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Viewing entries tagged with 'vision'
In the past we've offered recommendations for how to make a welcome video. We included all kinds of examples and tips.
Notice that it never once mentions the Table, or even the words "Internet" or "social network." The video was created and posted before they even decided to use the Table.
But it works.
Because the video is about who they are as a church. It says: This is who we are as a community. Join us.
You couldn't ask for a better introduction to the Table.
Because the Table is all about enhancing and building on the relationships that exist in your congregation. A lot of churches think of the Table as something extra, another thing to add on to what they're already doing. But Granger recognizes that the Table simply compliments what they're doing.
So their welcome video doesn't need to be about the Table (or even mention the Table). Instead it can simply focus on the community. Because that's what matters.
Granger Community Church (GCC) is a leading congregation in Northern Indiana that launched the Table in the fall of 2011. Granger often draws national attention and helps other churches through their Wired Churches network of training and resources. With an average attendance close to 5,000, Granger put a lot of planning and effort into their launch, which was led by Communications Director Kem Meyer, author of Less Clutter. Less Noise.
We talked to Kem about their efforts, and her answers were so helpful and detailed that we're going to share them in a three part series. Here's part one:
Why did you feel that Granger needed its own private social network?
Kem Meyer: Actually, we didn't. As a matter of fact, we've always had a hard time justifying why we would want a "church version" of Facebook or Twitter. Why wouldn't we just use the networks where the "social" conversation is already flowing rather than try to create a separate track?
However, the growing gap between two extremes—all or nothing—couldn't be ignored. For quite some time, the people of GCC had been asking for a central tool to help them search for, share with and pray for people in their family of faith without going through a middleman. There was a growing connection gap between ALL life and CHURCH life and communication gap between CORPORATE-driven activity and MEMBER-driven activity.
That's the question we were looking for an answer to, the problem we were looking for help solving.
What made you pick the Table for Granger?
Kem: We created a working framework as a filter and evaluated several strong tools on the market (e.g., The Table, SoChurch, The Common, The City, Cobblestone, etc.) against that framework. At the end of the day (actually, we took six months investigating various options), The Table was the absolute best fit for our needs. Here's an overview of that framework:
Fill a void.
We need a 24/7, mobile space that isn't so much our front porch (that's what GCCwired.com is for) but more like our church living room where people live church together. Our primary goal is to create opportunities to enhance community—not to create another broadcast tool for "corporate" communication. And, to meet an un-met need—not to create our own version of something that already exists. We need an online hub that doesn't re-create the wheel, but provides a secure space for people to live out the important aspects of faith that aren't available with our current online environments (e.g., safe place to post things on the calendar, to pray and be prayed for, share resources, etc.)
It's a growing family.
It's hard enough to stay connected beyond a brief hello after a service. It gets even more problematic with six services across two campuses. Something that allows us to search and find each other by name, life stage, interests, etc., can help us stay connected as one church family even if we never go to the same service or campus. People who have been part of GCC for years, as well as people who are new to the congregation, should be able to access the same hub to connect and share opportunities with each other on their own—no bottleneck.
Freedom within a framework.
Anytime you give people the ability to add, edit and respond to content there will be some necessary coaching and course correction along the way. The win isn't a perfectly controlled environment where the staff team chooses what "users" can and can't see, but a real organic environment the staff team can nurture. We'll need guardrails to help free people to be themselves, personalize their own flow and connect with others authentically. At the same time, we'll need simple controls to minimize the potential for destructive rogue usage.
As people start using this new tool, they'll use it in ways we hadn't imagined. Our implementation approach will be flexible so we can adapt as we gain insight from our people—not only about the features and functionality, but also about the language people are using around their experience. It will help shape our on-going communication and care plans.
Just because we can doesn't mean we should. A strong temptation with technology is to use everything too fast all at once. We'll be strategic about what this is and isn't—who it's for and who it's not for—what it does and doesn't do. While this is a new space to interact, we won't make people create a new username, password or profile. The hub needs to integrate and share data with tools our people are already using (Facebook or Twitter and Fellowship One).
How did you go about getting leadership buy-in?
Kem: We have a mission and vision at Granger—it is what shapes our culture and drives our day-to-day. That mission and vision is something we all already buy in to; leadership, staff and volunteer teams alike. As a member of the GCC team, it's my job to help find ways to move our vision forward. As communications director, The Table was part of the answer to specific problems I was charged with solving.
I think people run into difficulty getting buy-in when they try to sell something new versus supporting something that's already in motion.
Churches are losing control. People start their own ministries without consulting the pastor. They talk about your church on Facebook using language you didn't approve. They can post to your Facebook wall for everybody to see. They post photos to Flickr and videos to YouTube.
And that's OK.
The social media revolution is taking control out of the hands of the few and giving it to the many. Instead of a lone spokesperson giving voice to a brand, the crowd is speaking up. Organizations no longer have total control. An organic voice is emerging that's made up of the official brand lingo but also incorporates the voice of the masses.
It can be a little overwhelming, especially for churches that have trouble letting go of control. But there's freedom in this movement. Instead of fighting change, churches should embrace it. Instead of micro-managing everything, churches should let it develop.
That's one of the advantages of the Table. It empowers your congregation to do ministry, to recruit volunteers and ultimately do church together. It's ministry, not management. It allows your church to be more organic, working from within as opposed to everything coming down from on high. Give your church leadership a break and instead of controlling everything, let ministry happen organically.
Let the Spirit move. Instead of chaos, you may be surprised to find beauty.
- Let new ministries set up groups and spread their wings. You might be surprised at what gets traction and what doesn't.
- Give people a voice: Encourage them to post on the discussion board and share their views. The pastor isn't the only one in your church with something to offer.
- Watch as needs you never knew existed become voiced and met.
- See new connections develop that never would have happened if the pastor asked the same old people.
Community doesn't happen with top-down mandates. It grows organically. Give up a little control and watch community sprout organically in your church.
The Table is a free gift to your church. We call it "price less." It's one of the major things that sets us apart. We're not going to be a drain on your budget and we're not here to up-sell you or lock you into some monthly commitment. We've taken money out of the equation. It's part of who we are.
While the Table is free, that doesn't mean a private social network for your church is easy. The Table may be free, but free is not a strategy for your church.
The reality is that launching the Table at your church is a lot of work. It may not cost you money, but it will cost you time, effort and energy. You need to recognize those costs as you consider the Table for your church. We're not trying to scare you away, but help you to understand the gravity of what you're about to embark upon. We think the community and spiritual development potential of the Table can be huge for your church (just check out these stories!). But it's going to take a lot of work to get there. You can't just sign up, send out some emails and sit back and wait for community to happen. Nothing worthwhile is that easy.
Successfully launching the Table requires a solid strategy, leadership buy-in and a lot of work. We've put together a roadmap to show you how it's done. Our lack of a price tag may tempt you to dive right in, but you need to invest the time to plan and thoroughly think through how the Table is going to work at your church.
The Table is a gift to you, but accepting that gift means you have to make the most of it.
"Our church is too big."
"Our church is too small."
"Our church doesn't even have a building."
If your church is struggling with size issues, the Table can help. The Table helps big churches feel more intimate and connected, while small churches find a wealth of untapped volunteers and resources.
Big Feel Small
The Table can help big churches feel small. The Table helps create community and intimacy that can help your big church overcome the anonymity that happens on Sunday morning. Instead of being overwhelmed by the masses of people, you can find small groups to join, figure out who lives in your neighborhood and discover who shares your interests. Suddenly your church goes from a crowd of strangers to a bunch of connections.
Small Feel Big
The Table can also help small churches feel big. The Table can boost your communication efforts and help you work more efficiently. It's the kind of innovation you normally associate with bigger churches. Your people can connect and are empowered to do ministry without tapping your overworked staff. You can even recruit volunteers more efficiently and share resources. You'll discover a depth of potential you never knew your church had.
The Table can also help house churches, church plants and churches without a building. The Table can offer a sense of place and unity for the church that doesn't have the traditional sign out front. Whether it's just a temporary phase or a core value, the Table can help you build the cohesive community that often centers around a building. Mapping functionality can help you pick a central location and posting volunteer needs can help you organize those Sunday morning set up and tear down times.
Size Doesn't Matter
Community doesn't just happen. You have to work to build it. And the Table can make it easier, no matter the size of your church.
If you're considering the Table for your church we've put together a roadmap that can get you from thinking about it to enjoying community with your congregation.
It's a four step process:
1) Getting Started: Everything from why you need the Table to building your launch team to getting your leadership on board.
2) Pre-Launch: This is where you grease the wheels to a successful launch by getting staff and groups going.
3) Church Wide Launch: Time to go big and roll out the Table to your entire church with plenty of hoopla.
4) Keep the Ball Rolling: Just because you launched doesn't mean you're done. There's still plenty of work to do. Build on that early momentum and keep people engaged.
In addition to loads of tips and ideas at each step along the way, we point to more than 50 helpful resources, including blog posts, videos, FAQs, PDFs and more.
It's not just a roadmap, it's a treasure map. And the prize is a church community that's more engaged, more connected and more active.
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.
Teaching pastor Rob Wegner introduced the Table during the Sunday service, explaining why they're using it and what it can accomplish. He did a powerful job casting vision for the Table and giving people a reason to use it.
Check out the video. We couldn't have said it better ourselves:
Watch Granger Vision Video (5:52)
The local church is the ideal place to find community. It's a group of people who meet together in person on a weekly basis. Vibrant community and deep connections should happen naturally.
But all too often it doesn't.
There are the obvious exceptions: Small groups, volunteer opportunities, prayer meetings, etc. These are the moments in church when people push deeper and community really happens.
But why doesn't it happen on Sunday morning?
The problem is that most church relationships are built on two-minute interactions that happen once a week on Sunday morning. To make matters worse, it's usually the same interaction every week. You nod politely and shake hands, maybe ask how it's going and get a non-committal "fine" in response.
The average person who sits in a pew on Sunday morning has minimal opportunity to connect with others. Just remembering someone's name is hard enough, and in most cases you've been doing the Sunday morning meet and greet for so long that now it's beyond awkward to ask what their name is.
But an online social network for your church, like the Table, can change that dynamic. Now you have a forum to share prayer requests and a place to swap ideas. There's a directory with photos so you can finally learn some names. You can browse profiles and realize you have a shared interest in biking—conversation starter. You can ask for help without a guilt trip and join groups to connect even deeper.
Suddenly the weekly meet and greet tradition can become something more.
During last week's Round Table webinar we sat down and talked about the state of the Table. The Table leadership, including Executive Director Ken Finsaas and Vice President of Development (i.e. head geek) Josh Lewis, shared stories about how far the Table has come and talked about where we're going. They also answered questions submitted by the audience. It was a great chance to hear about the future of the Table.
Watch the State of the Table (38:24)
Some of the topics we covered:
- Why is the Table free and how will it remain free? Answer: Licensing the software to other industries and transactional revenue within the Table. We're strongly committed to never having ads.
- How do we decide what gets developed when? Answer: Balance. We try to find that fine balance between fancy new features, system speed, monetization, etc.
- Why hasn't Google Calendar integration been developed yet? Answer: With each feature we're trying to benefit the most people as quickly as possible, and we see mobile strategy as being more important. We're a small shop and we can only do so much. We have to find a balance between being reactive to user needs and proactive to the changing landscape.
- Why not create a web app instead of a native app? Answer: Web apps work, but they're not as useful as a native app built specifically for iPhone/Android/etc.
- What's happening behind the scenes that we don't see? Answer: A lot of things are still in the works and not released yet. We're often working on performance upgrades that you don't see but make a big difference.
- What big changes are coming down the development pipeline? We can't commit to dates, but here's what's in the not-too-distant future: Facebook integration, Google Calendar integration, better email integration (be able to respond from an email within the Table) and opening up our API to third party developers.
- How do we make the Table more sticky? Answer: Help people see the potential in the Table. It's a different kind of interaction than most social media. It's more personal. Showing people those interactions can help them get it. Getting a handful of people to model that behavior can also help engage others.