What's in this session?

  • You can do anything, but you can't do everything (0:55)
  • Your North star: attention (3:49)
  • At-Bats (5:05)
  • Business success (6:18)
  • Fishers (6:36)
  • Measure attention -> then measure engagement -> then measure next steps (8:28)

Show notes and resources

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The Transcript

Alex: Well, hey there, and welcome to ProChurch Daily. The show where in 10 minutes or less you’re going to get a daily dose of tips and tactics to help your church share the message of Jesus while we navigate the biggest communications shift we’ve seen in the last 500 years. I’m your host Alex Mills, joined as always by the boss man, it’s Brady Shearer. And today we’re talking about the ultimate church decision matrix.

Brady: On episode 150 of ProChurch Daily, Alex, we talked about 15 things your church needs to know about IGTV, the new social platform from Instagram. And I feel like I heard a collective groan from all pastors and church leaders when the news of IGTV’s release was published. Every pastor, “Oh not another thing we need to do.”

Alex: “Oh, we just got our website up and running. We’re not even on Facebook yet.”

Brady: “I finally got off of Myspace. What is IGTV all about?”

Alex: “We’re just getting on LinkedIn.”

Brady: There was this quote that my professor told me in Bible college that has stuck with me ever since. And it’s, “You can do anything, you can’t do everything.” And he said that to me specifically, because I was the type of person to always have my hand in multiple pots, hats of multiple varieties, any analogy that you want. And I think it’s also true, though, for our churches. We have a little bit of rubber neck syndrome. We don’t really understand how digital works. We don’t really understand how to make decisions, because the work that we do is existential in nature, and it very difficult to figure out what best leads to success as a church.

What is the best way to accomplish our church’s mission? What is the best way to help people love God, love others and make disciples. And because of this, because there’s no super clear roadmap to that, aside from preaching the Word, which of course has its own implications that we’ve talked about before … What does it actually mean? Where do we preach the Word? How do we preach the Word? Obviously we’re going to preach the Word, every church is preaching the Word. And so that leads us to making bad decisions and really just shiny object syndrome, jumping from one thing to the next and never really developing a good strategy. And so we wanted to offer churches, in this episode of ProChurch Daily, was a decision matrix, a way of approaching the platforms and the decisions you need to make with an actual strategy, a matrix, to decide, okay here’s how we’re making a decision and thus, we can make better decisions and thus steward our limited resources better. Our time, our money and our creative potential, steward it as best as we can to thus, lead to the results that we want.

Alex: Right, ’cause it’s always going to be something. Like this week it’s IGTV and next week it’s going to be something else.

Brady: LinkedIn Video.

Alex: Right, which is actually not a joke. That’s a thing.

Brady: That’s a thing.

Alex: And next month it’s going to be something else and so it just seems to be happening faster and faster. New platforms, new devices, new mediums, all these things and we need to know, have some criteria of matrix, if you will. How do we decide where, like you said, where to allocate these resources because, in churches, let’s be honest, in most of our context like resources are limited so we have to allocate them well and you nailed it when you used the word stewardship because, when you boil it all down, that’s what this is about. How do we steward what we have well in order to preach the gospel.

Brady: Bottom line is if you ever hear someone say to you, we’ll just do both. That person does not understand church because we cannot do both indefinitely. Maybe you can make that decision in a vacuum once, we’re going to do both Twitter and Facebook but eventually you have to make a hard decision, draw a line in the sand and say, well we can’t do this because we can’t do both because we don’t have enough resources to do both so I have to make a decision. How are you going to make that decision? That’s what this matrix is for.

The first element of this matrix is the North Star. You have to know what is the single most valuable commodity that your church is going after and we like to say that attention is the most valuable commodity that your church can possess. In episode 125 of ProChurch Daily we presented the three step funnel to predictable church growth. When we talked about the three steps that you need to grow a church both internally and externally, meaning your growing the people attending your church now and growing by reaching new people who are not attending your church. The three steps in that funnel, and I highly encourage you to listen and/or watch that episode to see the fullness of it all. Step one, attention, that most valuable commodity because it’s the first step. Step after that is step number two is engagement. Step number three is next steps.

And this is kind of the one, two, three step framework to accomplishing your church’s mission but it all starts with attention. Think of it as a funnel. It’s really wide at the top and then as you go from attention to engagement, it gets more narrow and as you get from engagement to next steps, it becomes even more narrow and so prioritizing attention, getting more people in that funnel at the very top, is the most valuable thing that you can do because more people means more chances, more opportunities of sharing the gospel. Here are a couple of analogies to compare this to. One I like to use a lot is a baseball analogy, I love sports. Think about baseball, even the best baseball players in the world only succeed at bat one out of every three times. If you can succeed one out of three times in the major leagues, you will make tens and perhaps even hundreds of millions of dollars.

Now, baseball is constricted to three, to four, to five at bats every single game and so players spend so much of their time and energy trying to improve that percentage by even 10 points. If you can go from 300 to 310, that directly contributes to more wins for your team and more money in your checkbook the next time your contract is up. But, let’s imagine that there are no constraints to the number of at bats. The best way to improve success in baseball, because of course, the goal of an at bat is to get a hit, the best way to improve that would be to increase the number of at bats because the best that you can do is hit like 330 and so, yeah, you could spend all of your time and energy to get from 330 to 340 but one way to be way better and get way more hits in a game right away would just be to double the amount of at bats you have.

Similarly, go where the attention is the most, it’ll give you more opportunity, more attention, more valuable, that’s the most valuable commodity. Think about it. Like the business at ProChurch Tools, the number one thing that we care about when it comes to our business existing for the long term is revenue.

Alex: Of course.

Brady: And the best way to get more revenue is to get more people in ProChurch Nation because eventually they’ll buy something. So, we focus on building more audience. Another analogy, let’s do a biblical analogy, fishers, fishers of men. Right. What’s the goal of fishing? Catching fish so you can eat fish and not die. Well, one way to improve that would just be to cast a wider net because if your net is twice as large as your old net, you will be able to catch more fish. So that’s why we talk about attention being the most valuable commodity at the top of this predictable growth funnel. So, when it comes to this ultimate church decision matrix, it’s very simple in fact. Prioritize attention above all else. So, if you had to choose between Instagram and IGTV, I would choose Instagram because it has more attention and I also am not a purist when it comes to the internet. Or when it comes to digital. I just follow the attention. So, if billboards suddenly became the absolute best medium for gaining attention, I’d tell you, stop spending money on Facebook and buy all the billboards.

Alex: And we’re going to start pivoting and we’ll be a billboard company.

Brady: I’m going to pivot hard towards billboards but they don’t have attention. Attention’s on digital, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, so let’s go there. And things will change, the world will evolve and billboards will become irrelevant and we won’t rent DVDs anymore and suddenly mattresses will come in boxes to our homes and attention will shift and Facebook will change its algorithm and then we’ll shift a little more to Instagram because it’s free and engagement is there better or we’ll spend more money on Facebook because we know the attention is there if we can just spend money. And so, at the end of the day, you should always prioritize attention. So, when it comes to making a decision, billboard or Facebook ads? The attention’s on Facebook so go there. IGTV or Instagram, right now Instagram stories, Instagram posts in the feed have more attention so spend your time there. When you have to choose, and we will have to choose because we have limited resources as churches, prioritize attention.

If, hypothetically, there is a tie and the attention is equal, then you go to the next step in the funnel, engagement, because not all attention is made equal. I would still rather have more attention but if the attention on two platforms is identical, then what platform would, at least your best guess, have more engagement and then that way … and if there’s a tie between engagement and attention, then you go to next steps. Another caveat to make is obviously there is such a thing as cheap attention.

Alex: Yes.

Brady: We’re talking about platforms that already have existing attention that you can siphon off of. If your pastor wanted to do a bunch of posts shirtless, you’d probably get a lot of attention. Might not be what you want.

Alex: Right.

Brady: Right, we’re talking about the confines of actual things that your church is going to care about and that you would normally do within normal operations of a church. If you want to put your pastor in a bikini on a billboard, it’s going to get a lot of attention but it will not be the type of attention that you want.

Alex: When I saw the title for this episode, The Ultimate Church Decision Making Matrix, I was expecting like a three step or a five step, a seven step formula, you know.

Brady: Classic Brad.

Alex: Yeah, to make these decisions, but when I’m reading through the show notes realized oh yeah, it doesn’t have to be more complicated than this. Just find where the attention is being paid and double down there and when, like you said, when the attention merges or shifts, just follow it. If you see that … IGTV is in its infancy right now but as we see it grow and maybe we see attention migrate over there and maybe in their new comments sections we’re actually getting more engagement on videos and IGTV than in Stories, then maybe that’s your opportunity to start transitioning and allocating some resources that you’re spending somewhere else into that new platform but only because the attention is migrating there. All we have to do is follow that metric and then, like you said, if there’s a tie, then we have further steps to evaluate engagement in next steps. But it doesn’t have to be more complicated than that. Just see where people are paying attention. Where they’re at and bring your message there.

Brady: Don’t be a slave to a platform, don’t get romantic about a platform. I was heralded as the guy that loved SnapChat because I was using SnapChat because the attention there was crazy. And then SnapChat was dominated when Instagram Stories came, my attention dropped on SnapChat and rose on Instagram Stories. As you can see SnapChat deleted from my phone, after about a year of non use because the attention there had gone. Use that as your north star. Every church, we’re trying to help people love God, love others and make disciples. The only way to accomplish that is first to have someone’s attention. That is the prerequisite always. Attention on a Sunday morning, attention on a social platform, attention on a billboard. Where is the attention existing already? Where is it the easiest to get and where is the most attention, the most eyeballs, the most opportunities and chances and at bat, to succeed. That is the ultimate church decision matrix. And that’ll do it for this episode of ProChurch Daily. We’ll see you next time.

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