How A Church Of 90 People Grew 42% In 6 Months Using Social Media | Ep. #141

Pro Church Daily is the show where - in ten minutes or less - you’ll get your daily dose of tips and tactics to help your church share the message of Jesus, while navigating the biggest communication shift we’ve seen in the last 500 years.

June 27th, 2018

Brady discusses a message he received from a pastor who is seeing the effects of using social media at his church first hand. EJ has seen incredible growth at his church plant, and Brady shares some principles you can apply to your church.

What’s In This Session?

  • Pastor EJ’s story (1:09)
  • #1: Low-hanging Fruit (2:26)
  • #2: The Brand (2:14)
  • #3: Facebook Live Devotion (5:34)
  • #4: Ownership Over Attendance (7:30)
  • #5: Google My Business (9:11)
  • Share your stories with us! (9:56)

Show Notes & Resources Mentioned

The Full Transcript

Alex Mills: Well hey there, and welcome to Pro Church Daily, the show where in 10 minutes or less you’ll get your daily dose of tips and tactics to help your church share the message of Jesus while we try and navigate the biggest communication shift we’ve seen in the last 500 years. I’m your host man, Alex Mills, joined as always by the boss man, it’s Brady Shearer. And today we’re talking about how a church of 90 people grew up 42% in just six months by using social media. 

Brady Shearer: Every single day, Alex, you and I, we sit at this table. We share tips and tactics to help your church navigate the biggest communication shift we’ve seen in the last 500 years.

Alex Mills: We do.

Brady Shearer: I got a message through Facebook the other day from a member of Pro Church Nation who’s watching Pro Church daily, listening. And took these tactics, put them into action, and saw big results.

Alex Mills: What do you know? They worked.

Brady Shearer: Who would’ve thought, this stuff actually works. So we wanted to share these results with Pro Church Nation, because a lot of the times you just wanna hear that it’s working.

Alex Mills: Yeah.

Brady Shearer: You wanna know, wow, this stuff actually translates to me accomplishing my church’s vision, mission, and purpose. That’s what happened for pastor EJ and Field of Grace Baptist Church from Shepardsville, Kentucky. Again, led by pastor EJ, he’s the one who reached out to me. This is an independent baptist church in a town, and this is really interesting, I love this part, the town is just 1,800 people in size.

Alex Mills: I thought that I lived in a small town, [inaudible 00:01:21] Lake has a population of about 15,000 people. Pastor EJ is in a town of 1,800 people.

Brady Shearer: I grew up in a town of 1,800 for my entire life until college, so I relate to Pastor EJ.

Alex Mills: Wow.

Brady Shearer: I feel at home. Okay, let’s talk about what Pastor EJ did that was so effective. Here is the message the he sent to me. He said, “Me and my wife are both first generation Christians. I was saved at 23 from a pretty rough background. We started the church just my wife and I. First Sunday, six people came, my wife and I paid for the community center out of our own pockets.”

Alex Mills: Amazing.

Brady Shearer: That was just three years ago. We closed 2017 out, so end of last year, averaging 80 to 90 people. Last Sunday, six months later, we had 170 and that has been the norm that last several weeks we’ve seen at least 97 first time visitors this year.

Alex Mills: Wow.

Brady Shearer: 19 joined the church last Sunday, and there have been 21 saved in just the last three weeks.

Alex Mills: So what is this guy doing? How is he making that happen?

Brady Shearer: Well let’s talk about some strategies, really some tips and tactics that EJ was telling me have been working for him. The first one, low hanging fruits.

Alex Mills: Of course.

Brady Shearer: And this is an exact quote from EJ. He said, “First and foremost I would say that just having an online presence, allowing people around us to know that we are here, has been the biggest factor.” And this is especially true for smaller churches. 

Alex Mills: Yeah.

Brady Shearer: 50% of churches in America are 100 people or fewer. And it’s easy for churches of that size, I’ve served in many, you serve in one currently.

Alex Mills: Yep.

Brady Shearer: To think online? Digital? That’s just for the big churches.

Alex Mills: Right.

Brady Shearer: That’s not gonna work for me. But a lot of the times, if all you have is a website that is searchable on Google, if all you’ve done is filled out the My Google Business profile, these are the types of things. Just having a presence online, that low hanging fruit, that’s gonna be really easy for you to set up. And you’ve overlooked for way too long. You’ve just gotta go for it, that are gonna make huge differences.

Alex Mills: Well and you said it, it’s imperative for a smaller church, it’s also imperative for a smaller church in a small community like 1,800 people. Our community is small, 15,000 people is a small community. So just get online, get a Facebook page up and running, make sure your website’s there, and I think you’ll see return on investment just from that.

Brady Shearer: Second big thing that helped move the needle forward for Pastor EJ and the team, the brand. And when I say the brand I do not mean the colors, the logos, and the fonts.

Alex Mills: Right.

Brady Shearer: What EJ said was this. He said, “We readily admit that we’re not perfect, Jesus is still working on us, and then we take that same attitude and message, and try to portray it online.” This is the type of thing that welcomes new visitors.

Alex Mills: Yeah.

Brady Shearer: If you’re a new visitor coming to a church and you’re met with insider culture, you’re met with legalese, you’re met with this is how you need to behave to fit in with this group, you are not going to want to return. If you are met with the love of Christ, welcoming open arms, and saying, “Look we know that maybe you’re not where you wanna be. Guess what? Neither are we. We’re all on this journey together.” That is the type of brand and culture that is conducive to people coming to church, coming back, getting saved, and becoming fully integrated into your church family.

Alex Mills: We recently just did this with our Facebook page, our about us section was a pretty nice, neat version of our mission statement. There was lots of Christian-ese in there, and we changed it just recently to say, I believe it says, “We’re just a ragamuffin group of sons and daughters running home to their father.” And that’s all it says, “Come join on us Sunday.”

Brady Shearer: I just got shivers. 

Alex Mills: Yeah, and it’s like when we just have the courage to admit that yeah, we’re all just like you. Whoever you are looking at our website, you’re no different from us, we’re no different from you. And we’re just trying to figure this thing called life out, so why don’t you come join us? That’s just so much more of an open door online, that point of entry. And yeah, of course you’ll see it translate into more people checking out your church for the first time.

Brady Shearer: The first two items on this list of five takeaways from EJ and the church’s growth have been the two biggest that are kind of obvious, but we need to restate them because they’re so important. One, seize the 167.

Alex Mills: Yeah.

Brady Shearer: And number two, be welcoming. Let’s get though now, to what I really like.

Alex Mills: Oh yeah.

Brady Shearer: The nitty gritty, the real tactics. Number three, Facebook Live devotions.

Alex Mills: I love this one.

Brady Shearer: This one is crazy.

Alex Mills: Yeah.

Brady Shearer: So Pastor EJ says, “My wife and I recently started doing daily live devotions on Facebook. It’s made a huge impact. We’ve seen nearly 30 first time visitors,” so remember he said 97. So at least one out of three of those watched a devotion on Facebook Live first, before attending church. Seize something, the 167, that’s what you wanna seize. The 167 hours beyond your Sunday service. Again, this is a town of 1,800. Pastor EJ said these devotions average that many views per video.

Alex Mills: That seems crazy to me, that they’re getting just as many views on average on these seemingly small, short live devotions on Facebook. As many people live in that area. That’s incredible.

Brady Shearer: But that’s what happens when each of us have 500 to 1,000 friends on Facebook, and then you get three, or four, or five shares. And suddenly the reach is exponential. Facebook is pushing live video more than any other piece of content. And suddenly, you get 2,000 views on a video shared on a page, because it was shared so many other times by the people you’re connected with. And it just translates that well. And again, that’s why seize the 167 is such a big deal. Because instead of saying, “Come to us, come to us,” we can go to them first. One of the three first time visitors watched that video before they ever stepped foot in the building.

Alex Mills: We’ve talked about Facebook Live before, we’re talking about it right now. I still think it’s underrated. I’m on Facebook, I have it at least open on a tab most of the day here at work, because I do a lot of work on Facebook. And I notice that I get, not only do I get notifications when somebody’s gone live, but often their live video will literally just pop up and start playing on my browser. And people that I’ve never interacted with online and Facebook is like, “You will now watch this.” So we need to tap into that, and maybe this is just a great real-life example of striking gold on Facebook Live.

Brady Shearer: Facebook throttles organic reach, but with Facebook Live they’re gonna shove it in your face. Hey, let’s take advantage of that.

Alex Mills: Even if you don’t want it. Yeah.

Brady Shearer: That’s how it’s gonna be. Number four, this is a big one, ownership over attendance. We did a recent episode of Pro Church Daily talking about how using attendance as the measuring stick for church growth and church health isn’t great.

Alex Mills: No.

Brady Shearer: First time visitors, I like that. People getting saved, I like that. Overall attendance, if that’s all we’re tracking it’s just not gonna point to what we’re really trying to accomplish as churches.

Alex Mills: Right.

Brady Shearer: And Pastor EJ said this directly. He said, “As cliché as it might sound at this point, we’ve really pushed community, belonging, and being involved, being the church, as opposed to just being at church.”

Alex Mills: I love that.

Brady Shearer: And this is where next steps, this is why we believe next steps are really the absolute best way to track your church’s growth and overall health. Because what’s great about next steps is when people are involved, that directly translates to attendance. But if all you do is focus on attendance, butts in seats, and you don’t actually concern yourself with people being involved, taking next steps, you can become really stagnant. Church full of passive spectators, not active participants. And that will actually end up hurting what you’re really trying to accomplish. Because what you track, what you measure, is usually what you focus on. And if all we care about is butts in seats, butts in seats, that’s not gonna translate to overall church health and growth.

Alex Mills: And isn’t it interesting, like Pastor EJ said here, when you prioritize being the church, the involvement in church, as opposed to being at church, you actually see attendance go up, as we’ve seen in his numbers. He’s grown by 42% in the last six months. So attendance actually has gone up, but not because they prioritized that, but more rather they prioritized being church. It’s very clear and I think it’s more simple than we’ve made it out to be.

Brady Shearer: Yeah, exactly. Final big takeaway, we mentioned this one already for Pastor EJ and his church was the Google My Business profile. If someone searches your church on Google, and you have the Google My Business profile tab filled out on the right column of the Google search screen, there’s gonna be photos from your church, your phone number, your address directly linked to Google Maps, reviews from your church, contact numbers and email addresses, direct link to the website. Basically a giant digital business card, Facebook profile sort of thing directly within Google. You’ve gotta verify that your address is real, you’ve gotta fill out that profile right now. It’s free, and it translates to huge wins within search, which is how people are finding you. First impressions are being made online in 2018 and beyond.

Alex Mills: There you go. 

Brady Shearer: We would love to hear more success stories, so if you are like Pastor EJ, and you have been implementing some of the things that we talk about on Pro Church Daily and they have been translating to more next steps, to more first time visitors, to more people finding Jesus and becoming more like Jesus, send those to us. For so many people in Pro Church Nation, being encouraged by hearing success stories is kind of that thing they need to really have the faith and confidence that this stuff works.

Alex Mills: Yeah.

Brady Shearer: So send them in. We’ve also linked in the show notes, links to Filed of Grace Baptist Church’s website, and social, so you can check them out for yourself. EJ did want me to mention that much of these are still a work in progress.

Alex Mills: There you go.

Brady Shearer: Which I think is actually indicative that you don’t need to be perfect.

Alex Mills: Exactly.

Brady Shearer: Just do anything that low hanging fruit, and that can in turn get big results for you. That’ll do it for today’s episode of Pro Church Daily, we’ll see you next time.