Turn your congregation's YouTube channel into a 24/7 welcome center!

congregations Sep 29, 2020

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In this ministry strategy session for congregations, how to turn your YouTube Channel into a 24/7 online welcome center for newcomers!

First, we need to  acknowledge a few things:

• People are online in record numbers!  You know that.

• People love video.  We've entered a "video first" world.  Its the majority of all internet traffic and content people are consuming.

• The people who are exploring your congregation online, they are looking for information, inspiration, and connection.  Video is a fantastic way for them to learn about your congregation. 

• People have massive social anxiety, and its only getting worse in my opinion, so we need to make it easy for visitors online to connect.

"By 2022, online videos will make up more than 82% of all consumer internet traffic — 15 times higher than it was in 2017." - Cisco report via Biteable

YouTube is a powerhouse when it comes to video content and, for many, is where they go to search and learn.  Other platforms too, though Google, which owns YouTube, prioritizes showing YouTube videos in search results.

YouTube is a fantastic place to have your content if you want people to be able to find your congregation, research & explore online, and if you use it wisely, connect with your community!

This includes moving away from the default YouTube channel layout.

The YouTube Default Layout

I’m constantly looking to see what content congregations are posting online.   When I land on a congregational Youtube Channels the majority of the time there is just a little strip of videos labeled “UPLOADS” — six of them.  That's the default layout for channels -- bleh.

Here's what that looks like.

Note that I removed the customization of my Peter Bowden Live channel to show you  WITHOUT pointing fingers at a congregation.

Good to have some videos, but to a newcomer, that’s not very welcoming.

Keep in mind that the default layout shows six videos even if you have hundreds of videos on their channel! 

Here's what my channel looks like if you click the "VIDEOS" tab.  Lot's of content.  If you have great content, we want to showcase it on your channel's home page.

To make your page welcoming to newcomers,  there are great YouTube features we can utilize.

Make sure you are logged in to your channel before following these steps.

1. Add a featured WELCOME MESSAGE

Under CUSTOMIZE CHANNEL, Youtube lets you set a CHANNEL TRAILER at the top of your channel page for unsubscribed viewers.  Use your channel trailer to share a welcome message for your online visitors and newcomers!

We want to welcome people.  Post a welcome video from the person who is responsible for greeting and supporting your online visitors. 

Some of you might think this should be your minister (if you have one).  I think it should be the person that a newcomer would email, message, or text if they had questions about getting involved.  

Record a simple video with the person charged with being your champion for online visitors.

The video should welcome newcomers,  quickly orient them to your congregation and present online offerings,  affirm how it can be stressful to try and connect with a new community but you've figured out the best way, and most important -- share that next step!  

Something like this:

Welcome to CONGREGATION NAME's YouTube Channel!  

I'm Peter our community coordinator.   Among the many things that I do is helping newcomers like you get all your questions answered and find the best way to connect with others in our community.  

I know it can feel weird connecting with a new community - I get it.   But don't worry, we have lots of people getting involved now.  It is a great time to join CONGREGATION NAME.  

In fact, we've had  5X as many newcomers connect with us each week since we started to live streaming our services and added Zoom community groups.  

That's right, we're rocking the technology to make it easy to get involved including groups for young families, college students,  sci-fi spiritual exploration,  GROUPS, GROUPS, MORE GROUPS and other community groups.

One thing I've learned from helping other people connect is that the those who feel like they belong here did three things --

1) They asked me questions so they felt condident that this is the right place for them to get involved.

2) They signed up for our next scheduled newcomer welcome gathering, which we offer every other week now that we have so many visitors! 

3) During that gathering they picked one of our many small groups and enrichment programs to attend and connected with others who share their interests.  

That's it! 

Want to connect with our community  successfully?  Let's get your questions answered, sign you up for a newcomer orientation, and figure out which group or program is right for you.

If you're ready for that, just click the "NEWCOMER EASY BUTTON" link in the description of this video.  It will take you to a page where you can RSVP for a newcomer gathering, ask me questions via DM, text or email, and we'll get you connected. 

So, it isn't a button, its a link.  But I like calling it the easy button because I want you to know that once you click it,  I'll help you figure out your next steps.  Cool?  Awesome! 

I look forward to meeting you.  

Notice that this is NOT so much about the congregation, but the visitor.  It is about helping the visitor feel welcomed and making their path to getting involved crystal clear.


Within the video, you want to make sure you include a SPECIFIC NEXT STEP.  Give newcomers a specific action you want them to take.  Not 10 to choose from. 

1 action that includes giving you their contact info so you can follow-up.

You’re creating a digital path for them to connect with your community.  Make it a clear path and establish that you're going to lead.   Sure they can research online, think about it, but when they are ready, you want them to plug into your system.

Whatever that is for you add the LINK in the description of your newcomer welcome video!   Make sure to label it clearly. 


Here's the Newcomer EASY BUTTON link.  ~ Peter
http:// your full link

Include the full address including http:// which makes it a link that is actually clickable within the Youtube description. After you add it, click it to make sure it works!


More people are likely to connect and take the next step above if you help them learn about your conregation.

A great way to do that is to organize your videos in playlists and display them on your channel's front page.

When customizing your channel, YouTube let's you add sections to the page including:

• Upcoming Live Streams
• Past Live Streams
• Popular Uploads
• All Uploads
• Created Playlists
• Single Playlists

Step three is to look at your video content and decide how you can organize it into playlists by topic or category.   This will be determined by the kind of content you have. 

Here are some ideas:

• Welcome / Visitors Guide
• Testimonials
• Featured worship services
• Social Justice
• Music Ministry
• Behind the Scenes
• The Wayback Machine - Our History
• Children, Youth, Family Ministry
• Our Staff and Leadership
• Covid19 / Pandemic Updates



Once you know what playlists you want to use to organize your content,  create your playlists and add your videos to them.

Login into YouTube, go to your PROFILE circle >> Youtube Studio >> PLAYLISTS.


Your final step is to add the playlists to your channel page!  

When you are logged in to your account, there is a CUSTOMIZE CHANNEL visible on your channel page.  Click it and start adding your playlists.

If you are live streaming, I recommend including adding sections at the top of your page for LIVE NOW and UPCOMING STREAMS. 


Now you’ve presented a friendly face, offered a great welcome, shared how to take the next step to get involved, and organized your content to be appealing and easy to explore.

I hope this post was helpful! 

If you are interested in learning more ways to use video to advance your ministry,  I invite you to learn more about Video Ministry Academy. It is my video strategy masterclass designed to help you use simple video messages to engage people in the life of your congregation and build a digital path to membership.

Learn more at http://www.videoministryacademy.com!

Connect with me via social media everywhere @PeterBowdenLive:  Youtube, Twitter, FacebookLinkedIn, and Instagram.


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