Best Practices for First Impressions of Church Online | Greg Atkinson

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Greg Atkinson, First Impressions Conference, shares insights into how churches can make better first impressions online and in person

Podcast Notes

Website: https://gregatkinson.com/

Greg’s Conference: https://firstimpressionsconference.com/

Greg’s Consulting Business: https://worshipimpressions.com/ 


LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/gregatkinson/

Greg’s Public Figure Facebook page: 

https://www.facebook.com/thegregatkinson

 

Facebook Group, Weekend Worship and Guest Services, 15.1K+ Members
https://www.facebook.com/groups/worshipandguestservices

 

Facebook Group 2, Church Assimilation and Next Steps, 5400K+ Members

https://www.facebook.com/groups/churchassimilation

Books on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Greg-Atkinson/e/B00JGAPVQI

Podcast Transcription

SHOW TRANSCRIPT

Welcome to the Church Growth podcast. My name is Jason Hamrock, I am your host today, and on the podcast I have Greg Atkinson. A lot of you know who Greg is, Greg is the founder of the First Impression Conference, and a lot of people go to the First Impressions Conference, and he’s also the co-founder of a brand new social media Church Conference. Greg is also a speaker, he’s a writer, he does all kinds of podcasts himself. And he’s also been known as the the secret shopper, where he’d show up at a church, either in person and now online, and evaluate the church and tell them the good, the bad, and the ugly of what he experienced. And so Greg gives us a lot of insight into what he’s been up to, and how we can benefit from First Impressions. Check it out.

Well, hey, Greg, welcome to the podcast. Glad to have you. How are you doing today?

I’m doing great. It’s a busy season, but I’m glad to be a part of this podcast.

Yeah, it is a bit. You’re a busy guy. Greg, was just sharing with me that he’s got some speaking engagements going on today, and he’s in the middle of writing a book. And so, tell our viewers that are not familiar with your background, like, what are you been up to? What’s your ministry experience? And how do you serve churches?

Yeah, so I actually just wrote a blog post that will post. I know we’re recording this earlier, but it’ll come out February 1st. And February 1st is my twenty seven year anniversary in ministry, so it’s post called Reflections On Nearly Three Decades Of Ministry, so twenty seven years. And before that I was the high school intern at my church, and so I’ve been at it a long time. I started in my first church on church staff as the minister of music and youth at a small country church that I had to drive 30 minutes each way while I was a full-time college student in 1994. So February 2021 will be twenty-seven years since ’94, and it’s been a journey. I was a worship pastor for eleven years, all of my background is in worship and music. And then after that I was a technical director over production, sound, video, lights, and production at a megachurch, a really large church in Dallas. And then after that I served for six years as a campus pastor at two different multisite churches, so I’m very familiar with multisite and how multisite works. And then being a campus pastor where I pretty much functioned as an executive pastor, and oversaw an entire campus, all staff, all ministries. I was over First Impressions, which I’m known for, but I didn’t lead it, I just oversaw the leader that led it. I was over missions, and outreach, and children’s ministry, and student ministry, and worship, and everything that happened on our campus, and all the staff that we hired. I was over all that, so I did that for six years. And then for the last five years I’ve been consulting full time, and so I make my living as a consultant, and I am working towards making my living as a writer. That’s the long term goal, is to eventually just write full time.

But the other thing that’s a big part of my day job, and I do everything from right here my home office, is I run several conferences, this year I’m running at least four. I’m known for the First Impressions Conference, we’re doing two this year, a spring and a fall. I have co-founded a brand new conference, The Social Media Church Conference, with my friend Neil Smith, and that will premiere this summer. And then I’m also doing a Leadership Online Conference in the fall that we’re excited about. And that’ll feature people like Peter Scazzero, and Richard Blackaby, and some amazing leadership content, so I’m excited to be a part of that.

But I stay busy, and the cool thing is, you know, especially now, you know, COVID’s still very real right now in 2021. My wife’s a nurse, she tests people for COVID every day. She’s literally doing it right now, sticking a swab up somebody nose, COVID is spreading everywhere. I just got an alert on my phone right before this interview that there’s this new strain from South Africa that has premiered here in South Carolina, which is where I live. I’m in a suburb of Charlotte, right over the border in South Carolina, so I texted my wife and my three kids and said, stay safe, wash your hands, wear masks, social distance. It’s still very real, and now there’s these new strains come in from Europe, and now South Africa. And so all that to say, the cool thing about what I do, is it’s all right here in my home office. I have cameras, I have mics, I have audio, I have the blessing of High-speed Internet. And I can do everything through Zoom and video technology, it’s a great day that we’re living in.

Oh yeah, wow. It does, it makes it a lot easier, a lot more…And not only for you, but also for churches to be able to connect with people, and so I’m interested to talk to you about this. So, you kind of also are, you’re known as the secret shopper guy, right? You would visit…

I wrote a book about it right here, the green book.

Yeah. Yeah. So our for our viewers, people will hire Greg, he’d go visit a church, and tell them how well, or not so well, they’re doing with first impressions. And what an amazing activity, or exercise, for a church to learn from somebody who is new to their campus, right. Not new to the faith, but new to their campus. So you’ve done that for a long time, now that we’re in COVID, that kind of had to pivot, right, so that’s not necessarily a thing right now. So during this pandemic, have you pivoted to doing that online?

Yeah, great question, I actually have two things. One, I still get invites every week to do secret shoppers, I’m just not going in person. I haven’t been on an airplane since last March 7th and 8th, I consulted with a really large megachurch, Catholic Church, in Baltimore, The Church of the Nativity in March. And then I stopped traveling, I’ve been offered numerous times to go to churches in Springfield, Missouri, Minneapolis, Minnesota, and I just turned it down. But what I did do, is I have for over a decade been doing online secret shoppers. I was the first person in my world, in my sphere of peers and people that do what I do, I was the first person to offer an online presence evaluation. So I’ve done tons of them, you know, I’ve worked with over two hundred churches in the last 15 years. But almost all of them got a digital secret shopper from me, where I evaluate their social media, their website, their mobile website, their total online presence, and now I’m evaluating their church online, and what it looks like when they stream.

So literally just two days ago, I worked with that church in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and did a complete, it was a thirty eight page online presence report, which is typically the first third of a regular secret shopper report. So when I come into a church, and I get flown in, and I come in and experience their church over the weekend, and it’s almost always, ninety nine percent of the time, a megachurch with a large campus. But by the time the report is finished, it’s over one hundred pages, but the first thirty something is all online. I always start online, because I say that’s the front door, and we always say and know that your true first impression starts online, people check you out online before they check you out in person. So two days ago, I told this church in Minneapolis that I’m not willing to get on an airplane right now, I hope to come visit you later in 2021, but for now I can evaluate your online service, and your website, and social media. I went over that report with their senior leadership, they absolutely loved it, they raved about it. They emailed me afterward, and said we have been talking about this, and this, and this, and we got so many aha moments and takeaways, and so it’s a blessing to still help churches.

I just got contacted by a very, very well known church that I have followed for decades, since the 90s, And they reached out to me last week, and I responded and said I’m not traveling right now, but I can help you online, and so, yeah, I love doing that. It was a little bit of a pivot where that was the exclusive thing that I offered, meaning you can’t get me on an airplane because I’m not…My doctor told me, and I have some health issues, I experience some health issues. Last year I was at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, I spent Thanksgiving at the hospital at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, I have a compromised immune system, so I take COVID very seriously. My wife is a nurse, she’s fully vaccinated. she’s got both shots, she’s doing totally fine. I’m not eligible yet because I’m not in my seventies, you know, as soon as they allow little people like me to get a vaccination, I’ll do it. And I look forward to traveling again, but right now I don’t get on an airplane for my own health reasons. And so I have pivoted in that I told people I would love to come visit. and as much money is that is, and a great way that it provides for our family, I can only do online right now. And so thankfully, like I said, I stay so busy running conferences that I haven’t even seen a downtime as far as my schedule, it’s a busy season. And then as you mentioned, throw in on top of that, writing my fifth book, it’s a very, very busy season.

Yeah. Well, give us a little glimpse into what that report, don’t go so far, because you’re giving away all your secret sauce there. But what makes for a good first impression for a church website?

Yeah, and it’s literally why I wrote the book, The Green Book back here behind me, Secrets of a Secret Shopper, was to give away my secrets. I told my publisher that most churches in North America are two hundred people or less, and even though they would love to bring in an outside consultant, they just don’t have the budget for it. And so I’m very aware of my niche. I’m very aware that, like I said, I work ninety nine percent with megachurches, and that’s simply because they have the budget to afford it. It costs a lot for me to leave my house, leave my family, and get on an airplane and come visit somewhere. And so most churches can’t do that, and so I said, let me just put everything I look for and give away all my secrets in a book, and you can pay 10 bucks instead of thousands of dollars to fly me there.

And so, in the very first chapter of the book is Online Presence. Now, I wrote this book six years ago, it came out four years ago. But I started even back then, the very first chapter of the book was Your Online Presence, because I believe your first impression starts online. Right now, I’ve been keeping my eye on several websites, and just surfing, stumbling across churches in North America. And what I like is churches that have [inaudible]. As a matter of fact, the church I just consulted with in Minneapolis, they have this, they have a video banner at the top that moves, and has people greeting, and talking, and the pastor preaching. But underneath that, they have three squares side by side by side, and it says In Person, Church Online, and On Demand, so they have reoriented their website.

And I blogged about that a year ago, back in March or last March or April, I blogged about here’s what your church websites should look like. We should, in a period if you are not meeting in person, we don’t need to see the same old, here’s the directions to our campus. If nobody’s following GPS to get to your church right now and they’re watching online, reorient your website and put your messages up front, and so that’s what a lot of churches have done. They also, for the churches that are hybrid, meeting with a smaller attendance in person and also meeting online, they have reservation systems and they have a place for you to click to register if you want to come in live because they’re trying to abide by local government regulations and some churches have to be at twenty five percent capacity. The church I just worked with in Minnesota, they had to stay at 50 percent capacity, so they were using a reservation system and people had to have a ticket to to come so that they could keep it at a certain capacity issue. And I think we’re going to be there still a little bit longer, because COVID is just so rampant right now.

So reorienting your website, where the first thing they see is relevant, meaning it should be your online message, it should be streaming, it should be on demand. If I come to your church website on a Tuesday or Thursday, why can’t I watch your service or your message? Why does it have to be Sunday morning at 11:00 a.m.? Can I not just click on demand and watch it right away? That’s the world we live in, people want that instant gratification, they want to watch it immediately. And so let’s let them, and let’s reorient our website and structure it in such a way that they can easily find what they’re looking for. And if you use reservations to limit the amount of seats that you occupy on a Sunday, then make sure that’s very accessible. If you use a feature like a plan visit, incorporate that into your plan a visit, where part of that plan a visit is filling out a reservation so that you know that you’re abiding by a certain amount of seats.

But the other thing that’s a best practice that a lot of churches are doing, are digital connection cards. For me, a first impressions guy, I have said for years and years and years, always hold up the connection cards, saying we’re so glad you’re here at First Church this Sunday. Thank you for coming, if you’d take just a moment and fill out this connection card, we want to send you a free gift and connect with you. You can do that digitally now. I mentioned that on my blog a year ago, that I’ve seen churches that they leave their connection card up on their homepage, and they find that people are actually filling them out throughout the week. People stumble across your website, again on a Tuesday or Thursday or Saturday, and they just click connect. And they fill out I’m new here, and fill out the connection card, and so we can still connect with people.

I run, and I know we’re going to talk about this eventually, I run some Facebook groups. But somebody just asked today, what are some good digital first time guest gifts? Because, you know, it used to be if you can see, let me grab my camera and I’ll show you something nobody sees. If you look over here, this is my coffee mug collection with my Cowboys football, but I have coffee mugs from churches all over the country. And so it used to be we would give them a tangible hold this coffee mug in their hand, but now you can do a Door Dash gift card digitally, you can do a Starbucks gift card digitally, you can give to a local charity or food bank in their name digitally, you can make a gift to a local ministry partner in their name digitally. I got a card in the mail that said, we made a gift in your name. There’s a lot of things that you can do online without ever having to touch anybody, and no hands touching, you can do digital gift cards.

And so there’s a lot of cool things that are happening, ministry, for over a decade now I’ve been saying this, it’s going digital, it’s digital, digital, digital. And, you know, it’s interesting, back in 2020 in March when churches…When we had the shelter in place, and a quarantine, and we had to shut down because it COVID, all these churches were scrambling to get online. I was blogging about church online in 2008, thirteen years ago, you can go back and look at gregatkinson.com and find blog after blog after blog where I actually secret shopped, evaluated, and critiqued church online in 2008. I was looking at Life Church, and Seacoast, and Crosspoint, and Central in Las Vegas, and I had screenshots of the whole experience. And I talked about what I liked, and I talked about their, back then they were called Internet Campus Pastors, now they’re called Church Online Pastors or Online Campus Pastor. But I was just just literally emailing 20 minutes ago with Jay Kranda, who’s the Online Campus Pastor at Saddleback, he’s going to speak at our fall conference this year. And these guys have been at it for a long time, and so what I used to say for years and years and years is don’t wait, let’s get in that space right now. Don’t wait until a pandemic comes, and have to rush and hurry and panic. And so my hope, my prayer, is that we have learned from this, that we have embraced this, and moving forward from now on we incorporate a digital ministry.

It’s not this thought of I cannot wait until this COVID is over and we go back to normal. Forget that, normal is gone, normal is over and it’s not coming back. Going forward, we should be what my friend Jeffrey calls phygital, physical and digital. From now on, as we move forward, we are living in this hybrid approach where every time you gather, pastor, when you stand up to greet your people, you want to say good morning, welcome so glad to see you, and for those of you watching online, thank you for tuning in, glad to have you be a part of our community. There are always going to be people watching on the other side of the camera from now on. And my plea to pastors, because I lead these large Facebook groups, and I see the conversations happening, and I hear the comments, and I have a good pulse on the big C Church. And my plea is, please don’t shut off the camera just because you’re back in person, which will happen eventually when COVID is behind us and we’re all vaccinated and things are better, and it’s not as scary as it is right now in 2020 and 2021 in the early, early months. When it’s not as scary, don’t shut off the camera and say, great, now we’re back to the way it used to be. From here on out, hear me, let’s be phygital, physical and digital from here on out, a hybrid approach to ministry.

Yeah. Yeah, well said. And I think for years we’ve been kind of shouting at the top of the mountain top, you’ve got to understand how Google works, right? And so I love your first impression of actually adding a digital card on a homepage, right, and why would you do that, and then acknowledging that in your sermons and your services. But then also optimizing your website for Google, so people that are out there far from God can find you and connect with you.

That’s something I evaluate on my online secret shopper report.

So, just briefly, what are some things that just never surprise you? You keep seeing it at churches, and you just kind of shake your head going, oh, here we go again. It’s like something you always see that churches just do, that they shouldn’t do, either in-person or online?

I will give you the biggest thing, this is just off the top of my head, but I see it all the time. And I said it so many times, it gets old. I’ll tell you, the number one tip right here, and this could save you from having to hire me, the number one tip I see churches doing online, is pictures of their building. If I come to your church, First Baptist so-and-so, First Methodist so-and-so, Presbyterian so-and-so, and you have a picture of your steeple and your brick building, you have missed the point. The ministry is about people, it always has been. Ministry is relational, ministry is not, look at our proud building that we built with brick and mortar. Those days are gone.

I just watched a great YouTube video that came out this week from Brady Shearer, who spoke at our conference last year. And he was talking about going forward, not only will attendance never get back up to where it is, it’s going to decrease going forward, which is a hard pill for leaders to swallow. Not only that, which I fully agree with, and so do Carey Carey Nieuwhof and others that are writing about this. Not only that, but moving forward, less and less will be invested in buildings. And I did a lot of webinars last year where I was interviewed or I interviewed others, and I would always ask the question based off a YouTube video that Larry Osborne from North Point (Coast) put out, are we to building centric? And that is what happened in 2020, that was revealed, that was opened up on the big C church. Where we always talk about, oh, no ministry is in one hour on Sunday morning, we know that. And then when that got taken away, and we had to shelter in place and we had to quarantine, people are freaking out, people are talking about the church is essential, and what about our rights to gather? And I’m thinking, yes, the the big C Church, which is the Body of Christ, people, is essential. Spreading the gospel, which we can do through cameras is essential. Leading in person does not have to happen for a season. And I always say in all caps, FOR A SEASON, we’re going to get through this COVID. But for right now, I think what was revealed in 2020, was we had become too building centric. Where it was all about, let’s go to church, the building, instead of we are the church and we can live on mission.

My church, I’m a part of a small inner city church plant, we just won an award from the state of South Carolina, the South Carolina Baptist Convention, for the most evangelical church in the South Carolina Baptist Convention out of twenty two hundred churches. Why? Because we do ministry seven days a week. We have a thrift store, and a coffee corner, and a food bank, and a pantry, and clothes, that we do Monday through Saturday, and then we gather and worship and share the gospel on Sunday that we’ve been sharing all week. We share the gospel and lead people to Christ Monday through Saturday, so for us, it was just who we were. We were always sharing the gospel seven days a week, and that’s why we got that award. But we used to ask this question years ago, if your church were to shut down, would your community even notice? In 2020, that question and answered, they didn’t notice. Now my church shuts down, people are going to notice because we feed people, we clothe people, we walk the streets, we hand out Bibles. People know when our church shuts down, but that’s not true of all churches across America, and so I think what was revealed is we were too building centric.

And so when you ask about mistakes that churches make, if I come to your website and the image at the top, the Web hero image, above the fold, the very top thing I see is a building with a steeple, you have blown it, you have missed the point, and you are not going to grow. When people visit a church website, they want to see faces, they want to see people that look like them, they want to see people smiling, they want to see people interacting, they want to see faces. And get this, I’m not talking about stock photography that you get an iStock photo, they can spot those in a heartbeat, churches have tried that and failed. I’m talking about real photography. I just did an online secret shopper recently, and I told the church, you can have a volunteer walk around with a camera and take pictures on a Sunday. It doesn’t have to be a staff member, you can have somebody who does photography as a hobby and say, this is your ministry, you own it, walk around every week and take pictures of people fellowshipping, engaging in the café, in the worship, lifting their hands in worship, take all these pictures. I’ve been to Elevation several times here in the Charlotte area, and they have photographers walking around every service capturing all of these moments, and they use them in social media. Again, people check you out online first, they use it in their Instagram, they use it on Facebook, they use it on their website, there’s always high quality photography. Why don’t we learn from these churches that are thriving and healthy? Did you know the Elevation church, their giving in 2020 actually went up, even though they weren’t meeting in person? Not only that, did you know that they gave away nine million dollars in missions and outreach? They gave out, when most churches were scrambling, and holding on, and taking everything they could, they gave away nine million dollars and their offerings went up. Why? Because people now want to see that you are a part of the solution, that you are making a difference in your community.

I was just celebrating with my friends, they’ve all spoke at the First Impressions Conference. Jason Burns at Access Church in Lakeland, Florida, I consulted with them and did a secret shopper there, Jason Burns, just gave away a lot of money, millions of dollars from their church budget to pay off people’s debt. This week, I was celebrating with Tim Lucas from Liquid Church in New Jersey, he spoke at our conference last year. And I saw him celebrating and throwing confetti on the stage, and they did this cool social media thing, because they had just given millions of dollars away to cancel people’s debt. Mike Todd at Transformation Church in Tulsa just gave away three million dollars, and he gave over one million dollars to other churches. Let’s get rid of the spirit of competition, he gave over a million dollars to other churches to help them in a crucial, tough season. And so the world is watching, and they want to see. And why am I passionate about this? Because I’m known for hospitality, I’m the first impressions guy. But I have said for decades, hospitality and generosity are two sides of the same coin. We are hospitable because we’re generous, and we’re generous because we are hospitable, we give out of what we have. And so if you want your community to stand up and take notice of this is the church that we cannot let go away, this is a church that’s making a difference in our community, as First Impressions Conference speaker Jeff Henderson from Gwinnett Church said, we are for Gwinnett, we are for our community. They don’t need to hear what we are against. Jeff now runs the for company, and wrote a book talking about for. What are we for? How are we making a difference? How are we contributing to the needs in our society and in our community? That is what makes a great first impression, that is what is remarkable. And I use that word intentionally, that is what gets people’s attention. Hey, you have people sitting around dinner and they are talking about their community and they say, did you hear that Liquid church just payed it off all these people’s medical debt? Isn’t it crazy that a church would do that? I thought churches were all about taking your money. See, we flip the narrative. Mike Todd, millions of dollars. Elevation church, millions of dollars. Access church and Jason Burns, millions of dollars. Tim Lucas and Liquid Church, millions of dollars. And so many others, Life Church is known for giving away all of their resources. I was just emailing Craig Rochelle’s assistant, they are just giving away resources, and resourcing churches everywhere, and Christians everywhere. Four hundred and forty million plus people have downloaded the YouVersion Bible app, that costs Life church something, it doesn’t cost us anything, I use it every single day on my phone. My point is, hospitality and generosity are two sides of the same coin.

And to this world, when people ask me and I wrote about this in my book, what do guests feel when they visit a church? They’re fearful, they’re anxious and they’re skeptical. I always include that, because they think you just want their money. And so why not flip the narrative, and give away what you have? I remember years ago we were going through, this is a long time ago when we were going through the recession right when, I think it was when Obama took office. And I was on a flight next to Toby Slough from Cross Timbers Church in the Dallas metro area, and we were sitting next to each other, going to the same conference. And I said, tell me what God’s doing at your church. He said, Greg, people are struggling, people are hurting. Doesn’t that sound like 2020 and 2021? He said, Greg, people are struggling, people are hurting, so last week when we passed the offering plate, I told our congregation, if you need money, just reach in and take it out. If you’re hurting financially, reach in the offering basket and take out money to help you. He said, Greg, do you know what happened? I said, what happened? And I knew what he was going to say, he said, we took up the biggest offering we’ve ever taken in our entire existence of a church. I get chills just saying it. If you would hear me, if you would give with an open hand, God can not only take out, but he can put back in. If you have a clenched fist, he cannot put in to your hand, he can’t get in there. Give everything you have with an open hand, and just watch the floodgates open, that’s what the church needs right now, that’s what the world needs right now. We are going through a pandemic, we are going through social justice issues, we’re going through fear like has never been seen before. And this is like a 9/11 moment, people are scared, they are fearful, they are anxious, and they are skeptical. What do they want from me? Do they just want my money? You have an opportunity to say, God, this sounds crazy, but I’m going to open up my hands and we’re going to trust you with our finances. And we, as a church, not the people, we as a church, are going to give radically and generously like we’ve never done before and trust you for the results, trust you for provision, you just watch what God does.

You can’t out give God.

Absolutely not, you can’t out give God.

Yeah, well, let’s talk a little bit about your, you have a couple of Facebook groups, as we kind of lined this down. And so tell us a little bit about what those are, and why should somebody join the Facebook group?

Yeah, I have two Facebook groups with over twenty five thousand church leaders from around the world. One is called Weekend Worship and Guest Services, and so if you just search Facebook for Weekend Worship and Guest Services. We’re going to talk about weekend worship, that comes every week. And guest services, all things first impressions, all things hospitality, and it’s a beautiful community, and we help each other, and help each other. And people are in there right now sharing digital connection cards and resources, and they’re talking about what do you call your new members class? And some people discover, some people connect, some people put starting point, they are resourcing one another right now. The second group I run is called Church Assimilation and Next Steps. And we talk about next steps for your people, how to get them plugged in to the local body, how to help them grow in their spiritual maturity. We talk about things like CHMS’s and Database’s. There were questions a couple of days ago about what kind of database do you use, what is the best way to collect this information and this information? And so they are two unique groups. One focuses more on Sunday, Weekend Worship And Guest Services. And one one focuses more on Monday through Saturday, Church Assimilation And Next Steps, how do we follow up with people once they’ve visited? And so you can search for both of them, I’m active in both of them. The reason I started the groups is because my email was blowing up, and I was getting question after question after question, and I was getting Facebook messages all the time of Greg, how do you do this? How would you handle this? And I just did not have enough of me to go around. I showed an Executive Pastor I was meeting with last week in Tampa, Florida, I showed him what my inbox looked like and how many unread messages I have. And he said, Greg, have you ever heard of email bankruptcy? And it’s a real thing where you just zero out your inbox. He said, Greg, Greg, you need help.

But anyways, I started the Facebook groups because I can interact in my groups, just two groups. I can interact in there, I can post resources that I’ve come across, like Brady Shearer’s YouTube video that I found last week and found it to be very helpful. I posted it in each group, and the conversation blew up and people said, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you. We showed this to our staff meeting today, we showed this to our leadership, they were so thankful to come across these resources. And secondly, I can comment on posts, and so as as a fellow member of the group and admin, when I see people asking questions. I was the one that when they said, what do you call your new members class? I said, Starting Point, because I’ve taught several starting points. And then I also help the church here locally put together a Discover class, and the church was called West End, so it was called Discover West End, and we put together a new members class that we worked on. And so I was just giving, just feedback, but I can speak into my group one time and it hits twenty five thousand people, and that’s a lot more efficient than answering twenty five thousand emails.

Oh, way more efficient, yeah. Yeah, so I’d encourage people, ask to be part of that group, and get connected, so that would be good.

How can, so you are taking off. But I mean, is that the best way for people to engage if they have questions for you?

Well, I’m very active on social media, you can follow me @GregAtkinson on Twitter, @GregAtkinson on Instagram, and I am YouTube.com/GregAtkinson, you see it here in the bottom of my screen. On YouTube, I’m always posting interviews, webinars, talks I do. I’ve interviewed some amazing people, and then I share free training, and so that’s the way to interact. My email is the same Greg, Greg, my name Greg@Greg.com, and I try to answer every email, and I have an assistant that helps with that. And I just launched a brand new public figure page on Facebook, because on my personal page I’m out of friend requests, I’m already at the Five Thousand max. But I launched a public page where I’m posting. Right now, I’m giving away a free devotional, a free two week devotional that I wrote. I’m giving away a free leadership e-book called Leading Yourself, you can’t lead others until you lead yourself, I’m giving away a free book called Leading Yourself. I’m giving away a free e-book called Church Leadership 101. All of that is on my public page, and then I am always posting resources, and quotes, and things based on, (My watch keeps talking to me) things based on my writing. And that is Facebook.com/theGregAtkinson And so Facebool.com/theGregAtkinson. In the last three weeks it has blown up to over twelve thousand followers and likes on this public figure page, and I literally started it a month ago, and so it’s at twelve thousand right now. But again, efficiency, I can speak there and hit twelve thousand people at once instead of answering email after email after email. But yes, if you email me at Greg@GregAtkinson.com, I always try to answer.

Right on. Well, Greg, thank you very much for your insight. Best of luck as you finish this book, and by the time this podcast comes out, hopefully you’re getting close to landing it and we’ll be looking forward to seeing that real soon. I appreciate your time though.

Yeah, thank you for having me.

All right, take care.

Well, thank you, Greg, we so appreciate your insight, and your wisdom, and your decades of service to the church. And no doubt you’ve helped a lot of different churches get better at first impressions, and understanding what’s working, what’s not working. What I also like to call the good, the bad, the ugly. And that happens on social media, it happens in Google with their Google profile, it happens on their website, and it certainly happens in person.

So church, I recommend you do a couple of things. One, go check out Greg, right. Get in touch with those two Facebook groups that we talked about, The Weekend Worship and Guest Services, and The Church Assimilation And Next Steps. Both of them have tons of members, so make sure you do that. Also, check out Greg’s books, right, and he’s got a new one coming out, and so go to a GregAtkinson.com and learn all about that.

What we were talking about is so true, it’s not about your building, it’s about relationships, it’s about connecting with people that are hurting people, in your community. And now more than ever, 2020 and 2021, people are searching. And they may not be looking for a church, but they’re looking for hope, they’re looking for answers. And we have that hope, we have those answers, His name is Jesus, and pointing people to Him is what we should be focusing on. And that starts when people Google your name, they see your Google My Business profile, they see you on Facebook, they see you on Yelp, they see you on your website. They are checking you out, and so you’ve got to make sure you start that early impression that you care about them, you care about the community, and you’re here to help them. And it’s not about driving them to your church building anymore, it’s about giving them answers and giving them a reason to engage with you, and that’s what’s got to be the focus. So I look at that, and I think Greg’s got a lot of great tools to offer you, you should check those out. And Missional Marketing, we have a lot of great tools to help you get connected to more people. And so go do those two things, and then if you want to have a call with us, take a minute to go on our website, missionalmarketing.com. You’re probably there because you’re watching this podcast, or you’ve subscribed. Hop on over there, schedule a call, we would love to talk with you about how you can increase your first impression. Until next time, stay safe, and God bless, and keep pointing people to Jesus.

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