Lessons in Live Polling at Your Church

Last month we hosted a series of messages at Liquid where we featured “live polling” as a core part of the message.  The “big idea” of the series was to use national interest in the upcoming election as a jump off point to talk about the Kingdom of God.  Tim did an amazing job with the entire series.  [Click here to check out the series and see the live polling in action.] [Download this infographic of some of the things we learned from polling our people.]

Live Polling gives your services an incredibly dynamic feel. Our people are used to interactive everything but when they come to our church services they are often seen as just “one way” monologues where people on a stage dispense information.  By using the cel phones that are in people’s pockets you are able to access what your people are thinking and create a fun dialogue with your people.  Here are some lessons we learned about live polling in church:

  • Choose Technology Wisely – I spent a bunch of time over the summer looking at a number of different technology solutions for live polling because I didn’t want to have any problems once we actually got to the services.  I would highly recommend [Poll Everywhere] because their service is robust and gives you tonnes of options for conducting your live polls.
  • Set Autoresponders – When people submit their poll answer make sure the service sends back an acknowledgement text because as important as actually taking in people answers is … having your people know that you got their answer is even more important! People want to know that their vote counted.
  • Do “Demo” Questions – Every week we had our Campus Pastors walk our audiences through fun questions earlier in the service to show how the technology works.  Each demo included the campus pastor asking everyone to take our their cel phone (wave them in the air!) and then actually explaining how the “short codes” work for the polling.  We asked questions like “Which Pastor is most handsome?” and “Who is going to win the Super Bowl?”
  • Tell the Press About it – Make sure to send out a press release to local and regional news outlets about the fact that you are attempting to garner your people’s feedback through polling.  It’s counter to the broader culture’s perception of what “churches do” and therefore it’s a great news story!  [We had coverage from both local] and [regional news outlets about our use of this technology]. [Check out our press release.]
  • Ask Questions with Wide Variety of Opinions – Try to craft your questions in such a way that they don’t lend themselves to “binary” responses.  Our participation was more dynamic and engaging when we had responses that became a horse race between 3-4 answers.
  • Practice the Technology – This probably goes without saying … but make sure you test the questions multiple times before you get to Sunday morning.  Make sure you know exactly how you are going to display the response screen … make sure the shortcodes work … make sure everyone is well aware of what is happening.  Spending extra time on the front end will make sure it’s a smooth experience for your people!

Live Polling could add a nice interactive piece to an up coming series at your church!  How could you see using this technology in your ministry?

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rich Birch

Rich Birch

Thanks so much for dropping by unseminary … I hope that your able to find some resources that help you lead your church better in the coming days! I’ve been involved in church leadership for over 15 years. Early on I had the privilege of leading in one of the very first multisite churches in North Amerca. I led the charge in helping The Meeting House in Toronto to become the leading multi-site church in Canada with over 4,000 people in 6 locations. (Today they are 13 locations with somewhere over 5,000 people attending.) In addition, I served on the leadership team of Connexus Community Church in Ontario, a North Point Community Church Strategic Partner. I currently serves as Operations Pastor at Liquid Church in the Manhattan facing suburbs of New Jersey. I have a dual vocational background that uniquely positions me for serving churches to multiply impact. While in the marketplace, I founded a dot-com with two partners in the late 90’s that worked to increase value for media firms and internet service providers. I’m married to Christine and we live in Scotch Plains, NJ with their two children and one dog.

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Recent Comments
I'm lost, to say the least! As a new pastor, taking over a newly started church I have read just about everything there is to learn what I can do to grow the church. I truly beleive that those attending our church are friendly and sincere. So that can't be the issue. I have read all the comments to this article and I feel that most churches will never have a fair chance! We are a VERY small church, so we don't have a children's church (yet). So if a family comes and gets upset that we don't have a children's church for them to put their children into, we lose! We do provide things for their kids to do during the service and even have an option for their kids to be in a different room, if they don't want their kids to sit with them. We are also such a small church that we don't have a worship team/band/etc. Our worship music comes from music videos. The congregation we do have likes it this way, but of course we would love to have a worhsip team. So, if someone comes to our church and is upset that we don't have live music, we lose! The point I am trying to make is that when people come in with preconceived ideas of what a church should be like, they will never find a church home, unless they find a church who's goal is to entertain! Every Sunday our message comes from the Bible, so that can't be a complaint for someone, so instead, people leave the church and never come back because they want more from a church: they don't want friendly people who are following the Word of God; they want a church that give them something (a babysitter for their kid, entertainment, free gifts, etc.) I'm sorry if sound cynical, I truly want everyone to hear the Good News and learn about Christ's love, but if they come in looking for something else, then the church will always lose!
 
— JAG
 
Reminds me Tony Morgan's classic post entitle “What If Target Operated Like A Church?” I wrote about this in a blog post "Is Your Church Like Target…or More Like A Mall?" https://goo.gl/2qQIy3
 
— bruceherwig
 
Challenging and very good
 
— John Gilbank
 

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