But why don’t you I want to talk about externally, the church can be impacted like that on a dime, and then I’m going to ask you about part one of the tools that churches don’t use, very effective, although they they throw their service up. There is YouTube talk about how churches can better leverage YouTube. And then the third thing is you asked me about well, Jason, seems like we’re learning a lot about as pastors. We’re learning that we can’t just preach about it. We actually have to have it on our website, talk about these felt need things. You need issues. And I could maybe that’s just the three. OK, tell me about external I ask you about YouTube, and then you asked me about felt needs. Yeah, sounds good.
Ok, OK, I will lead us off. Be OK with that. Yeah, of course. OK.
Bart Blair: Well, hey there, I am Bart Blair, and I am joined on Zoom with my friend Jason Hamrock. We are digital outreach strategists for Missional Marketing, and we just love working with churches, helping churches reach more people online. Jason, always a pleasure hanging out with you, and Merry Christmas. This podcast episode is actually coming out on Christmas Day, so if you happen to be the one weird person listening to a podcast on Christmas Day, Merry Christmas.
Jason Hamrock: Wow. We need to talk if that’s you.
Bart Blair: Yeah, but did you notice in my video I’ve got a poinsettia over here, Little Little Drummer Boy, I was going to hang some Christmas lights on my guitars to make it even more festive, but I ran out of time so I didn’t get there.
Jason Hamrock: I was going put my Santa hat on, but somebody took it. So that’s okay.
Bart Blair: I have an elf hat that I was thinking about putting on. But anyway, you know what, I asked you to just do one last episode. At first we were going to kind of skip the Christmas Day release, and I said, no, come on, let’s record something special for Christmas Day, and let’s take a few minutes to sort of reflect on 2020. You know, a lot of people are trying to get past it as quickly as possible, we want to get to 2021. You know, for the most part I would say as frustrating as COVID has been, and all of the things that we’ve seen happen in the local church, and all the frustrations, I have learned a ton this year. And I have had such a pleasure working with so many different churches over the course of the last nine months or so since COVID, that it’s just it’s been really exciting, and I’m really looking forward to 2021. So I wanted to spend some time with you today talking about some of the things that you’ve learned from 2020, and some of the things that you’re looking forward to in 2021.
Bart Blair: I don’t know what the episode number is of this particular podcast, but I will say this. We released, like one thing we did new in 2020, was we launched this podcast. Right?
Jason Hamrock: That’s right.
Bart Blair: And your first, the first released episode was April 25th. 2020. So we were like a month, month and a half after COVID hit, and you had an interview with Katie Allred from the church communications team. Do you remember that? Can you remember that far back?
Jason Hamrock: I do remember that because Katie’s amazing, and she does so many cool things to help the church grow. She’s got this Church Communications Facebook group of 25,000, it’s one of the largest groups in Facebook, and she’s doing amazing stuff. Katie’s doing amazing stuff, but that was a fun podcast.
Bart Blair: I mean, you recorded that, I think, like right around the time that COVID started. And at that time, I don’t think it was possible, it was impossible for us to know what the whole year was going to end up looking like. So you’ve had some great episodes, you’ve had some fantastic interviews over the course of the last nine months or eight months or so. Some of them have been with pastors and church leaders of churches that we get the opportunity to work with. Some have been from other agencies, and other organizations, that are doing great things in the local church.
Bart Blair: I wanted to highlight for this episode just a few things that we have coming up early on the podcast in 2021. We’ve got an interview with Chris Surratt from Lifeway, who is a discipleship expert. And you’re going to be talking with him about online discipleship, and leveraging virtual technology like Zoom and what have you, for discipleship purposes.
Bart Blair: We’ve got Mark McDonald, who is a church branding expert. Be Known For Something is the name of his agency, it’s also the name of the book that he wrote. And Mark, we’re going to talk about how churches can really leverage their brand, what they’re known for online and in their community.
Bart Blair: You mentioned Kenny, from the Church Communications Team. Kenny Zhang is going to be a guest here in just a few weeks. Tim Goodyear from Home Point Ministries. We’ve got a whole bunch of people on the docket for the new year, it’s going to be very exciting, and I’m looking forward to hearing more and more of your interviews. You’re getting good at this, right, do you feel like you’re getting good?
Jason Hamrock: Well, do you know what you need, if you haven’t done so, subscribe. Subscribe to it because we do have a stellar lineup, and it’s going to keep growing. And I’m really excited about the well, of course, the future of the church. I mean, because this is not our church, it’s God’s church, we just get to be a part of it.
Jason Hamrock: And I’m really excited about where all the digital storefronts coming up, we’re headed down a path where the church is now leaning more into digital. When I say the church, I’m talking about the big ‘C’ Church, and all the the brains and the power that’s fueled by the Holy Spirit is now speaking into how can we do church in 2021, digitally speaking? And it’s fun to be a part of those conversations, and so we’re going to be rolling that out as the year goes along. And so subscribe to it, and make sure you invite some friends to if they haven’t tuned in to the Mission Marketing podcast, invite your friends to subscribe as well.
Bart Blair: Yeah, and leave us a rating, leave us a review, wherever you listen to or watch your podcast to help more people find it. We’d really appreciate that. If you also, if you’re listening to this or you’re watching this, and you actually have suggestions or ideas about people who would be great guests for us, send us an email. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org and fire me and email, and let me know who you think would make a great guest. And I’d be happy to reach out to that person and see if we can get something set up, if it’s a good fit for us.
Bart Blair: So, Jason, we’re not going to take a ton of time on this podcast, but we have a few things that we just wanted to kind of highlight. And I wanted to ask you first off, you know, sort of the big takeaway from 2020, big hope for the local church in 2021, as it relates to reaching people online, leveraging digital presence. What’s the first thing that you really think about in terms of sort of big takeaways or big hopes for the church this next year?
Jason Hamrock: Well, a big takeaway this past year, and we all experienced it, one hundred percent of churches experienced it, and that is an external force can cause you to have to pivot, something you may not be able to manage or control. And that was COVID. COVID caused every church to have to switch and think different about how to do ministry. Right? The Ministry of God’s never going to stop, that’s never going to ever stop. But the way you do it, is going to have to change, and COVID caused that to happen, and so a lot of churches were not prepared for that. So I think a really cool thing that happened from this is, we all survived it, right? And churches leaned into this. And they pivoted, successfully pivoted.
Jason Hamrock: But I think, thinking about where it’s going in the future, who knows if this is going to happen again. But I think what it’s caused every church to realize is, we’ve got to have a game plan. We’ve got to have a game plan, we’ve got to be thinking about how we do church. And really the honest answer is we just went digital, every church went digital.
Jason Hamrock: And so where churches maybe we’re talking about digital, I don’t know, like two percent of the time, now they’re talking about like 20 to 30 or 40 percent of the time. Right? They’re learning how to do discipleship better, they’re learning how to reach people better, all online. And so that’s to me, that was probably the biggest takeaway of 2020 was, we were shut down, we couldn’t meet in person, but that doesn’t mean the church stops, it just means we’ve got to be creative in how we do it.
Bart Blair: Yeah, I would say that on that note, one of the most exciting things for me was really having a front row seat to seeing what churches are doing. You and I have the opportunity to have conversations with pastors and church leaders, you know, 15-20 different churches a week between the two of us sometimes. And, you know, one of my first questions with churches this whole past year was, what are you learning? What are you trying? What are you doing that’s new.
Bart Blair: In fact, another episode that you have coming up here, actually, it’s going to be the New Year’s Day release, is with Colby Engstrum from Preston Trail Community Church, which is my home church in Frisco, Texas. Colby transitioned from being a student ministry/family ministry pastor to being the pastor for church online. And, you know, he and I were meeting through the early stages. He’s only been doing it for about three months, right, or a hundred days into this role. And just the volume that he’s learned, and the different voices that he’s listening to, don’t miss that episode because it’s a really good one. You guys talked about some really insightful stuff with regards to just how to leverage what you’re doing to reach people and disciple them online.
Jason Hamrock: Yeah, you know, before COVID when I would talk to churches about a digital tool, or getting into the digital space, it was, you know, the communication director was saying, yeah, I’m trying to get my leadership team to recognize what we want to do. That was always kind of the conversation, the leadership teams meeting, they’ve got lots of stuff to talk about, and yeah, digital is one little splinter. Now, it’s always revolving around, our leadership, they are coming back from a retreat talking about how we’re getting into the digital space. And we’re allocating resource, we’re allocating money, staff, you know, all kinds of time, we’re talking about how that slices into what we’re going to preach on. It is just changed, it’s revolutionized every single church, your church is no different. Right, Colby, great guy, just got to have this awesome talk with him, it’s going to be released here pretty soon. This guy is on it, Colby, he’s been in the church forever, he’s been at Preston for quite a long time. But he’s in this space for three months, and he is just drinking from a fire hose trying to learn, now, what does a digital pastor look like, online pastor, moving into 2021. So I’m excited for where those guys are going, and all these other churches that are now in this space, it’s pretty exciting. In my opinion, it’s really exciting because that’s kind of, church is our jam and digital is our space for it. Right? That’s what we do.
Bart Blair: Exactly, church is our jam, I like that, that’s pretty good. It’s good.
Jason Hamrock: I have a question for you.
Bart Blair: Okay.
Jason Hamrock: In this space, you know, one of the things that you’ve become incredibly proficient, you’ve learned a ton about, is YouTube. And yes, every church is using Facebook, every church is using YouTube to kind of show their weekend services, some are using CHOP, The Church Online Platform. But talk a little bit about what you’ve learned with YouTube, and how churches can leverage YouTube.
Bart Blair: Yeah, Jason, I think that that’s a really interesting point. I’ve learned a ton about YouTube in the last six to nine months or so. Most of us have used YouTube, because we’ve watched videos on YouTube, right? It had never occurred to me to try to figure out how and why YouTube recommends certain videos to me after I watch certain videos. It had never occurred to me to really try to understand why, when I’m searching for a certain type of video in YouTube, or even in the Google platform, and I’m looking through videos, why YouTube and or Google would return the types of videos that it returns for me. And so, you know, I’ve done a deep dive over the course of this past year, just really trying to learn how to optimize videos on a YouTube channel, so that people who were looking for the kinds of content that I or a church are producing, actually can find that content. And one of the most valuable things that I’ve learned, is how to best position your videos to actually be recommended videos to someone when they’re interested in the type of content that you’re creating.
Bart Blair: And the reason this is so important for the local church, and this is important for the local church on two different levels. One is, we have the greatest message that’s ever been told, and the opportunity to distribute that for free globally on YouTube. We have the message of Jesus Christ, the message of hope and a relationship with God, a restored relationship with God, like, it’s incredible that we can use this platform. But the other thing, churches that already have a high level of sensitivity to the demographics or the psychographics of the people that they’re trying to reach, meaning, they understand the people in their community and what their hearts are, and what their hang ups are, and what their needs are. And they create content for their YouTube channel, whether that’s through their sermons, you know, they’re preaching sermon series on parenting, or on marriage, or on personal finances, or on overcoming discouragement and grief, or suffering. Like these are real life, real world, issues. And when churches are creating this type of content, whether that’s through their sermons or through other means of creating that video content, and they’re putting it on YouTube, there are things that we can do to actually enhance and increase the possibility, the likelihood, of people finding that content when they’re looking for it online.
Bart Blair: And so, I’m really excited about turning the corner into 2021, and leveraging the things that I’ve learned to help more churches maximize the YouTube platform. It’s not just a place to store your sermons as a library, it’s not just a place to do your live stream, those are valuable tools or at least they’re valuable parts of the YouTube platform. But YouTube is a search engine, just like Google is a search engine.
Jason Hamrock: It’s the second largest search engine, right?
Bart Blair: Yeah, it’s the second largest search engine in the world, and learning how to utilize the search engine aspect of YouTube is really going to increase and enhance a church’s ability to reach people who are looking for the types of content that they’re creating. So I’m really excited, again, I said right out of the gate that I’ve learned a ton this year. And my focus on YouTube this year has been one of those things that’s been encouraging and exciting for me.
Jason Hamrock: I’ve just, I’ve got to tell you, if you’re listening to this and you…If that’s just kind of going, whoa, I had no idea that YouTube could go a little bit deeper, I just didn’t know. You need to talk to Bart, you’ve got to talk to Bart because he can help educate you on what you should be doing. So, again, uploading your video, your weekend sermon is fine. But while you’re doing that, take the extra few steps, right, and learn about what you should do, because that makes all the difference of it being found or not. Not only for your people, your ring one people, but you really do that for ring two and three, really ring three because of all the felt needs.
Bart Blair: Yeah, exactly, I think that’s a really good point, Jason. I do want to say, you know, YouTube is is important, Facebook is important, The Church Online Platform is important. So to me, to be perfectly honest, you know, churches ask me often, where should we do our live stream? I say, yes, that’s the answer to that question. But why would you limit yourself to any one platform, when literally at the push of a button you can actually distribute to all of those different platforms. Because different people are going to experience the church online in a different way? Like some people, the easiest way to do it is Facebook. For some people, the easiest way to do it is through YouTube. For some people, the easiest way to do it is through The Church Online Platform. Yes, it’s a little more to get set up, and it is a little bit more to maintain, but in the long run, we want to make sure that we’re not doing anything to prevent our message from getting out to the people that we’re trying to connect with. So the answer to that question is, yes, use all of them. But once those videos are online on YouTube, there’s a lot that you can do to optimize them, to make sure that more people can find them.
Bart Blair: Let me follow up that question from you, Jason, with another question. Because one of the things that I was sort of hitting on was this idea of creating these real life, real life content, felt need content, through sermons or other mechanisms. One of the things that we talk about a lot, you’ve said this on this podcast about forty three times in season one, year one, whatever we’re calling this, that content is king. And we really want to see, and help, churches leverage the content on their website to reach more people online. Why don’t you share a little bit about just sort of what you’re seeing, what you hope to see, what some of the highlights are, for leveraging the content that’s on our website for reaching people in our community?
Jason Hamrock: Yeah, well, if YouTube is the second largest search engine, guess what the number one largest search engine is? Google. Google, and why is that? Okay, so I always talk about Google, because Google owns ninety two percent of the market share. What that means is out of ten people who go online to do some kind of a search using search engine, 9 out of 10 people use Google, so that’s why we talk about Google all the time. You really want to optimize your website, if you think about it, and I just had a conversation with a church in Florida this morning explaining this to them. I was talking to the leadership and the elder board that your, you know, your number one way to grow your church, hands down, your own people. Right? We’re not going to ever, ever try and say otherwise, your own people are the best way to grow your church.
Jason Hamrock: The second best way though, these days, is your website. It is the front door to your church, it really is, people will check you out online before ever checking you out in person. Usually, almost always, right, there’s rare occasions for that. So making sure you’re optimizing and building your website is so important, not only for ring two of people looking for a church, but ring three people we just talked about. These are people searching for help with the felt need, so they’re looking for like ways to enhance or fix their marriage, or overcome a divorce, or deal with an addiction, or be a better parent, or deal with their finances, or overcome grief, they’re looking for how to be forgiven. I could go on and on and on and on, that’s felt need topics, and felt need content.
Jason Hamrock: And what’s really fun for me these days, is talking to churches, especially during 2020 here and moving into 2021, is leadership is understanding this, that content is king. It’s not the King, we know who he is, but it is king when it comes to online. And we’re not talking adding more images, we’re not talking about PDF, we’re not talking about videos, we’re talking about content, text on your website. And optimizing that content to be found organically, not only just around you, but if you have that content online, you can use things like the Google Ad Grant, that will deliver ads for you. Because Google is looking at your URL, the one you send that traffic to and saying, oh, you must be an authority on what it means to be forgiven, because you have a page optimized around how to be forgiven. Right? Google sees that. Right now, most churches don’t have that kind of content. They preach about it every week almost, but they don’t optimize their website.
Jason Hamrock: Well, I’m seeing a change, I’m seeing we’re turning the corner if you will, that churches are actually talking about this. And we actually have products around this, right, we can talk to you about real life landing pages. We got more than 70 pages built around felt need, real life pages, stuff that people are talking about, and more importantly, what people are Googling. People are Googling this stuff, they may or may not be involved in a church, they may or may not be Christ followers, but they are looking for help. And we can get this deployed for your church. that’s a big, big tool that we deployed this year. Because we have been preaching for years now, and churches are starting to really get the, they understand this, that content is so important for your website. So that’s something that we are super excited about because it absolutely matters. Ninety two percent, ninety two percent of people are using Google, and they are searching for help, they’re looking for this. And if you’re not found online, I would, Church, if you’re doing this right now, you’re watching this on Christmas Day. Okay, cool. But listen, if you want to, go ahead and just Google, how to be forgiven. And you tell me, you can email me or email Bart, the first church you find in that list. I’m going to guess it’s probably three or four or five pages deep, maybe, before you find a church. Are you kidding me, really? And then go look at your church website, do you have a page that’s been optimized around, who is Jesus, or how to be forgiving, or what is salvation, any of that, which is the most important thing we should be stressing is your personal relationship with Jesus Christ. And if you haven’t accepted him, like that’s what we should be talking about on our website. But the most important thing, not the only thing, but one of the most part things. So you tell us if that’s actually being found in your organic search results around you, around your church campus, right, that’s what we want to get into. Because there’s people out there right now that are searching for that kind of hope, and they’re not finding you, and that breaks my heart. So that’s why we exist as a company, we really want to help you connect with somebody who’s searching for God, and I think they should find your local church. I could go on and on.
Bart Blair: Yes, you could. But, you know, that’s actually very, very well said, Jason. I think that, you know, we have a tendency in the local church and as a pastor, I’ve been guilty of this myself, is thinking about our website as being a brochure for what we do. But we don’t have enough content on our website about who Jesus is, and why it matters. And we do actually, oftentimes, because we have an embedded video from our sermons, but that doesn’t help Google direct people to those pages.
Jason Hamrock: Not at all, not at all.
Bart Blair: Yeah. What what you said is very well said. If you have found value in our podcast, we appreciate you tuning in. If you, I bet, I’m going to go out on a limb here,
Jason Hamrock: Okay.
Bart Blair: I’m going to bet Earl Ricker is listening to this on Christmas Day. What do you think, do you think Earl will listen to it on Christmas?
Jason Hamrock: Earl is one of our leaders at our company, and I think he probably will be.
Bart Blair: He might, he might listen to it on Christmas Day. So, Earl, if you’re listening to this on Christmas Day…
Jason Hamrock: Merry Christmas, Earl.
Bart Blair: Jason and I wish you a Merry Christmas.
Bart Blair: Otherwise, if you’re a listener, whether this is the first episode that you’ve just kind of stumbled upon, we thank you for spending your time with us. We want to wish you, and your family, and your church community, a very merry Christmas and an amazing New Year. And Jason and I would be happy to connect with you in the New Year, if there’s anything that we can do to serve you, to serve your church, to help you reach more people, and bring more people into a personal relationship with Jesus. That’s really important to us, and we hope that that comes across. We’re really passionate about what we get to do, and we feel really privileged just to have the opportunity to work with churches and really help them in this particular area.
Jason Hamrock: I love speaking with churches, and just educating them and informing them. It really, that just really motivates me, it fills my heart. It’s not about trying to help you hire us, that’s not what we want, we really want to just educate and inform you, and just let you know these are the tools. This is what you should be doing to reach more people that are far from God, we’re not going to hide that, we’re going to tell you all the tools we use and how we do go about doing it. And if it makes sense to hire us, or hire somebody locally, we don’t really care as long as you’re doing it, because it’s going to help you reach more people. And that the goal, at the end of the day, we want to get more people to God, period.
Bart Blair: Absolutely. Jason, we’re going to wrap this up, I’m going to give two other shout outs here. Number one, I’m going to say, I’m going to thank Cindi, who’s a part of our team, who cleans up these transcripts every time we record these videos. And Randall, who puts all the nuggets and the pieces together with these videos, so that we can push them out on time so that people can watch them. Or he also pushes them out into the the podcast world with iTunes, and Google Music, and all that stuff. So Cindi and Randall, thanks for the work that you guys do to take this little thing that we do, this Zoom call, and make it public. That’s all I got. Jason, I appreciate you, I want to wish you and your family a Merry Christmas.
Jason Hamrock: Likewise, Bart, I appreciate you, and I appreciate the fact that we get to do this. I mean, this is so much fun to be able to do this for, you know, we get paid to do this, right? And it’s so much fun just to be able to share, and help churches get better. And we’ve got a great team and at Missional Marketing, super proud of them. And here’s to 2021. And God’s up to some great things, and we get to be, we get to just have a front row seat of what he’s doing, and that to me is a blessing. So Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, my friend.
Bart Blair: Back to you. Amen.