When I started this blog, I made a short list of bloggers and experts that I wanted to interview. On top of that list was Kenny Jahng, who is Pastor of Media & Innovation at Liquid Church and blogs at Godvertiser. Recently, Kenny was kind enough to let me interview him.
What made Kenny Jahng one of my first choices to interview? Well, first he has an MBA from Columbia, an MDIV from Princeton and second, he happens to be really knowledge about social media, especially in regards to the church and non-profits. In this interview, Kenny talks about church social media, church communications and fear of failure.
How and why did you get into social media?
Trying out social media for the first time was just a part of being intentional about trying about new technologies or methods (check out My Own [Randomization] Ritual). The WIIFM (what’s in it for me) was evident very early for me. I met people like @djchuang early on and started to build relationships across the Twitterverse naturally. Once you figure out the WIIFM, it’s easy to starting figuring out how to integrate something into your workflow and routines.
A running theme that I see in your writing is how critical it is for churches to clearly communicate. Why do you think that some churches find this difficult?
It used to be ok to focus on preaching and programs in a church because there was as steady flow of people looking for churches in any community. Today, as we move toward a post-christian world, external communications is a need that hasn’t been well attended to previously. My thesis isn’t that the secular world is against telling stories of faith, religion and the church, it’s just that the church hasn’t been good at telling compelling and engaging stories. If you are able to do that in a fresh and relevant way, everyone will take notice.
You and your church have a presence on various social media networks. Do you have a plan for each network or overall strategy for social media as a whole?
We have overarching objectives for all of communications. We use specific social networks with the understanding that each is best suited for different types of content and audiences. I encourage using the S.W.A.T. framework I have developed over the years for producing strategic communications plans. (FYI, I have an upcoming blog post series on my SWAT framework, but here’s an overview slide that explains it briefly)
There are a lot of new social networks being launched. How can a church decide where to invest their time?
One great way is to build some experimentation time into your schedule. You’ll never innovate if you don’t plan for it. You might have a team brainstorm noteworthy subjects to investigate. Then divvy up the tools and have people do some research. Finally, have them report back and discuss as a group again. Basically, you have to spend the time to keep looking at new things, especially in this environment today.
Earlier this month you wrote about failure and how fear prevents innovation. What advice do have to church’s who are afraid of failure?
When working with entrepreneurs, you often hear the phrase, fail fast, fail forward. If what you’re trying out doesn’t clearly give you enough feedback to let you know if it’s right for you or not, it is hard to know if it’s working for sure or not. You want to “fail completely” so you know that you need to move onto the next thing. And “fail fast” in that , the quicker it happens, the sooner you’ll get to the right solution at the end of the line.
Failure is failure if you don’t learn from it, and if you don’t move on from where you are right now. If you’re innovating well, you’re always moving to a better place. This applies to how you manage teams, relationships, projects, programs, interactions with external and peer organizations, and more. Being humble is a huge part of it. We don’t know it all. We can only get better as much as we are humble enough to know that God has more in store for us, now as well as later.
A lot of churches are diving into social media with their congregations by first explaining “what” they want them to do (like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter). However, they usually don’t explain the “why”. How can churches do a better job of explaining the “why”?
AH! Great question. That’s why we define the “WIN” early in the SWAT framework. That’s equivalent to the “WHY” you are talking about. If we take the time to plan strategically and be intentional able what we do, especially in social media and messaging, it will only make it easier for our audiences and communities to engage in a constructive way.