Drew Goodmanson on Church Planting & Technology

Drew Goodmanson on Church Planting & Technology

January 3, 2011 by

This week we return to our series of interviews with members of the board of directors of our nonprofit parent, the Center for Church Communication. This week we talk with Drew Goodmanson, a church planter and technology expert. Drew co-founded Kaleo Church in San Diego and is the CEO of Monk Development. You can connect with Drew on his blog or follow him on Twitter.

As an experienced church planter what’s the most important thing a church can do to communicate well?

Drew Goodmanson: The most important thing a church planter can communicate well is a clear gospel message in the distinctiveness of their own calling.  Certainly, every church planter’s vision should start with how God is redeeming a people for Himself and is restoring a fallen and broken world.  From this God gives each church planter a unique call to a specific people, place or way to express the gospel that they will also need to communicate well.  This is the ‘what’ that a church planter should soak in.  The important questions of why are they going to be in a particular city, pursuing in a particular form (e.g., house churches or video venue) or communicating in particular ways.  So, taking the time to pray through the vision of how God is calling them to plant is central.

Churches have a reputation for having horrible websites. You work in that field, providing websites to thousands of churches and ministries. Tell us, is it getting any better out there?

Drew: I am excited about where things are going with the web.  I think churches at least now know that they need a website, which is often the new front door to the community.  (Our research shows that 27% of people who have been at a church under a year found the church first online.)  Sadly, I think too many churches just look for any old website, or do a feature comparison to check the ‘we’ve got a website’ box.  One thing I am excited about is more churches are starting to get that the web isn’t just a new method of communication but a radical paradigm shift that impacts the entire organization.  For example, in a period of three weeks we will be on site at three different church clients working with their key leadership teams to map out a tailored strategy for them.  In this process we guide all their ministry leaders to ensure there is a commitment to the shared vision and that there is ministry alignment to achieve the common goals that shape why the church exists.  As you can see, it’s not about a website, features, a CMS or Facebook page.  It’s about clarifying vision, building a web strategy and organizing to reflect the radical shift we have gone through.  These churches see they no longer can have a central communication person serving as a gatekeeper of the church communication.  The communication people need to move to be consultants working with ministry leaders to be effective in using technology to achieve their ministry goals.   There is a lot more here, but we are excited to see more and more churches move into this frame of thinking.

What’s the most exciting thing you’ve seen churches do to communicate in the past year?

Drew: I’m talking a lot about web stuff and certainly there are three or four case studies I have on the exciting things that are happening there, but I’m going to mention a much more Lo-fi answer that I’m excited about.  I love where things are going with Storying & Dialogical Teaching.  Our community has been going through Chronological Bible Storying that is really shaping us around the big picture redemptive story of who God is and what He is doing.  This is happening in homes throughout the city and includes unbelieving neighbors, friends and co-workers in the process.  It has been amazing to hear unbelievers hear these stories which are about five minutes in length and respond to the questions that guide a conversation which could go for hours and hours if we didn’t have to go to bed.  We were trained and work with Soma Communities, and I highly recommend the process as a very replicatable discipleship process for unbelievers, new believers and mature believers if done right.  Soma plans to go from 50 to 100 of these communities of people in a year in conjunction with this process.

What’s one simple way churches can improve their websites without spending any money?

Drew: It is a simple idea but it isn’t always simple to do: I’d say the church leadership should get in a room to pick the specific vision and identify key goals and values that they want to communicate online.  There are too many websites that don’t design their website with the specific goals that come from this process.  After a website re-tooled based on a clear strategy, we’ve seen church partners grow by 65% in a year or even add a 1,000 people.

What do you see down the road for the Center for Church Communication specifically and church communication in general?

Drew: I see more people going beyond a ‘main website’ to using technology to assist the life of the community.  This means using a community website to help connect people into home groups, share prayer requests and opportunities to serve.  The other thing I see will be some of the unintended consequences of these web technologies.  Just like air conditioning helped destroy community in neighborhoods as people moved from being on the front porch to locked inside the walls of their house, I think we will begin to see consequences to the technologies we use today.  Will people over-automate a web-based discipleship process?  Will some Christians decide to use the web as a cafeteria plan to meet their spiritual needs rather than connect into the life of a local community?  There are numerous benefits but as we further our  research and on-site strategy sessions we are starting to see how some churches may use technology in ways that could ave negative consequences.  Not everything than can be done should be.  But ultimately I’m excited to participate in stewarding technology for the 4,000 churches and ministries we serve with a pastoral perspective to hopefully go beyond features, to make a real impact in the life of their church and to continually improve based on the best practices/research we at MonkDev are involved in.

Post By:

Kevin D. Hendricks

When Kevin isn't busy as the editor of Church Marketing Sucks, he runs his own writing and editing company, Monkey Outta Nowhere. Kevin has been blogging since 1998, runs the hyperlocal site West St. Paul Reader, and has published several books, including 137 Books in One Year: How to Fall in Love With Reading, The Stephanies and all of our church communication books.
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