What's in this session?

  • Church Name: Living Faith Fellowship
  • Church Location: Pacific Northwest, 5 hours East of Seattle
  • Church Age: 45 years
  • Church Size: 500
  • On the coaching call: Adam - Digital Communications Director, Cheryl Mitchell - Graphic Design & Web Content Creator, Catherine Davis - Executive Secretary, Mia - Social Media Manager/Campus Minister, DJ - Graphics & Digital Marketing

Show notes and resources

3 Instant Takeaways

    1. Use a Snapchat geofilter. Students entering college now have been on Snapchat since grade 10, 11 or 12. This is the prime time to use Snapchat as an outreach tool with this age group, especially with geofilters being so underpriced right now.
    2. Community trumps programming. What will make your outreach sticky is whether or not students can identify the group. As human beings we were created for community. We all want a group of people to call our own. Feeling like they fit in and belong with the group will keep students around.
    3. Create a content marketing strategy. College age students spend a lot of time online, which is exactly why you need to be present online. This can be in the form of YouTube videos, podcasts, blogposts, etc. The key is to make sure you create content that fits the platform, and that this content is not just advertising, but instead is valuable on its own.

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The Transcript

Brady Shearer:
Well hey there Pro Church nation, welcome to another session of the Pro Church Podcast Coaching Edition. In this podcast I’m going to be speaking live with a church and you’ll get to sit in on our coaching session together. Nothing’s off limit, everything’s recorded, so at this time I want to welcome in Daniel and, I’ve got it right here, Living Faith Fellowship, what’s up everybody?

[ 00:00:52]
Living Faith:
Hey there, how’s it going.

Brady Shearer:
Okay so how many people are actually on this call?

Living Faith:
Five.

[00:01:00]
Brady Shearer:
Five, all right. The whole Living Faith Fellowship crew. Okay we’re going to start this off with a couple of rapid fire questions just to provide some context for everyone listening, if that’s okay?

Adam:
Yep.

Brady Shearer:
Okay perfect, so the first one is what is the name of your church? We already got that, Living Faith Fellowship. Second, where is your church located?

Adam:
We are located in the Pacific Northwest about five hours East of Seattle.

Brady Shearer:
Okay. And how old is your church?

[00:01:30]
Adam:
Our church is about 45 years old, we were planted in a college town back in the early 70’s and have grown to a family church of about 500 or so.

Brady Shearer:
Okay perfect, that was my fourth question. Okay and then the fifth question is what is your role at the church? So maybe we can just do a quick go around and we can see, or hear, who we’re all speaking to.

Adam:
All right, hey my name is Adam and I oversee the digital team. We’ve got a whole bunch of staff and volunteers and I’ll let them introduce themselves.

[00:02:00]
Cheryl :
I’m Cheryl Mitchell, I’ve worked here at the church for about 28 years, I do graphic design, and produce materials and web content.

Catherine :
My name is Catherine Davis, I’m the Executive Secretary, I’ve been here for 16 years. I work directly with our lead pastors as well as a lot of our administrative staff.

Mia:
All right, my name is Mia, I help manage our social media streams for our college ministry and for our church, and I’m also a campus minister.

[00:02:30]
DJ:
I’m DJ, I’ve been here for about seven years and I help out with a lot of the graphics and other digital marketing strategies.

Brady Shearer:
Alrighty, anyone else? Did we miss anyone?

Adam:
That’s all five of us.

Brady Shearer:
Perfect. Okay so we got a little context, name of the church, where it’s located, size, age, and everybody’s role within it. What are we going to tackle over these next 45 minutes or so, team?

Catherine :
Help us.

Brady Shearer:
That’s what we’re here for.

[00:03:00]
Adam:
So we’re a church that deals in transitions. We have a lot of college students in our community, we are about 15 minutes away from somewhere between 20 and 30,000 young people at any given time. It’s a rural community with lots of college students and our church has always specialized in helping young people get their foundations under them, get as much Jesus into them as possible during the college years. And then send them out into the world to be world changers and loving Jesus. I would say the majority of our older members were at one time college students, in fact I think everybody at this table started out in our college ministry and then transitioned into single life, then young families, and families with kids, and it’s just been a great multi-generational church. And so part of our challenge is how to engage people early on, how to establish that pipeline, especially with the 18 to 22 demographic. And then also as people get out of that demographic, they’re no longer hanging out with their friends late at night in the dorm rooms but doing more adult things, how do we continue to engage them and get them onboard both with social media, but also connecting with the church as a whole?

[00:04:00]
Brady Shearer:
Awesome, okay so let’s start here, what are you currently doing when it comes to campus ministry? What is like the bible studies you’ve got going on, or on campus events, what does that look like?

[00:04:30]
Adam:
That’s a great question, so we have three services a week, one of them is a college service on Friday nights and it attracts college students from both Washington State University and the University of Idaho. On both of those campuses we have active bible studies on campus anywhere from three to ten. Most of them are on campus in living groups such as dorms or fraternities. We also have events all throughout the year including five or so major retreats and large events that attract anywhere from 50 to 100 people.

Brady Shearer:
Okay awesome. And where are you guys now that you want to go to? How big is this disconnect between what you’re doing now and what you wish you could be doing. And the more that you define that, I think the better we can dial into kind of how to move in that direction.

[00:05:00]
Adam:
All right, well we were just having this conversation about a week ago as a team and so your expertise is super helpful. We want to do a better job stewarding the people that come to town, brand new, every year as part of the startup for the school year. That includes both students and also people who are older in the more faculty and staff and grad students. Typically we will have an influx of anywhere from five to seven thousand new people between the months of July and August. It’s a huge influx, we see apartments turn over and new cars come to town, it’s amazing to see. And we recognize we have a very narrow window of time to reach them, we often times have people out on campus handing out material, trying to introduce themselves, invite people to events. And managing all that follow up can be a challenge. Some years we’ll capture as many as 1,000 leads through paper forms or online forms, in some years it dwindles down to a few hundred, but then managing that for follow up has been a challenge. And then getting those people to follow our social media channels, get on our website, essentially get them into the family so that we can continue the assimilation process.

Brady Shearer:
And when it comes to kind of like the demographic that you’re trying to reach, would you say it’s more people that have an existing relationship with God and now are out on their own for the first time, perhaps prone to some of the, what we see is when people go to college and begin to lose their faith, deconstruct their faith, walk away from it. Or is it for people, freshmen, either way, that maybe have never had any experience with faith, or is it a little bit of both?

[00:06:30]
Adam:
It’s definitely both but we’re finding percentage wise as far as students on campus, a lot of them have a background in Christianity already…

Brady Shearer:
Sure.

[00:07:00]
Mia:
They’ve gone to church, they’ve gone to youth group. So they’re coming to college and now they’re on their own and they’re deciding do I want to be a part of a church, I don’t even know how to do this by myself, do I even want to do it by myself, do I even want to do what my parents, like what I was raised doing? So yes both, but a large number of students do come with a Christian background and they, one way or another decide to either stick with it or to go the other way and just leave it all together.

Brady Shearer:
Yeah that sounds about right, I mean that’s definitely a trend that I saw amongst all of my youth group friends and in myself. You get out on your own and you’re like let’s make this faith a little bit more real, let’s kind of identify what faith looks like in this new context. Suddenly I don’t have all my friends and family, I’m in this new town and everything is new and fresh. Okay, so it sounds like you want to dial in to that kind of initial awareness part where you’ve got this huge influx, I think you said five to seven thousand individuals coming into the town, and so you want to make first contact with them and then after that, what does that follow up process look like? Is that kind of the two things that we really should center on?

Adam:
Yeah.

Mia:
Sounds good.

[00:08:00]
Adam:
I think that defines it really well. You were mentioning the youth group trend that you noticed, statistically nationwide they say 85 percent of kids who had a church background will fall away and typically that happens when they go off to college. And in this town we see it happen not just in the first year, not just in the first semester, we see it happen in a matter of a couple of weeks. We’ll see kids that were dropped off at church by christian parents, they got the bumper sticker, they went and found a church, and we will either see them in our service or someone else’s service within the first week or two, or we’ll see them at the parties. And it’s an amazing fork of the road, we’ve identified it down to about the first ten days. We have ten days to establish someone on a path that’s going to lead them towards greater foundations in Jesus or one where they just go and find themselves in the world and we hope that someone is able to evangelize them later on.

Brady Shearer:
Okay so let’s start then with that first contact. What are you currently doing to reach these five to seven thousand in those first ten days. If these ten days are like the most important prime window, what are your main form, I know you’ve mentioned paper forms, digital forms, sounds like you guys are present on the campuses. What is working and what is currently not working and what have you tried for first contacts so far?

Mia:
So our primary way of making that first contact is actually being on campus.

Adam:
Like physically on campus.

Mia:
Like literally physically we have a table on campus …

Adam:
Multiple tables.

[00:09:30]
Mia:
Yes, we’re handing out fliers, we’re trying to have on campus events to gather them together, trying as hard as we can to make that face to face contact. We have our post cards that we mail out, we get addresses as an organization for a lot of these incoming students. We mail out post cards ahead of time so they get it in their mail. And we have our website and that’s [inaudible 00:09:47] it.

Adam:
And we do see a correlation between our print marketing and our physical marketing and our digital. When we send out that postcard mailer, we do see a sharp spike in the traffic in the week following. And so we know it’s working, but we want to be more effective, we want to be more targeted and we want to find a way to manage the work flow, especially for follow up, better.

Brady Shearer:
And what are you doing with social?

[00:10:30]
Mia:
So a lot of what we’re doing with social media is actually promoting our Fridays. Fridays is when we have our big college gathering, we promote that, we promote our outreach events that we’re trying to keep on campus to try to gather students together and meet them face to face. But as far as outreach goes in this small window that we have, that’s primarily what we use it for.

Brady Shearer:
Right, okay. And which platforms in particular are you using?

Mia:
For our college ministry we use Facebook, we use Instagram, and we use Snapchat.

Brady Shearer:
Okay. And when you say you’re promoting your events, are you promoting to your existing audience or are you doing this paid promotion, advertising to people outside of your existing like group, follow group?

Mia:
Yeah, so primarily for existing followers and we do pay some for like Facebook, but we haven’t utilized that very well for Instagram.

Adam:
And we’ve done a little bit of paid advertising on Facebook with a defined audience, but the audience has not been super strategic, you know? Just a basic geo-fencing within a certain radius and we see what we get. And I wouldn’t say that we’ve gotten that much measurable results with our paid advertising.

[00:11:30]
Brady Shearer:
And listening to what all you guys are saying and hopefully, like this is going to be a little bit more context. The first thing that pops to my mind that I think you guys should try is a Snapchat geo-filter. Because, especially as, like let’s say this year. This upcoming summer, the people that are coming into college, these are like my cousins that have been on Snapchat since grade 10, 11, and 12. Like if there’s ever been a prime time for people using Snapchat entering college, it’s this year, next year, and the year after. And geo-filters are so under priced, like they are so affordable. And you can set up a geographic region around the campus exactly and any time someone’s swiping through their Snapchat filter, that advertisement for the live event shows up. That branded geo-filter with your campuses ministry name and maybe a time or date or anything, is going to show up. And it’s not going to cost very much money, it’s geographically based and so it’s not like you have to pay for this huge reach. And let’s say you’re doing Facebook ads for something like this, you’re going to try to target people based on the right area or the right age, but with Snapchat, their geo-filters are so precise when it comes to location, that you can actually dial it in exactly to on campus. So if someone is not physically on campus, they won’t have access to the geo-filter. And this is going to line up, I think, really well digitally with what you’re trying to do in person. Like the first thing that you said when I asked what are you doing to make first contacts, you’re like we are on campus physically. You can do that digitally with the Snapchat filter in a way that no other social platform can. Instagram stories hasn’t introduced that as far as I know, but with Snapchat you can do that. It’s a physical geographically based thing that’s not based on if someone lives in a certain town, if someone is connected with a certain town. If they say I live in Pullman, Washington or whatever it is, they have to be physically in this radius. And so it’s like the perfect digital equivalent of what you’re already doing physically and I think you pair those together and that’s awesome, right? Because I like the idea of this print, that’s nice like you move into an apartment for the first time, you get your first piece of mail and you’re like oh my gosh, I’m an adult now, right? Like that’s a really nice feeling and they see it’s from your campus ministry and they’re like man, I’ll always remember X, Y, and Z campus ministry, they gave me my first piece of mail as an adult. And then, because I think you’ve got these first ten days, whatever it is, these first two weeks. And you’re like okay, we need to make as many first contacts with these individuals as possible. Because they walk by your table on campus, they get that print thing in the mail, they see your geo-filter on Snapchat. The more that they can see you, the more they come in contact with you over these first ten days, the more chance that you have to actually get them to take that step and come out to an event. Because it’s very easy especially in the first week of college and everything is moving at a mile a minute, and you’re trying to figure out we have no furniture, where are my classes, who is my friend group, I’m all alone, I can’t cook anything, everything is terrifying, my wifi plan is whack, our wifi isn’t set up, my data has run out, it’s all terrible. There’s so much going on that you need to be making as many points of contact as possible, or else it’s easy to just be forgotten.So it sounds like you’ve already got the print done, you’ve got this in person thing, we need to now couple that and pair that with social as much as possible. And the great thing with social is that you can, every time they go and do to post a snap with a geo-filter, and because they’re in a new location they’re going to want to, right? It’s like oh new geo-filters, I’m in a new town, this is sweet. They’re going to see that and your geo-filter again and again. And you do that on Facebook as well, and they keep seeing that again and again and the more points of contact that you can make, the more chance that you have of that sitting with them and then them actually taking action and visiting you in person.

[00:15:30]
Adam:
That’s fantastic, thank you very much. We’ve got two colleges that are about eight or nine miles apart, so that’s enough difference where we could actually a custom geo-filter for a college and customize it with the school colors and …

Brady Shearer:
Absolutely.

Adam:
That leads into a good follow up question, what type of content is going to be the most sticky for this type of thing, especially if we’re using a geo-filter to make it really specific in the targeting?

Brady Shearer:
Well I think, you hit on something there that is key, is that you want it to be promotional for you, but you don’t want it to not be, you don’t want it to be all about you, right? There’s an intersection between promoting the campus ministry, but also kind of like repping the school. And the sweet spot is when those two cross over, because if all it is, is like hype up the school, then it has nothing to do with you and it’s just a waste of money. But if it’s all about you, then people aren’t going to use that geo-filter, like why would they use it if it’s all about you?And so if you can find that intersection, I think school colors would be a great one, I think there’s probably some like legality issues of using maybe the school’s name or, but colors that’s totally something. And if someone sees that, they’re going through the geo-filters and they see the name of the town and maybe there’s a school sponsored one, then they see yours with the colors, that vibes with everything else very consistently. And so you have to find the intersection between what you want to promote for you but also what someone is going to scroll through and then be more likely to react to. Because like I said, if it’s all about you, they’re not going to react at all. The thing to think about with social is unlike search advertising, because let’s say you were doing some Google Ad words for instance and someone searches Pullman Washington campus group, whatever. That might be a complete obscene search term that no one would search, but let’s use it as an example. If someone was to search that, they’re already in the mindset that they are searching for something they want. But when it comes to social, whether it’s Facebook, Instagram, or Snapchat, people are just living their lives and the ads that they’re seeing on those social platforms are disruptive. Meaning, they’re not wanted, they’re not in a place of mind where they’re searching for something, they’re just trying to get through their feed, see their friends, see their family, and these ads are kind of just a necessary evil. And so what you need to do, the mindset you need to get into with your advertisements on social is, okay what is the intersection between what we have to offer and what someone will value? That’s kind of like the collision that you need to figure out. Because if you can dial into that, you can disrupt the scrolling of the feed and you can jump into someone’s world and be like hey look, we are here for you, we’re not here just to get hours but we’re here to come alongside you. And that’s the key, the intersection between what you have to offer and what someone values.

Adam:
Okay, we’re taking notes, thank you.

Brady Shearer:
I see the writing it’s all good, it’s all good.

[00:18:30]
Adam:
So anybody else have any other questions about outreach? Okay, well the next step, once people get into our assimilation funnel, into our pipeline, they’ve come to a service, they’ve liked us on social media. The next step really is to get people involved in events and church body life. We have a lot of classes, especially for college students, which are great for teaching foundations. We also have a number of retreats that are the type of experience we want people who are young in their faith to experience and so promoting those events is pretty important. How do we then switch gears, we’re done with outreach, now we want to get people more engaged in body life?

Brady Shearer:
Can I just ask a question.

Adam:
Sure.

DJ:
Yep.

Brady Shearer:
What type of kind of events do you have and how does your programming work when it comes to helping people kind of find a social group that they can identify with?

Adam:
That’s a great question, that’s a great question. I say a lot of it happens organically just through the process of hanging out after service and meeting people. Our service lasts about an hour and a half and I’d say people stick around for about an hour and a half afterwards which is really nice. We also have very proactive bible study leaders who are following up with people and getting people into communities on campus. And so I’d say after about 30 days, most people have found their place. I’d say probably two thirds have found a group of people that they’re hanging out with in real life. And about that time, I’d say about two months in is when we have our first big encounter event where people have a chance to hear the gospel and that usually happens at a camp outside of town. And then immediately following that, our foundations classes kick in. So it’s a pipeline that’s very progressive and it counts on people finding those social groups. I’d say for the most part, it’s working in real life, we just want to do a better job at assimilating people earlier in the process.

[00:20:30]
Brady Shearer:
Yeah, because we can talk all about like techniques and tactics and strategies for having effective follow up and sending at the right time and through the right medium. But at the end of the day, what’s going to make the campus ministry sticky is when someone is able to identify with that social group. They’re like yeah these are my people, they accept me, I’m a part of this group, they are my friends, I am their friend. Like that’s going to be the most important thing and if there’s anything that we’ve seen with church, and this definitely trickles down into young adults ministry, student ministry, it’s that we’re always very heavy on programming, which is important because we need to have something that revolves around something. We’re always hesitant to feel like, well church is not just a social club, we got to have something scriptural in there, some type of bible study, if Francis Chan is not on the TV this doesn’t count, they’re not going to give to it, we’re not going to be able to keep doing this long term. But with that being said, so much of Christianity and following Jesus is based around community, right? I don’t need to tell you this, but for anyone listening, I always keep trying to reiterate this to myself, and that is that we as humans are made to be social. God looked at Adam, said this is bad, he is alone, this cannot stay this way, we need to make a change. And I think so much of our walk with Jesus comes down to walking with other Christians alongside. Like one of the best things that I’ve ever done I think in my entire life is hire all of my friends to work at Pro Church Tools with me. Because it’s like church every single day, it feels like the early church because we’re all doing life together for real because I force them and pay them to be here, and we’re all just sharing our lives, we’re all incredible authentic and vulnerable and we love each other so much and through the good and the bad and that’s all based around our company. But when you come into school, you’re probably in your most lonely position. I did a little bit on this before but, you come in, you’re moving away from the only family you’ve ever know, and you guys know this, you gals know this. And you’re there and you feel like the whole world is your oyster, but at the same time you’ve never felt more lonely. Because maybe you’re living with someone you’ve never met up until this point because they were assigned as your dorm mate or as your roommate. And the thing you crave more than anything else is a group of people that you can feel you call your own. Because nothing more than any of us need than to have a group of people that we call our own, a family, a friend group that we identify with. And so like I said, we can jump into the tactics and strategies here in just a moment, but if there’s any part of any of your programming you think that isn’t based on that, that’s what’s going to be the most sticky thing. We can figure out this really cool strategy that follows up at the right time and it’s automated and digital and it’s print and it’s in person and it’s on the phone and it’s all this cool stuff, and it’s over text. But again, if it’s not based on this idea of helping people identify with your group and thus identifying with Christian community and walking together as brothers and sisters, nothing is going to be more sticky than that. Is there any part of your existing programming you think that could be improved in that respect? And I know that’s a big loaded question.

[00:23:30]
Adam:
I think that we do that fairly well, but our community is changing. And so we’re needing to adapt and identify where we can do better. Something that’s been a big growing segment of our congregation has been young families. It happened kind of unexpectedly, we have a couple companies in town that are getting big and are hiring non-college students, people who are already established and have families and maybe just need a place to plug in because they’re in a new town. We’re also seeing a lot of young professionals come to town and come into our church. And our traditional college assimilation process doesn’t really work for these other demographics. And so as a church we’re having to kind of flip our mentality a little bit because we’ve been used to just worrying about the college pipeline and everything else was downstream of that. But we’re seeing young professionals coming in, we’re seeing young families, we’re seeing families with kids who have never attended Washington State University or the University of Idaho. And learning how to assimilate them and welcome them into the church family is a challenge for us.

Brady Shearer:
For sure, and do you find that a lot of the campus ministry is coming to a Sunday service where I imagine these young families would be more inclined to come to? Is there cross over there?

Adam:
There’s a lot of cross over.

[00:25:00]
Brady Shearer:
Okay cool. And this is, the way [inaudible 00:24:46], we’ve got another maybe like 12, 13, 14 minutes here and it’s totally up to you into which direction we can take it. We can do more like along the same route of what we’ve been talking about with campus ministry and we can dive deep into the follow up tactics and strategies. Or we can talk more about first contact with a different demographic. Which do you think would be more valuable, which way do you want to take it?

Adam:
Well good question, I’ll just take a stab here and you guys nod or shake your heads. Learning more about the tactics specifically with content strategies and how to best use these tools I think would be the most helpful to us. Our church culture is already very proactive with following up with people, we want to do a better job of stewarding what we’ve already been given using these online tools.

DJ:
Yeah.

Brady Shearer:
Okay perfect. Great, that’s kind of like the way we’ve been going so far, so let’s just continue pulling at that same string. So let’s start with this, when someone comes to a campus event, to a service for the first time, and you know okay look, this is the most important time to get their information because they may not ever come back again. How are you capturing that information?

[00:26:00]
Mia:
On paper, or they sign up online on a little tablet on our website. But we feel like it’s not the most effective, personally, the most effective way to do that.

Adam:
We currently have paper forms and online forms that really just generate an email. We have not yet integrated a database although we do use church community builder for our membership management so that we know that there’s some integration options there. But the best way to do it is eluding us.

Brady Shearer:
Okay cool, so it sounds like you’re already doing, there basically are only two ways, capture the information in person via print or digitally online, you said neither are effective or at least not as affective as they could be. What is working poorly with those methods currently?

Adam:
It’s more about things that used to work are no longer working. We’ve seen the millennial shift happen before our eyes and it’s been very interesting. I remember the year that Myspace got popular, our biggest outreach event plummeted in attendance because suddenly college students weren’t feeling needy and that they needed new friends. It happened overnight, it was amazing.

Brady Shearer:
Well they had their top eight friends on Myspace, no need to see your friends.

[00:27:30]
Adam:
It was like a switch got thrown and the social, the felt need of finding friends, just evaporated. And now we’re seeing a lot more people waiting a semester or two before they really get needy or hungry for God because they’re still connected with wherever home used to be, through social media. And so our old paperwork flow, it used to actually work really well, as crazy as that sounds, we used to go out on campus and gather thousands of contacts and now it’s dwindled just a few hundred because people aren’t into that workflow anymore, we totally get that.
But we know that the follow up still needs to happen, people do have the felt need for community, for relationship, hunger for God, it just might be happening at a different time, in a different way. But we know that capturing that lead is the key because we don’t know when the hunger’s going to kick in. It might be six months from now, it might be a year from now. Even if they sign up in August and they choose not to show up, they might be at their point of decision in December. And we want to be able to engage with them and have them in our system, and we’re just not set up to handle that right now because our old workflow was all about get their sign up in August, connect with them in August, and they’re a church member by September.

Brady Shearer:
Yeah, and I think what you’re hitting on is the importance of an actual content marketing strategy. Sounds like you guys have done a very good job of having live events, live ministry, live services. But you’re recognizing that hey, the attention for all of these college kids is so much on their phone and they’re more like [crosstalk 00:28:32] … Pardon me?

Mia:
We lost you.

DJ:
We lost you for like a hot second.

Brady Shearer:
Oh my bad, my bad. I thought someone was just shouting me down and I couldn’t hear it. I’m back now, it’s all good?

DJ:
Yeah, you said we’re doing a good job …

[00:29:00]
Brady Shearer:
Oh the end of that sentence was nothing. No what I said was, you’re doing a good job of live ministry, right? In person events, live services, but you’re recognizing the shift. I say this all the time, we’re living through the biggest communication shift in the last 500 years. Communication used to happen so much more at in person events, it’s interesting because you guys are tied with public education. Public education is seeing this as well, they’re like man students are having a lot tougher time sitting through 75 minute lectures, like the communication is shifting and how do we adjust to that too? And I always say the church and public education are two of the slowest adapting institutions in North America, but we’re both at the point where okay, it’s time to make some changes.
You’re recognizing that attention is the most valuable commodity that your campus ministry can have. Without attention of your students, it doesn’t matter how great your events are, how fantastic your services are, if they’re not paying attention it doesn’t really matter. And where is their attention? Well their attention is, more than anything, on their mobile device, it’s on their phone. And so how do we manage to reach them there [inaudible 00:29:59] simultaneously reaching them through live events. And so this is kind of a bigger picture on a more macro level. But why are you and I speaking on Skype right now? How in the world are you connected to a 26 year old Canadian who knows basically nothing about anything except a little bit about church marketing and communications. Why?
It all started through something we call content marketing. I have a podcast, I write articles, we create videos, they showed up in Google, you searched for something, you found it, you resonated with it, I got your email address, kept in contact with you, eventually we developed enough of a trust with you that you were willing to sit on an hour consultation and expose what you guys are doing within your ministry to the world and listen to me as if I have something valuable to say. And that all started with the fact that I recorded a podcast on my computer and published it online. Who knows, you might have even given me money at some point. You were like I trust Brady enough to give him my credit card information, this is obscene. This is how powerful content marketing is.
And so if you already are not doing like a weekly podcast that’s all about campus ministry, being a Christian on campus, keeping your faith on campus, I think that would be huge. If you’re not already doing weekly YouTube videos, campus life, that same sort of trend, the exact type of thing that you would do in your live events, that same communication, that same teaching but in digital form so that it’s accessible on demand, 24/7. That’s a huge win for you because do you know how easy it is to capture information digitally? You can do it on YouTube with subscribers, you can do it through email capture forms on your website, podcasting is even having more advanced statistics going forward.
And what you can do is shift the attention to where people actually are now. I imagine that so much of your energy and effort goes into how can we get more students to us? If we flip that on the inverse, how can we go more to the students where they already are, it’s going to become so much more easy for all of you. They’re already on the Snap, on the Gram, on the Facebook, go to them rather than doing everything you can to get them to come to you. You’re going to reach more people and you’ll be able to manage your resources better.
I would love, this is a really practical thing, two pieces of content and if two is too much, choose one whichever you think will be better. A weekly podcast about being a Christian or finding faith or spirituality, whatever it might be, on campus at the University of Washington State, or whatever that might be, the Idaho one. You could do one for each you could couple them together. Or a YouTube show. You guys are on campus all the time, right? Like pull out a camera, do some interviews with students, do a little bit of a vlog thing. Man, I would love to see that. And if you’re a student at one of these universities, you’re going to type that into YouTube and because you guys are actually making the content there and it’s relevant, you’re going to show up. And then maybe they subscribe to your YouTube channel.
What you need to do though, is be okay with recognizing that this is a long term strategy. This isn’t something that’s going to take three months and then you’re going to be like yep, we’ve got this massive podcast, revival happened. That’s just not how it works anymore. But what you can do is establish your presence here long term. Here’s what I see happening, the attention that you’re really grabbing for to get people to come to your live events, I just don’t imagine that turning around on its head and suddenly going back to the way that it used to be. And I think you recognize that as well and that’s the reason we’re having this conversation. We’re not going back to the way that it used to be. So rather than continuing to clammer for that attention in person, how can we just shift our resources, reallocate our time, money, and creative energy, into communicating the exact same thing? Heck, more Francis Chan, but do it digitally instead of watching a TV in person around the couch. And I think that could be a huge win.
And then when it comes to the actual follow up strategy, the great thing about having an online presence with content marketing, with a podcast, with a YouTube show, with a website that’s getting updated frequently, is that you can capture that information whether it be through a mail chimp that gets sent dynamically to CCB or however you want to do it. But you’ll have a ton of existing leads and contacts that way and what you can do is you can just nurture that over time. We send out one or two emails every single week to our Pro Church Tools email list. And most of the emails, as you know, I mentioned you’re on the list, they’re just helpful for you. Once or twice a year do we go into a launch mode where it’s like hey, we have a product we think you might like it, give us some money. The full 50 weeks of the year are, here’s something I wrote for free, here’s something I recorded for free, here’s something I produced for free, hopefully it’s valuable to you.
And that’s the way that you nurture an online audience and then when you have your big push for that retreat that you want people to come to, you’ve got that big push in July or August, that’s when you can kind of go from the providing value to asking for something in return. But set your expectations for this is a long game. In three to five years, we’re going to have this amazing presence that people are going to come to school and they’ll already know about us because so many of the juniors, the seniors, the sophomores, are going to be already tuned into this. And it’s going to become part of the campus life and people are just going to be expecting and tuned into that. But it will take time. Okay my rant’s over, that was long.

Mia:
Sounds great.

Brady Shearer:
I would love to hear your feedback on that, what are your thoughts on weekly YouTube show, weekly podcast show?

Adam:
Well it’s my opinion that every church should be in the publishing business because we have something to say.

Brady Shearer:
I love it.

[00:36:00]
Adam:
We all have the bible. But also, every church is most of the way there because you’re already having a weekly gathering that you should be recording. And so something that we’ve dabbled in is having ongoing content that calls from our weekly services. Our Friday services is college students and then our Sunday service which is everybody. But then the idea of creating original content beyond that, that’s a fascinating idea because this is a unique community with unique strengths and unique needs and I think there really could be an audience for some sort of college ministry themed show.

DJ:
Yeah.

Brady Shearer:
Yeah, and I will reiterate, yes absolutely do native, unique content. You can take the same ideas, the same kind of topics that you’re tackling on the weekends, but don’t just rebroadcast those through digital and expect that to work, right? They’re made in a specific way for live and if you just strip the audio or take the recorded video and post it, it’s just going to feel like you’re a fly on the wall watching that. That’s not native content. And there’s a big difference between a rebroadcast and a repurposing.

[00:37:30]
Adam:
Yeah. No what we’ve done in the past is grab 90 second snippets form a message, like maybe an illustration that stands by itself or a praise report or something that does play well online. But we haven’t produced anything original just for content marketing and that’s intriguing. We have dabbled a little bit in email lists, that’s been an interesting cultural shift for our church. One of the team members here at the table writes a weekly email which is great, but we haven’t gotten permission to use it broadly yet. Also it’s been more of an announcements thing than marketing. And so that would be an interesting shift for us to combine those two things. Can you talk a little bit about that, the differences between speaking to an external audience versus internal and how do you find economies of scale there? Briefly?

Brady Shearer:
Yeah, I think the intersection between those two things doesn’t have to be very different. The question that I always ask to hopefully shift the perspective is, what would you communicate through email or through social if your Sunday service, your Friday evening service, didn’t exist? Meaning when you get someone to a Friday service, when you get a student there, what are you doing? Well I know what you’re not doing, you’re not saying hey we’re so grateful to have you here at the Friday service, guess what, we have another Friday service. And I got to tell you all about this Friday service. We’re already here, now is when we actually do the thing. Put Frances Chan on the TV, let’s have our bible study, open up the bibles, do the prayer circle. Like whatever it might be.
For some reason, we know, because we are all spending as much time on our phones as everyone else. The amount of basketball podcasts that I listen to is obscene and the key is that for some reason, when we do something in person, we know like oh our church service is here to provide what people are looking for. We’re going to have some music, we’re going to do some teaching, we’re going to have some response. And then when we translate that online, instead of taking our church’s mission statement and accomplishing that online, what we do is all we do is promote what we’re doing in person. And there’s this huge disconnect because every other industry is taking what their old goals were before this huge communication shift happened and translating them to the online digital world.
And I’ve tried to use so many different ways of explaining this to get that epiphany moment, that shift in perspective that churches need, and I’ve found the best way to do it is to actually go through this thought exercise. If we didn’t have an in person Friday evening service, how would we reach these students? If our, our missions statement let’s say, as almost ever church’s mission statement is some type of, making disciples, helping people to love God, love people, serve the world. What is your church’s or ministry’s mission statement.

Mia:
Make devoted followers of Jesus in community empowered by the Holy Spirit.

[00:40:30]
Brady Shearer:
Amazing. So if you were going to make followers of Jesus in community, empowered by the Holy Spirit and you couldn’t do it on a Friday evening and all you had was digital, how would you do it? Because this absolutely strips you of the crutch of just using social to promote your in person gatherings. Because that’s what we’re using it for, we’re leaning on this crutch and saying look, social is new, social is unfamiliar, I don’t really know how to use it to it’s full potential. I know, I’ll just use it to promote and broadcast what we’re doing in person. And so you’ve got to make that shift, you’ve got to have that epiphany and make that perspective jump from promoting in person, getting people to visit us in person, to you taking that mission statement and doing it, accomplishing it, solely through digital.

[00:41:00]
Mia:
Great, thank you.

Adam:
That’s fantastic, this gives us a lot to chew on and a lot to plan. We’ve got a great team so I’m excited to execute on these things.

Brady Shearer:
Amazing. Well I think that’s a perfect place to leave off, I really would love to hear from you guys in like 30, 60, 90 days. Especially in September when this next round of ten day window has gone by, I think you’ve got a bunch of time to plan and prep for then, which is great. You can, when it comes to the podcast show, the YouTube show, the content marketing, you can build some of that foundation now so that when that ten day precious window comes along, you’ve already put in the actual prep work to capitalize, maximize that time as best as possible.
But I do want to tank you guys for coming on the show and being willing to be so honest. Is there anything else that you want to get out there before we sign off?

Mia:
Reach people.

DJ:
Go Cougs.

Mia:
Yeah go Cougs.

Adam:
Go Cougs and go Vandals.

Brady Shearer:
Which is which?

[00:42:00]
Adam:
The Cougars are Washington State University and the Vandals are University of Idaho.

Brady Shearer:
Okay is there any tension ever, like between who you guys root for and maybe who some of the Idaho crew root for? It sounds like you guys are leaning more Coug.

Adam:
Absolutely.

DJ:
Like we hate the University of Washington Huskies and we hate …

Adam:
Boise State.

DJ:
Boise State.

Adam:
Yeah but even between the two schools there’s definitely some tension. But you know they only play each other every couple years in football. So no we’re [crosstalk 00:42:27], our church is a part of a large conference and outreach event that’s coming in this fall and we’re excited about partnering with some other churches to make that happen so this is very timely. Thank you very much.

Mia:
Thank you thank you.

Brady Shearer:
Awesome, well I’ve had a blast meeting all of you, thanks again.

Catherine :
Thank you.

Adam:
Thanks.

Mia:
Thank you.

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