3 Questions with DJ Chuang

I'm excited to bring back an old tradition to my blog in interviewing friends with 3 questions that I then share with you.  My first guest back to this new format is my good friend, DJ Chuang.  Introducing DJ could be a whole post in itself as his list of unique experiences could go on and on.  I will summarize it in saying that he is focused at the center of the intersection of the church and the internet.  You likely have heard of his podcast Social Media Church and he is currently working with the American Bible Society with the .Bible registry.  To learn more about DJ you can visit his website at DJChuang.com.  

I'm so grateful that DJ took the time and know you will gain great insights from DJ's answers to these 3 questions: 

1) As you have studied how churches are using Social Media, where do you see churches getting it right and where do you see them missing a great opportunity?

> @djchuang: I've heard of many great examples of churches using social media in a wide variety of ways through my podcast conversations during the past 2+ years on Social Media Church, and that's good to see. Plus, I think it's a good sign that my Google Alerts for "social media church" comes with a handful of mentions almost every day now, whereas just a year ago, it was only a couple mentions every few days. I think churches are getting it right when they empower both their staff and attenders to actively use social media, and learn to use it better over time. You (and your church) develop your social media voice by using your voice on social media. 

As for opportunities, there are so many because the Internet is so vast and wide, the opportunities are practically limitless. But we are finite people with limited resources. I'd say the biggest opportunity that churches are missing is YouTube. The number of people watching YouTube videos, the hours of time with videos watched and uploaded is astronomical! YouTube statistics at the moment are: More than 1 billion unique users every month, over 6 billion hours of video watched monthly, 100 hours of video are uploaded every minute, 80% of YouTube traffic comes from outside the US. The opportunity here is not to upload your church sermon videos; it is to create engaging videos that is worthy of a Gospel witness.

 

2) After studying the trend of Online Church for years, what do you see ahead for this trend?

> @djchuang: I had started tracking the number of online churches and internet campuses back in 2007, when there were 5 that I could find, during my tenure at Leadership Network. By 2014, there was over 105, and those are just the ones I could find in my spare time, since I'm not a full-time researcher. That's good growth, though hardly a drop in the bucket when compared to the total number of churches in the US, estimated to be around 350,000+. 

I'd like to think that the next iteration for online churches will be content specifically produced for an online audience, rather than merely streaming video content produced for an in-person offline audience. Most churches currently provide a video of existing worship services for the online audience to watch and participate from afar. The growing trends of online education, webinars, livestreams, and online conferences all point towards churches extending their ministries online in more engaging ways.

 

3) You are also very involved in the Asian American church.  Can you share what trends you are seeing and what people should understand about that Asian American Church that they might not know?

> @djchuang: Firstly, I'd refer your readers to my popular article on Ed Stetzer's blog, 9 Things About Asian American Christianity, and notice that Asian Americans are the fastest growing racial grouping in America. 

Plus, I see so much more potential for Asian American churches than what's currently happening. Asian Americans on the whole have the highest family median income and the highest rate of college degrees of any racial ethnic grouping. That's not to say there aren't community needs for some Asian Americans, but it is to say that Asian Americans could be great partners for the Gospel in America's multicultural society and today's transnational world. 

Recent racial tensions in America continue to show that we are not in a post-racial world. I believe the best remedy for racial strife is the multiethnic churches, where real relationships and friendships have a foundation on the Gospel and tap into God's power for reconciliation and true peace on earth for all humankind and between all peoples. 

Hiring a Digital Receptionist

I’m always on the look out for new ministry opportunities online and while browsing my friend Mike Foster’s website People of the Second Chance about a year ago I had an AHA moment.  I was checking out his new book and all of a sudden a pop up in the corner of the screen came up and someone was on the other side and asked a simple question: “Can I help you?”

Naturally when I see things like this I have to test it and find out more.  I started asking questions and the person on the other side was so friendly and helpful.  Honestly, I already had Mike’s book, but was ready to buy another because this person was so nice.  I then clicked on the chat tool Live Chat Inc and looked into what it would take to integrate on our website.  24 hours later and for only $20/month we had a live person available on CommunityBible.com

Quickly after adding this feature we had a big problem: people loved it and used it… a lot!  What we found is that people would often go to our website to look for a phone number to call the church, but found that there was a live person available right there on the website.  We also found that these people were not just interested in information about the church, but often needed direct ministry and prayer.

We have since added a full-time Virtual Receptionist who connects with people on our website all day both getting them connected to people and information, but also ministering to them directly and often praying with them right there in a chat box.  Who knew that technology could be so personal?

I hope you will give this tool a try and see what your congregation thinks!  Actually, this goes way beyond your congregation as this helps you connect personally with the person who might be visiting your church this weekend before they even arrive on your campus!  Who knows, you might even be on the search for a new digital receptionist!  It’s a pretty appealing position as it can be accomplished from a desk at your church building, from a couch in your home or a table at a coffee shop anywhere in the world.  

Have you tried integrating a feature like this on your church website?  What's holding you back from giving it a try today?