Fewer people in church.

Fewer viewers online.

What’s a pastor to do?

Church attendance is down. Online viewership is tumbling. Listen to Pastor Daniel (name changed):

“Our church is caught in a double bind: in-person attendance has been gutted since COVID. And online sermon viewership, which was strong when the pandemic began, has been dropping every month.

I’m discouraged because I work so hard to prepare solid, Biblical sermons. Fewer and fewer people are hearing them.

I’m beginning to wonder if I’ll have a congregation – or even a job – in a year or two.”

To make matters worse, several of Daniel’s members have begun watching superstar online preachers with sophisticated cameras, sound, and stages. “I deal with the headaches, the political battles and the controversies,” Daniel said. “Meanwhile, Steven Furtick gets the video views.”

Daniel is not alone. Almost every church in North America seeing a similar decline.

I don’t know why people are leaving in-person church. But I do know why they’ve stopped watching online.

Pastors are trained to preach to a crowd. Nobody is training pastors to preach online.

That’s what I aim to do, beginning in January 2022.

Preaching online is different than preaching to a crowd

TV remote 2

People rarely walk out of church during a sermon, even if they lose interest. It’s considered rude. But online? It happens all the time. All it takes is a flick of the finger.

If they’re not engaged, they’re gone.

In a church service the pastor has the floor. Nobody else can speak. But in the screen world, your sermon is part of The Attention Economy. Your message has billions of competitors. It’s not just other preachers – your sermon is up against ESPN, TikTok, Instagram and World of Warcraft. People will watch whatever interests them most.

That’s where I can help.

Meet David Murrow – the Online Preaching Coach

David Murrow

I’m David Murrow. You may know me as a bestselling Christian author, speaker, and blogger. Perhaps you’ve read my books, seen me on TV or in the news, or heard me on the radio talking about Why Men Hate Going to Church or other books I’ve written.

David's books

But I make my living as a television producer and writer. Over the past four decades I’ve won multiple awards and earned millions of dollars helping clients share their messages with the world. I’ve also written speeches and built multimedia presentations for corporate CEOs, Governors and Senators.

A few months ago God began nudging me. “David, put your experience to work for me. Train my shepherds.”

So that’s my goal. I’m stepping away from my production company in 2022 to focus full-time on coaching pastors. I am seeking twelve bold men who want to master the art of online preaching.

Photo: David Murrow working on a film set early in his career. Over the past four decades Murrow has written and produced over 800 video commercials, programs and specials. His work has been seen on ABC, NBC, PBS, CBS, Discovery Networks, BBC World Service and dozens more.

What is the Online Preaching Coach?

Phone

The Online Preaching Coach is a six-month mentorship course, with an option to continue month-to-month as necessary. I will personally train twelve pastors in the art of on-screen communication.

When you enroll in The Online Preaching Coach you get actual coaching. From me. I will interact with your personally to help you become a better communicator.

You can call me. You will have my phone number.

Here’s how the Online Preaching Coach works:

  • First thing: you and I will meet over Zoom for a one-hour evaluation call. We will identify your strengths and begin working on a plan to address your challenges.
  • Once a month I watch one of your sermons and offer specific, personalized feedback.
  • You’ll have the option to participate in a once-a-week Zoom call with the other members of your OPC cohort. I tightly manage this 60-minute call to keep the group on track.
  • You’ll have access to a private chat channel where you and your fellow cohort members can share ideas, advice, encouragement, etc.
  • I’ll give you my personal cell phone number and access to my calendar. You may schedule up to one call per week for advice or consultation.
  • I am available to brainstorm before you begin writing your message. I can also help with planning your next sermon series.

Interested? Click that orange button and tell me about yourself.

Message David

Every successful online message must unlock three doors

Three doors stand between your sermon and those who need to hear it. Each door must be unlocked, in this order:

  • Door #1: Your sermons must be WATCHED. This is the biggest hurdle most pastors face. 
  • Door #2: Your sermons must be REMEMBERED. People remember insightful messages that focus on one big idea. This is the secret of the TED talk.
  • Door #3: Your sermons must be SHARED. This is how all media content goes viral. Shared sermons reach tens of thousands of people each week.

The entire course is focused on opening these three doors. Here are just a few of the skills I will be teaching:

  • WATCHED — you will learn how to:
    • Use the first 30 seconds of your message to capture interest on social media
    • Structure your message so people keep watching till the end
    • Show don’t tell. Use visuals for maximum impact. Object lessons aren’t just for kids.
    • Improve audio and video quality and defeat common technical problems that can ruin your livestream or recording
  • REMEMBERED — you will learn how to:
    • Identify the “one big idea” that will help your message stick
    • Use your phone to film 2 minute “on location” vignettes that localize your sermons
    • Use a simple sketch pad and a Sharpie to drive your core message home
    • Tighten and focus your messages to compete in the age of the TED talk
  • SHARED — you will learn how to:
    • Build “shareable minutes” within your messages to excerpt and post on social media
    • Add links for your members to share your teaching with their networks
    • Shoot a simple video promo for your message series and boost it on social media
    • Leverage your online message to bring new members into the gathered church

None of this is expensive or complicated. It doesn’t require a huge tech team or a zillion dollar budget. But it does require training and practice. My job is to walk alongside you for six months as you acquire and perfect these skills.

Don’t compromise — communicate

Photo: Evangelist Billy Sunday roars at the crowd. Lithograph by George Wesley Bellows, courtesy of the National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution.

Competing in the attention economy doesn’t mean you have to compromise your doctrine. The message remains the same. It’s the method that changes. Over the centuries, pastors have used the technology of their day to turn a distracted world’s attention to Jesus:

  • In 1882, a group of British street preachers began using brass bands to gather and focus the attention of crowds. The bands drew the ire of traditional churchmen, but they were a hit with the public. The brass band rocketed the Salvation Army to international prominence.
  • The most popular American evangelist of the early 20th century used salty language, doffed his coat and tossed chairs across the stage during his messages. Billy Sunday horrified the church establishment, yet he led multitudes to Christ (particularly working class men).
  • In 1957, a telegenic young evangelist broadcast his Yankee Stadium crusade on ABC television. Billy Graham consulted with TV producers and created a television spectacle with a massive choir, radio legend Paul Harvey as announcer, and Vice President Richard Nixon as special guest. Graham presented the gospel to millions that night, earning the nickname “America’s Preacher.”
Chan
  • In 2007, a soft-spoken, barefoot pastor clung to a balance beam as an illustration of how timid Christians can be. A three minute video clip went viral, and has been viewed more than 4 million times. That clip launched the writing and speaking career of Francis Chan.
  • And how can we forget Jesus? He allowed a friend to die, and then used Lazarus’ resurrected corpse as an object lesson. He practically drowned his disciples in a violent storm to teach them a lesson about faith. Jesus DOMINATED the first-century Attention Economy.

What’s the first verb in the Bible? Create. God rewards those who proclaim the Good News with creativity. That’s what I aim to teach you.

Must I become a televangelist?

Back to Pastor Daniel. I began sharing my idea for the Online Preaching coach. Here were his questions:

Must I turn the worship service into a TV show?

Do I need a completely new preaching style?

Must I become an entertainer or comedian?

Do I need a huge tech team and a bunch of expensive equipment to pull this off?

Must I water down doctrine?

Will this take more time, because I barely have time to finish my sermons as it is.

The answer to these questions is no, no, no, no, no and no. I’m not trying to turn you into a televangelist.

The difference between a mediocre and a great online sermon can be as simple as a timely object lesson, an impactful illustration, a hand-drawn diagram or well placed video clip. I can show you how to approach your sermon with an eye toward creativity and clarity.

You may be thinking, “I don’t have time for this. I barely get my sermons done each week.” The method I teach does require more advance planning. But once you learn how this works you will save time in preparation, by avoiding unprofitable rabbit trails. I’ll teach you how to identify what you really needs to be said, and what can end up “on the cutting room floor.”

You handle the exegesis. Together, we’ll work on your execution.

Intrigued? Have questions?

Go ahead…send me a message

Message David

Why be coached by a television producer?

David interviewing on set

Photo: David Murrow conducting an interview for an online documentary.

Why should you be coached by a video professional? Wouldn’t it make sense to be coached by another preacher? Frankly, no. I’m going to stretch you in ways no preacher can. I know what works on video — and what falls flat.

The typical U.S. adult spends more than 70 hours a week interacting with electronic media. Online is where the people are. Not just the unchurched – even committed disciples of Jesus are spending nearly every free moment they have glued to their screens. Any pastor who wants to reach the world MUST improve his ability to communicate online.

Humans are visual creatures. Studies show that 90% of the information our brain processes comes through our eyes. Yet the typical sermon contains ZERO visual content. That’s what a television producer can teach you: how to make your sermons more visual without distracting from your core message.

It starts with sermon preparation. The first question most pastors ask themselves is, “What am I going to say?” That’s the wrong question. Instead, you should be asking, “What am I going to show?” Then build your sermon around that visual.

Plus, I bring a man-in-the-pews perspective. I’ve sat through some great sermons and some stinkers. I’m going to give it to you straight. I pull no punches. But I’m also generous with praise when you get things right.

Seven reasons to enroll with the Online Preaching Coach

Three generations of Murrows

Photo: David Murrow appears with his son Tony and his grandson Gabriel. Tony is a pastor at ChangePoint in Anchorage, Alaska. Tony brought three generations of Murrow men on stage as a sermon illustration: how the sins of the father (represented by the rope) are visited upon the 3rd and 4th generation.

Here are seven reasons to enroll with the Online Preaching Coach:

  1. Christ commanded us to preach the gospel to every person. But fewer and fewer people are entering our buildings. If we’re going to reach the unchurched, it’s going to happen online.
  2. It’s about impact. A sermon that’s viewed 20,000 times has a much greater chance of changing lives than one that’s viewed 20 times.
  3. Online sermons are the new tracts. It’s a cheap and easy way for your members to share the gospel with friends.
  4. Pastor search teams used to pore over resumes. Now they scan sermons on YouTube. I hate to say this, but pastors with the most “views” are the ones most likely to be hired. Doors will open or close based on your ability to communicate online.
  5. If you become a better on-screen communicator, you’ll also become more effective in-the-room. The two go hand-in-hand.
  6. Every video professional knows the importance of choosing the best shots, and leaving the rest “on the cutting room floor.” The same goes for sermons. The techniques I teach will help you identify what needs to be said — and what needs to be cut.
  7. Once you get these techniques down you will save a ton of time in sermon preparation.

And there’s one more REALLY good reason to join the Online Preaching Coach:

Online Preaching drives in-person involvement

Hear me: online church CANNOT and SHOULD NOT replace in-person church. The Bible commands us to gather.

But the Internet has changed the way people seek out a church.

Twenty years ago, most visitors showed up at church never having heard the pastor speak. Those days are gone. Pastor Carey Nieuwhof asks:

“When was the last time you bought a new product, went to a new restaurant or even took a vacation without checking things out online first?

Right…never.

Ditto with people who are thinking of visiting your church. There’s a high probability that they’ll check you out online long before they’ll ever check-in their kids on their first Sunday.”

Here’s the best reason to sharpen your online preaching: it’s the gateway to in-person attendance. Your online preaching is the new welcome center.

Potential new members (particularly young adults) will watch a sermon or two before they attend a service. If they like what they see, they come to church. If they don’t, they don’t. Hopefully they keep looking for a church. More likely: they give up searching and see what’s on Netflix.

The stakes are high. You need to up your game. Let me help.

Online preaching is a two edged sword. It offers pastors the greatest opportunity in history: to reach a vast, unchurched audience with the good news of Jesus. But that immense opportunity comes with intense competition. Many pastors are beginning to realize they are ill-equipped to contend for the gospel in The Attention Economy.

Let’s fix that.

The Online Preaching Coach launches in January 2022. Want to be one of the twelve? Click that orange button and let’s talk.

Message David
Published On: October 6, 2021 / Categories: Church, Media /

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