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Viewing entries tagged with 'example'
One of the purposes of the Table at Substance Church in Minneapolis is to allow them to be the church outside of church services. Watch as Substance pastor and Table board member Peter Haas explains how that works with a real example of the congregation serving each other:
Watch Substance: Serve Story (2:02)
"That's the purpose: To be the church outside of church services," Peter says. "I don't know if it would work the same if we didn't have that tool in our church."
Watch the full webinar, How They Did It: Substance Church Case Study, for more on how Substance has utilized the Table.
All week we've been sharing stories and insight from Granger Community Church's launch of the Table. There's a lot we can learn from this large, nationally-recognized church near South Bend, Ind. Today we're going to look at a few more pieces.
Granger's Launch Plan
If you want to launch the Table right you need to do a lot of planning and work. We offer a roadmap that can show you the way. Granger did that planning and work. You can see some of it reflected in their detailed launch plan, which includes specific text for tweets/slides promoting the Table. Check it out:
- Launch Plan in PDF (201 KB)
- Launch Plan in Google Docs - If you have a free Google Account, you can click on ‘File: Make a copy' to save your own version of the document and then customize it for your church.
- Launch Weekend - During launch weekend Granger's teaching pastor, Rob Wegner, shared the vision of the Table. This is how vision casting is done.
- Welcome video - Granger's welcome video is worth taking a look at, as much for what it doesn't say as what it does.
- Table video - Granger also put together a quick video summarizing what the Table offers.
- Web page - Their public website also has a Table section that includes all kinds of helpful resources and links.
- Q&A - And if you haven't seen it yet, be sure to check out part 1, part 2 and part 3 of our interview with Kem Meyer, Granger's communications director.
Redeemer Church is a newly planted church in Round Rock, Texas, that's officially launching Jan. 15, 2012. For the past year the church's core team has been growing, led by Pastor Josh Reeves. They'll have about 60 people when they launch. Josh is the lead pastor and the primary champion for the Table.
Why did you decide you needed a tool like the Table?
Josh Reeves: We had a similar tool we had used at our sending church and it really helped organize and streamline communication. We liked that particular tool but didn't have the extra funds to spend during our first few months. The Table had a polished professional look and the price was certainly right.
When did you launch and how did that process go?
Josh: We launched the Table as soon as we got our invite. At that point we only had 10-12 people so it was fairly straightforward getting them signed up. As we met new people we simply invited them to sign up.
Does having the Table ingrained in your culture before your church even launches make it easier for new people to jump on board and assimilate into the life of your church?
Josh: I think it helps quite a bit. Instead of having 200 people trying to get on board with the Table at one time, we have two to three every couple weeks. They see that everyone else is bought in and in most cases request to be added before we can get them on there. It is definitely an important part of assimilating people into our community. Once they are on the Table they have a community group and also have access to everything that is going on church wide. So if they are looking to get connected they're now able to see when one of the moms posts about a play date or the guys are playing football in the park.
What has your church's reaction been to the Table? How much are they using it?
Josh: I think there will always be a small percentage of technology rebels who refuse to do more than sign into their email (if that). Other than those few people, most people are using it fairly regularly. We plan all our community group meals through the Table so that forces people to get on. I think the iPhone app has helped.
Can you share a story or two of how people are using the Table and being impacted?
Josh: We had several people on our core team who were able to keep up with the new people we met through the Table. As we posted various prayer requests it was a great way to connect our people waiting to move here to the people already here in Round Rock.
We have had several times where we needed our people to pray specifically for a situation in the church. Just a few weeks ago one of our families had a newborn baby and there was a health issue that kept the baby in the hospital longer than normal. It was great to be able to put up a prayer request and then give updates all in one place. There is something really encouraging about seeing that people are actually praying for you. The newborn ended up going home completely healthy a few days later and I know the prayers seen through the Table meant a ton to the family.
What advice do you have for other churches considering the Table?
Josh: As a church plant we had no prior expectations in place, so implementing the Table quickly was easy. I think if other pastors are considering implementing the Table they need to phase it in. You need to think through the way that you are going to use it and commit to sticking with it even if people don't get it for a while. It takes time for people to see the value in it. Many people think it is some kind of Facebook alternative and therefore they see it as just another social media site to log in to. I think with solid training and well thought out use of the Table they will catch on at some point. Find a small segment of people who are making it work and let them help you bring others into it.
As a church plant, how has the Table been uniquely helpful for your situation?
Josh: People are sometimes wary of church plants early on. For us the Table (along with our website) brought some early credibility. It is also a great way to connect with all the new people we meet. Email was typically the first thing we sent to visitors, and after a few visits most people would ask to be added to the Table. When people asked to be added on the Table it gave us an idea of their initial commitment to the church plant.
What's your favorite feature of the Table?
Josh: My favorite feature is the prayer app. It is a great way to put specific needs out to the church and see people committing to pray together. When we pray for each other we often neglect to share that and the app allows people to be aware of the people praying for their need. It also helps that the prayer app is integrated into the Table's iPhone app allowing you to use it from anywhere.
Thanks for sharing Josh!
Zion Lutheran Church, just west of the Twin Cities in Buffalo, Minn., launched the Table in the fall of 2011. We talked with Table champion Angela Bengtson about their experience. Angela has worked at Zion for 10 years and currently handles communications. The church has around 600 attending on an average Sunday.
Why did you think your church needed a social network like the Table?
Angela Bengtson: I didn't really get that we needed it until after we got started. It didn't take long in our trial to see the the potential for new and deeper connections between members.
Why did you choose the Table?
Angela: Honestly, the biggest factor was that I didn't have to worry about budget.
How did you get your church's leadership on board with the Table?
Angela: Got key staff involved early on in the trial. I was extremely lucky that the timing happened to fit in nicely with a vision process that includes a 'Connecting with Care' initiative.
When did you launch the Table and how did it go?
Angela: October 2, the same day the worship services/sermon was based on the 'Connecting with Care' initiative. The Table was mentioned in the sermon, and we timed an email blast so that most people would receive it while they were at worship. We had not huge but steady sign ups for a week or two, but that's dropped off now and we need to come up with something to widen the circle.
Did you do anything else besides the sermon mention and an email blast for your launch Sunday?
- "I [Heart] Table" and "Got Table?" stickers on those who were already signed up on launch day.
- An info table in the narthex throughout October on Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights with a volunteer or two available to help, intro video playing nearby. T-shirts on the volunteers.
- Postcards that were handed out in a few places like choirs, Wednesday supper, etc.
- The two-month vision sermon series included an extra weekly bulletin insert each week featuring a member testimony and sermon related resources. Table info was included as a major item on launch Sunday and a small item maybe two other weeks.
Did you run into any roadblocks as you launched? How did you deal with them?
Angela: I'm a little disappointed with the sign-up rate post-launch. We had about 100 users pre-launch from test groups, and six weeks after launch we only have just over 200 users. I had expected more growth following the launch.
I think one of the problems is people seeing the Table as 'like Facebook'. Some of this is our own fault for using the familiar Facebook to help describe what a social network is. Unfortunately we seem to have many members who are perfectly happy with Facebook, and a lot more members who want nothing to do with Facebook or, by extension, any other social network. I'm thinking we need to find a way to not even describe the Table as a 'social network'. Maybe focus on it as more a 'member portal' or something. I'm thinking a sort of re-launch/renewed sign up focus is in order for January (it is just too busy with everything else at this time of year).
With slower adoption than you expected, why is it worth it to keep pushing the Table?
Angela: The Table has been a wonderful tool for those who have chosen to jump in. Our challenge is to find ways to communicate that to the rest of the congregation who have a pre-conceived notion of what a social network is.
What are some ways you've encouraged people to use the Table?
- I did a demo between services (there were six attendees, all age 60+, who had already signed up but had questions).
- We tried the Christmas photo suggestion with limited response.
- One pastor started to blog and we are promoting the Table as the place to find that using the RSS app (although he has not been consistent with posting yet).
Can you share some stories of how the Table is being used?
Angela: Lots of prayer. Limited use of the Serve App so far, but where it has been used we have had people sign up for volunteer positions they otherwise hadn't or wouldn't have gotten involved with. One member needed 20 people to take a survey for a class she was in and had 10 commit within a few hours of posting her request.
What's one thing about the Table that's surprised you?
Angela: How quickly prayer requests are responded to.
Can you tell us more about your experience with the Prayer Wall?
Angela: We've had anything from one to two requests a week to one to three requests a day for several consecutive days. Most requests have had 15-20 people praying and one or more comments. One user in particular (who wouldn't know many of the others personally) often takes the time for an eloquent prayer in the comments. One prayer I noticed had 30 different people praying (the count was higher with some duplicates, but that is counting pics on the response page). If 30 of 200 users are clicking the 'Pray Now' button (and maybe another 30 are receiving a notification and joining in prayer without clicking the button), that in itself makes the Table worthwhile.
What advice do you have for other churches considering launching the Table?
Angela: Use all the great resources available: read the blog, watch the videos, frequent the Get Satisfaction forum. Really know where the 'edges' of your community will be as far as inactive members—we're wrestling with some of that already.
What's your favorite feature of the Table?
How do you see the Table changing things at your church?
Angela: I see people who are using the Prayer Wall being more connected to each other.
I see some Serve opportunities being filled by people we wouldn't necessarily expect, or maybe wouldn't even think to ask if we were asking for help in another way.
From one user: "I, too, feel more connected to my Zion family as a result of our sharing together and praying together, here at The Table."
Thanks for sharing Angela!
Calvary Baptist Church in West Lafayette, Ind., launched the Table in September. The church averages 325 people on Sunday and only two months after launch they have over half those people on the Table.
Larry Baxter volunteers at Calvary and wears a lot of hats. He's the small groups coordinator and also does volunteer ministry and IT support. He served as Table champion and co-led the launch efforts along with the church's communications director.
Why did you decide that your church needed something like the Table?
Larry Baxter: My ministry areas have involved small groups and recruitment of volunteers, and I love technology and social networking, so I had been looking for quality tools that might help our people connect. When our communications director asked me for ideas on how to improve communications within the church family, I started to look in earnest. Our church website promotes things well to the outside community, but as a mid-sized church our ability to stay connected was not keeping up with growth.
And why did you pick the Table?
Larry: It seemed to address the key needs of our church. It provided the ability to let groups connect, let ministry teams and leaders communicate together in a secure way, let people discuss things of interest and find people with similar interests, share news about the church family, pray for one another, provide a calendar, and import custom content as well. Also, we really liked that it doesn't compete with or replace our website or Facebook. And to be honest, the price was right! I looked carefully at other platforms and they really couldn't beat the feature set or ease of use of the Table. If that wasn't enough, the fact that it integrated with Fellowship One sealed the deal—now our people can keep their own contact info up to date.
How did you get your church's leadership on board?
Larry: Support of church leadership seemed critical, so we sought that up front. We gave a demo and discussed it with the whole staff and our senior pastor thought it was a great idea. The other key for us was following the very helpful advice your website gave on how to launch well. We did a phased approach, about one month apart: Table leadership team, staff and key leaders, then all the rest of the small group leaders and ministry leaders. We had a very high percentage of these key folks sign up by doing it this way.
What kind of roadblocks did you run into as you launched the Table? How did you deal with them?
Larry: There were two minor stumbling blocks. The first was an unexpected downtime of the Table's datacenter on the day of launch [Editor's note: That downtime prompted our recent move to a new datacenter. Since then we've been faster than ever.]. That didn't throw us off too bad because we had sent out emails describing what was coming beforehand, had a sign up emphasis already planned for the following Sunday, and had decided on graphics rather than a live demo on launch day (phew!).
The second was that one target group didn't respond to invite emails as expected. We dealt with that with personal invites and clarifying the benefit to their ministry.
Can you share some stories of how the Table is being used?
Larry: It's found some great uses already. A church member who became a missionary in the Pacific can now keep in touch with the church and share photos and prayer requests privately. Women who shared vulnerable prayer requests on the Prayer Wall have connected with other ladies who have gone through similar struggles. We've seen gear shared like a printer for a college ministry, and an old laptop given to a woman who had no email access. We've connected people who love to cook with our hospitality ministry. And we're now sharing our sermon audio and Wednesday night Bible teaching via the Table.
What's one thing about the Table that's surprised you?
Larry: I've been super impressed with the quality of support shown by the Table Project developers. The webinars and emails were great, and made the scary process of launching go pretty smooth. Usually 'free' means you're on your own, but I've gotten help quickly and seen bugs reported fixed very quickly.
What advice do you have for other churches considering launching the Table?
Larry: Read through the launch guide, watch the webinars, and use a staged approach as they suggest. Launch big and make sure your senior pastor is completely on board. Having some custom content only available on the Table was a big help (for us that was sermon audio).
What's your favorite feature of the Table?
Substance Church in Minneapolis was one of our early test churches and launched the Table back in 2010. This multisite church started seven years ago and currently offers seven services across four locations. Approximately 70% of the congregation is under 30 years old and half never attended any church before coming to Substance.
We sat down with senior pastor and Table project board member Peter Haas during our recent Round Table webinar to talk about what the Table brings to Substance. Much of the conversation covers the big picture vision for why to use the Table that a senior pastor has, as opposed to the specific, how-to details that a Table champion could offer (you can find that perspective in our webinar with Bethlehem Baptist).
Watch: Interview with Peter Haas (32:46)
Highlights from the video (click links to see short clips):
- Numbers: Over 1,500 members on the Table, 2,500 prayer requests (not including groups) prayed for 37,000 times.
- Why the Table?: As a church with a decentralized identity, Substance wanted something to enhance church in between the church services. More than metrics that church management software can offer, they wanted community.
- We Need Community: Today's generation is the most socially isolated generation in U.S. history. Typical sources of community (family, neighborhood, etc.) have fallen away and the church needs to fill the gap. Instead of focusing on church services, churches need to focus on building community. The Table is software that allows Substance to do that.
- The intimacy of a church has nothing to do with size. It's about what you value. Substance realized that as it grew bigger, it had to grow smaller. Substance needed a technology that encouraged connection outside of church.
- Friends Matter: The number one indicator of church satisfaction is friendships developed in the church. Even if people don't like a church service, they'll stick around for friends. The Table is a way to develop those friendships that keep people at church.
- The Table Loves Small Groups: Substance saw 116% small group attendance last quarter. That means more people attended their small groups than attended their church. "It's technology like the Table that's enabled our small groups to thrive."
- A senior pastor needs to constantly cast vision for the Table.
- It's Ministry, Not Just Technology: "It's not just software, it's a ministry." You need to treat the Table like launching a new ministry. It's going to take a lot of work and a lot of effort. It takes time for people to adapt to new technologies. But once people get it, once the momentum begins to build, amazing things can happen.
- Examples of prayer and service happening at Substance.
But it's not always clear exactly how the Serve App works. Below are two quick flowcharts that show how the Serve App works for both volunteer needs and items to give or share. These charts might help your church get a better handle on the Serve App and start using it more.
You can also watch our webinar to learn more about how to use the Serve App.
Here's a handy chart showing how the Table can help you recruit volunteers:
1) Anybody can post a volunteer need on the Table. You can post your own needs or post them on behalf of someone else (though we recommend getting their permission first). It's not limited to church needs and can cover anything from Sunday morning greeters to lawn mowing to dog sitting. Here's a video that shows you how it works.
2) Anyone in your church can receive a notification when someone posts a volunteer need. If you're not getting those email notifications, here's how you can change your settings.
3) Response can happen in a number of ways. Using the Table, people can volunteer and others can see needs being met. There's also room to ask questions and invite others to help. The Table will also match volunteer needs with skills in your church, serving up those opportunities on the Me tab. You can also have offline response as people volunteer in person or just become aware of a need and pray for it. Sometimes a need is still being met even if people aren't responding online.
4) In the end, needs are met. It didn't require a staff member getting on the phone and harassing people. Church members stepped up to help one another out. It's a way to tap into people in your church who are willing to serve, they just need to see the opportunities.
Here's a chart showing how the Table can help your church share stuff:
1) Anybody can post a items on the Table to either give away or share. Here's a video that shows you how it works. We recommend keeping the Serve App free of transactions, though churches are welcome to come up with their own posting guidelines.
2) Anyone in your church can receive a notification when someone posts a Serve item. If you're not getting those email notifications, here's how you can change your settings.
3) The Table allows for easy contact. You can send quicknotes back and forth to get connected and arrange a time to hand off stuff. Since the Table is all about your church, exchanging items on Sunday would likely be convenient for everyone.
4) In the end, needs are met. It didn't require any extra staff time. People in your church saved money and helped one another out. And in the end, people in your church who many not have any other reason to interact finally connected. It's community happening, right before your eyes.
You can also download a copy of these charts to share with your church:
- Serve Volunteer Flowchart Image (66 KB PNG)
- Serve Volunteer Flowchart PDF (53 KB PDF)
- Customizable Serve Volunteer Flowchart (Google Doc: If you have a free Google Account, click on ‘File: Make a copy' to save your own version of the document and then customize it for your church.)
- Serve Stuff Flowchart Image (53 KB PNG)
- Serve Stuff Flowchart PDF (53 KB PDF)
- Customizable Serve Stuff Flowchart (Google Doc: If you have a free Google Account, click on ‘File: Make a copy' to save your own version of the document and then customize it for your church.)
The Prayer Wall on the Table is one of the things that sets us apart from other social networks. It encourages prayer in your church. It impacts people both online and offline. It offers a record of God working in your congregation over time.
We're big fans.
And we're not the only ones: We see lots of stories of prayer making a difference.
Why Pray Now?
But not everybody gets it:
- We don't realize how encouraging it is to get an email telling you that someone prayed for you.
- Clicking that "Pray Now" button seems counter-intuitive (yes, you still have to pray!).
- It's not always clear how posting a prayer can make any difference.
But it can make all the difference.
Here's a handy chart showing how the Prayer Wall works:
2) Anyone in your church can receive a notification when someone posts a prayer request. If you're not getting those email notifications, here's how you can change your settings.
3) When people pray for a request on the Table they can click "Pray Now" to keep a running tally of how many people are praying. It's just clicking a button—you still have to stop and pray. But it offers feedback and instant encouragement. You can also post comments asking follow-up questions, sharing your own experience or even writing out your prayer. It closes the loop on the old school prayer chain.
4) When you post a prayer you can select "I want to be notified when someone prays." This will trigger a notification every time someone prays. Instant encouragement!
5) Response can also happen offline. Getting people to connect in real life is one of the major goals of the Table. This isn't a triumph of technology, it's a triumph of humanity. We love seeing community happen.
6) All of this serves to lift up, encourage and support the person who originally posted the prayer. How cool is that?
You can also download a copy of this chart to share with your church:
- Prayer Wall Flowchart Image (49 KB PNG)
- Prayer Wall Flowchart PDF (53 KB PDF)
- Customizable Prayer Wall Flowchart (Google Doc: If you have a free Google Account, click on ‘File: Make a copy' to save your own version of the document and then customize it for your church.)
A couple weeks ago we sponsored the Speak conference in Minneapolis. Our customer experience/marketing guy Kevin D. Hendricks (that's me!) spoke about sharing your church's story and our product VP Jason Wenell gave a short pitch for the Table. But more than just offering a commercial, Jason talked about how social networking is a chance for your church to live out your story.
Jason introduced the Table and shared our intro video, but then went on to give three real examples of people using the Table. There was a woman asking for prayer as she undergoes cancer treatment, a couple facing infertility that asked for prayer and people came up to them on Sunday to pray for them, and a blind man who needed help moving and people stepped in to help. All examples of people needing help and their church community reaching out to help them. All examples of people getting help without the church staff needing to waste time and resources passing things along or recruiting people. That's the power of social networking within your church.
Watch the video from Speak as Jason shares these examples (feel free to skip past the intro video if you've seen it before):
Highlights from the talk:
- The Table is a nonprofit organization that was birthed from a missions organization and not a corporation. This is one of the favorite parts of our story and impacts our decision making. Point one in our manifesto is "Mission First."
- The Table is not as much about communicating your message but is more about writing a more impactful and authentic story as a church.
- Jason was the biggest skeptic. He met with 100 churches and pleaded with them to see if Facebook and Twitter would work. Instead it revealed a large gap between global networks and what the church needed.
- We are at over 1,800 churches now and thousands of people log in every day. Not to update their status, but to pray for a stranger and serve their neighbor.
- Story about a woman going through cancer treatment asking for prayer. Praying for each other in a moment of need: She didn't need to wait until Sunday to get support from her community.
- Story about a woman being prayed for at her church for infertility issues. The special thing about this story above and beyond 48 people praying for her need is that no fewer than 15 people came up to her at church and told her they were praying. Virtual communication turned into physical relationship.
- Story about blind man getting help moving: His friend saw the need and posted it to the Table. It wasn't from the church but from a member. Five people signed up and the need was met. This empowers the congregation to serve their community by mobilizing them in an easy way.
- We've gotten the event down. Churches have great music, motion backgrounds and facilities. But are we missing the hundreds of opportunities between Sundays to write our story and to be the church.
- A recent quote hit Jason hard this past week. Biz Stone said, "For Twitter to be successful, it cannot be a triumph of technology but instead a triumph of humanity." Jason would say the same for the Table: For it to be a success, it will be a success of Christianity not technology. The Table just acts as a catalyst to help us be a more connected and impactful faith community.
This spring Bethlehem Baptist Church came to the Table. The Minneapolis congregation, led by John Piper, has had tremendous ministry success with the Table. We've pointed to them for examples, including welcome videos, website links & help, and even their own help videos.
In this edition of the Round Table webinar one of Bethlehem's Table champions, Jonathan Davis, joined us to share their journey with the Table. He explains how they got leadership on board, the things they did to launch it as well as the impact the Table has had already with their community. This is a must see for any church on the fence about launching the Table!
Watch: How They Did It: Bethlehem Baptist Church Case Study (1:09:31)
Highlights from the Video:
Jonathan says that Bethlehem draws 4,000 to 5,000 people every weekend to nine services across three campuses. At the time of this interview they were at 1,700 members on the Table and steadily rising, which was surpassing their launch expectations.
Why a social network?
Bethlehem wanted to do social networking because they realized that it's a big part of people's lives and they want to redeem all things for God's glory. They also recognize that it's easy to be anonymous in a large church and this is another, less intimidating way to encourage interaction.
Why the Table?
Bethlehem took their time getting on board with social media because they wanted to get it right the first time. They explored a number of different options, including building it themselves, but ultimately settled on the Table. They thought it was simple, worked well and being free helped with the budget.
What helped secure leadership buy-in?
Three things made leadership buy-in easy:
1) An online picture directory that people kept updated themselves was a huge draw.
2) The way the Prayer Wall allowed people to engage with one another was a massive part of convincing leadership.
3) The Serve App was the final piece. For a big church it made it easy for people to make real life connections.
One surprise with the Table?
That so many volunteer needs have been posted in the Serve App. Jonathan expected to see a lot more items given away or shared, but the volunteer needs have surpassed giving or sharing stuff by far.
How many staff hours did it take to launch?
They had four people (three staff, one volunteer) spending roughly an hour a day to prepare for the launch. So it doesn't require a full time person, but it was still a significant investment. Jonathan comments that he appreciates how the Table runs itself once it's launched.
What are you doing to keep the momentum rolling?
Campus pastors shared personal stories from the Table. They also plan to do more videos to highlight testimonies of how the Table has helped people.
Advice for churches getting ready to launch?
Take your time and do it right. You can literally set up and launch the Table in minutes, but you need to put a lot more work into it. Do your research and when people aren't on board answer their questions and help them see the value. You may only get one shot to show them how the Table can be effective, so do it right.