Andy Tilly on Transitioning Your Multisite from Live to Video Teaching
Andy Tilly has been in the trenches of multisite ministry for over 10 years. During that time period he has spent most of his time leading some of the most innovative student ministries in the country. On today’s interview we dive into practical advice on moving your campus from primarily “live” teaching to video teaching. The interview has practical tips for all multisite churches either currently or considering video teaching as a core component of your strategy.
01:03 // Andy’s ministry history
01:37 // Andy’s involvement at LifeChurch.tv
02:48 // Andy’s move from Oklahoma to Texas
03:29 // Transitions that Andy has witnessed regarding video teaching
04:26 // Just because someone is a great live teacher, doesn’t mean they are a great video teacher
05:20 // The teaching transition that Cross Timbers church went through
07:08 // How Andy learns by watching himself on video
08:10 // Why 85% of all multisite churches haven’t got beyond 3 locations
08:50 // Steps to take if you want to move a ministry to video teaching
09:48 // Successful transitions start with leading through vision
10:45 // Andy experiences that the audience was more engaged when experiencing video teaching
11:30 // Dr. Phil and Oprah video teach millions every day
12:00 // Everyone thinks video teaching won’t work in their part of the country
12:59 // Transition to video teaching doesn’t have to be expensive
15:50 // Lead with vision and start slow
16:05 // Andy shares a bit about his church’s transition to video worship
17:40 // A recent controversial post on UnSeminary
18:45 // Invite people to go to another church if they don’t like it
20:50 // Bruxy Cavey’s ‘Purge Sunday’
Lightning Round Highlights
Helpful Online Resource // Big is the New Small – Scott Williams’ blog
Inspiring Leader // Billy Graham
What does he do for fun? // Lake house, pool
Check This Out // Is video driven worship the next step to multiply your ministry?
Interview Transcript //
Rich – Alright, well we’ve got a special guest on the show today. I’m so happy to have Andy Tilly with us. Andy’s one of these guys that’s a writer, a blogger and expert ministry guy. A fantastic leader. I am exited to have Andy on the show so welcome today Andy.
Andy – Well thank you so much. I appreciate it. It looks like we should be playing World of Warcraft with you.
Rich – I know. The big headphones definitely have the Warcraft kind of look. We should be running around somewhere shooting each other.
Andy – Well thank you so much for the nice introduction. I appreciate it Rich.
Rich – Well Andy, why don’t you give us a little introduction to you, your ministry context, where you’re at these days. Give us a sense of your history and the church you are at today.
Andy – I started off about 15 years ago at a small Baptist church in Guthrie Oklahoma. Great church. It grew to about 500-600 people. And as some church histories go, it just didn’t work out well. So I started my own 501C3 company which is basically just a non-profit that wanted to introduce kids to Christ on non-church days and throw them into churches. So I did that for a while. In the middle of that I was going to a little unknown church in Edmond Oklahoma named LifeChurch.tv. And so at that time it was just one campus and then all of a sudden they merged with another and became two. And then all of a sudden it just kind of exploded and I was going there and parents were coming to the church going to what I was doing and saying ‘Hey, we wanna build a church.’ I was saying, ‘I’m not a church guy. I’m not a pastor like that.’ So basically I went to the campus pastor named Jim kuykendall, and Jim Kuykendall said ‘OK great, this is such bull, I see what’s really happening’. I had a couple teenagers put a video together. Next thing you know I am meeting with Craig Groeschel. Next thing, we are launching more campuses. It just kind of blossoms into ‘hey will you be the youth pastor at the Oklahoma City Campus?’ The original one. I said sure. After then it went to two campuses. Not because of me, because of Craig’s leadership obviously. It went from two to ten to fifteen and launching Arizona and around and then from that it went from… I was teaching at the church called Cross Timbers Community Church in Argyle Texas. And I just fell in love with Toby’s style, his leadership, and next thing you know he says will you come down and start helping us do multisite and how that looks and how it works. I said well I guess so, I’ve been there for five years, let’s go ahead and do that. And so next thing you know I have been at Cross Timbers for 6 years and I was really honored for the first time in my entire life to see 6th graders go all the way to 12th grade and just kind of helping them through the process. I’ve been doing Multisite for about 11 years. So there’s been a lot of transition. Especially what we are talking about today especially with what we are talking about today with video teaching and live teaching. When I started LifeChurch was live teaching went to video teaching, and then when we went to Cross Timbers it was all live teaching at every campus and then went to video. And there’s a lot of transition when that happens.
Rich – Nice. Well as I know the guests that are listening in today are in for a ride. Here’s an expert in multisite. Been around for a long time. Seen a lot of transition obviously and been at some incredible churches and so looking forward to leading today and learning from you. Now, question on the video teaching thing, as we jump in. Today we are going to talk about when we transition from live teaching to dead teaching or video teaching. You know and I want to get a sense, tell me about some of the pitfalls that churches find themselves in when they make that transition. What are some things that you have seen?
Andy – Ok, there’s a few things that I have seen. And we have talked about this at conferences all across America and there’s a couple of issues. One, and I think one of the major ones is just because someone’s a great live teacher, doesn’t make them a great video teacher. And it’s crazy because you go, these people connected. Well it’s because their feeding off the audience, they are feeding off what’s happening. But you have to understand that in another culture, in another state that may not work. And so at LifeChurch what we started doing was making these 10-12 minute videos that weren’t like me on stage. They were like, let’s do a theme, let’s do a play, and let’s go to a state and let’s go all around America and make these videos that connect with everybody. When we got to Cross Timbers, I had three different campuses, that were doing three different teachings and transitioning them into something was radically different because they weren’t used to it and they wanted that live person. I wanted to give them a better experience. But what I had to learn was from LifeChurch to Cross Timbers, is that ultimately in the end of the day, if you are going to do video teaching you’ve got to be a great video speaker or somebody who can communicate through video. For myself, I like filming on Tuesdays at 10 o’clock in the morning with 1100 empty seats and three cameras. That suits me. But I have a pastor Toby who loves to feed off the crowd so he does it really good there. You’ve gotta kind of figure out your flow and how that works.
Rich – What would you say, now that’s obviously a critical difference, you teach to a live room, and empty room. That obviously makes a difference in how you are going to roll out video locations. What are some of those other benchmarks would you say, for a teacher who would do a good job on a video, versus someone who can just teach in front of a live audience?
Andy – Generally, and again this is just from experience, I don’t know, but the differences between that is that some people need the audience to feed them and to put out and others just understand what’s happening and they don’t need that affirmation to make it happen. And there’s times honestly Rich that I’ve been on video and I said something that I thought was funny, and it wasn’t really funny. And there were times that I said something that’s stupid and everybody laughed. Because a lot of times I’ll sit in the back of the room and watch how they react to what’s happening to help teach me better to do this because a lot of times I can’t be there, I’m traveling or whatever else, and I need to see what the audience is acting on. So I’ll say something really stupid and they are cracking up and I’ll keep moving on and I didn’t pause for the reaction. There’s just a lot of that that has to be learned. It’s crazy because a lot of pastors think I’ve got whatever thousand, or 100 people coming and I’ve got to go multisite and I’ll just go on video and it’s like being an actor. You’ve got to preform in front of the camera. The cameras become like your audience at that point.
Rich – Now what would you say to a church…so I think the stat still holds that 85% of all multisite churches haven’t got beyond 3 locations. A big part of that is because 2/3 still use live teaching as a primary element to that. So it’s obviously very hard to get beyond two or three locations with live teaching because you can’t move someone beyond one or two places at a time. What would you say…so a church is thinking about making a switch to video teaching, maybe a student ministry, you know our church is facing this right now, our student ministry is looking at wanting to get into more video teaching….what are some of those steps churches need to think through as they make that transition?
Andy – The first thing is A, do you have a video teacher? Do you have someone that can communicate via video, like a Craig Groeschel, who engages the camera. Do you have somebody who can do that? Two, one of the things that I have seen when I’m hiring people, is that a lot of people really don’t want to teach. When I started, everybody was the teacher, leader, communicator, all this stuff. Now you get people that are specialized in certain areas. So I would just say do you have the guy that can communicate on camera? Do you have people that don’t necessarily want to do that but they are great leaders, and great impacters for the kingdom, but they’re not necessarily the communicators. So I would be looking at those two things right there.
Rich – Cool, now how have you switched over. What did you learn at Cross Timbers when you moved from live to video teaching. What were some of the steps? Were they’re any kind of pieces to that you learned as you walked through that process?
Andy – The pieces were complicated because most people in most churches honestly, they want a live communicator. I understand that. But what we had to do was lead through vision…here’s the vision of what we are doing, because I can’t teach in 5 places at once, like you say, i’m limited. And two, I’m going to give you a better quality experience by doing that. So we had to lead through vision and then understanding that honestly it’s not about me being live, or you being live, it’s about Jesus being lifted up. It’s not about whether someone’s live or not. And here’s what we found, the crazy part is that I am much better on video than I am live. I am twenty feet tall on a stage, and the video and the music and everything is greater. And here’s what I found, and this is why I did video so much more than live is because, they paid more attention, they were more quiet, and they watched it and engaged. And we saw and we see all the time, people coming to know Christ and raising their hands and saying I want Jesus, or coming to the alter and I’m doing it on the video and I’m in the very back of the auditorium. And they engaged more than they did with me live. And anyone who says that’s dumb, here’s what I would say. You are taught on video through Dr. Phil and Oprah every day, every day! Millions are taught through video and so if you can created an experience to engage them and give them great Jesus content and give them the opportunity and do it through HD and great sound and everything else, it works! It works!
Rich – Absolutely I think that’s the case. I have seen that time and time again with church as I’ve worked with them. Well first of all, everybody says this won’t work in my part of the country. It doesn’t matter where you go, everybody has some regional thing where they’re like ‘We’re outside of LA, it’s all people in the entertainment industry, they won’t take this. Or I’m outside of Manhattan, where these are all people who are North Eastern, hardcore, they just won’t take it.’ And that’s just not true. No matter where you go, there are ministries using video to communicate. The question is some of the things you hit on there are definitely more important than the location you are in. That’s for sure. Now when you think about the technology side of it. If a church is wanting to start out, how much….I feel like this is one of those areas where you could spend tons of money just to get started. How would you advise a church to take some of those first steps on the technology, the spend side.
Andy – I’ll go all the way back 10 years ago to LIfeChurch. We had two Mac Book Pros, or the iMacs the big ones, and then we had 2 SLR cameras. And were were doing stuff for probably a $5-7000 package, but we were doing it. Today with the technology moving as fast as it is, I’m telling you, you could do this stuff for hundreds of dollars, you really can! That’s what people have to understand, you can make something look like a million dollars for a thousand dollars. That’s just the world that we are into today. So what I would say is, honestly when I do a video deal, last week, ya there were $20K cameras and there was a switcher in there, but that’s at a church that has thousands of people so that’s different. I would say to a church that has lower budget, smaller people, you get creative, you get innovative and you don’t have to spend that much money. I talked to a guy earlier today that basically, I said ‘Dude, record your messages, go into your auditorium, you already have the equipment and do it.’ And you know what some will say they don’t, that’s cool, go on ebay, go get you a thousand dollar SLR that’s HD, that’s fantastic. And you can get the same quality that comes with it. And if you have a kid or a student or somebody that just has a passion, or a film maker in your place, then let them edit and film those things out. With today’s technology it doesn’t cost as much as it did 10 years ago.
Rich – Ya, that’s very true. I think the one thing you hit on at the end there is that the ‘who’ is probably more important than the ‘what’. You can find a student, there’s probably somebody at your church, who’s really into video today and if you can empower them with a small amount of money and say what can we do for, insert dollar amount here…the reality of it is you can, I’ve said to people, ‘You can spend $5K, you can spend $500K, you could spend $1.5million, you really could spend whatever, but start where that budget makes sense for you.’ Another way to short cut around it is you can rent some great gear for an inexpensive amount of money, even on a weekly basis and get a ways down the road from a technology perspective to kind of boot strap it to get things rolling for sure. Well anything else you would say to churches that are thinking about getting into video, that are thinking about making the transition from live teaching to video teaching?
Andy – I think there is maybe a few things. One of the things I would say is lead with vision of where you are going and take it slow. One of the things, that we have started to work through, and it’s been an 18 month process, is going from live worship to video worship. Now, I know we are talking way down the line and this is not what this is about. But it’s not the same field. Ten years ago people said you can’t do video teaching, why, because he’s not there and they won’t accept it. Now the largest churches in America do video teaching. And 10 years from now you will have video worship, and the transition of that, which is unique is this, is now I can start a church in Uganda Africa for $5000 for two speakers and a video screen and you know what, here’s what happened, if I can….what’s happened, remember when you had to pay for sermons? Now no one pays for sermons. Remember the time you paid for worship CD’s? The time will come when the worship people flip and they will be the ones. Right now, it took us 18 months, but we will do video worship all the time. And our kids love it! And here the deal, we were doing video worship for our 1st-5th graders and thought why can’t we do video worship for our 6th-12th graders? And pretty soon, guess what? It’s coming to your church! And it’s going to save you hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Rich – You did a blog post on UnSeminary on that. It’s one of those posts that I have had a fair amount of push back from folks on the video worship issue. Where they’ve been like, ‘No, there’s no way!’ I agree with you. I think it is one of those areas we are taking steps towards, baby steps towards that. I think you’ll see, eventually we will figure out that formula. The video teaching did settle in to there begin some standards on ways to do it to make it acceptable to people, and I think the worship piece will face a similar kind of journey for that in the coming years.
Andy – It will! If you think of, let’s say I’ve got 5 campuses, and I’ve got to have 5 speaking pastors and I’ve got to have 5 worship bands. How much money did you just save by having one? A lot! That’s going to happen. On that, take it slow, lead with the vision and allowing other people, and this isn’t going to preach well, but allowing other people to understand that if they don’t like it, go somewhere else. This is what we do. If you don’t like it, I understand that. I understand that you want a live teacher. But one of the most innovative creative things I ever saw Craig Groeschel do was this: we had gone multisite and he said, ‘Hey people there are 10 different churches outside and they have their brochures, and they have their stuff, and if you don’t like what we are doing, I invite you to go see them.’ And it’s powerful because people are being lead. And that’s when people were like, ‘Wait, you are telling me to leave?’. If you don’t like it, leave.
Rich – There are other churches in town for sure.
Andy – It was beautiful. A great innovative approach.
Rich – I’ve found the same thing with the video teaching thing with…people who complain about it, they’re like ‘I don’t like it, I don’t like it.’. I’ve come to after 12, 13 years something like that, that I have been involved in environments with video teaching, and the thing I have found after all these years is the people who complain about it, they would just be complaining about something else anyways. There is some other reason why they don’t love our church. The people who don’t complain about it, are those who are new to the faith. I haven’t come across someone who is stepping into this whole thing, to them it’s like, I guess this is how church is done, I guess this is what happens. So they just get used to it and step into it. I think that sometimes you just have to let people leave. There’s other churches. We would be happy to have them plug in there.
Andy – Here’s what I found Rich, when you place that challenge to them 9 times out of 10 they stay. They love that challenge. It’s a cool thing.
Rich – The lead pastor where I was at in Canada, a guy Bruxy Cavey, he used to do, probably about once a year he would do what he called ‘Purge Sunday’. He would come to the end of the message and be like ‘Listen, this is the space we’ve got in our church. We’ve got space for people asking questions about Jesus. if you are here and you are wondering about Jesus we have space for you. We’ve got space for people who support this people. So if your husband or wife is here and you are asking those question, we totally have space for you. We’ve got space for people who are hurt and need some healing. You might be at a place in your life and you just need to take some steps towards Jesus and to get some wounds healed up, we’ve got space for you. And finally, we’ve got space for people who are serving those in the first three categories. I’m here for those people. We don’t have space for anybody else. If you are not one of those 4 categories, please just leave. Same kind of things with Craig, there’s lots of Jesus loving churches out there for you to get connected with.
Andy – You know what’s crazy is that people think that’s a nuts idea but honestly it’s a challenge and it’s an encouragement that I need to get involved, I need to do something. It’s kind of like, when we went to video teaching for students, here’s the crazy thing, parents said, ‘Well, they’re just going to leave and go do this.’ And I said fine, go do that. Three months later, who’s back? We are a video church? You see our head pastor on video every week, why are you complaining about…that’s what we do. That’s who we are. And then once they finally get that they go, alright.