Community Bible Church San Antonio

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

Becoming a Social Media Pastor: 1 Year Anniversary

So it's been 1 Year since I joined the staff of Community Bible Church as the Social Media Pastor. It has been an incredible ride and I cannot wait to see what is ahead! I hope you'll take a couple minutes and watch this video highlighting our first year of ministry online.

I have to give props to our CBC Online intern, Jay Gilbert, for creating this video.

Here are the links to the other posts in this series:

Part 1: The Valley

Part 2: The Search

Part 3: The Find

Part 4: The Experiment

Part 5: The Growth

Part 6: 1 Year Anniversary

The Power of Facebook

A good friend printed this for me in poster size and dropped it off in my office the other day.  I immediately hung it on my wall putting it above the map in my office highlighting what regions we are impacting the most through CBC Online.  This map highlights the heaviest areas of traffic for Facebook and the interactions made on Facebook with other regions.  I had an idea of what this might look like, but to see it in this format is amazing and overwhelming.

It's wild to think that an idea (Facebook) formulated in a college dorm room has impacted literally the ends of the earth in less than 7 years.  As we consider methods for sharing the gospel, can you imagine a better resource?  Facebook is about relationships and so is the gospel.  Facebook is touching the ends of the earth and so are we called to take the gospel to all regions.

So why isn't everyone using this incredible resource?  I heard a statistic this week that only 50% of churches utilize Facebook in any way.  I also heard a statistic that 95% of Americans age 20-30 are active users of Facebook and the largest growing demographic are adults between 60-75 years old.  So why isn't everyone using Facebook again?

I will have many posts ahead on how I have utilized Facebook in ministry, but don't wait for someone to tell you how.  Facebook is really so new that there isn't necessarily a right or wrong, but I can't encourage you enough to get to know Facebook and start interacting.  Trust me, it's worth it!

Becoming a Social Media Pastor Part 5: The Growth

CBC Online Attendance Charts
CBC Online Attendance Charts

We are now 7 months into the launch of CBC Online and here is what we have experienced to date.  I expected God to do some BIG things through these ministry efforts, but I had no idea how big.  We are now offering services 24 hours a day with 3 different pastors with the recent addition of a Spanish service.  Each week we now have people login from all 50 states in the US and  from over 100 countries around the world.  We had a great launch in June and it has been incredible to be a part of this journey to this point. It's hard to imagine that the trend line that these charts suggest could be true, but God has already moved in much BIGGER ways than we could have ever imagined.  I am so thankful to the leadership at CBC, the incredible CBC Online volunteers, the developers of Media Social (the platform we use) , and Mark Zuckerberg for creating an incredible tool to share the gospel and connect believers.   All of these people working together have made an incredible team with each part being critical in this tremendous growth that we have experienced.   It has been an incredible 7 months, but I believe strongly that we are just getting started and THE BEST IS YET TO COME!

Here are the links to the other posts in this series:

Part 1: The Valley

Part 2: The Search

Part 3: The Find

Part 4: The Experiment

Part 5: The Growth

Part 6: 1 Year Anniversary

Music Suggestion: Josh Lopez: Broken. Restored. Loved.

Broken Restored Loved - CBC Album Release Promo from Community Bible Church on Vimeo.

My friend and colleague, Josh Lopez just released his new album: Broken. Restored. Loved.  I can't encourage you enough to get a copy of this album.  The music is incredible and the lyrics are powerful.  Before you buy the album though, I encourage you to go the website www.brokenrestoredloved.comBroken. Restored. Loved. and click the links to watch the videos connected to the album.  The stories or broken lives being restored by a loving Savior are so powerful!  They will bring this album to life in a whole new way as you listen and sing along.