Book Tour - Online Church

Want to know more about Online Church?  Curious where to begin or where to go from where you are?  CBC Online launched in one week and so can your online ministry!  We will talk about not just how to broadcast your worship experiences, but organizing volunteers, online Bible studies, ministry follow up, etc.  Whether you are just curious or fully committed this session will be beneficial to your church/minitry to begin thinking differently about the possibilities online. Session Interview with Alan George, Church Online Pastor at LifeChurch.tv.

Online Church - Social Media Guide For Ministry Day5 from Nils Smith on Vimeo.

If you have not purchased the Social Media Guide for Ministry you can find it on Amazon here.

If you have purchased and read the book if you would please leave a review on Amazon here.

If you have any questions about this session please leave a comment and I would love to answer any question that you might have.

Embracing the "Competition"

Screen Shot 2013-01-11 at 8.56.05 AM A few weeks ago I was telling someone about a new book that just came out called Going Social.  Their immediate question was, "Are you disappointed that your book wasn't released first?"  I answered quickly and honestly: "Yes."  Later that day I downloaded the book and as I began to read it conviction quickly soaked in.

Going Social is a very good book and a great resource for the ministry leaders.  While the book discusses many of the same things that my coming book does, it is still very different and will help probably some of the same people, but most likely engage very different audiences.  I'm very competitive by nature, but my passion is genuinely for collaboration and unity in the body.

I wrote The Social Media Guide for Ministry simply to encourage and help ministry leaders to maximize Social Media for Ministry.  That is my goal.  I also believe that the more people speaking into ministry leaders about this topic, the better.  Other bloggers and authors are not my competition, they are my partners with a common goal.  I'm so excited about what they are doing and I hope you will check out their resources as well.

Here are 3 books for ministry leaders from fellow partners in ministry:

1) Going Social by Terrace Crawford- I downloaded this book on my iPad and have skimmed, but not yet fully read.  It looks to be a thorough book on Social Media for Ministry and well written and laid out.  It also includes a chapter from my friend Sean Cannell on maximizing YouTube for Ministry.  Terrace is a Youth Pastor that has been and still is actively using Social Media in Youth Ministry and shares from his personal experience.

2) The iChurch Method by Jason Caston- this is a personaly favorite of mine.  I've actually read it twice as Jason packed this book with a practical system for any sized ministry to maximize web tools.  It includes simple and practical steps for a new user of Social Media and web technology as well as complex systems and even HTML code for you to use.  While this book goes beyond just Social Media, I can't recommend this book enough.  I also must add that Jason has become a good friend and someone I look forward to locking arms with in pioneering new technologies with in the future.

3) Social Media and Ministry by Rev. Dr Kenneth Lilliard- I honestly have not read this book, nor am I familiar with the author.  In searching for other resources though, this is the first that pulled up and seems to have a similar message of maximizing Social Media for  Gospel spreading purposes.  I would love for you to check it out and let us know what you think.

If there are other resources I have missed, I would love for you to share them in the comments.  This is an exciting time for ministry leaders as the world through social media is more connected than ever creating incredible gospel opportunities.  The challenge becomes understanding how to best utilize these incredible tools for ministry purposes.  Technology is changing fast and so must our methods in utlizing them with a critical need for innovative ministry leaders.  I'm grateful for these and so many other partners in ministry and the many people who are creating incredible resources to support ministry leaders in this way.  I'm honored to be a part of this exciting conversation!


3 Questions with Jason Caston

jason-nadmediasummite-3-300x199 I am so excited to introduce you to my friend, Jason Caston.  Jason and I connected several months ago online and were able to finally meet in person at the iMinistry Conference.  I am continually inspired by Jason's work and learn from his knowledge, but most of all love his passionate heart for Christ.  Here are my 3 questions with Jason Caston:

1)  When you look at all that you have accomplished in your ministry online, what would you describe as your top 2-3 wins and why?

My top wins in ministry online are as follows

1. In 2011, I created an interactive live streaming channel for TD Jakes ministries.  This was for a conference and we had all the bells and whistles of social media integration, live chat, live video and mobile compatibility.  Well while I was monitoring the conference, I was in the chatroom just watching people chat and I saw something that literally made me just thank God, I saw people talking about how their lives were being changed right here online. They were watching the conference and the preaching and talking to people and all that was leading them to Christ, renew their minds and just total life transformation.  It was at that moment that I thanked God for giving the opportunity to work in ministry and be able to use my gifts, talents and abilities to help people see the awesome power of God.

2. In 2012 I finished The iChurch Method book and released it at a conference in Orlando.  I taught a session on Church Social Media and afterwards saw the response of people wanting to get the book and use it to help their ministries, it was a great accomplishment.

3. As my year winds down and I reflect on things,  I really just consider where God has me right now as a win.  I am gearing up for volume 2 of The iChurch Method, helping my church develop their online campus and enjoying the opportunities I get to fly around the country and teach church online.  I feel really blessed that God has me at the crossroads of what I am good at in life, what I like to do and what he has purposed for me to do.  I can’t wait to see what next year has in store.


2)  What led you to write the book iChurch Method and what are your hopes for those who read it?

The iChurch Method came about because I was able to see first hand how technology could be used by ministries to change people’s lives.  I was always a tech geek and enjoyed gadgets but I never really saw the connection between “taking ministry to the people” and “the internet is accessible anytime, anywhere on numerous devices”.  When I started to really get that concept, I started making IT decisions for the ministries that I was working at that led towards that goal.  I also wanted ministries that don’t have the resources to hire a developer or a “Jason Caston” to have something they could reference and use to either create their own online presence or be able to “speak enough geek” to not be taken advantage of by a web company that’s only trying to make money and not help the ministry advance online.

I originally came up with the concept while working at Crenshaw Christian Center in 2007, I saw that I had to revamp their entire online presence. Therefore, I took this approach, I first revamped their website, added multimedia, overhauled their online store, added new donation features, setup social media pages and finally laid out a mobile website.  When all was said and done, I looked back and thought...that’s an interesting strategy there... I wonder if that would work elsewhere.

In 2010 when I relocated to Dallas, I was recruited by T.D. Jakes Ministries and I had to show them that I knew what I was talking about so I came up with five areas that I could help them and explain my past successes.  These five areas were websites, multimedia, ecommerce, social media and mobile and these five topics from the interview later become the same five chapters I have in The iChurch Method book.

3)  Outside of the Bible, what 1 book has most shaped your ministry and why?

The Dream Giver by Bruce Wilkinson, this book is written in an interesting format in that it in the format of a modern day parable.  Where someone ordinary (who's name is Ordinary) leaves the Land of Familiar to pursue his Big Dream, given to him by the Dream Giver.  He is trying to become Somebody but he must overcome believing that he is nobody.

This book empowered me to pursue my dreams, desires and God given purpose in life no matter what.  I genuinely started to believe that I had the gifts, talents and abilities to do something great.  There was nothing that could stop me becoming what God intended for me to be…except for disbelief and lack of faith in myself.  And since God doesn't make mistakes, I was created, purpose and destined to do great things in His kingdom.


I hope you will not stop at reading just this interview, but also visit Jason's website and then buy his book.  The iChurch Method is a reproducible system for any church to maximize web technologies in their own context.  

Here are some other posts in this series:

3 Questions with Becky Kiser

3 Questions with Peter McGowan

3 Questions with Tim Peters

3 Questions with Greg Smith

3 Questions with Mike Sharrow

iMinistry 2012 Notes

 Screen shot 2012-06-18 at 5.32.12 PM

I had a great time this past week at the iMinistry Conference at Lakepointe Church in Rockwall, TX.  I was honored to participate in several panel discussions alongside some incredible ministry leaders from around the country.  Here are my notes from several of the sessions:

Seth Farrior

- The internet is a tool

- The secret to "success" is intentionality.

- End goal is to get them connected in a physical church community.

- Online Campus experiences turnover every 6 months... and okay with that.


Guidelines to success:

1)   Be humble

2)   Be bold

3)   Be who God created you to be


"Our strengths are nothing more than how God chooses to use us for His Kingdom."


Small Groups

- Nate- 2 different kinds of small groups: chat based (after services), Adobe Connect (face to face)

- Jan- 7 Online Groups, all different.  Facebook Groups,

- a LifeGroup that just meets as a Facebook Group

- 2 sermon based studies

- Google + hangouts

- Content is a great challenge

- one content possibility: RightNow Media

- Lecture base online kills it... quickly! - Nate

- Just because you get a no doesn't mean it will always be a no.

- chatzy- chat room program used for LifeGroups



- Identify volunteers by monitoring the chat and various Social Media tools- Oscar

- Best volunteers come from Online

- Use Zoom to connect with volunteers

- Best volunteers are not always techy IT people

- Jason Morris- incorporate the value of "fun"

- "slide ruler" - interactive slides

- "chat artist" - host

- "prayer ninja" - prayer warrior

- "twitter sniper" -

- "experience captain" - oversees the entire experience and team

- What someone else is doing in their context, may not work in yours. - Jan Touchberry

- Set up area in lobby for volunteers so physical campus can see online campus.

- Question: What are you doing to invest in your leaders?


Learn to be sensitive the the Spirit and listen to your volunteers.  2 ears, 1 mouth, use in the proportion. - Oscar

- Help people to tell their story.

- freeconferencecall.com for volunteer meetings

- Pray for volunteers

- Have job descriptions written on paper



Measuring Success

How do you count?

- LifeChurch.tv- counts unique visitors

- Westside Family- uniques

- Seacoast- time on site/video length (7 minutes)


track as much as possible: unique visits, return visits, time on page, where people come from, giving...


LifeChurch.tv Campus tier

Tier 1- new campus not self supporting

Tier 2- self supporting

Tier 3- giving back and supporting new campuses


Bring in, Build Up, Train, Send Out- LifeChurch.tv Discipleship Process

Seeker, Believer, Follower, Leader- Westside Discipleship Process


Giving Options

- Service U

- Secure Give


Share your story and people will follow that vision



Alan George Interview

- Ministry is not something we do, but who we are.  Cannot compartmentalize ministry.

- How many staff for Church Online? 6 looking for 7

- Use scrum to interface with staff

- Always ask what can I do to break through the next barrier?

- Not about thinking outside of the box, but thinking within restraints.

- Is your model scalable?

- Church Online Roadshow- visiting each campus promoting Church Online and recruiting volunteers

- What's Next?  Church working together to lead the way with technology and innovation



1)   Invest in Staff Team

2)   Analytics

3)   Communication

Church Online in Real Life

This past week I attended the Echo Conference in Dallas.  One of my favorite sessions was with Tony Steward from LifeChurch.tv.  I'm a BIG fan of Tony's and the online ministry of LifeChurch.tv.  Anyways, they created this video about Church Online that I wanted to share with you.  If you've ever attended Church Online this will crack you up because it's really what the conversation is like sometimes.

If you've never attended Church Online, I hope you will try it out.  I would love for you to check out CBC Online this week.  Our services are at 7,8, or 9pm CST on Monday or noon, 7, 8, or 9pm CST on Wednesday.