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Katie Allred on Encouraging Your Team to Leverage Social Media for the Gospel

Katie Allred on Encouraging Your Team to Leverage Social Media for the Gospel

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katie_allred_podcastHey, everybody, and welcome to this week’s unSeminary podcast. I’ve been excited about having our guest on today, Katie Allred from Brentwood Baptist in Tennessee.

Katie is the web content manager at Brentwood and is charge of web, email, and social media. Brentwood is an innovative contemporary church right on the edge of Nashville and they work to use social media in an intentional way to engage their community.

Katie is here today to talk to us about getting a church into social media and using it to further the outreach of the church.

  • Use social media to spread the gospel. // Social media is a huge part of how we interact in the world today, so why not use it for the gospel? Katie encourages all pastors to use social media as a way to reach out to their congregation and other people across the world. “The gospel is so important—it’s the best news we can give people. If we’re not sharing it on social media, then why are we on it at all?” Katie asks. Just as Paul wrote letters to churches, so we can share the good news in our social media posts. The key is to be authentic, to interact with your community and share your heart because your community is sharing with you.
  • Don’t try to be perfect on social media. // Over the summer, Katie did a Facebook Live video series on Proverbs. Each day she read a Proverb live on Facebook and then prayed, also asking people to submit their prayer requests. While it felt awkward, she encourages others not to be afraid to let people see their imperfectness online. For example, other people feel awkward about praying in front of others too. Doing it live can demonstrate to your community that it’s ok if they aren’t “perfect” in knowing how to pray. As Katie says, “I think it’s so important to let people see you pray. I think there’s an important part of being authentic and admitting ‘I am not perfect at this.'”
  • Use personal accounts to reach further than a church page. // Facebook’s algorithm is such that people’s personal profiles will always have a farther reach than “corporate” Facebook pages. As a leader in the church, use your personal profiles as a ministry platform to reach out to people who are hurting, offer to pray for others, as well as share the happenings at your church and repost items from the church’s Facebook page. You may run into people who are resistant to using social media because they don’t understand it or are worried about the bad things they’ve heard about it, but you can encourage them to use their social media experience for good and to spread God’s Word. Katie sums up the importance of using social media by saying, “We’re on the cusp of some really cool things that could happen if we’re just willing and listening. I think the next revival is going to happen because of the internet.”

You can learn more about Brentwood Baptist at www.brentwoodbaptist.com and find them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. You can also find Katie on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat by searching for Katie J. Allred or visit her website at www.katieallred.com.

Thank You for Tuning In!

There are a lot of podcasts you could be tuning into today, but you chose unSeminary, and I’m grateful for that. If you enjoyed today’s show, please share it by using the social media buttons you see at the left hand side of this page. Also, kindly consider taking the 60-seconds it takes to leave an honest review and rating for the podcast on iTunes, they’re extremely helpful when it comes to the ranking of the show and you can bet that I read every single one of them personally!

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Episode Highlights

00:36 // Rich introduces Katie Allred and welcomes her to the show.

01:03 // Katie introduces us to Brentwood Baptist Church.

05:53 // Katie talks about her role in the church.

07:40 // Katie tells how she uses social media to connect with people.

11:48 // Katie gives an example of how she encourages others to connect on social media.

13:35 // Katie shares the challenges of getting everyone onboard.

17:00 // Katie and Rich discuss dealing with resistance.

19:20 // Katie states that she thinks the next big revival will be as a result of the internet.

Lightning Round

Helpful Tech Tools // Church Communications Facebook Group

Ministries Following // Church Marketing Sucks

Influential Book // What’s Best Next by Matthew Perman and John Piper and Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World by Adam Grant

Inspiring Leader // Bryan Harris of Videofruit

What does she do for fun // Cooking, making websites, writing blogs and selling on eBay

Contact // KatieJAllred on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and katieallred.com
Brentwood Baptist at brentwoodbaptist.com and @BrentwoodBC on Twitter

Episode Transcript

Rich – Well hey everybody, welcome to the unSeminary podcast, my name’s Rich, I’m the host here and I am just so glad that you’ve decided to plug in. Every week we try to bring you different church leaders, from a wide variety of backgrounds, to give us some really practical insights and I’ve got to be honest, I’ve been excited about this particular guest for a while now, we’re welcoming Katie Allred from Brentwood Baptist, which is kind of on the outskirts of Nashville. Brentwood’s a fantastic church if you don’t know that, and you’re about to find out that Katie’s pretty amazing. So Katie, welcome to the show.

Katie – Hey, that was a really nice introduction. I don’t think I deserve that but I appreciate it.

Rich – Now why don’t you tell us about Brentwood, tell us about the church and kind of tell us about your role there.

Katie – Sure, so Brentwood is awesome. I’ve volunteered at a lot of churches, I never had worked at a church before Brentwood, but I had volunteered at several churches growing up and in college and there’s just not a lot of places that are like Brentwood. I say that because Brentwood is so innovative in the way that they think and also we’re very much set up like a corporation, like tomorrow if Mike Glenn our Pastor decided he hates me, he can’t fire me.

Rich – Okay.

Katie – There’s too many shakes and balances kind of set up to where he doesn’t have all the power.

Rich – Right.

Katie – Which is really awesome.

Rich – Because you can do all kinds of crazy communication stuff?

Katie – No and actually he’s at the forefront of being the one like, I don’t know, like challenging me to be like, “Why aren’t you doing it like this?” Not that he necessarily knows all of it but that he’s always like, “Let’s see if we can do this better.” Like he just started getting his manuscript for the Sunday like ten days before to me.

Rich – Oh wow, that’s great.

Katie – So we have, I guess a huge chunk of the manuscript, it’s not like word for word or anything but it’s incredible that he is thinking, he’s like, “It’s all just about calendaring and that doesn’t mean the Holy Spirit can’t move and I can’t…” He was like, “Let’s go ahead and give you enough stuff so that you can have enough content created for the web, for social media,” you know, to prompt me to create blog posts and those kinds of things rather than waiting until last minute or Thursday.

Rich – Straight away, yeah exactly. Very cool.

Katie – He was like, “Let’s just figure it out.” So he took his vacation time to actually get ahead.

Rich – Oh wow.

Katie – Yeah, which is incredible of a pastor, he had a two week vacation time, he’s just had a granddaughter and all this kind of stuff and he took his vacation time to try and get ahead of his scheduling which is really incredible, but he’s always the one who’s thing it is to write, I mean I could have thought of that but it would have been hard for me to propose, like, “Hey, don’t you want to write your manuscript for Sunday ten days ahead of time?”

Rich – Exactly, “Hey, how about you work ahead so that I can make sure the tweets are all ready to go?” That’s a hard thing for a communications person to say, for sure.

Katie – Yeah but the thing is that he totally gets it and he loves it and he’s very passionate about it.

Rich – Very cool.

Katie – So that has made my job incredibly easy.

Rich – Nice.

Katie – I don’t spend a lot of time convincing people to do things, I spend more time thinking, “What can we do?”

Rich – Right, right, very cool.

Katie – Yeah, so that’s pretty neat. I mean, there are definitely times where I feel like, there are of course ministers on our staff that don’t get it, so I spend some time thinking about how can I make them get it, but there’s definitely a lot more time spent doing that.

But Brentwood I want to go back to, Brentwood is a Baptist church, probably one of the largest Baptists churches and we’re right under Nashville, so we have a lot of country music singers that go to our church, our music is really phenomenal, really well-known in the choir music world. If you’ve ever heard Brad Paisley, Southern Comfort Zone, there’s a choir singing in the background, that’s our choir.

Rich – Oh nice, very cool.

Katie – I think that like, you know, hidden things that people don’t know.

Rich – Nice.

Katie – Brad goes to our church too but his dad is part of our choir. So we just have really awesome choir music and contemporary music too. So it’s just a really phenomenal place, we have this thing going on called the Middle Tennessee Initiative, which is our Pastor’s vision for reaching Middle Tennessee and it’s kind of, New Spring’s reached 100 thousand, but we don’t have a number on ours, I know we should, but ours is like affecting healthcare, poverty and education.

Rich – That’s amazing.

Katie – Those are our three things that we want to change about Middle Tennessee, because there shouldn’t be children hungry in Williamson Country, we’re the tenth richest area in the nation, but there are still children that are hungry in our county.

Rich – Crazy.

Katie – We have ministries that do the iCultivate, which is a ministry that helps grow food for the needy. We have a mission’s garden in our backyard, it’s about an acre and about 80% of the food is given away, that’s just done by our members, we didn’t even come up with that idea.

Rich – Nice.

Katie – We were like, “Yeah we’ll give you the land to do that stuff.”

Rich – That’s cool, from what I know, just from a distance watching you guys, following you guys, I really do think you’re such an innovative church, doing a lot of great things, I really would encourage folks to check it out. What’s your role there at the church, when people say, “What do you do?” what do you respond to them?

Katie – Yeah, so I’m the Web Content Manager, is my technical title.

Rich – Yeah.

Katie – I am in charge of web, email and social media.

Rich – Nice.

Katie – One of my jobs though is delegated to administrative assistant in a way, so I don’t spend all my day putting in events on our calendar on our website.

Rich – Right.

Katie – I used to actually, I luckily found a way to make that not a thing I do anymore.

Rich – Yes, nice.

Katie – If anybody’s interested in that.

Rich – Effective delegation.

Katie – Yeah, because we had probably like 20 AAs, or maybe 10, we have quite a few and they want to do it, it’s not like they didn’t want to do it because then it gets on there faster, they can communicate it with their people better.

Rich – Yeah.

Katie – So it’s not like they didn’t want to do it, it was just like I was at bottleneck, you know?

Rich – Right, right.

Katie – Don’t get me wrong, there were times when I wished that it maybe went through us because I could proofread it.

Rich – Nice.

Katie – But at the same time it just was so much better for them to be able to at least get it out the door and then we can proofread it after the facts. So that’s kind of what I do.

Rich – Now we talked about earlier about how obviously a part of your role you’re trying to keep up with like, “Hey, we need to keep people connected,” trying to get them to use social media, use those tools to reach out and you’ve kind of intimated there that there’s obviously a part of your community or a part of your team that’s like fully into it, “Yes, this is great,” and then there’s a part of your team that’s maybe a little more on the dragging their feet side of the equation, maybe don’t see it as important. What do you say to those leaders that are thinking, “I don’t know that I really want to share on social media,” whatever that would be, Facebook, Twitter, that sort of thing, how do you handle that?

Katie – Yeah, there are a lot of lurkers I found out on social media. There’s a lot of people who love to just read social media, but they don’t like to input into it. I would say to those people in our ministries, you’re not being authentic with your people if you’re not sharing because those people are sharing with you, and social media is about being social and we have this awesome platform.

I can believe that if Paul was here today he would say, not just to the ends of the earth but to the ends of Twitter…

Rich – Yes.

Katie – Like, “Why are we not sharing? We have this fantastic tool to share the gospel on, so you should definitely be sharing…” and not just for thoughts on your blog, like people are not natively going to your blog.

Rich – No, true.

Katie – Let’s be honest here, they’re not. So if you don’t have this huge platform that you’ve built to come to your blog and like sign up for your email newsletter, I would say, “Let’s share that concept on Facebook first and let’s grow your platform from there and then we can maybe transition you into a blog,” but if you’re not writing consistently on Facebook and that’s just like a normal thing I feel like, at this point, if you’re not doing that then you’re not going to do it on a blog at all.

Rich – Yeah.

Katie – The thing is like, I think the gospel is so important, it’s the best news that we can give people and if we’re not sharing that on social media then why are we on it at all? That was something that was a personal challenge to me this last year. In June I did proverbs through my own personal Facebook, I did it through Facebook Live.

Rich – Okay.

Katie – So I read a proverb every day and it was really, really great and I got a lot of good response from it and I got a lot of message from people I hadn’t seen since elementary school and just people… You know, I didn’t break it down, I didn’t like devotionalize it afterwards.

Rich – Okay, you just literally read it?

Katie – I just read it, yeah, I just read it and let it be.

Rich – Great.

Katie – And I sometimes turned red because there was a lot of stuff about promiscuous women and proverbs I didn’t know about.

Rich – Yes, okay.

Katie – That was probably [Inaudible 00:09:47].

Rich – That’s funny.

Katie – Yeah, so it was mostly me just like turning red and feeling awkward, but then I prayed at the end, I always prayed, I always asked people if they had any prayer request, I would love to pray for them. So I did that a couple of times.

I think it’s so important to let people see you pray, and here’s the thing, I don’t want to be a Pharisee on a street corner praying out loud. I think there’s an important part of being authentic and being like, “I am not perfect at this,” and admitting that, because I think obviously that’s one of the most important parts of prayers, is confession and just saying, “I’m not very good at this, and this feels awkward for me,” but at the same time there’s something so… I just don’t want to be a person who says, “I’m going to pray for you,” like I want to be a person who stops and does it.

Rich – Right, absolutely.

Katie – That’s something I’m working on in my own personal life too, is that when somebody says, “I need you to pray for this,” I would just rather stop right there and let’s just do it, because like why not? What’s stopping us, besides me not being brave, there is no reason to not go ahead and do it, because [Inaudible 00:11:00] we’re both there?

Rich – Absolutely, that actually sparks something that I had a friend say to me this week, they said, “So many church leaders seems to be using social media as like a broadcast medium,” even doing that kind of thing, which I think is fantastic, this isn’t a criticism of that, I love that, but have you encouraged or do you encourage your ministers or the folks on your team to also be looking for opportunities to serve people on Facebook? So for instance, like maybe you see people are going through a certain issue in their life, reaching out to them saying, “Hey, can I pray for you now?” Or maybe escalating the level of intimacy from speaking to them on Facebook to like, “I’m going to text you and talk to you about it.” Are you seeing that happening either at your church or other churches?

Katie – You know, personally I don’t have any stories of that happening besides through our Facebook page. Now in our Facebook page I’ve been asking every week for, “How can we be praying for you?” and I have been praying for them through the church’s page.

Rich – Oh, nice.

Katie – Which I don’t like, I would prefer that to be an individual, so there’s a face connected.

Rich – Yeah.

Katie – So I’m trying to convince the prayer team to get on that.

Rich – Nice, yeah.

Katie – Because they’re already doing it anyway, they may as well do it on social media. Anyway, that’s beside the point, that’s my own personal [Inaudible 00:12:18].

Rich – Yeah.

Katie – We did have one person who came and said, “I’m having surgery on this day,” and I connected them with the deacon team and the deacon team went to visit them at the hospital and they had never come to our church before.

Rich – Oh very cool, I love that.

Katie – So that was a really cool, like easy connection. We didn’t have to like really go out of our way to seek it, it was just me being faithful to always remember to go and look and pray with someone and to think, “Oh, they’re a real person, I can connect them with a real person here.” I didn’t know that they didn’t go to our church either until after the fact. So that’s an easy way, that’s an easy way to get people connected.

Rich – Do you see the difference between, or what difference have you seen between, because you kind of mentioned the difference between the corporate, like we’ve got a page that’s our church and then there’s the individual pastors, platforms, on social media and one of the things I’ve noticed is it seems like people’s individual pages get more traction than our corporate page and have you seen that and then how are you trying to leverage that or encourage your staff, your pastors, ministers to leverage that for their ministry?

Katie – Yeah, that was actually what some of us had a meeting about yesterday.

Rich – Oh, nice.

Katie – It was, “Can we get our pastors to share links about events?” Now this is not about the gospel and that was something that bothered me too, I was like, “If we’re going to teach our ministers to share stuff on our website, I would prefer for you to teach them how to share the gospel on line,” because I mean, if they’re not doing that first, how are they going to have any reach anyways with promotional events?

Rich – Right.

Katie – But yeah, I think we just need to… I think I lost my train of thought there.

Rich – That’s fine, so have you seen a difference between them sharing personally, does that get more traction frankly, versus the kind of corporate page?

Katie – Yes it does and that’s just true about the Facebook algorithm in general, is that Facebook wants to be social and it wants to be social between people. So pages, they want pages to pay money. So that is why all of those kinds of things will get squashed like a leek or something like that will get squashed, where if a person shares it, it definitely has a lot more reach than what we have, but that depends completely upon how many friends they have on social media too, you know? You could tell your ministers to share it but if they don’t have any friends because they think they have a public and personal persona, then that’s going to be totally different.

Rich – Right.

Katie – I think there’s a lot of that going on too in ministers’ lives, where they feel like their Facebook is personal, it’s not their public persona and I’m like, “It is your public persona.”

Rich – Right.

Katie – Like anything, I can still Google it, like that is your public persona no matter what.

Rich – Yeah, absolutely.

Katie – So why would you be different, like why…?

Rich – Yeah right, what is that saying?

Katie – Because when you see me, what you get online is what you get in person, I don’t know how to be any different, but at the same time I grew up with it, so I don’t think online is totally separate from my real like, because my online friends are just every bit my friends as my real-life friends, or my in-person friends.

Rich – Yes.

Katie – We just have to make a switch, it’s definitely a generational gap and it’s a little bit of, also ministerial, like a public and personal life or whatever.

Rich – We’ve said this, when we post things corporately, like let’s say we post a promotional video about something that’s coming up, we try to do this sparingly but when it’s like a particularly hot piece of content or I’ll notice on Facebook that something seems to be trending, it seems to be gaining traction, I’ll send an email out to my team with a direct link that says, “Hey, can you please like, comment and share on this? Can you interact with this piece of content?” Not all the time but often I’ll remind people in those emails, “Listen, this helps us get the word out, just you interacting with this content will help us connect with more people.”

Katie – Right.

Rich – “So, it may not seem like a bit deal to you to go and like, comment and share on it, but it does make a difference,” and you can see that and it doesn’t take a lot. If I can get even 20 people, which in most churches you could get 20 people who would like, comment and share on something, even with just 20 people interacting on it, it’s amazing the difference it makes.

Katie – Right.

Rich – Have you tried those kinds of things and what would you say to someone who pushes back and says, “No, I won’t do that,”?

Katie – Well I have tried that before and I haven’t had a ton of success in that area. I think, you know, if I did it, the thing is the email I was sending a ton of different things on it.

Rich – Right.

Katie – So I think if I just focused on one, that might really help. So that sounds like a pretty good idea, maybe I’ll do it.

Rich – Good, good, that’s good.

Katie – Just focus on one maybe and then email them and ask them and also getting them to not just copy and paste something over but to just like and share what the church has already said is a really good strategy.

Rich – Right.

Katie – Then what was the second question?

Rich – I was just wondering, what would you say to someone who was resistant to that thing, “Hey, I’m not interested,” because I know everyone at Brentwood, they just say, “Katie, what do we do? How can we help?”

Katie – Yeah they’re always really excited about helping. You know, if they’re resistant to change I feel a lot of times though, “Mike, why don’t we put them…?” No I’m just kidding. I think, you know, I don’t know, I feel it’s just too important at this point.

Rich – It’s our public facing, it’s what Paul would do. They wrote in the language of the day and used even the roads of the day to connect.

Katie – Right.

Rich – They used the social network of the day, which was the roads, to go and take the gospel to the ends of the earth, those roads were built by the Romans, their oppressors and they used that structure, that network ultimately to connect people.

Katie – Right.

Rich – Because I think there can be folks that are resistant because they’re like, “Well so much bad happens on Facebook,” which is true.

Katie – Right.

Rich – I heard this one statistic that, I think it’s a third, I need to check it, I think it’s a third of all divorce filings now are referencing some level of social media interaction.

Katie – Oh wow.

Rich – Whether it’s like they’re talking to their old girlfriends or whatever.

Katie – Yeah, no I believe that.

Rich – So people would be like, “Hey, I’m not interested in that,” but we could leverage those in the same way that Paul leveraged the Roman roads, which obviously were tools of oppression for the Jews to try to extend the gospel. So that’s good.

Is there anything else you want to share before we move on to the rest of the episode?

Katie – Yeah, well you were saying something about how it was the Roman road and that kind of thing. I think also Paul wrote letters, so what else should we be doing besides writing updates? It’s the same kind of thing, I mean Paul was the first to tell you, “I am not perfect at this.”

Rich – You’re right.

Katie – So it was not like he completely knew what he was doing. I don’t elevate, I’m not saying that Paul wasn’t awesome because he is, he wrote like half of the New Testament.

Rich – Yes.

Katie – But at the same time like you have the same spirit of the Lord in you that Paul had, so I don’t think, “Who am I and what can I do?” I think you’re perfectly capable of spreading the gospel too and also I think we’re on the cusp of some really cool things that could happen if we’re just willing and we’re just listening, because I think the next revival is going to happen because of the internet. So we have to figure out how to do that but we also just have to be so willing to do it.

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