Oftentimes, encouraging people to volunteer can be a pain in a neck. It’s either, some are not motivated enough or doesn’t have the same passion as you or someone quits.

Regardless of the size, every church needs volunteers. It’s impossible to build the Kingdom of God without their help.

In this podcast, Kenny sat down with Adam Mclaughlin, one of the veterans in the industry to talk about systems and structures on how he grew his social media team from zero to 35 in a span of 6 months.

Check out the episode below!

To check out the previous Lunch and Learn episodes, here are the quick links on all our platforms. iTunes/Apple Podcast, TwitterBlog.

 

WEBSITES MENTIONED

adammclaughlin.net/volunteer

adammclaughlin.net/ebooks

 

TRANSCRIPTION

Kenny: Hey, Church Butler friends, it’s Kenny Jahng back here again at the table with our Lunch and Learn guest of the day. You know, this guy doesn’t need any introduction. In fact, he does introductions and no one can top them. Adam, why don’t you introduce yourself give your signature humor. I just love your humor and I feel like you should be the MC, the Mic Guy. Go out there period.

Adam: Wow. Okay. Well here is your favorite recovering Canadian throwing it out all of his family members stuck in four feet of snow while he sits underneath his palm tree, overseeing marketing and communications while holding a slurpee in his hand. That Life Church in Fort Myers, Florida. This is me.

Kenny: Welcome to the show and you mentioned slurpee’s and palm trees and just everything. All just so good.

Adam: Life is good.

Kenny: But, we’ve been playing around in our church, communicated as community. This is one of the great things. Adam is definitely one of the guys that has raised the bar for all of us communicators. Not just in being a practitioner and bringing case studies to the table, but also, this is one of my pet peeves that even as church communicators, we are such lurkers in our own community and there’s only a few that actually that stand out, raise your hand and actually contribute and volunteer and have a position of generosity of helping others. And so, I just want to just call you and say thank you for being one of those guys that really helps out. Really, really.

Adam: Thank you.

Kenny: So, let’s just get right to it. First of all, 30 seconds. What’s your day job? What do you do in Fort Myers outside of hanging at the 7-11, drinking slurpees all day?

Adam: Well, when I’m not sitting underneath a palm tree or on the beach, then I’m at work and I oversee marketing communications and I’ve also taken over all of our live production. So, it’s the whole gamut. Everything that people experience for us externally comes through my fingers and everything they touch when they’re on our campus come through my fingers. So, you know, that’s kind of the hands-on approach. My official title is marketing and communications. My unofficial title is that CMIH that’s the Chief of Making It Happen.

Kenny: I love it. I love it. So, how big is your church on a given Sunday? How many services, how many people trying to just give people a sense. And then, how big is your team but you work with?

Adam: Yeah. So, on staff, I’m the only person on staff right now and we do have two interns, right now. So, that’s kind of the employer’s employees staff side of the picture on a Sunday morning. Last Sunday, we served 876 people and that’s pretty average for us right now. We’ve gotten pretty close to 900 a few weeks recently and also, around the Christmas time, we’re around the 750 range, so we’re kind of sitting right in that area right now. And, looking for some growth, it’s going to be good. So, that’s where we’re at. We have two services on a Sunday morning, 9:00 and 11:15. And, our service formats are a lot longer than a lot of what I might say is a typical growing church right now. And, it suits us really well. It suits our core values, you know. One of our core values is the presence of God. And so, we really give lots of time and space in our service during worship, during the message time for people to respond after the message. And so, that’s kind of how we frame our services. So, Sunday is a big day for us. I’m at Church for about seven hours on a Sunday, between getting ready and closing up and actually having service and all that kind of fun stuff.

Kenny: I just wanted to call something out here and this is one of the things, again from my, my seat, not enough communicators are paying attention to this that it’s just natural for you to know the numbers of where you are and what trajectory you’re on growth or not feel like. This is just one of the things that I’m just going to call out that not enough communicators look at their job as part of the responsibility of growing their church. They’re just sitting there and just, they’re busy doing their thing and putting that responsibility to somebody else. And, I love the fact that it’s just natural in your leadership that you’re paying attention. You have those numbers at the tip of your fingers. That was not a scripted question and I think it speaks to why you’re doing such an excellent job down there in Florida. So, let’s just start with what you’re actually doing there. You said you have these two interns and they’ve got a bunch of volunteers. One of the reasons I brought you on is because I noticed that you actually published a second resource book for communicators out there. Why don’t you share with us what the title is and just, you know, overview of what that book is supposed to be for.

Adam: Yeah. So, this is my third e-book. It’s, you know, a year ago when I took on our live production team, we had 18 volunteers and as of last month’s count, we have 35 volunteers and I trained less than 10 people last year. So, that means the majority of the training happened from somebody who’s already on our team. And if you told me that this was possible a year ago, I would’ve told you that this couldn’t happen until pigs fly. And, I’ve created this system where we can teach our volunteer team to train and recruit new people. And so, I wrote this e-book about how to do that. There are nine steps. I wrote this e-book and it’s called The Pigs are on the Runway because if you believe this can only happen when pigs fly, I’m going to tell you the pigs are on the runway, they’re ready to take off and so, these steps are really easy. Nine steps. You can easily pull off one a week even if you’re in a volunteer capacity. And so like, I’m talking like less than three months from now, you could be seeing your own team recruiting and training new team members.

Kenny: Many communicators have no volunteers at all. I think it’s a scary prospect for a lot of people. Let’s just rewind a little bit.

Adam: Sure

Kenny: So, how many volunteers do you have now? And then, when did you get your first volunteer? How long does it take to scale to 30 plus volunteers?

Adam: Well, I basically took on the live production team, which was already 18 volunteers. OK. So, I kind of had a basis to work from right there. But, since then we’ve built our social media team from the ground up. So, we’ve got eight people on our social media team. And so, each of them are responsible for a specific channel. So, we have one person for Facebook, for Twitter, two people for Instagram. We can talk about why. And then, we also run our youth channels. So, one of our big pushes is reaching generations. And so, I know some people choose not to have individual youth channels. We actually do have youth channels, but we intentionally run them as part of our social media team. We don’t just hand them off to the youth pastor to do whatever. And so, you know, obviously, he gets input. So, we’ve got four channels for our church or Instagram is split into two. That’s four people and then the same thing for you. So, that’s another four people. So, there’s eight people on our social media volunteers.

Kenny: And, they all report to you, basically, you’re the team leader for all of those 8 people social?

Adam: Yeah. So, I oversee the marketing and communications. There is a social media team leader and they report to that person who reports to me. So, it’s not because I don’t want that interaction and I do find that interaction is important, it’s simply because I needed to find a way to take something off my plate so I really empowered somebody to train and recruit on my behalf and created this system and structure and that’s really what’s worked for us. And then, we’re looking to add another.

Kenny: I mean, let’s go to the elephant in the room, right? I’ve been around a lot of church staffers and staffers at the end of the day, just don’t think that volunteers are up to snuff. It’s like, no matter how good a volunteer, they just don’t perform at the level that a paid staff member might. It’s almost like how doctors look at chiropractors or some point that, right? It’s like, it’s just not the same or something like that, right? So, how has that been your experience and can you empathize with that point of view and what is the underpinnings of that? What’s faulty in that point of view?

Adam: Yeah. So, I’ve been at Life Church here in Fort Meyers for three years and for the first two and a half years I didn’t build a volunteer team, so I know exactly where we’re coming from and I’m not saying that concern never goes away because it exists, but, the opportunity to see the results really helps alleviate that concern. So, I know where it comes from and one of the things I’ve done is I’ve really laid down the framework of our core values. So, everything we communicate has to be communicated through one of our four core values. If it doesn’t relate to one of our core values, we don’t communicate it. And so, this is an important part of laying it out for our team. And, if we don’t lay it out that way, then they could just post, you know, what’s your favorite flavor of doughnut or you know, seven days of, you know, do you prefer chocolate or vanilla ice cream? And at some point, we have to cut to the chase. So, at some point, we’re not about donuts and ice cream, although that’s fun for engagement and a great way to throw it in. And so, I think part of the concern is just handing over the reigns and letting somebody represent your brand. And for me, that’s definitely what it was. And, I’m not the lead pastor of our church so, I still report to somebody.

Kenny: Just because you’re a nice guy, you’re from Florida, you’re laid back, you’ve got the sun, you’re not up here in the Northeast, Type A, control freak. Like, how do you let that go?

Adam: No, for two and a half years, I was the control freak. So, we had a conversation on our team that failure isn’t an option. It’s a necessity and the only way we’re going to break ground and come up with new creative ideas is to fail. And one of the ways, I could fail and potentially also risk winning is handing off that responsibility to somebody and not seeing what they’re going to post until, it’s posted. And so, you know, I think in the digital world we live in, it’s not like they printed a thousand copies of a magazine that’s going to cost your church $3,000 and now, you’re going to evaluate. We can always delete a post. So, initially, I’m really tight in looking at what they’re posting, right? Because the longer it’s out there, the more chance somebody else could screenshot it and have a copy. But at the same time, just saying, “Hey, we’re going to communicate through our values and as long as you’re willing to communicate through our values and that I can trust you with that. We’re just going to need to have lots and lots of conversations about it.”

Kenny: Are you using any sort of like team-based editorial real planning tool or calendar or plannable is the latest one that came around the block recently where it’s a visual calendar and then visually people propose together. It gets mocked up based on the channel, people can edit and approve that. You can push it out to the counter. Are you using anything like that?

Adam: I love to say we were, but we’re not. And the reason is we are a kind of a team of a lot of type A personalities. Like that amount of effort, just feels like way too much planning, you know, I’ve got this idea, I want to go live with a story, go for it. That’s the response. Let’s figure it out after it’s live. So, we do use a Facebook group for communications and every week I send my team the WHAT. On Monday, we’re going to talk about small groups. On Tuesday, we’re going to talk about our podcast. On Wednesday, we’re going to invite people to our youth service, all the way through the week and that changes every week. But, what I don’t tell them is the HOW. So, they still feel like they get to be creative and the cool thing is no matter what channel you look at on Monday, you’ll see about our small groups. Now, on Facebook, it might be a live video from our small group pastor and on Twitter, it might be a quote with a link to sign up and on Instagram, it might be an album of pictures from our small groups. But, no matter what channel you check out on Monday, you’re going to see small groups and so, I give them the what I had allowed them to figure out the how so they are given really clear, structured and direction, but they still get to feel creative in that process.

Kenny: That’s pretty cool. At Church Butler, we have this framework called the Seven-Layer Dip and I think it’s very similar where it basically specifies on a daily basis the topic or theme and then, you can add in the mix and match. But, I think that what you’re saying is, and then, it’s the content itself, right? So if you’re saying that, “Hey, on Tuesday, we’re going to talk about slurpees.” It doesn’t matter if it’s a cherry slurpee or orange slurpee, it doesn’t matter, right? It’s up to the that volunteer or that staff or to come up with something with it. I love that, that you’re using that container type of metaphor and letting them fill it up with whatever they want or whether they have available.

Adam: Yeah, exactly. And, you know, that allows me to build the structure, to give them the trust I need to not have to preview everything they’re going to post right before they posted it.

Kenny: OK, so, let’s get to the how do you recruit and how do they train? So, how do they recruit others? And, we’ve done this so many times in so many churches, I’m sure all of us have where we help people every Sunday to invite your friends, get a friend, tell him, tell her family or what’s the secret sauce because that’s obviously not working. We got to try something else.

Adam: Right? So for us, the secret sauce is systems and structures. And, I’m not saying this is going to work at every church. I don’t know if it’ll work at every church, but it’s worked really well for us. And, what I’ve found is that people are willing to recruit to a team that they’re confident in. So, if they know exactly what’s expected of them, you know, we just send out a church survey for specifically for the 35 volunteers that I oversee and so I asked them questions like, on a scale of 1 to 10, how much of what you do is what you thought you would do when you took this position. And explain the difference. So, what would it take to get you from a seven to an eight or what would it take to get you from a three to a four? And, I asked those questions, you know, what would you say is the biggest reason you’re on the team? Is it to play with the toys? Is it to help people encounter God online on our broadcast? Is it team members. And, most of the responses, the majority of the responses were I know what’s expected of me and I know how to do my job. And so, when somebody knows how to do that, then it’s really easy for them to turn around and invite somebody because when they recruit somebody, somebody asks a question like, ‘How often do you have to serve?’ And they don’t have to say, ‘Oh, well I have to serve like, I don’t know, this month it was twice, in the last month, it was three times, in next month, I think it’s once, you know, they just are able to answer the question. And so, I think the confidence really helps them want to bring somebody on to the team. It allows them to answer the questions without everything having to go through me or them looking like a deer in headlights.

Kenny: That’s really insightful. I can understand why that works. Now in terms of training, right? So you’ve got these people in these roles, how do they train the next generation, the next cohort that comes in the door to the same level of quality assurance that because isn’t the risk that it turns into like the string can game, right? Like you’re telling your people, your people, talking to the next generation, and then it becomes completely, you know, something completely odd and different.

Adam: So, basically what we do is we’ve created these systems and structures this training again, and when somebody comes to training, they get a checklist. Let’s say they’re going to run a camera for us, but this applies across all of our team, photography, social media, live production, sound, lyrics. Let’s say, they’re going to run camera though. They get a checklist. The first thing on the checklist, I learned how to turn the camera on. OK? I learned how to open the Lens Cap. I learned how to zoom in. I learned how to zoom out. I learned how to pay and I learned how to tilt. I learned how to turn on my headset and make sure the microphone is muted when I’m not using it. I learned how to turn on the microphone when I need to use it. So, it’s really annoying, actually, but it lays out every single step. So now I, when I trained the first camera people for our team, I walked them through this training. Now not only are they learning, this is how I turned the camera on and this is how I opened the Lens Cap, but they’re learning how to train by being trained because now I can hand them the checklist and they can invite somebody and walk the next person through the checklist.

Kenny: So, who’s creating those checklists for you and making sure that it’s comprehensive and you’re not missing stuff?

Adam: Yeah. So, I’m creating those checklists ourselves for our team. And then, what I do is I bring in one of our team members who has experience in that position and they walk through the checklist and they’re going to tell me, ‘Hey, did you miss, or you miss this?’ Or you know, or they’ll say, ‘One of the things I couldn’t figure out is you’ve got a checkbox that says turn the camera on. But, I didn’t know you had to press that little button first before you flick the switch over. I thought I could just flip the switch and it wasn’t flicking’, you know, so some of those things help. And so then, after I asked somebody who’s already got practice doing it, then I will have somebody who’s never done it before. So, our secretary through almost all of our training under live production team, because I want somebody who doesn’t even understand how a camera works to walk through those checklists and show me where the hiccups are. So, we made another revision. So, our process, you know, has regular revisions. I’ll give you an example. A couple of weeks ago, I walked into worship rehearsal on a Thursday night, so I was checking our settings for Sunday morning and while I was there. I didn’t know this, but somebody on our team was training somebody else. And the person they were training, I’d never met before in my life. And so we realized OK, somewhere in the checklist we need to have an ‘I met Adam’ box, right? So, that if somebody is walking around with a camera taking pictures, I don’t ask security to escort them out, right? Because I’d never met this person before and I would’ve had no idea who it was. And so, you know, once in a while I’ll get an email, ‘Hey, I trained so and so on this night, I’d like to introduce you. Then can we connect between service? By the way they’re willing to work once a month. Go ahead and put them on the schedule’. So, my entire involvement in the process is adding them to planning center.

Kenny: For those people who are listening in today. First of all, can you share with us how would they get a copy of this e-book to introduce them to some of these concepts that you’ve been able to successfully codify or use.

Adam: I know they can go to adammclaughlin.net/volunteer and that’ll pull up the e-book. Maybe we can put a link in. So, just click it because Mclaughlin is not fun to spell. And then, they can go to adammclaughlin.net/ebooks, and they could see all my books. It’s the top one, the most recent one that I’ve written. And so, either one of those ways they can get a hold of that.

Kenny: Let’s talk about your other two e-books. One of the topics and the name of the two e-books.

Adam: Yes. So the first one is Trust Glue and it’s 11 Ways to Create a First Impression that sticks and basically everything that we try and do we need to communicate to our core values. They’re the filters of how we create, what we create and so they’re our branding. Our marketing is how people experience those. So, we talked about one of our core values as the presence of God. Our marketing is when somebody comes into our church, they’re going to experience the presence of God or given the opportunity to experience the presence of God. Because we don’t rush through services. We choose to allow worship to go along when we want it to and those types of things. So, that’s our marketing and our advertising is telling people what they’re going to experience. So, our advertising says, ‘Hey, come experience the presence of God.’ They come in, they actually do experience the presence of God and this creates trust and that’s the trust glue that makes people stick around. So, that’s my first e-book, 11 Ways Before Somebody Parks to Before Service starts. There’s 11 ways you can build trust with a new visitor. That was my first e-book and then my second one is called Snorkel Fork. And, the subtitle is, This Book is Confusing, Your Announcements Don’t Have to Be. So, it’s all about how do we create announcements that inspire response and again filter our announcements through our core values so it’s not as important to tell people what’s going on, but tell them why you’re doing what you’re doing and invite them to participate. So that’s the second e-book. And then the third one is when we’re talking about today, the Pigs are on the Runway. You think building a volunteer team that grows itself is only for when pigs fly then I have news for you, the pigs are on the runway,

Kenny: I love that name, so, so much insight and wisdom that you’re unpacking for people. And then, you got a great site itself. I think people really need to get in touch with you if they really want to learn further about these things, very accessible. Thank you so much for being with us today. Is there any other things that you might, I guess, you know, charge people with as they think about building a volunteer team for the first time because for many people I will tell you, I wouldn’t say, I will go out and live that the majority of people listening here from communications do not have a volunteer team in place. And so, if they’re thinking about that for the first time this year, what’s the most practical encouragement you can give them to take that first step of planning? Where do they start?

Adam: Well, for me, that was my case for two and a half years. So, it’s not some magic bullet or some personality thing. I ran literally, I ran everything myself for two and a half years and so, if I can grow my team in the last six months by creating clear systems, clear expectations, clear structures, and then just trusting people to execute, then you can do it too and make sure you’ve built in a mechanism so, you can give them feedback and they can give you feedback and start that conversation so, that when a trust issue comes up, you can say, ‘Hey, you know, we’re supposed to be here at this time’ or, and ‘you showed up late’. We have a conversation about that. All of those systems and structures really create the framework and now we don’t think about those systems and structures as much as we think about celebrating the wins. We celebrate how many people watch us online and we celebrate how many people got recruited and how many people train. And so, I would just say it’s not impossible. I’ve totally been there. And, it’s also not like I’ve worked at this for 10 years, right? Like six months ago, I was struggling when somebody quit and now, I’ve got a little bit of structure. Actually, took a weekend off last week, two weeks ago, I showed up at somebody who’s being trained that never met the person. This can work for you.

Kenny: The fourth e-book is going to be 15 Places You Can Take a Nap at Church because you have so many volunteers doing the work for you.

Adam: No, it’s how to reach more people now that you’ve got more stuff off your plate.

Kenny: All joking aside. That’s what it comes down to, right? We gotta get you out of the routine things, the things that are just assistance and processes that you can actually share that faith and action component with other volunteers in your career. Just so that you can be, I guess tasked with higher value strategic initiatives for your church and this is full circle, totally full circle. You started quoting numbers for your church and your services, et cetera. It’s very clear that your headspace is in the right place. That’s saying, ‘Hey, we want to grow’. We want to reach more people. We hear it all the time, the things that you measured, the things that move right and so Kudos to you for being able to figure this out and thank you again for your generosity in sharing what you’ve learned with other churches out here that are with us tonight.

Adam: Cool. Thank you so much for having me on Kenny.

Kenny: Thank you so much for everybody here listening today. This is another Lunch and Learn part of our series here at Church Butler. You can find out more details about Adam’s ebook at www.butler.church/blog. We’ll post this there and our podcast on iTunes, StitcherRadio and GooglePlay by popular demand from those non-Apple iOS users that finally got your way. I’m Kenny Jahng, your host. ‘Til next time, be good and be generous.
Kenny: Hey, Church Butler friends, it’s Kenny Jahng back here again at the table with our Lunch and Learn guest of the day. You know, this guy doesn’t need any introduction. In fact, he does introductions and no one can top them. Adam, why don’t you introduce yourself give your signature humor. I just love your humor and I feel like you should be the MC, the Mic Guy. Go out there period.

Adam: Wow. Okay. Well here is your favorite recovering Canadian throwing it out all of his family members stuck in for fetus no willie sits underneath his palm tree, overseeing marketing and communications while holding a slurpee in his hand. That Life Church in Fort Myers, Florida. This is me.

Kenny: Welcome to the show and you mentioned slurpee’s and palm trees and just everything. All just so good.

Adam: Life is good.

Kenny: But, we’ve been playing around in our church, communicated as community. This is one of the great things. Adam is definitely one of the guys that has raised the bar for all of us communicators. Not just in being a practitioner and bringing case studies to the table, but also, this is one of my pet peeves that even as church communicators, we are such lurkers in our own community and there’s only a few that actually that stand out, raise your hand and actually contribute and volunteer and have a position of generosity of helping others. And so, I just want to just call you and say thank you for being one of those guys that really helps out. Really, really.

Adam: Thank you.

Kenny: So, let’s just get right to it. First of all, 30 seconds. What’s your day job? What do you do in Fort Myers outside of hanging at the 7-11, drinking slurpees all day?

Adam: Well, when I’m not sitting underneath a palm tree or on the beach, then I’m at work and I oversee marketing communications and I’ve also taken over all of our live production. So, it’s the whole gamut. Everything that people experience for us externally comes through my fingers and everything they touch when they’re on our campus come through my fingers. So, you know, that’s kind of the hands-on approach. My official title is marketing and communications. My unofficial title is that CMIH that’s the Chief of Making It Happen.

Kenny: I love it. I love it. So, how big is your church on a given Sunday? How many services, how many people trying to just give people a sense. And then, how big is your team but you work with?

Adam: Yeah. So, on staff, I’m the only person on staff right now and we do have two interns, right now. So, that’s kind of the employer’s employees staff side of the picture on a Sunday morning. Last Sunday, we served 876 people and that’s pretty average for us right now. We’ve gotten pretty close to 900 a few weeks recently and also, around the Christmas time, we’re around the 750 range, so we’re kind of sitting right in that area right now. And, looking for some growth, it’s going to be good. So, that’s where we’re at. We have two services on a Sunday morning, 9:00 and 11:15. And, our service formats are a lot longer than a lot of what I might say is a typical growing church right now. And, it suits us really well. It suits our core values, you know. One of our core values is the presence of God. And so, we really give lots of time and space in our service during worship, during the message time for people to respond after the message. And so, that’s kind of how we frame our services. So, Sunday is a big day for us. I’m at Church for about seven hours on a Sunday, between getting ready and closing up and actually having service and all that kind of fun stuff.

Kenny: I just wanted to call something out here and this is one of the things, again from my, my seat, not enough communicators are paying attention to this that it’s just natural for you to know the numbers of where you are and what trajectory you’re on growth or not feel like. This is just one of the things that I’m just going to call out that not enough communicators look at their job as part of the responsibility of growing their church. They’re just sitting there and just, they’re busy doing their thing and putting that responsibility to somebody else. And, I love the fact that it’s just natural in your leadership that you’re paying attention. You have those numbers at the tip of your fingers. That was not a scripted question and I think it speaks to why you’re doing such an excellent job down there in Florida. So, let’s just start with what you’re actually doing there. You said you have these two interns and they’ve got a bunch of volunteers. One of the reasons I brought you on is because I noticed that you actually published a second resource book for communicators out there. Why don’t you share with us what the title is and just, you know, overview of what that book is supposed to be for.

Adam: Yeah. So, this is my third e-book. It’s, you know, a year ago when I took on our live production team, we had 18 volunteers and as of last month’s count, we have 35 volunteers and I trained less than 10 people last year. So, that means the majority of the training happened from somebody who’s already on our team. And if you told me that this was possible a year ago, I would’ve told you that this couldn’t happen until pigs fly. And, I’ve created this system where we can teach our volunteer team to train and recruit new people. And so, I wrote this e-book about how to do that. There are nine steps. I wrote this e-book and it’s called The Pigs are on the Runway because if you believe this can only happen when pigs fly, I’m going to tell you the pigs are on the runway, they’re ready to take off and so, these steps are really easy. Nine steps. You can easily pull off one a week even if you’re in a volunteer capacity. And so like, I’m talking like less than three months from now, you could be seeing your own team recruiting and training new team members.

Kenny: Many communicators have no volunteers at all. I think it’s a scary prospect for a lot of people.’ Let’s just rewind a little bit.

Adam: Sure

Kenny: So, how many volunteers do you have now? And then, when did you get your first volunteer? How long does it take to scale to 30 plus volunteers?

Adam: Well, I basically took on the live production team, which was already 18 volunteers. OK. So, I kind of had a basis to work from right there. But, since then we’ve built our social media team from the ground up. So, we’ve got eight people on our social media team. And so, each of them are responsible for a specific channel. So, we have one person for Facebook, for Twitter, two people for Instagram. We can talk about why. And then, we also run our youth channels. So, one of our big pushes is reaching generations. And so, I know some people choose not to have individual youth channels. We actually do have youth channels, but we intentionally run them as part of our social media team. We don’t just hand them off to the youth pastor to do whatever. And so, you know, obviously, he gets input. So, we’ve got four channels for our church or Instagram is split into two. That’s four people and then the same thing for you. So, that’s another four people. So, there’s eight people on our social media volunteers.

Kenny: And, they all report to you, basically, you’re the team leader for all of those 8 people social?

Adam: Yeah. So, I oversee the marketing and communications. There is a social media team leader and they report to that person who reports to me. So, it’s not because I don’t want that interaction and I do find that interaction is important, it’s simply because I needed to find a way to take something off my plate so I really empowered somebody to train and recruit on my behalf and created this system and structure and that’s really what’s worked for us. And then, we’re looking to add another.

Kenny: I mean, let’s go to the elephant in the room, right? I’ve been around a lot of church staffers and staffers at the end of the day, just don’t think that volunteers are up to snuff. It’s like, no matter how good a volunteer, they just don’t perform at the level that a paid staff member might. It’s almost like how doctors look at chiropractors or some point that, right? It’s like, it’s just not the same or something like that, right? So, how has that been your experience and can you empathize with that point of view and what is the underpinnings of that? What’s faulty in that point of view?

Adam: Yeah. So, I’ve been at Life Church here in Fort Meyers for three years and for the first two and a half years I didn’t build a volunteer team, so I know exactly where we’re coming from and I’m not saying that concern never goes away because it exists, but, the opportunity to see the results really helps alleviate that concern. So, I know where it comes from and one of the things I’ve done is I’ve really laid down the framework of our core values. So, everything we communicate has to be communicated through one of our four core values. If it doesn’t relate to one of our core values, we don’t communicate it. And so, this is an important part of laying it out for our team. And, if we don’t lay it out that way, then they could just post, you know, what’s your favorite flavor of doughnut or you know, seven days of, you know, do you prefer chocolate or vanilla ice cream? And at some point, we have to cut to the chase. So, at some point, we’re not about donuts and ice cream, although that’s fun for engagement and a great way to throw it in. And so, I think part of the concern is just handing over the reigns and letting somebody represent your brand. And for me, that’s definitely what it was. And, I’m not the lead pastor of our church so, I still report to somebody.

Kenny: Just because you’re a nice guy, you’re from Florida, you’re laid back, you’ve got the sun, you’re not up here in the Northeast, Type A, control freak. Like, how do you let that go?

Adam: No, for two and a half years, I was the control freak. So, we had a conversation on our team that failure isn’t an option. It’s a necessity and the only way we’re going to break ground and come up with new creative ideas is to fail. And one of the ways, I could fail and potentially also risk winning is handing off that responsibility to somebody and not seeing what they’re going to post until, it’s posted. And so, you know, I think in the digital world we live in, it’s not like they printed a thousand copies of a magazine that’s going to cost your church $3,000 and now, you’re going to evaluate. We can always delete a post. So, initially, I’m really tight in looking at what they’re posting, right? Because the longer it’s out there, the more chance somebody else could screenshot it and have a copy. But at the same time, just saying, “Hey, we’re going to communicate through our values and as long as you’re willing to communicate through our values and that I can trust you with that. We’re just going to need to have lots and lots of conversations about it.”

Kenny: Are you using any sort of like team-based editorial real planning tool or calendar or plannable is the latest one that came around the block recently where it’s a visual calendar and then visually people propose together. It gets mocked up based on the channel, people can edit and approve that. You can push it out to the counter. Are you using anything like that?

Adam: I love to say we were, but we’re not. And the reason is we are a kind of a team of a lot of type A personalities. Like that amount of effort, just feels like way too much planning, you know, I’ve got this idea, I want to go live with a story, go for it. That’s the response. Let’s figure it out after it’s live. So, we do use a Facebook group for communications and every week I send my team the WHAT. On Monday, we’re going to talk about small groups. On Tuesday, we’re going to talk about our podcast. On Wednesday, we’re going to invite people to our youth service, all the way through the week and that changes every week. But, what I don’t tell them is the HOW. So, they still feel like they get to be creative and the cool thing is no matter what channel you look at on Monday, you’ll see about our small groups. Now, on Facebook, it might be a live video from our small group pastor and on Twitter, it might be a quote with a link to sign up and on Instagram, it might be an album of pictures from our small groups. But, no matter what channel you check out on Monday, you’re going to see small groups and so, I give them the what I had allowed them to figure out the how so they are given really clear, structured and direction, but they still get to feel creative in that process.

Kenny: That’s pretty cool. At Church Butler, we have this framework called the Seven-Layer Dip and I think it’s very similar where it basically specifies on a daily basis the topic or theme and then, you can add in the mix and match. But, I think that what you’re saying is, and then, it’s the content itself, right? So if you’re saying that, “Hey, on Tuesday, we’re going to talk about slurpees.” It doesn’t matter if it’s a cherry slurpee or orange slurpee, it doesn’t matter, right? It’s up to the that volunteer or that staff or to come up with something with it. I love that, that you’re using that container type of metaphor and letting them fill it up with whatever they want or whether they have available.

Adam: Yeah, exactly. And, you know, that allows me to build the structure, to give them the trust I need to not have to preview everything they’re going to post right before they posted it.

Kenny: OK, so, let’s get to the how do you recruit and how do they train? So, how do they recruit others? And, we’ve done this so many times in so many churches, I’m sure all of us have where we help people every Sunday to invite your friends, get a friend, tell him, tell her family or what’s the secret sauce because that’s obviously not working. We got to try something else.

Adam: Right? So for us, the secret sauce is systems and structures. And, I’m not saying this is going to work at every church. I don’t know if it’ll work at every church, but it’s worked really well for us. And, what I’ve found is that people are willing to recruit to a team that they’re confident in. So, if they know exactly what’s expected of them, you know, we just send out a church survey for specifically for the 35 volunteers that I oversee and so I asked them questions like, on a scale of 1 to 10, how much of what you do is what you thought you would do when you took this position. And explain the difference. So, what would it take to get you from a seven to an eight or what would it take to get you from a three to a four? And, I asked those questions, you know, what would you say is the biggest reason you’re on the team? Is it to play with the toys? Is it to help people encounter God online on our broadcast? Is it team members. And, most of the responses, the majority of the responses were I know what’s expected of me and I know how to do my job. And so, when somebody knows how to do that, then it’s really easy for them to turn around and invite somebody because when they recruit somebody, somebody asks a question like, ‘How often do you have to serve?’ And they don’t have to say, ‘Oh, well I have to serve like, I don’t know, this month it was twice, in the last month, it was three times, in next month, I think it’s once, you know, they just are able to answer the question. And so, I think the confidence really helps them want to bring somebody on to the team. It allows them to answer the questions without everything having to go through me or them looking like a deer in headlights.

Kenny: That’s really insightful. I can understand why that works. Now in terms of training, right? So you’ve got these people in these roles, how do they train the next generation, the next cohort that comes in the door to the same level of quality assurance that because isn’t the risk that it turns into like the string can game, right? Like you’re telling your people, your people, talking to the next generation, and then it becomes completely, you know, something completely odd and different.

Adam: So, basically what we do is we’ve created these systems and structures this training again, and when somebody comes to training, they get a checklist. Let’s say they’re going to run a camera for us, but this applies across all of our team, photography, social media, live production, sound, lyrics. Let’s say, they’re going to run camera though. They get a checklist. The first thing on the checklist, I learned how to turn the camera on. OK? I learned how to open the Lens Cap. I learned how to zoom in. I learned how to zoom out. I learned how to pay and I learned how to tilt. I learned how to turn on my headset and make sure the microphone is muted when I’m not using it. I learned how to turn on the microphone when I need to use it. So, it’s really annoying, actually, but it lays out every single step. So now I, when I trained the first camera people for our team, I walked them through this training. Now not only are they learning, this is how I turned the camera on and this is how I opened the Lens Cap, but they’re learning how to train by being trained because now I can hand them the checklist and they can invite somebody and walk the next person through the checklist.

Kenny: So, who’s creating those checklists for you and making sure that it’s comprehensive and you’re not missing stuff?

Adam: Yeah. So, I’m creating those checklists ourselves for our team. And then, what I do is I bring in one of our team members who has experience in that position and they walk through the checklist and they’re going to tell me, ‘Hey, did you miss, or you miss this?’ Or you know, or they’ll say, ‘One of the things I couldn’t figure out is you’ve got a checkbox that says turn the camera on. But, I didn’t know you had to press that little button first before you flick the switch over. I thought I could just flip the switch and it wasn’t flicking’, you know, so some of those things help. And so then, after I asked somebody who’s already got practice doing it, then I will have somebody who’s never done it before. So, our secretary through almost all of our training under live production team, because I want somebody who doesn’t even understand how a camera works to walk through those checklists and show me where the hiccups are. So, we made another revision. So, our process, you know, has regular revisions. I’ll give you an example. A couple of weeks ago, I walked into worship rehearsal on a Thursday night, so I was checking our settings for Sunday morning and while I was there. I didn’t know this, but somebody on our team was training somebody else. And the person they were training, I’d never met before in my life. And so we realized OK, somewhere in the checklist we need to have an ‘I met Adam’ box, right? So, that if somebody is walking around with a camera taking pictures, I don’t ask security to escort them out, right? Because I’d never met this person before and I would’ve had no idea who it was. And so, you know, once in a while I’ll get an email, ‘Hey, I trained so and so on this night, I’d like to introduce you. Then can we connect between service? By the way they’re willing to work once a month. Go ahead and put them on the schedule’. So, my entire involvement in the process is adding them to planning center.

Kenny: For those people who are listening in today. First of all, can you share with us how would they get a copy of this e-book to introduce them to some of these concepts that you’ve been able to successfully codify or use.

Adam: I know they can go to adammclaughlin.net/volunteer and that’ll pull up the e-book. Maybe we can put a link in. So, just click it because Mclaughlin is not fun to spell. And then, they can go to AdamMclaughlin.net/ebooks, and they could see all my books. It’s the top one, the most recent one that I’ve written. And so, either one of those ways they can get a hold of that.

Kenny: Let’s talk about your other two e-books. One of the topics and the name of the two e-books.

Adam: Yes. So the first one is trust glue and it’s 11 Ways to Create a First Impression that sticks and basically everything that we try and do we need to communicate to our core values. They’re the filters of how we create, what we create and so they’re our branding. Our marketing is how people experience those. So, we talked about one of our core values as the presence of God. Our marketing is when somebody comes into our church, they’re going to experience the presence of God or given the opportunity to experience the presence of God. Because we don’t rush through services. We choose to allow worship to go along when we want it to and those types of things. So, that’s our marketing and our advertising is telling people what they’re going to experience. So, our advertising says, ‘Hey, come experience the presence of God.’ They come in, they actually do experience the presence of God and this creates trust and that’s the trust glue that makes people stick around. So, that’s my first e-book, 11 Ways Before Somebody Parks to Before Service starts. There’s 11 ways you can build trust with a new visitor. That was my first ebook and then my second one is called Snorkel Fork. And, nd the subtitle is, This Book is Confusing, Your Announcements Don’t Have to Be. So, it’s all about how do we create announcements that inspire response and again filter our announcements through our core values so it’s not as important to tell people what’s going on, but tell them why you’re doing what you’re doing and invite them to participate. So that’s the second ebook. And then the third one is when we’re talking about today, the Pigs are on the Runway. You think building a volunteer team that grows itself is only for when pigs fly then I have news for you, the pigs are on the runway,

Kenny: I love that name, so, so much insight and wisdom that you’re unpacking for people. And then, you got a great site itself. I think people really need to get in touch with you if they really want to learn further about these things, very accessible. Thank you so much for being with us today. Is there any other things that you might, I guess, you know, charge people with as they think about building a volunteer team for the first time because for many people I will tell you, I wouldn’t say, I will go out and live that the majority of people listening here from communications do not have a volunteer team in place. And so, if they’re thinking about that for the first time this year, what’s the most practical encouragement you can give them to take that first step of planning? Where do they start?

Adam: Well, for me, that was my case for two and a half years. So, it’s not some magic bullet or some personality thing. I ran literally, I ran everything myself for two and a half years and so, if I can grow my team in the last six months by creating clear systems, clear expectations, clear structures, and then just trusting people to execute, then you can do it too and make sure you’ve built in a mechanism so, you can give them feedback and they can give you feedback and start that conversation so, that when a trust issue comes up, you can say, ‘Hey, you know, we’re supposed to be here at this time’ or, and ‘you showed up late’. We have a conversation about that. All of those systems and structures really create the framework and now we don’t think about those systems and structures as much as we think about celebrating the wins. We celebrate how many people watch us online and we celebrate how many people got recruited and how many people train. And so, I would just say it’s not impossible. I’ve totally been there. And, it’s also not like I’ve worked at this for 10 years, right? Like six months ago, I was struggling when somebody quit and now, I’ve got a little bit of structure. Actually, took a weekend off last week, two weeks ago, I showed up at somebody who’s being trained that never met the person. This can work for you.

Kenny: The fourth e-book is going to be 15 Places You Can Take a Nap at Church because you have so many volunteers doing the work for you.

Adam: No, it’s how to reach more people now that you’ve got more stuff off your plate.

Kenny: All joking aside. That’s what it comes down to, right? We gotta get you out of the routine things, the things that are just assistance and processes that you can actually share that faith and action component with other volunteers in your career. Just so that you can be, I guess tasked with higher value strategic initiatives for your church and this is full circle, totally full circle. You started quoting numbers for your church and your services, et cetera. It’s very clear that your headspace is in the right place. That’s saying, ‘Hey, we want to grow’. We want to reach more people. We hear it all the time, the things that you measured, the things that move right and so Kudos to you for being able to figure this out and thank you again for your generosity in sharing what you’ve learned with other churches out here that are with us tonight.

Adam: Cool. Thank you so much for having me on Kenny.

Kenny: Thank you so much for everybody here listening today. This is another Lunch and Learn part of our series here at Church Butler. You can find out more details about Adam’s ebook at www.butler.church/blog. We’ll post this there and our podcast on iTunes, StitcherRadio and GooglePlay by popular demand from those non-Apple iOS users that finally got your way. I’m Kenny Jahng, your host. ‘Til next time, be good and be generous.

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