Today's episode will tackle the topic: How To Keep Your Hybrid Church Healthy for Years Ahead. Kenny Jahng spends time with DJ Chuang for today's episode and talk through some of the relevant questions for digital ministry today. How do you make the online worship experience better? How can you better engage through small groups digitally? How can you clearly identify that your church provides digital ministry? Let's dive into today's conversation on the Church Online Podcast!
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The following is a machine-generated transcript of the audio. We've been testing the NueralText online transcription service. Now, as you know, Machines < Humans so these transcript notes won't be 100% accurate. Probably more like 80-95% accurate. Hopefully, this will help you scan the episode content to get the gist of the conversation. Enjoy!
[00:00:00.970] – Kenny Jahng
Hello, friends. Kenny Jahng here with this episode of the Church online podcast. Thank you so much for joining us today. Today we've got some interesting topics at hand. We're going to talk about digital ministry, how it helps your church reach minister any more people, basically just that big worldview. And then how to make your online worship experience better. I think this is something that so many leaders are actually focused on in today's world. We're going to talk about groups, and we're also going to talk about how to clearly identify that your church provides digital ministry. There's so many different churches out there, but you want to lead with the tip of the sword. If you actually have digital ministry activities in place before we get there, just shout out to our sponsor for this episode. Digital identity is really important, and Church is our sponsor. Today. Church is a top level domain name used by tens of thousands of churches like Canvas Church and Life Church. And they use it to connect and engage with visitors online. It's part of Identity digital portfolio. And Church Domain Names is just one of the many domain names that they offer.
[00:01:10.560] – Kenny Jahng
And Church domain specifically comes with added security and phishing protection. If you want to get your own, look at name church or your favorite registrar to look it up and reserve one today. Today, sitting next to me, I've got DJ Chuong. He is known as a thought leader. As someone who helps churches for so many years and nonprofits learn how to use the latest digital technologies and strategies, he's an ambassador for the church domain name. Again, this is something that hopefully you'll take to heart as we talk about some of these important topics today. Welcome, DJ, to the show.
[00:01:48.290] – DJ Chuang
Thank you, Kenny. It's great to be back. Good to see you again.
[00:01:52.610] – Kenny Jahng
Well, like it or not, today churches basically have had to move to a hybrid ministry, right? Like during the pandemic, they moved to a completely online model or they basically disappeared as everyone was sequester. But now we're in a hybrid modality for most churches out there, and you need to do that right in order to minister online in addition to in person, basically. So what do you say to the churches that now they want to revert back to in person, right, because code restrictions have been loosened or things are gone in most places. But there is this push that we're seeing and hearing that there are pastors that say, hey, let's just go back, abandon online, and I want everyone in person in the room so I could preach to people and see their faces. What would you say? How do you contribute to that conversation?
[00:02:50.990] – DJ Chuang
Well, I'm sympathetic and empathetic to those that want to go back to the way things work. And there's part of me that wishes that we could go back to the way things work. But it's a new world it's a new day and things are not going to be the same because the Kovacic virus continues to mutate and people are still being infected and safety restrictions are still a part of many of our lives, not just those that are immun compromised, but even friends and colleagues we know that. Take precaution or catch and covet and although it's not as severe as putting them in the hospital and then or later, although there is one person that I do recall recently who was healthy, vaccinated wound up on ventilator, it's still a dangerous thing. And so churches who care about people, who are supposed to be the place that demonstrates and teaches people how to love their neighbor, the greatest commandment, well, we want to love people in their physical reality as well. And so take precaution as appropriate for those in person gatherings as well as the online ministry that we've learned and have practiced over the past two years.
[00:04:11.490] – DJ Chuang
So that past two years was not just a temporary holding space, that was a training session, that we learned new skills and had that AHA moment that our churches can still be effective and still ministered to people even though they were not in the same room. The gospel went forth from written scrolls and texts that were written 2000 years ago and still changing lives today. I mean, think about the virtual distance over span, the time span, the geography that the word of God had back then. Well, in the digital world we're having immediate impact over long distance too. But the technology has accelerated the spread of the gospel and we would lose the opportunity, we would not be faithful to the gift God has given us in the pandemic to learn how to further the spread of the gospel in the unique shape that God's given each of our local communities.
[00:05:20.310] – Kenny Jahng
Oh DJ, what would you say to the pastors who say look, we survived without online for years, there are so many churches that didn't embrace hybrid ministry before. What's the opportunity cost? And has the game fundamentally changed in terms of expectations? What would you say to that?
[00:05:38.730] – DJ Chuang
Well, for churches that have survived precovid and maybe even during covet, I know there are some churches that did not take the safety precautions and just had that flying faith to proceed on. With 300,000 churches in the US and thousands more around the world, it's not fair to overgeneralize and say here's how it needs to be for every single church. So each single church has to have a discerning process and pray and discuss and discern what is best for the people that God has shaped the church to serve and who they should be serving currently and who they should be reaching. I think the tendency for a majority of the more precovid traditional churches that love to gather in person only, the temptation is only to serve those that have that preference and leave out all the people that they were reaching through their online ministry. Again, statistics shows 96% of churches were offering online services during the pandemic. There's not 4% that refused to. But for the vast majority of us, we've had that experience of hybrid ministry online and in person. And it's a good stewardship to continue doing that as long as there's faithfulness and fruitfulness on both sides.
[00:07:21.630] – DJ Chuang
Now, online ministry doesn't replace in person ministry. There are different values to both, but both can be effective and we've seen it be effective and I think the proof is in the pudding. Your church has seen the effectiveness of online ministry and going back to in person, that has added another level of blessing. But now at this point so I hope churches are realizing church is no longer just a 1 hour weekend event that because of digital ministry, it can be a 24/7 continuous relationship that people can have with one another even though they don't live together under the same neighborhood.
[00:08:07.890] – Kenny Jahng
Absolutely. It's fascinating. I think one of the things that also adds to the mix is I don't remember the exact stat, but there was an alarmingly large number of businesses that have not yet returned to full time in person work in New York City. It was double digits. And so our culture just hasn't gone to back in person for everything yet. And I think everything you say plus just the realities of things like work behavior is adding to the mix. Right, that's just amazing. Now, what would you advise? You talk to churches and church leaders, et cetera. What advice do you have for churches that want to continue the hyper ministry? Like what kind of encouragement or what would you say to those people that says, hey, there's a lot to juggle back to in person? It was overwhelming to go online and then we kind of got the rhythm and figured it out and then it's almost like, oh, we're doing online and then you're adding back all of the stuff that we did in person on site. What do you say to those churches that say, wow, it's just a lot of things to have go on right now.
[00:09:25.650] – DJ Chuang
Yeah, I know. During the past two years it was very much even though churches cut back from the in person ministry, they had to do the online ministry just out of necessity and government regulations. It was overwhelming and it was tiring because we were doing something new and then the isolation affected us in terms of our emotions and mental well being. And now that we're beginning to experiencing a new normal, I hope we've taken a breather, especially as we're recording this during the summer. So I hope summertime has been somewhat rejuvenating. We've taken a step and then now the opportunity is to optimize and take some of those new learnings and turn them into habits and systems and procedures so that they become habit. We move from conscious competency towards unconscious competency, and then that will conserve your energy, and then you can improve your process and how you do, how do the ministry take the things that worked really well through your church and what served people well, what reached people well, put a little more energy behind those and then let go of some of the other things. I think one thing I've learned from the Pandemic and as I talk with people is learning to streamline, learning to prioritize, realizing some things are important, a lot of things are not.
[00:10:58.690] – DJ Chuang
We have a limited amount of energy. The Pandemic drained us in so many ways because of that situation and the stress and the trauma. And so we want to boil it down to the very essentials and stick with what you call the tip of the sword and go forward with what works. The other thing is realizing we've got a lot of free and low cost resources that are available in the digital world. One that's just launching as we speak is YouVersion Church. So Lifestyle Church has been a pioneer in digital ministry and hybrid ministry for well over a decade. And through their online church platform by God's sovereignty, they built this. More than five years before the Pandemic, 20,000 churches were using their online church platform, Prepanddemic. Then the Pandemic hit mid March of 2020. 42,000 churches signed up in those first two weeks.
[00:12:11.060] – Kenny Jahng
[00:12:12.430] – DJ Chuang
Yeah, they reached a record number of 7 million people during those first two weeks. Online Church, a free platform that really enhanced the worship experience. In addition to providing a live stream video, the worship experience, or a simulated live a prerecorded worship service, the online church platform provides chat, interactive elements like raising your hand or asking for life, prayer, Bible reading and notes and other nice features that really makes it an engaging and immersive experience that enhanced people's spiritual connection week to week. And so there's online church. YouVersion Church is a new initiative. They've combined their resources and their teams from the New Version Bible app, which has a tremendous reach around the world. Thousands of versions and languages of the Bible freely available through the rational generosity of Life Church. They've really invested in this platform for digital Bibles, and then now they're combining that with the online church team, the digital worship platform, and then they're bringing it together in Uvrsion Church. And the innovative pastor there, Bobby Greenwald, has described users in Church is providing a hybrid platform, bringing the best of the in person and the online together so that church can be effectively ministering 24/7 throughout the week.
[00:13:52.410] – DJ Chuang
So that's an exciting development. Make sure you subscribe to updates at Uvrsion Church to get the latest, because as we're speaking, New is rolling out, so I'm keeping an eye on it, and that's going to help our churches further their hyped ministry intoversion church.
[00:14:10.960] – Kenny Jahng
I like that. The church easy to remember now there are people that I've actually talked to recently in the last two weeks, I've talked to two people who are thinking like, oh, like that stat I talked to you about, I think it was something like only 8% or 9%, right under 10% have returned to work five days a week in New York City. And they're like, oh, but eventually we're going to go back. And so the question is like, is hybrid ministry here to stay in the long run? Even when people do quotes, go back or everything settles, where it's going to end up is hybrid ministry heater state. What's your worldview on that one?
[00:14:51.110] – DJ Chuang
Well, it's going to look different for each church and each locality, but I'm convinced it's the present future. We see more and more people spending their time and energy and attention online and online. I'm including social media. I'm including digital devices. What gets a person's attention gets them. And that's what the business world realizes. All these social media things. They're gaming their algorithms to get as much of your attention because if they get your attention, they've got you. I'm not sure churches have developed that mindset to realize how can we help engage our people more, hold their attention and connect them to God and connect them to each other so they live out their faith in every aspect of their life.
[00:15:45.780] – Kenny Jahng
[00:15:46.200] – DJ Chuang
That brings a whole new mindset. And we've got to shift away from or expand not shift away, but expand our understanding of being a fully devoted follower of Christ. A disciple means following him. Twenty four, seven, and not just attending church on a weekend or just attending a small group or doing a ministry. It needs to flow throughout the think hyper. Ministry is a very applicable and tangible way to see that flow because many of us have a smartphone and a digital device on US 24/7 all the time, practically speaking, all the time. It's our lifeline in a sense, and it can be our spiritual lifeline that churches can be there for people to connect them to God, into each other.
[00:16:44.750] – Kenny Jahng
You see it in the major brands, right? Like this omnichannel approach that brands, especially retail brands, you can actually see tangible expressions of it. Like they interact on social, they have personalized on social, they publish stuff content wise. They actually then have online footprints right in the stores, etcetera. Home Depot is a great example of that big strategy of when they went digital, they put everything online. And I think the stat was something like 80 or 90% who visit Home Depot.com actually don't buy online. They're doing it to actual preview and then go to the store and it tells you exactly what aisle and what shelf it's on and then they get it in person. And so I feel like sometimes pastors are scared of the cannibalization and they feel like, oh, the online stuff is just going to take away everything from in person. But if you look at how brands and culture actually have evolved digital expressions and relationships with their consumers, I think there's something to learn from that and then there's something for us to innovate because the relationships that churches have with people are quite different than brands and consumers.
[00:17:52.030] – Kenny Jahng
And anyway, there's something that the world could learn if we just continue to innovate in this digital space. Now, that brings me to, I guess there's a whole brainstorming mentality for me. But DJ, what would you say is like, what would be like the must have ingredients for successful digital ministry? What do you think is the top things that we should be thinking about?
[00:18:15.750] – DJ Chuang
Wow. Well, each church will approach it differently, but I would like to say that you've got to have as strong a digital presence as you can afford. So I'm sympathetic that most churches are under 100 in size. I don't know, let's say 50, 60%. I don't have the number top of my head, but I also know that the top 2% get 90% of the attention from conferences and books and seminars and so on. So we look at the big churches thinking that we have to aspire and do as much as they do. But they're multimillion dollar budgets. They're in a whole other world. But normal churches, one pastor, maybe an assistant, lots of volunteers have just learned how to use their iPhone and stream on Facebook or YouTube or something simple like that. And they can continue to do that. My hope is that churches have experienced that volunteers, new volunteers who have that tech background now have a place to serve in church. Instead of just handing out bulletins, ushering people to their parking spots and their seats. Now they can run the tech. People can go beyond just pushing PowerPoint slides and turning on the lights, activate your next generation social media savvy digital natives to participate in the life of the church.
[00:19:46.290] – DJ Chuang
And so as they do that, then they take ownership of the church. They belong to the church. That's how we grow as disciples together when we value one another's gifts and talents. And so having that online presence as much as God provides your volunteers to help you with. And what I mean by that online presence, well, certainly the first place is the church website that's visible to Google. That's where over 800,000 people are searching for churches near me every month. And so you need to have that digital presence because that's the first place people are going to engage with your church. And as you mentioned, that people you just mentioned about Home Depot. So 90% of people in terms of Home Depot, they experience the website, then they go to store. Similarly, people experience your church website before they go to store, but before they even get to your church website. Your church domain name, your location, your web address is critical because without that link, they never get to your church website. And if they mistype the URL man, they're off to a whole nother world, a whole other place. Something even obscene, something that could be dangerous.
[00:21:04.180] – DJ Chuang
We don't want that to happen. So having a clear, compelling, easily identifiable domain name can make all the difference for someone to connect with your church. And I'm happy to be part of the church team and helping people to see the value of having a church instead of just a generic domain name that just says, hey, we're a website. But when people see an exact match domain name in that search result, when they're searching for church near me, potential for 25% increase in click through rate, according to Microsoft Research. So having the digital front door that's wide open, easy to recognize, like the church domain, they click through to your church website experience. And then during that experience, clarity is kindness. I heard that recently, Brown, and I really love that. In the digital world where there's just so much noise, everybody's fighting for attention. We're bombarded with 1000 messages a day. Clarity on your home website on hey, experience a bit of our worship. Hey. If you're visiting for the first time, here's what you can experience. If you come, here's a previous message and here's service time and location, you would not believe.
[00:22:22.980] – DJ Chuang
And I visit a lot of church websites because I'm a church consumer, so I love visiting lots of churches when I'm on vacation. We even have a family tradition where we go to ten churches during Easter and Christmas. I get more eye rolls from Christians when I say that, but it's quite energizing for me to see the variety of how the body price worship.
[00:22:45.900] – Kenny Jahng
Beautiful, right? It's beautiful to see how ministries worship differently.
[00:22:50.430] – DJ Chuang
Yes, and I really enjoy that. The sermon part, some of them anyway. Even the prominent churches and small churches make it so painfully difficult to find service time and location. Yeah, that should be a no click. That should be a no click on the front page. Easy to get to. And I cannot tell you I started counting clicks, 1234 clicks even at large searches to find that first time location. So make that easy. Less friction, more response, more engagement, more fruitfulness. That's the quick take, I would say, about the must have ingredients for successful digital history. Those first steps are so critical.
[00:23:39.490] – Kenny Jahng
DJ, that's a great summary of this topic of hybrid and digital and just a great conversation to use some of these points with other leaders in your own ministry, wherever you are, especially those that might have a little bit of hesitation and resistance in this area. DJ, thank you so much for sharing your expertise and wisdom with us today. If someone wants to get an actual church domain name, what's the easiest and best place for them to do that?
[00:24:08.890] – DJ Chuang
Name church name church is one of our leading registrars. Easy to remember. Get a name for your church name, church. And that's an easy register. You can search and register right away there. You can offer a limited time, low price offer to get a discount and dot. Church domains are available at any popular registrar or all registrars on the internet. Some of the most popular ones that church leaders are using GoDaddy namecheap, Google, pork bun, up and coming, all those are registrars? Yes, mine too. Thank you.
[00:24:52.730] – Kenny Jahng
If you guys listening here today are actually in that discussion of hybrid abandoning online. We'd love to hear from you. We'd love to engage with you further. This is just one of those things that I think is really important and we don't want to minimize that conversation. In fact, I think later this year in the fall, I'm going to be convening a panel at Salt Conference in Nashville, salt Community conference on this very specific topic about live streaming not live streaming, hybrid ministry, et cetera. And this identity portion is just definitely part of the conversation. So we'd love for you to comment or DM us or let us hear from you where you are in the conversation, what your thoughts are theological, logistical, budget wise, volunteer wise, etc. Or because just hearing what you guys are actually experiencing and walking through helps us really continue to collaborate and have these conversations with you here. I'm Kenny Chang. This has been the Church online podcast. We're going to continue this conversation next week with, I think, BJ. We're going to talk about five ways to basically increase five tactics or five really good ways to increase your church's digital engagement.
[00:26:07.650] – Kenny Jahng
Everyone is interested in how do you increase that engagement? So hardly it sometimes for ministries to do that. And so we're going to send around that next time here on the Church online podcast. I'm Kenny Zhang with DJ Chuan signing off. Remember, be social, stay social.