Beta Meetup Trip in Texas

Texas is big. I know this is obvious. I paid attention in 5th grade geography class, but I experienced a heavy dose of Texas over four days. I’m still not a Mavs, Rockets, or Spurs fan. It did feel strange being at the Texas State Fair when the Rangers lost to the Blue Jays and got eliminated.

I flew into Dallas and stayed in a city called Rockwall for a couple days for a conference. I decided to beta an idea I got from my friend Alan at Life.Church. I’m always looking at ways to better move people from our online services into a small group. Online to offline. The idea was to host local meetups with people in person from the online community in different regional areas. My community is spread out. It’s hard to meet in person. Most of my community interaction is over email, the phone, and Skype. Meetups seemed like a great way to interact face to face with people.

I was already in the Dallas area for the conference, so I flew in a couple hours early for two meetups. It’s Monday morning around 10am, I had taken a redeye from LAX to Dallas that morning, slept for a few hours, and now I’m sitting in a coffeeshop in downtown Dallas. I felt like I was going on a blind date. I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t know who was going to come. Would anyone come? What were we going to be talked about? The first person came strolling in, and another, and more and more. At the end of our time together I felt encouraged by the conversations and inspired for the remaining five meetups planned for the trip.

I had one more meetup later that day in Dallas and then went to the conference for a couple days. I woke up around 4:30am on a Thursday and drove three half hours to Austin. Had two meetups in the area and drove an hour twenty minutes to San Antonio for two remaining meetups. I jumped onto a plane that evening and arrived home in my bed around 2am the following day. I had spent 22 hours traveling. I had many conversations, a good idea of how future meetups could look, and was inspired by the people I meet with during my trip. My favorite part was ending our time together praying for the city. Praying God would use each person in a big way and allow our online outreach to better impact Dallas, Austin, and San Antonio.

Learnings:

  1. Host meetups on the weekend. Weekdays are tough for people.
  2. Watch the online service with the community. Make it church for the week.
  3. Capture video/written stories to share later.
  4. Create a yearly rotation, so people can plan ahead better. I got many emails about people wishing they had known more in advance.
  5. Run Facebook Ads in the area targeting people who are unchurched to attend the meetups.