What's in this session?

  • The origins of the name Connexus Church (11:34)
  • Why an older pastor would dive into Instagram (17:01)
  • Using social platforms aspirationally (21:44)
  • How to learn Instagram when it feels foreign to you (25:35)
  • The best way to use Instagram Stories to drive results for your church (32:03)
  • Carey’s favorite moments on Instagram (36:57)
  • Best advice for Instagram rookies from an older pastor (39:41)

Show notes and resources

3 Instant Takeaways

    1. Do market research. When Carey was first starting Connexus he took the time to poll his target audience and understand his community. This research enabled him to set his church up for success, and a great first impression, by listening to the people he planned to serve.
    2. Use social media aspirationally. If your target audience is on a specific platform – why wouldn’t you be there? Even if for the first month you just create an account and observe. Figure out the culture and rules of the platform, but be present where your people are. It really does come down to whether you truly want to connect with them or not.
    3. Don’t let your conflict simmer. Use Instagram stories to share your life. One of the major complaints against churches and church leaders is that they’re fake, so allow them to know who you are. Be authentic. Allow people to know what it’s like to live as a Christian, and as a leader. Be a real human being.

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The Transcript

Brady: This is the Pro Church Podcast, session number 190. How a 50 plus pastor dominates Instagram with Carey Nieuwhof. Well hey there, Pro Church Nation and welcome to the Pro Church Podcast. You’re now part of a small group of pioneering churches, doing everything we can to seize the 167 hours beyond our Sunday services. Why? Because we’re living through the biggest communication shift in the last 500 [00:00:30] years. What got us here, won’t get us there. I’m Brady, your host and this is session number 190. You can find the show notes for this session at prochurchtools.com/190. In this session of the Podcast, we’re joined by Carey Nieuwhof, talking about Instagram and how to dominate it, even if you’re older or unfamiliar with it. So, let’s do it.

[00:01:00] Welcome back to another session of the Pro Church Podcast. This is Brady your host. Great to have you. We like to start off each and every session by sharing with you a pro tip or a practical tool that you can begin using in your church or ministry right away. Today I want to share with you a book actually, that has been greatly impacting me in the recent days. I really just picked it up. What’s unique about this book is that I actually bought it in hardcover [00:01:30] format, which is unusual for me. I’m almost always going with Kindle versions, or even more frequently, audible versions of books. But, this was the type of book that you really wanted to get the hardcover version. I’m only 50 pages in, and I’ve already gleaned so many valuable insights from it.

It’s Tim Ferriss’ most recent book, Tribe of Mentors. The premise of the book is basically, Tim hit the age of 40, started having a little bit of a 40 year old, midlife crisis. He reached out to [00:02:00] about 140 people, the best of the best at their craft, in the world. So, we’re talking writers and athletes, and chefs, and spiritual leaders, and basically he asked them these series of 11 questions. He distilled their best answers into this book, Tribe of Mentors. Basically, it’s short life advice, from 140 people who are the best of the best in their own industry, at their craft, in the world. It’s just highly engaging, super helpful and really just valuable [00:02:30] insights from people that have been doing things a lot longer than I have, at the age of 26. People that he been doing things a lot longer than even Tim, at the age of 40, the author of the book.

I highly encourage that you go pick it up. I really liked the hardcover version. I’ve been carrying it with me, reading a bit here and there. The great thing about this type of book is that you can just pick it up whenever you want. There’s no inclination or compulsion to keep reading, because every chapter is brand new, from a different mentor, and they’re all pretty short. So, I highly recommend that you go pick that up, Tribe [00:03:00] of Mentors, by Tim Ferriss.

With that being said, it is time to welcome back Carey Nieuwhof to the Pro Church Podcast, the fellow Canadian from just down the way. Welcoming him back for the second time. I wanted to bring Carey on to talk specifically about Instagram, because he is doing an absolutely phenomenal job with his personal platform on Instagram. As a pastor who’s 50 plus, this is highly, highly fascinating to me, because so often we hear from pastors, older folk. We know that the average [00:03:30] lead pastor in the Protestant world’s age is 54 years old, a full decade older than it was in 1992. Pastors are getting older. A lot of them are becoming dismissive of the new technology.

I think we’re heading towards a very fascinating time in the church world, where right now, the most popular age in the world is 26. That’s my age, millennials, biggest generation on the plane. Biggest generation in the workforce. Biggest generation with a vote. Soon, we’re going to be taking over a lot of the big jobs [00:04:00] within the church world. Things are going to change, because every industry is getting changed. Look what happened to taxis and public transportation. Uber and Lyft came in. Look what happened to record companies. Oh, Spotify and streaming came in. Look what happened to Blockbuster and movie rentals. Oh, thank you Netflix. They came in. Everything is being disrupted. What happened to grocery stores? Remember those? Well now we’ve got Blue Apron and food delivery services.

Every industry is being massively disrupted. I do not believe that the church is going to be immune to that. I don’t think Christianity, those that follow [00:04:30] Jesus, are going anywhere, but the way that we realize that and do that, is going to change. Of course, it’s easy for me to say that, as the young person who is the one as a part of the generation that’s ushering in the change. What about someone from an older generation? That’s why I wanted to bring Carey on for, and talk about how he’s adapting to the changing landscape, particularly how he’s dominating Instagram.

In this session we talk about the origins of the name Connexus Church, which is the church that Carey started. Why an older pastor whould dive into Instagram using platforms aspirationally. [00:05:00] How to learn Instagram even when it feels foreign to you. The best way to use Instastories to drive results for your church. Carey’s favorite moments on Instagram and finally, best advice for Instagram rookies from an older pastor. So, plenty of great stuff in this session of the Pro Church Podcast. I’ll be back in just a moment with my interview with Carey Nieuwhof.

If you’ve ever seen the movie Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the final scene in that movie is pretty climactic, [00:05:30] or basically Ray meets Luke Skywalker for the very first time. I always think to myself, how do they do the scouting for the locations of these scene? Because the scene, the location of it, is quite picturesque. It’s on this beautiful island. It turns out that island is actually in Ireland, and recently the team from Storytape, was in Ireland and it just so happened to stumble across this island.

Speaker 2: In the midst of a hurricane, we drove on this winding road on the edge of an otherworldly cliff, [00:06:00] trying to get to, near at least, the island where the last scene of the Force Awakens was shot.

Speaker 3: So, there’s Luke and he’s on this isolated island. That was shot in Ireland.

Speaker 2: Right.

Speaker 3: And so, you were just going up to Tristan, holding on the drum the way Ray holds out the light saber?

Speaker 2: You’ve got it.

Speaker 3: Just holding the shot for literally like, 48 seconds.

Speaker 2: I imagine when they filmed that, and like okay Ray, this is the easiest thing you’re going to do. Hold out and just look at Mark with determination.

Speaker 3: So for how long? As long as it takes.

Speaker 2: Well, we need [00:06:30] to fly the helicopter around this island, thrice. You need to just keep … Actually shaking by the end.

Speaker 3: Just hold it steady. Use the Force.

Brady: So, while we didn’t get exact footage of the island in The Force Awakens, we did get footage of the Irish coast, very close to that. The footage that we captured on that day was quite spectacular. Of course, Storytape is our unlimited stock video platform. It’s the easiest way for churches to create elegant videos. We give you all of the footage. We give you all [00:07:00] of the templates, and then you can put it together to create amazing videos for your church, and ministry. You can create event or ministry promotions, sermon bumpers, explainer videos, intro videos, videos on social media where the video medium has proven to just drastically out perform image and text. We give you all of the assets necessary to put it all together. It’s wildly more affordable than trying to do it yourself. So, head to storytape.com. Maybe you can track down some of the Irish coast footage, [00:07:30] and figure out, where was the one shot that we’re close to the Star Wars island? You can head over to storytape.com, and check it all out there.

Well hey there, Pro Church Nation. Welcome back to another session of the Pro Church Podcast. We’re thrilled to be joined, the repeat guest, Carey Nieuwhof. Carey, welcome to the show.

Carey Nieuwhof: It’s great to be back Brady. Thanks for having me, man.

Brady: It’s always great when two Canadians can get together, even [00:08:00] if it is remotely, and discuss church and ministry related things.

Carey Nieuwhof: It would have been two and a half hours for us to meet somewhere.

Brady: It’s true.

Carey Nieuwhof: Minds well just it now.

Brady: We talked about this last time on the Podcast. I always say I don’t want to perpetuate the Canadian stereotype any further, but I will. That is like, not only do we live in the same country, but the area where you live in is very close to where I went to high school. Not only that, but you went to high school with my Dad, and are now planting a third Connexus campus in [00:08:30] the town, city where my Dad grew up. And so, there’s just connections galore between you and I.

Carey Nieuwhof: So, the two Canadians all these Americans know, actually do know each other, just to clarify that myth.

Brady: Yeah.

Carey Nieuwhof: Most of your audience is American, right? Same with mine.

Brady: Yeah, 80% of our audience, 90% of our customers would call the U.S.A. home.

Carey Nieuwhof: It’s about the same. I get about 85% American. Customers, gosh I should measure that at some point. Then about five to [00:09:00] seven percent are Canadians.

Brady: Pretty much identical to me.

Carey Nieuwhof: All three Canadians listening, thank you. We appreciate it.

Brady: We do appreciate it.

Carey Nieuwhof: And, we’re two out of three right here on the Podcast.

Brady: Yeah, exactly. We’re two out of three. The third is … And surely we know the third as well, because if there’s anything I know, if the church … if the Canadian world is small, the church world is even smaller. So when you combine the two, there’s just very little people that wouldn’t crossover in some degree. But, let’s assume-

Carey Nieuwhof: So, let’s [00:09:30] just name the other listener. Rob in Saskatchewan, hey, we’re listening. We know you’re there.

Brady: Saskatchewan Rob listening. Hey, thanks Rob, there. Okay, so for the like the remaining few that don’t know you, and your massive influential amazing platform, please introduce yourself to Pro Church Nation, just briefly.

Carey Nieuwhof: Yeah, sure. So, my name is Carey Nieuwhof. I came up to this area of Canada 22 years ago. I originally was going to be lawyer. I’m trying to be a Christian lawyer, and [00:10:00] God put a call on my life to ministry. Went to seminar. Tried to figure out what to do in the midst of seminary in Toronto. Moved an hour north to where I am today, 22 years ago. Started as a young leader with three very small, stuck dying churches. Long story short, God brought some growth. We sold some historic buildings. Moved into an elementary school. Built a multimillion dollar facility, and became one of the largest and fastest [00:10:30] growing churches in our denomination at the time.

Then, a decade ago, decided that we’d go for really unchurched people. By that time, I’d met Reggie Joiner, Andy Stanley. We became one of the first North Point Strategic Partnerships. Ten years ago, right about now, we started Connexus Church. For eight years I was the lead pastor. Two years ago, transitioned into a founding and teaching pastor role, so still on staff there, and very active in teaching, and sort of visionary leadership. But it gave me an opportunity to spend [00:11:00] a little more time Building into Leaders. That’s what I’ve done over the last few years. I’ve been writing for a number of years, books and blogs. Then, launched a leadership Podcast, and Love Building into Leaders, speaking at conferences, launching courses. You know something about that, Brady. That’s kind of what I do.

Married, two grown sons. One is married and living in Toronto. The other is finishing up his final year of school. And, married for 27 years to an amazing woman, I met in law school. [00:11:30] So she’s the best thing that came out of law school, for sure, hands down.

Brady: Very nice. Before we dive into the main topic that I wanted to discuss, I wanted to ask about the origins of the name Connexus Church, because it’s unique. It’s one of those things you type into Google and it’s quite … you’re not going to stumble across something else, which I know for many of our churches isn’t true. Life Church, First Baptist Church, United Methodist, like, there are only so many names it seems that we used to title our churches. But, Connexus is unique. So tell me about [00:12:00] the origins.

Carey Nieuwhof: We were looking. We did the whole, anybody’s who planted a church, it’s like gosh, what are we going to call this? I’m the worst with names. My friend Reggie was saying, hey, call it something in your community. Well, sometimes communities have iconic names. Like if you were in Franklin, Tennessee you could be Franklin Church, or whatever. But for us, there was nothing really iconic about Central Ontario. You know? Simcoe [00:12:30] kind of okay. Georgian-

Brady: Hey, you know Simcoe and Georgian aren’t bad, now that I think of it.

Carey Nieuwhof: Not bad, but they don’t … I don’t know. If you’ve lived here a long time, they just don’t have that like, authoritative thing-

Brady: Correct.

Carey Nieuwhof: So, we couldn’t find a community name that was really unifying. Not like Niagara Community Church where you are. Right? In that area, where it would be known. So, we came up … We were going through, whatever. It was the mid 2000’s, so we were coming up with like, you know. I [00:13:00] don’t know, Connetic Church or that kind of thing. Hey, if Connetic Church is listening, I apologize. But, nothing really worked. Then, a friend of mine, Patrick Voo came up with this idea of Connexus. So, I’m still doing this. I was actually Survey Monkeying the title of my next book, which comes out in a year, this morning. A decade ago, we were, I think it was a beta survey of Survey Monkey we used to test the name of the church.

So, he came up with [00:13:30] two words, kinetic and nexus. It’s a gathering in motion, which I just really liked. I thought that was the best idea. We tried it among churched and unchurched people. But the first spelling of it was really bizarre. It was K-I-N-E-X-U-S or something, or I-S, or something, but Kinexus kind of thing. Taking kinetic and nexus. Believe it or not, it tested better with the people we [00:14:00] poled including unchurched people, than anything else, all of the pronounceable names, but I thought, man, my name’s Carey Nieuwhof. I don’t want to be spelling Connexus for the rest of my life, so there’s no way we’re going for a weird spelling.

One day, I just sat down at my desk, wrote out, how would we say this phonetically? C-O-N-N-E … I can’t even spell it now. C-O-N-N-E-X-U-S. I thought, yeah. That would work. That’s how most people would spell it. Tested it again, and it did even better. And, that’s how we came up with Connexus. So, it’s [00:14:30] a gathering in motion.

Brady: Couple of things that I pull away from that. One, it’s important to do market research when you’re making a decision as important, as big as naming your own church. It’s going to be the incorporation you get, the nonprofit that you get, maybe you get it trademarked even. Getting some input beforehand can be helpful. Secondly, if you want to standout and not have conflicts, your name with other names, you can just create a word out of scratch. We did that with Storytape. You do [00:15:00] that with Connexus. Both of those were, let’s take two existing words, kind of combine them in a way that is pretty natural. It’s not so weird that people have a difficult time sticking to it. You’re not kind of creating a weird way of spelling it. You’re not adding extra letters in there, just to create something that’s unique and on its own. It seems like it’s worked for you over this last quarter century.

Carey Nieuwhof: It’s been great. The most confusing … The only time we ever have … Most people just get it. They just [00:15:30] spell it phonetically, which is fine. But if their like, how do you spell it? It’s two N’s, one X. Oh, okay, great. I got it. And they all start with a C. Most people think though, oh, it’s Connexus because you connect us. I get it. Then you just say, sure. That’s what it’s about. What do you think it means?

Brady: Nice, a little double meaning. Even when it’s misunderstood it still works.

Carey Nieuwhof: Still works. We do try to connect people, actually. We’re really interested in what unchurched people thought, because we wanted to create a church that unchurched people [00:16:00] loved to attend. That was really persuasive for us.

Brady: You know Carey, the last time we had you on the show, session number 53, Prochurchtool.com/053, we talked about why your church isn’t growing. That’s something that you talked a lot about on your blog, careynieuwhof.com. Of course, you’ve got the Breaking 200 course. All of these links will be in the show notes. You talk about predictions for the future of the church.

I wanted to bring you on this session of the Podcast and talk about something a little bit different, because we talk a lot about social media [00:16:30] at Pro Church Tools obviously, and on the Podcast. We talk about pastors embracing it. The average lead pastor, Protestant wise, is 54 years old right now. So, you’re right in that sweet spot.

Carey Nieuwhof: I’m a baby for another year or two.

Brady: Yeah, you’re still below that for just a couple more years. But one thing that we hear a lot from those pastors is a little pushback saying, look, social media is important, but I didn’t grow up with this. I’m not going to be able to actually manage this. You are one of my favorite follows on Instagram, because [00:17:00] you’re dominating that platform, Stories in particular.

Firstly, let’s start here. What about Instagram in particular do you … Like, why are you embracing Instagram to the degree to which you are, especially considering that demographics on Instagram usually skew younger? And, for your audience, I would imagine that they’re around the same age as you, similar to how my audience is around the same age to me, at least the majority of that demographic is. [00:17:30] So, why Instagram?

Carey Nieuwhof: Yeah, you know, it’s interesting. One thing I’m learning about my audience Brady, which is just fascinating to be me is, a lot of my audience is actually more like your age. Which is, it’s not that 50 year olds are absent, but that … like when I look at Facebook … and think about this, okay? My Facebook analytics … So, Facebook is number one, skewed older. Number two skewed female. That’s just the demographic. Majority of my Facebook audience is young, male [00:18:00] leaders. Isn’t that interesting?

Brady: Like 25 to 34?

Carey Nieuwhof: 25 to 34.

Brady: That’s our biggest demographic as well. It’s interesting that you’re attracting that demographic. It makes sense that I would, but that’s fascinating to hear you’re doing the same.

Carey Nieuwhof: Yeah, it really is to me. I haven’t quite figured that out. That’s born out like when I’m speaking. I was in Dallas last week. I’m in Charlotte tomorrow. It’s often the young leaders who come up and say thank you. It doesn’t mean women aren’t listening. Of course, they’re listening. Doesn’t mean older people aren’t listening. Of course, they’re listening, or reading. But it just [00:18:30] skews that way.

One of the reasons I think I migrated there, I’m ADD, shiny thing, and by that token I should be on Snapchat. I’ve tried Snap. I’ve had dinner with Carlos Whittiker where he like walked me through Snapchat. I was on it for like three stories and that was it. I just couldn’t figure it out. But Instagram … Okay, this is the fun part about being around for a while. I remember when Instagram had another competitor called Hipstagram. Do you remember that? That might have been back [00:19:00] in high school.

Brady: I do not.

Carey Nieuwhof: Okay. There was. You should deep Google this. There was actually a Hipstagram and an Instagram. In those early days who knew which one was going to win out.

Brady: Oh, like the Facebook, MySpace days.

Carey Nieuwhof: Exactly, exactly. Or, you know, like Friendster, that kind of thing. Nobody really knew where that was going to land. I was on both. They had a very similar icon as their … on your phone, so it was sometimes hard to tell whether you [00:19:30] were in Hipstagram or Instagram. Clearly, I assume Hipstagram is no more. Instagram won out. I was an early adopter. Facebook was starting to get more commercial, and it was already starting to be the place where the kids were leaving, and younger people were leaving. I find Facebook, even now, it’s really hard to find real people on Facebook. Obviously, I’m part of the problem. I have an author page on Facebook. My Twitter is just a whole string of tweets and leadership things. [00:20:00] I was on Twitter in ’09. Back in the day when people were still making fun of people on Twitter for like, what, do people really care what you had for lunch? Ha, ha, ha, ha. I was the endless subject of ridicule by people when I was in my forties for being on Twitter, and of course, Twitter’s kind of jumped the shark at this point. I’m still on it.

But, Instagram reminded me of that, when it was a real connection with people you actually cared about. Now, it’s become more corporate. To be honest with you, Sunday’s [00:20:30] aren’t my favorite days on Instagram because everyone’s just posting graphics about whatever happened at their church. But it actually feels communal. It feels connected. It’s a way for me to connect with friends, and also with my audience on a personal level. And, even congregation and see what’s really going on in their lives. Because, I think people tell the most honest stories on Instagram.

Brady: Knowing that your demographic exists on Instagram and that, that 25 [00:21:00] to 34 male demo is on Instagram as much as it is, and is present within your audience to that degree, if it was different. So, speaking to a pastor who lets say, is similar age or older, and thus pastor of a church of a similar age, if you knew that your audience wasn’t on Instagram to the degree that it is, would that change your approach and strategy on that platform?

Carey Nieuwhof: It might. I kind of do Instagram for me. It’s [00:21:30] the one, I guess I’m being selfish. I really enjoy it. I do Facebook for my church. My professional Facebook account, my author account for leaders and Podcast listeners, and Twitter for leaders and Podcast listeners, but my personal Facebook page, which I started thinking I’m not letting any leaders on this. Then eventually I just gave up. But, I try to follow real people in our church on that and see what’s going on in their lives. But Instagram, [00:22:00] I follow everybody in our church and sort of friends, and then some leaders that I think are really interesting too. No, it’s what I’m doing for me right now. Although, if I left leadership tomorrow, which I have no plans on doing, but if I did, I would probably give up most social media. But, I might keep Instagram.

Brady: Interestingly, I use Twitter for me. I would agree-

Carey Nieuwhof: … Oh, do you really?

Brady: I would agree with the statement you said earlier about Twitter. It’s jumped the shark. It’s on the downhill, but it’s my favorite platform, [00:22:30] personally, mostly because of sports. You get live updates when it comes to that. So, football, basketball and baseball is huge for me, in that respect. Let me ask you this. Would you recommend that you use platforms aspirationally? What I mean by that is, let’s say Instagram wasn’t a platform that you personally enjoyed. Let’s say, to the same point, you’re existing congregation and audience wasn’t really on there, but you recognized that the majority, biggest demographic in your community is millennials, [00:23:00] you know they’re on Instagram. Would you suggest to a pastor to aspirationally use the platform, knowing your existing audience maybe isn’t, but the audience that you want to reach is?

Carey Nieuwhof: Yeah. I totally would. If you’re thinking about it through a ministry lens, or a leadership lens, yeah. I think you have to skate to where the audience is, or where it’s going. You can’t be on every platform. There have been a couple, I’m trying to remember recently, and I can’t even remember what it was. [00:23:30] But there was like, I think it was a bird. Some Twitter rival that showed up last year and then came and left instantly. I tried that, but Instagram would be an example of something that a lot of people in their forties or fifties are not on. But, if your audience is there and you want to communicate with your audience, why wouldn’t you be there? And then even if you just kind of observe it for a little while. Like watch it for a month.

If you come on there and you’re over posting, your posting … Well, first of all the algorithm will take care of that, [00:24:00] hopefully. Doesn’t always. If you’re over posting, or you’re posting stuff that just doesn’t fit on the profile, it’s better to watch for a little while and figure that out. But I would say for sure. I want to go where the people are. I’m on Facebook and I have a personal account because I want to track with people in my community.

Brady: From our positioning, we spend the complete ads budget for Pro Church Tools on Facebook, because that’s where our audience is the most. I don’t even [00:24:30] like Facebook, personally.

Carey Nieuwhof: I don’t either. I’m not on it personally, but you’re right, if you want to reach people. So, I use my professional account to reach leaders. That’s where I do a lot of my spending. We’re going to spend even more money. I just hired a marketing firm to come onboard. We want to reach more leaders and help more leaders, and help more people. I’m going to spend more money on Facebook, but do I spend my downtime just scrolling, poking around? No. But, I know it works. In my personal Facebook [00:25:00] platform page, that’s how I connect with people who live in Central Ontario and a handful of other friends. But, it’s small there. It’s maybe 700, 800 friends. I’m trying to keep it small, real small.

Brady: So, let me ask you this. I know that there are a lot of leaders and pastors listening that feel that social media is just a complete foreign language to them. You have fully managed to embrace that language and learn it even though you didn’t grow up with it. What would you say to a pastor who says, you know what, [00:25:30] I didn’t grow up with this type of thing. I could never learn it.

Carey Nieuwhof: Well, neither did I. Let’s just start there. None of us did. I remember pre digital world. I think it’s important Brady, for people to understand that sociologically there’s really five categories of people, like the human population and every culture breaks down into five categories. One would be innovators. Those are the people who create new products. Another would be early adopters. [00:26:00] Those are the people who like me, and perhaps like you, are up at 03:01 AM Eastern time.

Brady: iphone 10, baby. That was me, man.

Carey Nieuwhof: I was in the Central timezone so it was even better, but the iPhone 10 is on the way, and it’s not an iPhone X. If you listen, it’s an iPhone 10. I’m that guy. I’m up at 02:01 AM. I’m not inventing the iPhone, but I want it, and I was bummed it was going to be two to three weeks shipping. But that’s okay. At least it’s coming my way. And then, so there’s [00:26:30] innovators, there’s early adopters, then there’s early majority. To use the phone debate for that, those are the people that are like, I’m not getting up at 03:01 AM to order anything. Forget it. I’m not lining up at a store. I’m not getting there at 06:00 AM. I’m not sleeping in a tent to be first in the AT&T or Verizon store, forget it. I’m not doing that. But, they’ll say hey, at Christmas when they’re in stock, or six months later, when they’re in the mall, they’ll be like, yeah, I’ll pick one up.

[00:27:00] Then, there’s the silent majority. Those are the people that are like, hey, is that a six you’ve got? I’ll buy that off you for a hundred bucks. They’re not opposed to technology, but they don’t really care whether it’s new or they’ll wait until their kids get it for them for Christmas, or somebody buys it for them, or there’s a used one that they can pick up reasonably. And then there are opponents. There are people who are just opposed, which is what 10% of the population. I think you have to figure out what your personality [00:27:30] is. I am the 03:01 AM guy. A good day for me in the ’90s was a day where I could connect at 33 megabear kilobits per second on the internet on dial-up. I remember that. That was a big day for me, right?

I’ve got the best internet money can buy, right now. That’s just me. I have current devices. That’s my personality. I am, and guess what? I plant churches. I launch Podcasts. I write books. I’m always doing new things. [00:28:00] It’s not surprising that somebody with my wiring would find themselves on social media. If you are part of the silent majority, it might just naturally be more foreign to you. However, the real question is, do you want to connect with people? The real question is, are you a student of the culture, or are you letting culture pass you by?

Brady, let me give you an example out of our lives. I never understood when I started in ministry, because I used [00:28:30] to visit people when our churches were really small. When you got six people going to your church, you’ve got lots of time to visit people. I’d visit these people in their eighties. You’d walk into their house and it was like a throwback to three decades ago. They had like brown appliances, and shag carpet, couches from the sixties and the seventies. I’d be like, wow, don’t you people realize that this was 30 or 40 years ago. What is going on? Here I [00:29:00] am, I’ve been married for over 25 years, and finally about a decade ago it dawned on me that this is how it happens. When you’re starting out, and you have no money, you take any piece of furniture you can find. Right? It’s like, oh, are you throwing that couch out? Can I have it? Right? That’s pretty much where we all start, unless you have a silver spoon in your mouth.

Then, you get into your thirties and you have a little bit of money, and maybe you go out and buy a set that sort of gets you started. But then you hit your forties and you’re like, you know honey, we’re getting the good couch. Yeah, we’re getting the good couch. [00:29:30] About 10 years ago my wife and I went out, we bought a really nice brown leather couch. We painted our house with earth tones, and that kind of thing. Well, guess what we’re doing next February? This is really weird, because we want to stay a little bit current. We’re meeting with contractors right now. The house is getting an overhaul. We’re getting rid of all the brown tones. The brown couch is probably going to become the family room, or the basement couch. We’re getting something that isn’t [00:30:00] brown leather, which was really big 10 years ago. The challenge is, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with the stuff we have now. Like nothing wrong with it. The couch will last until long after I die. There are no kids jumping up and down on it. We’re not breaking it. It’s not broken, it’s just old.

When you get into your forties and fifties and you’ve got a sunk cost bias in what you renovated in 10 years ago, that’s why a lot of people are like, you know what? I’ve arrived. I’ve found what I want to do. [00:30:30] I’m not changing my living room. I don’t care that these colors are out of date. I don’t care that I’ve had this tee shirt since I was 20. I’m going to keep wearing it. It’s not wearing out. I think a lot of people have that approach, because they’re comfortable. They know it. It’s a sunk cost bias. They’re resistant to change.

For me, I feel like God’s put a call on my life to speak into the culture and to resist change and to host the next generation. [00:31:00] Even to be a place where my kids love to come now that they’re older. So, I want to stay with the times. That’s where I would start. That this isn’t really even about social media. This is about, do you want to be able to communicate with people who are coming behind you, or do you want to be stuck in a bubble where it’s a whole bunch of people complaining about your aches and pains and saying how good it used to be?

Brady: Yeah, absolutely. Okay, so it sounds like the core value at the bottom of this is, I want to reach the people that I want to [00:31:30] reach. I want to present where they already are. Like one thing I always say is that, attention is the most valuable commodity that your church can possess, because it doesn’t matter if you have the greatest story ever told if no one is listening.

Carey Nieuwhof: So true.

Brady: One of the best ways to gain attention is to just go where it’s already being paved. It’s such a hard thing to get in our culture right now. So, instead of trying to demand people come to me, come to me. Why don’t you go to them where they are already spending their time, and giving their attention?

Let’s dive a little bit [00:32:00] into the specifics, because like I said, when it comes to Instagram Stories, you know all the tricks and all of the little nuances and details, that the only way you learn that is by practicing a ton. Talk to me about using Instagram Stories, some of the ways that you prefer to use it, and some of the ways you’ve used and just driven the best results.

Carey Nieuwhof: I’m fascinated with behind the scenes. If I was watching a movie, I would probably be … and my wife doesn’t like it but, I’m probably more interested [00:32:30] in the making of the movie part of the movie, than the movie itself. I kind of see Instagram Stories as behind the scenes. So, when I do my leadership Podcast Brady, I like to ask the questions like, how did it feel when you were launching the church, Andy? Or, when were you scared? I want to find the stuff that doesn’t make it to the catalyst stage. I want to find the stuff that if we’re just sitting down, and we’re being friends, that we find out about.

That’s how I approach Instagram Stories. At first, I didn’t know what [00:33:00] to make of it. I remember the day it arrived at my phone. I think I was in Burlington, Ontario. I could almost see New York across the Great Lake. What was it? Lake Ontario. I’m playing with these features and I’m like, I don’t know how to use. Then I began to see how people were using it and I thought, oh, you can do eight or nine second videos. It can be a day in the life. You take people behind the scenes. I post a ridiculous amount on the Big Green Egg, because it’s just a passion of mine. It’s this barbecue that I’ve [00:33:30] got. You wouldn’t believe how many people are like, dude, I like your Big Green Egg. How is that brisket? Did the burnt ends turn out okay? What does chicken really taste like on the Big Green Egg? Those are the fun conversation parts, because that’s what you’re doing with your friends. That’s what you’re hanging out with.

I approach Instagram Stories as like just a slice of life. We’re doing life together, and here we are, and this is just fun. Sometimes it’s promotional. [00:34:00] But hey, you and I, we took some quick snaps prior to starting this interview, and I’ll throw that up on my story, because we have the same microphone, like exactly the same rig. That’s kind of fun. It’s like, okay. It’s 03:00 in the afternoon. This is my life. I’m doing a Podcast. I think it’s a way for people … you know who else rocks Instagram? Craig Rochelle. I was telling him recently when I was interviewing him, dude, your Instagram Stories are amazing. He’s got some official Life Church stuff on there, [00:34:30] but then there’s some picture of him holding his grandson and trying to help him not fall. Or, trying to get some Life Church staffer a date, which is a hilarious sequence that he does. I think it just lets you see somebody’s personality in a way you don’t see it maybe on stage, or even in their writing, or their speaking.

Brady: So, I want to be the person that gives the pushback a lot, which is, well, what does that have to do with ministry at all? There’s no devotional [00:35:00] or spiritual content in there. You’re just taking pictures of you and your smoker. What does that have to do with God, or being a pastor?

Carey Nieuwhof: I thought barbecue was very spiritual, Brady. I don’t get your point. No, you know what? I think that is … I would pushback and say, the reason that a lot of people don’t trust religious officials or like pastors, is because they feel that they’re not real. You want to see the real me? Follow me. Hang [00:35:30] out. Occasionally I do post something I’m reading in the Bible. I read the Bible pretty much every day. I think I’m on track. I think I do the one year Bible. I don’t think I missed a day this year. I’m not going to post that every single morning, because then eventually, you get into Pharaohsy territory. Oh, here I am, having my perfect devotions again. No, that’s between me and God. Do I post every fight with my wife? No, and hopefully we don’t have that many.

They want to see the real you. If you follow on Stories and you follow on Instagram or other [00:36:00] forms of authentic social, I think you eventually say, oh, that’s who that person really is. Isn’t that the question you really have of people that are of influence over you? Hey, hey, hey, Brady, what’s he really like? Well, now you can tell. Brian Houston’s a fun follow on Instagram Stories too, because sometimes he just does the dumbest things that are beautifully dumb. Like he’s just being silly. You can tell he’s on the road a lot. He’s just having fun. It’s [00:36:30] so wonderful to see as opposed to seeing the polished, photoshopped images everybody sees in the public feed.

I actually think it’s deeply spiritual. I think it’s like, hey, this is my life and I’m trying to follow Jesus in the middle of it. I’m trying to be a leader. Sometimes I get writer’s block. Sometimes I have high points and low points, and we’re just going to be in this journey together. To me, that’s life, and that’s faith.

Brady: Talk to me about some of your favorite Instagram [00:37:00] Story moments, or Instagram moments as a whole. Because, for me, I found that Instagram is really the most engaged platform that I’m on. The amount of direct messages that I get on Instagram from any other platform, and I’m just constantly interacting with people in Pro Church Nation. I would imagine it’s similar to you, so talk to me about some of those moments where it’s real, one to one engagement.

Carey Nieuwhof: Yeah, you know, it’s interesting because I would say I get way more messaging on Facebook from leaders than [00:37:30] I do on Instagram.

Brady: Really.

Carey Nieuwhof: But yeah, you know what, Brady?

Brady: Even though we have the same demo … That’s fascinating.

Carey Nieuwhof: I kind of like it that way, because I was one of those guys who honestly, who years ago are like, what is it with these people who won’t answer their own email, and they have a team? Well, you start getting hundreds, sometimes thousands of emails a week and you go, oh, this is why people have teams. Okay, I get it. I’ll get a couple of messages a day from people but that’s the part I kind of like, because I get to post, and I get to watch. [00:38:00] I don’t have to interact, which is the introvert in me really loves that.

Most real moments though, I love it when people … When I post something that I think is funny or stupid. The thing I love about Stories is, Instagram it takes some thought, but Stories you can just be stupid and in the moment. So, we have this flyer in the snail mail this week, that was like future buildings. They were the ugliest looking, aluminum buildings. [00:38:30] It just said, future buildings, so I just did a quick story that said, apparently in the future, we’re all going to live in places like this. And then, I took a still of it. And the next one was like, I’m opting out of the future. I don’t know whether anyone found that funny or not, but it was really funny to me.

Other times you get like a whole string of messages that are like, ha, ha, ha. That was hilarious. Thank you. I love those. I caught one today with Rich Birch and I being in the same meeting. Rich is from [00:39:00] The Unseminary Podcast, which some of your listeners will be familiar with. I’m sitting across, like we go to the same church. We’re involved in the same conference. So, I’m sitting across the meeting table from him in the boardroom at Connexus. We’re waiting for the meeting to start, so I’m just like spontaneously pull out my phone. It’s like, hey look guys, two Podcasts in one place. Bang, switch the camera. Me, Rich, Rich, me. He just starts laughing in the middle of it. Those are fun moments and my [00:39:30] life, we get a lot of moments like that. To me, that’s just stuff like, where else do you post that? I don’t know. Stories is the place.

Brady: Yeah, absolutely. Okay, final question that I want to ask you pertaining to Instagram. What would you say to someone who’s approaching the platform for the first time, who maybe has been inspired by you and your use of it? But, it still feels like, I’m diving into the deep end and I don’t know how to swim. What have you learned that you can pass on to a rookie?

Carey Nieuwhof: Watch [00:40:00] first, and you just get every platform has its own vibe. You’ll see stuff you like, and stuff you don’t like. Follow 30 of your favorite people and just see what they do. And then secondly, dive in the shallow end. Take baby steps. Do a few posts. Don’t get discouraged when you don’t get a lot of views, or you don’t get a lot of likes on your posts or your stories. Then just be you. I would say, what makes you laugh? What makes you cry? [00:40:30] What’s fun? What’s not fun? Just sort of share little snippets of your life with people.

I think for pastors in particular, it makes you way more real, because your church says, oh, I know that guy. We hang out. I love it when I’m on the road and I’m even in a city for the first time. People come up and it feels like we’re friends. It feels like we’ve known each other for years, because they’ve been following. And they’re like, hey how was the bike ride the other day? Or, wow, that looked … [00:41:00] It was so hot. Or, you got out on that boat, or whatever. Did you have a lot of fun? You have a common ground experience right there. I would say, just start. The good news is, it doesn’t last very long. Your stories are down in 24 hours. If you make a mistake, you delete it and you try over again. But it’s not a perfectionistic platform, which is probably what I love the most about it.

Brady: Great stuff. Carey tell us more about where to best find you online and catch up, and stay up [00:41:30] with all the great stuff you’re doing.

Carey Nieuwhof: Yeah, sure. So, you can find me at leadlikeneverbefore.com. That’s sort of the gateway to everything I do. I’m on social. On Instagram it’s my full name, which is so easy to spell. Carey Nieuwhof, C-A-R-E-Y-N-I-E-U-W-H-O-F. So, I’m Carey Nieuwhof on Instagram. Cnieuwhof on Twitter and Facebook. I would love to connect with you. It’s okay if you message me from time to time. [00:42:00] That’s alright.

Brady: From time to time here people. Be appropriate with your DM’s. Don’t always be sliding up in those DM’s on the daily. Awesome Carey. Well, it’s been great having you on for a second time. Anything that you want to leave Pro Church Nation with that I haven’t asked you yet?

Carey Nieuwhof: No. I think it’s really good. I would just say, watch for what’s next. Think about it from the perspective of who you want to have influence with. The last thing I would say, because you asked this, why is technology so [00:42:30] important? I know some older people in my life, and some of them are very tech savvy. They got iPhone 7s or 8s, or maybe one or two of them has ordered the iPhone 10, whatever the latest is. You know what it is? They talk to their grandchildren. The grandparents who are like, oh, I don’t do that, or I don’t do social media, or they’re still rocking their Blackberry from 2006, or their flip phone, they don’t get texts from their grandkids.

If [00:43:00] you really want to communicate with the next generation, you have to use the means, because they’re not going to call you on your home phone. They’re not going to write you a letter. They’ll wait until Christmas, and then they’ll have nothing to talk to you about. I’ve watched the grandparents and the parents who are hyper connected really stay connected with their kids. The same is true in leadership. If you really want to reach the next generation you have to be where they’re at. It’s an awful lot of fun too. It really [00:43:30] is.

Brady: Awesome. Great stuff Carey. Thanks so much for coming back on again. It’s been a blast.

Carey Nieuwhof: Thanks Brady.

Brady: Alrighty. There you have it, my interview with Carey Nieuwhof, discussing how a 50 plus pastor dominates Instagram. Just to do a quick recap, we talked about the origins of the name Connexus Church. We talked about why an older pastor would chose to dive into Instagram, using platforms from an aspirational position, how to learn Instagram, even when it feels foreign to you, the best way to use Instagram Stories to drive results for your church, Carey’s [00:44:00] favorite moments on Instagram and best advice for Instagram rookies from an older pastor. A big thank you to Carey for coming back on the show and delivering so much valuable information. Can’t say thank you enough. Make sure to check out all his good content. If you enjoy Podcasts, can’t recommend enough, the Carey Nieuwhof Leadership Podcast. Give that a search in Apple Podcasts. You won’t be disappointed.

Speaking of Apple Podcasts, it’s time for our review of the week. This one comes from Matt Moe, from Canada. Five Stars. It says, great quality, super helpful, timely [00:44:30] tips. Brady and his team have done an amazing job with this Podcast. They consistently produce helpful and current tips for churches of any size, covering all the major areas of communication. Every church leader or volunteer will come away with something useful from this Podcast. Well, thank you Matt Moe for that review, inside of Apple Podcast means the world to me.

If you have not yet subscribed to the Pro Church Podcast, if you have not yet left a review for the Pro Church Podcast, you can go to Prochurchpodcast.com. You can kill two birds with one stone. Do both of those all at once. It would mean [00:45:00] the world to me and the team here at Pro Church Tools. It would help get this Podcast into the hands of people that need it most. So, thank you for doing that. Thank you, Pro Church Nation for being awesome, for being you, and for continuing to support our work. We’re going to keep producing all the great free content that we do. We’re just going to keep doing more of it. Plenty of great stuff to come in 2018 and beyond. With that being said, we’ll talk to you real soon. Go seize the 167, and this is Brady, signing off for now.



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