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Offline and Unleashed

3.5

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Welcome to the April 2010 edition of The Geeks and God Podcast. This month, we talk about keeping our offline members in the loop as we move more and more resources online, some lessons learned from NewSpring's Unleash conference, and how Drupal fits in to the idea of Software as a Service.

Is Offline/Online the root of the question?

Listening as I type and also responding in part to Dale's offline ministry post - give a listen to Rick Warren's presentation (http://citrt.pbworks.com) at the Spring 2010 Church IT Roundtable. 1 thing that struck me was his perspective towards the web and technology, in general - it allows him to reach people he wouldn't have the opportunity to reach any other way.

That's a key distinction, I think. As a parent, I learned that each child is unique, and my way of relating to one didn't always click with another. We adapt as parents, we also adapt with friends and siblings.

Another point from Rick's talk might bring some insight in how to reach those that might feel disenfranchised - he pastors to his pastors and staff, who pastor to small groups, and so on. Everyone needs to be partnered in your ministry. Someone connects and shares with me and I connect and share with others. If the feeling of inclusion relies on getting all the communication directly from a single source, how effective is it?

Re: the goal of a church

Re: the goal of a church website: We have several goals for our church website. Its primary goal is to connect people to Jesus. Whether they live around the corner or around the world, we want them to know Jesus through His Word. To that end, we've implemented several strategies:

  • On our About page, we give links to other local churches, so if we're not the church they're looking for, we want to connect them to another one.
  • Many of our local studies offer online components so those not able to be present can still listen in and/or participate remotely. Mostly, this is done through podcasting, but this week, we also began live streaming one of our studies. (And it's recorded, so those for whom it's a bad time can still check it out later.)
  • Once we get some hardware issues fixed, we'll be live streaming all of our services. (We've had mixed results so far in our ability to do so, but that's mainly because our hardware was too slow.) Some of our members use this when they're home with a sick kid or have to go to work before the service is done or other reasons, but we also hope to get the word out to others around the world.
  • We have created a "Cyber Evangelism" committee specifically devoted to using the internet to get the Word out, regardless where people are checking in.
  • In September, we'll be launching an online-only study that will invite all people everywhere to participate.

Here's my question: what's the best way to advertise online streaming services? They're not search engine friendly.

Here's my question: what's

Here's my question: what's the best way to advertise online streaming services? They're not search engine friendly.

From your last statement, it appears you are trying to attract new listeners/viewers? I am a firm believer in 'It starts at home'. If you are trying to build a new community where one does not exist, your task is much more difficult. If, however, you are trying to do 'inreach' and strengthen the community that already exists, your usual means of communicating apply to your streaming services - service bulletins, newsletters, announcements, email lists, blogs. A direct effect of doing inreach is the growth of your congregation spiritually and in numbers, as they reach out.

For an external approach, use all your social media outlets for building awareness of your new streaming services. Clips on YouTube/Vimeo/LiveStream/blip.tv that point back to your primary site spread throughout the web. Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, Tumblr are all places to get mentions and create buzz. Local news outlets are another way to reach the community around you. Got external signage? Use it! Email signatures - link them up! Also, couple the streaming content with text content - study guides, blog posts, transcripts, whatever.