Beyond Sundays: Liquid Church’s 24/7 Ministry Model with Lauren Bercarich

Welcome back to the unSeminary podcast. We’re joined today by Lauren Bercarich, the Digital Director at Liquid Church, with seven campuses in New Jersey as well as a robust online campus.

Digital ministry is no longer a supplementary aspect of church operations; it has become a cornerstone for reaching and engaging people. Tune in as Lauren delves into the strategic launch of the Liquid Church app and how to use digital to both invite and disciple people.

  • Digital is your front door. // The stories of so many visitors have digital beginnings, whether they discover your church on social media, stumble across an ad on Google, or begin attending church online. But more than a reach strategy, Liquid Church wants to use digital ministry to encourage seven days of discipleship. This approach extends gospel influence beyond 90-minute Sunday services, fostering continuous spiritual development 24/7.
  • Engage in the app. // Rather than a static “billboard” of announcements, the Liquid Church app is designed to encourage ongoing spiritual connection between congregants. The homepage includes three daily habits—gratitude, prayer, and scripture reading—and is intended to shepherd people through experiences based on what’s happening in the church. The prayer requests feature allows users to submit requests and pray for each other in real time. Devotionals and reflection questions include space for journaling and sharing responses. And users can journey together with others in similar life stages while engaging with current teaching series.
  • A three-legged stool. // Lauren underscores that there are three essential components needed to launch an app well: financial resources, leadership buy-in, and promotion. Adequate funding is needed for developing and maintaining digital platforms as well as building a dedicated team to manage and create content. Support from church leadership is critical, ensuring that digital initiatives are prioritized and integrated into the church’s overall vision. This is a cultural shift for your organization, not just a departmental initiative, and your leadership needs to become advocates. Lastly, promotion needs to go beyond the initial launch to include an ongoing adoption strategy.
  • Maintaining your church app. // It’s essential to have a plan beyond the launch of your church app. It won’t create engagement on its own; you’ll need staff to maintain it and create new content that connects with what’s happening in the life of your church. Look at the people already in your organization and identify those who are super engaged and passionate about digital. Rather than hiring from outside, elevate people internally.
  • Digital and in-person. // For the first time since the pandemic, Liquid Church is seeing both in-person attendance and online church attendance go up and to the right. Rather than seeing these two options as competing, view digital and in-person as a dual strategy. Digital is your front door and reaches people. But it also can shepherd people seven days a week, making them feel more a part of your community and helping to close your back door.

You can learn more about Liquid Church at www.liquidchurch.com and download their app from the App Store or Google Play, plus connect with Lauren by sending her an email.

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Thank You to This Episode’s Sponsor: Risepointe

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Well, the team over at Risepointe has been there. As former ministry staff and church leaders, they understand how to prioritize and help lead your church to a place where the building is a ministry multiplier. Licensed all over North America, their team of architects, interior designers and project managers have the professional experience to help move YOUR mission forward.

Check them out at Risepointe.com/unseminary and while you’re there get their FREE resource “10 Things to Get Right Before You Build”.

Episode Transcript

Rich Birch — Hey, friends, Rich here from unSeminary. Super glad that you have decided to tune in today. This is, listen, you’re in for an incredible treat today. Ah you know every week we try to bring you a leader who will both inspire and equip you, but this week is like par excellence. We’ve got Lauren Bercarich with us. She is the Digital Director at Liquid Church, which is one of the fastest growing churches in the country with 7, if I’m counting correctly, in-person campuses in New Jersey, plus a robust church online. Ah Lauren is a friend. It’s always fun to meet new people online ah, through the podcast, but today it’s great to talk to someone who I know in the real world. So Lauren, welcome. So glad that you’re here today.

Lauren Bercarich — Oh I’m so honored to be here, Rich. Thank you so much.

Rich Birch —Yeah, this is going to be great. Fill in the picture like tell us that that’s like the super boilerplate about Liquid kind of you know, paint that that picture a little bit more vividly. Give us a sense of the ministry and your role within the church.

Lauren Bercarich — Sure. So Liquid Church, we are in New Jersey, which sometimes we joke we’re like, yes there are Christians in New Jersey, folks. We do have 7 physical locations. Our vision is to saturate the state of New Jersey with the gospel of Jesus Christ, but we also have a very robust online and digital ministry. Um, we are just a very dynamic ah church. We like to be culturally relevant. We like to be bold and engaging. You know we often people would describe us as seeker-friendly. We want to get people in the door but man we want to go deep with you once you get inside.

Rich Birch — So true. Well friends, I Liquid is…so there’s a number of churches across the country that I that I point to all the time and Liquid is one of them ah for a lot of reasons. But I was so you know pulling back the curtain a little bit, I was saying to Lauren, I keep telling people you should be downloading Liquid’s app. And like literally I’ve stood there and got people to download it while we’re meeting face-to-face. And I’m like you need to register for this thing and engage and then you need to do what they’re doing. And so I’ve said that enough times that I said I actually probably should get Lauren on the on the podcast to actually talk about it and kind of look up under the hood a little bit. But so we’re going to get to the app. But but before we get there, let’s take a step back and just talk about digital ministry in general.

Rich Birch — When you think about digital ministry at Liquid, kind of set that parameters for us. What do you mean by digital ministry? What is that? What are you trying to do? How does that fit into how do you think about that? How does that connect to the kind of overall mission of trying to saturate the state with the with the message of Jesus?

Lauren Bercarich — Yeah, that’s a great question because digital is all encompassing, really, but my vision is that we would um, pursue seven days of discipleship.

Rich Birch — So good.

Lauren Bercarich — That church is more than just 90 minutes on a Sunday. We want to encourage people to read their bibles, to pray, to go deep, and to grow throughout the week and we can use digital tools like the app um in order to do that. And so we’re creating amazing content that’s different content that we’re creating. And when I try to paint the picture for people, I tell them about my team. And it’s like hey we’ve got the techies, right? We’ve got the the developers and the people who are making it all happen. We’ve got content creators who are creating amazing devotionals, written blogs, and audio content, etc. We’ve got our communications and marketing team who’s helping getting the word out there. And then we’ve got church online, so you can actually have that service experience in community and feel like you’re part of that campus as well. So it’s kind of all of that. But really I’d hone in on the idea of like we want to be available, reaching people and discipling people 24/7.

Rich Birch — So good. I love that. And you know, friends, I’ve said in other contexts that I really do think the future of the this is exactly what we’re going to be getting ourselves into in in the future. That we are our, for lack of better word, our business model, our approach what we’ve done, we’ve typically been seen as an event organization. You come on the weekend. We provide a 90 minute compelling experience. But what we’re seeing increasingly with fast-growing churches and churches that are making huge impacts in their community is they’re seeing themselves in that same way. You you know the way Lauren described with their seven days of discipleship. It’s really a flow and yeah events are a part of that. The weekend is a part of that, but it it doesn’t end with that. Talk us through um ah so I want play bit of a devil’s advocate…

Lauren Bercarich — Sure.

Rich Birch — …and and be um, you know the person who is super skeptical of that. And say like yeah isn’t that all just razzmatazz, like don’t shouldn’t we just be trying to get people to show up on Sundays? How does it relate to, how does all of this online stuff and digital relate to the in-person stuff we do?

Lauren Bercarich — Oh my goodness. It’s it’s just incredible. So first of all, let me say that digital is your front door to your church.

Rich Birch — So true.

Lauren Bercarich — So it is directly connected. We just had a staff meeting at Liquid Church and each of our campus pastors got up and shared a baptism story. We had baptisms and they’re telling the story of one individual that stood out to them. Let me tell you how those stories started. Um somebody they found us on social media. We were telling them to put their football jerseys on, they decided this is wacky, let’s go to church.

Lauren Bercarich — Ah somebody was googling. They had some concerns and they found one of our Google ads – digital got them in the door, right? That’s part of our SEO strategy. Somebody else actually asked a friend. The friend told them about Liquid and they thought, you know what? There is a physical location 6 minutes from my house. I’m going to go to church online. I’m going to be there for six months or so…

Rich Birch — Yeah, it’s true.

Lauren Bercarich — …feel comfortable, and then show up. So many of the stories have digital beginnings. So think of it as both a reach strategy, right? The first time somebody walks through your door, I just want to be clear. They’re not just showing up…

Rich Birch — Right.

Lauren Bercarich — …having never researched you, looked at you, checked you out, all of that. So that’s part of it. Um, but also, you can go deep digitally. Um, so on our app it’s just incredible. There’s the ability, we have a lot of discipleship tools to pray for others in community. You can submit your own prayer requests, um, you can pray for others, and really get a sense of what’s going on and support them. You can be reading the bible and going through um, bible reading journeys with us and devotionals.

Lauren Bercarich — And just to make this real for you, I want to paint a picture that some of these digital interactions lead to deeper physical interactions. So I attend a physical campus on Sundays. I go to our um…

Rich Birch — How old fashioned, how old fashioned.

Lauren Bercarich — I know, right? I’m a Digital Director who goes to physical campus. But I’m always in the app. I’m submitting my prayer requests.

Rich Birch — Yeah.

Lauren Bercarich — And you know, um, one of my children has been struggling this year in school, had a really important meeting at the school coming up, and man did I need prayer. Not only did I put it in the app, I told them the exact time of the meeting, be lifting me up in prayer. I show up to church on Sunday and my child’s um, small group leader in Liquid family in the kids ministry pulls me to the side and says, how did the meeting go?

Rich Birch — Wow.

Lauren Bercarich — I’ve been praying for you.

Rich Birch — Oh that’s vivid.

Lauren Bercarich — Oh my goodness, I wanted to know how it went.

Rich Birch — Right.

Lauren Bercarich — So we had this deep interaction. She reveals to me, I had no idea, she’s been an educator for 27 years.

Rich Birch — Wow.

Lauren Bercarich — She knows all about the process we’re going through. She offers her support. How can she help us, how can she support us through the season. I mean we’re hugging we’re crying in the lobby.

Rich Birch — So good.

Lauren Bercarich — It would have been one of those cursory, hey how you doing interactions. Oh fine. You know I’m not just going to kind of spill my beans um at the check-in station at Liquid family. But what I found is when you’re putting yourself out there in some of these digital ah formats, we’re forming these deeper bonds that are spilling over into our physical location. So…

Rich Birch — Um, that’s good.

Lauren Bercarich — it is not just um, smoking mirrors. It’s the real deal.

Rich Birch — Oh I love that. So let’s talk a little bit about the app. So you know you’ve caught, friends, as you’re listening in um, even just this one function of like, hey I want to share a prayer request. So kind of talk us through for someone who who hasn’t seen it hasn’t you know it isn’t isn’t on your app. Talk us through kind of how are you going beyond, what like I’ve seen and maybe it’s just maybe I’m just not looking in the right place. But I feel like I see so many church apps that feel just like billboards they feel just like oh this is just an ad or it’s just a wrapper on their webpage. It’s like, yeah, I know it’s an app but it’s like this is all the stuff that’s there. That’s not what you’re doing. Talk us through how you’re making these kind of these digital engagements with real people.

Lauren Bercarich — Yeah, sure so we actually relaunched our app um this past year. So I just want to share with everybody that previously we were in that same camp. Our app was kind of just this marketing billboard. It was kind of static content. Um, you know, maybe it had the give functionality that you could use weekly, but there wasn’t really a reason for you to engage in that app beyond a Sunday. And Sunday was really kind of cursory functionality.

Lauren Bercarich — We actually found a strategic partner in Apollos. They’re um, a company out there who is developed this beautiful app template that you can take and make your own by being part of their community. And the goal there is to create an app that really promotes um, discipleship and community and engagement. So it isn’t static at all. So if you downloaded the Liquid church app, which I encourage everybody to do, when you landed on our homepage what you’re going to see are our daily habits, which we want to promote to everybody out there. There’s 3 daily habits: gratitude, prayer (which I was just speaking about), and scripture, which is reading the bible. But we actually shepherd people through um experiences so we have seasons of what we’re reading through a particular book of the bible or it’s thematic or we’re doing video devotionals. And then there’s always reflection questions and you can actually journal in the app and you share those journals with the community as well. So you’re like learning from each other and seeing each other’s personal reflections.

Lauren Bercarich — And you can go beyond that. Like we’re putting in custom digital content for our core audiences. Um, you might think of them just as blogs, but for parenting, for young adults. Um, we have ways that we’re just going to um launch new communities where people can engage in communities and go on these journeys together by location, but also by felt needs. So we’re going to launch here shortly a 21 day journey it’s 21 days um to foster a thriving marriage.

Rich Birch — So cool.

Lauren Bercarich — And so we’re all going to be in there doing that together. So it’s really about community engagement, spiritual habits. Um, it’s not a marketing billboard at all.

Rich Birch — So I love that. So gratitude prayer and scripture. You know you can get a sense even by what you’re when you’re hearing what that looks like, friends, that how those could be kind of engagement pieces or designed for kind of community engagement. There are like social network-esque feel to it, right? It’s like you can, talk us through what what does that look like. So how how do I , you know, how do I kind of identify myself within the app?

Lauren Bercarich — Right. So you have a profile. So if you went in there and you were to follow me, you could, you’d see my little photo holding my daughter. You can follow people, right? So you could search for your friends, follow them in the apps. You get notified when they submit a prayer request or they submit a journal. So that way you’re really tracking with those individuals.

Lauren Bercarich — And I hear that from people. they’re like I’m praying for you all the time like they’re they’re tracking with me in the app you can like somebody’s journal, right? So you’re saying, oh wow, I really liked what they wrote on that give them a heart.

Lauren Bercarich — You pray for people so you actively you see their prayer requests and you’re actively pressing that button saying that you’re praying for them, and they’re going to get notified that hey the community is praying for you right now. So you get that gosh I feel so good when you really need somebody praying for you and you get that. So it really is this give and take.

Rich Birch — Yes.

Lauren Bercarich — And what I’d say is it’s just the beginning.

Rich Birch — Right.

Lauren Bercarich — Um, what’s so exciting is that, you know, digital’s always evolving and there’s always new features and I think it’s just going to get better and better.

Rich Birch — Yeah, the thing that struck me and it correct me if I’m wrong on this. This is one of the things I’ve said behind your back, is you know like I’ve got the Starbucks app and the Starbucks app is a digital experience. But it actually enhances my in-person experience. So like I can order ahead of time. And I get those stars and stuff – I really don’t know what those stars are for. I I feel good when I get them I’m like wow that’s nice. Um, but it it enhances the I it it makes my like it makes my better experience when I go in to to go to Starbucks.

Lauren Bercarich — Yeah.

Rich Birch — And there is all kinds of other content. They have the like if I really want to know where the beans come from. My my impression of your experience. What we’ve done with Apollos here is similar where it’s like it it I get that it would be a standalone experience that it could be a standalone digital experience. But it’s even better when you pair it with and in person. Is that how do you think about that? How do those two work together?

Lauren Bercarich — Oh my goodness. So we think about this in such incredible detail. We have our year mapped out with like every day what is getting in the app…

Rich Birch — Oh very cool.

Lauren Bercarich —…and how are we partnering what we’re doing with our teaching series and what we’re going through on Sundays.

Rich Birch — So good.

Lauren Bercarich — So let me give you an example that just knocked our socks off. We did a prayer series um called Moving Mountains

Rich Birch — Yep.

Lauren Bercarich — …for six weeks and you know we were teaching people essentially how to pray in new ways. Really pushing them outside kind of these comfortable prayers to pray dangerously, to be bold, to try to follow God’s will instead of our wishes. But there was a challenge from the beginning you’re going to do two things with the series, guys. You’re going to get in a group and you’re going to be in the app praying for each other. And we even set a goal – we are going to pray 100,000 prayers in this app over the course of the next…

Rich Birch — Yes.

Lauren Bercarich — …six weeks. And we reported back every single week. In fact, when you walked into any physical location, every TV in that location was scrolling prayers from the app.

Rich Birch — Oh that’s cool.

Lauren Bercarich — Our teaching pastors were showing them up on the side screens, actively praying for them in the middle of the sermon. I mean it was interwoven. You couldn’t separate…

Rich Birch — Yeah, that’s great.

Lauren Bercarich — …the app from this series. And then at the end um, we reported back hey it was 150,000 prayers prayed.

Rich Birch — Yes.

Lauren Bercarich — And you could feel a spiritual temperature just rising.

Rich Birch — Yes.

Lauren Bercarich — Um, it was really incredible. So it is not like, ok yes, there’s this private practice. You can do your daily habits and that can be a part of like your morning devotional routine. But this is something we are weaving into everything we’re doing at church. And it doesn’t stop there so you know you go from Moving Mountains.

Lauren Bercarich — Then you might say hey um at Easter time we did some Lenten devotionals. We read through the gospels of Mark and Luke um up to Easter. We had seven of our pastors reading them. This was an audio product. And they would read the gospel, one chapter a day, reflect on it…

Rich Birch — Oh so good.

Lauren Bercarich — …give everybody a reflection question to journal on in the app, pray us out, and that was leading us up to Easter. People loved it.

Rich Birch — Yes, so good.

Lauren Bercarich — We had thousands of people in there. And even hearing from people who’d never been in the app before saying, that was the thing that got me in…

Rich Birch — Yeah, so good.

Lauren Bercarich — …like that really spoke to me. And so we are constantly creating new content, new ways of reaching people…

Rich Birch — Yeah.

Lauren Bercarich — …and tying them to our teaching.

Rich Birch — Yeah, so good. Love that. Yeah, this was ah so ah, friends who are listening in to you know Tim Lucas is the lead pastor at, and a friend of mine. And you know we’re on the texting relationship. We’ll text it quite a bit. And he was, I remember when there was that whole prayer thing going on. And that was like his bullet point. He was like we had, so you know and I was like you know come on. He’s a friend so I could say this kind of thing. I’m I’m like that seems like a teaching pastor kind of thing to say. 150,000 prayers? I’m like how is that possible? Like I that was actually one of the first times I sat up and was like, you’re doing what? What is happening over there? That’s that’s crazy.

Rich Birch — Talk talk to me about the launch of the app. Because I think um, you know my impression is that there’s a lot of churches that kind of halfheartedly commit to this kind of thing, but that isn’t my impression of what you’ve done. It’s like you’re trying to figure out how we integrate this thing in and talk us to what that looked like. So the launch, and then how do you keep it on kind of people’s radar as we go forward?

Lauren Bercarich — Yeah, so I’d say so one of the challenges I feel like for people, Rich, is I I feel like you need three things to launch an app well. And a lot of people don’t have all three.

Rich Birch — Okay. Yep.

Lauren Bercarich — And I say it’s like a 3-legged stool. So if you’re missing one and then the stool topples over. One is that you actually need the money, right?

Rich Birch — Yep, yep.

Lauren Bercarich — So you need the money to um, get your strategic partner, like we did with Apollos, partner with them. You need the staff to run it, all of that. Some people get the money, but nothing else.

Rich Birch — Right.

Lauren Bercarich — You actually need leadership buy in. So if it’s just a departmental initiative, this is not going to win. Guys…

Rich Birch — If it the nerds are the ones that are going to do it, like go get that, let the nerds do it, that what doesn’t work?

Lauren Bercarich — Ah, yes, sometimes it’s just like a techie project…

Rich Birch — Yes, yes.

Lauren Bercarich — …and it doesn’t even take on in the staff.

Rich Birch — Yep.

Lauren Bercarich — Guys, this is not a departmental initiative. This is a cultural shift for your organization.

Rich Birch — Yeah, it’s so good.

Lauren Bercarich — And um, you need total leadership buy in because you can’t get it to partner with like a prayer series like we did if your lead pastor and your executive team aren’t fully on board, right?

Rich Birch — Yep, yep.

Lauren Bercarich — So you need them on board. And then they help to be evangelists for this as well. And then third, you need promotion if you build it. They will not just show up. They’re not going to just come.

Rich Birch — Yes.

Lauren Bercarich — Um, that’s something as a former coms director I’ve always pushed against. You really need to tell people what this is, how to get it, how it will serve them. So when we launched the app we did a six week um launch period where there was no way that you could escape the fact…

Rich Birch — Right.

Lauren Bercarich — …that we were launching an app. I had it it was total communication saturation, right?

RIch Birch — Yes, great.

Lauren Bercarich — But that is a season and that’s honestly the easiest part. The hardest part is what I call the adoption time, app adoption. And that to me never ends.

Rich Birch — Right.

Lauren Bercarich — That is when we calendar out our whole year and give you reasons always to get in the app, to experience something new. We’re always launching new features and new reasons and ways to engage people. Because my ah goal would be that everybody’s in the app that people would understand, Oh this is how Liquid Church does things. Everybody’s in the app.

Rich Birch — Right.

Lauren Bercarich — Everything we do is through the app. And so it really becomes ingrained in our culture.

Rich Birch — Yeah, that’s good. Okay, so let’s pick kind of a hypothetical situation. Let’s assume I’m a church of you know like a thousand people.

Lauren Bercarich — Yeah.

Rich Birch — So it’s it’s they’re not um, it’s not a giant church is not, you know, it’s not 10,000. It’s a thousand, but it’s also not a small church. These people have some resources. They’ve got some staff, time. You know what would be some potholes that we should avoid now that you’ve launched or that you’ve talked with other churches that like oh you can see where this kind of launch or, you know, branching out into this kind of thing falls apart. Where it’s like oh that just that didn’t go how we were hoping it would go. What would be a put some potholes to avoid?

Lauren Bercarich — Um, I think that people need to have a plan beyond launch. I think a lot of people don’t have that.

Rich Birch — That’s good.

Lauren Bercarich — There is a lot of energy that gets put into the maintenance of the app, right? So if we are doing um, scripture readings. That’s 365 days of scripture readings.

Rich Birch — Yeah.

Lauren Bercarich — Now there’s the there’s the way to do that that’s not too complex, but somebody actually has to go in there and say, what scripture are we reading on what date, when does that go live. So I think sometimes people want to make this run without actually devoting any staff or permanent resourcing to it. It is not a tech tool that can just thrive on its own.

Rich Birch — Right, right.

Lauren Bercarich — You actually need the staffing behind it to help run it. And I think it pays dividends, of course, you know, hey I’m a digital staffer.

Rich Birch — Yeah.

Lauren Bercarich — But you do need to invest in that and I think that’s one of the pitfalls that I’ve heard about.

Rich Birch — Yeah, can you talk to us a little bit about what that what is the staffing structure look like. You know, so folks forget to give some perspective, you know, Liquid Church is 5000 people, in that general in that range.

Lauren Bercarich — Yep.

Rich Birch — You know, this a fast growing church. Um, but so talk to me about kind of staffing investment. What does that look like for, you know, for you? Where are you at today? You know what did you launch with? Obviously you always want more so what, you know, what is what’s it going to look like down the road?

Lauren Bercarich — Ah, so true.

Rich Birch — Advocate for I’m sure Tim’s listening in, Dave’s listening in…

Lauren Bercarich — That’s right…

Rich Birch — …Kayra’s listening in, so now is the time.

Lauren Bercarich — …approve that new staff role.

Rich Birch — Yeah fun.

Lauren Bercarich — Um, so I was already on staff at Liquid Church. I was the Communications Director. Um, but I was just you know banging the drum that we need to lean into digital. We need to invest here and they said hey, you know what? We think you’re right. Why don’t you lead that? Um, which was not the direction I thought we were going to go.

Lauren Bercarich — So it started with me and it’s like what’s your division of what this department needs to be? And what I really wanted it to be was, hey we need the techies kind of under my purview. So what we did is we actually split our IT department.

Lauren Bercarich —So we have a traditional IT department, right, that’s running the infrastructure of our buildings, and the computers for everybody, and taking care of all of that and purchasing products, etc. But we have a Digital Products team that is helping me…

Rich Birch — Wow.

Lauren Bercarich — …with um our church management system Rock RMS, that is helping with the app development, website development, and leading on all of that. So they help us run incredibly fast, and they’re specialists in what they do. I can’t do what they do.

Lauren Bercarich — Then I have digital content creators and to be creative guys we took two part-time employees, made them full time, and halftime. They are doing digital content creation, but it was amazing because they already knew our culture.

Rich Birch — Right.

Lauren Bercarich — They knew our voice, they were people that we could put out front, right? So we took a teaching pastor who was doing 20 hours teaching. Now he’s full time, and he can be ah front facing on our digital content. Same with one of our worship leaders. Um, then we actually invested in a church online pastor. So before it was like oh church online just happens in the margins.

Rich Birch — Right.

Lauren Bercarich — No, we’re actually going to fully invest in the care. And so we actually moved somebody. So we moved staff as well. So we took somebody super equipped for that. So one of the things that I like to say is look in your organization right now. Who are some of the most dynamic people…

Rich Birch — That’s good.

Lauren Bercarich — …super engaged, really passionate about digital, and maybe elevate them, shift their role. Because initially I was thinking, hey there’s an expert out there, and they’ve got it all figured out. But there really doesn’t exist because this is a new frontier for churches. So I think that elevating people internally is a great way to advance your digital ministry.

Rich Birch — Yeah, that’s so good. So what is you know when you look up over the horizon, what are some questions that you’re wrestling with on the digital ministry side, as you kind of think about the future? You know, I’m thinking like additional, you know, channels or other, you know, other you know new things. You’ve got these kind of core, you know, gratitude, prayer, scripture. You’re doing content. Is there other things within the app or other areas that you’re thinking about as you look to the future?

Lauren Bercarich — Yeah, so I’d say one of the challenges with digital is there’s always so many options.

Rich Birch — So true.

Lauren Bercarich — What are the best things to do?

Rich Birch — Yes.

Lauren Bercarich — What can you actually get done?

Rich Birch — Yes.

Lauren Bercarich — What is should you prioritize? So that’s one of the biggest things. Because sometimes I will just say you can get that shiny object syndrome. Oh! Got to do this new thing.

Rich Birch — Right. Yes, let’s try this.

Lauren Bercarich — Oh no, we got to do this.

Rich Birch — Yeah.

Lauren Bercarich — And then you just end up being a little frazzled and frenetic. So where we want to lean into this is actually continuing to enhance some of the features that already exist. So like doubling down in the prayer feature which we feel like as an MVP and we’re working with our developer on that, right? So you can have more interaction, more care, more engagement on some of the existing features.

Rich Birch — That’s good.

Lauren Bercarich — Um I mentioned to you the community feature. That will be a whole new tab on our app that we’re releasing here in a couple of months. And we’re putting people through this ah, we’re piloting this marriage journey, these ah campus communities. But if it takes off, I mean we’re going to have tons of journeys, right?

Rich Birch — Right.

Lauren Bercarich — We’re already talking about what are we going to do for our parenting series? Should we launch a parenting journey? Should we be helping moms? Should they have their own community within the app?

Rich Birch — Oh that’s cool. Yeah.

Lauren Bercarich — So that’s one avenue that we’re really leaning into and I think pursuing. Um, yeah…

Rich Birch — That’s good.

Lauren Bercarich — …I’d say that’s where we’re really focusing right now.

Rich Birch — Um, talk to me about the um this is kind of taking 6 steps back, but to something we talked about you know earlier on. What what is the connection that you’re seeing between all of this digital work and in-person attendance? Like how are are you able to kind of connect those two? Are you seeing any kind of connection? How does all that you know work together? I know there’s church leaders that are listening and they’re like, yeah that all sounds good, but like I really just want people to show up on Sundays. What are you seeing on that front?

Lauren Bercarich — Yeah, so we truly believe that digital is a contributor to the growth that we are seeing at Liquid Church. Um I’ll just give you an example that um, just a few weeks ago we crossed the 5000 threshold in in-person attendance on a Sunday nd we hadn’t hit that mark ah, post-covid. Ah we had hit that mark pre-pandemic. And it was like wow that’s incredible. Now if you just look at that, you could say, hey we’ve arrived. We’re back. We don’t need to focus on digital. But let me tell you there were another 2700 people on church online.

Rich Birch — Wow. Yeah.

Lauren Bercarich — Both church online and in person are up and to the right. For the first time ever both are growing and thriving.

Rich Birch — Yeah, that’s great.

Lauren Bercarich — And I believed that that was possible when we started launching this ministry back in 2022. I’m like I know both can be up and to the right. And we’re there because we’re investing in both. And I believe that’s a digital products too, and shepherding people seven days a week is bringing them back in through the doors. You know we talk about closing the back door. Digital actually does both things.

Rich Birch — Yeah.

Lauren Bercarich — It reaches people, brings them in the front door. Um and it gives you all these new avenues, ways to reach them. But I also think it helps to keep people because they can feel connected…

Rich Birch — Yes.

Lauren Bercarich — …more than just at that event-centric Sunday service or any other, you know, events that they’re attending, that they can really feel part of a community.

Rich Birch — Love it. Yeah, that’s great. And and yeah, we’re seeing the same thing in our church. That our the statistics on church online, our digital stuff are accelerating while at the same time are, so very similar, we’re hitting, you know, largest attendance non-holiday attendance ever. Um, and both are driving, you know, we’re in the middle of a capital campaign right now. And it’s like I was just joking with our lead pastor this week, I was like I don’t know that we raised enough money, or are we raising enough money. Like so Both of them are you know are accelerating. And I’ve I’ve seen that from multiple churches that it’s like hey people that are are continuing to invest on both sides are seeing, you know seeing great results. We we live in a digital age.

Lauren Bercarich — Yes.

Rich Birch — People, it’s like it sounds like so um, you know like apple pie, of course we do. But I but there are church leaders that are missing that they’re missing that connection ah between those two things. I want to take this is like side kind of like sidestep this content for a second…

Lauren Bercarich — Sure.

Rich Birch — …and just honor you for your leadership at ah, you know at Liquid. You know, ah so you’re doing such a great job. You’re killing it. You’re doing an amazing, you know I I said earlier in the podcast, friends, that Lauren’s a person I know in the real world. And to me you’re an example of the kind of person that the body of Christ is just so thankful to have working day in day out.

Rich Birch — Tell us a little bit about your background because I’m sure people are listening in are saying, Lauren like speaks in sound bites and is like incredibly articulate and knows her stuff. What is she’ve done all her life? Where does, what is happening? So talk to us a little bit about your your background. And I I say that because there could be church leaders that are listening in today, again that church of a 1000, 2000 people are like, I’m not sure who can run this thing.

Lauren Bercarich — Yeah.

Rich Birch — And it might be someone like who has a background similar to yours so talk us through that.

Lauren Bercarich — Ah yeah, that’s a great point. I’m so glad that you asked that. Actually my background is in journalis. I was a TV news reporter. So I always tell people I’m like, you know those people who stand out in the snowstorm, or like blowing sideways in the hurricane, that was me.

Rich Birch — Yep, that was you.

Lauren Bercarich — So I did local TV news reporting. And then I transitioned into public relations which is, you know, promoting the products and books of your clients. I was attending Liquid Church – it was my church home. And then my campus pastor was just like, well hey, you know we’re hiring a communications director. I had no intention of moving into ministry. And can we peel back the curtain a little bit? Guys, Rich was my first boss at Liquid. So um, I’m just so grateful um, that that that door opened for me and that I was able to walk through it.

Lauren Bercarich — But yes, I was in the role of communications director for 7 years at Liquid Church, running all our um communications and marketing. But I was super passionate about digital and I would say the pandemic gave me a nudge because I just started saying like, hey um we need to be running online things for our parents for liquid family.

Rich Birch — Right.

Lauren Bercarich — We need to be running these online things for um, emotional health and wellness with our discipleship team.

Rich Birch — That’s good.

Lauren Bercarich — And I was just so passionate about it and honestly deflated when we started to think that, oh we got to put digital aside in order to lift up in-person.

Rich Birch — Yep.

Lauren Bercarich — But I’m so glad that we recognized actually both can thrive together and at the same time. And so I was promoting it, I was pitching it to our leadership, and then they tapped me on the shoulder, and said you run it. I will say I had a little bit of that impostor syndrome of I don’t know. I it’s the first time I got offered um a job or a promotion, you’re like are you sure? Am I the right person? But.

Rich Birch — Did you get the wrong name? Is there someone else supposed to be here?

Lauren Bercarich — Yes.

Rich Birch — That’s funny.

Lauren Bercarich — But I will say it served me really well because I I can be that strategic thinker. I can be that communicator. I can see the vision for it. But I have the team to do the things that I’m personally not equipped to do.

Rich Birch — Right.

Lauren Bercarich — So I can have the tech teammates who are just phenomenal um, who can help me push forward into the future. And so um I think we make an incredible team.

Rich Birch — Yeah.

Lauren Bercarich — But maybe there is a coms person in your organization right? And maybe they’re the right person to lead this.

Rich Birch — Yeah, totally, I love that. And and, yeah, I think when I think about, like one of the things there’s there’s a lot that Liquid Church has done well as a church. And a lot of that does you know though, there’s lines that line right back to you and this is an example of that. You know, the digital stuff, you know, I think it’s amazing. You know there’s somebody who could be sitting in a church today who is doing something that they are happy with and are you know you know they like and whether it was in you know journalism, PR, communications, but maybe a switch to them coming and serving in the local church. Man, that that could open up unlock all kinds of new amazing opportunities for churches that are listening in today.

Rich Birch — So we want to send people to obviously pick up the Liquid Church app – we’ll link to it in the notes. Um, but yeah, just as we’re kind of coming to land, as we’re getting close to the end here, what else would you like to say just as we kind of close out today’s episode?

Lauren Bercarich — I would just say that um don’t consider yourself knocked out of the box here because this is an area where everybody’s learning. You don’t have to be an expert.

Rich Birch — That’s good.

Lauren Bercarich — You don’t have to know it all now. You can learn. There’s a lot of people out there to learn from and to see what they’re doing. And what I love about ministry, right, is we’re willing to share and teach and talk with each other. I feel like some people find digital just to be so intimidating that they’ll say you know what? I’m just going to do what I’ve always done because I don’t know how to do that.

Rich Birch — That’s good.

Lauren Bercarich — But I don’t think that’s the winning strategy for the future of our church, um of your church, of the big “C” Church, and so I just want to encourage people to to lean in.

Rich Birch — So good. This is great. I feel like during ah particularly during the height of Covid when there were people, including friends of mine, who were like they were like it’s the age of digital. We’re all going digital. No one’s ever going to come back to services. I was like, ah I don’t know that that’s the case. Like I think we’re going to get back to services at some point.

Rich Birch — And then but then now it’s like it’s swung the opposite direction and there are churches out there that are like, we’re getting rid of all that digital stuff and we’re just in person. And I’m like well I don’t think that’s the answer either. Like I think we you know it’s it’s been a funny couple years on this stuff. But I’m just so thankful for what Liquid’s done. I think you continue to lead the way. And I just want to honor you and your team today. So thank you so much, Lauren. We really appreciate you being here today and we’ll link to the the app down below. Um, if people want to get in touch with you or to track with the church, where do we want to send them online?

Lauren Bercarich — Yeah, so if you just want to see what we’re doing, our website is liquidchurch.com. And our website is designed for the new guest so you can kind of get that experience. If you want to reach out to me, I mean honestly email’s the best way. It’s just [email protected].

Rich Birch — Great. Thanks so much, Lauren. Appreciate you being here today.

Lauren Bercarich — Absolutely. So much fun.

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Rich Birch
Rich Birch is one of the early multi-site church pioneers in North America. He led the charge in helping The Meeting House in Toronto to become the leading multi-site church in Canada with over 5,000+ people in 18 locations. In addition, he served on the leadership team of Connexus Church in Ontario, a North Point Community Church Strategic Partner. He has also been a part of the lead team at Liquid Church - a 5 location multisite church serving the Manhattan facing suburbs of New Jersey. Liquid is known for it’s innovative approach to outreach and community impact. Rich is passionate about helping churches reach more people, more quickly through excellent execution.His latest book Church Growth Flywheel: 5 Practical Systems to Drive Growth at Your Church is an Amazon bestseller and is design to help your church reach more people in your community.