CNLP Bonus 22: Mike Todd Returns to Explain His Model for Online Church, Why Their Church Has Grown 10x During COVID, and How to Turn Viewers Into Engagers, Contributors, Disciples and Donors

Mike Todd is back for a second episode in a row with an update on what’s happened at Transformation Church during the global crisis. While they were already an online church before, online attendance has exploded to 10x what it was before COVID, and giving has soared.

Mike takes you backstage to explain their online model, why the digital church is here to stay, and how to turn online viewers into engagers, contributors, disciples and donors. In so many ways, this short conversation is a preview of the future church.

Welcome to Episode Bonus 22 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 gives his latest thoughts on the COVID-19 crisis and how to respond as leaders.

Guest Links

Mike on Instagram | Mike on Facebook | Represent TV
Transformation Church | Transformation Church on Instagram | Transformation Church on YouTube

Episode Links

Pro Media Fire

A recent Barna poll found that 59% of churches are growing since COVID-19. And, one company who’s been helping churches grow during the crisis is Pro Media Fire. They immediately launched the Great News social media campaign, helping churches share hope around the world for free. And at the same time, they jumped into action with every single client they had for digital coaching and to help maximize this moment to reach people online.

Now, what they’re doing is opening the doors of their Church Growth program, which combines Pro Media Fire and Pro Web Fire plans and they’re offering 40% off for a limited time. The Church Growth program includes a dedicated digital coach, a creative team, a web team, and a social media team for less than the cost of a staff hire. Program is limited. Only a few churches get in so don’t miss out.

Book a digital strategy session with Pro Media fire and get 40% off for a limited time at


I had a conversation recently with Jim Sheppard from Generis and one of the things that really hit me is he said, “You know, not every church has been flattened by this.” And in fact, that always happens in crisis. There are some organizations that advance, some that stay frozen, and some that decline. And Jim’s got some really interesting thoughts.

He’s also got a brand new resource that they would love to give you for free. It’s a free video called Fund the Vision. And Jim Sheppard gives you some incredible insights on how to build a thriving culture of generosity that lasts.

Start building a solid foundation now that will increase giving in your church by going to


Text CRISIS to 33777 to get access to Carey’s How to Lead Through Crisis online course

CNLP 336: Mike Todd on the Meteoric Rise of Transformation Church, Blowing Up on Social Media, and the Power of 51% Certainty in Decision Making

Relationship Goals by Mike Todd

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


1.  Online is here to stay, so embrace it

In his interview, Carey asks Mike about his decision to go digital. Below, Mike provides two helpful insights if you’re thinking about going, but haven’t gone yet, digital:

  1. It doesn’t have to blow up today.
    So many online content creators desire immediate results and get discouraged when they don’t see them. But rarely does online content really ever “blow up.” Mike says it’s consistency that matters, and that you’re not really working for today, you’re working for tomorrow. He says, “If you’re consistent and faithful, it can have the same impact as if you did it that moment, two years from now. And I think that’s the one thing that we learned with Relationship Goals, it was being faithful that made us fruitful.”
  2. You have nothing to lose.
    Mike says that people delay going online. They think too hard about what they put out, when they put it out, and how they put it out. He says, “And so I just think that, listen, if it’s bad you can take it down. If you said something wrong, take it down. Monitor it. But I think a lot of people are playing it so safe at this moment and they’re walking in, I dare say, pride.” He finds that online content creators try to be so calculated with their content and expression, trying to be perfect, that they miss out on the feedback. And the one thing about social media is you get instant feedback. Mike says his greatest lessons have come from the feedback he has learned from the end user, including learning how much his users have been blessed by his raw authenticity.

2. Live versus on-demand

What if you had the ability to reach more people with your on-demand content than you could when you are live? Before the COVID crisis, Mike says that about 15% of his total weekly viewing audience were watching him live. “So I would preach to about 4,000 people in the room and probably about 15,000 to 20,000 online live.” What he noticed as the weeks when on, is he gained nearly half a million viewers online as his content remained.

While he’s not discounting the impact pastors can have with people being physically in the room, Mike sees the opportunity to reach more, and new, people via on-demand, online content—content that is speaking to people right where they are during this time. “What a time to be alive. As a pastor, as a believer. That your words can stretch longer. That you don’t pour out for three days trying to get a message and then the 40 people who decided to come to church that day are the only people that hear it. But that it can be viewed and heard and as real as it was in the room for somebody in their bedroom or on their jog.”

3. Turning viewers into engagers—your metric for online attendance

Online church attendance looks different than it does in-person. What does it mean to be an “attender” if you’re watching church online? While some pastors are measuring online viewers as attendance, we really should be focusing on engagement. So, how do you engage people online? It’s more than just likes and comments. Mike says, “I think that our biggest way to convert people from watchers or viewers to people who partner is authenticity. Authenticity is the highest form of exchange. It’s more valuable than money. They get to feel the heart and the ideas and the vision behind it. And then they think, ‘I don’t have to take this long bold step and be a part, I can do this from the privacy of my home.'”

Being authentic has allowed his viewers to engage with the heart of the church and take the next step. This may seem disconnected, but Mike has seen some incredible results including their giving doubling. He says, “They’re finding all of the answers that they’re looking for in a live experience, but they’re getting it online. What ends up happening is, the people are still getting touched, they’re getting help, they’re getting healed.”

Quotes from Episode Bonus 22

Our biggest way to convert people from watchers or viewers to people who partner is authenticity. Authenticity is the highest form of exchange. It's more valuable than money. - Michael Todd Click To Tweet

Where are your sheep? Your sheep are on social media. - Michael Todd Click To Tweet

Growth and comfort are arch enemies. - Michael Todd Click To Tweet

Reach is about breadth, but engagement is about impact. And what you want is impact. @cnieuwhof Click To Tweet

My first insight about digital is you're not really working for today, you're working for tomorrow. - Michael Todd Click To Tweet

I don't know if when they let us back in, I'm going to go back to having in-building meetings. - Michael Todd Click To Tweet

The beautiful thing about technology is if somebody finds you, they then find everything that comes with you. - Michael Todd Click To Tweet

A lot of times we discount the consistency and the faithfulness of a thing because we're not seeing the explosion or the conversions - Michael Todd Click To Tweet

I am preaching in an arena that seats 4,500 people with less than 10 people in it every week. But it is real to the end user. - Michael Todd Click To Tweet

We have seen more transformations, more salvations, more people getting baptized by what is happening through a screen. - Michael Todd Click To Tweet

My encouragement to everybody is that God saw us here, and God didn't want us to go around this, he wants us to go through it. - Michael Todd Click To Tweet

I really believe engagement is the new church attendance. @cnieuwhof Click To Tweet

Read or Download the Transcript for Episode Bonus 22

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 new YouTube Channel gives you a chance to watch some episodes, not just listen. We’ll add select episodes to YouTube as time goes on.


The world is experiencing a series of unprecedented challenges, and you’re leading in the midst of it all.

I’ve got a brand new online, on-demand course, called How to Lead Through Crisisthat can help you lead your team, your church and yourself through the massive disruption.

The course is the gift from me and my team to you and leaders everywhere. In light of everything that’s going on, we decided to make it available 100% free.

Inside How to Lead Through Crisis, you’ll learn how to:

  • Cultivate a non-anxious presence that inspires confidence and trust.
  • Care for yourself so the crisis doesn’t break you.
  • Master the art of fast-paced, clear decision making.
  • Gather and interpret the most reliable data that will advance your mission
  • Advance digitally to scale past physical barriers and grow your outreach.
  • Lead your team and congregation remotely

While no one has all the answers in a crisis this big, in the course, I share the mindsets, habits, tools and strategies that I believe will help you lead through crisis to get you and the people you lead to a new (and better) future.

You can enroll and get instant access for you and your team here.

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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?

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Thank you for being so awesome.


Steve Cuss has spent years helping leaders manage their anxiety. In this interview, he talks about how to handle the elevated anxiety you’re feeling in leadership during the Coronavirus pandemic. Steve identifies some surprising signs of anxiety many leaders miss and outlines some practical ways to tame your fears during crisis.

Subscribe for free now so you won’t miss Episode 337.

CNLP Bonus 22: Mike Todd Returns to Explain His Model for Online Church, Why Their Church Has Grown 10x During COVID, and How to Turn Viewers Into Engagers, Contributors, Disciples and Donors


  1. Nance on May 8, 2020 at 10:08 am

    So Mike mentioned engaging people, not just getting views. And he talked about how people can share the content, give, and serve. I know how people care share on social and how they can give – but what does serving look like in an online church situation?

  2. Mark on April 29, 2020 at 1:56 pm

    “And the one thing about social media is you get instant feedback.”
    You get feedback whether you like it or not. The benefit of giving the feedback online is anonymity. It might seem a little harsh in one respect but necessary in another. (Example: A church-going kid telling the pastor that they cannot figure out the multiple points in a long sermon gets the kid, and maybe even the parent(s), in big trouble with the church leaders, pastor, and definitely their parent(s) if said walking out the door of the church house on Sunday, but when the kid and perhaps others put the same comments below a YouTube video, the comments might be considered and the next videos might be shorter and cover one point each. Anonymity kept the kid out of trouble and got the point across and may have bypassed the church leaders who may not know or care about YouTube anyway.) You the speaker can also use the comments to get a sense of what group(s) you (might have) (unexpectedly) reached and which group(s) you did not. It is what you (have to) do when you can’t see your audience. Most speakers are taught to know their audience in advance, now whether or not they do in real life has yet to be determined, but once out on the net, videos could be watched by anyone; thus, you have to take some of the comments into consideration.

  3. Curt Seaburg on April 29, 2020 at 1:15 pm

    Great content. Thank you both so very much. I was hoping for ideas around water baptism?

  4. Teddy on April 29, 2020 at 11:58 am

    Such amazing content. I took three pages of notes. Thanks so
    Much for sharing. Such a a timely and needed respource. People have paid thousands of dollars for less useful information. Time to get to ministry!!

    • Carey Nieuwhof on April 30, 2020 at 10:23 am

      Cheering you on!

  5. John on April 29, 2020 at 10:31 am

    As a pastor of a local “brick and mortar” church, I have a great deal of issues with this. Instead of being “that guy” who poo poos this idea, I will ask a few challenges. I respectfully beg you to prayerfully to think through and develop your ecclesology. As a pastor in a somewhat rural area, I have seen “Online Church” greatly hurt the local community. The biggest reason for this is summed up in the question, “Why care about or work out the problems when all I have to do is tune in?” I can (and will) avoid conflict anyway i can. Matthew 5 and Matthew 18 never have to happen because there is can be avoidance of real true engagement. Also, “What does this tell us about the vital engagement of inter-generational ministry?” Faith is CAUGHT, not Taught. If i dont have the older generations to teach me and the younger generations to challenge me, I will lose much of my ongoing spiritual formation simply because I choose to be online, a place where many people can either a. not afford to go (Yes, there are people who simply cannot afford it) or b. not have the technical skills to access it.

    So instead of being a curmudgeon I challenge you to think through what being an embodied, holistic, incarnational presence might do for your community, for your faith, and most importantly for the Gospel of the Kingdom of God. The Gospel is proclaiming King Jesus as LORD of all, not just some fire insurance. We need to think about that.

    • Mark on April 29, 2020 at 1:25 pm

      “Why care about or work out the problems when all I have to do is tune in?”
      You must remember that most people are not permitted to do much in a church anyway besides attend and donate money. Even if an ordinary person has a potential solution or knows how to work out problems, no one with power wants to hear (about) it.

  6. Daniel Newkirk on April 29, 2020 at 9:46 am

    Wow. My brain almost caught fire listening to that! Thanks for all you do!!!

  7. John Adams on April 29, 2020 at 7:32 am

    Awesome episode. Exactly what I needed to know. Keep up the great work. 🙂

    • Carey Nieuwhof on April 29, 2020 at 9:12 am

      Thanks John! We will.

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