Interview in Church Executive Magazine

I'm honored and excited to share with you this article from Church Executive Magazine.  The article, titled Six Trends in Staffing, was written by my friend William Vanderbloemen of Vanderbloemen Search Group.  Below is a portion of the article that includes his interview with me, but I hope you will take the time to click here to read the entire article in this month's edition of Church Executive.

Nils Smith: Church hires social media pastor

Last year Community Bible Church in San Antonio, TX, with weekly attendance of 21,000, hired a pastor of social media, Nils Smith, and credit some of their growth to leveraging these forms of communication and building relationships. William Vanderbloemen had a brief interview with Smith, who previously served as a youth pastor for eight years, and six months as a college and community online pastor before transitioning to Community Bible Church.

What are your primary responsibilities? Launching CBC online which is our online church campus, as well as oversight of our multiple Facebook pages and Twitter account.

What is the average CBC online attendance look like? We launched the online campus about a year ago with about 200 to 300 weekly attendees and today we average about 6,000 to 7,000 people logging in each week. We have an average of more than 100 countries represented every week and to date we have had attendance from every country in the world except for 12.

What exactly is CBC online? It is our online church service where we broadcast one or two worship songs along with the weekly message. We also have live chat that people can log into through their Facebook account and interact with each other around the online service. We currently have four channels or sites that we have launched and we recently launched a Spanish channel that has allowed us to become much more effective in reaching people in South and Central America.

We also broadcast our music online 24-7, in a coffee shop style space that allows people to log on and chat as well as listen to the great CBC music. Our most recent addition to CBC Online is the launch of our Online Lifegroups where people can login at the same time and watch a video teaching, have a time of discussion and prayer, and simply experience community online just like they might in a living room setting.

What does your typical day look like? I don’t know if there is such a thing as a typical day, but generally I log in and check the prior day’s stats, make sure that our volunteer teams are checking up with new online believers, check in with the folks who are managing our Facebook and twitter accounts, and I also meet with our media team to see what updates to our online content we are going to be making. Our process with our online ministry has been to create, recruit, train, empower and support. As we’re constantly launching new areas of ministry online we are in different phases of this process, but my daily focus has quickly changed from primarily creating to now doing a lot more supporting as we have built an incredible team of volunteer leaders.

How have you implemented FB and Twitter with the Online Experience? For the most part we centralize everything that we are doing online with our Facebook Fan Page, which acts as our central hub for communication. We use an incredible platform called Media Social [ mediasocial.tv ] that has been our primary resource in our online ministry that integrates video content closely with Facebook.  Generally people connect with us through finding a link that someone posted on Facebook, attend an online service, and then “Like” our Facebook page.

We make unique videos and various online content specifically for Facebook and try and maximize our page as a place for community.We have found that simply asking questions of the community has been the most effective use of the page in building community. Currently we have more than 45K fans on Facebook, and interestingly enough, we actually have more fans in the Philippines now than we do in the U.S.

What is the best piece of advice that you can give churches that are looking to create a social media or online presence? Take the step and start somewhere, start with a building and regularly updating a Facebook page or try broadcasting on Ustream.com. Initially utilize the free online resources available. Once we started our Facebook page, our fellow staff members got on and promoted it and it really grew and took off. It isn’t perfect and continues to be a work in progress.

You don’t want to put out a poor product, but sometimes you can refine and polish things so much that they never get released. There is the need for some experimenting initially and you will begin to figure out what works and does not work for your ministry.  — WV