EPISODE #68 – HOW COVID CHANGED THE INTERNET FOR CHURCHES
Happy New Year from the boot camp boys! We hope it’s off to a great start for you and your church. In today’s episode Wesley Lewis, owner and creative director of OneEighty.digital (our exclusive, illustrious and awesome podcast sponsor) stops by to explain how COVID19 has changed the internet. And….you’ll also learn a couple things about the boot camp bros…
- Bob discloses his favorite TV show is Home Town
- Jimbo Admits his dream job would be hosting a show like “Triple D”
Now, to the important topic: How Covid Changed the Internet.
- Just about everyone-we mean everyone is streaming their worship services
- There has been a 20-30% increase in web traffic
- The web is the front door of the Church
- Desktop and Devices (smart TV) are growing in usage over mobile devices
- Getting information out quickly is imperative
- You can’t rely on one platform (email, text, facebook, webpage)
- Your webpage has to updated every week-you can’t replace with social media
- Interaction is key-you must have a response form or direct your audience
What are the current website trends?
- A shift to function over form-finding info, navigation has to be EASY.
- Embedding your livestream b/c many people don’t have social media.
- Online Giving, Contact forms and calls to action
With everyone online a lot of people are struggling with screen fatigue, how can we address that?
- Extend the time of interaction before and after your livestream
- Offer ways to interact personally (analog via calls, texts etc)
- Provide questions, downloadable resources for your audience.
One last thing-don’t forget to enter for the LAST Replant Bootcamp Black Ops Ball Cap giveaway, do it right here!
Need help with your website? Checkout what OneEighty.digital can do for you-let the know you heard about them on the Replant Bootcamp.
[00:00:00] JimBo Stewart: Happy new year, Bob walking into 2021. Are you ready? Are you excited? You got huge plans and big expectations.
Bob Bickford: Jimbo I’m I’m cautiously riding the gas and the brakes at
JimBo Stewart: Okay.
Bob Bickford: you know, I’m driving with two feet, I’ll say this two feet, like a go-kart you ever driven a go-kart you probably have driven a go-kart you’re from the South.
JimBo Stewart: Oh yeah. I ha I have a dune buggy. Go-cart.
Bob Bickford: you did, You are my friend and my hero.
JimBo Stewart: I, uh, I lived in the country for a short season, what I consider the country. And so we had 10 acres. My neighbor had 10 acres. My other neighbor had 10 acres and we’re all the same age. And I had a dune buggy go-kart with, uh, off-road wheels and they each had four wheelers and we would play capture the flag with BB guns.
Bob Bickford: Was that near Laurel, Mississippi.
JimBo Stewart: Not far from Laurel, Mississippi. [00:01:00] Yeah.
Bob Bickford: is my favorite town. And, um, I’m just going to, I’m going to venture out here and say, I’m just going to confess to the bootcamp audience. One of my favorite TV shows is hometown from Laurel, Mississippi being an aerate, just redoing house. That’s a replant or in me, you know, take something old and ugly and make it beautiful in
JimBo Stewart: Oh, yeah. Oh yeah. Law’s a great place, man. We got to figure out some time to get down there and lots of good stuff. I get to show you in my old staff and grounds there in Hattiesburg, Summerall, that whole area.
Bob Bickford: we should be like a live, uh, bootcamp series of podcasts in your favorite, uh, Southern places as, as we’re eating some of your favorite food, Southern food, do a bootcamp podcast. I think that would be your kind of like guide for Yeti. We, maybe we could get a dune buggy and we can say. This is Bob and Jim on.
We’re rolling out
JimBo Stewart: So you look diners drive-ins and dives is literally my dream job. I, I, I can’t think of anything I would rather do than [00:02:00] drive an old muscle car around the country and visit diners drive-ins and dives. I mean, I can’t, I literally can’t think of anything. I would rather do.
Bob Bickford: Yeah. Did you put that on the Tom Raider? What would you do if you weren’t being a pastor?
JimBo Stewart: Well, speaking of Thom Rainer and things that we find on the internet, our topic today. Is how did COVID change the internet Al Gore invented it and then, you know, others perfected it, I guess. And then all of a sudden 2020 hit Corona hit and it changed absolutely so much of how we view and interact with the internet as churches, uh, churches that.
Have never live-streamed before have figured out some way to do that. Some of them I’ve seen and think maybe you shouldn’t live stream. Maybe you should figure out something else to [00:03:00] do, but we’ve got a special guest with us today. Wesley Lewis, uh, president El Presidente, a CEO founder, man in charge at one 80 digital, our sponsor.
Wesley Lewis: Yeah. Hey, I’m glad to be here with you guys today. Thanks for having me again. I mean, it’s been a little bit since I’ve been on the show, but uh, glad to be here, man. It has 2020 been the craziest year ever. I mean, everywhere. I was saying that we all understand that, but it has, especially with digital communication, things like that has revolutionized.
And what the churches are doing, you know, top, top to bottom it large and big. It’s just, uh, one of those things that, you know, we weren’t expecting but happened. And, um, God used it to, to kind of push us forward as a church. I mean, that’s, it’s been, been good from that perspective, not good from other perspectives, but God’s really used it to do some, do some new things.
Bob Bickford: I think so, you know, one of the things that, um, a lot of us and I’ll, I’ll put [00:04:00] myself in this camp, um, we, we’re not live streaming services intentionally for, for a number of reasons. One is, is we just didn’t feel like we had the capacity and the bandwidth to do it. And we, and we just didn’t feel like necessarily that was something we would pursue.
And now I cannot get on Facebook and not see multiple feeds of churches who are now live streaming their services. So I think the minority are not doing it. I think everybody almost in, in these days is, is live streaming service.
Wesley Lewis: Yeah. Well, my favorite thing about that is, um, it’s just really been about the church becoming present on social media and in ways like it never has been before. Um, so Facebook really recognizing, Hey, churches are really taken up a large amount of our bandwidth on Sunday morning stream and all these services and everything and, and everybody else just knowing, Hey, there’s all these.
You know, religion in America, [00:05:00] especially Christianity is something that has been a stable of our society, but has been pushed to the background and is now really becoming back to the foreground. And I’m excited to see new opportunities come out of that for sure.
JimBo Stewart: I think we’ve definitely seen a Wesley. Would you agree? Maybe there’s just a lot more, not just churches, but I mean, the internet in general, like took a huge bump, I think with coronavirus and everybody trying to figure out how to. Everything socially distant and online. And, uh, talk to us a little bit about what the, how that impacts, how churches specifically smaller churches, like we’re going to deal with mostly with smaller budgets and teams, uh, how that impacts how they approach, uh, their online presence.
Wesley Lewis: Yeah. So, I mean, during, during coronavirus, during 2020, generally speaking, there was a 20 to 30% increase in overall web traffic, which [00:06:00] is really crazy. I mean, the amount of, amount of traffic there is on the web in general is, you know, so much, but to have that 30 to 40%, even as some areas increase, really has driven up this idea that knowing that.
You are your church, especially your website is the front door of your church. So we have to prioritize digital communication and it isn’t that we prioritize that over something else, but we have to do it. We have to be involved with it. It’s not something that we can just kind of ignore anymore. And what’s been really interesting about those statistics as you dig into that is you would think, Oh, it’s all been on mobile devices, but that really hasn’t been the case, which really has risen a lot due to a lot of the streaming is a lot of the smart.
Devices, we have, you know, TVs and, and things of that nature. So a lot of that traffic has been driven by that more so than mobile traffic. And also a lot of people have been coming back to using their desktop because they’ve been stuck at home. And so, uh, it’s really been a strange to see that kind of level off where it hasn’t all been mobile.
[00:07:00] Um, so, you know, kind of thinking through that, we’ve got a lot of opportunity for churches to be involved in ministry who never a digital ministry. Who’ve never done that before. And, and so, you know, I have to see a lot of churches that are waking up to that and, and getting involved with it. I mean, it’s something that we can, um, it’s really just ripe for the picking.
If you have just, just choose to get involved. And a lot of, a lot of churches, large, small had to, they were forced to, um, which, you know, sometimes we don’t move until we’re forced to. So sometimes being forced to do those things is good for us, like taking our vitamins, you know, uh, we, we like to, we won’t necessarily do it unless we have to.
Um, so a lot of churches have had to move into that arena. And, and like you said, with Facebook is filled with. These live streams and these feeds of people doing church online. And while there’s some doing a good, so I’m doing it, maybe not so good. It’s still all in all, just a testimony to, uh, you know, all that, that, that God is out there and that churches are being [00:08:00] visible and doing lots of ministry online.
Bob Bickford: You raised a good point. Wesley, one of the things I I’m challenged by is, um, you know, essentially I’m a Bible vocational pastor work full-time for the North American mission board. And then also lead the local church and we’re a normative sized church and we’re even smaller than we were during, uh, you know, before COVID hit, because we have people that are not attending and therefore people are not serving.
And so there are certain kinds of levels of what we’re able to pull off because of my schedule because of capacity volunteers, because of need learning curve, those sorts of things. If you were to kind of lay us just a. Uh, ground level, essentially just do these are the basics in terms of like surrounding a service and then maybe some follow-up with, with that and some Emedia, perhaps, what would you give us?
Just kind of the starter kit that we’re not going to charge three 99 for, but just this advice that you give [00:09:00] us, give us a starter kit of advice of taking your church in meeting some of the essential requirements for an online presence. What would those be?
Wesley Lewis: Yeah. I mean, first and foremost, most, uh, interaction is going to happen on Facebook as a social media platform. Typically that’s because, uh, honestly, a lot of people that are using Instagram and, you know, some of the other social media networks like Tik TOK are trending younger. So those are as a younger audience, but understanding what your audience is and for the majority of churches that is going to be engaging on Facebook.
So whether that is starting. Um, Facebook groups, you know, for small groups or for your church, just to be able to interact and update information is one of the big things that’s happened in 2020 is the need to get information out there quickly because things were constantly changing, especially as we originally were kind of expecting this thing going last, you know, a couple of weeks and then maybe a few months.
And now as things have progressed this whole year, knowing be able to get that information out there quickly. So [00:10:00] having that. Uh, that Facebook page where you can post that content and live streams and, uh, get that out there, but also as well, you can’t just rely on just one platform. Always say, uh, you know, don’t put all your eggs in one basket, so to speak, you need to spread them out a little bit while you may be.
Putting the majority of your content on one platform, you still need to be reaching out in other ways. And so some ways to do that most you think, well, that means after you start using Instagram or something, that’s not necessarily the case. Email is another great way. It’s a digital, it’s a form of digital communication that you can reach out to your.
Your church and get the information out there to people. And, um, you know, it’s often under, it’s just one of those things. A lot of people don’t think about that. You can use email. It is something that is really powerful, especially for some of this older generation. They have come on board. If they weren’t already.
With, uh, with getting email and doing social media and things like that. So they’re out there. So making sure that you’re pushing things out there, not just on [00:11:00] social, but through email and especially your website, keeping that up to date with regular information, uh, where we’re in the past, you know, website, which is our primary kind of bread.
Butter is, uh, you, you would set it and sometimes it wouldn’t be changed for a period of time, but now. You know, especially with our clients, we work with we’re, we’re updating websites regularly every single week, just to get that, that consistent information out there because, um, a lot of the times people sometimes will want to replace their website with social media.
But the reality is that the idea with social media is you want to be driving people to your website, not necessarily taking people from your website or social media. So you want to be driving people there. So whether you’re. Doing social, uh, doing, uh, services online or posting announcements and things like that.
You know, you need to be doing it on your website as well. So I would just say, Hey, get on social. Start sending out some emails, get you a good email list going for your church, whether you’re using your, your church management software or something like that, send those [00:12:00] out. Um, and as well, text messages can be another way.
That is pretty simple. I’m not sure if I really call it community, you know, digital communication, but there’s another way you go to communicate with your, um, your congregation, you know, and then a minutes notice, like something happens on Friday or Saturday and something needs to change on the service.
And, uh, you know, we’ve had churches around here who. All the passengers were exposed on a, on a Friday or Saturday and all of a sudden they can’t have service at all. And so they’ve got to get that information out there. So you need to have those methods to be able to shotgun that information out in as many ways possible to be able to get as much exposure to that as you can.
So, uh, that, you know, I would say kind of just start there by being involved in getting those platforms up and going. So creating Facebook pages is important.
Bob Bickford: Good helpful advice. I think one of the things we’re finding is that depending on the age of our congregate, the stream of communication matters. And so your, your statement about using multiple streams is important. Most of our young folks, um, really [00:13:00] don’t. Use their laptop or their desktop, they do for work, but mobile device helps them.
And, uh, and then some of our senior adults is interestingly enough, Dottie our 95 year old, uh, day one founding church member from way back in the day of Sherwood Baptist. She texts and, but she doesn’t have a computer and she doesn’t really have the internet at home. So phone reach are very young families in Dottie.
I’m going to have to send a text and. And, uh, we use a software package called flat note. That’s helped us. I don’t know that it’s the best one, but it’s the one that our, uh, our replant resident found for us. And we continue to use it. And it’s it’s serviceable. I’m sure there are tons of them out there.
Wesley Lewis: Yeah. I mean, whether you’re you’re using there and there’s a lot more platforms, there will be continued to be more and more platforms as people are developing this because the need is there and now people are actually grabbing a hold of that. And one thing that I, I really have seen, uh, interesting was what churches who are streaming online, the importance of having some sort of [00:14:00] online response form.
Um, so. Being able to get that information. Typically we would have, you know, cards in the pews or something like that for people to be able to fill that information out and drop it in the offering plate when it came by. But now we have to have a way for people to be able to respond and, and whether that’s through a form or sending a text or something like that.
So whether, you know, you’re, you’re preaching a message and you’re asking people to respond in a certain way or give to a certain cause you need to have those sorts of things set up and ready to go so that people can. Uh, you know, be able to do that easily. You don’t want them to go through too many hoops to have to, uh, to be able to respond to anything that you’re asking them to do.
Bob Bickford: Sure. So like when talking about steps, cause this is one of the challenges we face is when I make a call for a response, um, the general call of, Hey, greet one another online, let us know there, chair out there. I get like zilch response. It’s just like, all right. Thank you very much. But. If we have another initiative, um, like we, we did, uh, an [00:15:00] initiative where we said, Hey, would you pray for the church?
And would you let us know that you’re praying for the church? And would you, would you be willing to sign up for a prayer list or prayer text notification had a lot of people sign up for that. And so I think there’s, there’s some steps that you have to take to be a good, you can be a good call to action person.
In-person. But calling people to action when they’re, when you’re not in person, that’s a whole different ball game, I think in, in many ways.
Wesley Lewis: Yeah. People love to know, love to be asked what their opinion is. So if you’re asking them questions, so, you know, asking them questions and asking them to type their answers in, and then interacting with that, if you have the ability to be able to do that, whether that’s even in a sermon or, uh, you know, one of the things that I have I’ve loved meals see is pastors take.
Uh, that take those, those, those, uh, those lessons out of just Sunday morning. So whether that’s them doing posting daily devotionals, but interacting [00:16:00] more personally over and using social media as a platform to be able to do that. And, uh, you know, I think that’s really kind of brought. Uh, enable pastors to have that personal connections with their current obligations, even though they haven’t been able to meet with them face to face in some cases.
So, you know, asking people when you’re doing those sorts of things or even in a sermon, Hey, w what do y’all think about this? Or what’s your opinion about this, or asking them questions to get that level of engagement up, you know, and the, one of the interesting things about the way that Facebook prioritizes this is they want, they prioritize things that are engaging content the way they, they get.
They, they figure that out. Post, uh, you know, uh, comments, likes and types of engagement like that. So they’re going to push that out there to more people if they see that happening with your post and with your feed. So asking and try to engage with those social media audiences. And what has been difficult is, and I, you know, I’ve been doing this as well as.
You’re you’re preaching. You have these people sitting right here in [00:17:00] front of you. You’ve got the people in the Pew and then you’ve got the people online. How do you balance engaging both of those audiences and, and a good way to do that is just to recognize that and to talk to both of those audiences at the same time, even the one is.
Right in front of you. The other is still there. You just cannot, you can’t see them, but engage with them by asking them questions and have a way for people to be able to respond to you online. So, I mean, I think really by embracing those things, you can engage both of those audiences at the same time and really grow both of those ministries.
JimBo Stewart: Our family was exposed recently to another family that tested positive for COVID. And so we, uh, were quarantined again for a little while, uh, at our house. And so we worshiped from home yesterday. Uh, when we’re recording us on a Monday, we were worshiped from home and the church we chose to worship with, from home added just a few, just two or three discussion questions to their [00:18:00] Facebook posts.
Recognized that several times within the live stream. And so when the live stream was done, we utilize those questions as a family, and it really stepped up the whole experience for us, uh, to be able to interact a little more instead of just being static and sitting there, uh, it gave us a lot better interaction and, but once I wanted to just real quick, go back to websites just for a second.
Because you and one 80 digital create so many church websites and manage so many church websites. What, how, what are the, what are the things you’ve seen shift in what people were wanting to accomplish or how they’re wanting their websites built and what, what are the trends that you’ve seen as a guy who manages so much of that over the last year?
Wesley Lewis: Yeah, there’s really been a shift over this year. Um, prioritizing function over form. I mean, it’s always a best situation when you have both of those working well, but the [00:19:00] main thing is that you can have a website that you can update easily. Um, and as, as things have progressed over the year, we realized, you know, online church is not something that we’re going to be doing for a few months.
It’s something we’re going to be doing from now on out. So therefore we’ve got to prioritize online church through the website. So whether that’s actually having your main call to action, be. Um, you know, on your website be, Hey, watch, watch church online and be able to make sure that people have access quickly and easily to the stuff that they’re going to need to be able to have.
Now that’s always been the case with a website, but having that be, uh, even, even now be able to put out that information on a website. So whether it’s sending out weekly updates and be able to have a place to
Bob Bickford: Wesley. One of the reasons Aldi’s that we’re hearing in the field
Wesley Lewis: who need to be on there.
Bob Bickford: people are really
Wesley Lewis: updating that information. So while you might have a beautiful website, if you can’t update it and we’re working
Bob Bickford: long. Kids are doing screen stuff all day long. How do we respond to that in not adding [00:20:00] to screen
Wesley Lewis: a real struggle for them, especially
Bob Bickford: or what are some things that we need to keep in
Wesley Lewis: congregation
Bob Bickford: as, as that’s a new
Wesley Lewis: did is we come in and re we reworked their website where they’re able to post stuff. We’re, we’re continuing to support them and help them with that. I’d be able to get the information out as quickly as possible is another way to be able to reach their congregation, but all in all of this kind of idea of, of simplicity and it was already a trend.
Um, but this, this just idea that. The website doesn’t need to be so complicated. It can be pretty simplistic as long as it’s functional. And when you have a website that, that, that looks okay and is functional. People will, especially this year kind of give you a pass on that. Uh, but if it’s not functional, And they go on there and the things don’t work and the buttons don’t click and the information is out of date.
You know, they’re, they’re going to leave, but call that a bounce rate in my industry. They’re going to land on there and they’re going to be gone in a matter of seconds. And so you want to make sure that you have that out there. So there was already kind of a minimalist trend happening, uh, with [00:21:00] websites in general.
Um, and that that’s going to continue. But overall, you know, just understanding that website doesn’t have to be complicated. It doesn’t need to be functional, but it looks, if it can look great and be functional, that’s the best of both worlds, uh, but make sure that everything is working correctly. So it needs to be easy to update, offer, you know, online giving capabilities, uh, ability to be able to embed your live stream on your website.
So people don’t have to go to social media because they don’t have social media, um, to be able to do all those kinds of things, to be a real hub of. All the different digital communication your church is doing.
Bob Bickford: We choose to use the word exclusive, exclusive sponsor. We think that’s that carries with it a certain ring and cache.
[00:22:00] Wesley Lewis: Yeah, for sure. I mean, everybody is communicating digitally right now. So whether it’s even like what we’re doing now, you know, zoom, how many zoom meetings we on and it just wears you out, you know, with, with students and, and people making sure that you’re, you’re engaging them online and offline. So, you know, Joel had a really good example of having those discussion questions after a service, having some sort of way to be able to take.
The, the messages that you’re preaching and have it go longer than when the live stream ends. So being able to carry that over to conversations or to small groups or other ways that that people can communicate with each other, that is relative to the topic that’s being discussed, but isn’t necessarily on a screen.
Um, because the reality is, you know, whether we’re watching TV, so not just with meetings or working on our computers, working from home, we’re also streaming all this TV. So, I mean, yeah. Screen fatigue is a real thing, but building engage with people, uh, even over the phone or [00:23:00] other ways like that, just to be able to have real conversations with them, but also engage them and equip them to be able to have something that they can, uh, do analog I’ll call it that so that it’s not just all, all digital or online.
JimBo Stewart: Excellent. Uh, one last question is, uh, what does that great looking hat on your.
Wesley Lewis: Yeah. You notice this as a big old boot on my head. I am proud to sport this hat as the primary and only briefly at bootcamp sponsor. Uh, but yeah, I got some free swag out of it, so that was a good deal for me. Okay. Okay. Yes. We’re we’re, we’re happy to sponsor what you guys are doing. Um, you know, we, we are all about working with churches and trying to help the church move [00:24:00] forward. So, uh, we’re happy to be part of what you guys are doing. Keep you guys moving forward.
JimBo Stewart: So, yeah. Look, if you’re looking to figure out how the handle your website, uh, or what you can do with it best then as always, we recommend that you contact one 80 digital and let them talk to you about how to best serve you online and how you can best serve your congregation online. But also this will be the last time I’ll say this.
I think. Um, this next week, we will be giving away our third and final replant bootcamp, black ops hat for the three hat giveaway. Uh, and so we’ll put a link in the show notes. If you want to, can, uh, contribute your name in there and put your name in the hat. See if you can win it and we’ll send you one.
That’ll be your very own.