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PODCAST 008: Ben Stapley & Communicating thru Church Online

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The strength of Online Technology (and Church Online) is in our ability to communicate. But are we communicating effectively?  Throughout the service portion of Church Online there are several key positions that communicate volumes to the audience: 1) Teaching Pastor, 2) On-Screen Host, and 3) Chat Hosts. All three positions have VITAL communication that Church Online needs to know in order to effectively help attenders be discipled. Listen to the podcast as Jeff and Ben Stapley, Weekend Experience Director at Christ Fellowship Miami discusses some tips and tricks for these position to best communicate to Church Online.

ON THE SHOW

Guest: Ben Stapley, Weekend Experience Director
Christ Fellowship Miami
Twitter // Facebook // Instagram // Linked-In

Host: Jeff Reed
THECHURCH.DIGITAL
Twitter // Facebook // Instagram // Linked-In

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Love you all! Praying for your Churches and your Ministry Online.
 
Jeff Reed
THECHURCH.DIGITAL
 

TRANSCRIPT

Jeff Reed: 00:00 Well. Hey everybody, welcome to the church digital podcast. My name is Jeff Reed and it is great to be here with Y'all today. Uh, once again with the church digital. We focus a lot on church online, talking about what that ministry looks like and how it can be utilized in the church today. And I'm joined today by a guest here and this is a man that I've grown to love in a very short amount of time. This in Ben Stapley. Uh, currently we can experience director I believe is a title at Christ fellowship and he's got a long track record of, of online and, and communication formerly with liquid church, I'm sure as well as a number of other churches. I, and I'm just want to say this up front even before I let you talk because this is awesome. I respected you before I even met you.

Jeff Reed: 00:45 And like Ben was a, I don't know if you follow been a online at Ben Stapley, uh, but I don't know many people around in the Christian industry and I sorry to call it that, but the Christian industry that utilize technology as well as he does to to create a platform and to create resources that are out there. And so like it was one of those things, you know, even like four or five years ago, I was like, man, this ben stapley guy is awesome. I love this. And I was sharing his resources out with, with pastors and with church staff and people that I was working with. It's awesome now to see him down here at Christ fellowship at a church and I'm very active with and involved with, um, doing his thing and helping the church here. So then that's the best intro I know how to do give you

Ben Stapley: 01:30 I will give you the $20 after this conversation. Thank you. That was wonderful. That was wonderful.

Jeff Reed: 01:34 Awesome. I will gladly take that. Apple pay is a great option. Cash App works too. So I'm, hey, big man. Just tell us a little bit like I've totally just sucked up, but what can you do? What do you do a at Christ fellowship and what is your day to day look like?

Ben Stapley: 01:50 Yeah, so let me, let me suck up a little bit back. Um, I, uh, first of all, I've been loving the, uh, the podcasts there. They're incredible, you know, learning from this, uh, this platform that you have right here. And I love you spearheading this because I think this is a, it is a need and will only grow and it's, um, and it's neediness, uh, for the church world as we continue to advance. So I, I love the fact that you've launched this platform and these conversations for people to engage with and learn with. And I also, uh, I also love learning from you because you, um, I like to call myself a cutting edge, but you are bleeding edge. And so like I look to you and see what you've done, uh, and the mistakes you made me I've made or lessons that you're learning and say, I'm gonna apply that from Jeff Reed.

Ben Stapley: 02:34 So I think you're a vanguard there and I appreciate that heart of yours, uh, in relationship to what I'm doing here at Christ Fellowship, uh, that weekend experience director kind of encompasses a couple of different things. Um, the basically we're looking to, to craft services so compelling every week that people invite someone to join them the following week. Oftentimes the, the bar for most churches is, hey, we just, it would, people come back. We're happy. For me, the bar's a little higher. I want a service is so engaging that I'm, that our guests are inviting new guests that joined them every week. That's, that's the bar for me. Uh, I had the privilege of leading a couple of different departments to pull that off. The, the worship production, creative online communications, kind of a whole collaborative team to how do we maximize this, this one hour on the weekend. But then beyond that, how do we maximize the other 167 during the course of the week? And to make sure that the, the message that we hit on a weekend experience, um, continues to get extrapolated over the course of the week. And we engage people that way as well. So that's the, that's the big picture of who I am, what I do here at Christ fellowship.

Jeff Reed: 03:39 That's awesome. And that's really the challenge that churches a day. It's not just the focus on the one hour on Sunday, uh, but to create resources and utilize the communication channels, social media, mobile APP website, to really drive a discipleship plan to discipleship process to help connect with people. 168 hours a week actually bought a domain name, a 168.church because the goal was to create a church that does something 168 hours a day. So if that just spurred an idea in someone's head, I'm totally willing to sell it. So feel free to message me. I'll put the information in the blog notes. And if you are like, I want to create a church that operates 168 hours a week, 168.church can be yours. I'm your guy. That's awesome. Well, Hey, the topic I want to talk about today is, um, it's really communicating in, in context of church online.

Jeff Reed: 04:35 And we started this dialogue just kind of on the side, Ben and I, and the initial topic was, was more towards a teaching style but then that it just kind of naturally grew towards, okay, well what about like a, a hosts and uh, in a, in a campus pastor and communicating to the lens and what's that like? And then suddenly we found ourselves kind of transitioning into, in the chat host and that communication. And so like, what I want to really do today is just do a holistic view where we're talking about all of communication in context of what happens in a church online service. And so, and like I said, Ben is the man on this topic. I cannot think of a better person to be talking to. And so let's dive in. All right, Ben. Number one, like teachers and preachers, people that are communicating, which in the context of our physical services like this is the majority of time and a physical service and vis-a-vis, it's the majority of time that happens in context of an online service. Like what options, what instructions, what coaching would you give, you know, to a teacher that maybe for the first time is really starting to, to expand in the online that's, that's nervous about doing it online. Like, like what steps can you give them a to help these, these communicators do online teaching better?

Ben Stapley: 05:54 So I'll try to tackle some low hanging fruit first and get to maybe more advanced stuff as we go. So the, the, the one is, um, I would say just, uh, first of all and, um, communicate to that audience, engage that audience and reference that audience. So oftentimes, um, uh, oftentimes the preachers will just preach to the room, just preach to the people they literally see in front of them, which makes sense because that is the way that they were trained. Most preachers, especially if they're a gen x or boomers, were trained to preach to a room, they weren't concerned with cameras in the back or, or even if they were not necessarily even where those cameras went, like who's watching that video experience. And that is obviously, um, blown up over the past decade in terms of the different avenues that that experience can not reach.

Ben Stapley: 06:39 So, so first of all, um, you know, mentioned that campus I'm really basic thing a lot of multisite churches do is they'll, hey, I'm preaching from such and such location, but I want to give a shout out to, and the mentioned there are other campuses or locations. Uh, the other thing is making sure if you have an online campus to include them in that shout out where I've seen that before were pastors will mention the four other campuses, but they'll forget their online campus. And then again, if you're doing that right away and if you, if you view it as an actual campus, um, then called them out accordingly and reference them accordingly. Uh, we'll even do that in a promotional materials who are Christ fellowship. Hey, we've got a great experience happening this weekend. Um, it's at six of our locations or, or, or online.

Ben Stapley: 07:21 And so even before the weekend comes, we're just acknowledging that as a vital and valuable avenue to experience, uh, what's coming up over the weekend and keeping an on par with the physical location. So to calling that out as the first and lowest hanging fruit for, for communicators, pastors, teachers, preachers. Uh, the next thing I would say is as much as they can preach for the screen and not the stage, uh, this is, this is funny, we, um, you know, I've, I've seen this before, but you've probably seen this before where before cameras happen and before I mag image magnification where you would project yourself onto the screens behind you, um, you as a communicator, how to be big and bold and, and, and visibly dynamic to engage the room. And so you would literally walk around on stage and create all this kinetic energy because you didn't have those support systems.

Ben Stapley: 08:14 Well, it guess what? Now we do now have those support systems. We've had it for awhile and we, you don't need to manufacture all that kinetic energy anymore because it's already there. So, um, preach for a screen experience and not a stage experience when it's one of the basic ways, ways is to, to not walk around as much and kind of be a little more locked in. Um, it was, if you do it, it's a silly thing, but, um, it's, it's my ability to follow you from an audience perspective. If I'm in the room from farther back, it's easier for me to pan because it's not that dramatic. But if there's a tight shot on me, like a waist up shot and I'm walking back and forth than the audience, the visual experience there is going to create some whiplash because it's, it's going back to fast and, and, and back and forth. So just like taking those things into consideration.

Jeff Reed: 09:01 Yeah, the camera opp, having fun. They're trying to keep up with, with a, a guy walking back and forth. I've done enough live video to know, uh, that's, uh, that's always an interesting position to be in. What else you got?

Ben Stapley: 09:14 I would say, this is a funny, I use the, um, I remember back in the day when people would design a websites, you know, probably like 10, 15 years ago, the, the phrase would be, um, it's gotta be, it's gotta be mobile friendly. So the adage back then was you're making a website for a desktop experience, but there might be some people, you know, they say like 10, you know, 10, five years ago, there might be some people who are going to experience it mobily while the, that has radically changed over the past five, 10 years. Now it's the phrases you've gotta make it desktop friendly with the assumption that your primary audience, the majority of people are going to experience your website, your content on a mobile device. And then the secondary audience is the desktop experience. And so that, that same switch has happened there.

Ben Stapley: 09:59 I encourage preachers, communicators to make that same switch, um, in terms of how they view their audience, that, um, that they need to make sure that it is stage friendly. So your main audience is people through the screen, but then you need to make sure that stage friendly. So, or another way to say that is um, your, your primary audience is online and your secondary audience is actually in the room. Again, this is for some communicators, this is revolutionary and it's even hard for them to get to wrap their mind around it. But if you just look at the numbers, how many people you have in the room, how many people you currently have online or could have online, that's your primary audience, where your numbers are at. So if you make that switch a lot of everything else in terms of how you communicate a followups, so follow the numbers, uh, and then communicate to them accordingly.

Jeff Reed: 10:49 Hmm. So like if, if I'm tailoring something specific for an online environment, um, are trying to reach the online people first. Now, like I, I read Youtube, youtube, the average video is like five minutes long. Facebook, the, I think the average video is like three minutes. Ted Talks are like, what, 15 to 18 minutes, something like that. And so in an online audience, like the content is in a much shorter context. Um, how do, how do we wrestle that tension? You know, the average sermons, what, 30, 40, I was, I was actually at a church the other day that's considering doing church online and the pastor preached an hour. Like, so what, how do we wrestle with that? Okay. I want to target and online I want to reach a younger, but the, the experiences that we're currently creating and fostering or much larger, like what, what does that conversation look like?

Ben Stapley: 11:42 Yeah, the, the Ted talk is interesting. The, I usually say, hey, a good ted talk is 18 minutes. Because primarily it's mainly it's, it's meant to engage your head. It, oh, it's an intellectual experience. Um, there wasn't much in, which isn't the engaging your heart from an emotional standpoint or your hands from an action point standpoint, but, but, but messages aren't designed just intellectually speaking. They're all three of those facets. The, the head, the heart and the hands. And so because of that, I'd say, Hey, ted talks are great, 18 minutes and we're trying to do more than that. Why don't we double it and go for 36 as an average or or starting there at 36. Uh, but that's the kind of rule that I use in relationship to that. Uh, if you're talking about a service experience, a message experience, if you ultimately want people to take to understand it, what you're trying to communicate to feel it, and then have a clear action step and take action on that, you need a 30 to 40 minutes to kind of accomplish that from, from my vantage point.

Ben Stapley: 12:42 Now if you're talking about just general communication, how you can cut up that 30 to 40 minute experience and have that land on the range of social platforms. There's a lot of different ways to do that, but I would still encourage most communicators to steal land from the 30 to 40. Now there is, there is some helpful things to do to make sure that it's evergreen, that it's going to land on the whatever platform it's going to land and it's not going to be time based. So some, again, some basic stuff, but if you're used to preaching just for the room, you need to relearn these things that you cannot, you cannot date things. Um, and you cannot, um, you cannot pay some on the day. Hey, good morning everybody. Well, if people are going to watch this later on at night online, that doesn't make sense.

Ben Stapley: 13:23 Um, um, or even calling things out, like, uh, I'll try to, I'll try to keep things that are seasonally based outside of the message experience. Uh, so usually a good example. Um, Mother's Day, that's great. We all know we're going to celebrate. Mother's Day was probably going to be like one of your biggest services over the year. It's usually like after Christmas and Easter, it's usually the third biggest service for most churches. That's incredible. If you, if you communicate all that in your message will then you've dated that message and it doesn't have a great shelf life. So how do you do that? Well then you, you, you include all that, that, um, that time based content in, um, anything else outside of your messaging experience. So during your hosting, during your worship set, during the live stuff that Mike just la live, uh, live and locally, keep the time based stuff in those moments and keep the message portion as evergreen as you can.

Ben Stapley: 14:14 Now I understand that sometimes you're making a culture where our friends that's in a tragedy, this happen, hey, there's shooting here or whatever it might be. Um, but try to minimize that as much as possible so it has a longer shelf life. If you've got a great illustration and it doesn't need any of those, uh, references that, base it upon time, then then pull them out. Again, it's something as simple as not saying good morning to begin your message that oftentimes that's how a lot of preachers do that. Um, and that's like, that's even helpful outside of the online experience. And you'll see a lot of churches, they'll do this, they'll have like maybe a Saturday and it's service and they'll use that as their backup service. If this is like a multisite and the stream goes down on Sunday morning and that's the backup. Well they're used to saying, hey, good evening everybody, when, when that gets played back Sunday morning, that feels weird. So even outside of the online people, when you do that, as much as you can stop making your messages, see time based, it has benefits across all the playback platforms.

Jeff Reed: 15:14 Awesome. You know, and I know one of the things, um, that, uh, that you and I have talked about in the past, and this goes back to the liquid days, um, there was a, there was a review team and are honestly like, I forget the exact language, but it was the first time that I'd ever had had this experience of hearing about it were like a sermon would happen, like as an early read. And there, there was like feedback from, uh, from a different demographics are like, could you explain some of that, uh, to the audience

Ben Stapley: 15:46 So real like real big picture. Yeah. Is um, hey, um, like for the preachers out there, everyone's going to review your message already. So when you're done, everyone drives home, you know, it has been a wife hate. We know. What'd you think of that? You know, I thought that was a train wreck. I thought that was terrible. So every, everybody reviews your message already. What I encourage preachers to do is to bake in some type of review process before the weekend so they can get that honest coaching and that honest review, which will then minimize the negative reviews on the drive home out of the driveway of the church later on. And now there's a lot of pushback for that. You know, pastors, preachers, hey, you don't understand, like my weeks are are crazy. You're going to have to do the same amount of prep work, whatever it is, you know, 10, 12, 15, 20 hours.

Ben Stapley: 16:30 Most people, most preachers and pastors will do meetings in the first half of the week and then sermon prep in the back half. If you just flip your weak structure around and do Messa trip at the beginning and, and meetings on the back end, which takes some organizational finagling to get people to do that, well then you can have a review mid to late week. You can get feedback from a trusted panel of peers, uh, and then you can make the message spear experienced so much better, like basic things, right? Like, Hey, like that cultural reference is a little dated, uh, or that theology is a little wonky. Um, or you know, I hate that joke was a little sexist to be frank and like, that's not going to play with half of our audience. Um, because it's kind of alienating. You catch all those small things and you make the message and the message from good to great.

Ben Stapley: 17:15 Um, because you, you apply that. My quick feedback here is, is it needs to be a, um, it's not a, it's not a democracy. You know, it's a, been a little bit dictatorship. So, so the Hoover, that panel is, gives their feedback, but ultimately the, the lead pastor, the communicator absorbs that and takes it and does not or does not and then applies it. Um, so the benefits again of that is for the audience within the room because then they get messaged that, um, that was polished and was great and because somebody gave feedback on it. Uh, but then again, beyond that for our online audience here, they also benefit from the, from an extra, usually an extra like 95 minutes of work in the course of the week. So nine to five minutes, right? So the preacher gets all this done, um, they then perform for a panel, right.

Ben Stapley: 18:05 And it kind of like, let's cut. You think of like maybe American idol, but there's no Simon Cowles. Like there's no one who's going to grilled them. Right. And they, and they present their, their message and the way in which they do it, right? You always want to practice the way you're going to perform. So like do it the way you would do it. And, uh, and then a 45 minutes of a hill school around, uh, and, and review and hopefully you had a manuscript you can kind of go point by point and like, Hey, and page two, like I love that point. I think there's more meat on those bones. Like drill into that or on page three here at it's got, you know, you're just kind of redundant. You were repeating yourself, you know, it seemed like to me, so an extra 90 minutes in your work week, this benefits the physical campuses and the online campus because then they get a much more polished message and, and he, here's the, here's a great thing.

Ben Stapley: 18:50 This is a great for them it's also a leadership pipeline because you can then bring into that panel and aspiring communicator. Maybe it's your student pastor, I don't know who it is, but someone who can see how the sausage is made and their learning curve and their leadership and their communication, their curve just skyrockets because they're doing, they're seeing this, they're seeing all this behind the scenes stuff every week. So it's like it not only makes you better as a communicator, mix your audience and your guests better, bit of receiving a better message and then it's a leadership I can go on and on, but those are some of the benefits and obviously the huge thing is the online people get it polished experience because here is frankly a lot of churches who will take their, their first message [inaudible] and roll that out as their online experience. It's a Saturday night or it's the first thing Sunday morning and if you don't do this then, then it's, then that's your practice message, right? If you don't have a review process during the week, then you do your review process after the first message. And that's when, and then that's a shame because then your online community is getting your worst experience and they're getting your message without any review.

Jeff Reed: 19:57 There was, yeah, there was a story, uh, the church, and I've heard this recently where, um, it wasn't a lead pastor was it was like a second level. A teacher was, was, had the stage and basically had a sub point that it is a sin when we do not come together on a Sunday. And, and like that, that's great. Uh, there was a, uh, there was a person who was regular attender in a different city, in a different state of the online campus, uh, an online small group leader as well as a regular tither. And so in metrics of what an actual person is, uh, this, this person in a different state met all the metrics in place for somebody who is actively involved in the church. Um, and, and like there was a freak out moment of I'm sinning because I'm church online. Like that was the, they can pinpoint and while [inaudible] and while it looked great on paper and there was no, Oh yeah, hey, no, no big deal, just, just roll with it.

Jeff Reed: 20:58 I'm kind of hearing that in the context and shaping it like really negatively affected the, this online ministry taken out one of its key, um, leaders who just out of frustration. And so setting up those, those review places, having somebody to take kind of here and focus in, in the online context to be aware of some of that stuff, um, would be awesome. And I do know, I've talked, I talked with several churches that that first service is what makes it to online and eh, or even, you know, sometimes you get the ball roll and, and even if you catch something in between the first and the second service, did the odds of you trying to get that change? There's as quickly, it's just, it's so difficult. So, you know, getting that stuff done beforehand while it's still shapeable. Um, man churches like jump on that.

Ben Stapley: 21:44 This, we haven't touched on this in terms of copyright content, right? So you'll have like churches like life church where it's like during their incredible, at the movies series, it's like this is not available and which is understandable. This is not available online and you'd have to go to when our physical campuses, so like, which is like, I'm not saying that's a good thing or a bad thing, but they've understood the cost and the count the cost. And say we're going to, we understand the pros and cons. We're going to move in this direction, uh, cause we still think it's a net gain for us. Uh, but if you don't have someone from, from an online perspective thinking that through saying, hey, that's awesome in your message you through to the such and such music music video and you built it all up and then afterwards you came out of it and, and you talked about it and you referenced it, but we, no one online saw that because they got flagged.

Ben Stapley: 22:30 Um, and the whole video was taken down or we knew it was going to get flagged. And so we cut it out before we sent it there. Um, you, you know, you can't do that or you know, no you can't. You probably shouldn't do that. But here's some other options either just like I'll read the lyrics, they, you know, you think the lyrics are just really strong. Read those because that won't get flagged and that will, that will translate to our online audience or let's see, let's pull the band up and they will perform the song because we have copyright to do that and we're legally covered there and that's not going to get flagged. And so we'll have the band perform the song that you want to do. So, um, anyone who has that hat on, if they have a seat at the table, they can flag all that stuff.

Ben Stapley: 23:07 And uh, you know, something is silly, is basic where, uh, this was happening at liquid and we flagged it with Tim and he's, oh, that's helpful. Where he was talking about the incredible teams of service, mmm. That people could jump on and participate in serve. And all the teams he mentioned were all at a physical locations. And then, you know, myself, who was representing online at the time said, hey, could you could, you mentioned chat hosts, um, online because that's one of the volunteer Isms for people on that campus. Hey, you know, he, he didn't catch it because it wasn't on his radar. I put it on his radar, he incorporated into his message and then we saw like a 50% increase of our volunteerism over the next quarter on there because he does that one reference. People realize that they could also serve. It's not just, uh, uh, coming consume. It's also a common contribute platform and, and someone was speaking that into the lead pastor. So you need, hopefully you need someone at that review panel who could speak that in for the online experience as well.

Jeff Reed: 24:03 That is, that is so good. And, and having produced man, I don't know, thousands of church services over the years, uh, the idea of, of having, you know, something like that to be able to shape around, to be able to just go that extra five, 10% to really nail something, uh, to have that, that connection, to have that relational point, to have that impact into the audience. Um, whether physical or virtual. Man, that's, that's awesome. So, hey, let's, let's shift gears off the, off the teachings. We've got some other stuff I wanted to cover and let's talk about chat host. You know, like there's, um, or I'm sorry, not shadows. Let's do on camera host where you, we've got, um, you know, it's, it's sometimes it's the campus pastor. Uh, sometimes it's not a, uh, of a exclusive content for the online. It's just the piping in of maybe what's happening within the broadcast center. It said somebody else live in the room versus maybe something that's prerecorded, you know? And so let's, let's kind of just talk through the pros and cons here. Let's open it up with this like prerecorded content, dedicated, exclusive for the online audience or utilizing the, the physical campus announcement time period in context of church online. Like what are you recommend? What are those pros and cons?

Ben Stapley: 25:20 Yeah, I would say I don't have a strong recommendation, but the look you're saying there's pros and cons to both. So understanding of what you're trying to do as an organization during a particular season, will help you identify what you need to do during that season. So for us, at liquid during a season, our online ministry, uh, wasn't well known. And so what we wanted to do was we wanted to do our are, um, are on camera hosting. We want it to do it in the auditorium of our [inaudible] and the, um, in the lobby space of our broadcast campus because we knew that if we set up a station there and we had lights up in a camera up and two people talking on there and we had a screen behind them that showed why what was happening. And we had stations of volunteers out there as well that were the actual chat hosts.

Ben Stapley: 26:06 Then we created incredible awareness of something that could have been hidden and tucked away. And so, so no, we want to, we want to pull it out physically to broaden the organizational knowledge of this incredible campus that we have, our online campus and this is what we're physically going to put it in front of people's faces. And so as people were walking into the service experience, they're seeing a, a pre hosting done by people. Hey, what's that all about? Oh, that's our online campus. Uh, that's what we want you to do. An experience while you're not here. Or if you have a friend who wants to Checo church before they come to church, tell them to do that because that's, that's a safe environment for them to do it. And then, and then that's a great environment for if you'll never be able to come to a physical location.

Ben Stapley: 26:49 That's where you have robust spiritual discipleship happening. So for us during a season we said, let's do that, um, onsite in our lobby just to bring awareness. So again, it was an organizational value for us during that season to bring awareness to what was actually happening on the ministry. Um, you, you, you, now that being said, in another way you mentioned is to do the, the prerecord, which is like super helpful when you want to communicate just your online community. So you're not, you're not showing things that are happening at a particular campus, which kind of conveys the fact that that campus is, is there, is present, maybe is important. And so the fact that you, if you're shooting in the lobby of a space, you may be conveying the fact that, hey, thanks for coming to this online thing, but the real deal is coming to the physical thing.

Ben Stapley: 27:35 So you have to be aware of that. So if you prerecord it, you, you avoid that, right? You avoid big brother little brother syndrome and you just say, hey, we're talking to you online community. The other big pro about prerecording is you communicate just to them. So it's not like generic hosting like, Hey, at our church this weekend you can communicate to your people. So, um, an example of this is, uh, we were at a liquid. We're doing an event called night to shine. It was the Tim Tebow Foundation, a chance to give people special needs, incredible prom experience that they might not have experienced during, during the high school is one of the most beautiful, if you've never done it as a church, and you know, my little sales pitch for it, it's one of the most redemptive things I've ever done. I say it's like the closest step to heaven I've ever had here on earth.

Ben Stapley: 28:20 And just beautiful. Uh, there's, there's my, there's my plug and, and so for us, we were trying to communicate to our online community that, you know, how they can get engaged with that. And, and, and for us it was like, you know, it was during that season was prayer support because they weren't able to physically come and you know, a lot of our people who weren't in state, hey, you know, for this, for the, we had this incredible event coming up on the way in which you can participate during this event is through this. So we, we, in other words, we tailor made our content, our announcement content and the action steps to our online community. Um, so that's, that's a huge benefit of pre, pre roll and prerecording versus doing it live and onsite.

Jeff Reed: 29:00 There have been times in my life when I was doing, you know, for me it was just the one person kind of kind of doing it. And honestly, it life was so hectic. Like, I could never just get the other person in there. Uh, and, and I've seen recently, you know, more and more where there's a trend towards having two people kind of in their hosting together versus that. And I've seen this online, but I've also seen this more and in physical churches, uh, like doing, doing that as well, having two people on stage. Like what's, what's this trend towards having kind of the, the co hosts in involved in that?

Ben Stapley: 29:31 Yeah, I think you hit a couple of things there. It's, it's, I always say two is better than one. Uh, from a very practical standpoint, if it's you and I on, it's hard for me to remember like maybe four points of content, but if we're Ping ponging back and forth and I only need to remember to buzz your remembering of their too. Well, I do the first one. And as you're communicating the second one, I can mentally rollback my, uh, mental, uh, index and remember my third point. And so it's just like, from a practical standpoint, it's a little easier to do because you're relying on somebody else as well. But the big I think for me is it's, um, it's a con when you have two people, it's a conversation. When you have one person that's a monologue. So the fact that we're talking creates, creates, a conversational tone, which is, um, which is vital for the online community because they need to sense that it's, it's, it is a conversation.

Ben Stapley: 30:23 Um, whenever we would naturally ask ourselves questions like if we were, you know, um, as hosts, we could then naturally ask our audience as well as, Hey, Jeff, fourth of July's coming up, what are you doing for this weekend? Uh, Hey Ben, we're, we're, we're grabbing some burgers and fireworks. It's gonna be awesome. Hey, online community, what are you guys doing? So the fact that we would have natural conversation and questions and answers between ourselves then allows us to throw it to the online audience as well, encouraged them to, to jump into the chat and participate. So it kind of creates a conversation between your, your talent, which then creates a conversation more importantly with your audiences. So that's, um, that's vital to have two people instead of one. Um, I used to, again, it's a leadership pipeline so you have somebody with you that you're training up and doing this.

Ben Stapley: 31:12 I got to the point where, um, as the online pastor at liquid church, I stepped out of that role and just let other people play that role. But I realized it was missing because that does, I wanted to raise up leadership, which is, which is a great value, but I realized, um, I, I lost the f the, the online campus lost the face of the campus. In other words, I was the face of the campus and if I was never on camera, then people didn't know who was running the show. And it's not that it's about me or you or anybody else, but guests want to know that there is a point guy or Gal, there's a point person and that if, if they need to go get questions and they need to do to go to the top, they know who that person is.

Ben Stapley: 31:52 And so I would encourage you to, um, whoever's that, that visible point person to have them play that role and not be, not be in the passenger seat and end up not being the backseat and not be seen by the community because the community wants and ultimately the community wants, they want to know who their pastor is. And it's great that you have associate pastors and there's layers, but they, they will be thinking in hierarchical mindset and saying, okay, but who's on the top here? And so you just needed to visually demonstrate that as well.

Jeff Reed: 32:20 Yeah. And there's a lot of impact by the way, um, by that, by that online pastor. Like I can remember times where I'd be walking into like a home depot and the guy, the greeter at the door, it's like, I know you from somewhere. And I'm like, okay, like I never go to home depot. And he's like, no, no, no. You're the guy from the... You're the guy from the website. They're like, oh, church online. Yes, yes. I'm with, with the online campus pastor there and I just want to know this. And we were like, this is just me. What's the worst experience you've ever had being a host for that? I'm going to put you on this because you've been doing this probably longer than I have and I bet you got a story. And so I want the story, let's go and do it all good.

Ben Stapley: 33:01 Like something like really practical. Um, and then we'll see if I can find something funny. But like for me it, it, it took away compromise my ability to be a secret shopper. So what you're talking about on there right now is that you become, you became a face and an a brand and the, and you represent the organization and people are aware of you because of that. Why I also like to go around to our campuses, a, you know, a little liquid, you know, we had six locations. Uh, we have six locations down here at Christ fellowship as well. And so I love to go around and just to play the role of a guest and, and, and try to fly under the radar as much as possible and just, you know, walk up. And I was doing this like a couple weeks ago, you know, walk up to the sound tech, like, hey, look, it's like a, it's like, it's like loud in here.

Ben Stapley: 33:45 Like, I like that. It kind of feels like awesome. Like, you know what, like, what db levels do you run it at? And the guy didn't know me from Adam and he just thought it was a regular person and he's like, you know, he's like, I dunno. I was like, oh, okay. That's, you know, like mentally this, but in the back like, oh, okay, good to know. Um, and it allows you to follow up and get very honest and unvarnished responses from people when you, when you are not the on camera talent, when you are, you walk on and you're known and you know, people can kind of start cleaning up their act or whatever. Right. Um, and uh, and you, you, you lose some of that. Um, yeah, no, my, my, my funny story in terms of being on camera talent is, um, the fact that I'll always make shorter guests a stand on some type of riser so that I'm relatively on the same level.

Ben Stapley: 34:33 So I would have, you know, most six foot dude, sometimes I'd have like five foot gals, um, on camera talent with me and I'd get them, you know, a riser to stand up. So we were not, oh, completely, I level, but so it didn't look weird on camera. So there's a lot of behind the scenes photos of, of talent of mine standing on those risers and that always gets me, it gets a kick of me. And so I always look for that when I watch people cohosting and tried to figure out, have they elevated one of these people or are they clearly, you know, it was I the guy clearly heads and shoulders taller than the Gal and they, and they didn't do that and maybe it looks a little wonky. So that's a kind of fun behind the scenes mentioned

Jeff Reed: 35:10 in, uh, in film world, those are called apple boxes. So you're standing on apple boxes, their ego of, I've been done that drill note. No that, well you'll see it the most and

Ben Stapley: 35:22 NBA Games. Right. And so like the reporters having to like stretch their arm way up to get the interview with Shaq. I like, you know, there are a little bit closer to the up yet

Jeff Reed: 35:28 that might actually be a small ladder in that context. But a yes, that, that being said, it's awesome. Um, man, well I tell you thing, the last area that I wanted to hit on was, was the chat host and this was a, this is like a, uh, a side conversation that it suddenly clicked from. Uh, yeah, let's, let's really focus on that. And actually to set it up. I was listening to, uh, Carey Nieuwhof podcasts recently and it had, um, oh man, he did like two back to back that we're focusing on the, the um, uh, the church crosspoint up up in Nashville where they had like the creative director and in someone, but then they also had to, the lead pastor in, someone in that podcast said this, I'll have to find it in the show notes and come back. But they were quoted as saying some of the best pastors in our church, are chat hosts and, and me, it really resonated the, the importance of kind of like these people are on the front line.

Jeff Reed: 36:21 And there were stages truthfully of, of my online ministry where I was like afraid of what a chat host would say because like they're representing the church, they're representing externally probably more so than what's happening in the physical building. And so, you know, a chat host and an online service says the wrong thing in the wrong context and all of a sudden it's like, you know, press up all in your face and things are going crazy. Cause the church just said something and it really was, you know, just a, a volunteer. Um, so like what are some ways, because they have power though to the point that they can be the best, best pastors. And so like what is it, what is, what does that look like? How can we utilize these volunteers, uh, in, in such a way that we can trust what they're saying and then get them in an environment where they can really, you know, pastorally lead and shepherd people.

Ben Stapley: 37:11 Yeah. The, I think you is the one thing you said there I think is this foundational, so I'll echo it is that they are representing the organization. So you may, you may be on Facebook and you might give them, um, you might have them just log in as themselves. Like, Hey, you know, I ha hi everybody. I'm Ben on the chat host today. Uh, and Facebook live. And there they are, log, even though there were logging in by themselves or as themselves, they're still representing the organization. Once they said I'm the chat host and identify themselves that way and then clearly as the conversation goes and they're leading it and responding to it, they are representing the church. And so them feeling that weight like you know, there, there isn't any other ambassador other than you today representing the church, you know, do us proud, do not do us proud, uh, represent Jesus.

Ben Stapley: 37:56 Well, uh, is is the big thing I would say to them now you could, you could also have them log in as your, um, as your church again in this face Facebook platform. I would encourage them not to do that because people don't want to be interacted by an entity and organization. They want to be, you know, they want to engage with a person. And so, so I would still have people log in as people on shop. The same thing applies on that platform as well and going to think any other additional platforms from not thinking about right now that have the person in log in as themselves

Ben Stapley: 38:27 but realize the representing the church and that goes, that goes 90% of the way right there. Um, the other thing that I'd say the same thing applies for camera hosts is that it does for chat hosts that um, two's better than one. I remember I was part of a church that did open air evangelism. It was in Chicago and you know, they had like the, uh, the flip chart there and the whole, you know, here's this where you're are in this big pit and there's like, this is where God is and, but if you use the cross, this is, you know, the visual illustration that I'm sure a lot of us are aware of. And uh, and so they had different like ways that they're talking about it and rolling it out. It like, hey, you're going to be the person that illustrates it and you look, you're going to be the person standing and watching it.

Ben Stapley: 39:04 I was like, wait, why am I going to be the person standing and watching it? Like that doesn't, that doesn't make any sense. And they said, no, it does. He said, it takes a crowd to gather a crowd and then like tell me more. They said, if we're doing this out on the corner and, and we start, then people are just gonna walk by because no one wants to be the first person to stop and watch because that's pretty vulnerable. No one wants to be the first to do anything unless you're like Jeff Reed and who's a complete innovator. Uh, you don't want to be the first person to do it. So, but if we have, if you stand there and watch and participate, um, then someone will come behind you because they feel safety, you know, and then someone will come behind that and combine that and then we'll, we'll, we will gather a crowd.

Ben Stapley: 39:42 Um, same thing applies for the chat host. If the chat host is there and hey, how is everybody doing? How was your weekend? What are you taking away from this message? What do you think of it? And there's nobody responding to them. It's hard for that first person to respond. But if you have to chat hosts, um, they can go back and forth. You and I, um, jumping in everybody but everybody, I'm Ben Stately, I'm going to chat hosts. It's great to be here. Um, hey, can you give me a highlight from the message that you put into action last week and if you were to jump in and respond to that, then we create a dialog that's easier for someone to jump in. So same thing, get to people, not just one for chat hosts. Um, again, really simple is a very, very practical as someone's sick, then you at least have somebody to follow, follow up on.

Ben Stapley: 40:28 I can't tell you how many times when I had one chat host and they were sick and they forgot to get a replacement and then you have the experience with no one leading the shadows, so you know, complete train wreck. So, um, you cover your back there as well in terms of sickness or call outs for volunteerism. But starting with two is key.

Jeff Reed: 40:44 That's, that's awesome. How do you, like, how do you prep volunteers communicate the volunteers? Like how much information do you tell them about the service line or an iron in blind? Like what, what is the experience of kind of leading that group to help them understand the service? That's a great question. So first of all, in terms of resourcing them, there's a general Faq page that I have on the available for them. The questions that we know get asked every week or answers that we want to provide an action steps that we want to provide every week as well.

Ben Stapley: 41:18 So there was the, hey, this is a general Faq when people ask, hey, where are your locations? You know, you have the, you have the tab ready to go to send them to that people want to serve. You can send them the URL for that right away. Um, we know that when the giving talk is given, we want you to encourage people to call them to giving as well. And this is the language that we've crafted around this and there's the URL the action step and encouraged them to take the step of faith and obedience. So there was the epic queues that I had available. Um, there was the, uh, boiler plate. Like these are the five things over the course of the chat that need to be communicated sometime during it. So these are our core values. You need to hit these. Um, and then, so that was a great starting point. And then, uh, an addition to that we, uh, that, uh, foundational document, there was weekly communication that I gave to the chat hosts in terms of letting them know what was coming up and in particular to that weekend or that message,

Jeff Reed: 42:13 what type of trainings, um, have have you done in the past to get into like, oh, I'm depressed, I'm suicidal. Those things. And that, that's rare in an online experience, but you still want, want to prepare the people for it. So like, what does that look like for you in context of, to have the, to handle some of those, those spiritual or psychological issues?

Ben Stapley: 42:35 Uh, you're talking about stuff that is like baked within the message that is tackling or just stuff kind of from at a left field

Jeff Reed: 42:42 just out of left field coming in or, or the, or the crazy guy, don't want to compare depression and craziness, but the, the, the, the, the person that comes in to cause trouble. And where there a chat host is trying to deal with either a very sensitive topic or a, um, very aggressive type of personality.

Ben Stapley: 43:04 Yeah. So the, that's great. So we give, we give a lot of responsibility and therefore permission to our chat host. And I would say this as well, like you have to vet these people out well, because they, again, the representing the whole church. So like one of those things there in terms of if someone is, uh, is, uh, is spewing toxic in terms of, um, hate speech, um, sexism, uh, bigotry. Like you kind of go down like what that could entitle, you know, not only do you have the right, but you have the mandate to block them from the, um, from that exchange as quickly as possible. Because we're not going to let the conversation rabbit trail, and if someone's coming in with that type of hostility and hatred, then we're going to cut it off right away because they're not looking to contribute to this conversation.

Ben Stapley: 43:49 A little looking to the rail at and your responsibility to keep the conversation moving along. And so to do that, block them and you know, I was always say lovingly, hey, invite them to the block party as quickly as possible. Uh, that type of person because we're not going to let the conversation get there. Now that's the few and far between. Like most people don't come that way. Most people are, um, or maybe have a bone to pick or they have a soapbox to get onto. And so it takes more massaging the conversation and redirecting. A lot of conversations kind of redirected back to the message. So, hey, that's an interesting point. I love your opinion on the Seahawks or that football it, whatever it is. But Hey, you know, what, what are your thoughts on the message that, that last point he made? And so block if you need to, but more probably redirect will be the main, uh, way to handle somebody who's taking the conversation a little sideways.

Ben Stapley: 44:37 Um, is, is the, is the way it handled it. And then the last thing there too is, is don't feel they need to be the answer man or the answer woman. So like, just because we've been trusted you with this doesn't, doesn't mean we expect you to have all the answers and when you don't, uh, but, but when you don't, always a redirect. So don't have to say, I don't know. See, I don't know. Um, but that's, that's an incredible question. Uh, why don't you email the online campus, pastor Ben staple he at and he would love to give you additional information on that or in what, you know what, I've, uh, I've screened, captured that question. Uh, and, and, and you provide your email and he will follow. He or she will follow up with you. So there's layers, right? So it's the people you have to block the people, you have to redirect, um, in the conversation. And then the people you have to pass on to saying, hey, that's just kind of outside of my pay grade or you know, I'm not entirely sure what our stance is on female leadership within the church, but I know someone who loved to dialogue with you here, that person has reached out to them. So those, those are the ways that handled that.

Jeff Reed: 45:41 And the bonus of having two people involved in the chat host and that was, that was so eloquently said earlier, but the idea that now you've got, um, a person that can handle this, the sensitive or the isolated issues separately and so route that have a person peel off and just either direct message or on Chop, you can have a one on one conversation and the other person can still focus on handling and directing the rest of the service without, you know, waiting for that without dealing with the messy slash sensitive uh, situation. And so like that's, that's an exact reason why you always want to have to end there. Um, making that work. So that's, that's awesome. Well, man, hey, this has been a great chat and we could sit on here and just keep going, but I want to be sensitive to time of your side in a another. So a man, any, any closing thoughts in any, you know, just any passing lob you want to like throw at me? What, what do you got?

Ben Stapley: 46:42 Yeah, we, we, you know, we talked all about the like the, the, the how's, right? Like I was just always come back to the why's. And so for me it's the, this is like, and this is an incredible opportunity to credible platform, uh, the church leveraging it will continue to leverage it to draw people closer to Jesus. And so it was like, Eh, you know, even I forgot to frame the conversation that way, but, you know, sometimes we can get lost on the, within the technology itself or we can get lost in the comparison game. This church is doing that or that you're just doing that. Why aren't we doing that? Um, um, or even for myself sometimes, like the, the, the volunteerism, right? Uh, this, you know, this chat host isn't as polished as I'd like them to be. Um, for me, coming back to the hey, mmm. He'd been out in the forefront of her mind that this is just another platform, another venue, another environment to ultimately introduce people to Jesus and, and allow him to woo them closer to him. Uh, for me, keeping that why in front of my eyes helps handle all those tensions that I just mentioned that I, I, you know, that we all wrestle through. Um, uh, and on, on a daily basis. So keeping that up there is a super helpful to keep moving us down the road.

Jeff Reed: 47:53 Yeah. We've, uh, why is, has got to be the first and foremost thing and, and we've, uh, we've talked about it in an earlier podcast and, and there's, um, you know, there's plenty of resources and actually if you go on the blog at the church digital, you find that, I asked that question a lot. Where, what, what's the why of it? You know, I was on, I was on Facebook recently in, in a group for church online and, um, and somebody was like, I've got $5,000, what should I do? And, um, you know, the, the, the first question I kind of threw back at him was, what is the purpose of what you're doing? What's working and what's not working? Don't just blow your, this new found budget on, on the newest toy. Um, if it's not going to solve a problem, so let's, let's talk through your problem, then find where the money should go in.

Jeff Reed: 48:41 And everybody was kind of laughing at that. But it's, it's the really the purpose behind it where we don't understand as an organization, a lot of churches don't understand the why of church online or they don't have it yet. So man, a Ben, thanks for, you know, landing the plane right there and helping us keep focused on that. Um, hey, this has been a great time with you and you know what? We're going to have to do it again. Um, I'm sure at some point because I just like hanging out with you and you bring a lot of knowledge to the, to the table and a lot of experience, uh, through, uh, liquid through Christ fellowship and others. So thanks for joining us once again and, uh, for the audience out there. Thanks again. Uh, next podcast is coming up, so stay tuned for that. And until then, uh, my name is Jeff with the church digital. Thanks for being here.

PODCAST 007: Kevin Lee, Biblical Community, and What Church Online Is Not
Modeling Community: It Takes a Crowd to Gather a Crowd

About Author

Jeff Reed
Jeff Reed

With about 20 years experience serving the church in the digital/technological realm, Jeff loves working with churches. As passionate about Discipleship as he is Technology, Jeff uses his passion to help Churches develop technology systems to bring people far from God closer to him. Oh, and he loves Church Online.

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