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CNLP 369: Greg Atkinson on How to Grow Engagement in Online Attendance, Best and Worst Digital and In-Person Church Practices, and Improving the Church Guest Experience

Greg Atkinson returns to the podcast to talk about welcoming guests online.

So much has changed since COVID hit, and Greg shares best and worst practices for engaging online and in-person guests, how to move attenders into engagers, and how to best deal with trolls and other people who threaten to take you off mission.

Welcome to Episode 369 of the podcastListen and access the show notes below or search for the Carey Nieuwhof Leadership Podcast on Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts and listen for free.

Plus, in this episode’s What I’m Thinking About segment, Carey talks about vanity metrics and why we should stop focusing on attendance.

Guest Links

Headshot of Greg Atkinson

Instagram | Facebook | Twitter | Connect with Greg

Episode Links

Pro Media Fire

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The Ascent Leader

This is a unique season that is often the most challenging environment to lead. You may find that you’re inheriting a prior leader’s staff, culture, elders and much more.

If you’re a new lead pastor who is leading a church after a recent senior leader transition, I want to invite you to The Ascent Leader cohorts.

In these cohorts, you’ll get to learn from many of the best transition leaders in the church, you’ll be connected with like-minded A-level peers and you’ll have access to a coach who has experience with dozens, and even hundreds, of church leadership transitions.

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CONVERSATION LINKS

First Impressions Conference

CNLP 132: Greg Atkinson on the Secrets of a Secret Church Shopper: What People are Looking for When They Come to Your Church

CNLP 132 Transcript

CNLP 185: Greg Atkinson on How First Time Guests Get Alienated by Your Church Services

CNLP 185 Transcript

CNLP 357: JP Pokluda on the Future of Online Preaching, What Pastors Can Learn from YouTubers, and How to Influence the Next Generation

Church Online Platform

Crossroads Church Cincinnati

Church Anywhere

Elevation Church

Life.Church

Churchome

Hillsong East

The Summit Church

North Point Community Church

ChurchPulse Weekly: with Thom Rainer and Myron Pierce

Some Awkward Questions About How to Measure Online Church Attendance (+ 5 Growth Strategies) by Carey Nieuwhof

The Online Church Engagement Summit

Text CAREY to 33777 to join more than 70,000 subscribers to our leadership content

INSIGHTS FROM GREG

1. Questions your team should be asking in the online chat

It seems like most online chat experiences are either trivial or divisive. People are asking questions like, “What’s your favorite flavor of ice cream?” Or, there are trolls who make everything political, making it a point to disagree with anyone who speaks up. How can you avoid this?

To avoid trivial conversations, have the members of your greeting team intentionally go into the chat and ask highly emotionally intelligent questions and give great answers. The quality of your questions will determine the quality of your chat.

For the trolls, Greg recommends that you try and take the conversation offline. If they’re a member of your church, have a phone call or text with that person. If they’re someone you don’t know, and refuse to take it offline, you will likely have to ban that user. Greg and Carey both often have to ban people online. It’s okay.

2. You’ll be tempted to view your online audience as “secondary” to your in-person audience, don’t

Greg has watched pastors completely forget about their online audience over and over throughout his career, and he thinks that pastors will begin to fall back into that habit as they come out of the current crisis.

Many pastors are already saying things like, “The 30% who have returned to in-person church are the devoted ones, and those staying home are less committed members.” This simply isn’t true.

Some of your most committed members have serious health risks that are keeping them at home. Don’t forget about them in your quest to refill your room.

3. Your church’s future depends on what you learned (or didn’t learn) in the crisis

One of the big questions coming out of the COVID crisis is, “Will church attendance go back to what it was pre-COVID?” Greg thinks that it will return for some churches and won’t for others. He thinks it will totally depend on whether a church learns the lessons that we need to learn from this pandemic.

If you go back to the old way of doing things, your church isn’t going to thrive. But if you learn from this season about how powerful online can be, reinvent yourself, and add a healthy online experience and community to your church, your church will likely thrive.

Quotes from Episode 369

Read or Download the Transcript for Episode 369

Looking for a key quote? More of a reader?

Read or download a free PDF transcript of this episode here.

Watch Back Episodes of The Podcast on YouTube

Select episodes of this podcast are now on YouTube. Our YouTube Channel gives you a chance to watch some episodes, not just listen.

The Online Church Engagement Summit


So you’ve got people watching your church online. How do you turn them into engagers?

On October 8th, 2020, Carey Nieuwhof is hosting The Online Church Engagement Summit. It’s a free, 90-minute value-packed event where Levi Lusko, Nona Jones, and Bobby Gruenewald will give you their best practical strategies to turn viewers into engagers.

If you feel like you don’t even know where to begin, or if you’ve had success but want to reach and engage more people, this is for you and your team.

Learn more and register for free.

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Hopefully, this episode has helped you lead like never before. That’s my goal. If you appreciated it, could you share the love?

The best way to do that is to rate the podcast on Apple Podcasts and leave us a brief review! You can do the same on Stitcher and on TuneIn as well.

Your ratings and reviews help us place the podcast in front of new leaders and listeners. Your feedback also lets me know how I can better serve you.

Thank you for being so awesome.

Next Episode: Brad Lomenick

Brad Lomenick returns to the podcast to talk about his new podcast, H3 Leadership, and how to grow your influence without producing more content. Brad explains the power of curating content and connecting people, and how he used that to build one of the largest leadership networks out there. Brad also discusses future trends every leader should watch. Plus, Carey and Brad talk about the launch of a brand new podcast network: Thrivicity.

Subscribe for free now so you won’t miss Episode 370.

CNLP 369: Greg Atkinson on How to Grow Engagement in Online Attendance, Best and Worst Digital and In-Person Church Practices, and Improving the Church Guest Experience

1 Comment

  1. Stewart Perry on October 2, 2020 at 10:52 am

    Did we get list of “good questions” for online engagement from the people who Greg said could make up a list? I was thinking that might have been one of the most practical things that could come out of this, but I don’t see a link.

    Also – great episode.

    I found the discussion of how telling people that your staff and ushers will mask to make them more comfortable and the political divide between Greg and his friend really interesting. What impact do you think the political (mask/no mask) divide in the US will have on evangelism and outreach going forward? Not just in the pandemic but afterwards as well?

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