A New Season for the Smith Family

I’m excited to share with you that our family is moving into a new season. After 6 incredible years at Community Bible Church in San Antonio and 2 adventurous years in New York City, our family will be moving to Dallas, Texas. I have accepted a position as the Vice President of Social Media and Innovation at Dunham and Company (the picture above is my signing the offer sheet about a week ago). All of my consulting work and clients through Amplify Social Media will merge into my role with Dunham and Company.

I first met Trent Dunham (Senior Vice President at Dunham and Company) 18 months ago in Fresno, California where we were both speaking at an Invictus Global event. There was a natural affinity and mutual respect for the unique Kingdom work that we were both doing. Over the past 18 months I got to know Dunham and Company much better and watched their Kingdom impact and influence continue to grow at an incredible rate. While their company was growing they continued to spend time investing into me as a leader and speaking into my growing business.

As Amplify Social Media has also continued to grow and their need for social media support has become greater, it became clear that we needed to find opportunities to overlap. Quickly in those conversations it became natural to begin thinking about how we might increase impact by serving ministries together as one rather than apart.  When asked if I would rather continue to function independently or merge my company into Dunham and Company it was a no brainer. Without hesitation I jumped at this opportunity to better serve ministries as a part of Dunham and Company letting go of the business functions and focusing on the service provided to our ministry clients.

This exciting development requires 2 big changes for our family:

  1. Moving to Dallas, Texas to join the team at Dunham and Company’s headquarters and

  2. Transitioning out of my role at Community Bible Church as Innovation Pastor

The second was the harder decision as we have been so deeply invested in the ministry of Community Bible Church. Robert and Chris Emmitt first empowered me 6 years ago to launch the ministry of Online Church and since that day we’ve reached more than 2.5 million people together from more than 200 different countries and territories. Our Facebook page alone is touching more than 3 million people a week and we have thousands connected in discipleship based Online Small Groups. I could list out the highlights of the past 6 years, but it’s the people that I have been privileged to work alongside on a daily basis that I will miss the most. The Innovation Team at Community Bible Church has been second to none as they have pushed the limits of technology constantly looking for new, efficient and effective ways to reach, teach and help people in Jesus’ name. They have followed my leadership as chaotic as it might have seemed at times and pioneered new ministry opportunities through new technology developments. I’m incredibly proud of the work we were able to accomplish together and humbled to have had the privilege to lead this team. Beyond this team though are the thousands of church members, ministry volunteers and other staff members that I have had the privilege of serving alongside. I will miss you all tremendously.

It has been the most incredible experience to serve under the leadership of Robert Emmitt, Trey Moore and Chris Emmitt. These humble leaders have taught me so much and invested into me as a leader in ways that I cannot begin to describe. Saying thank you doesn't even begin to communicate the depth of my gratitude.

So, what will I do as the VP of Social Media and Innovation at Dunham and Company? I will continue to do what I have been doing serving ministries and coming alongside them to maximize ministry impact through social media and Innovative new technologies. When it comes to social media we will help ministries develop an optimal strategy for greatest impact, develop content and distribution systems, support through empowered response teams, and measure success through ongoing analytics reports and social media audits. Beyond social media we want to support our clients through other new media engagement opportunities such as podcasting, live streaming, Virtual Reality, webinar management, and more.

Bottom line, if you want to utilize social media and new technologies for maximum Kingdom impact, I want to help. If you have questions about what we do and how we can help, just ask. Simply go to my Contact page and send me a message. I would love to dialogue about whatever your need or desire might be.

 

To learn more about Dunham and Company go to http://DunhamandCompany.com.

 

Distributing Your Podcast Effectively

A question that I often get is this: how do you get your podcast on iTunes? This is easy once you are set up, but unbelievably confusing. I still don’t know how this fully works and this is where we had the hardest time in getting started. You have to host your podcast somewhere and create a feed for iTunes to pull your podcast feed. Makes sense, right?

Let me simplify this for you: get Libsyn.

Libsyn will cost you about $7/month and does everything for you. They will give you the instructions to setup your podcast with iTunes and connect everything with your Libsyn account so that you don’t have to worry about how it all works. Libsyn is powerful, flexible and simple to use. They also provide the best possible analytics on podcasts, which makes the cost really worth it.

Beyond the automatic pushes to iTunes and other distribution opportunities, their media player is easily embedded into your website.  We have found it important to use our website (Squarespace) for info about our podcast and a place to post “show notes.” During episodes we will mention links and various things that will drive people to our website to get more info. So, for each episode we post the show notes and an embedded audio player for people to easily listen right there on our website as well.

If you use a different distribution platform I would love to hear what it is and why you chose it.

Choosing Creative Podcast Themes

So, you want to start a podcast, but what are you going to talk about? Here are some key questions to ask yourself as you begin focusing on your core podcast content/themes:

 

  • Who is your target audience? (be specific)
  • What can you say that will most help them?
  • Why should they listen to what you have to say?
  •  How can you best engage them around this core topic? (interviews, a monologue, etc.)

 

As you focus in on your core topic and target audience, my encouragement is to lay out your first 10 podcast topics/show themes. This will give you a direction and I promise as you get going your list will grow faster than you can record and your audience engagement will give you direction to what they value most.

 

Here are these answers when it comes to the Social Media Church Podcast:

  • Who is your target audience?

Our target is a church leader who has already seen the value in social media for ministry, but desire direction in how to best utilize these platforms for ministry.

  • What can you say that will most help them?

We want to add value in sharing with them the various ministry opportunities on the different social networks available and giving them practical application tips to maximize their time and financial investments into social media.

  • Why should they listen to what you have to say?

We don’t just talk about social media, we are practitioners using social media in a ministry context every day. We have failed often and found unique success at the same time. We share our experiences openly and honestly as well as invite other ministry innovators to lead the conversation through our podcast episodes.

  • How can you best engage them around this core topic? (interviews, a monologue, etc.)

We have found conversational recordings to best engage our audience where they feel more personally connected to us as hosts as well as deeper engagement with our guests.

Getting the Right Podcasting Equipment

Many people obsess over equipment and tools when it comes to podcasting. Honestly, you likely have everything you need already to launch a decent podcast. My encouragement isn’t to obsess over the tools as you can always upgrade these over time. Here are the core tools that I use:

Blue Yeti Microphone – this is probably the most popular microphone for podcasting out there and it’s a great value at $100. You can easily record 1 person or several people gathered around the microphone. It also plugs right into your computer via USB which is really convenient. I highly recommend this microphone for it’s functionality, but most people (including me) choose the Yeti because it looks cool. Many of these USB microphones are small and either look cheesy or kind of clunky where you have to get a big stand to hold it up.  As you do the research, I think you will find that a decent microphone is going to cost a minimum of $50 and can then get really expensive really fast. I have yet to find anyone who is disappointed in the Blue Yeti though. The one downside to it though is that it’s pretty big and heavy, so if you plan to travel with it I would look for a different option.

Zoom Video Conferencing – because we record our podcast from 2 different coasts we needed an online recording option and we haven’t regretted choosing Zoom. Many podcasters use Skype, but I’ve found the quality to be subpar and you have to use additional software to record. Zoom allows for many users to easily participate at the same time and the record functionality captures both the audio file and video file for easy editing after the recording.

Editing Software – we found GarageBand incredibly easy to use and pretty powerful when you dig into the functionality. In all transparency we found the editing aspect to be too time consuming so we outsource this through Fiverr most weeks, but when we do edit ourselves we use GarageBand which is easy enough to use for a beginning and powerful enough for a pro.

So that’s it. Those are our simple core tools that we use to record and edit the Social Media Church Podcast. I would love to hear what other tools you use and what you might recommend.  Please comment to let us know!

7 Common Mistakes Pastor Search Committees Make By William Vanderbloemen

Pastor search committees are tasked with the weighty responsibility of finding a new leader for their church. But this holy endeavor is far from easy or simple. When you’re searching for your next pastor, watch out for these seven common missteps of pastor search committees.

                    

1. They have too many or too few people on the search committee.

If you have too many people on your search committee, you’re going to move slower and have trouble coming to consensus about decisions. If you have too few people, your committee may feel overwhelmed with the amount of work in the pastor search process and may burn out quickly.

I recommend that search committees have somewhere between seven and eleven people. You should have an odd number of people to prevent stalemates when taking votes. If you have more than eleven people, you might have “too many cooks in the kitchen” and lose your ability to be nimble as a team. The more differing opinions and voices that need to be heard on your search committee, the longer the pastor search process will take.

 

2. They don’t commit to prayer from the beginning.

A prayerful pastor search process is crucial to finding whom God is calling to your church. In my book SEARCH: The Pastoral Search Committee Handbook, I included a pastor search committee prayer guide to help center your committee on seeking the Lord about who He’s calling to be your next leader.

Share your prayer guide with your congregation and invite them to pray along with your committee. Pray for your new pastor and their family. Pray for wisdom and discernment for your committee and church staff. Pray for your church in this season of transition, as change isn’t easy for any organization. The pastor search process is sacred, so unite your congregation as you cover it in prayer.

 

3. They don’t establish how they’re going to make decisions.

Once you have the right people on the pastor search committee, you must decide how you’re going to make decisions. I often see committees stuck because they don’t establish guidelines up front for how decisions will be made. Will you require a majority vote or unanimity to move forward with a pastor candidate? What is your protocol if a committee member can’t make it to the next meeting?

Set a decision-making process on the front end of the search process to avoid frustration and confusion down the road. There is a Pastor Search Committee Member Agreement in SEARCH that can put your committee on the same page about how decisions will be made as a group.

 

4. They don’t establish roles on the committee.

In your first committee meeting, you should assign roles to each person on the committee. Search committees that complete this step cut down on their search process timeline because they are organized and focused on who is doing what.

Here are six ideas for roles to get you started:

  • The Coordinator is organizationally gifted to coordinate meetings and schedules.
  • The Communicator heads up the search committee’s communication with the elders, board, and congregation.
  • The Prayer Warrior coordinates prayer for the committee and congregation.
  • The Follow-Upper is the point person for incoming applications and communication with candidates.
  • The Recruiter researches and recruits candidates that the committee would like to consider.
  • The Host or Hostess has the gift of hospitality and plans for the candidate interviews.

 

5. They don’t communicate with the congregation.

If a committee doesn’t have The Communicator on the search team, I find that the search committee forgets to regularly communicate with the church. Keep your congregation updated on a monthly basis at minimum. I also recommend you have a website or landing page where people can visit to stay updated on the pastor search process. You might even consider recording video updates about your search that you can post on your church’s website, social media, and in email updates.

 

6. They don’t have a projected timeline and move too slow with candidates.

I see churches lose great pastor candidates far too often because they waited weeks or months to communicate with a candidate in between phone calls or interviews. One of the biggest complaints I hear from candidates is, “The pastor search committee flew me out for an interview, then I never from them again.” Take the time to keep your candidates updated on where they stand in the search process.

 

7. They have unrealistic expectations about the role.

The qualifications that many pastor search committees want for their pastoral candidates are so specific that even Jesus wouldn’t meet them (Jesus wasn’t married and didn’t preach every Sunday). While it’s vital for your pastor search committee to have specific qualities you’re looking for in your next pastor, take a moment to ask, “What are the qualities that we must have, and which ones are simply preferences?” Candidates are much more than just a resume, so spend intentional time as a committee determining the type of pastor you’re looking for and if your requirements are realistic to have in one person. Have a way to consistently and objectively evaluate candidates as a search committee, and you’ll be on the right path to a smooth search process.

 

I wrote SEARCH: The Pastoral Search Committee Handbook to provide a guide for pastor search committees navigating the daunting search process. I hope it’s a blessing to you and your church as you plan for healthy and effective pastoral transitions.