is looking to go visit a church, that there’s people who said, Hey, this is a great church, you can trust the kids ministry here, like you, before you buy anything on Amazon, or people are going to look for reviews. And so we just unpacked how that just drives behavior. And then if you if you really, as a church can pay attention to it and help speak to it and resource to it, you’ll find more and more visitors start to come, whether that’s to your digital, social website, or that’s a physical location. So that’s kind of the starting point. And Andrew, I’d even kick it over to you as you are going throughout the foundation’s course, anything that really stood out to you in that conversation of taking a digital location seriously.
Andrew Estes 11:19
Yeah, and I loved I just loved that analogy of there’s some of these, these different things of just even the, you know, when we think physical location, when we think about the building that we’re going to be meeting in or the site where you’re going to put the signage out on the streets for for your church plant, when you’re meeting in a school or wherever Back, Back Back of room of whatever building that you’re going to be meeting in. Like there’s, there’s all this thought that goes into like, well, where were people driving by? And and we just, I don’t think we naturally think about that, whenever it comes to, oh, maybe a lot of us do. I mean, you obviously do, you’re trained to do that. But a lot of a lot of church planters probably fall into that, that trap of just just being more focused on that, that physical location of where people are going to show up to, to worship together and all that type of thing. And so, but yeah, some of those statistics, like 90 plus percent of people don’t go past the first page of Google like these are, these are things that when we hear them, they’re like, Well, yeah, I never do that. Expect other people to do to find your church, right? It’s just that we fall into that mindset, if you build it, they will come. And when you plant a church, like we just expect people to show up and, and it just doesn’t work that way anymore. And so just that idea of just even on a digital highway, like where are people at Where are people traveling? Like, where would you go and set up shop if you knew people were there all the time? Well, that’s, that’s a Google and that’s a Facebook and like, those are those things. And so that was just a really simple picture of, you know, if you’re on page two of or three of Google, then that basically equates to you being tucked away in some backwoods neighborhood in your city and expecting people to find you without having signage to get there. And so just just having that mindset in place of just being able to prioritize just even the simple SEO piece of that. Yeah, I think the the other thing that was like I love the website, love the the rankings thing. And the the thing that kind of caught me off guard a little bit, it just even in a church context was really kind of the emphasis on reviews that you guys put in that because I guess another trap that I fall into is like oh, like where I want to find a local place to eat like, I don’t want to go to another chain. Again, I want to go find a local place to eat. That’s one of those things that we look for, like the reviews on Yelp or like whatever maps that pulls out that shows the reviews on Yelp. Like that’s, that’s one of the things I’m looking for. I don’t want to go somewhere that only has like one or two reviews, like it has 150 reviews like oh, this place must be really good. But why? Why is that that we don’t think in terms of really doing that for for churches?
Ryan Wakefield 13:50
Yeah, I think we start the conversation for like, what’s not, not that it’s important to the church, but what is driving behavior in our culture today. And if you start from that lens, it’s undoubtedly, like reviews are just a huge part of how people make decisions. So you think on Amazon, if you’re looking for a product, and you see one product that has 500 reviews, you see a similar product that has two reviews, like it’s a no brainer which direction you go. And in our culture, we do it now without even thinking no matter what you’re doing. If you’re going to go on a vacation, you’re going to go on a trip, you’re going to stay at a hotel, you’re going to buy a product, you’re going to like food choice and so what I throw out there to our CMU churches is like if your community members are going to look at reviews to determine what burrito they’re going to eat today for lunch, I’m telling you they’re going to look at reviews to determine Can I trust this place with my spiritual well being with my most important like thing that I have on this earth which is my like my family and my kids and like, Can I trust this place? Is this a healthy place and so, man, they’re gonna be checking out your reviews for Sure. And so, for me, it’s an opportunity to as people are looking and asking questions and wondering if this is a safe place for me to come visit, we are able to get our people to share testimonies of the cool things that God is doing in their heart in their life. And now, you go from a Oh, no, we don’t have any reviews, that was a missed opportunity to, you know, we have, we have five reviews, we have 10 reviews, and they’re in, you’re starting to build excitement and people’s faith before they even get to your church. So it can actually be like a really cool, spiritual moment. For people that are like, man, if God could do that, in that person’s heart, if God could do that in their marriage, if God could do that in their family, man, then yeah, we need to be there, we need to connect with his church, like, that’s a cool way, almost to do like Testimony Time, like reviews give you the ability to just brag on what God is doing, how awesome he is. And then again, it helps drive that that decision, like I can trust this place, I can go visit this place. And it’s going to be it’s going to be a safe place. So reviews are just are really big deal. And it doesn’t have to be hard how you get them. And you’re going to want to get a steady stream of reviews coming in, you don’t want to get up and say okay, everybody go leave us a review. So there are some things you need to know like what to do and what not to do in that equation. But it doesn’t have to be hard when one simple tip tip on that would be if you have like a growth track, like a one on one class to a one class. In one of those points, just put it in your outline, to ask for reviews on on Facebook, Google and Yelp. And then that way every people, every person going through that class is an opportunity. And you’ll find every month or every quarter, or every six months, you’ll have new reviews. And that’s what makes a big difference in Google seeing like, Oh, that’s a reputable place in our community, we can show that to our users.
Andrew Estes 16:53
Yeah, absolutely. You have a you have an image of some of these things. And I was just thinking of the the photography piece to use, like pictures or like the windows, I believe, is that the Yep, analogy there.
Ryan Wakefield 17:06
So this was like one of our churches in that was going through the foundation’s course, obviously, you can tell they’re a visual learner. And so if you’re a visual learner, like they put this little I was like, Oh, that’s so brilliant. Like, you can actually kind of visualize, this is the visualization of the digital location. And so they’ve got the prayer hands up here, because we talk about everything starts and ends in prayer. And so we’re going to say, Hey, if you’re going to do any sort of marketing and outreach, you have to start that thing and cover that thing in prayer. churches that are doing marketing should be the most spiritually deep churches, those things to feed each other, not compete. So you got your little prayer hands, you’ve got your Google highways, you’ve got your social media here. You’ve got your Facebook group in your website here. But one of the things that you’re talking about there is this photography piece. And on that photography piece, we talked about how photography is like the windows into your digital location. And to use a physical metaphor, if you’ve ever driven through a town and you see buildings that have no windows, you immediately get a creepy feeling like oh, like whether it’s like a big white van with no windows or building with no windows, anything but no windows is like, something creepy is going on in there. I don’t know, I don’t know what it’s going on by I know it’s creepy. And the same thing with your churches, digital location. Photography has a way of allowing your community to see into your church and see what God is doing in such a powerful way. Photography communicates so much about like, Who are the people who are the leadership? What is the experience? Like? Is there something for my kids? What do I need to wear? What is the environment? Like? Where do I go in? Where am I going to sit? Like, so photography just has a way of answering so many questions, connecting with your community, setting them at ease. And in that discussion, we talked for a church I used to, I’m a creative, you know, background. And so we used to talk a lot about, you know, and we still do developing a photography team and like, Man, you can get 1000s of photos and then I quickly realized a lot of church planters, a lot of smaller churches were overwhelmed like Ryan will never be able to have a full on photography team will never have 1000 photos. And so we started kind of backing that up and being like, okay, don’t start with 1000 your church needs 10 photos, like you need 10 photos and then in the foundation’s course, we’ll show you the exact 10 photos that you need. And then we will say okay, those 10 photos. Now go get those up on your website, go permeate your social media with those 10 photos, use those 10 photos on your Google My Business on your Yelp profile anywhere throughout your digital location. You’re going to use those 10 photos, and it just helps a church so much connect with your community. So we love We love talking about photography.
Andrew Estes 19:59
Yeah, I think that It’s, it’s one of those things that I think that, um, in our context, it’s interesting because I’ll go and peruse and, and go through a lot of our guys websites and just kind of see you see what we’re seeing and what we’re not seeing and some of those, those concepts, but I think the one thing, if there was just a real simple fix, just to improve your website, I mean, my goodness, like, these, these little devices with portrait mode, I mean, my goodness, you can, you can just spend a couple weeks and get some solid pictures, and put them on your website, because a lot of our church planters websites will have pictures of maybe the city that they’re in, or maybe a nice harvest field, or like some other random, pretty looking pictures, but there’s not a lot of life of the church that’s pictured and depicted on their websites, or, or maybe even on Facebook, I think that the one thing that our guys probably tend to do a little bit better at is have pictures on their Facebook page. But rarely do those transfer over to maybe their websites. And so yeah, I just love the simplicity of that, once you tell us just two or three or four pictures off the top of your head of some simple things that they could have or should have, just write it on the front page of their their website.
Ryan Wakefield 21:16
Yeah, and let me give you a little bit of a funny, fun test that we throw out there to our churches. And we call this the the not scientific church growth test. And here it is, if you want to know if a church is a growing church, I can tell you this, this test has a high accuracy. But I don’t know why. If you look at their website, count the number of smiles on their homepage of their people. It can’t be custom photography can’t be as cheesy like, Oh, I saw that photo at my dentist’s office. No, like it has to be your people. churches that are growing, you can test this out in your area or your church, they have 10 smiles on their homepage, that’s my non scientific church growth test. So do what you will with that, but let me share let me share with you the the 10 different categories of photos. So these are the 10 different categories that we and we this has been a little bit different because of COVID we’ve we’ve added like categories 13, and 14 down here, which are like your socially distance categories that we’ve never would have imagined, you know, like when people in masks and so like, it’s a weird time. So we’ve certainly done that we’ve got like, you know, church at home photos, which are super helpful if your churches, you know, digital only and, and we put all these example photographs that our churches can use inside CMU until until they can take their own. But those are a couple new categories because of, of COVID. The ones that we typically talk about are like a welcome photo, this is like a young family, visiting your church and experiencing them for the first time. So that’s kind of like the welcome category that you see here. You need one great welcome shot, you need a great family shot. So the number one indicator, this is our scientific assessment, the number one indicator that you’re going to be a growing church is that your lead pastor prioritizes, reaching the next generation, it’s the number one indicator that we found in our assessment. So you need, you need some photographs, at least one photograph that that captures that you need friends having fun, because the local church is a place of life giving community. So you it’s more than just a service, it’s more than just a building. So you need to communicate that with at least one shot of you will find the life giving friendships here. That’s number three kids having fun. Those are another shot that you need. This is Summit Park church. When we started out, we were in a community center. You can see here we have like a tent, we had stations set up. This was like one big room we had three year olds through sixth grade and about 70 of them in this little room at one point. So that’s that was my life in the first you know, year or two of summit Park church. But you can see here the facility is like you’re a tent, you got a tent, you got a piece of yarn, you got some Froot Loops. But the point is, is like there’s a volunteer here, there’s somebody who loves these kids, they’re still having fun, you know, whereas this is juxtaposed to like, that’s a James River shot, right $30 million worth of facilities. So you don’t have to have that to have the perfect shot. Here’s what you’re doing like portrait mode. Some of our most effective CMU churches they have, they’ll send out three Junior hires in teams with cell phones to get photos. So like the portrait mode can do wonders. So like those are kid shots. And you can do all of these as a church plant with cell phones. The next category is your speaking shots. So most churches are going to have some sort of speaking so you want to show what that looks like. Keep in mind All of these have a consistent theme of life, enthusiasm, smiles, nobody wants to take a hour out of their week, especially if they do not believe in God or, or follower of Jesus. They’re already they’re already wondering if I can belong here. So something enthusiastic, we think, a shot of the pastor’s family, something that’s a little bit more highly relational than you might typically think. So like something that says, Oh, these look like people that I would love to hang out with a shot of people listening in the service, specifically, if you can work in so that people can see what people were you can see like this lady has some coffee in the sanctuary. You’re going to answer so many questions, your singing time, a shot of seeing because worship is typically a part, you know, and again, smiling, you can get these shots. If you’re if your band rehearses, you can turn on all the lights, it doesn’t have to be during a Sunday morning, turn on all the lights and have a junior higher with a phone, go up and get an up close portrait mode of your worship leader.
Andrew Estes 26:07
Yeah, there’s one thing I was gonna say is that you I mean, you have a handful of those pictures, I think whether they’re of the pastor or of just families and interacting and stuff like that, like they don’t have to all be done on Sunday morning when everything’s going crazy. Like Actually, yeah, you know, staging some of these things.
Ryan Wakefield 26:25
A lot of times, it’s easier just to stage them like, like in the welcome shot. Like you some of these, you might just need, hey, we just need four people on a Tuesday night. Right? Like you get the perfect shot. You only need one of these, like this shot right here. Hey, we need four people right at the door. This could be this could be Monday morning, when it’s not negative 13 degrees, certainly. But yeah, don’t think inside that the service box lighting is normally a big issue. And so think outside, it doesn’t have to be exactly during that perfect, that perfect moment. And then we the group shot so like your small groups would be that when it comes to your facilities. I don’t love empty facilities. I love showing relationship in front of a facility like that, for example. So show what the experience is going to be like, but show how like, you can see people are connecting this, you know, this grandpa over here as a granddaughter, there’s signage, there’s young people, so if you can, anytime you have a facility shot, fill it full of people. On that note, these are the things we say not to do, don’t do empty rooms, not a good thing. Unless it’s just an official Google review, like a Google tour. We aren’t a big fan of darkroom bright lights, people who are far from God don’t necessarily understand what’s happening there. You don’t want your photography to raise more questions without the context of what’s happening so that we don’t love those photos to start off with. These are the photos that like all the churches love to use. And we’re like, Hey, don’t do that show an upclose smiling family don’t don’t do darkroom bright lights. And then for bonus, like your people having fun outside of church, here, get a lot of guys in your photography, and those spiritual defining moments of like a water baptism. And those are the categories so that hopefully that gives gives your your church planters like some very, like real examples of what that would look like. A lot of those shots that you just saw are from church plants.
Andrew Estes 28:24
Yeah, and I mean, I just love how it’s just a simple thing that we just neglect, I think if you’re not intentional about taking the time to actually go out and get these pictures for the purpose of making your online presence, your website, your your Facebook page, all these different things just to improve what people see, when they search for you. It’s just a, it’s just a missed opportunity. I think that you know, and I’ve just been kind of convicted by that. I think initially, when I was going through this was like, man, we just, we struggled at that sometimes. And there was occasional, like big events, like a big Easter service or something like that, or an outreach thing where we’d really try and schedule a photographer to come in. But on the on the regular, like, it was just one of those things that we just didn’t really prioritize. And so we didn’t have a full time communications purpose, who’s a person whose only purpose was to do this type of stuff. And so it was just one of those things that you have to you have to plan for, you have to strategize for and and just prepare for it. But it’s just such a simple improvement that people could be making a lot of our planters could be making to their websites right now. Man, some of your websites are decent, but they lack personality.
Ryan Wakefield 29:39
Yeah, and not just your website, be sure you put that throughout your digital location. So don’t forget about your Google My Business, Yelp, Facebook. And when you think about the importance of reaching young families, like what we talked about the number one indicator you’re going to be a growing church is that your lead pastor prioritizes reaching next generation, that generation is so visual, and so They have a phrase, if you ever talk to a younger person, and you’re talking to about something, they’re going to ask you for pics. And then if you do not have pictures, they will say pics, or it didn’t happen. Like if you don’t have pictures that did not exist. And so for a lot of our churches, it’s like, we in this metaphor don’t exist, because we aren’t showing what God is doing throughout our digital location through pictures. So just think about that, like, yes, it’s awesome that you have a worship team and you have somebody speaking, but if nobody like is connecting with it, or knows about your church, then man, it’s a huge missed opportunity. And, again, you can do a lot of stuff with it, but get a junior higher with a cell phone, show him those 10 photos, and you can get dangerously close and use that momentum to keep getting better at this. Yeah,
Andrew Estes 30:49
I want to pause for a second because I just I’ll just say that one of the things that I really appreciate it about not not only course but especially you Ryan, and just your heart behind it is, is really just the the prioritization of prayer, in your marketing and things of that nature. And a lot of times, we just try and look cool and be clever. And we just totally separate that from the spiritual side of what we’re trying to actually accomplish, which is just life change and advancing the kingdom. And I’ve really appreciated that about CMU, about you and your and your courses that you put together. But can you talk just maybe I mean, you’ve kind of teased on that a little bit, but just kind of talk a little bit more about why is it so important that when we’re talking about marketing, we’re talking about presenting ourselves, we’re talking about all these different things? Why is it so important to bathe all of that in prayer?
Ryan Wakefield 31:39
Yeah, I think it was, I was fortunate enough, growing up, you know, in the Bible College, and in a couple mentors in my life, and at one point, I thought I was going to be youth pastor. And so I was underneath, interning with a youth pastor, and all of them, all of the leaders in my life, though, if there was one constant thing that they kept saying is it would be along the lines of the battle is won in prayer, if the church is in praying, and what are we doing, you know, like, everything came back to prayer. And what was interesting was, are all of these leaders, mentors in churches, all of them were super aggressive about outreach, investing in marketing. But as aggressive as they were about outreach and marketing and external communication, they were just as aggressive about covering everything in prayer. So it was a great healthy model that I got to observe kind of behind the scenes. And when I worked at a church at James River church, the church when I was there in Bible college at evangel. Think it was right around 3000 people when I started when I, when I left and moved up to into Kansas City, I think it was closer to 12 to 15,000 people. But in that process, a lot of people from the outside looking in would be like, oh, mega churches, you know, they’re so spiritually shallow. Man, those people they’ve got a Starbucks in there. Like they make donuts, like oh, get, of course they’re growing. It’s because, you know, they’re just bribing our communities to come like in like, when I you know, and that was like my first perspective. And then once I got inside behind the scenes, man, that church prayed more than any church that I ever seen or been a part of every single Wednesday night was a prayer meeting, calling the church to pray every single month, the pastor and the leadership team would take a day and pray and fast. Every single Youth Service an hour before you service, you would have hundreds of students out praying. And so from the outside perspective, it looked like, oh, they’re growing. Because of all the money that they’re spending and all this stuff that they’re doing. Internally, you knew no, like, we’re like, the people are praying like crazy, but at the same time, they’re not just praying and then saying, okay, God, we prayed, like, now you go do it. It’s like, No, we prayed. Now, what do you want us to do to now take the next step and reach people
And what’s cool is throughout the entire Bible, you see this unique partnership between God and creation, where God is going to only do what God can do in the supernatural. But God invites us into this partnership from the very beginning, in one of my coaches, john, Eric Moser talks about look at the very beginning of Genesis, look what God does, God says, I’m going to create the world I’m going to create animals, but I’m going to invite you to name them right and then that type of partnership doesn’t doesn’t stop like every from the beginning of the Old Testament, through the building of the temple, you see, like God’s God’s doing what only He can do. But then there he’s calling and he’s gifting people. And so there’s this weird interesting partnership between men praying like crazy and and just saying, God unless you build the house, those that labor labor in vain, we know that to be true. So we’re going to pray like crazy that you would build the house. But then the other part of that is, there are people who are laboring, so God builds the house, but there are people who are definitely laboring in that partnership. And so I think from all throughout my ministry journey, I’ve just seen this beautiful coming together of you both the spiritual, the supernatural, the, the emphasis on you better be praying over every single thing. And then also, but that means we should be aggressive about sharing the good news as much as we possibly can into all of the world in all of the world means Facebook, Google, YouTube, Instagram. And so it’s it’s cool to see that lived out. And then one thing that really makes an impact on YouTube is when you start to pray like crazy, like before you do a Facebook ads campaign, man, you the church is praying, you’re praying, you’re covering that thing in prayer. And then you start to hear stories of people who are being baptized, and they’re like, you know what, for some reason, I was scrolling on Facebook, and I saw your guys’s video and there was just something in my heart, or like, you start to hear stories, like, we you know, send out a direct mail, don’t just send out a direct mail piece, call your people to pray and fast over that. And, and we heard stories of like, people throwing away like this family threw away our direct mail piece, and a kid reached in and grabbed the direct mail piece out of the trash. It was like, I want that for whatever reason, like, you just hear things like, like, like we’re a door hanger, you know, we mobilize our people with door hanger campaigns. And then you know, that door hanger like God would just supernaturally, like, prompt people’s heart like I have something for you in this local local church. So once you start seeing that, and you start to hear stories, and you’re starting to see people be baptized, and and now you’re just seeing like, Oh, my word, God, you are really doing only what you could do. And yeah, all this stuff that we do, it seems kind of silly and like doesn’t really make a difference. But man, when God puts his grace on it, it’s interesting how effective and powerful it can be and sharing the good news and how much God God loves our community. So that’d be my that’d be my charge to your your crew is to be equally aggressive with outreach and marketing as you are with with spiritual in prayer. Yeah,
Andrew Estes 36:58
no, that’s, that’s awesome. Man, I really appreciate you sharing some of that stuff. I want to I want to talk about a couple super practical things. I mean, you’ve mentioned a handful of just even in that have a handful of different marketing opportunities that we that we have at our disposal from mailers to to door hangers to Facebook ads, and all the Google ads and all these different things. Right now in in Nexus, we’re really kind of encouraging our guys to to relook at literally everything and have this mindset of relaunch this year of as we are coming out of 2020 and all the implications of what that is, and maybe even coming out of this week of being frozen, solid and going forward. Of what what does it look like to reengage our community to relaunch to have that one of the phrases we say is? Well, similar. I mean, we encourage our guys to always be thinking like church planters, not just like, pastors that have arrived and have that mindset. So always be be thinking as a church planter. So as we move into this idea of just relaunch, if you could give us just one, maybe two things to do in a marketing mindset, what would be your primary things that if you’re gonna do marketing, do this. And then maybe On the flip side, don’t do this? This is not good.
Ryan Wakefield 38:20
Yep. So two things. Number one is interesting timing on this. We just launched this today. It’s a it’s the answer to this question that our best shot at answering it. It’s what we’re calling our 21 days of hope and Easter experience. It’s inside our ultimate Easter kit. So if your churches want to check it out, you can totally for free, it’s our gift to local churches, helping them reach more people going into Easter. So you can go to church marketing University comm slash Easter. What this 21 day initiative is, is it’s a it’s a 21 day journey. It’s almost like saying to your congregation, well, let’s go on a local missions trip together. And it’s about bringing hope to your people, but also through your people. And so every single day, your people will get an email every few days, you’ll get a text, the people will get a text reminder. And what’s cool is like some days, it’s designed, hey, here’s a devotional today about Easter to fill your heart full of hope, and to get you excited about Easter. And then the next day, it might be Hey, who are three people that we can start praying for? And right let’s write those names down. And let’s spend the next 10 minutes praying for those three people. And then what you don’t know is like on day number nine, it’s going to encourage you, hey, text those three people and see if there’s any way that you can be praying for them. And so the idea is it’s a way to engage and mobilize your congregation so right now those are one of my favorite quote unquote marketing campaigns is not so much hey, here’s let’s go put up a billboard and expect people to flock to our church. No, let’s mobilize our congregation to bring hope to them but also hope through them, and get them sharing their faith story, get them praying for people get them being the answer to somebody’s prayer. And then out of the overflow of that ministry, the last kind of week of that, three, that 21 days experience is okay now invite them to your churches, Easter experience, whether that’s online or in person or some sort of hybrid approach. But it starts with that this idea of ministry first, and then invite out of the overflow of that relationship. So that’s one thing that that we launched just today literally, like at 11am, central today, we launched it to for our CMU churches, you can get that again, inside that ultimate Easter kit, as a part of that. And you can, you can see what that’s all about. So that would be my thought is do it more of a mobilization campaign, get your people thinking about how they can bring hope, to their relationships and their connections, as opposed to what the church has traditionally done in the past, where it’s like, let’s do a big event gathering on Easter. And then all of our people invite their friends to the gathering, and then the expert Christians take over from there. It’s like, let’s kind of flip that on our head and see if we can we can mobilize our people. Since a lot of us can’t, we can’t do big gatherings, which I think can be really healthy.
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