Data Made Practical: YouVersion Search Terms

Data Made Practical: YouVersion Search Terms

Here are the top ten search queries for the week ending September 9, 2021 on YouVersion.

People are clearly searching God’s Word for encouragement in dealing with emotions likely triggered by current events.  With all the confusion and angst in the world, it’s no wonder people are searching for verses to help them with anxiety, fear, and the feeling of being overwhelmed.

As people are actively looking for hope, it’s important they don’t just hear advice from friends, family, or Facebook.  These topics should be reflected in your preaching calendar or in your small group curriculum.

Even those not actively involved in a local church may recognize the Bible may provide peace in trying circumstances and be open to a new perspective.

Isaiah 55:8-9 says “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

The Bible can act as an anchor for people in difficult circumstances and your should rest in the fact that you have something eternally significant advice in an ever-changing and ever-difficult culture.

Think about these words (and the needs they represent) as you think about your events, emails, church sign, sermon, and all of your communication.

How To Rebuild Unity In Your Church After 2020

How To Rebuild Unity In Your Church After 2020

People aren’t offended by Christ. They’re offended by Christians. 

Too often, it’s Christians offending fellow Christians within your church, feeding into the self-segregating nature of modern Christianity when it’s left on auto-pilot. People in the church aren’t just drifting their gaze inward, but they’re creating their own little subdivisions and cliques within the church walls.  

One group prefers contemporary worship music while another only wants to worship with traditional hymns, so you start doing two different services in order to steady the waters. 

Using separation as a band-aid instead of unity as a salve. 

One generation wants to keep doing small groups on Zoom while the other is itching to meet in person, so you silently allow both to continue on. 

Yet again, using separation as a band-aid instead of unity as a salve.  

Before this past year, church leaders have been able to keep the quiet rumblings of disunity among your own congregation at bay… And then 2020 made things more divisive, more binary, more confrontational, and more political than ever.  

People built the walls that separated neighbor from neighbor even higher and made them even thicker. Gossip became malice and tension became explosive both outside and inside the church.

Whether you were a part of the wall building or misspeaking is beside the point. We all watched it happen throughout the year. 

So, how can you rebuild unity in your church after a year like 2020? 

It is entirely possible to do so. It’s going to take grit and grace from you as a leader but is possible. 

To “reunite” your church in 2020, you need to unify everyone around a common purpose.

For each individual to turn their eyes from inward to outward, beyond themselves and their preferences, lead your church in fixing its collective eyes outward. 

Not in a traditional, “there are people out there who need our help and need our Savior,” way, but in actionable ways that bring our Savior to the very people who are currently not a part of your church or God’s kingdom at all. 

Give people the opportunity to show the surrounding community who Christ is—together. Create the space for members of your church to come out from behind flagrant Facebook posts, to disassemble the walls of division, link arms, and look outward as one unified body. 

Leading your church to adopt an outsider-first approach is a great step toward rebuilding unity. It looks different in all churches, but for your church, it could mean…

  • You are intentionally designing your church services with outsiders in mind and calls to invite outsiders in mind.
  • You offer programs and ministries to meet the real needs of your community that require volunteers to get involved.
  • You are shifting resources from programs inside the church to supporting programs and organizations that serve your community without being a part of your church
  • You are constantly reminding current members of your church that it’s the people who are NOT in attendance that need your church to be united
  • You deploy programming that requires people already connected to your church to connect with each other.
  • You forgo your traditional church events and repurpose that time to shed light on organizations meeting current needs in the community that need volunteers.

In 2021, rebuilding unity in your church is not about growing your church. If it grows in the process, that’s a great benefit. But rebuilding unity is about leading your church in becoming more like Christ. 

Become the church known for being unified and seeking unity in 2021.

Become a church where the people who are already in attendance come together as one and first-time visitors feel welcomed enough to join in. Be one body with many beautiful members, not a fractured group.

Romans 8:14-15 reminds us that “All who are led by God’s Spirit are God’s sons and daughters. You didn’t receive a spirit of slavery to lead you back again into fear, but you received a Spirit that shows you are adopted as his children.” 

God’s sons and daughters. 

Adopted as His children. 

Siblings bicker and fight from time to time. Relationships are messy no matter how similar or dissimilar our blood is to one another. But being a family, being sons and daughters, demands that we lay aside our preferences, and choose to stand united. 

Try leading your church in treating outsiders like family and they’ll start treating each other like family along the way. 

Take the Next Step

For help creating a comprehensive and strategic approach to creating unity among your colleagues, your congregation, and your community, check out the FOR Starter Kit

The FOR Starter Kit gives you a complete roadmap to truly impacting your congregation and ultimately the community, and creating unity across the board. Don’t just throw ideas and vision at the wall and pray something sticks. Get the FOR Starter Kit and let it be your guide to building unity within your church and in your surrounding community. 

Moving Your Church Membership Classes Online | Church Fuel Podcast Episode 2.1

Moving Your Church Membership Classes Online | Church Fuel Podcast Episode 2.1

Episode 2.1 Moving Your Church Membership Classes Online

Bobby Williams, Lead Pastor at Ridge Church and Church Fuel Ministry Coach, joins Michael & Meagan to discuss what it looks like to move their Membership Class to an online platform.

Guest: Bobby Williams

Bobby Williams, Lead Pastor at Ridge Church and Church Fuel Ministry Coach, joins Michael & Meagan to discuss what it looks like to move their Membership Class to an online platform.

Even before COVID, Ridge Church had made the decision to make their Membership Classes (or what they refer to as Partnership Classes) online to raise the bar in what it meant to be a partner with Ridge Church, but lower the bar what it takes to go through the process.

WHY A MEMBERSHIP CLASS?

Your Membership class is an important part of helping your church members become aware of their personal impact on the church and the community. Most people desire to make more of an impact than just showing up on Sunday, but often don’t know how. 

Your Membership class can not only onboard new members in the mission and strategy of the church, but also their own mission as a key player. 

REDEFINING MEMBERSHIP

(05:10 – 06:17 ) Bobby shares why they use the term “Partnership” rather than “Membership”. To be a member of a gym, you pay a membership fee, but if something breaks you don’t have to fix it. But being a part of a church is so much more than being a member. The word “Partnership” implies that you have ownership and are in it together.

WHAT MAKES UP A MEMBERSHIP CLASS?

(06:19 – 08:16 ) Earlier in the episode, Meagan defined membership as information, doctrine, and expectations. Those three categories are critical to partnership with a church. These help you understand what you’re getting into and what you’re becoming a part of. 

A membership class, in its simplest form, is sharing the way things work. Bobby shares how a membership class provides practical value for people to raise their hands and take ownership in their church. 

WHY GO ONLINE

(09:40 – 12:14) Bobby shares why Ridge Church decided to take their membership class online, even pre-COVID. Revising their Membership class strategy allowed Ridge Church to raise the bar in what it meant to be a partner with Ridge Church, but lower the bar in going through the process.

On-demand has become an expectation in most areas of our life. Creating an on-demand process for a membership class allows members to go at their own pace, in their own time. Taking membership classes online allows you to simultaneously make something meaningful and accessible.

At Church Fuel, we create online courses and allow people to go through them from their own homes and offices.

Check out some of our members' favorite courses:

Follow-Up Course

Giving Course

Systems Course

Breaking 200 Course

WHAT DOES ONLINE LOOK LIKE

(12:30 – 17:30)

Bobby shares how Ridge Church structures its online Partnership Classes. Open Enrollment is held once a quarter (4 x’s a year) for a new member to opt into at a time that works for them. The class is held through a series of 10-12 minute videos, on an unlisted Youtube Channel. Once a member has completed the video series & the subsequent forms associated with each video, they are invited to attend the after-party that occurs at the end of the quarter to ask questions and connect with other members of Ridge Church.

Bobby also breaks down the sections for their Partnership Class:

Sections

1: Who We Are

2: What We Do

3: Structure & Strategy

4: What You Should Expect From Us

ADDED VALUE TO ONLINE

(17:30 – 24:25) Meagan & Michael discuss that by providing informational content online, your in-person time can be completely focused on relationship building. Church, as we’ve come to know, is not just facing forward and listening to someone talk for 30 minutes. It’s corporate singing, connecting with others, etc… The same idea can apply to our membership classes.

Provide the information and online and spend your in-person time together to celebrate and connect.

Bobby shares how they can continue to engage members who have either moved outside of the area or discovered Ridge Church outside the local community by utilizing Online Partnership Classes. Without the constraint of distance, they can share the DNA and Culture of Ridge Church with any person, anywhere. 

RESOURCES

Ridge Church Membership Class Outline

Ridge Church Sign-Up Page

Ridge Church Partnership Class Video

Connect with Bobby at Bobby@churchfuel.com

Read or download a free PDF transcript of this episode HERE

Quotes from Episode 2.1

“Creating an on-demand process for a membership class allows members to go at their own pace, in their own time” – Bobby Williams

“Changing “Membership Class” to “Partnership Class” implies that you have ownership and are in it together.” – Bobby Williams

“When you provide informational content online, your in-person time can be completely focused on relationship building.” – Meagan Ranson

“Provide information online and spend your in-person time together to celebrate and connect.” – Michael Lukaszewski 

“Taking membership classes online allows you to simultaneously make something meaningful and accessible.” – Michael Lukaszewski 

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How Churches Can Use Social Media During Covid-19

How Churches Can Use Social Media During Covid-19

Social Media is one of the best tools we have to continue ministry outside of the hour on Sunday. All the time is a great time to spread the gospel of love and hope, but  people are listening now more than ever.

Social media doesn’t have to be complicated, and it doesn’t have to be perfect. It just has to be relational. 

It is vital that we are active on our social media accounts. Post in the feed, go live, share stories, ask questions, and comment on other people’s posts. 

Consider the emotional ramifications of social distancing. We’re asking people to isolate themselves and stay home. How can we work against the effects of loneliness, boredom, stress, anxiety, or hopelessness? 

We can help by being present. We can help by sharing information that isn’t based in fear, but based in hope. 

7 Crucial Examples of Social Media Messaging

Mile City Church has a scheduled guided prayer time every morning at 7am for their church members to join.

Brownsbridge Church highlighted a local need

Life Church is posting messages of hope.

Perimeter Church  is opening up Instagram for prayer requests

Buckhead Church is producing a podcast to lead us through uncertainty.

Zionsville United Methodist Church created a Facebook Group with scheduled daily devotions.

Crossroads Church is going live with worship on their Facebook page.

Kids Online Ministry: It’s Not as Difficult as You Think

Kids Online Ministry: It’s Not as Difficult as You Think

For most of 2020, many of us weren't leaving our homes as much. We weren't visiting friends, going to school, or even going to park without restrictions. A lot has changed and is still changing. It's not always easy to process why—especially when you're a kid.

How can we as a church show up?

We need to step away, for a moment, and consider the bigger picture. Our relationship with Jesus, and being a part of the church, isn't intended to squeeze inside an hour on Sunday. So our content and our resources shouldn't either.

Consider taking your content and spreading it throughout the week. You don't have to eliminate your family experience on the weekends but give families the ideas and resources to integrate their faith throughout the week too.

Programming Online Kids Ministry

Just like you’re taking adult services online, pre-elementary and elementary-aged children can also have online experiences. You can take pieces of your lessons, and make them digital. Tell a story, sing a song, it doesn't have to be done perfectly.

If you're not a large church with a video team and the ability to mass-produce professional online experiences, we have great news. YOU DON'T HAVE TO. You probably know the names of each of the kids in your ministry, you can facetime them (with parents' permission of course). You can hold a zoom call for everyone at once, and connect with them as one group. You can write letters back and forth. Kids love snail mail! Don't feel like you have to put all your eggs in the online experience, there are so many ways to continue the purpose of your ministry.

If you do want an online experience without having to make one yourself, the LifeKids team from LifeChurch is creating full-length video services that include interactive elements, pauses, and worship that can be streamed online.  (These experiences will be relevant for children from ages two through sixth grade.)

These videos have no Life.Church branding and use license-free music.  CLICK HERE for LifeKids resources.

Resourcing Parents for Online Church

We need to shift our focus from re-creating the weekend experience (which so much consists of interacting with other same-age kids) and resourcing parents to include their kids.

Consider creating a Facebook group for your Kids Ministry to post videos, share updates, and ask questions.

One of the biggest ways you can show up with your families is by providing practical and useful resources for parents.

So many parents are trying to balance working from home, being a teacher, and being a parent.  It’s really tough.

Step into their world by becoming a trusted source for quality and helpful information.  Ask your parents what they need and either find or create resources to help them during this time.  Take the time you would spend preparing rooms or creating lessons and funnel that energy toward resourcing parents.

Here are some ideas of things you can do to resource and equip them through the week:

How to Create an Online Student Ministry

How to Create an Online Student Ministry

When the news about COVID-19 began influencing large gatherings, all churches scrambled to figure out what to do when they couldn’t gather in person on Sunday.

That realization quickly extended to other ministries too.  We need to consider how we can continue not just our adults services, but also our students. And we need to create new opportunities for students to stay connected.

Students' lives have been significantly affected during this time – nearly every environment in their lives has been disrupted.  School, friends, work, and church are all completely different than they were a few weeks ago. If this is tough for you as an adult, it is exponentially more difficult for a teenager.

It’s important to provide a sense of normalcy. 

Here’s Kenny Cambpell, co-founder of Stuff You Can Use: A Youth Ministry Community

To be honest, “adult” church is actually way ahead of kids/student ministry when it comes to live streaming. 99.9% of youth ministries haven’t started live streaming until this week whereas adults have been doing it for years.

Kids/youth ministry online is new. There’s some people like Tj McConahay who have been killing it on social media (TJ specifically is great with TikTok), but those are more like bonus material. Doing kids/youth ministry 100% remote is new territory.

But we’ll be keeping our eyes open and paying attention to what people are doing in the Stuff You Can Use Facebook groups, and sharing all the new ideas that will be popping up in the coming weeks.

Examples of Live Streaming in Student Ministry

Check out the insanely practical ways that churches are using technology for student ministry. 

Most of the livestreaming advice that applies to church services will also apply to your student ministry.  But there are a few student-specific pointers that will help you serve students better.

Download Josh’s guide here.

Other live streaming options for students include…

  1. Twitch
  2. Google Hangouts
  3. Instagram Live

Staying Connected to Students 

If your student ministry has small groups, it’s not a huge jump to shift them online meeting using a tool like Zoom. 

It’s one of the more popular video call solutions and has been helping people work remotely for years.  But it’s also a great tool for online small groups.

Right now, they are extending their free trial, essentially removing their 40-minute limit.  One of the cool features of Zoom is breakout rooms. You could have a large group teaching time and then split students up into their respective small groups. 

Relationships, more than programming, have always been the driving force behind student ministry. As great as it is to provide an online service or digital gathering, it might be more important to stay connected throughout the week.  This just might be one place where student ministry is ahead of adult ministry.

Brian Lawson shares some great ideas….

  •  Send students personalized text messages. Let them know that you have not forgotten them and that even when they feel alone, they are never alone. 
  • Call your students! Yes, call them. It seems weird, and it may be awkward, but give them a good old fashioned phone call.
  • Use Google Hangouts, Skype, or Zoom to video call several students at once. Most of these services are free and can have 10+ people on the call. Why not play a game with them? Pull out the classic games and conversation starters like Two Truths and A Lie, Never Have I Ever, or Good Thing, Bad Thing.

GroupMe is a great way to stay connected to students outside of events, even during times when you can gather.  Many students already use this for school, sports, or church.

Cameron Pedicord and Jonathan McKee have some great ideas for how you can help students grow spiritually and stay connected during this time.

Here are some good ones:

  • Post a short devotional video every day. Make it fun. Give a tour of your house. Show them that you actually have toilet paper.
  • Jump on Zoom or some other meeting app and take a small group through one of our free YouTube discussions (yes, these each have small group questions and scripture) or free Music Discussions (yes, Billie Eilish, Bieber, Mercy Me, For King & Country… they all have scripture and small group questions, and they’re all free).
  • Challenge your students to read the Bible in a month. Send a group text with comments about what you read.
  • Have your musically inclined students spend time writing new worship songs. Post them to YouTube and share them with the group.
  • Video Game Tournament. Ask your students… they’ll tell you how.
  • Short Story or Book writing competition. Seriously. They have nothing else to do. How much Netflix can one student actually watch?
  • Binge watch a Netflix, Disney+, Hulu show and discuss. Did you know we have a Bible discussion posted for every single episode of The Walking Dead and Stranger Things?
  • Coffee Time: Everyone brews a cup of coffee at home and hangs out virtually. Video conference and share your secret coffee recipe.

More than ever, students need caring adults to lean in and facilitate connections.  Students already live their lives digitally, but this is a new opportunity for the church, and a new opportunity for your ministry.