Insights from That Church Conference 2017

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They say the third time is a charm, and when it comes to That Church Conference, the saying fits. I have had the joy of being at all three Atlanta conferences, and from the content the speakers shared, to the atmosphere at Atlanta Tech Village, the 2017 conference was, in my opinion, the best one yet. There were moments that the GIF’s where the cartoon is feverishly typing was a good representation of my note-taking.

Whether you were in Atlanta with me, or unable to make it this year, here are five insights from each speaker, with a few added thoughts I had.

Beau Coffron – How to Go From Promotion to Innovation on Social Media

  • What if the first goal of our social media channel was not to get people to events, but to minister to them online – where they already are.
  • It is social media, not broadcast media or billboard media.
    • Be a telephone, not a megaphone.
  • It’s not just about a single post – it’s about the ones that come after.
    • This was a huge thought for me. So often we focus on one single post – time and time again. What if we focused on the whole of our social media? Like a puzzle with each post fitting together to form an overall picture of who we are as an organization, and explaining the complete story we are telling.
  • People like seeing other real people in leadership. Be authentic. Be real.
  • Innovation should always be about finding ways to be better stewards of our time, money, and other resources so that we can use what God has given us to reach more people for Jesus.

Sly King – The Power of Engagement

  • We cannot ignore those who follow us and connect with our page.
  • Engagement matters for the church – we need to build bridges – this is how we build relationships.
  • Social media engagement is essentially like a long-term relationship. You can imagine a committed, and the lengthy relationship takes dedication, readiness to adapt, the ability to think about the future and ensure the other party involved is happy for years to come.
  • Engagement is not a one-time interaction; you are essentially creating an open line of communication over a period of time. It happens over, and over, and over.
  • The people online matter as much as people in the seats. Don’t ignore them.
    • This was the insight that stuck out to me the most from Sly. When we decide to “do” social media, we have to understand that we are not simply dealing with “likes, comments, shares, etc.” we are dealing with real people on the other side of the screen. We cannot ignore them. When they engage with us online, we must be ready to engage back with them. We would not ignore those sitting in the seats on a Sunday. We need to understand that those who ware engaged with us online are as much a part of our community as are those who are physically present on a Sunday.

Katie Allred – Creating Community Online

  • Facebook is about getting people into meaningful groups.
  • Facebook Groups give you a higher reach without paying for it.
  • When creating a group here are a few thoughts: Pick a niche or interest; Start with 10 Friends; Figure out a way to move the conversation from online to offline.
  • Facebook Groups are a new way of doing evangelism.
  • The Gospel is too important for us to ignore social media.
    • This thought. So true. What we do in the church is too important for us to put social media on the back burner. We cannot ignore social media, it’s not going anywhere, and it is time for the church to rise up and reach people where they are.

Kenny Jahng – Church Marketing Blueprint: The 9 Strategies Needed to Target, Publish & Engage New Visitors Online

  • Who is your sub-audience and what is a win for them?
    • I loved this thought. When thinking of content we need to understand that we have our church audience and a sub-audience. We often forget to write to our sub-audience. However, they are who we want to be reaching.
    • We must ask questions about this sub-audience: Who are they? What do they wear? Where do they shop? What magazine is on their coffee table?
    • When we ask the questions, we also need to think about what is a win for this audience. Maybe a win for this sub-audience is waking up on time, or making to worship before the service is over. Far too often we place our win in the mix without ever thinking of the win for this sub-audience.
  • We need to be a champion for the city we are in. If we are going to redeem it, we need to support it.
  • People have relationships with people, not churches and buildings.
  • Our jobs and our responsibilities are to foster conversation.
    • Ask questions rather than simply posting information.
  • Build community in a way that starts to change things.

Stephen Brewster – ReRouting: How To Navigate Transition

  • As we walk through the journey of life – sometimes we are in a sports car season when a mini-van season is right around the corner. Regardless of where we are a transition is coming at some point and we need to be ready.
  • Our decisions today will get us to our tomorrow.
  • God is not surprised you are in this season.
    • This is a very comforting thought. Not only does God not surprised we are where we are, but God is able to help us see the hope that lies ahead.
  • You have to stay teachable and flexible.
  • So often we view life through the rear-view mirror rather than the windshield.
    • When we transition from one place to another, we can get stuck thinking of what used to work, or what we did there, etc. This is an easy mentality to fall into. We need to be intentional of looking forward, and not always backward. We are where we are for a reason, it is important we live into this and pay attention to what God wants us to see where we are, not where we have been.

Jeff Henderson – FOR vs. FROM: Marketing the Local Church

  • Our ideas may not work, but they create ideas for what happens next.
  • The best way for your community to love your church is for your church to love your community.
    • Often the church has an agenda – which is not a bad thing – but sometimes this agenda gets in the way of our ability to simply care for people. When we begin to focus our efforts on loving and caring for our community we present a different message; we present a message that we are for them, not doing what we can to get something from them.
    • What if – what if the church had the mentality to care for people just because we are called to care for people? What if – what if the church loved just to love, rather than loving people to get something in return?
  • We should be more interested in wanting something FOR people than wanting something FROM People.
  • We need to give people a portable language to communicate mission and vision.
  • Raving brands need to become raving fans of customers, rather than focusing on customers becoming raving fans of them.

This is just a glimpse of That Church Conference. If you get a chance to attend a conference I highly recommend doing so, you will not regret the decision. The church communications community is definitely like family, and it’s a family I absolutely love.

If you went to That Church Conference Atlanta 2017, what were some of your biggest insights? I would love to hear them!