Leaders Shutting Down Creativity, Church Directories & Google My Business | #AskBrady Episode 41

The #AskBrady Show is a weekly Q&A show answering questions submitted by members of Pro Church Nation. New episodes drop every Friday.

November 10th, 2017

On this 41st episode of the #AskBrady show we discuss church directories, and what to do when your leader keeps shutting down your creative projects and ideas.

What’s In This Episode?

  • Worship backgrounds: motions or stills? (1:06)
  • Everything I try to do creative or new gets shut down by my lead pastor. Do you have any advice or ideas as to what I should do? (3:05)
  • I’m being asked about offering an online church directory and looking for some insights as to whether that’s still something worth doing. (17:03)
  • Any suggestions on how to use the 300 character limit status update for our church’s Google Business page? (21:54)

Show Notes & Resources Mentioned

The Full Transcript

Brady: Today on the Ask Brady show we talk about a new Google social media feature that is actually not a failure.

Well, hey there Pro Church nation and welcome to the Ask Brady show episode number 41. We’ve got four great questions from the people of Pro Church nation and I’m joined as always, to my left your right, it’s Roxanne.

Roxanne: It’s true.

Brady: True it is. Behind the camera the editing wizard himself, Jonex.

JONEX: Ba ba ba bam

Brady: Ba ba ba bam

And the man with the cam, Alex Mills.

Alex: Thanks. It’s not really as special as it sounds cause I work here but I’m here.

Brady: Roxanne, take us away with the first question.

Roxanne: Alright question number one comes from Jonathan and it says, “Brady, worship backgrounds, motion or stills?”

Brady: Jonathan getting straight to the point with a quick question. I like it. This, of course, comes down to personal preference as well as your leadership’s propensity towards traditional or more progressive types of media. I think that if you have motions behind your backgrounds, videos in particular I am getting at here. What you want to do is definitely make sure that they’re not distracting. And the best example of this is going to come from my good friend, Jeff, over at churchmotiongraphics.com. Jeff is by far in my opinion the leader, the authority when it comes to motion backgrounds and almost everything he puts together is motion. It’s in the name of his company. And I think the reason for that, and I don’t have any particular data to back this up but motion backgrounds are going to be compelling, more engaging and definitely more dynamic than still backgrounds. The words on the screen are already going to be still themselves and if you can pair still words with a motion background this is one way to inject a little more energy, a little more dynamism, a little more … Ah, I wanted to think of some more buzz words and I couldn’t think of any. I’m going to go with dynamism, though. Dynamism.

Roxanne: Dynamism?

Brady: Dynamism. The dynamics. Man, this got off the rails real quick. Point being: pair still words with dynamism of the motion backgrounds and I think that’s one way to create a more engaging worship experience. Of course, there are some Pastors that prefer to push back on this for some reason due to traditional held beliefs that are not based in doctrine or anything other than “that’s the way we’ve always done it.”

And we’re going to get to a question, I think, a little later that talks about navigating difficult scenarios and situations with leadership in that way. But if I had my choice it would be motion backgrounds for sure.

Roxanne: Alright. Question number two. Comes from Steven and he says “I’ve been trying to innovate some of the stuff you talk about at Pro Church Tools, but everything I try to do creative or new. Like, for example, I tried talking about doing a free gift and the pastor that is overhead said that it’s like a gimmick and sounds like something the world would do. This is just one example of what things I go through. Do you have any advice or ideas I should do?”

Brady: Steven, there are a lot of things that I can say in response to this question. The first is, I and so many people within Pro Church Nation, empathize with the situation that you are in. We’ve talked about this data a ton but I think it paints a very accurate and clear picture the state of the church in North America, particularly, which is where this data is from. The average lead Pastor in Protestant churches is 54 years old. The average age in the world is 26 years old. So you’ve got, me, a 26 year old as the average most … pardon me, when I say average that’s not, that’s incorrect. It’s not average age it’s most popular age.

Roxanne: Right.

Brady: There are more 26 year olds than any other age alive. Let’s go back to average, the biggest cohort when it comes to demographics in your community and city at least North America wide, is millennials. So we’re talking about people in their twenties. So, you’ve got every church, on average being led by a 54 year old and the biggest demographic in your community and city. Basically the people you are trying to reach are twenty or thirty years younger and this creates a big disconnect. Just 25 years ago the average lead pastor age was 44. So this isn’t something that has always existed. Pastors on average are getting older and older and with the big millennial boom, the largest living generation our communities and cities are becoming younger and younger. And millennials right now are just hitting that inflection point where we’re having kids, we’re getting mortgages, we’ve been working at jobs for a while. And brands, big brands and organizations are beginning to tune their marketing and advertising towards us because we are the young people with the money. We are the spenders. So we are living through this big communication shift. We talk all the time about, we’re living through the biggest communication shift in the last 500 years. That isn’t a thing that happened and is now going down. It’s only trending upwards. This is becoming more of an issue, more of a problem.

Right now, 1 in 3 American workers is a millennial. By 2025, that’s predicted to be 1 in 2 worldwide. So this is only going to become more and more prevalent. And more and more, millennials, people that are our age are going to have the power within our churches. Right now, up until this point, we have been the Associate Pastors, the Student Pastors, the Worship Pastors, the Kids Pastors, well soon, we’re going to be the Lead Pastors. And there are a ton of different implications on this. Bi vocational ministry is going to be on the rise. More churches are going to be planted, I don’t think that’s a trend that’s going to end either. And one of the reasons that church plants are happening more and more is because of this exact problem, Steven. Older leaders incapable or unwilling of handing stuff off to younger leaders who have great ideas and want and are willing to serve.

Let me get this, let me be uber clear on this. There are bad, lazy people in every generation. There are lazy, entitled millennials, there are lazy, entitled Gen X’ers, there are lazy, entitled Boomers, and for those that are alive there are lazy, entitled, very, very old Builders. There are lazy and entitled Gen Z’ers, there are lazy and entitled toddlers. Okay. It is so unfair and unempirical and just untrue to paint a generation and say “you know what, those are the lazy entitled ones.” Not to mention the fact that if that is true, it’s not, who are the ones that parented us? You! Look in the mirror you Un- … you know what, I’ll stop there.

And this isn’t directed at your lead Pastor, it’s directed at the malaise worldwide, culture wide towards millennials that we’re somehow unwilling to step up. When, if we look at the data, Boomers did not save enough money, not just in churches. Boomers didn’t save enough money to retire, they’re retiring way later something that’s not their fault. We’re all living way longer so we don’t need to retire as early. And we’ve got a huge portion of millennials that are like, “we’d love to help, we’re willing and we’re facing this type of resistance within your church.”

Now, that just sets the stage. When it comes to actually navigating this change. I empathize with the state you’re in and the state your lead Pastor and Senior leadership is in because it’s a tough position for both parties.

Roxanne: Mm-hmm (affirmative)-

Brady: The only way for you to bridge this gap is to lock in on the vision of your church. Okay? So, look at the mission statement of your church, look at what you’re trying to accomplish as a body of Christ. Then what you want to do is tie your suggestion, pair what you want to implement with that vision and mission, to not want to try something new that challenges the values of your ministry, of their church. But instead compliment and help succeed and put into practice that vision becoming more of a reality in helping further the mission rather than contradict or challenge it. There is so much that goes into leadership, whether it be tradition, the insecurity of a leader, the lack of vision within a church. You know, this statement that I just said, kind of started off saying, lock in on the vision of your church. A lot of churches just don’t have a leader with strong vision casting ability. Maybe they’re great people persons, maybe they’re great communicators, but they just can’t cast a vision and then drive everyone as a collective towards that vision. It’s not easy, and it’s something that a lot of our churches struggle with.

But, at least, you probably have a mission statement or a vision statement. What you want to do is bring your suggestions toward the changes you want to implement forward, by pairing them with that exact mission statement. So for instance, to use your connection card free gift incentive as an example, what you could say is “Look, our goal is to love God, love people and serve the world.” Let’s say that that is your vision statement, a very common one within church. Basically as an aside, all church mission statements can be distilled down to the great commandment, the great commission or some combination of the two, right?

Roxanne: Mm-hmm (affirmative)-

Brady: So, it’s make disciples, love God, love people, right? That is every church mission statement in some way in different verbiage. So, if that is the mission statement that we’re starting with how could you pair the idea of this incentivization, this free giveaway with that core value and really foundational bedrock of your church. So, obviously, one of the best things that you want to focus on first is this idea of loving people. Okay, when people come to our church we want them to feel valued. And one of the easiest ways to make someone feel valued is to give them a gift. We are coming up on Christmas. What happens, Roxanne, if Christmas comes around and I do not give a gift to my wife?

Roxanne: Yeah, I don’t think she’d be very happy.

Brady: Why would she not be happy?

Roxanne: Because she would think that you don’t appreciate her.

Brady: Because she’d think that I don’t appreciate her, that I don’t value her. For whatever reason, for better or for worse, this is just the way the culture works, it’s just neutral. We see someone giving us a gift as a reflection on their value of us. It’s why it’s one of the Five Love Languages, giving and receiving gifts. When I receive gifts, I feel valued, I feel loved. It is one of the Five Love Languages. Now this would be a great way to communicate with your Pastor. Go and use and old school book that they surely grew up on as an example for what you’re trying to do. So now you’ve got this foundation. Look, it’s one of the Five Love Languages, Pastor. It is proven that people feel more valued when we give them a gift. So this isn’t about a gimmick or doing what the world does. Does the world give gifts? Apparently the world give gifts and churches don’t.

Roxanne: I haven’t been getting any, so …

Brady: Followers of Jesus do not give gifts. That is a carnal, worldly, sinful endeavor. I’m being a bit hyperbolic and I don’t mean to make light of your situation, Steven, but what you could do is say “look, it is proven that people feel valued when they’re given a gift. When someone comes to our church, how do we want them to feel? We’re trying to love people so we want them to feel valued. We want them to feel acknowledged. We want them to feel cared for. And one of the ways that we can do that is, we could put the gift in their hands and show them they’re valued through a simple gesture like that.”

Now to respond to the statement of your Pastor saying “we should just preach the bible and that’s it.” If that’s going to be the statement that they come with. First of all the amount of baggage that statement comes with, like let’s just, let’s just analyze that for one second. How many denominations are there in the Christian faith? Ten thousand, at least, probably.

Roxanne: Yeah.

Brady: Every one of those ten thousand believes that they have the correct, proper understanding of the bible, right? Somebody’s wrong. Actually everybody’s wrong to a certain degree. And everyone in the Christian faith is someone else’s heretic. And if we could all just be a little more empathetic and charitable towards one another and focus on the majors and not the minors we would be in a much better place, come on somebody!

If you’re Pastor is going to come to the table and say we’re only going to preach the bible, that’s all that matters, there’s only so much you can do to sway their opinion but what you can do is say “okay, if that statement is true then I can only imagine that you believe that you, yourself are already fulfilling that statement so why are we even having this meeting whatsoever?” And that is obviously a fatalistic and depressing view point and it’s not necessarily the best tactical approach, again I would go with the first one. Tie your implementation that you want to approach with the mission statement and with the Five Love Languages, old books that Pastors have read to show that “look, I empathize I understand where you’re coming from.” But if your Pastor just thinks like, if he’s going to say giving someone a gift is worldly and that you must preach the bible. I don’t know how he or she likes to interpret the bible, it wouldn’t be hard to find a bible verse that talks about giving gifts.

Roxanne: No.

Brady: So you could come at it from that perspective. I don’t personally like using scripture as proof texts as backing or evidence for decision making because I think you can twist scripture as is evidenced by churches and Pastors every single day and by the fact that we have ten thousand denominations and no one can get along. So I wouldn’t go that approach, but if that’s the only way to convince your Pastor it might be something to consider. The point that I’m trying to make is, you want to, at the end of the day, prove that you are on your Pastor’s side. You believe in their vision and what you are suggesting and hoping to implement, the purpose for you doing it is to come alongside them, to compliment them, to support them and help them see the vision come to pass in your community. Shouts to the snowbirds coming from Canada.

That is the foundation you want to come from? When it comes to actually executing on that you can obviously pair the vision with your implementation strategy. Their foundational idea is bible, bible, bible, find a bible verse that would say giving is a good thing. And from there, at the end of the day there’s only going to be so much you can do if your Pastor is set on not using communication strategies that make sense in 2017. And again, I’m fascinated on a macro level to see how the church as a whole navigates the next decade as millennials become the dominant force within culture. Not just the up and coming generation, not just the biggest generation that is still one level below the decision makers but as we become the Lead Pastors, and the Teachers, and the Lawyers and the Doctors and every single position in culture that holds a place in authority.

I’m fascinated to see how the church manages this. Because there are … gross, gross number, a large quantity. I don’t know what the percentage is but I assume and I’m quite confident it’s more that 50% of our churches that are very, very old. And I’m not quite old enough or well versed in church history to know how something like this has been navigated before but I think that the church planting trend where I have seen this personally with so many friends. They are a Pastor in their church and they are seeing their Lead Pastor become older and older and as a reflection the congregation is becoming older and older and they’re saying “look its time we start making a change because we as a church do not even remotely reflect, demographic wise, our community.” That’s a problem. So, they’re trying to get a little bit more like role and they’re trying to give and give but the Pastor’s like “no, I’m not ready to give up any.” And then what happens? They go and plant a church. They start from scratch. I have seen this happen over and over again with my bible college friends, people that are older than me. They’re trying to serve their church they are not being given any decision making power, any like seat at the table, much less authority. So they go and do their own thing.

Roxanne: Mm-hmm (affirmative)-

Brady: And that might just be the way that this transitions. The church isn’t going anywhere but the way that we do church is going to drastically change and shift in the next decade simply because of this huge communication shift that we’re living through with technology paired with this massive generational gap and the fact that the decision makers are retiring later, living longer and you’ve got this huge generation coming up behind them that doesn’t have jobs because they’re being taken by others and wants to do stuff but has not yet been able to.

Very fascinating. Church wide, culture wide, it’s a long answer but there’s just so much there.

Roxanne: Yeah. Alright, question three comes from Jonathan and he says “I’m being asked about offering an online church directory and looking for some insights as to whether this is still something or ever was worth doing. I thought maybe you could point me in a direction of the best info.”

Brady: Church directories used to be quite the thing.

Roxanne: Yep.

Brady: Guess what? Then the internet happened rendering them useless. Now, some people still hold on to church directories. There are a couple problems with this. One, we’re all on Facebook.

Roxanne: Yeah.

Brady: You could use a private Facebook group as a directory. Not only would this allow for the sharing of information in a private setting where you can decide who gets admitted and who does not, but you can also use it to allow for interaction back and forth. So, it’s not just a static listing of information like “Roxanne, address 123 Fake Street, age 28, occupation: Pro Church Nation.” Like, that’s not something that you, that’s just static right? Well now, in a Facebook group where you can use that as the directory, Roxanne and I can communicate back and forth, which is also great and we can share information as needed. You can go to someones Facebook profile and then what they allow friends or connections to see is also what leads into the second part, security.

Church directories, on paper, Rolodex, but now we’ve transitioned to the digital world for the most part and if you host a church directory online, where everyone’s information is, you know, that has different security and privacy implications that you’ll have to navigate. You could make certain types of information required, but a lot of people are not going to want to give away their information even though we do everyday on platforms like Facebook and Instagram that own us, we still don’t like the idea of Big Brother and we don’t want to give it away. And that means that to make it private you’re going to have to do a bunch of development to make your church directory secret where it requires a password or something and there’s no interaction. It’s going to require a ton of dev work, a ton of prep. What you want to do, is instead of spending the money, time and skill in an arena that does not warrant that type of effort. Use, leverage an existing platform, like Facebook where 7 out of every 10 American adults already is, the majority of your church is already there, and you can use that as the spring board and starting point for your church directory. Now the push back is what about that grandma that doesn’t want to get on Facebook? Well 7 out of every 10 American adults are already there, 0 out of every 10 American adults are on your church directory.

So, even if one grandma is going to be defiant towards Facebook, 5 other people out of every 10 are going to be defiant, or not even defiant, just won’t care, won’t get in touch with you in your church directory. If you do a directory using something like a private Facebook group it is going to be, I guarantee you, if you execute it in even the most simple and straightforward of ways more successful than if you did a directory. Why? What comes down to that commodity that we talk about all the time, attention. The attention is already on Facebook, you could easily set up a group with that existing attention rather than spend the money on an antiquated communication medium like a church directory. Spend time, money, resources, and then you’re going to have to work extra hard to get people onto a platform that they already are not on that has security and privacy implications accompanying it, which is just another barrier. Leverage existing attention, siphon it where people already are.

Roxanne: My last job was at a church as a receptionist and they worked from a directory and when I got there they were like “just use this directory, it literally has everybody, all their information, it’ll be fine.” But obviously it takes so much time, so much money to keep a directory up to date that literally every day I would go to call somebody and their number is disconnected or they’ve passed away or their family has moved away or their kids have aged so the picture is no longer accurate. So there is just a lot of downfalls to having a physical directory like that.

Brady: And this is something that’s like unavoidable in a lot of ways. Like I just got a call from the Canadian government and they’re like “are you still at this address?” I’m like, well actually we got a new office and their like “well you should update that.” And I was like “okay, I guess I will.” This is something that happens all the time. In a Facebook group, lets say this happened. You try to get in touch with Cathy because you know that her father is dealing with an illness and you want to show some support. Cathy’s number is no longer what you thought it was. You’re in the Facebook group and you just say “hey, can someone, you know, private message me Cathy’s number I seem to have lost it?” Within the next ten minutes or an hour someone’s got it to you. Boom, just like that.

Roxanne: Yeah.

Brady: Because everyone is there as a community working together, interacting with one another, which is again, one of the huge advantages over a static directory on print or on a Rolodex that is just you and the paper and the paper is not that helpful.

Roxanne: Alright, last question comes from Darren and he says “any suggestions on how to use the 300 character limit status update for our Church’s google business page?”

Brady: Google has not has a good successful run with social media.

Roxanne: No, they have not.

Brady: It came out with Google Posts this summer, June 2017. And it is one of the most exciting things that I have seen them do ever with social media. Here’s why, your Google Posts are connected to your Google business listing. So if someone searches for your church name in Google, what will come up? Your Google business listing, if it’s properly set up. There will be a map, location, business hours, phone number maybe some pictures. Pro Church Tools has a business listing.

Roxanne: Yeah.

Brady: And we don’t even let people come here. So, that just shows you how much it’s important to have one of these. If you search Pro Church Tools it’ll show you our address, it will show you a picture of our office space, our working hours all of that. Your Google business page and profile within Google’s search engine now allows you to add posts and basically now when someone searches for your business, not only will those static items come up: picture, business hours, telephone number, address, but now your posts will show up as well.

So let’s imagine you’re a restaurant. You could post something on your Google posts about a promotion for that week. So when someone searches for Ajoles, the Mexican restaurant that we all go to and we see “new this week, special guacamole infused with triple the cilantro!” Brady’s really happy. And that’s a Google Post. Here’s what you can do with Google Posts. It has a ton of different options. I screen shotted this. If you want to get access to Google Posts you just want to log in to your Google business profile and in the left navigation menu you’ll see this new tab that says “posts” Next to it on mine it said “new” cause I hadn’t clicked in to it yet. And then if you go to write a post here are all the options. You can upload an image, like this question said, actually incorrectly, it’s not 300 characters it’s up to 300 words in your post.

Roxanne: Oh, okay.

Brady: You can out an event title on it. Like “trip the guac cilantro” or whatever you want to call it. You can put a start date, start time, end date and end time so if you know the “guacamole triple cilantro” promotion ends on Sunday at midnight you can put it in there and then it will automatically delete. Also very cool. You can add a button so you can have a direct call to action: “learn more; reserve; sign up; buy; get offer.” And then you can link directly to a URL. And all of these are going to show up in your Google listing. The reason that Google has failed when it comes to social media in the past is that it has been unsuccessful in siphoning attention and creating a place where people actually pay attention and show up long term. YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, what do we do? We spend a lot of time on there each and every day.

Roxanne: It’s true.

Brady: In everything that these platforms do, their goal is to keep you on their platform longer. This is why Facebook does as much market research as it does on what best ads they should serve you so that you don’t get angry at the ads and you don’t leave but so that they can monetize the time that you’re already spending there. The reason that YouTube’s number one metric that they care about is watch time is because the longer the watch time, the more time you’re on YouTube, the more ads they can serve you, the more money that they can make. What’s great about this and why Google I think has hit on something huge here, is that Google is the number one search engine in the world by far and we spend a ton of time there. And your listing is already there and now you can add something timely to a company you’re listing. So lets say you have a new sermon series, you could put that in a Google Post and if someone searches your church they don’t just see “this is the address, this is the service time, this is when they’re open.” Now they see a timely post from you saying “we’re starting a new sermon series on x,y, and z, we’d love to see you there. Here’s a link to learn more.” Wow, that’s timely.

Christmas is coming up. You could post about all of your Christmas services and here’s what’s great. You can set an expiration time on them so that you don’t have to worry about going back in and deleting them. Because what happens every year for Christmas, Roxanne? Churches leave up their Christmas promos on their freaking sliders …

Roxanne: Don’t even …

Brady: At the top of their page into February and we then boo them.

Roxanne: You already know that I’m really passionate about this.

Brady: I do know that you’re passionate.

Roxanne: Do not leave up signs.

Brady: Somebody tell them, now you don’t have to worry about Roxanne’s wrath, you can set a predetermined expiration date and time.

Roxanne: When you were talking, I was like, this is such a great addition to Google listings cause obviously I use them …

Brady: Dropping his club soda, it’s all good. We’re fine.

Roxanne: I obviously use them to find out hours for stores and businesses and the worst is when you want to go into a store on a Holiday weekend and you’re like usually it’s open til 9 …

Brady: Yes.

Roxanne: … but is it open now?

Brady: And the Google businesses will be like, just so you know, holidays may affect store hours. And you’re like “that doesn’t help, they may affect, do they affect?”

Roxanne: Sorry, you want me to call? Yeah, that’s not going to happen.

Brady: I think Google Posts have a ton of options for churches to begin engaging with. Really simple. Doesn’t take too much time. You could just copy something you’re doing on Facebook over there just the most important stuff. You don’t need too much just once every so often for the most important stuff.

Roxanne: Yeah.

Brady: Awesome. Well that’ll do it for episode #41 of the Ask Brady show. If you want your questions answered send in a video, we didn’t have any videos on this episode. If you do send in a video it’ll be sent immediately to the top of the queue for Ask Brady questions and you can send it in to [email protected] Of course, if you do have a written question, don’t want to send in a video you can #askbrady on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube or Twitter and we’ll track down that question. Thanks for watching Pro Church Nation.

Side note: Storytape.com launches in like 5 days, 4 days. Tuesday, November 14, 2017 so depending on when you’re listening to this, if you need unlimited stock video downloads on a single monthly subscription, which we all do.

Roxanne: Who doesn’t?

Brady: Head over to storytape.com and sign up. Thanks for watching Pro church Nation, we love you. We’ll talk soon.