Community Bible Church

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.

 

Measuring the Effectiveness of Your Church Website: Google Analytics

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How do you measure the effectiveness of your church website? For Community Bible Church our primary goal of the website is to lead people from website visitors to worship attenders.  That’s very hard to measure though.  While it’s hard to measure, we still try to measure all that we can and strive to enhance our website to become the most effective ministry tool that we can.  In order to measure the effectiveness of our website we primarily measure 4 things via Google Analytics:

  1. Overall Website Traffic - we believe that the better we make our website the more people will visit it. People will come through social sharing, personal invites and Google search results. We desire for our church to grow and often that church growth is directly in line with the growth of our website traffic.  

  2. Time On Site - while we don’t want people to live on our website, we do want people to spend significant time on our website finding out more about how they can get connected, watch sermon videos, and more. We primarily measure the time on site of our first time visitors to see well we are engaging this audience.

  3. Google Search Traffic - optimizing our site for Google search results is very important. People primarily navigate the Internet through Google and we want people to find our church through their searches.  

  4. First Time Visitors - the primary goal of our website is to reach new people in our community. If all we have are returning website visitors we are providing value to our church members, but we are missing our primary target audience.  

How do you measure the effectiveness of your church website? What other opportunities do we have to measure the effectiveness of our websites?

 

Make a Great First Impression with Your Church Website

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At Community Bible Church we have consistently seen that 40% of our website traffic are first time visitors from our local area. These visitors are primarily coming from Google Search and Social Media.

When they visit our site we have found based on analytics that they are interested in 4 things:

  1. Service Times & Location

  2. Kids information

  3. Staff/Senior Pastor information

  4. Sermon Media

We have also found that returning visitors go to 3 primary pages:

  • Online Giving

  • Sermon Videos

  • Events

While we don’t want to hide information from our members or returning site visitors, we have found that their time on site is longer and they will spend the time to find what they are looking for. If a first time website visitor has a hard time finding the key information they are looking for they will likely to disengage and move on. So, how do you make a great first impression with your website?

This first starts with defining your goal for your website visitors. For Community Bible Church that is attending a worship service at one of our physical campuses in San Antonio or attending our Online Campus if they live outside of San Antonio, Texas. My guess is that your goal is pretty much the same. So, how can you do this?

  • Clean and Vibrant Design - your website should look much like your church lobby: welcoming, clean, and clear. Use images or videos that give visitors a look into your worship experiences and church campus. Show friendly faces and engaging imagery.

  • Communicate Clearly - make sure your service times and locations are easy to see and find. Also, make sure it is clear what families are expected to do with their kids and what that check-in process will be like before they arrive.  

  • Meet the Pastor - while your church is more than your Pastor, people still desire to feel a personal connection to their pastor. While you don’t need to feature your pastor on the homepage, you should make sure that people can get to know them on the website before attending.

  • Offer Video Messages - before we go to a restaurant or hotel we check out the reviews.  We want to see pictures, hear what others say, and get the best understanding of what we are about to experience.  By offering your sermons via video on your website you allow potential visitors to get the great possible perspective on whether your church might be the best fit for them and their family.

So, leave the clutter behind and create a great first impression that helps move people from curious website visitors to worship service attenders.  

How else are you helping to make a great first impression with your website? What sites out there do you see that make a great first impression?

One other recommendation that I would encourage you to consider is a great value add that we have created: Live Chat. We have added a live chat feature to our website where a digital receptionist is logged in and ready to answer questions via live chat or visitors can leave a message that are returned within 12 hours.  This level of engagement has proven to create a “wow factor” and personalization to the first impression we are creating with the website.

Thank You Gary Vaynerchuk

Dear Gary,
 
I just wanted to say, Thank You. 
 
You see, 16 years ago I had my first job in Youth Ministry and my greatest ministry tool at the time was AOL Instant Messenger. I didn’t see it that way at the time because I thought it was more of a toy than a tool, but as I look back it’s very clear. Quickly that tool changed to MySpace and then Facebook. When Facebook opened up their ad platform I did what I always do and experimented. We saw our college ministry explode on pennies spent on these ads and I began getting a lot of attention in the ministry space.
 
Then I read your book Crush It.  Well first, I watched this video:

After watching your video and reading your book, I saw a bigger picture. You spoke my language, but opened my eyes that this wasn’t a fad or trend that had the attention of teenagers. This was a fundamental shift in our culture that would only grow. I did what you often recommend and I doubled down and went all in. 
 
That investment has paid off. Some financial as I’ve written a book, and had the privilege of speaking at conferences around the United States. Mostly in terms of ministry impact as the lessons I have learned from you in terms of social media directly translated into exponential ministry impact at Community Bible Church and for the ministries I consult with. 
 
I could tell you many stories and I would love to some day, but for now I just want to say thank you. Thank you for generously sharing your wisdom through your books, your YouTube videos, blog posts, podcasts and anywhere else that you are able to. I have purchased many copies of all of your books to both read and give away. I initially did this as a way to say thank you to you for your investment in me, but your books in turn provide even greater value to me. Your books that I have given away have turned into clients paying me thousands in return for a $15 book that I gave them of yours. Your books have proven to be a way better sales pitch for me than I could ever do myself. 
 
I just recently purchased many copies of #AskGaryVee and plan to buy many more. I recommend it to anyone and everyone that I can. I actually recently attended one of your events in New York and unexpectedly got to meet you (see above). This was the first time I met you face to face, but a couple years ago you were also gracious enough to do an interview for me here:

So, while I’m admitting publicly to stalking you, I know you’re okay with that. You are passionate and generous and through that generosity changed many lives like mine. I’m thankful for your generosity and transparency, as it has dramatically changed my life. That might sound strange to many that a cursing marketer changed a pastor’s life, but that’s quite honestly the truth. You spoke my language which allowed me to better communicate to church leaders the critical value points of social media and the new digital world that we find ourselves in. I wish more pastors would pay attention to your message, but I’ve taken it on myself to help translate it for you in their language. 
 
I wish I could give back to you way more than a few book purchases and a blog post, but for now I’ll simply say thank you in the best way that I know how. Publicly… online…over social media. If there is ever anything that I can do for you beyond buying a bunch of books, I would be honored. 
 
Thank You,

Nils Smith

 

P.S. If you haven't yet bought Gary's new book I can't encourage you enough to click the link below:

#AskGaryVee: One Entrepreneur's Take on Leadership, Social Media, and Self-Awareness

Celebrating Chris Emmitt

Last weekend we celebrated 25 years of being a church at Community Bible Church, but there was something else much harder for me to celebrate:  the transitioning out of my direct leader, Chris Emmitt.  If you don’t know, Chris is leaving his role as the Executive and Teaching Pastor at Community Bible Church to become the Lead Pastor of Mountain Lake Church in the North Atlanta area.  It’s truly something to celebrate as this is an incredible opportunity for Chris and, in turn, CBC gets to send out a leader that we raised up to go and lead at the next level.  In celebration is ideally how every leader should transition and there is no doubt that we all celebrate this move for Chris, Mountain Lake and CBC as we hope to raise up and send out more leaders in the short and long term future. 

As I celebrate, I naturally look back on the past 5 years of locking arms in ministry.  Chris and I met almost 7 years ago online at Rockbridge Seminary.  About 6 years ago Chris called me and asked to go get coffee to discuss college/young adult ministry.  From there we quickly became friends and eventually colleagues.  Chris has been my direct leader at CBC from Day 1 and we have been through a lot together. 

We launched Online Church together and he has helped me navigate and innovate around Online Church.  We had the privilege of leading Two42 together reaching hundreds of Young Adults each week in and around the San Antonio area.  Chris empowered me to lead in more strategic areas navigating a rebranding process, website development, and so many fun and exciting initiatives together.  These past 5 years have been the most fruitful of my relatively short ministry career and I know that none of it would be possible without Chris’ great leadership guiding me every step of the way. 

While I look back with great pride on the work that God allowed the two of use to do together, these aren’t the memories that I will remember most.  Chris has not only been my boss, but he’s also become one of my best friends.  We have shared countless cups of coffee together and many $5 footlongs.  At least I think he ate a sandwich.  His was usually already gone/inhaled by the time I got to the table.  Over these 5 years we simply shared life together.  There is no doubt that I will miss my friend when I come back to San Antonio but, even still, I cannot help but celebrate this move for he and his family. 

Mountain Lake Church, you are getting a dynamic preacher, visionary leader and a man who is mature beyond his years.  He will lead you well, love you well and serve you well.  I pray that in the coming years that you appreciate Chris, love he and his family and continue to support his leadership and the vision that God puts on his heart as your leader.  I know that God has great plans ahead for your church and know that you will be extremely blessed by your new pastor, Chris Emmitt.  

Chris, thank you for your leadership, your trust, your passion, your sarcasm, your understanding, and most of all your friendship.  It's been an honor and a blessing.