CNLP 433: Alan George on Everything You Need to Know About Church Online, How to Make it Relational, and What Metrics to Watch and Which to Ignore

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From 2010-2020, Alan George led church online for Life.Church and saw it grow to one of the largest online churches in the world.

Alan shares his top insights about church online, why it can be relational, how to grow your digital team, and what metrics to watch and which to ignore.

Welcome to Episode 433 of the podcast. Listen 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 confessions about online church.

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Insights From Alan

1. In some ways, a great online ministry feels like a great in-person ministry

When Alan first started as the Church Online Pastor at Life.Church, he had to find creative ways to take the great things about in-person services and make them work online.

So, when someone gave their life to Christ online, he had to create a system that engaged those new believers in a similar way that they would have been engaged in person. This can take a lot of effort and intentionality to do, but it’s worth it.

2. Online data points need a different kind of thinking than traditional attendance

So many churches are trying to think about online metrics similar to how they think of in-person attendance. Alan thinks this is a mistake. He recommends calling the numbers what they are. If they’re individual IP addresses, call them that. If they’re 10-minute-views, call them that. Don’t try to fit an online metric as “online attendance.”

To truly understand what’s going on with your online campus, Alan recommends you look at the story that all of your data points are telling rather than focusing on just one point.

3. Don’t talk to your online audience like you speak from the stage, be more personal

If you’ve preached from a stage before, you have a bit of a disadvantage for communicating to your online audience. From a stage, you’re talking to people in a crowd. When you’re speaking directly to an online audience, you’re usually talking to an individual sitting in front of a device.

This requires a different approach from you as a communicator. When you’re speaking to your online church, act like you’re talking to one person. Be personal and conversational. A good rule of thumb could be if you wouldn’t say it to someone in your living room, don’t say it to an online audience.

Quotes from Episode 433

If community is not happening, they're just watching a stream online. - Alan George Click To Tweet Online is not creating couch potatoes. It's actually creating a fire within people that want to see their community changed. - Alan George Click To Tweet This gospel is too good to be kept a secret, so let's leverage every technology, every tool we have. - Alan George Click To Tweet Talk to the one rather than talking to the hundreds or the thousands. - Alan George Click To Tweet I hope that we don't just depend on our building, but we leverage every tool we have to reach out people. - Alan George Click To Tweet I sometimes hear that conversation of, ‘Man, if they're online, I don't really know them.’ I would argue, do we even know the people that are walking into our buildings? - Alan George Click To Tweet There are some unrealistic expectations when it comes to the information we think we have about the people that are attending in-person versus online. - Alan George Click To Tweet There was this constant tension of, ‘I've got to figure out a way to do what we do in person do it online,’ and I think that's the wrong way to look at it. - Alan George Click To Tweet Digital scales in a way that physical doesn't. Click To Tweet

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Next Episode: Steve Carter

In 2018, Steve Carter was one of the named successors to Bill Hybels at Willow Creek. At 38, he was poised to become the senior pastor of one of the largest and most influential churches in America.

Steve talks about the devastating revelations about the ongoing abuse that had been happening under his predecessor’s leadership, leaving Willow Creek, what crisis taught him as a young leader, and why character matters so much.

Subscribe for free now so you won’t miss Episode 434.

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Carey Nieuwhof
Carey Nieuwhof

Carey Nieuwhof is a best-selling leadership author, speaker, podcaster, former attorney, and church planter. He hosts one of today’s most influential leadership podcasts, and his online content is accessed by leaders over 1.5 million times a month. He speaks to leaders around the world about leadership, change, and personal growth.