In this episode, we’ll walk through the Five Big Breakthroughs from this season of ministry, and how you can apply them at your church.

Listen now on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Google Play, or Spotify.

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Included in this episode – five big breakthrough categories from this season of ministry:

1) We’ve Embraced Change and Innovation- and There’s No Going Back!

  • We’ve learned that we have the ability to change quickly & positively.  As we’ve solved the problems of this season, we’ve started raising up a younger generation of creative problem-solvers.  Our churches are stronger for having come through this challenge, we’re ready to take our place as change-makers, not followers of the trends the world has to offer.
  • We’ve pushed through major obstacles & changed.  (Yay, Church!)
  • Best of all, many of our leaders understand the potential this has for the future.  Now that we’ve seen new ways to reach our community, there’s no going back.

2) We’re Using Digital Small Groups, Digital meetings, and Digital Community.

  • So many more people can get involved with digital.  We can take what we’ve learned in this season and take our digital ministry to the next level!
  • It’s easy to check in with people & see how they’re doing.  Please, let’s not stop calling people to check in when this is over!
  • We can leverage technology in new ways.  For example, we could do an in-person meeting one week and a Zoom meeting the next week.
  • Our entire congregation is now educated on technology!  Just imagine the possibilities.
  • Churches will hang on to digital meeting way down the road.  We don’t need to do everything in person, especially training.
  • In order to hang onto this spirit of innovation, we need to keep experimenting and trying new things!  How can we leverage what we’ve learned going forward?  We don’t need to wait for the next crisis to pivot.

3) We’re Striving for Engagement, Participation & Personalization.

  • It’s no longer good enough to put the camera in the back of the room and just record what’s happening in person.  We have to create digital experiences that feel personal for those who are worshipping online.
  • We can’t go back to digital being a nice “option” for our churches.  Something this time has taught us is that social media and live streaming need to be treated as an important part of our outreach efforts going forward.  It’s also a crucial way to minister to those whose schedules or physical abilities prohibit them from joining a Sunday morning in-person service.
  • When we bring digital to the front of the priority list, we can see so much more of what’s happening in our community.  And when we listen better, we’re better at meeting the needs of those around us.
  • If your digital experience is engaging & relational, your ministry will be more effective.
  • Ministry flows out of relationships, and relationships take time.  If we want to go on a long-term discipleship journey with people, we have to start by building into their lives.  So, if we aren’t doing that online, it’s time to change!

4) We Can Be the Church All Week.

  • This has been a time of bringing the focus of the church back to the essentials of our faith.  After all, we are the people of God, sent to a lost and dying world.  What we do 24/7, online and off, needs to be centered on that mission.
  • What does “being the church” mean?  It means we’re relational & personal, we focus on evangelism and discipleship, and gather for worship however we can.  It means we facilitate small groups, celebrate and mourn together, and have fun as a church family.
    • An idea for how to have fun – do Friday night trivia!
    • You can never share enough stories or testimonies.  Stories of life change, and helping those in need are so powerful.
      • We can’t forget this time in the life of our church and go back to a never-ending role of announcements & events.  The church is not announcements and events.  It’s ministry.
  • We want people to look at our churches being the church and want to know more about Jesus.
    • We can provide hope, light, and life to our communities.
    • Ask:  What do our communities need right now and how can we serve them? When we start with that in mind, and our ministry flows out of that, we become relevant.  Period.  Thoughtfully meeting needs draws others to Jesus.
    • Everywhere you go, you bring life and encouragement, and you show the world that this is who God is and what he does! That’s what it looks like when God radically transforms hearts!
    • Stories of life transformation and loving our neighbor put the love of God on display!

5) We Love People.

  • As some of our leaders have started reopening, they’ve shared with us the joy of gathering together again.  We’ve missed each other.  And, perhaps more than anything else, this season has taught us that we love people and we need each other.  There’s nothing quite like Christians coming together to worship God & encourage one another. Digital can do some of that, but there’s something really unique that happens when we meet in person.
  • This season has helped us get back to the basics of loving people.
  • Ministry all about relationships and discipleship.  This means our communication is individualized, always.
  • In many of our churches during this season, the leadership called every single person in the church just to see how they were doing.  They reconnected and showed their love and caring for people.  This is boots-on-the-ground and so relational.  We need to keep doing that!  We need to keep calling, keep asking, “How can I pray for you?”, and keep loving people in personal ways.
  • We can’t take for granted the ability we have to gather together.  Don’t let your heart become cold that when you walk out to lobby, even if it’s only 20 people.
  • Don’t ever get away from the simple fact that we’re called to love people.  This doesn’t have to be flashy or complicated.  It can be as simple as saying, “I just called to see how you’re doing, we’re praying for you, anything we can do for your family?”


Bonus!  Notes from our Panel Interview on Relaunching inside the Church Marketers Facebook Group.

Here are some extra insights from one of the conversations that helped shape this podcast episode!  All our panelists were answering the question, “What’s one thing you’ve learned during this season that you’re going to keep, long-term, for your ministry?”

Justin Petrovich- Breath of Life Church

To keep the live stream engaging, someone could do a live host type thing in the foyer, switch cameras to those in the sanctuary, and then back to the lobby after the service. We also have a bunch of people who are now trained to address people online, need to keep that engagement going. We’re not going to abandon that.

As a leader, getting engaged with members, calling them, on a regular basis, has made such an impact on our congregation. We delivered mother’s day gifts to every mother in the family, and it was amazing to realize just how far people come to go to in-person service.

This season has made me realize that impact is about reaching out with a personal touch. We need to keep doing that.

Adam McLaughlin

The exciting thing I’ve seen is we’ve successfully gone 2 months without having to promote an event. The social media strategy of being driven by events is gone, and churches are now delivering value-driven content or culture-driven content and getting engagement through that.  We should keep going.  Also, churches are getting further and further away from asking things like “What’s your favorite flavor of ice cream?” that have nothing to do with church but are supposed to be there to create engagement.  Now we’re moving to, “Here’s what we’re all about and how can we serve you?” or  “Here’s a message of hope!”  We’re trying to create engagement around providing value to the audience. Churches who are winning right now are clear on who they are and clear on how they’re going to communicate that thing through everything that they do.

Jonathan Saliba- Congregación Bíblica Bautista Norte

Our lead pastor is now making videos on his own – before he wouldn’t do at all. But my biggest takeaway is meeting online rather than having to be in person is working really well.  We’re all getting used to it and it’s given us more time and ability to connect.

Tammy Burdick- Firm Foundations Marketing

I’ve seen so many churches learning how to tell their stories better. They’re recognizing these are the things they’ve always been doing and now understand when you’re out in the community doing things, take a picture/video.  If you have people comfortable using iPhones, take a quick video to say, “Here’s what we’re doing!”  People need to see churches doing things.  It brings hope, inspires, and motivates people to think about faith.  All the good stories we share have exploded into social media viral and we’ve even seen news coming out to cover.

Tyler Harden- Firm Foundations Marketing

Amazing opportunity to change the culture of our churches – don’t get many
opportunities to do things completely differently without a lot of push back – avoided road blocks you
have in normal circumstances. For the better & long-term health. Also opportunity to just be the church
— force to digital made up be more community minded; more one-on-one contact than had been when
meeting on Sunday. Broke church out of Sunday box and freed us to be the church the way we’re meant
to be. Really get to know people regardless of size.

Cheri Pelic – Friendship Church

Getting our pastors to do live prayer & devotions, our senior pastor, who was never on Facebook before, now goes live, responds to comments in real-time, and is planning on continuing that going forward.

Another takeaway is we can quickly pivot – we can try things, and if it doesn’t work out, we drop it and try something else. We can do quickly and for very little cost- and that’s been a huge eye-opener for all of us.

Molly Pelic – Friendship Church

The biggest thing is, we’ve been able to engage with students mid-week much more than we have been in the past – before just Sunday night. We use Band, and they engage and have conversations with each other.  We’ll continue to push for that mid-week engagement. We’ll also keep online small groups because kids can invite friends from out of state.

Ryan Keller – Church on a Mission

Online life groups have been huge.  We’ve had people reach out and say, “I’ve never been able to go before because of my work schedule, and I hope you continue this going forward.”

Also, using the digital “New Here” platform we built out, which is a 5 step process for how we connect with people and follow up online, we’ve had 80 new contacts, with 25 families who are highly responsive. We’ve used two main strategies – Plan your Visit, but also meeting people digitally, getting them to check out church, and getting them into our Facebook group so we can get to know them better.  Going forward, we can leverage this strategy to develop relationships with people who discover us online.

Julianne Harris

Although I haven’t been an active part of the process, live streaming was only an idea at my church before, and now we’ve fully jumped in and plan to keep going forward. A lot of people are inviting family members and friends, and it’s provide opportunities we wouldn’t have had before.

I also love the way that online life groups and services have created opportunities for people who would have otherwise been left behind- like those with jobs during the evening hours, on Sundays, or those who are physically unable to come to service for other reasons.  We talk with so many church leaders in our Facebook groups and this is a huge positive that comes up again and again, and I think it’s wonderful!

Reopening Surveys

As you prepare to reopen your building, the one piece of advice every church that has already re-opened offers is simply this: survey your congregation ahead of time so you fully understand their feelings about getting back together. You’re likely to discover surprises as well as solid information about how to help your people make the transition back to meeting in person as well as the move into what is certain to be your “new normal.” And, don’t survey too early because you’ll want to get a good idea of what’s happening in your community.

Ryan Wakefield Church Marketing University

Ryan is the founder of Church Marketing University, where he helps churches all over the world get more visitors each week. He and his wife, Amy, and daughter, Katelyn, are a part of Summit Park Church in Kansas City, Missouri.  Ryan has many years of experie... read more