When COVID-19 hit Rockford, Illinois, with an event a few weeks away, City First decided to make the pivot to a fully online event. Using the seamless connection between Brushfire Ticketing and Registration and Online Experience made perfect sense.
Recently we sat down with Kristen VanDynHoven from City First Church to talk through their organization, events, and use of Brushfire. City First’s Pastors Jeremy and Jen DeWeerdt accepted the Senior Pastor position in 2007 after serving the church as the Student Ministry Pastor for sixteen years. The church currently has five locations located in Rockford Illinois and recently launched their “sixth” campus … the online campus.
City First uses Brushfire for multiple events every year. Among those events are Thrive Youth + Young Adult Conference, Original Women’s Conference, Men’s Conference, and Marriage Conference.
When we saw a rise in cases of COVID-19 in the United States the church had just started to finalize items for their heavily attended, two-weekend women’s conference, Original.
This is a conversation about how the church pivoted to an online conference and about their experience working with Brushfire to make the change.
Q: What made you pivot to an online event?
A: COVID hit right when we started meeting to finalize our two-weekend women’s conference, Original. With 3,000 women already registered and expecting 5-6,000 more, we knew we needed to make a change. We knew the conference needed to happen to allow the women to feel connected, loved, and provided with a place to have a release.
Q: What brought you to Brushfire?
A: We’ve used Brushfire’s Ticketing and Registration for multiple events in the past and we’re currently using it for the conference we’re talking about. Literally, as we started to look into taking our event online, I received an email from Brushfire announcing their new platform, the Brushfire Online Experience. Immediately I told our team this is something we need to do. With that said, we did look into other platforms and options to make sure this was the right fit. Quickly, Brushfire rose above the competition and took care of business.
Q: What features made you stay?
A: We needed a seamless connection to our registered attendees and a way to have them watch the event. The Authentication and Paywall control made all the difference. Using attendee numbers to allow attendees to gain access to the event was a great success. Not to mention that our demographic is on the “older” side and using Brushfire was no problem.
Q: Was setting up your event difficult?
A: Not at all. We’ve always had great success and relationship with the Brushfire Support team. The new online platform was very simple to use and get our event live. Plus, if we needed help, Brushfire was right there to help get the job done.
Q: Can you tell us more about your event and content?
A: We decided to do a pre-recorded simulated live event. Instead of trying to get everyone together during COVID, we compiled a seven-hour conference across multiple recordings. To make the event feel “more” live, we provided scripts to chat hosts and had real-time chat happening the whole time.
Q: Tell us more about running the event.
A: We used both staff and volunteers to run the chats and interactions for the event. The night before, we got everyone together to do a quick training on the backend. We provided a script for the whole conference so there weren’t any questions. The Host Panel was simple to use. We used Interactions for all of the altar calls, connected using one-on-one chats, and even provided extra content to those who needed it. Being able to keep the conversation going while solving major issues in the Host Chat was a major win!
Q: Anything you’d like to share about after the event?
A: We enjoyed all the analytics. Being able to know the total views, the average duration of views, bounce rate, and which content was more popular was amazing. Analytics are important. Numbers aren’t the whole story, but definitely part of it.
Q: Will you keep doing Online Events?
A: Yes, our Youth Conference is using it next week! Even since going back to live services, we can’t go back. Online events let us engage a whole different audience. Currently online is the most attended service in the church. People have been blown away by the Brushfire portion of the conference. It’s phenomenal! Every staff member loved the experience. You’re stuck with us!