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PODCAST 028: Seth Muse & Redefining Engagement


Engagement is one of those words that no longer has meaning. It’s been used and misused so often in recent years that the heart of the word has been lost. However, engagement is the heart of Church Online… it should be the heart of anyone who does ministry online.

Enter Seth Muse into the conversation. Seth is Communications Director at Hope Fellowship Church and created a social media post a couple weeks ago that blew me away because in a very simple way Seth drew attention a problem that I think we see too often in our Church Communications, in our Churches Online, and in our Churches overall.

Dive into the podcast as Seth and I explore the concept of engaging content in social media, as well as, Church Online. Remember, effectively engaging online has everything to do with our posture.

If you're enjoying this episode, subscribe for free using your favorite podcast app below:

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Guest: Seth Muse
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Host: Jeff Reed
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We know these conversations are out there are hard. Even the best of churches haven't figured out... If this podcast is helping you and your church work through what Church Online is, then help us impact other churches! Take a moment and leave us a brief review!
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Love you all! Praying for your Churches and your Ministry Online.
Jeff Reed


Jeff Reed: 00:00 Hey, Jeff here, with The Church Digital. I'm excited about Episode 28. We're talking about a topic we don't normally hit on in context with church online with the podcast here but it's something that's near and dear to my heart. It's really an underlying theme of all of these podcasts that we've done along the way. And no, we're not going to talk about Spiderman and his return back into the Marvel cinematic universe. He was hardly gone. And now he's back. I just wanted to take a moment here publicly on the podcast to thank Marvel, thank Disney, thank Sony for getting together, for figuring out how to make this thing work, for signing the deal. Everybody's happy, everybody's making money and we get Spiderman, one or two more movies in the Marvel cinematic universe and we'll have to see what other crossovers come down the road.

Jeff Reed: 00:48 But this is not a Marvel podcast while kinda is on the side, but it's not normally a Marvel podcast. So, let's talk about Church Online. What I want to hit on today, really centers around this idea of the word engagement. And so, cause honestly I believe that engagement has really lost its meaning or it has so many meetings right now that people don't really understand what the core of engagement is. And to that end, I want to bring in Seth Muse. Seth is a Communications Director. And long story short, he had on his Instagram account maybe a couple of weeks ago, arguably the greatest single Instagram post I've ever seen in my life. Okay. Maybe that's a little overstating, but it was really good and an encapsulated, a lot of what I've been wrestling with in the past couple of years of how it highlighted the two types of different, in his context, social media posts.

Jeff Reed: 01:45 But in my context, I'd say in context of church online, what we're communicating, even not even church online, but church overall, there's two different types of communications. And to his point, post type number one are posts that where it's communication that's centered around us as a church and the second type of communication that he highlighted is the types of communication that highlight the listener, the reader, the audience is designed to engage the people where they are. You see, sometimes in church we think by talking about a sermon series or talking about inviting through a social media post to some event, we think that that's, that's engagement when that's really not engagement. Engagement is when we listen to the people that when we try to cram information towards them and drive them onto our property, physical or virtual for church online.

Jeff Reed: 02:49 And so this is what I want to do. I want to have a conversation where we dig in and try to figure out what engagement really is and how we as a church, we as church online can do better at engaging online. So welcome, Seth Muse from Hope Fellowship, to the conversation myself, Jeff Reed, from The Church Digital in a conversation on redefining engagement. Everybody, here you go.

Seth Muse: 03:17 For me, I think the church is so, when social media really started, it was a promotional deal. I mean it was like put yourself out there kind of thing. And there really wasn't any rhyme or reason to what was going on. It was just chaos. And we saw it as like, Hey, I put things out there, people will see it. But it's so not the case anymore and you have to be more strategic now. And it's just so much harder to, to be seen and noticed. And what people tend to stop scrolling on is important and they scroll on things badly. We're sinners, stuff that's kind of about them. Yeah, it makes them feel good. So that's kind of where I was. I was literally writing some things down for an audit I was doing for one of a couple of art channels and I just wanted to see what kind of content we were posting. And I had these columns that were like, let's see. I probably shouldn't have thrown that away. Probably going, you use that today, but it had like a scripture posts or like encouragement, inspiration, advertisement, what else was it? Oh like a promotional deal. Like come sign up for this thing cause some of our, and it would be like, I could check some of those more than once for one post.

Seth Muse: 04:28 Right. Cause we covered a couple of boxes. And when I was looking at it, I was like, I naturally just divided it into these columns without realizing it and went, oh my gosh, these are about us and these are about them. I was like, that's clear. I'm gonna write that down on the board before I forget it. So I started to brainstorm and that's what I came up with and I was like, somebody might want to see that and here we are.

Jeff Reed: 04:51 Well and and even the word engagement, like it's been lost over over the years or it's been watered down and means so many different things that it's like, Oh yeah, I'm engaging people by and I'm overstating here to prove a point. But I'm engaging people by shoving my agenda towards them and getting them to process, you know, my new sermon series or this event and just to step back and to realize that that's not really engagement when we're forcing our agenda or our motives towards them, engagement is them.

Jeff Reed: 05:29 And while that may work in a church building with people that already bought in, like we know that doesn't work with, with outsiders, with people who are, who are cold to the idea of church or, or even to God. It was funny, like we're, this is just an off story. One of the things that I'm doing right now, I'm consulting with a church that's getting ready to launch a multisite, in an area there's not a lot of churches, there hasn't been a lot of success in churches here in Miami. And so I'm project managing, I'm helping, you know, with some logistics and some things like that. And so we had an opportunity, to sit down and it's happening in a school, so the multisite is going to be to set up and tear down in a school.

Jeff Reed: 06:14 So a week or so ago, I sat down with the teachers of the classrooms that we want to go into. And it was funny, like one of the teachers in the room was more anti us being there than the others. Like she was having maybe a little more concerns about it and was very much pressing the what are you doing for us? kind of approach. And it was funny, like, immediately some of the pastors were talking about, Oh, well, you know, we've already been out here to help paint and we built a butterfly saying, and so we were doing, you know, just a lot of this stuff, around here. And the church had really been doing a good job of serving the community. But it was, it was funny, like her immediate response was, Oh, facility stuff. Yeah. Okay, what do we, what do we get out of this? Yeah, exactly. Like it was this moment of clarity. I'll be like, okay, they're saying the right answers. Oh, but that's not what she wanted to hear. Okay. And so like, you know, 15 minutes later down the road, I'm like, Hey, you know what, I want to hear, I want to hear how we can serve you. We told you how we're serving, but it didn't connect with you. So what do you need? And it was funny from that second on, the relationship, the conversation went completely different because she's now understanding I'm on her side as opposed to I'm shoving an agenda. Yeah. And it was amazing the clarity and the conversations and, and you know, in back of my mind, I'm like, I gotta figure out how to do some of this stuff. I have no idea how to, but dang it, what we're gonna we're going to give it a shot and figure out how to help this, this teacher be more effective in her school.

Seth Muse: 08:06 Yeah, you're right. We just have to keep what's in it for people in the front of our mind. And we always answered that question with, well, Jesus is in it for people. And they're like, well, they've already decided they don't want that. What if they've decided they don't want that at all? Yeah, no, like then what? You still got to have a church in a building. You still need them on your, on your side, you know, and like, and he still got Christians that say that like, yeah, I'm a regular attender and show up once every six weeks on average. You know? So it's like, yeah, even our people are not like, man, we just can't wait to get back to church. So you know, we have to keep that in mind so that they're constantly reminded of like, here's the benefit of this place. Here's what it does for you. Here's how it enhances your life. And that sounds sleazy and sales pitchy. But I mean, that's what we've always really done. It's just now the answer to that question is different. Yeah. Because they're not prioritizing the church. We're not prioritizing it as a community anymore. You know, it's not the center and the hub of activity in the communities that the school is.

Jeff Reed: 09:12 Educators would say, scholars would say that we're in a post Christian society. Yeah. And so how the church responds to us, to your point, one week out of four when we've got a six attendance, you know, maybe a decade, two decades ago, like we were pushing more than once a week, and trying to get people to come back for like a, a midweek service and things like that. But we've, the churches has changed and, and attendance has changed and when we're seeing, we're seeing drop, in physical attendance, we're seeing online attendance spike and increase and some churches handle that better than others. I've had conversations with churches where it's like, Hey, we're considering shutting down our online campus in hopes that by shutting down the online option, people will go back to the physical building and I'm not even like in that I think personally that's a bad idea.

Jeff Reed: 10:06 Hey, hurt, stop the thing that's working, in hopes that it'll help the thing that that's not working anymore. So like culturally that gives me a headache.

Seth Muse: 10:14 What they'll find is that they shut that thing down it actually hurts their attendance and physical places.

Jeff Reed: 10:19 So, so true there where online kind of can feed into that as a front door as that first level of, of like your lobby or guest services even engaging on that. But it's amazing what happens where when you don't try to push the agenda or the strategy or the model, but instead step back and listen to what people are looking for, what they need, how, you know, you may be trying to meet them at this level when in fact people are, you know, they're not, to your point, the person who may already be turned off or against church, might be looking for another engagement point, another relational point that's not going to be solved by your most recent, sermon series. That's not going to be, there may be there's a marriage thing they're struggling with or something in its instead of pushing an agenda, it's listening to where the people are in, in doing that. And that's the thing that I think online does so well, is that you're able to turn the corner and meet people where they are

Seth Muse: 11:21 And they're not gonna type in your sermon series title to Google. They're not, they're not looking for that. They're not looking for like, you know, I don't know, whatever series you got, I forget like, At the movies, they're not really looking for that on Google. They're looking for, you know, fixing marriage or, you know, dealing with difficult kids and you know, they're typing in keywords that are not going to bring your sermon series up online. And that's where they're going for help. They're not thinking, let's call someone at the, on the church on the telephone, and talk to a real person who is a pastor because that's not what they see as the go to for, for help. So they're going to go online and they're going to start to YouTube and they're going to search Google and which are the number, no, not the right order, but one and two search engines in the more on the world and a how to in Google is like the number one hit phrase. It's how to do stuff. The university of YouTube, you know, so they're gonna find it there and they're gonna they're not looking for us at the church. So it's like we're trying, we have to figure out as a church, how do, instead of, cause they're not coming to us. How do we get to them and how do we think about them? And I think this is what Jesus always did.

Seth Muse: 12:39 He always went to them. He never sat around and just waited for people to show up. He was moving and they followed him. You know, the intentionality of follow me is that the thing you're following is moving, you know, and it's like you've got to move with them to stay with them. And so things are always going to be changing. Things are out. Methods are always going to be moving. The crowd is always going to be, you know, morphing into something and you have to constantly be moving with it or you stand still and you're left behind. And that's what I think happens to a lot of churches. We find a model that makes us comfortable. Okay. And it has some success, but then the model moves and the culture moves and we don't move with it. And so we miss so many people.

Seth Muse: 13:23 And I think that's the big deal with online that a lot of pastors, you know, are maybe missing if they're against it, is that it's not a replacement of your in person stuff. It's a, it's an extension of it. It's an, it's and and it brings people in. It connects with them where they are. It makes a bridge, you know, and it goes to where they are. So I feel like I have a lot of strong feelings about this. But you know, cause I really wanna like I really believe that, you know, the, the mandate for Christians is to go, it's not to, you know, plant and stay and put up like the bat signal with a cross in it and think that somebody is going to show up and it just doesn't work like that. Especially now.

Jeff Reed: 14:13 I got to tell you, don't say that bat signal with the cross thing too loud. Somebody actually gonna like run with that cause they're like that's, Oh my gosh, that's the greatest thing I've ever heard a bat signal with a cross and shine it up in the.

Seth Muse: 14:25 Well I'm not saying I haven't done it. I mean it's just one of those things that you just cause you know, it's a great idea.

Jeff Reed: 14:32 There's so much good there. Here's your like today is what, what I heard you say, what I hear a lot of people struggle with is it's one more thing. For decades we've been okay with just the service. Like we have this model, this model works. I actually on a podcast with Tom Pounder a couple weeks ago and we were talking about this and he equated it to like the, and it was this beautiful analogy.

Jeff Reed: 14:58 It's like traditionalist with baseball of, well no, you can't add that because Babe Ruth didn't have to deal with that in 1920 when he won, you know, and, and all of a sudden you go through all the historical context that in all of this and it's like, well, no, the, the game is like the world has changed around the game of baseball and all of a sudden you need to do things to keep the game to be relevant. It's not, the game doesn't change. I don't know that the roles necessarily change, but how the games presented should be. And, and church similarly, the goal, if the goal was your Sunday service, then you had the wrong goal for years. Like the goal wasn't the service, the service was the method for the end game, which was the gospel. which is that discipleship piece.

Jeff Reed: 15:44 And so realizing that we're called to make disciples, go and make disciples. Your referenced Seth, you know, we've got this, this great challenge to, to evolve because the world is evolving faster than ever before the church is drug goals to realize that. Yeah. And at the my favorites, the, Oh well let's, let's change our services. People are only coming once a month. You know, maybe, maybe if we're lucky we can get them to, and it's, I'm just, I'm always like turn the game on on its, on its side. Like dude, look at it from a completely different viewpoint. Figure out how to make disciples 168 hours a week, engaging people when they, where they are instead of trying to drag people into a building that they don't want to go to.

Seth Muse: 16:29 Yeah. And that's how, that's how, like I struggle with this because I think I see social in a way that many leaders who are in pastoral positions don't, and this is, this is, I think the disconnect on communications is looking at this post, you know, it's like we can see it as us and them type posts, but for a pastor, I think they see it as all inclusive. Like all of them are us and they're part of us. And there's a misunderstanding that social is a thing that's meant to advertise and to get people to move to some, I see social as a tool for our ministry. Like almost like it's, it's like a small little slice of church that we can put out and have a conversation about every day or a couple times a day.

Seth Muse: 17:19 You know, it's like if I put out a scripture, we can talk about it or they can at least hear it. I mean, what's different than that than a pastor standing on a stage and saying the scripture, they don't respond. I mean, they're sitting there in the seat, they're listening. There's no engagement, you know, in a worship service while the pastor speaking, they're just considering what he's saying. They're listening. unless they're opening a peppermint and everybody's watching that and listen to that cause that's allows thing in the world. But you know, they're like, what are you really getting there that you get online? You know, when, when someone passes some information along, if it's just information. And so there's this thing that's like, there's so many similarities between how social can be a culture creating tool, a ministry of discipleship tool, maybe not an evangelism tool that's kinda tough, but you know, like it can be something that encourages people to live life.

Seth Muse: 18:12 Like Jesus wants them to live and isn't that good? Like why is that not good enough to do that there? We can only do that in person. Yeah, no, that makes no sense to me because I see it happening and it's like the culture has already accepted this as a mode for learning, for growing, for inspiration. And we know this because there are so many people whose theology is based on, not scripture, but Instagram post about scripture that are way out of context, that are made by people that are explaining it in really crazy ways. And the church is not in that space. You know, if you're concerned about theology then put some there, you know, it's like do that there and make some posts about growing them and all it happens is they read it and are inspired and learn and grow and they don't have to click anything or come to anything.

Jeff Reed: 19:08 Yeah. I remember Dave Adamson, you know, out of North Point, he did this experiment and he put it on social media. It was the, I think he was trying to search for, help me how to pray or tell me how to pray or I don't know how to pray. And so, like he did a search for that in YouTube and, and just, he started reporting on what was coming up and it was, I think out of the first 20, 30, 40, there were no, no churches at all. It was Jimbo A, Susie B, just random people and first off, like congratulations to those people. Thank you for, you know, creating content that they triggered that. And I don't want it that I don't want to take, you know, their online or their ministry and packed away.

Jeff Reed: 20:00 But there's a huge opportunity. As a matter of fact, the first church person that popped up, was actually Joyce Meyer. So she came up, but it wasn't official. Joyce Meyer ministry, somebody just ripped a Joyce Meyer video and put it on there. So even in the first, whatever it was, it was multiple pages worth of results before you finally got down to the, the church taking an opportunity to, to speak into that. And, and, and when I, when I've told that story, when I tell that story to churches and it's like, here's the opportunity, you have to speak into it. Their engagement towards the people of YouTube to the community of YouTube to those online. It's, yeah. You know what, we're just, those aren't, those aren't the people we're trying to reach. We're trying to reach the people within our, within our block, within 20 miles of our church, within our city. You know, within the little town that we live in. It's, it's geographically limited to that scope. Like churches don't look at online as a mission field yet. I'm generalizing, there are churches that do that, but, but yeah.

Seth Muse: 21:06 It's not part of the strategy. It's something extra. Like if the social media person, a website person all were fired, the church would be like, we're okay. We can outsource that. It's not like, Oh my gosh, we lost our youth pastor. You know? And that's kind of what it really is, is that you've lost someone that connects you to a wide world that have a lot of people that will find you there in your city that may not have known your existence. Because most search in Google and on YouTube is localized. It's if you're searching for how do I fix my marriage, it's probably going to serve up something that you're either connected to already or it, if there's nothing there, it'll try to connect you to, I know definitely will Google it does, it's maybe on YouTube, but it'll definitely connect you to stuff that is near you because they want those meaningful relationships and connections to happen.

Seth Muse: 21:57 And so if we had just leverage that platform and use keywords that people are actually searching for that have our clever and creative titles as the keyword, then will actually be found and people will connect with us. And it's like that's the new mission field. That's the new evangelism is SEO and Google, you know, and being found on YouTube. Dave Adamson is a friend and I love that guy. He actually said, he doesn't believe that church attendance is decreasing. He believes it's decentralizing the community that you have, the culture of people that you have in your church. They're counting attendance as watching online. They're counting attendance as going and physically being there. They're counting church attendance as being in their small group that we can do and nothing else. It's like I'm going and investing in my spiritual life with Christ. Well, somewhere they're probably doing it once a week at the most, unless they have a regular like personal time or whatever.

Seth Muse: 22:56 When they're going and connecting something, they're counting online as one of those attendance points and churches are not, we're not counting that. We're saying that's a doorway to actual attendance. That's kind of how we phrase it and really not phrase it that way, but that's how we think about it. It's like we have online, that's great, but really what we care about is butts and seats when that's not what they care about. They will come to church once every four to six weeks in our counting. But in their counting, they watched online twice and showed up once they came three times. You see what I'm saying? They're the culture's understanding of attendance is different. And even our people's understanding of attendance is different than the pastoral leadership in the churches who are theologically debating whether or not that it's like they've already decided it counts.

Seth Muse: 23:48 And so we're not responding to that. And so they show up. And what we hear sometimes from pastors is they actually downplay online attendance and they say, we want, that's great, but we want you to have, you know, be here and yeah, you're going to miss community. Yeah, you're gonna miss things. But they have community. They had their small groups, you know, they have their friend groups, they had their baseball team, parent group or whatever, and they don't understand how it's different. And so we're missing that connection. But for them it's always going to be like, Hey, I showed, I watch church online. I set aside time to sit and watch something for 45 minutes to an hour and a half. That's me attending because I gave you my attention. And that's what we don't understand. Attendance is not what people is, what not valuable anymore.

Seth Muse: 24:33 Attention is valuable and that's what they're there. Basically. The, the price of attendant of doing something is not how much of my attendance is going to be needed. It's like, nah, I'm not even gonna think about that. How much of my attention are you gonna get? And churches are not thinking in terms of attention. They're thinking in terms of attendance still and physically being somewhere. And I mean, I don't even have to be physically in a store to shop anymore. Why would I have to physically be in your church? It's like, I know the theological differences. I know why that's, that's not the same, but they don't, you know, and, and in our attempts to educate them, it just makes them feel guilty for doing it. And then they don't want to come at all. Yeah.

Jeff Reed: 25:16 Yeah. It's, and we're in this position right where where culture is, is shifting and the church often struggles to adjust to it, to adapt to it. How do we turn the corner? Like what in your, in your mind with your advice like Seth, how does somebody, you know, maybe right now there, there's an online, pastor, there's an online volunteer, there's somebody that wants to turn the corner either in social media, church, online, digital communication, something where it's, Hey, I need to, we need to engage more. We need to start focusing more on that side of the coin. Start to worry more about them and less about us.

Seth Muse: 26:01 Man, I think it starts from the top. Your senior leadership has to understand that. And so if they're not there yet, it's part of our job. You know, this guy, Clay Scroggins stuff like leading up, right? You have to, you have to educate. You have to investigate and bring things to them, help them understand this is what's happening on here. That's kind of our job, right? In communications or creativity in creative departments or whatever. If we're working in the web world or online world, it's, this is our, our job is to help those that really aren't in that, that don't care. I mean, your pastor might be great at it, but he's not in it. Like we are, right. Like even some of the ones that are most involved. So it's our job to bring that to them and help them see the value of the ministry that take place.

Seth Muse: 26:43 Because I find that pastors don't really care about stats. They care about stories. They care about people. Life changed. It's like that's what they got into this for. And so for us as, you know, creative leaders or you know, maybe we're pastors, I'm not sure, but, um, you know, we have to bring that into the end of the story for them to help them see like this is not an either or ministry. This is and ministry. And the biggest hurdle to that is finances. And so I always, always say that, you can look at your budget at a church and see what you really care about and you can really tell like, what is your priority as a ministry? And often the budget has tons of money going into the weekend service and no money going into the week.

Seth Muse: 27:26 You know, like that. And I'm not even talking to online, I'm talking about Bible studies and classes and you know, home groups, there's no money resourcing staffing for that or volunteer training for that. There's no money going into the creative space or social media or ads or your website. It's like, let's just do what we have cause that stuff's kind of expensive. Let's be honest. Our world is kind of expensive. So we ha we were like, we're putting a ton of money, like hundreds of thousands of dollars into our sound system that will only affect those that show up but you know, $1,000 a year into social media ads that will, that affects so many people every week for 52 weeks out of the year, you know and not just 52 days out of the year, you know, you're just being on Sunday. So, um, that's a huge difference.

Seth Muse: 28:12 And I think that if you can't shift your budget around, then it's always going to be an uphill battle to start including the online world as part of your ministry strategy. Because I think that's the real goal is getting everyone on board to see that when people are here or when people are connecting with us elsewhere online, it's a person they matter and when we should care about them the same as if they were standing right in front of us in real life. How would we do ministry if that were the case? We thought about them that way. It's changing the picture that we have in our mind of what constitutes ministry. I use air quotes when I say that. What constitutes ministry? It's not just what we've known as we do a service, it's excellent. It's so good. People can't help but show up and then they, we send them on and we try to connect them to the small groups and Bible studies that actually meet in person.

Seth Muse: 29:03 It's like there is a whole world of stuff of connection that matters to our communities that we can invest in and it's going to take investment. You need people and you need money and they have to have time and it's cause all of that. Just like a real relationship. It just takes time to cultivate, you know? And so I think there's, there's a couple of steps to it. It's not easy. It's not simple. It's not even often clear on most of our most of our churches. But if we keep those goals in front of us, then we're, and we all understand the goal is the same. I think that's where the big hangup for most churches are, is that the communication department sees some needs and ends up goals that aren't shared by pastoral staff and pastoral staff so you need and goals that aren't shared by the communication staff who are doing all these online things.

Seth Muse: 29:50 And so getting those people in the room to say, what is our church doing in ministry? And seeing communications as a ministry and not as a service department is a huge mind shift that has to happen and it has to happen on the, it's not just pastors too, it's communicators seeing ourselves that way and owning some of that space. I mean, when people respond to me on Facebook to our church, that's me responding. I, I'm the one social media guy for our main channels. Then we have some others that help with some of our students and kids and whatever volunteers. We have a, we've launched a massive Facebook group strategy and we published that. We're actually running some contest right now and I have the campus pastors doing it, but without their buy-in, all of that fails, you know, and they've just seen how good it can be because we launched a campus with nobody that, you know, didn't have a building, still doesn't have a building.

Seth Muse: 30:43 Yeah. And we, we started a Facebook group. It had 200 people in it. Actually. Somebody else started it. I just took it over and then we branded it up, made it good, gave it to our pastor. I ran him through how to work it, you know, how to do content and like just use your phone, just get in there and be real with people. And it has over a thousand people in it now. That was six months ago, you know, and the reason it did that is because they're excited about what's going on in their community. We're coming there, but we were talking about them the whole time and that's what they're pumped about.

Jeff Reed: 31:15 Yeah. And that's, I've, I've struggled with this over the years, with not about one church, multiple churches, you know, to things that you just kinda hit on there. Is it creative communication, is it a ministry or is it a service department? You know, are we, are we ministering or are we executing the, the directives of, of the pastors and in ministers with that? And like, I, I know, um, honestly in my lifespan, like I've landed on both side of the coin where I'm like, guys, we're a ministry. Like, you know, let's, let's, let's run that way. And sometimes, honestly, I've been like, Hey, like we're just following the lead of, of, of the pastors with that and let's set aside, you know, some of our own agenda and ideas for now and let's just focus on serving. And so there's different sides of that.

Jeff Reed: 32:02 But the, the biggest tension that I feel, and, and I've run into this honestly, within the past week where I was talking with the online pastor who had created a group for the church online. And so basically with the church online was, it was Facebook group. It was, so they were doing the broadcast rather than doing connection cards. Like they funneled everybody into that group. but in the group then they were engaging relationally. They were connecting. They were trying to funnel into the next steps class or the or the, you know, small groups, whatever it was. But they were using that, that private Facebook group for the church online to really, to do ministry, to do, in, to engage, to talk with people here where they are, and then do ministry with them. Yup. And that was the group that was going well.

Jeff Reed: 32:52 And then, and like this is a story from the church, but essentially the creative communications department got wind that they were doing this like separate thing. And I was like, no, that can't be, you know, that can't be a ministry thing that's gotta run through us cause they're wanting to take the opportunity to, you know, market a new sermon series or, you know, start to do more of the us type of communications. Then the them type of communications that the online campus was trying to do. And so then there became a, you know, a battle might be an overstatement, but tensions around how that group operates and what's happening. They're still trying to figure that out. Like how do you, yeah. And so like, you see both sides of that, right. How do you handle like tension like that?

Seth Muse: 33:35 Well, for us, yeah. First of all, you know, serving is ministry. So what we do as a department, as if we're serving other departments and other amendment members in the church, um, it is a ministry to serve them. Even serving staff. And so I think we have to, as a communicator, communicators and communication departments, we have to see what we do as a service in some ways too. If you're a minister and you're coming to someone and they've got a problem, your goal is to help them, right? It's not too, you know, it's not just to say here's the right things, here's what you have to do. It's, it's to help them get over whatever barriers they're there in the way before they can do those things. Right. And so in that particular situation, you know, we've had groups that started and so my response to them was I go to them, Hey, I see that you started a group.

Seth Muse: 34:24 It's really cool. I like what you're doing or I love that you're doing this, but we do have a policy, you know that we are part of it. Here's what I want to do. Can we, can I need to be an admin so we can officially represent the church. Cause we want to actually make this thing blow up for you. It's like we're a, for you. Like we are for you do in ministry. You found something we didn't see. Awesome. Let us help you make it great. Not let us take it over, but let us assist you. Let us give you our expertise and our expertise. Sometimes it isn't wanted because it's not ministry minded. It's service minded and we come in with that mindset of we're going to make this excellent. We're going to change all the colors we're going to have to make.

Seth Muse: 35:07 We're going to control the content. We're going to, we're going to be able to post. I don't post anything in our Facebook groups unless I talked with our campus pastors. I let them have the group. It's their ministry. I'm helping them do it. I'm giving them content ideas. I gave them a scheduling ideas of how to keep up with that. I gave them examples. I'll even go film it for them, but I'm not going to be on camera. I'm not going to post graphics in there. I'm not going to do that kind of stuff because that's for them. I want them to see that as part of their ministry. And as a communication department, we have to kinda think about our ministry is through people. And so sometimes that's not going to come out on the other side like we kind of envision it.

Seth Muse: 35:48 So we have to be okay with that. But in those situations it's, we have to remember that we're here to serve. Like we're not a service department only, but we are here to serve. That's the mindset of a minister of a pastor is that we have to understand that we're here to help people move from one step to the next. And if our pastors are the face that can do that, then we need to help that face get in front of their face. And if we can't do that, then it's really cause it's, we're selfish. It's about us. Ted Vaughn, That Church Conference recently shared this great spectrum for communicators to understand. He said, when we go through this, and this is a tension to manage for us, this is not going to be, we figured this out. We'd set some policies and we don't have problem with it anymore.

Seth Muse: 36:30 Communicators are always having to manage this tension because there's always stuff that's moving and he gave us a spectrum, like which side are you on? Are you skewing towards anger? And you want to control things and it makes you angry being, you know, stuff like that. Oh man, I can't believe they started that group. How dare they do that without our permission? And then you become like the branding cop, you know, the, the excellence cop or whatever. I know I likes you and then you're not, you're helping anybody. You're just the guy they have to get around to get done with. They feel like God is calling them to do and that's not a good position. And then you skew all the way to the other side of apathy or where it's like, I can't get anything done. I give up, you know, whatever you want to do.

Seth Muse: 37:09 And it's just chaos. And yeah, start a group. I don't care. And it doesn't look like the rest of the groups and you're not in it and something crazy happens and you're like, I don't know. You know, and it's like whatever you want to do then you've got branding issues all over the places. We can't go that far either. So we're constantly managing this tension in the middle of like, Hey we want to help you do this, we want it. There's some things that are non negotiable but those are not too many things. You know, nothing that really affects you doing ministry cause we really want to empower you to do ministry. And when I started putting it that way to our campuses, they suddenly got really excited about social media where previously they were really adverse to it, they hated it. And then I started to see it as like, Oh I get to do this, this is my ministry, this is I kind of flavor and how I want to.

Seth Muse: 37:53 And it was like the campus pastors were saying like, we feel like we don't, you know, they don't teach our main, our lead pastor teaches a lot and he's on video. So we pipe it into other campuses so they could speak three, four times a year. And you know, some of them are good at it, some of them are not, not as good at it, but they all want to be in front of the people that they pastor so that people can know who they are and they can make these connections because they're doing the day to day work. Right? And so I'm like, Hey, here's an answer to that question. You can be in front of your people every day if you want to just pull out your phone, get in your group, Hey guys, it's your pastor. Love you. Here's a devotional thought, here's something you know and make it about what they're dealing with, minister to them where they are and you can be in front of them.

Seth Muse: 38:38 So communication departments have to like look at some of these issues and go, how can we help solve some of the problems that our ministers are having? And that's when you become the hero. That's when you become a major help. And people like to see come into their office and go, cause you know that you're gonna, you're going to go, I got an idea that I think can help you out. What do you think about this? And they're going to be like, I'm glad to see you comment instead of, Oh man, I did something wrong. What's he coming for? What's he coming in here for? You know, you don't want that. Well you don't want a guy that's sitting over in the office going, you know, I have to make him do. I needed a Facebook group and I haven't seen it yet. You know, whatever. So I think to turn that corner, you know, you really, the communication departments just have to understand that we are servants that have ministry in mind. There are things that we have to be assertive about. but if we have that relationship that they know we're for them, for the rest of the church knows we're for them, then those things we have to be assertive about are not really a problem.

Jeff Reed: 39:39 Yeah. Well I tell you what that is that not like the exact same posture that the church should have. We are servants serving the world. but we have a of posture of love and respect knowing that we the church are for them. Um, it's amazing when we, when we engage, if we engage, like you were saying in your example, if the creative, if the communications department engages the church at that level with that service attitude their response among the church. And I've seen it in my own communications departments that I've led and worked with. Like it's, it's phenomenal that response when they serve with that level of respect and, and coming back to the us versus them mentality as we communicate publicly. You know, church, if we have that posture of, um, of understanding them, understanding the people, engaging, with that level, letting people know that we are for them.

Jeff Reed: 40:43 And the understanding that what Christ can do with that. A lot of the people that are not interested in you will become interested because you care for them as an individual as opposed to a, um, analytical butt in seat to quote Seth and I've used that phrase a lot, so no worries about it. That's awesome. Every time I hear on a podcast, I'm like, butt in seat. Hey that, that's great. Because it's, it's were there more than that and the people, people in the world today are looking for something. Stats tell us Lifeway 2016 that what they're looking for, they don't want to find in a building. Um, they're not interested in your church. The same level that you're probably not interested in going to a mosque. You've already made. Spiritual decisions are comfortable where, where you are. Um, but people are interested in talking to others about their faith. They're are interested in talking to their friends about faith. So, the more that we can disciple and lead people, the more that we can engage our Christ followers to get them to become digital disciples that are out there utilizing social media to get public, to go out there and, and to utilize the mission field that that's a win. But that often doesn't happen in a brick and mortar building on a Sunday.

Seth Muse: 42:07 In fact, we did a communication survey a year ago. We just wanted to find out like how our channels are hitting the people. Like where are we actually, where do they care, you know, where are they looking? And so where do you normally find out about events, you know, or that kind of thing. And one of the questions we ask is, how are you most likely to invite someone? Is it phone call? Is it text message? Is it with a card that would give you a handout? Is it a social media post that you can share? And, and that, word of mouth, word of mouth was number one by far, but number two was a social media invite that they shared. Hmm. And the rest were like nothing. Wow. It was crazy. Cause our church is up is like, it's a younger, you know, families in a lot of mobile friendly people.

Seth Muse: 42:54 And you know, our giving is 90, I think almost 90% online. You know, so we're, we're like in that phase of things. So I know that we're kinda skewed to one side, but even still, that's, that's a staggering, it's a staggering stat for us to go, wow, social media invite. They here's, and here's what to take away from that. They count sharing your post as a church, as an invite everyone on their list. That's huge. But we don't, we want them to, we want them to call, we want them to text, we want them to give them, we want to give them a card and they have to hand it out. They're not gonna really do that. I might not even make it to the car, you know, they want it, but you give them a social media post that they care about and here's what they're kind of posted.

Seth Muse: 43:37 We're talking about, let's just, you know, we didn't really do this. Yeah. But the, the them kind of posted, they'll actually share questions like what kind of stuff do you like on your burger? That stupid. But that's what friends talk about. Right. And so if your church is asking that, we're trying to be friends with you and so they're like, yeah, there's this funny in my church that's, you know, whatever they share that, polls votes, you know, like what's, do you know, it could be like, whose your favorite Bible character to like, who's your favorite office character? You know? And, and it can be any of that. And they'll share that kind of stuff. Tasks. Like, give them something like, Hey, tell us to tell five people they matter today. Or I did a post recently, which was, a countdown post. I got this idea from Brady Shearer and it was a one minute countdown.

Seth Muse: 44:16 You can see it just taken away and all it was, was a drone shot of our city. we're actually winning in our city. I got it from story tape and it's just a city, a drone shot of the city. He was like, take 60 seconds to pray for a neighbor and it just counts down some nice music. So behind the scenes shots of what's going on at your church, people love to find out who you really are, are. That's super important. Inspirational posts and devotionals are huge. They'll say, Oh, that's great. They want to be represented. They feel like, Oh, that's what I think though. That's what I believe. Yeah, let's share that. They'll share it with the, and they count that as an invite or a, um, a touch point with their friends, scripture quotes, things that you know, they find interesting and they want to share that counts as an invite for them and things that are like for us, our announcements, ministry promos, ads invites to the service.

Seth Muse: 45:07 Even our about us getting our people to invite people, which they may share that a series promos, it's about us, it's what we're doing. And most people, unless it's a really clever or controversial sounding series, they're probably not going to share that. They don't really care because that changes so much. So it's not like, I mean you're, you're, you're at the movie series is cool, but you know, and you know, probably infringing on a lot of copyright laws, but it still, that's cool series that people will want to like a church of showing movies. Okay. It's still though not as popular as a video of somebody doing it on his phone going, Hey, I love you guys. We're starting to, I'd love to see you guys at my church. That works better. It just works better. And I can't explain why. It just feels more authentic. And those are the posts that are really more about let's just be real. Let's just be friends because that feels like you care about them. But a big produced video or a nicely designed graphic is like a business. Yeah. Yeah. It was professional and so kind of more about us, look how cool we are. You know, that's not a question they have. They're like, we know you can do cool stuff. Cool. I don't care. Okay. About your events. Don't care about your series. What are you gonna from me?

Jeff Reed: 46:21 Yeah. And it's ironic that that actually plays well to the smaller and medium sized churches that don't have the huge budgets that don't have the absolute, the creative resources, you know, several times and just talking with churches. I'll have a pastor tell me, Oh, I'm wanting to get the quality up before I do some do a video before I get into social media. And like my head explodes because honestly, the lesser quality makes you more engaging and endearing and is going to get people to buy into you over something that's overproduced and yeah. And over edited and over as a sensationalized.

Seth Muse: 47:02 Let me just quote a foul mouth genius, Gary Vaynerchuk and say version one is better than version nine. Yeah. Do it. Oh man. I, I'm amazed at how much, how many connections, relationships and ministry opportunities we're willing to let just go by and do nothing because we didn't want, we couldn't do it 100% perfect or because we couldn't do it excellently. They care about that. Just do something. Oh, that blows my mind too, that, that's a soapbox for me right now. Crazy drives me crazy. I'm like, you're not here to make great stuff. You're here to, to, to reach people with the gospel like that. If you can make great stuff and good, awesome, but if you can't, that does not disqualify you from this qualify you for ministry. You're called to do that still and doing nothing because you can't do it. Great is disobedient, man. I'm sorry. It's disobedient to our, our mandate as a Christian, it really is. I feel very strongly. Sorry. I get letters about that. I get emails about it. You won't get letters. Nobody knows who that is.

Jeff Reed: 48:10 Yeah. So it's Seth muse at Instagram, Seth Muse not to me. I don't want it. I'll take it. It's fine. Send it to me, but it's, you know, once again, it's trusting God to do something with it. Offering whatever the resources you have, whatever that offering is, giving it to him and allowing him to use it for his kingdom and glory. And I don't want to over spiritualize something like producing a video, but, no work goes unrewarded or unfulfilled. And so by doing that, get it out there and let God let the Holy spirit do something with it.

Seth Muse: 48:48 It's the widow's mite. It's the widow's mite story. It's social media is, is you're the widow dropping little two copper coins in the box and giving everything you got. You know, it's like what do you got if you don't have a 4K camera. So what, you have an iPhone, you have a Samsung, whatever. You've got a decent phone and a video device that can be a studio in a box. Do something, you know, cause that's where your people are. Because like Jesus didn't sit around and go, well I'm gonna wait until they build like microphone systems to show up on the earth. You know, he didn't wait for like social media to be a thing cause he could have reached so many more people. Had he come in this time with social media, he could have. but he chose to come to the time he did because, and then, and dealt with that and it's like he did the best of what he had. He just went, he went for it like, and, and people wrote about it, you know, it was like, bets do what you can do right now and he can just really sing. I know. But still.

Jeff Reed: 49:52 Any thoughts as we're landing the plane?

Seth Muse: 49:55 No. I mean, just realize if you're in the communication space, you're working with social media. A lot of us are part time. You know, we're volunteer, there's a lot of people in churches that, you know, the structure isn't necessarily clear or healthy or whatever. You know, you may hear all this and go, yeah, I'm with you. I get it. I can't do Jack about it. Take the little steps, you know, take the lead where you can and, you know, always try to explain and it's kind of like the, Oh, the scripture you like never tire of doing what's good. It's like never tire of trying to bring people along with you. I never tire of like trying to, to show how this can be an enhancement to what the church does in your area. And it is a tireless thankless task a lot of times, but it just celebrate those little wins that you get and find a community of people that get it that will say good job.

Seth Muse: 50:51 That was awesome because without that I'd be dead. I mean my whole, I mean I have a good setup here. I really do. But he, but it's not devoid of things like this where I disagree with leadership on how we should view these types of things or whatever. And we have those conversations and not a whim, you know? And there's some that don't win. That's fine. You know, cause I'm here to serve so I do what I can with this and there's things that I hold that I'm like, hI think I'm wrong about that. Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe I need to expand my thought on social media or maybe I'm, cause there was a time where I was like, I'm not promoting anything. And it was, it was like to have a conversation with my boss at the time and he was like, I think you're missing some stuff.

Seth Muse: 51:33 I was like, yeah cause you do need those us posts. I hope we understand that. Like you can't not post that stuff. No, but you can find a way to post it and talk about it. It's not just a big ask all the time. You know, you can find a way to talk about it. Like instead of saying come to our student party thing that we're having this Wednesday. Get some students to talk about how much they love that thing and then just put the details in the caption or a link in the caption. So you're still focused on what they would care about but you're actually being getting them to talk about it. You're actually advertising too, you know, and that's what I was doing my audit. Some of them were like, it was a them and us post at the same time. You know, and if you're creative enough or you think about it hard enough, you can figure out ways to do the us post in them way.

Seth Muse: 52:26 I think that is and I think that's the magic, right? That's the magic that you can do. If you can find that way to do it, it takes more time, takes more effort. It's a little harder if you think a little further ahead. But I mean, come on though. That's our job. So you know, we can do that. So that's what I would, that's my party shot is that you need to, we can't think in that dichotomy. I think it's a false dichotomy, but it is one that we live in. But we have to see how can we bridge that gap because let me tell you, that's what pastors get excited about. You're helping me put butts in seats and we're reaching people online. That's the, that's the goal is to do these together and find a way to really, help them do ministry even more and more while infusing the online world to it and showing that there's value there. Hmm. Awesome.

Jeff Reed: 53:19 Well said. It's a mixture, right? And you get the us content, but presented in a, in a them way, they can process it. That was excellent. Well, Hey Seth, where can people find you online?

Seth Muse: 53:31 Um, you can connect with me at and from there you can find my Facebook group and following Instagram and you know, I'd love you to subscribe to my podcast, The Seminary of Hard Knocks. We talked about Church Communications. It's a content marketing. I like to say it's a, it's a common ground marketing kind of podcasts. So I'd love for you to subscribe and give that a listen.

Jeff Reed: 53:54 Awesome. Well, Hey Seth, thanks for jumping into our world here and appreciate you coming on. Listening audience, has been a great podcast again, and we'll hit you next time here at The Church Digital Podcast. Y'all have a good day.

PODCAST 027: CITN & the Community and Camaraderie of Ministry
PODCAST 029: Mark Venti & Churchome's Digital Culture

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 Digital Church & Church Online.

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