Biz Blog Series: The Evotional Blog - National Community Church

09/13/2005

Biz Blog Profile is a behind the scene look at how corporations, non profits and higher education institutions are using blogs to support their marketing goals.

Biz Blog Profiles
: The Evotional Blog - National Community Church

As Mark Batterson, Lead Pastor of National Community Church says - You never know who you'll bump into in the blogosphere. The story of how I met the good pastor is a testimonial to the integration of networking - online and off. I read a story in the NYT about a church that was godcasting. Sounded like a great post so off I went to find out more. In researching the post, Amen To Podcasts, I visited the blog and dropped a comment. Soon the Rev and I were volleying emails. Pretty cool.

Rev. Mark Batterson is a visionary when it comes to understanding and leveraging blogs and podcasts. He is using social networking strategies not only to inform but to engage his congragation, as well as, people who are interested in learning more about his church. Would you expect any less creativity from a church that meets in movie theatres at Washingon DC area Metro stops?

This mini case reads longer than usual. But I strongly encourage you to stay the course. Rev Batterson talks about many issues that business bloggers face and his Top Ten Lessons Learned are worth saving or even blogging or podcasting! And in the Future Directions section you just might find a few ideas that will help your business.

Sidebar: Sorry for the mixed up fonts...I have not a clue what happened with Typepad. I'm just a marketer not a geek.

About the National Community Church
National Community Church National_community_church_logostarted with a core group of 19 people in 1996. It has morphed into one church with two locations - the movie theaters @ Union Station in Washington, DC and the movie theaters @ Ballston Community Mall in Arlington, VA. The vision of the NCC is to meet in movie theaters @ metro stops throughout the DC area.

The Theaterchurch.com podcast was added to the iTunes library in July of 2005. Lead Pastor, Mark Batterson has been blogging since 2002.

Why the National Community Church is Podcasting & Blogging
NCC is driven by three core convictions:
1. The church ought to be the most creative place on the planet.
2. The greatest message deserves the greatest marketing.
3. The church is called to compete in the marketplace of ideas.

Podcasting is a creative way of redeeming technology to foster spiritual growth. By downloading messages, NCCers can feed their spirit while they commute, relax or work out. It's digital or downloadable discipleship.

Blogging is a way of supplementing the spiritual diet of NCCers. Every week, Mark Batterson sends out a written version of his weekend message. That evotional™ is the heart and soul of the blog. Daily blogs touch on a variety of topics related to life and leadership. Most blogs fall into two categories: to make you think or make you laugh.

How Blogs Fit into The National Community Church's Marketing/Community Outreach Strategies
As any organization grows, it's easy for a leadership to become isolated and insolated. Blogging is a way for people to hear the head and heart of the Lead Pastor. The comment function even turns the blog into a dialogue.

Blogging has had an impact on a number of different levels. It allows guests to get to know the personality of the pastor before they visit the church. It allows NCCers to feel like they are carrying on a real-time conversation with the Lead Pastor. And it allows readers to become NCC "insiders" by getting the inside-scoop on NCC.

National Community Church has an extremely young demographic. 80% of NCCers are single and twenty-something. The congregation is very tech-savvy so podcasting and blogging are second-hand nature to them. The weekly evotional is not just posted on the blog but sent out to several thousand subscribers. That enables readers to easily forward evotionals to friends. The evotional also generates traffic for the blog by linking to it.

The most important and most difficult job for any pastor is creating culture. Blogging is a way of creating culture. The blog is an expressions of the core values and core convictions that drive National Community Church. The blog reinforces the talking points of NCC.

As more staff members begin to blog, NCC will institute a standard policy. Staff blogs will post a disclaimer stating that not all views expressed are the views of National Community Church. That gives latitude to bloggers and protection to the church.

More and more people are finding National Community Church via the podcast and blog. The podcast and blog use to be side doors into NCC. They are now front doors into National Community Church. The evotional.com blog got more than 8,000 page views in August 2005, a month when most Washingtonians are out of town because Congress is in recess. In an average month, NCC may have a couple of hundred visitors. The blog had nearly 2,000 unique visitors in August. The podcast is growing exponentially each day. It's only been in existence since the end of July, but it has gotten more than 6500 hits in the last month.

Currently, the blog and podcast are linked to the home page of www.theatrechurch.com. The weekly bulletin highlights the blog and podcast as well. The primary means of promoting the blog and podcasts are word of mouth and word of mouse. It boils down to buzz - friends emailing friends.

Lessons Learned
Here are a few lessons that Mark Batterson, Lead Pastor has learned:

1. You have to start somewhere.
If you wait until you have blogging and podcastng figured out you'll never begin. NCC has a core value: everything is an experiment. Once you've blogged for a while you'll find a writing rhythm. I took me a year to integrate blogging into my lifestyle. Podcasting is just like blogging. It takes time to find your voice. The key is authenticity. Be yourself. Find your niche. But you've got to start somewhere. Right here and right now!


2. It it's worth preaching, it's worth podcasting!

3. It it's worth preaching, it's worth blogging!

4. Who you know is as important as what you know.
When you enter the blogoshere you never know who you'll bump into. It's networking theory on steriods. Link, link, link. Blogging is a great way to connect with more people and help more people connect with you. I never cease to be amazed at who visits my blog. Blogging allows me to impact people I'll never meet this side of eternity. Blogging allows me to interface with people half way around the world in real-time.

My core calling is to help people reach their God-given potential. Blogging is one one I do that. It's my way of being a good steward of my ideas and experiences. I've blogged 144,820 words YTD (as of August 31, 2005). That's equivalent of three books in eight months. But I don't regret an ounce of energy or second of time in blogging.  The return on investment (ROI) is exponential.

5.Blogging is good stewardship.
A God idea is worth a thousand good ideas. Blogging is one way of taking thoughts captive (II Corinthians 10:5).

6. Blogging is good for your physical health.
In his book, If Only, Dr. Neal Roese, says, "Blogging may be good for your health." He cites two primary health benefits to blogging. First of all, it is a form of "processing emotions." There is an old aphorism: confession is good for the soul. The process of verbalizing or writing helps us untangle our thoughts and emotions.

The second benefit is more psychogical. Social psychologist Laura King says that writing "may serve to integrate life experiences into a larger, more sensible framework." In other words, blogging helps us make sense of our lives. Dr. Roese says, "It is merely the act of looking back in detail -- reviewing and integrating -- that is the most basic ingredient underlying the value of blogging."

7. Blogging is good for your spiritual health.
I am more and more convinced that blogging is a postmodern spirtual discipline. It's the way I write down the Revelation (Habakkuk 2:1). It's the way I ponder things in my heart like Mary in Luke 2:19. It's a form of cyber-meditation. Blogging is one way I reflect on life and the Lord ala II Timothy 2:7.

I had a thought the other day. Someday my grandchildren will know what I was doing and thinking on any given day because I was blogging. I wish my grandfather had blogged. All I have is a Bible with some notes in the margin! Blogging is autobiography. It is one way I live and learn and pass it on.

8. Leaders are bloggers.
Good leaders cast vision in lots of different ways. Blogging is a vision casting vehicle. I use my blog to dream out loud. 

9. Blogging turnes outsiders into insiders.
Blogging is one way "outsiders" can become "insiders" so to speak. I think blogging is about sharing inside information. It enables pastors from around the country to get some insight into what we're doing and why we're doing it.

10. Blogging is biography.
I wish my parents and grandparents had blogged. I'd love to know what was happening in their minds and their lives when they were at my stage of life. Blogging is a way of writing your autobiography.

Blogging is a corporate biography. The primary role of a leader is storyteller. A leader is the creator, collector and keeper of stories! A blog is a great way to share stories.

Future Directions
The Lead Paster's blog will continue to be the primary blog featured by National Community Church. But several other blogs are in development stages. Other staff members will begin blogging in their area of  expertise.

National Community Church will transition from a "static" announcement format to a dynamic announcement blog. The announcement blog will be more interactive and help NCCers stay in the loop. The announcement blog will add pictures to spice things up.

A blog targeting twenty-somethings and the quarterlife crisis is in the works. The endeavor would be a group blog consisting of writers/pastors who have a unique passion for twenty-somethings. The blog would revolve around quarterlife issues. 

Other blogs will also be launched in conjunction with writing projects. For example, a book for pastors is in the conceptual stages right now. Once a title is determined, a blog will be launched to begin creating a network of readers.

On the podcasting front, NCC will release an NCC iPod at the end of 2005. The NCC iPod will come pre-loaded with selected NCC message series.

Lead Paster Mark  Batterson On Blogging

You never know who you'll bump into in the blogosphere.

Blogging is a postmodern spiritual discipline.

BlogOn!

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Comments

You're big time now Mark!

Posted by: Sarge on Sep 13, 2005 3:38:18 PM

I am loving these blogs and lot of track back URLs being posted over this blog for straight one week.

Posted by: Mcgill on Sep 4, 2007 1:55:06 AM

Godcasting... that's cute. Glad to see churches embracing the internet and catching the early waves of technology. In the past the Christian church has unfortunately resisted such moves, but I think we're ready this time

Posted by: CMS on Sep 12, 2007 3:48:10 PM

what

Posted by: Andy on Apr 6, 2011 4:23:00 AM

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