Intentional Connection: Tech and “Touch”

Associate Pastor David Howard shares how social media and technology are shaping connection at Lexington, Ky. Immanuel Baptist

What is Immanuel Baptist’s strategy for retaining new people?
Gather, Grow, Serve. In a simple message, we want to help people understand that we value all three things and believe if they will participate in all three, they will have a great opportunity to be connected to our ministry and grow in their faith.

How are you getting this message out there?
We’ve become much more intentional with our social media. Our Pastor Ron Edmondson is a well-known blogger, big on Twitter in Lexington, and we utilize Facebook. We put Easter invites out through there, resources for financial counseling, things that we think are connecting with people who are not currently in the church. They’ve joined our Facebook page, they’ve “liked” something. Church members are posting stuff on their timeline, and it’s seen by a lot of people. It’s nonthreatening and nonconfrontational.

You average about 200 guests each week. How are you tracking them?
We have a “Connection Card” that we highlight in each service to gather information on the first-time visitor, but it also allows us to collect information on the person who has been attending and is ready to take the next step in commitment such as joining a Bible study or finding an area to serve. Last year, we also began utilizing an online form on our website that allows people to share with us information and request information on a variety of things. We’ve found that this form is used mostly by young families and young adults before they even come to church. They’ve put in their information, got their kids registered, so that when they come, they just walk in, type their name into the system and boom, good to go. Then there’s another function for them to share with us whether they have a prayer request, need some encouragement, praise or they have a story to share.

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After they leave that first time, how do you follow up?
We began using a new Internet-based church database solution called Church Community Builder. This has been a game changer for us. It moved us away from paper for our follow-up and contacts. No more lost contacts. This also helps us track our interactions with guests much better since everything is stored in one place. Our staff is able to make many of our contacts while in front of a laptop or tablet away from the church and can quickly journal the conversation, which allows us to enter information more quickly. It also provides us much better ability to assign guests to staff according to the information they are requesting.

Your strategy’s working—you average about 25 new contacts each week. Can you share a success story?
There’s a couple that was baptized this past Sunday. They’ve been attending for about two years. And they’ve had a number of people who have really connected with them and made them feel at home. They were thinking about relocating to another state where they had family closer to them, but they told me that the one thing that’s kept them here is the impact we’ve had on their family’s life.

Lexington, Ky.
Launched: 1909
Attendance: 1,950

A 2013 Outreach 100 Church
No. 42 Fastest-Growing

Pastor Ron Edmondson’s blog followers: 140,000+
Twitter followers: 800+
Instagram followers: 200+
Facebook “likes”: 2,000+