For today’s episode of the Lunch and Learn Podcast, Kenny Jahng sat down with Joanna La Flear, who lives in Toronto serving out to the suburbs, multisite church, for sites in the suburbs.

Listen as Joanna shares how podcasting could reach people and serve other churches as well.

Websites mentioned:

https://www.worshiphousemedia.com/

https://www.sermonspice.com/

TRANSCRIPTION:

Kenny Jahng:    Okay. Friends, it’s that time again. We are, here it is Lunch and Learn time at Church Butler headquarters in the US of A. Today we’re going to galactic, maybe not in the galactic, we’re going to international to our Northern neighbors in Canada. Joanna la Fleur is here and it sounds international too. I love your name. Is that how you say it?

Joanna la Fleur:    The Flower in French, la fleur.

Kenny Jahng:    La Fleur. Welcome to the show. We’ve got this little bit of podcast that trying to be practical, tactical. It’s a Lunch and Learn format and we bring in gurus, the best of the best to share some wisdom with us church practitioners across the country. So, Joanna, I just want to introduce you to the crowd here. For those of you that might have been paying attention to this woman who has been on the rise and publishing and speaking. Joanna why don’t you just tell us a little bit about your background. First of all, where are you located exactly? What church are you working with and some other stuff, any good stuff that you’re doing?

Joanna la Fleur:    Yes. I live in Toronto, right in the heart of the city of Toronto. It’s the largest city in Canada. I work at a suburban church though. So I do the commute out to the suburbs, multisite church, for sites in the suburbs. And we’re a church of about 4,000 people at this point. I started there 9 years ago when we had about 700 people. So we’ve grown and I’ve learned a ton. Church communications, marketing, business, media on the side. I do podcasting. I’m on a women’s TV show here in Canada. It’s like, think about like The View only it’s Christian women. So I sit on the couch.

Kenny Jahng:    Church of 4,000, you must have a staff of 50 people, right?

Joanna la Fleur:    How many staff?

Kenny Jahng:    How many communicators, staff wise are on your team for mega church and on size. Everyone thinks that you have this whole media production department. How many people are in the communications department?

Joanna la Fleur:    We have two. Well we hire contractors for a ton of staff. So our graphic design, video, website, and that’s if we contract it out to people who are experts and we only pay them for the time they have. And we don’t have to pay for their or their desk or their lunch break. We just pay for their hourly rate or their project rate.

Kenny Jahng:    Yes. And I think more and more churches are going that route. Not just for cost containment, but flexibility and also a better breadth of talent that you can bring into the mix over there.

Joanna la Fleur:    Well, and even just simply like if you’re doing graphic design, each designer has their taste and their art style. And so each project we worked on, we might want a bit of a different taste. There’s still the brand that we’re sticking to. But if we wanted to do something amazing with lettering, you know, beautiful artistic lettering, well then we’d go and hire someone who does that specifically. But if you have someone full time on staff, it might be harder for them to pivot to different creative styles.

Kenny Jahng:    Yes, definitely. And tell us like if someone actually hasn’t been following you, what are, say the top keyword phrases are the categories of interests that you have in this space?

Joanna la Fleur:    Categories of interest? You mean like what?

Kenny Jahng:    What do you want to be known for? What are you trying to drill, everyone has their niche and everyone has that space they are trying to carve out?

Joanna la Fleur:    Yes, I always say that I think the church is the most important message in the world. So we should be the best communicators in the world, but we aren’t. And so my passion is trying to help churches and Christian ministries become better at communicating. A lot of that comes through digital technology. How do we do evangelism and discipleship in a digital age? That was the focus of my master’s thesis when I went to seminary a couple of years back and yet trying to figure out in the digital world. How do we communicate and how do we reach people and grow people for Christ.

Kenny Jahng:    Awesome. There’s one piece that struck my eye when I was on your site and that was an article that you wrote that said the one video you should make this year. And I thought maybe today for the Lunch and Learn we would just camp out on this one little concept or idea and discuss it for a little bit. So what is that one, I’m trying to think if I had one video that I can make for church and that’s it, just one shot, what would I prioritize upfront? And for me, my gut feeling before reading the article was the challenge, right? I was asking myself the question before reading the article challenge was for me and I said, you know, “I think it’s probably like an inspirational vision video.”

Joanna la Fleur:    Yes.

Kenny Jahng:    But yet, “um”. So tell us about what you think the one video you should be making this year as a church.

Joanna la Fleur:    I’ll tell you the answer and then we’ll tell you why I think you should make this year is a testimony video, a story of something that God has done uniquely in your church community this year. The reason why is because you’re the only church in the whole wide world that can tell that story. And I think it’s our responsibility to steward the stories of the work of God amongst us. I also think that it’s really cheap. They’re one of the simplest things you can do. And if you can’t afford video, you can just record it as a podcast episode. You can record the audio of someone telling their story and interviewing them. News videos or things that people ask me about all the time. How do you do your news videos weekly? I think they’re great if you have the capacity and the money for it, but they expire after a week or two.

Joanna la Fleur:    So you spend a ton of money, they’re disposable and like other than in the services, a lot of people don’t ever watch them. I think inspiring videos, I think of like an Easter video of the cross and it’s some creative project or Christmas or a major vision Sunday. Or like a series you’re doing on Ephesians. Well, the good news is lots of churches who have lots more money than we do, have already made that video and we can go buy it on the Internet for $20 maybe. And so we don’t need, if we don’t have a lot of money in our video budget, there are churches who have already done that work for us and we can find a video on Ephesians.

Kenny Jahng:    One is, if I see some of the churches that have done a great inspirational video or have done some pieces, I can’t just copy it. How do I go about figuring out how to get it or use it? What actually happens? I don’t think anyone ever talks about that.

Joanna la Fleur:    Well, that’s a good question. First of all, like at our church, we have enough budget that we make these inspirational videos. And if churches come to us and want to use them, first of all, you should ask before you use another video. Don’t steal it. We should ask. And whenever they ask, we’re so happy for them to use it. But the one of the things that people don’t think about if they’re not familiar with video is that we have paid to license some things for that video, particularly usually the music. And so if people quote unquote steal the video off of Youtube and just riff it, they’re actually not paying properly for the rights to use it. Not just to the church, but to the artists who made the song in the soundtrack behind the video. And so we put up some of our videos that people ask regularly to use on a site where again, people pay 20 bucks and then it’s properly licensed. So nobody’s stealing. Everybody can afford a $20 video because we’re not trying to make money, quote unquote, we’re just trying to do it legally. And, there’s a few different websites that sell Christian videos. If you Google like Christian videos you ca find them.

Kenny Jahng:    Have you got, I think I came from Liquid Church were where it was a very creative ministry. Video was something that was a gift of the team. We’ve got inquiries all the time, almost on a weekly basis that got routed to some of the church calm people, their media team. We never said, I don’t think there’s this, I don’t think there was a single time we ever said no. And then we actually would hand over, even though some of the raw footage so that they can get rid of our branding and put in their own. And I didn’t guard, our media team went to lengths to help other churches to re-purpose content that we created. Have you guys ever said no? Have you ever come across if someone asks politely and say “we love the stuff you did, we want to try to figure out how to use it on head?” Have you come across that in your church?

Joanna la Fleur:    I don’t remember ever saying no.

Kenny Jahng:    Right.

Joanna la Fleur:    I don’t think I ever said no. We want to help.

Kenny Jahng:    People don’t ask for it, right. So that’s one of the things I just want to dispels is that churches are generous. We are creative. And we, us Christians are nice people.

Joanna la Fleur:    We’re nice guys. We’re not competing with one another. If you are the church down the street and you want to use it the same week, maybe you say, “could you use it for Easter next year instead of this year?” Maybe as far as I would go, but yes, we want to share.

Kenny Jahng:    Yes, I think we’ve always tried to figure out how we can get it to work. Not the other way around. The full posture is generosity, not protection. I’ve yet to find another church that is like that. That is creating content. And so I just want to put that out there because I think small churches just feel like these big productions there. They’re protective. They would say no, I would say even the biggest mega churches, I know Life Church puts out all their stuff for free. I know Saddleback in North Point, same thing. And so if the big guys are doing in the medium guys, that’s the first thing. And then the second one is you’re talking about these websites, just to be very practical, can you name a couple of websites so that people will start finding resources?

Joanna la Fleur:    worshiphousemedia.com and sermonspice.com. Now, a bunch of stuffs on there are cheesy But you can decide if it works with your culture and your people. There’s some really great stuff on there.

Kenny Jahng:    Yes. So those are two great, and there’s plenty of other sites out there, but those are two great places to start. And they’re affordable. I think I’ve grabbed some clips as low as I think two $2.95, $2.95 cents, cheaper than Starbucks.

Joanna la Fleur:    Yes.

Kenny Jahng:    And so anyway, so yes, paid and free. I think there’s great ways to do that. So that saw some of the inspirational stuff. But what about the vision video? Like what about the introduction to the pastor of video? You think you really think the testimonial video is more important or has more value then sharing who’s going to be preaching on Sunday or sharing that bio or sharing the introduction, the senior pastor.

Joanna la Fleur:    Yes. I guess I’m just talking in a scarcity model, when you have to choose. I mean it would be great if he can, if he can do it, please do it. It’ll be awesome. It’ll be effective. But there’s a bunch of other ways you can communicate vision. I mean, frankly, you communicate vision before people even enter the building. You’re communicating vision from the parking lot, right? And so there’s lots of ways to communicate vision. You can do that in books. You can do, you could even do, if you had to do it by video and you were trying to pitch, you know, maybe you’re trying to raise a bunch of money or something, maybe you would want to do like a Facebook live with the senior leader and someone moderating with them and then having people who are asking, “hey, why do you want that $3 million for the building?” Okay, well let’s talk about it. We presented it in the sermon, maybe on a Sunday morning and now we’re going on a Facebook live on Monday night. You can ask any questions you want and we’ll answer them live right in front of you over video from the comfort of your home, from your living room. You can ask these things. Yes. It’s just another example. I think there’s lots of ways you can can talk about vision. It doesn’t have to be a video.

Kenny Jahng:    Now, testimonials. Is there any critical part of the testimony? Like you said that it does need to be high production. You could use what’s in our pocket, right? I think this is, you know, I’m vlogging daily with my iPhone even though I have other equipments. And the results have been still phenomenal. I think again, you’re right testimony video, you can produce it low ends with what you have. What about the content? Is there any sort of framework or is there just one killer question that you have to ask or, what are you trying to demonstrate in a good testimonial video?

Joanna la Fleur:    I think in short you want it to be more about what God has done then about a person particularly. We’re trying to celebrate the work of God, not the life of that person or I don’t know. If God has made them successful in business, it’s not an ad for their business. I don’t know whatever that is. But yes, we’re trying to celebrate who God is and so the most simple structure of any testimonies like that before, what was I like? What was it like before? What happened when God intervened in my life were in that moment or that struggle and now what is it like on the other side? What’s my perspective now? Or who is God to me? You know, a bigger, it doesn’t have to be literally a moment of salvation. It might be a moment of “I was really sick and I was struggling or I didn’t know what to do with my future.”

Joanna la Fleur:    Or it can be some of those stories we can tell, I hope would be very normal stories. I think if we only tell the sensational ones. And I came from a life of drugs and prostitution and I mean those stories are amazing too. Those are the only kinds of stories we tell. It can make it feel like those are the only ones we need to tell. But actually like the stories of normal faithfulness and everyday life and God showing up to a mom at home with her kids or to a guy who’s struggling at his job or to a teenager who’s trying to figure out what to do to go to college. You know, these are real stories that we can tell and they’re everywhere around us, but only our church can tell the story. So let’s get on telling them.

Kenny Jahng:    And then are you a fan of those types of testimonial videos that are like an interview conversation or something that’s like scripted and talking head video like a TV ad?

Joanna la Fleur:    I think the less scripted, the more natural it is, the better. I think most people are not very good with like a teleprompter. I use a teleprompter all the time in my work so I’m quite comfortable with it. I hope I can sound fairly natural. A lot of people they can’t, so if you can be off camera or on camera sort of prodding them with a few questions they prepared in advance, but you can, you’re not trying to surprise them, but maybe you can record their natural response rather than it can response. You’ll probably get it better cause they’re not professional actors and they’re going to be nervous on camera.

Kenny Jahng:    How long in this day and age where we’re trying to get shorter and shorter and shorter, how long should a testimonial video be these days?

Joanna la Fleur:    Yes, I guess it depends where you want to use it. If it’s in a service, maybe as part of an illustration of what the pastor is teaching about, maybe you can have up to three, four, five minutes. If it’s something for online, I would say something that’s as short as you can that just to hit the impact. Most people’s stories probably don’t need to be told in 30 minutes. Like they’re probably not that interesting.

Kenny Jahng:    That’s really good to remember and think about. And then the last one is, is there a specific, I guess, when you roll it out, is there a specific way you’re supposed to introduce it? How do you present it? Is it just something that, if it’s a video during service lights out and you just play it, or do you actually have an introduction? Do you have the person there? A lot of people are feel awkward about presenting this type of content at church. And so what’s the best place or how do they segue into it?

Joanna la Fleur:    Yes. Well, I think that it probably will have the most impact is if it connects in some way to the topic of the sermon or the series. If you’re in a series style preaching, pastor’s preaching, I said Ephesians or, so we’re in this passion in Ephesians and here is a story of someone going through the same thing we’re talking about in this passage. They’ve queued it up verbally and it goes over to the video. That’s the best way in my mind to do it in a service. If they’re online, maybe you film like five of them and you find a hashtag like stories from Trinity Church or whatever your church is call and you can release them online, every once a week or everyday for a whole week of or whatever it is, once a month. And if you have a hashtag of course, then people can go back and find the other ones you’ve already posted.

Kenny Jahng:    I love it. Well thank you for those great tips. You have a podcast everyone here must pull out their podcast player and subscribe right now. So what’s the name of your podcast that we can all look up?

Joanna la Fleur:    My own podcast is a long form interview podcast called Word Made Digitals for creatives and communicators. A second podcast I have with my friend James Adams from Visual Media Church, daily podcast, 5 or 10 minutes short practical stuff just like we’ve just done here. And you’ll find that at the Future Church.

Kenny Jahng:    Okay. The Future Church podcast. I love it. Everybody interrupt what you’re doing. Press pause. Go search and hit subscribe. The long form I think is great, it’s a great model for interviewing people and I love the short form. Someone just came across it, a friend and he asked me if I knew about it. I happened to and they said “this is so interesting because it answers a specific question. It has this, the banter between two people and it just gives me just a lot of energy around that one question to brainstorm and start thinking of how to contextualize it for my own ministry.” So, definitely those two. Now, if someone was watching and listening in today, Joanna, what’s the best way for someone to actually get in touch with you directly?

Joanna la Fleur:    Directly? You can find me on Instagram. It’s the most fun way to talk, right? That’s where we met even Kenny. So @joannalafleur. You can find me there. You’ll find links there to my website and all that kind of stuff. But you can send me a direct message.

Kenny Jahng:    Awesome. Joanna La Fleur on Instagram. And thank you again for spending some time with us today. And promise me that you’ll be back on the show later this year.

Joanna la Fleur:    Alright.

Kenny Jahng:    Everybody else, thank you so much for being with us today. We want you to keep on commenting. Keep on DMing us. What do you want to hear about? What do you want to learn about in our Lunch and Learn series? We will make this the most practical podcast for you in church communications. I’m Kenny Jahng. I’ll check out here next time in the Church Butler Lunch and Learn. In the meantime, go to our website, www.butler.church. Remember, be a blessing and check the out here next time on the Lunch and Learn.

HIGHLIGHTS:

02:45 Well we hire contractors for a ton of staff. So our graphic design, video, website, and that’s if we contract it out to people who are experts and we only pay them for the time they have. And we don’t have to pay for their or their desk or their lunch break. We just pay for their hourly rate or their project rate.

04:14 I always say that I think the church is the most important message in the world. So we should be the best communicators in the world, but we aren’t. And so my passion is trying to help churches and Christian ministries become better at communicating. A lot of that comes through digital technology. How do we do evangelism and discipleship in a digital age? That was the focus of my master’s thesis when I went to seminary a couple of years back and yet trying to figure out in the digital world. How do we communicate and how do we reach people and grow people for Christ.

05:50 testimony video, a story of something that God has done uniquely in your church community this year. The reason why is because you’re the only church in the whole wide world that can tell that story. And I think it’s our responsibility to steward the stories of the work of God amongst us. I also think that it’s really cheap. They’re one of the simplest things you can do. And if you can’t afford video, you can just record it as a podcast episode. You can record the audio of someone telling their story and interviewing them. News videos or things that people ask me about all the time. How do you do your news videos weekly? I think they’re great if you have the capacity and the money for it, but they expire after a week or two.

So you spend a ton of money, they’re disposable and like other than in the services, a lot of people don’t ever watch them. I think inspiring videos, I think of like an Easter video of the cross and it’s some creative project or Christmas or a major vision Sunday. Or like a series you’re doing on Ephesians. Well, the good news is lots of churches who have lots more money than we do, have already made that video and we can go buy it on the Internet for $20 maybe. And so we don’t need, if we don’t have a lot of money in our video budget, there are churches who have already done that work for us and we can find a video on Ephesians.

07:42 we have enough budget that we make these inspirational videos. And if churches come to us and want to use them, first of all, you should ask before you use another video. Don’t steal it. We should ask. And whenever they ask, we’re so happy for them to use it. But the one of the things that people don’t think about if they’re not familiar with video is that we have paid to license some things for that video, particularly usually the music. And so if people quote unquote steal the video off of Youtube and just riff it, they’re actually not paying properly for the rights to use it. Not just to the church, but to the artists who made the song in the soundtrack behind the video. And so we put up some of our videos that people ask regularly to use on a site where again, people pay 20 bucks and then it’s properly licensed. So nobody’s stealing. Everybody can afford a $20 video because we’re not trying to make money, quote unquote, we’re just trying to do it legally.

11:55 I guess I’m just talking in a scarcity model, when you have to choose. I mean it would be great if he can, if he can do it, please do it. It’ll be awesome. It’ll be effective. But there’s a bunch of other ways you can communicate vision. I mean, frankly, you communicate vision before people even enter the building. You’re communicating vision from the parking lot, right? And so there’s lots of ways to communicate vision. You can do that in books. You can do, you could even do, if you had to do it by video and you were trying to pitch, you know, maybe you’re trying to raise a bunch of money or something, maybe you would want to do like a Facebook live with the senior leader and someone moderating with them and then having people who are asking, “hey, why do you want that $3 million for the building?” Okay, well let’s talk about it. We presented it in the sermon, maybe on a Sunday morning and now we’re going on a Facebook live on Monday night. You can ask any questions you want and we’ll answer them live right in front of you over video from the comfort of your home, from your living room. You can ask these things. Yes. It’s just another example. I think there’s lots of ways you can can talk about vision. It doesn’t have to be a video.

13:46 I think in short you want it to be more about what God has done then about a person particularly. We’re trying to celebrate the work of God, not the life of that person or I don’t know. If God has made them successful in business, it’s not an ad for their business. I don’t know whatever that is. But yes, we’re trying to celebrate who God is and so the most simple structure of any testimonies like that before, what was I like? What was it like before? What happened when God intervened in my life were in that moment or that struggle and now what is it like on the other side? What’s my perspective now? Or who is God to me? You know, a bigger, it doesn’t have to be literally a moment of salvation. It might be a moment of “I was really sick and I was struggling or I didn’t know what to do with my future.”

16:21 I guess it depends where you want to use it. If it’s in a service, maybe as part of an illustration of what the pastor is teaching about, maybe you can have up to three, four, five minutes. If it’s something for online, I would say something that’s as short as you can that just to hit the impact. Most people’s stories probably don’t need to be told in 30 minutes. Like they’re probably not that interesting.

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