Healthy Church Growth – Episode 20 – Justin Price/Mike Mage

Are You Burned Out? –  How to Refuel as a Creative in Ministry

Is your self-care reservoir low? In this NEW episode of the Healthy Church Growth podcast, Justin Price (@techjustinrp), the founder of Vers Creative (@vers_creative) and Mike Mage (@mikemage), worship director at Bay Hope Church and host of the Healthy Church Growth Podcast discuss how to avoid burnout and find inspiration in hidden places.


Transcriptions:

Mike Mage  

Welcome to the healthy church growth podcast, we are so glad that you are here that you have joined us to be a part of this episode of healthy church growth. My name is Mike, I’m one of the hosts here. And real quick before we jump in, and before we get started, I just want to say thank you so much for engaging with us, thank you so much for sharing for subscribing. For you know, hopping in on the comments on our Instagram and on Facebook, it’s so great to hear from you. It’s so great to, to be in this together. And to talk to talk about these things together today. Justin and I were actually going to do just sort of a discussion together. And I was talking with Justin earlier today, and was kind of just, you know, thinking about where the church is, and obviously, you know, Justin, you have the, you have the ability running a creative agency to sort of intersect with the church. And, you know, sort of really interject or inject your creative marketing and creative principles into the church and help out churches that way. I honestly, I have the privilege of working in a church. And especially, you know, with 2020 this year, it’s just obviously been a weird year for everybody. And getting a feeling and a sense from a lot of the people that I work with a lot of people that I’m friends with that work at churches, it’s just been, it’s been a hard year, I feel like people are starting to get kind of burnt out maybe starting to get you know, kind of feel aimless, kind of like they’re wandering in sort of unknown territory. Justin, have you? Have you kind of felt that with sort of the the people that you’ve been interacting with in the church?

Justin Price  

Well, sure. I don’t think it’s just a problem that’s inside of the church, I think everybody is, is certainly feeling a sense of weight crossed. What is happening culturally, in our in our entire world. And I don’t just mean, you know, the big topics, there’s been some huge shifts with technology. There’s been some huge shifts, with workplaces, there’s been huge shifts economically, there’s been huge shifts, obviously, with illness and our health. Everything has been so upgraded that I think that that everybody is struggling to figure out in the heaviness and the heavier seasons. How do we, how do we get creative? How do we feel inspired? Sometimes I think that we feel like it is hard to be inspired when things are not going well. I don’t know. Have you ever heard that or thought that it’s like, I can’t really be inspired right now. Some so and so is going through this in my life? My mom is sick and in the hospital? Oh, yeah. So I’m overwhelmed with that. And I think, really, really great creatives naturally pull those difficult times. And you’ve seen this now for the last like six months, I’ve seen some of the most amazing worship songs like some of the most raw and real and we you know, we both posted yesterday. Yeah, on current song, it’s like, what it just, I feel like he just really stripped a lot of christianese out and it’s just like, such good theme of life. Hey, you know what, I just know that you’re gonna be God at the finish line, you know, in the middle, I’m not done. We’re not done. God’s not done. But he’s still gonna be there. He’s still gonna be got to the finish line.

Mike Mage  

Right. Right. Well, it’s like the one thing we can stand on right now. Exactly.

Justin Price  

Yeah, we need to and but I feel like really great creatives, you know, they, they find a new sense of inspiration. They pull in, they can, they can translate, and they can follow it. And oftentimes, the idea is, like, naturally that can happen, you know, naturally, we can be more in tune with that and be, you know, artists can sometimes be more in tune with that. And really pull from it. But then there’s a lot of other people who are not, they’re creatives, but they’re not necessarily artists. And so, you know, we said this might be really interesting, just to talk about what are some things for those of us who are not naturally just inclined to, you know, see something bad and be like, Oh, that’s, I’m inspired to do X, Y, or Z, you know?

Mike Mage  

Sure. Well, in what’s funny is, I feel like in 2020, over the past, you know, six months or whatever, everybody, especially for me, and so this is coming out of, you know, my personal experience, but I’m sure it affects a lot of different people in pretty much the same way. But there’s a lot of people that are now put into situations where they have to be creative, and not necessarily like you’re saying, like artistically creative, but they have to problem solve for problems that they didn’t even know existed or, you know, that the past six months has really accelerated to being in the forefront. And, and so, you know, as you and I were sort of talking about this beforehand, you know, inspiration And kind of feels like it hits us from out of nowhere. And in a know, you’re kind of saying like, it’s almost feel like when things get tough, it almost feels like we’re not even open to it. So like, so even when things are good, it feels like it sort of just smacks people upside the head, when really, that’s not how inspiration works at all, you know, like it is it is a muscle that you have to work. It’s a, it’s something you have to cultivate. And obviously, for you working in a creative agency, and you know, being a part of music, and videos, and all that kind of stuff, and me sort of being in the same realm to a certain extent, but in the church, I’d love for us to just to kind of strip away maybe some of the mystery, behind inspiration at all. And so I know you had some good thoughts about this. And so I mean, I’ll just, I’ll throw it to you just, you know, to get us started here.

Justin Price  

Thanks, Mike, I want to unpack this like three dirty secrets, that if you’re not a seasoned creative, where you’re not flexing that muscle and you haven’t, maybe you’re in year one or two, or even three into your role as a creative, you’ve been through college, you’ve maybe not been through college, either way, you’re solving problems. But you’re not, you haven’t been through enough seasons, maybe to be able to give yourself the grace on some of these things. And so I hope these are really helpful to maybe take some of the pressure some of the weight off of your back, and to maybe say, hey, it’s, it’s okay. If you follow some of these principles, these are definitely not the building blocks to all, you know, the end all of inspiration. But yeah, they’re three dirty secrets. The first one is kind of kind of a big one, one that I probably 12-15 years into being a creative kind of a was exposed to. And this one is this, developing your taste comes through exposure of quality. And so the secret here is that you’re actually not born with taste. You’re born into it. And what that means is that you’re really the culture that you’re brought up in, the way that you are exposed, the things that you’re exposed to, the quality levels you’re exposed to. Those really impact your taste. And so you know, when you say like, hey, that that’s a great designer, what makes them great? Well, there’s like one, there’s principles of design. And if you’ve never been exposed to good design, you only can emulate what you have been exposed to, like, Sure, it’s not a natural occurrence that you just are really great. And that is something that I don’t think a lot of people talk about, I think that you just think like, oh, man, Mike’s really great songwriter. And when you talk when you actually talk to most great musicians, their parents brought them up playing good music, like, right, not just jazz, or not just classical or not just like the best musicians in the world, but like, oftentimes, like with pop musicians, their parents brought them up, like listening to some stuff with some really freaking good hooks. You know? Yeah, totally. Some really good funk, some really good. Whatever it is, like, ya know, it’s taste is developed by your exposure to quality. Yeah, you know, and so it’s actually kind of like food, too. It’s like, you don’t know how to make something you don’t know if something tastes good or bad. The more things that you try and taste the more places you go the different cultures, you taste those foods. Sure, you can start to develop a palette, right? Yeah. But like, if all you’ve ever eaten my wife, my wife like grew up, like just eating bagels. And like five meals, her dad was like, he did not. He didn’t like anything. So they had like the five meals they recycled every week. And when we started like, dating, I’d be like, hey, do you want to go get some Vietnamese? And she’d be like, That’s gross. I don’t like that. The reality is, is she still doesn’t like it today. But but there was a lot of other foods that she did get to try that she told me she didn’t like, and after getting to try and getting exposed to good quality versions of those foods all the sudden, like, Oh, I like that I’m attracted. So it was that exposure to that quality. So I think that’s a huge one for me.

Mike Mage  

Well, and I do think too, like there’s something it’s it’s naive, obviously. But I remember going through college and in the music school, and thinking about why in the world do I need to learn about all this theory and all of this, you know, I’m never going to use this stuff. Yeah. And it’s, it is some of y’all think that Yeah, right. Okay. It’s gonna say some well in and honestly some of it’s true. I didn’t mean to learn some of the real like ridiculous 20th century music theory stuff, but like a lot of that bedrock in the foundation of it, if I didn’t learn that, there’s no way that I would be able to know how certain things are supposed to fit together so that when I go to sit down and write something, I have like some sort of starting point, because I do think that’s part of the reason so many people feel like they’re feel like they’re stuck is because they don’t even know where to start from. And so, you know, you, if you if you open yourself up, and you start developing your tastes, with quality influences, you know, like, you’ll, you’ll really start to, you know, at least find a place to start. And yeah, I mean, like, emulation is how everybody gets started. And, you know, like, you think about stand up comedians, you think about artists, you think about musicians, whoever, you know, like it is, it’s, it’s literally the places I mean, I mean, I remember, as a long time ago, but when reason came out, or when it started to become like a real big thing in the worship, when in reason, if you don’t know, it’s like a mini sequencing, you know, electronic music platform that you can have on a computer. And I remember the David Crowder band used to give away the reason files. And the only reason no pun intended, that I knew how to actually use that program was because I literally just would sit and I would go through each individual instrument, absolutely see how it was routed, see how, you know, it was mapped and all that kind of stuff. But I was just I was that’s in like, I use reason all throughout bellary studio albums. And so like, but but because I opened myself up to that.

Justin Price  

So it was Crowder files were so good. I remember, I was running a recording studio when he released those. And it really unlocked a lot of like new ideas and thinking, yeah, you know, and right to that, to that measure, like at every studio I’ve ever gone to I go to a lot of sessions early on to just see how other engineers would set up their session, you know, what’s their what is their chain? You know, right? Is this like sidechain compression thing? Like, what is that? What’s the mask? Oh, man, there’s a two inch tape session happening over here. Like, let’s go see the difference between that. And why does that sound so much better than mine? You have my whatever, Digi Oh, three. It’s important for you, you know, I wanted to give you guys some practical things that that we fall into, as you know, being paid to do this professionally by so many clients and having so many was a principal, having so many other staff that depend on me to be a source of inspiration. They depend on me to guide it at least if nothing else, you know? Sure. Yeah. I have found that. Inspiration is everywhere, you know, and like, everybody has their own voice and their own style and things like that. But you have got to you have got to be okay with just being comfortable with the things that you’re comfortable with. And so I was gonna say like, find your inspiration where you find rest. Or you might even say it, like, where you’re where you really like the vibe? Yeah. So whether it’s visually or musically or whatever. Sure. Sure. Start there.

Mike Mage  

Yeah, well in like this is, this is so funny, because I do feel like this is where again, people get really stuck because you start comparing yourself to other people. And it’s literally it’s taken me until, you know, like, relatively recently, to be okay with the things that I can that I can that I can create that that almost just like flow from me. And that’s not like super hard for me. Because it’s almost I almost feel like, like, well, I’m sick of hearing what I do. Yeah. But like I almost I’m having to like shift. And we were talking about psychology of things a little bit before this. But I have to shift the psychology of the things that like that, that I can create, because, you know, honestly, like it, it helps to like show it to other people. And when people like reinforce like, Oh, that’s pretty good. I was like, Oh, I guess I guess that is good, even though like I feel like it was so easy, and all that kind of stuff. But the things that I’m naturally inclined to do. That might be really the way that I’m wired. And if I really lean into that, you know, that might be like this, a new fresh expression, within whatever creative community that you’re a part of, and it might be exactly what some people need. So it’s hard to to not get hung up on that, which I know sounds really weird. But each person has their own specific voice and their own unique wiring. And you can only be yourself so

Justin Price  

alright, so that let’s just say this yourself can develop better taste. yourself can start off not liking Vietnamese food. Can can end up enjoying the best Vietnamese food. If you expose yourself to good quality and good quality for you and exposing yourself to everything in the world is not possible. Most of us can’t afford to expose ourselves to all the great quality in the world, whether that’s art or music, or food, or whatever it is culturally. But just keep exploring, keep being curious. And then when you find the thing that you feel comfortable and just own it be you be that version of you and say that is I’m going to develop my taste is me, even if I’m copying other people, even if I’m inspired by other people’s work, and even if I’m copying, you know, specifically unpacking David Crowder’s reason files, if I do that, and it feels good to me, and it makes sense to me. And now the sudden like, the guy who couldn’t figure out how to ever make that sound before now knows how to make that sound. And I love the sound on those little things that unlock just be okay with owning that thing, that’s you and then sit in that space, and be able to know that finding inspiration for you is you being able to also rest and find that vibe, there’s some freedom in that because I think sometimes like we follow inspiration needs to always be the uncomfortable tasting Vietnamese for the first time. I think your last point kind of ties in really well to my next dirty secret. Okay, this one is really simple. And it’s something that people say a lot. And that is, you know, that great, you know, creatives steal, you know, and I just, I just want to twist that just a little bit like, okay, so when you’re looking for your inspiration, stop stealing from your next door neighbor, super awkward if you steal the bike out of your next door neighbor’s garage, and you go riding down the street, right? All the sudden, they’re like, you know, hey, that’s our bike. That’s really lame, yet. I mean, and No, nobody in that listens to this podcast would do something like that, obviously.

Mike Mage  

But yet, we have the best listeners. Yeah, they would never do that

Justin Price  

yet. I see so many churches, steal the creative. All this church just did this. And they were like one mile apart. In this one community in Tennessee, do this thing. And it’s like, yeah, it’s 20 years old, and they just have been stealing from you guys have missed the boat. Yeah, it was happening in London. And so I just say this, just leave the country. Don’t even don’t even leave your city. Just leave the country. And that is. So it’s definitely steal your ideas. You know, definitely look at how other people make it. But try to push your exposure outside of your close local bubble. And that means verticals, to churches, do not steal from churches, don’t steal from other churches, look at what’s unique to you, and your location and your geographic and find other verticals to steal from. right for me a big unlocker as a creative at a church was to start stealing from hospitality. If you have not followed anything from Ritz Carlton, you need to turn this podcast off and go find out. Yeah, but I mean, that was a huge on locker and to the point where like when we we had an opportunity to really expand some things instead of hiring like, so most people like hire church furniture people, like there’s literally like sales reps that sell chairs, right? Right. Like I don’t want to buy church chairs, I want to buy hospitality chairs, I want our lobby to be quality and comfortable. And I wanted to set this mood when people walk in, I want I want the same quality of carpet that these people wish they had, you know or wanted, you know, want to have that kind of experience when they go for a resort if they could have they go to church on Sunday. What a great experience they can leave with. Right not saying, well, gods are over the top. But sure, steal from those principles and don’t just stay in your market and your vertical.

Mike Mage  

Right. Well, I yeah, I think it’s a it’s a it’s a super important to open yourself up to as much inspiration as possible, even if it’s so like, for me, I’m a worship director. But I really love to watch TV shows and movies. And to see how, how they use music as a way to influence people’s emotion to be able to connect what is actually happening on the screen. And because if I don’t know if you’ve ever watched a movie without music, but it’s it’s terrible. It’s a horrible movie. There’s a reason it’s in there. And they’ve been you know, that that idea has been around for you know, hundreds of years, even back operas and all that kind of stuff. I mean, like the music influences what is happening. And so for me as a worship director, like I don’t necessarily want to just listen to songs. I want to know how to be able to use music in a way that can really connect people. So to me there’s there’s a very thin line between looking at other churches. is in what is working well? And is it that’s different than like stealing things? Does that make sense what I’m saying, I feel like there’s a, there’s there’s ways that we can look at churches and be able to understand why things are working. But it doesn’t mean that we necessarily have to steal the exact thing that they’re doing. It’s almost like we have to interpret what it works, and put it and if we develop our taste and quality and all that kind of stuff, personally, we filter it through that, to be able to make those underlying principles be able to sort of raise the tide of, you know, what we’re doing. Does that make sense? I guess not churches, I mean, like in other other outside of the church as well. So like, I love that idea of looking outside the church. That’s not I didn’t mean just churches. Yeah,

Justin Price  

I mean, obviously, you we talk a lot about like, take the take the heart, apply your heart to other great ideas. So either take the idea and apply your heart to it, or take the heart and apply your ideas to it.

Mike Mage  

That’s a really great, yeah, I love that. Well, cool. Well, I really do, I think this is this is super helpful. And in a really great topic to even, you know, discuss in a time when it feels like people are just void of inspiration, whether they’re burnt out, or you know, just because things constantly keep changing,

Justin Price  

I’ve got one more. So the third dirty little secret is that being a creative professional, does not make you an idea spring. And so what I mean by that is that creative professionals are a whole lot more like reservoirs than springs. So we’re often tapped for the source of an idea, or to problem solve something, we’re given a problem every Sunday to figure out how to take people and hopefully take them into a place where they are growing in their relationship with God. And so yeah, we got to figure out a new way, a fresh way to do that, we got to keep bringing water from that spring, and people just keep assuming that we can continue to keep producing it. And when we don’t, they get super upset. But the reality is, is you have to know that you yourself are a reservoir reservoir has to be refilled. And it also evaporates. So there’s an evaporation rate. As you are also using it, you are also getting rid of it. But but just not using it. Right, by not filling it all the time, you are really really jacking yourself up. And so as a practical tip, I would just say, if you can do one thing for your own health, for your mental health as a creative professional, you have got to put temperature checks weekly and monthly, and making sure that you are refilling wheat. So we I’m the principal at an agency. And right now, we are lucky if we produce more than 50% of the time, then we pay our staff, sure to just want you to like get

Mike Mage  

pretty good. That’s pretty good.

Justin Price  

Yeah. 60 is like the sweet spot, you know, but there’s plenty seasons, plenty of seasons, especially when there’s high change. where 50 40% is all we can produce. Where’s the other time going? It’s not all spend just like, you know, doing podcasts? It is? It’s it’s spent refilling because you cannot produce there anybody who looks at their staff hours and a lot and says, Well, I have 40 hours per person and minus staff meeting and minus Bible study that we expect him to do on Thursday and minus practice and rehearsal. And so now, you know, Joe over there, he’s got like 30 hours, give or take to do videos, Why could he not produce a 30 a great video in 30 hours, every single week? And then, you know, two to three videos every every once a month? I’m gonna double up on him. Why can’t Why can’t he did 30 hours? You know, I mean, tease Yeah, that’s the expectation we always have. It’s like Joe’s got maybe, maybe 10 hours after he handles the rest of the relationship gets interrupted 1000 times. And even in a healthy work environment, he should realistically be working, maybe producing about 15 to 20 hours worth of actual good quality, productive, creative that is fresh and good. And we’re not doing that. Like the culture The church is not doing that. A lot of creative agencies don’t do that a lot of creatives don’t do that. And then the word burnout is so relevant in our industry, because we set really unrealistic expectations for refilling the reservoir and we just expect these creative people because they love it that they’re going to be springs or or we like to just plan a card of like well because this is a cool thing to do like because this is like because this feeds your soul to do it that you can refill on your own time which by the way, man you should refill on in your own time, sure, for your own sake, for your own fun. But yeah, um, yeah, that, that refill, if you’re not checking into say like, did I refill Am I doing it, then you are going to burn out, you will run dry, you will be frustrated, you will be empty with ideas and your ideas will suck. And it’s not because you suck. And it’s not because you’re a bad creative, it’s because you didn’t take care of yourself and refill that reservoir. So there it is. The third dirty secret. nobody really wants to hear that. I’m giving you permission. That is an industry standard is 60%. In the creative industry, for professionals who do high quality work, if you produce 60% of the time that you work, that is good.

Mike Mage  

Yeah, your top the top of the line there exactly. Well, man that that is so precious for what we’re what we’re in right now. And then just in general man, I just I really felt like you just you’re pushing on a bruise a little bit, because I find myself convicted of that expecting more of people. But I also find myself being represented in what you’re talking about. And, you know, I think we especially in the church, man, you are like, Man, it’s it’s a it’s a it’s a thing people try to do all the times like, well, you’re, you know, you’re doing your part of like the kingdom, you know, you’re doing things that are changing people’s lives. And you should love this and yada yada, you know, you should really be motivated to do this. And while that’s true, we are still only people we’re not like you’re saying idea springs, basically, we’re not stinking superheroes. You know, we’re still we’re still flawed humans who need this time to refill, to reengage and then to produce. And I do and I love how you’re saying to that, like the inspiration can evaporate. Meaning that like we have to do something with it. So like we have to be in charge of refilling and in cognizant of that. But we also have to be aware that we need to that we actually need to turn around and do something with that inspiration. Because otherwise like it’s gone. Yeah, so man, this has been this has been incredible Justin, really, really good stuff. And for you as the listener, if you have a comment or you know, if you think that there’s there’s something that we missed, maybe you have a dirty secret when it comes to inspiration, we would love for you to leave a comment on our Instagram, when we post this podcast and yeah, so and this has been an incredible conversation. So Justin, thank you so much.

Justin Price  

Thanks, Mike. Yeah, I couldn’t I I hope that that this is good for you. And it’s great for me to even just be reminded, you know, and I think dirty secrets because it’s I’m just saying like, we’re kind of getting into the dirt. This is the stuff that like people don’t really want to talk about. It’s not, it’s really not the great side of creative. I would rather talk about how to create like really awesome stuff with low belly time or something like that. Yeah, but this is the reality. It’s the truth, you know, and so it’s taken a lot of there’s been a lot of painful years that have gone into for me to maybe admit these secrets, some of these but you know, we got a chance to talk with another creative who has been in the game at a really high level for a long time.

Mike Mage  

It’s it’s going to be an incredible podcast and Justin you and i i mean it felt like we got to find out that we had a long lost friend for it is we discovered a friendship we didn’t even know existed and Verizon. Yeah, it was it was awesome. So make sure to tune in for the next healthy church growth podcast where we believe that healthy things grow and growth means life.

Healthy Church Growth – Episode 19 – Anthony Russo

Jesus had a sense of humor, and so should you.

Do Christians need to lighten up? Anthony Russo, the creator of ‘The Bible is Funny’ and a Director of Online Ministries at Calvary Baptist Church discusses how laughter can be a form of worship and the challenges of Christian comedic acceptance. 

On Instagram: @thebibleisfunny, @isaacimprov


Transcriptions:

Mike Mage
Well, welcome to the healthy church growth podcast. We’re so glad that you are here. And we have an incredible guest today. Someone that I’m very excited to talk to. He is the creator of the Bible is Funny Instagram account and podcast, as well as the director of online ministries at a pretty prominent church in the Tampa Bay area of Calvary Baptist. We have Anthony Russo with us, Anthony, thank you so much for joining us.

Anthony Russo
Thank you guys for having me. It’s an honor and a privilege to be here with you guys today.

Mike Mage
Awesome. Well, Justin, you and I were talking a little bit before this with Anthony. And it says here on the zoom account, your you know, everybody does everything over zoom. Because that’s the society we live in now. And everybody puts their names in and all that kind of stuff. And Anthony, you actually, your name is Tone balone. And I would love your talking a little bit before about the use of this name. And we said the same. Let’s save it for the podcast. So please, would you please give us a little rundown on where that name is?

Anthony Russo
Yeah, I’m happy to there’s that. Like Tone Balone is kind of like just a byproduct of this thing that I was born into. So you guys are named like Justin and Mike. So yeah, pretty. Like there’s some names that you could be you know, when you’re from when you’re born to what you might be called as an adult and a teenager and things like that. But Anthony can really like the flowchart can go like 25 different ways like you can be Anthony you can be Antony, you can be anfernee you can be Antwan, you can be like Tony, you can be Tone Balone. There’s just so many things that people will call it then you have like the normal things where somebody calls you by your last name or things like that. So I just felt like, I it’s just a thing that I love about my name is people are always like, what do you prefer to be called, and I’ve just never had a preference whatsoever. I’ve had whole, my entire high school called me, Tony. And I felt nothing about it. My family calls me and I had a guy that I worked with at a church I was serving at they called me Andrew for several years. And, whatever you say I am. I know that just keeps on going

Mike Mage
Man, that’s nowhere close.

Unknown Speaker
I didn’t have the heart to tell him. This facility guys, we just got in his name, oddly enough was Ted Williams, which I’ll never forget. Ted Williams, that’s funny. And so we chatted one of my first days. And then second day I was walking in we’re kind of far in the parking lot. But he’s like, hey, Andrew, good morning. And I was like, Ah, okay. And then I just went in and was didn’t think much of it the rest of the week, rest of the month. And I’m at what point do I break this man’s heart and say, caught me the wrong name this whole time?

Justin Price
You know, I’ve been I’ve been following Anthony. And we’ve gotten a chance to work together in the past. And I feel like you Anthony. That story so well describes your heart and your personality. Like just just what? Just what a genuinely great, nice guy. You are. The like, if that was Mike or I, we would have been like correcting them right away.

Mike Mage
I don’t know,

Justin Price
The 8 in Mike would have

Mike Mage
Well, yeah, probably eventually. I feel like it would have been upset about it. But the nine in me would have said like I don’t we just let’s be cool. That’s fine. You can call me whatever you want to call me. I wouldn’t be happy about it. Yeah. But I totally like there’s, there’s a point at like it What is it? After like a week or two where you can’t you’re set? Right? It’s set in concrete. And you’re Andrew. And that’s that’s who you are

Unknown Speaker
The same thing like so when you’re younger? Maybe you’re like introducing, you’re meeting people. It’s all like a little bit more formal. But if you’re like when you’re an adult, and you frequent the same space as other adults, if you don’t catch their name gets real odd real felt, right. Like we’ve now interacted five times. I don’t know when I can casually say yep, he’s sorry. What’s your name?

Mike Mage
Oh, totally. It’s so odd. there’s a there’s a guy who plays on our worship team. He’s incredible. He shows up every week prepared. I mean, he is he’s a professional musician. I mean, he’s amazing. And he I have no idea what he does for a living. And I’ve known him for five years now. And so several people have asked me they’re like, what is what does he do for a living and said, I can’t ask like that’s I we are way past the statue limitations, right? Yeah. way past it.

Justin Price
Yeah, there’s one. There’s a great trick. You just need to introduce them to somebody new Yeah. Yep. And yeah. You just need to be able to get that introduction in.

Mike Mage
That’s maturity, because you just figure out ways to not make things so awkward with other people.

Justin Price
Yes.

Anthony Russo
My wife that she gets she gets lead out like the lamb to slaughter. Somebody she’s like, I already know this person. I’m like, no, no. I am. This is my wife, Rachel.

Mike Mage
Someone’s got to be the sacrifice, you know, it just, it’s gonna help out everybody.

Justin Price
That’s right, Anthony, you’ve been working in the creative world for a long time inside of the church. And one of the one of the things that I thought is so cool about your story is that you have always done like side hustles, while working at churches, you ran a really, really great comedy group, an improv comedy group, and you have had a long history in the what I would consider is like a very difficult market, which is like, entertainment, comedy side of church culture, yeah, and Christian culture. And then, you know, you have been successfully kind of thing inside of the church the whole time, as well, you know, working on staffs and things like that. Tell us a little bit about what that process was like for developing, you know, going from like the event stuff, which to actually like a whole channel like the Bible is Funny. Give us a little bit of background about what that has been like.

Unknown Speaker
Yeah, oh, man, there’s so much interesting stuff in there. So this, like church comedies fear is, has like a pretty clear line of progression. So it’s like this. It was this kind of blazed trail of people that we had acknowledged that this was an important thing that we get together and laugh and have fun and do these things. It had sort of broken through, because music and teaching has always been welcomed. Certain certain communities will welcome other artistic expressions of a comedy has had a little bit of a different road because it can feel like what’s not important. We don’t we don’t have like a lot of biblical precedent of people setting out with just the goal of making other people laugh. Sure. Whereas we have some precedent on the other ones. So that’s definitely like a unique circle, people that do that thing. But I started doing that I started traveling and doing comedy. I went on my first nationwide tour when I was 16. I went from Florida, and traveled all the way out to California, did shows along the way, did some camps in California, and then came back. And I’ve been doing it ever since. I mean, pre pre this pandemic were in. We were still traveling and doing things obviously. I’m not as young as I was back then you listeners can’t see exactly how bald I am. But I am bald. So it’s. So it’s a little bit you know, there was a time where it was like it felt like I was around like high school kids. And I was like, I’m cool. Right now. You’re just like, oh, gosh, I am older than all of you by quite a bit. But we still have it’s still really fun. We still love doing it. We’ve now we’ve worked with colleges more we’ve done some work with nonprofits. We’ll do like volunteer appreciation, banquet, that kind of thing. So the so the work we’ve done has sort of morphed, we actually did some trainings too, which was super fun. But then the transition into the some of the Bible is Funny specifically, like there’s a man, there’s a lot that went into that. But some of the motivators were, you know, when you’re younger, you traveling is like really appealing and really like this thing that you’re like, I want to travel, I want to see all this stuff. And then I got married, and we had kids and me and Tim, the guy I was traveling with and it just kind of became like harder, because you’re like, oh, man, I’m spending time away from my family now like, yeah, I this is just a harder thing. Do I really want to be on the road? All the time, that man Oh, I get that. So it had we’re living through some of those tensions wanted to find some ways that we could continue to express ourselves creatively. And not maybe have to be away from home quite as much. So then started doing some videos that we were doing on YouTube. And then the Bible was funny was a project that was born out of that time. I love writing. And I love reading the Bible. And I love comedy. So it was this sort of really fun combination of all those three things coming together yet

Mike Mage
So obviously, if anybody is familiar with the Bible, is Funny, you would know that it’s I mean, it’s got a pretty big following. And if you’re listening and you haven’t checked out the Bible’s funny yet, please go to Instagram and check it out. Because it’s actually very funny. It’s a perfect brand. It’s a perfect brand name. But I’d love to know, like, at what point did it sort of explode? Or was there a point or has it just been this sort of slow growing following over the years?

Anthony Russo
I feel like this particular project did have a moment. And it’s a it’s a, it’s a it’s a really a sad story on my own my own account. So I started the project. And I was writing books, and I was like 10 years late to the blog game, but I was I was writing blogs. So again, I like to do is I like to write and then I was doing Instagram posts because I thought I need to keep like content going like I need to stay on people’s mind between blog posts and I can’t turn a blog post out every day. But I was like, I am not a meme page. I am not a meme page. I am better than all the media pages, though that is nice. That has value. There’s they are crass. Yeah. Low brow. Yeah, exactly. And they accent just comes when you start talking like that, right? And then I actually had what’s become a friend of mine. Now she runs an account called the normal Pentecostal. Yeah. She reached out to me and said, Hey, your stuff is really good, but like, people don’t know how to find it or what to do with it, you should just make these into memes. Because I was like, making it the the post of the verse than the caption was a joke. And I was literally making memes guys, I was making me, but I was like, I’m not a meme page. And then she was, you know, of course, it’s outside perspective, she was just like, your content. So good, you should just, you should just make these into memes. And this is probably four years into the project three years in. And I was like, I’ll try it, like I’m ragging on this is gonna crash and burn. And you guys are all gonna be sorry. And so I only, I only will say that that was like a kind of take off moment for the project. Because finally it was in a pipeline of content that people were actually looking for, like, people actually like to look at memes on the internet. And so you were you were, the content was now addressing people where they were. And so from that on out, it really caught a lot of ground. And it has been really fun ever since. But that was like a very tough, it’s that’s been everything with this guys. I mean, the podcast, Rachel, my wife was on me for like two years about a podcast. And I was like, No, no, no, I’m not gonna do a podcast, and I can do it by what am I gonna say? Yeah, and then they did the podcast. And that’s been really fun and been a really great thing.

Mike Mage
It’s super cool. Well, I love the, you know, taking this back to, you know, the church, and you know, maybe somebody’s in a creative position at a church, there’s so many times where we get stuck in the method of how we’re doing things. And thinking that like, the method is the thing that is really driving it when it’s really like it was your content that was very funny and was effective. And like, regardless of how it’s packaged, like you’re still going, you are ultimately communicating it in a way that more people can get to it. And that is isn’t that the ultimate goal is to actually get it out. And I feel like I’ve fallen into that trap so many times being like, I’m never gonna do this song ever, or whatever, you know, as a worship leader. So I it’s not, you know, artistically creative enough or whatever, right? And then the one time I do it is the time people, like, finally meet Jesus. I don’t know.

Anthony Russo
It’s so is painfully true. Yeah, no, Justin has become a really good friend the last year or so. And he is very surgical about this particular topic, I think about pointing out like, like, he would say things we’ve talked about ideas in the past. And he would say something like, nobody cares about that. And it’s very, like, it’s very, like I say, surgical. When you first hear it, you’re very like, oh, that hurts my feelings, though. Oh, no, wait, that’s great, though. Nobody does care about that. I am so focused on this thing. And it not being means and they’re not means that like when somebody presents is such a logical like, but you know, people actually want memes. Nobody wants what you’re doing right now. But they want memes. Why don’t you do that? Yeah. And that and that has been something man. Talk about that has been a lesson for me in the church world too. Because we know how important this is. We know how valuable these messages are. The Bible is all of these discipleship, sanctification, all these things, but until we present it to people in terms that they’re like, Oh, I want that or Oh, I was looking for that. Yep. They they don’t know they don’t like you said the content can be great. But if Yeah, if you’re if you’re not putting it, where it needs to be in the language needs to be said then no one’s gonna see it.

Justin Price
Totally. Did you? Do you feel like it was hard to come up with the the format for it? Because sometimes, it’s funny like that. It feels like it’s a little bit different than a normal meme. Because sometimes I think your captions like your your description on the post is the thing that makes me laugh the most. And then sometimes I laugh like at the actual game itself, but like I was looking at there was one I was trying to find it. I think it’s it was this one me to my kid. Hey, people are kind of on edge right now. So be cool. walks in the restaurant, like if the asterisk From Second Kings for 35 cents, then the child sneeze sevens. That was really funny. And then then I thought that the caption underneath it was really funny like your, I guess you call it the description or the write the caption there, but it was like it euro boy has allergies are really acting up. Said he said loudly to no one and just like thinking about I don’t know why that one got me but it was just like, because I think you know that that subject, obviously is so relevant. And I feel I feel like I’m just shunned if I don’t have a full grade mask on, and I cough or cheap, sneeze or whatever, it’s just so right.

Anthony Russo
And we’re aware of that. But the kids are not in the kids know, I mean, sneeze, like rubbing their nose. And you’re just like, I don’t, buddy, we’re gonna literally get kicked out of here. That’s a thing.

Justin Price
Yeah. Um, so anyways, sometimes that that is like your funniest part, sometimes the mean itself is the funniest thing. Do you have a formula formula? or How did this all kind of come about?

Unknown Speaker
Um, you know, it’s, it’s gone through a process. And like, he said, I think like, that was one of the big things was when I, when I made that that subtle transition, which was more of a mental shift for me than it was for anyone that it was, you know, the for, like the people following the account. You have like, parameters now by which that you’re playing and the whole Internet has agreed to like these rules that you’re now playing by, and you can do fun things with them. So, you know, I think to me, and the lesson that I took away from that moment, with all projects going forward, and really what like, I think led to the podcast being the way it is now to is it’s like, I’m still as a creative like, or a creator of this stuff. You’re the one doing the thing, like even if it’s like, oh, it just means like, Okay, well, this is you making memes. So it will be different than some of these other people is just a podcast. Well, it’s you doing the podcast. So you’re gonna do this a little bit different than other people do. So yeah, I would say it’s funny. You do ask that though, Justin. Because like, that has taken different shapes. Like at one point, I was going through the Bible and writing a joke that somehow connected to every verse. And that was like a mess. So no one has seen that. But the process by which I do it has changed. Kind of the formula. Yeah, it’s it’s the the meme process that a lot of other people do. But yea

Justin Price
Even the title, the even the title is great, because I don’t think anyone thinks the Bible is funny.

Anthony Russo
Right, right.

Justin Price
I mean, the whole the whole concept, and I think, and this is one of the things that I respect and think you’re a genius for is I this is so hard. I mean, being funny, is not hard, like being a jerk and making jokes on other people’s expense. That’s my more of my wheelhouse. Like, that’s, that’s easy. This is hardly being smart in coming up with jokes, and, and then delivering them through a meme like that. I tried. By the way, I tried to write some memes. I never sent them to you, Anthony, you know, we should

Mike Mage
we should get

Justin Price
I tried to write meme We’ll put we’ll put it in the show notes. Yeah. And in our staff, they totally rip them up. Like they were like, these are funny. I don’t get it. Like, I’m not sure this was like two weeks ago, three weeks ago, I was like, would this be a good thing for us to put on our social media? And they were like, absolutely not. I just want you to know, I think this is so impressive. Like, it’s so hard to do. And it’s funny, because I don’t think it gets the credit. You know, like I don’t, if you’re like, Oh, I’m a Christian comedian, saying, Oh, yeah. There’s a lot of jokes about that. Those two words together.

Unknown Speaker
We use to get that all the time when we were traveling, we would do a show and afterwards, he would be like, Oh, that was like really funny. I mean, I hope so

Mike Mage
They definitely were not expecting it to be. Yeah. So I just mean culture is now like a thing. You know, like it is very much. And I mean, I personally like I very much and I may have sort of said it earlier, but like I very much relate to this idea that this thing is happening. A lot of people are doing it. I want to do something different. I don’t want to be a part of this culture at all come up. But like I I remember on my like our iPhones, I guess when you know, like, you can search for gifts or gifts. As a main creator, is it GIF or GIF? What is it? It’s GIF. It’s GIF. Okay, let’s see, that doesn’t feel doesn’t sit right with me. It’s fine. I’ll say it. I’ll say it that way. I’ll say it that way. But yeah.

Anthony Russo
The only way You can call it GIF is if you’re one of these Geoffrey’s that spells your name, Geouf, and then you can call it GIF

Mike Mage
Okay. All right. I’ll say give it a pert. I just want you to know personally, when we do this, I’m gonna say GIF. And it’s gonna be, yeah. Okay. So I remember on our phones, when like, there wasn’t the gift search or whatever, you know, I remember when meme culture was not a thing. So this is sort of like a two pronged question here. How have you seen meme culture change, since you really started doing it over the past couple years, but then specifically this year? Because everybody is living their lives through online in 2020. When we’re recording this, so much of life is, especially the past six months has just been experienced through a screen. Have you seen meme culture shift over the past six months? And then really, you know, in a broader sense over the last three or four years?

Anthony Russo
Yeah, yeah, it’s, um, it I just want to talk about though, for one second, the greatness of the full circle moment that I am now an ambassador for meme culture, when just a couple days ago, I was refusing to be called a meme page. meme, meme culture. I mean, it changes all the time, like it really is, like, if you blink, you know, the, I’m going to get kind of granular listeners hang with your weight kit when you blink. And like the standard by which like, the font is like, it used to be this bold. Forget what that file is called. But it’s a kind of a stencil looking font at the top and the bottom. And that is longer the thing. So if you impact Thank you, Justin, it’s just not a thing anymore. So that’s how big it is anymore. So Justin, there’s these people playing Sinatra. And there’s these big accounts out there that like tank was just even like a pretty big talk show recently. I don’t remember off top my head. But so this is like ascended. In all of these different ways. But yeah, it’s it’s like really changing constantly. As soon as somebody is doing something that’s working, right. What I love about the community, like the larger meme community is it really is just an endless invitation. How do you make this joke? How can you make this joke better? Like you, you take a stab at this joke, we’re all taking stabs at roughly the same joke, which in a in a bigger existential sense, is like this is what comedy has been doing forever. We’re just a lot quicker at it now. So you can like respond to a moment with memes really quickly, because like the second something happens on like, the one that sticks out to me is the the Superbowl halftime show that lady gaga did. If you remember that she did this, like move where she like crossed her arms and jumped off the top of the stadium in Houston. It was made into a meme and like moments after that it was a meme. So it’s like it moves so fast. And it’s like, you really have to like part of you has to be interested in have an affection for the community at large. Or you will be like 12 steps behind and like that meme template is not being used anymore. Like you’re you’re you’re been mulling over your SpongeBob I am going to head out meme. And then you know, two weeks later, no one’s making him anymore. So changes a lot. That was kind of answered the first part of question. The second part, it’s been really interesting, because one thing you’re doing, and I’ll speak from my own perspective, but I think everyone does this, in some sense, is you’re looking around, like at what’s going on. And that’s where you’re pulling inspiration from Sure. And so that’s what’s made this particular season really tough is it’s like, it’s just been like a lot of stuff you don’t want to make jokes about like there’s been, I have I was talking to this other guy meme page recently. And I was saying, let me just start I gotta say this like this is not complaining. People have had very, very difficult during this time. And by no means do I want what I’m about to say to sound like I’m complaining about my spot in this it has it we me and my family have been blessed through this whole thing. But doing the doing the comedy end of it. You just have like weeks where you’re like, I don’t want to do this anymore. Like I’m not anymore. I don’t wanna be dramatic. But you’re like this week what? I don’t feel funny. I look around I don’t see funny stuff. I don’t want to like there’s nothing you know, we had we lost sports, we lost new movies coming out. We lost like production for content shut down. Like that stuff that was on in the news was like you weren’t gonna make jokes about it unless you were like a different type of comedian than I am for sure. So like, it was just weeks of like, and at the same time carrying this sense of like, we have to keep doing this. Like if we stop talking right now. Then the sort of like, dread just wins it all, doesn’t it? Like Don’t we have to make jokes right now like Yep, yeah, as silly as what we do is and how there are p there are nurses and there are teachers and there are people like really making a much bigger impact. It felt both very hard to make comedy on the internet and very important that we were making comedy on the internet. Sure, at the same time, so that’s what I would say about the last six months. It’s been, it’s been a lot of moments of that of your, you’re just like, I gotta, I gotta like, pull from a different Well, right now, which is, which is weird. But

Justin Price
Yeah, that’s been that is it’s a strange thought to think about that in a time where things get really dark. You don’t feel like it’s funny. You’re making a meme page, you’re not monetizing this meme page, like you’re not running ads and things like that. And yet, you still feel this sense of responsibility. Like, I got an I, like, I got to make something light, I got to bring something good to this community. That’s amazing. Talk a little bit more about how you’re fostering the community, you know, like, what are you doing with your community? And, and how do you? I don’t know, what does it look like managing a meme page in that community?

Anthony Russo
Well, in the beginning, you made it You guys made a comment earlier about like, the the brand name, the Bible was funny, and a lot of people saying the Bible is not funny. You’d be shocked exactly how many people thought that the Bible’s not funny how dummy? Yeah, shut your page down. And so it’s like, oh, so the community, the process of the community has been like, there’s definitely been a does, is he making fun of the Bible? Does he hate the Bible? There was a lot of comments early on, like about how I was going to hell, and a couple of people pass naturally called Satan. And so there was a lot of that earlier on, as we were like, me and the community were feeling each other out and figuring out like, you know, who are you and who am I? And how am I gonna go? Now, like, the Bible is funny communities. absolutely the best. I love them. They, they, the other day, we they this group of people in the comments did the entire song of Sophia the First like the entire intro song one line at a time? Absolutely love them. Every once in a while, somebody will chime in and say like, you know, that’s not the context of this verse. I always think is so stinking funny, because it’s like, you know, the joke is like, when you forget, you’re like, not muted on your zoom call. And they’ll be like, you know, some of the content. And I’ll be like, I mean, I think we all know that the Bible was not written in relational zoom. But the community will step in and will say like, Oh, you know, you must be new here or something like that. Right? And, and even like, so I could honestly brag about the Bible’s funny community all day. Like they’re not aggressive like they’re not mean about it. It’s very like welcoming like they’re very other Christian comedic accounts are not as lucky. Like they are just, it’s it’s super combative. Our community has been so so kind and so so like, the chatty with each other chiming in. And I think the challenges you asked about engaging the community like the challenges, just remembering that this is fun, this is fun for everybody to do, and you want it like everybody wants to be to be in on the joke, right? Everybody wants to play the game. So we’re just always I’m always looking for ways to like, how do I like let let them play along. So like the other day, I teed up the joke and I let everybody else come up with the verse. I teed up the verse Now that everybody else kind of come up with like, the joke that goes with the verse. And I was sick guys. I was like, really resisting it. I was like, I want to make the joke, though. What if I don’t make the joke? Who am I in this whole process? Right? And then after I did, it was like, so many people jumped in and suggested jokes. And it just was this great. Like, isn’t this more fun? Like, isn’t this more fun when everybody’s playing? They came up with really great stuff. And you’re just like, That’s it? That’s, it’s remembering that like, you know, the stuff we learned in kindergarten, right? Everybody wants a turn. It’s they can’t just always be your turn. And I definitely feel like I fight that, you know, you see an elementary school kid every once in a while. It’s like, okay, watch me do this. Watch me do this. Watch me do this. I hear that in myself every once in a while and you’re like Anthony, you got to let other be other people want to play they want their parents like they want it you if you’re just always asking your community to watch you, everybody watch me do this thing. Your communities, you know, gonna be a bunch of watchers, so they’re gonna be a very passive community. And so the Bible is has been great because they’re super. Yeah, very active and super supportive. And I love them very much.

Justin Price
What do you do with all the haters? I mean, how do you handle that? The criticism?

Anthony Russo
I feel like it’s it’s mostly confusion, like Jerry Seinfeld has this great quote about like, hecklers, or I forget if it was in regards to hecklers or people that just didn’t like his content. And cuz Jerry’s like really meticulous, Jerry writes and performs and like that’s, that’s what he does. And other comedians, myself included, it’s more in the moment. It’s a little like 60% 70% baked and then you want it to like, get With the people in the room and everything. And so Jerry just said like they don’t, I don’t like, don’t you think they don’t like you when they don’t like your content? Don’t you think they don’t like you? And Jerry was like, they don’t know me. Like, they don’t know me. They don’t like they didn’t like what I gave him that day. And sometimes I didn’t do my job the best. So they didn’t like when I gave him that day. But they don’t know me. Like they I’m, I know, I know my value separate from this thing. So my value is not constantly in question with this thing. Yeah. So I think that’s the biggest thing. And then and when you live in that space, you’re able to be super gracious with people. Like, I don’t know how many times we’ve gotten, like, I’m like, you know, ultimately, they think I don’t love the Bible. And as soon as we’re able to clarify, like, I love the Bible, the Bible will never be the butt of the joke on the Bible’s funny. Never, ever, ever. It’s never like the joke is, isn’t this a dumb book? Like, I love this thing. It is a life changing thing for me. So I would never present it in this light. And once they get there, they’re everybody’s cool.

Mike Mage
Yeah. I think that’s, that’s super important. And something that I really love about kind of how you run, not just your account, but also, you know, you interact with the community is I feel like social media had this moment, like 1012 years ago, where it felt like this thing that was like, Oh, my gosh, this is amazing. Like, everybody has a voice. And, you know, wake, we can post things. And this is wonderful. And obviously, that has changed a lot in the past 10 to 12 years, you know, yeah, it sort of leads me into my next question is like, so you’re running like a very successful Instagram account. And more than that, like you’re getting people involved and engaged in like, I don’t want to try to lead the witness or anything. But like one thing that I really love about what you’re doing, and what you said a little bit ago is about how getting more and more people active is better than just, you know, you sitting there saying like, hey, look at what I’m doing. Look at what I’m doing. And for me like that sort of really intersects with what I try to do with my worship ministry at church is to try and get as many people involved as possible. Like, I can stand up there and lead six songs, you know, if for services or but like, what does that really accomplish outside of people just just creating a community of people like saying, watch me or whatever. So like, how else? Have you seen your Instagram account? Really intersect with what you do as like an online director at your church? Or just other things at church?

Unknown Speaker
Yeah, um it’s, it’s, there’s so many different things that come to mind there. But yeah, I think like, just really remembering that those things that we kind of covered a little bit earlier that like, this is a thing, the more that people feel like they can approach this thing, the more that people feel like they want to be a part of this thing. That there’s like, you’re allowing the space for them to like, like, want to play along with you like, yeah, definitely the, you know, the the term that we’re kind of skirting around that a lot of social media people uses engagement. And that’s sure. But I think that’s really interesting, because a lot of what you just mentioned, like the some of that traces back to this engagement chase, right? Like if I post something that 50% of the people love and 50% of the people hate, but 100% of the people feel passionate enough to say something about, like, the little dirty secret of social media is that’s the best content, like that’s what blows up. That’s why your feed looks the way it does. Because the danger, for example, of somebody creating like, comedy, is you might just make someone laugh. And that ultimately is not the best thing to do. But if someone’s just like, oh, that’s funny. That’s not going to like stoke the fires of a social media page. So yeah, it’s just it’s, it’s interesting. It’s about how do you nurture that community? How do you say things that you think are important or necessary, but you deliver it in a way that people like, are looking for that kind of thing? Like one thing I’ll say, is, I’ll back up just a little and say some of the heartbeat behind the Bible is funny is that there’s a couple like things I always trace it back to but one of them is, I think, when adults come to the Bible, like they would didn’t grow up in, in the Bible, they weren’t introduced to like, Jesus loves me, this I know, type of stuff. they they they came to the to have faith experience, like later in life. They’re like, hit by the Bible, like the Bible is like, thrown at them as the like, you shouldn’t do this. You shouldn’t do this. You got to stop doing this. And because this book tells us that that’s the things you should be doing. And it’s almost like they just missed that step of like, hey, Jesus loves you. And Jesus loves everybody. And like, let’s start with these like, these things that make kids love the Bible. Here’s these really cool stories, man. There’s like these incredible stories in here. So for me, one of the things about the Bible was funny. It’s like you take this book, which is like a big old book, not originally written in English and very confusing, it’s like, Where am I supposed to start? And like, it’s like we’re not, it’s all different books inside of the one book. And you just make it you give people this little onramp of like, Oh, that’s a funny little verse that that’s in the Bible. That’s an interesting thing. For, at times, I’ve said like, to me that my favorite part about a person is the funny things about that person. Like, there’s a funny thing about everybody, even the most like serious person, you know. And so like, that’s a great way to like, get people to engage or something. He’s like, given this little onramp, that feels good and feels like Oh, I like that. I want to keep doing that. Whereas, like, just at times, especially as the church we’ve led with, like, really tough, hard things. And then I think at times we’re shocked is like, people aren’t warm to that. And sometimes we tuck that under like, well, they’re hard truths, and yada, yada, yada. And I do think there’s a lot of value to that conversation. But I think in other times, we’re just not remembering that people don’t there. People are not as far along in this process as we’ve made them out to be. Why don’t we give more people like onramps to say, Oh, this is a cool way to step into reading my Bible. I’ve because this is an intimidating text to sort of dive into all alone. So with that sort of approachability, I would say if I had to boil it all down to one word, even more than engagement, just approachability. How does somebody like it’s great walk into this thing? And it should feel good when they do? Yeah.

Justin Price
Do you have any thoughts on how you’re how you’re kind of taking this experience of community management and content generation? And now, you know, just in the last six months, you have transitioned into a role as an online pastor? Yeah. How are you? How are you? What are you taking from this and applying to your role at your church, specifically, is in any kind of context that you can share like that, you know, our listeners can apply to their church, from a funny man who maybe they are not that funny. There might be some principles, or some thoughts that you’ve seen, that are really working well, with what you’re doing as an online pastor, which is cultivating community and, you know, nurturing in creating content?

Unknown Speaker
Yeah, um, I think the biggest thing for me that I feel like I’m, I’m really trying to transfer as often as possible is the like, applicability of stuff. So when you create content online, most people would really quickly be like, you know, like, there’s this really particular niche thing about my ceiling fan, in that when you wire it, these things, the wires, it’s the wires cross, and it’s the funniest thing. Isn’t that hilarious? No, because nobody has your ceiling fan. So nobody knows what you’re talking about. That’s not good content. And I think everyone would if if, if BuzzFeed came out with like, 10 memes based on the ceiling fan from Dan’s office, we’d be like, what are you doing? BuzzFeed? Nobody cares. Why you’re talking about that. Unfortunately, I think sometimes we forget that piece. And we say like, this has to matter to a lot of people. And this has to like, you have to give it to them in a way that they’re like, Oh, yeah, that’s interesting to me. And that does affect me in some way. And not get so buried in like, particular language and things that you’re like, nobody knows nobody outside of your church knows what you’re talking about right now. Because I think ultimately, like, that’s the big thing is like, we’ve got to continue to figure out ways to reach our communities and to share this incredible message like the gospel and the life changing impact that it can have. And the just all of this that we have, how do we just continue to show people how much they need it in their situation? show people how they’ve been looking for it. I love there’s a text that talks about Paul walking into with all these gods from these people. Forget where he is, for any of you remember, feel free to jump in, but

Mike Mage
He’s in He’s in Greece,

Anthony Russo
Greece smart.

Mike Mage
It’s at Mars Hill? I think.

Anthony Russo
So. And then he approaches like the unknown God, the temporary unknown God, right. It’s this brilliant, like, I’m going to talk to you in language that you know and understand, and that you already mean something to you. And then I’m going to talk about this thing that’s like incredible and life changing and important.

Mike Mage
That’s really good.

Anthony Russo
But if we don’t take that step and say, like, let me use the language let me use the imagery. I mean, Jesus, his stories are all agrarian like, for us today. It does not mean very much like right. Like I love picturing the idea of today, Jesus, like all these crowds gathered in Jesus telling the story of like, so a guy threw some seeds out, some of them took some of them. Thank you guys for coming. We’ll see you next week. Like we would, it would just be like, it doesn’t hit the same way. And obviously we have the we have the blessing of people interpreting and all kinds of great things that we have today. But this is language for them at their time. They didn’t need anything else to understand the imagery that was being used. I love stuff like that and The thing I just want to continue to say like where can we step into situations, right? Like, where can we offer this good news in the way that people are like, Oh, man, I’d been looking for that. And there it is.

Justin Price
I love that philosophy. Is there any? Is there any tangible things that you guys have started to do? Yeah, I mean, I know that you’re still still easing into the role. And it’s, it’s even, maybe it looks a little different for the church. But I’m kind of curious, is there anything that you guys have any, like practical things that you’ve started to do? Are you chipping away at actually reaching the community? Like reaching, you know, your local city? Yeah. Are you still just kind of getting in there? getting comfortable before you do anything kind of crazy?

Anthony Russo
Well, I hope I hope we’re, I hope we’re doing something good. But the one thing that has been big for me early was, I think we all were faced with a question of like, what does an online community do? Like even as much as like when it came to worship? We weren’t gathering for worship? Are they singing along at home, we used to be able to have some sort of gauge they were singing, they’re raising their hands or doing something. Now, what can they do? And I think that that’s a good question to continue asking, and asking, like, what’s a good like, reasonable thing to ask him to do? So that’s something we’ve done is one of them. First thing is like super low stakes. So here’s where it’ll get like real tactile and granular so on our, on our, the online service that we were doing, and I host every week, it was just like, give them like a little, a little easy, low cost engagement question. At first. It’s, it’s just like, instead of just saying, hey, jump in the chat and say, Hello, well, you’re putting a lot of onus on them, like they have to now maybe I’m an introvert and I don’t run a just jump in and say, like, there’s someone in that audience who’s gonna put Hi, no, I don’t like that, hey, now we do this. But if you’re like later, like last week, the bucks and the lightning and the raise we’re all playing on the same day, so we’re like, shout out one of the Tampa Bay teams go Bucs go raise cobalt, set up very, like clear boundaries. Here’s how you play this game. There’s three options, pick one, drop it in the chat. Now you’ve created this, like really low level, like, Oh, I can do that. I can engage in those in that. So what you’ve done is like, it seems really trivial, right? A bunch of people say no molds. But in reality, somebody engaged in a worship service like, right, somebody that maybe hadn’t engaged in a worship service before. And if you go as low as you can, that barrier of entry, the better. I feel like, this applies to so many church levels. We’re always like, Man mission. And the first time we talked about missions is like, oh, here’s so and so in Africa, who lives here, translating a Bible different language? Well, like, pee in your church is like, well, Michigan? Me? I can’t do that. That seems like a lot of stuff.

Justin Price
We’re like, no offense. P no offense T. offense at all. Yeah. Right. It’s so good, man

Mike Mage
It’s great.

Justin Price
So good. I, you know, the first thought I had when I was thinking about online community was, we were working with this ministry that put up a prayer wall. And it was like, confess your deepest, darkest sins on our prayer.

Mike Mage
What’s so weird?

Justin Price
I just think like, you know, there’s so many times when we’re just like, well, we want to jump we want to use technology to jump to the the final thing we want, which is I think, there’s so much value in obviously, it’s scriptural for us to confess our sins to one another. And so it’s great that they want that I don’t there’s nothing wrong with with wanting that. But man, I that’s a that’s a really profound thought, Anthony. And I hope that our listeners will take this to heart. Because you are funny, but that’s a really serious thought that the best thing you might be able to do for your online community is lower the freaking bar.

Mike Mage
Yeah, that’s great.

Justin Price
Um, it’s tough asking so much of somebody who has just stepped into your front door. You know, if you were coming to my house, I would like I would want to offer you the best drink. I had, like, Oh, can I use my best glass? And can I, you know, if I have something else I can look, what do you what would you like, I would be asking you, you know, I would want to serve you. And I would want to you to be able to sit down in the best view and the best seat in my house and we would hang out and now would want to put on music that you would like and makes you feel super comfortable. And yet for some reason. We feel like on this online experience with the churches like how fast can we get them to donate?

Mike Mage
If you can you guys that’s the reason. Yep.

Anthony Russo
Or just put yourself Yeah, it’s the hard job of putting yourself in their seat. Even the example you just use, which I think is so great. What if you know someone was like, Hey, I like Justin and Justin for a while I want to cover justice. And then they were like, cool. Can you come every week? At the same time? here for dinner with me? And you’re like,

Justin Price
Also, do you have any friends? Like, just just 10 percent of your income?

Anthony Russo
Also do Yeah, that’s all and never. I believe in this thing. But just hear how you’re saying it and hear that, that somebody’s gonna be like, Oh, man, I don’t know. I mean, I just the one time I thought I’d come over for dinner, ready to commit to like, every week, my life yet?

Justin Price
Were you thinking about that ahead of time that that was like an actual thing, like a principle?

Unknown Speaker
Dude, I, I just can’t even I’m going to talk for just a second. I’m sorry if you guys have to run. But like Justin, the stuff that just like I’ve learned from working with you and talking with you and stuff, like I just feel like it is just so missing from church conversations and like, like this stuff. So the the terms that we would use it at Vers is like, you would walk through this discovery, and you would get these companies to a place where spending $180,000 made sense to them. And for me, I just feel like being back in the church world, having the lens having the tools, having the language I got for my time at Vers is you’re just like, you guys are like, you’re starting with everyone walks in the door, and you hand them an unsigned contract for $180,000. And like, what do you guys think? What do you guys think? What are yours? And some, some people sign it. And they’re like, great, isn’t that great? And but if any more people like that, there’s a way to do this. That is like moving people there. And they feel like they because the thing about the way that Vers we do things versus it’s like, when they got to the scene, the number they were like, that makes sense. I know what I’m getting with that. I know why that number is the way it is. I know. I know all these things. So that makes sense that asked makes sense. And so I just feel like so many times you bring up these different topics, and they’re like to get this great idea for 74 week discipleship program got to be there every week. And they get to be cool. We’ll see how many people do it and it’s like, no one’s gonna sign up for it. I mean, you’re welcome to do it. That that’s I feel like the time like, dude, you can ask you can Yeah, no one’s gonna say Just don’t be sad. We’re no inside. his fans, you didn’t ask you didn’t think what did they want? What did they need? How do I connect them to this through language? They know you asked for what you wanted? And what would be awesome. If you got and you go fishing that way. And like it’s Yeah, it’s it’s really, it’s going to be a conversation churches got to keep having because more and more they’re going to interact with people that have no idea what they’re talking about, like, we talked about the Bible and faith and we assume there’s a faith background and there’s more and more. There’s not going to be so we’re gonna have to be able to talk about this better and explain why do you meet Sunday mornings? What do you guys do it on Sunday morning, like, the cultural familiarity with the whole idea is gone. And the sooner we get around that the more we realize like I have to be ease back into this thing. I can’t just keep doing

Mike Mage
Well, this has been this has been incredible. For real. I mean, this is you know what, Anthony, you’re actually very funny.

Anthony Russo
With your words, dun

Justin Price
Anthony, do you ever get put this is my last question. So do you ever get put it on the spot to just be like, hey, funny, man. Tell me a joke.

Anthony Russo
Yeah, all the time. I’ve gone through like a gamut of responses to like I would say like, Why don’t have a microphone, so I can’t tell you jokes. I’m gonna get I’m gonna botch this quote, but somebody one of the improv Olympic people in Chicago I believe was the one that was like every time they got said they got asked that question. They said belly buddy. Word to me belly. Funny. That’s pretty funny. I’m gonna say belly button

Mike Mage
Have you ever seen is a funny word? This tiny follow up? Have you ever like actually gone with it? You know? And then you told a joke or whatever. And someone just went like, That’s not funny.

Anthony Russo
And that’s exactly that’s exactly why like,

Mike Mage
yeah, cuz that’s what what happened?

Anthony Russo
What am I gonna deliver you in this moment? is so funny. That, like, it’s very, it’s very weird. It’s very, I don’t know. I don’t know if there’s a music equivalent for that Mike. Like, I don’t imagine that you’re just ever walking out and someone’s like, Oh, you can sing Sing me a song right now.

Mike Mage
So that guy? Well, very cool. Well, Anthony, Where can the healthy church growth people? Where can they find you on the internet outside of the Bible is funny, or is that the only place you want to put people to

Unknown Speaker
Yeah, that’s the best place. I add. The Bible is Funny. And the podcast is on all major platform places. And you can just search the Bible is Funny. It’s called the Bible. It’s funny podcasts because I don’t like naming things more than once.

Justin Price
The word on the street is though that there is actually something else that people can get from you sometime in the future. There is this. Are these rumors true?

Unknown Speaker
It is true. I haven’t talked about this. I haven’t talked about this anywhere. So oh my gosh, this is a breaking this is a news break. But I am working on a book by was funny book. So Wow. That’s been a new adventure series. A lot of questions running through my head right now

Justin Price
Is this a book where you print out your Instagram? and publish it? That’s it.

Anthony Russo
That’s it? No, it will be alien. It will be like a it’ll be like a proper book. I don’t know. I don’t know. I this is weird, guys. I don’t know what I’m allowed to say about things and not say about things.

Justin Price
And so this is so under wraps. Right now.

Anthony Russo
I don’t I probably don’t sound super excited. But it is really an unbelievable opportunity. I’m like crazy grateful for it. And it’s been. It’s been really, really fun to work on.

Justin Price
Anthony, it’s it’s super, super exciting. And I know you can’t tell us any more details. But we’ll keep probing about them. I’m just kidding. We will we will stay and listening and tuned. Maybe we can even have you back when you can tell us more about the funny. The funny book that you’re writing about the Bible is funny or not writing about the Bible is funny, whatever it may or may not be. Exactly. But that’s dude. Honestly, congrats, man. That’s I’m so stoked for you and, and excited. Can’t wait to see what the next chapter looks like. And also really just excited to see to how how the online community, you know, goes you you’re working at a great church with a great staff and a great community and so kind of kind of just excited to see how you develop that position there.

Mike Mage
Yeah, it’s awesome, man. Thanks so much for coming on.

Anthony Russo
Thank you guys so much. I love what you guys are doing here with healthy church growth. I’ve been following along longtime listener first time caller. Thanks so much for having me/

Mike Mage
Absolutely. Dude is incredible. Really, really good.

Justin Price
I know we we dragged on some of the like, really getting into the details of the Bible is Funny like that. We we kept probing into that. But man, you really do free to drop the bomb at the end there. Anthony. That was awesome.

Mike Mage
Lay that a very good play. Good.

Anthony Russo
Well, thank you.

Justin Price
Were you prepared for that? Or did you was that off the cuff?

Healthy Chuch Growth – Episode 18 – Vince DiGuglielmo

Crisis Communication in the Church

Is your church leadership team prepared to handle communication during a crisis? In this NEW episode of the Healthy Church Growth podcast, we have Vince DiGuglielmo  from Vers Creative. Vince is a social media strategist responsible for curating one of the country’s most engaging Division I social media accounts. He’ll talk about three big steps vital to a crisis communication plan, and how to lead without all of the answers. 

On Instagram: @kiptharipper, @vers_creative


Transcriptions:

Mike Mage
Welcome to the healthy church growth podcast.

Welcome to the healthy church growth Podcast. I am one of your hosts Mike and it is so awesome that you are joining us here for this episode. And real quick before we get started, I just want to say thank you so much for joining us over these, you know, however many dozen and a half or so that we’ve done so far. It’s just been really cool to be able to have these conversations with people and really be able to put them out there and have you all our audience engaged with them as well. And just, you know, continue to rate continue to share, continue to engage with us through social media. We absolutely love it. Joining me today on this podcast, as always is my co host Justin, how’s it going? It’s going great, Mike. It’s good to be co hosting with you.

Justin Price
Every single time is the highlight of my week. So thanks for having me back.

Mike Mage
Oh, you’re welcome. Justin, I, we have Vince de Guillermo back with us for our second time. And it’s just, he’s just a real joy to have on talking. All things, social media, you know, it has been a joy for us. But really, you know, as we were looking at the feedback, engagement, and comments from listeners, he’s got a lot of fans out there. There was quite a few people saying, hey, Vince, his podcast was really valuable. really loved it. Can we hear more from Vince? There was a there was a slow clap at one point I had

Justin Price
this a lot, a lot of excitement around what Vince had to say about social media. You know, anybody who changes a D one school mascot, you know, yeah, they will Look around a little bit more cloud, right? Rest of Us. Absolutely. Yeah. You know, as we said, Hey, we got to bring him back, obviously, as we said before, you know, one of the greatest guys, he just made of gold. And today, you know, our conversation with him. He came kind of prepared, he felt like there was a ton of opportunity for us to talk about crisis, conversation and communication inside of crisis. And I think we’ve all felt unprepared in this season of how to handle it, we, you know, most people didn’t have a crisis plan. You know, and most the time when crisis comes, we’re not really ready for it, right on a communication level, you know, I mean, it’s like, it’s good enough if we have a defibrillator, in the lobby. And, and we know where all the fire exits are exactly. Like that’s a good step for a lot of us, you know, with with 1000 other roles that were responsible for. So, you know, to be thinking down the lines of munication and how important it is to be ready for crisis. He gave us some really good practical tips today. So, right if you are, you know, thinking like man, I did some things right, maybe I did some things wrong in the last few months with some of the crisis’s your church has been going through and the needs that they have had with communications. Today is gonna bring up a nice punch.

Mike Mage
Well, without further ado, let’s let’s jump into the interview. Before we jump into today’s podcast, I wanted to let you all know about a limited time offer for church leaders. This podcast is supported and produced by verse creative a full service strategic creative agency that works with a lot of large nonprofit and for profit organizations. We know that you are facing a new reality and see a huge opportunity to grow your local church. In the past the majority of churches have understandably utilized whoever was eager to help with their social media and website presence. This may Been a volunteer with a good eye for photography, or a person that just seemed to know more about the TIC tocs in the senior pastor pre COVID-19. This may have been passable. But fast forward to the present in your churches digital presence is the front door, you need help from a team with years of experience building a strategic online presence for brands, you need a guide that will help keep your attendees engaged and to reach new people through the heightened noise online. So, verse wanted to offer up a free one hour strategy session to help you and your church leadership team get results. Verse also offers a full strategic roadmap service at a discounted rate for churches. That is the same roadmap process that they would take a fortune 500 companies through. So if you just like some help, they would absolutely love to help you versus always felt called to support churches in any way that they can. That’s why they felt called to start this podcast with me. The Healthy church growth broadcast network. And if you’d like to take advantage of that free strategy session, shoot me an email at get at verse creative.com. That’s get at verse creative.com. There are no hidden charges. This is just to help you and your team with the mission God has called you and your church to, again that get at the ers creative.com. And just let them know you heard this offer through the healthy church growth podcast. Welcome to the healthy church growth podcast. We’re so glad that you’re joined us. We actually have our very first return guest, and I’m gonna try I haven’t pronounced Vince’s name since we had him last on and I’m gonna try it here right now. We have Vince de Guillermo, did I do it right? Oh, that was good. Did it not get it though?

Vince DiGuglielmo
You’re really close. You’re like right there.

90%

Mike Mage
Okay, maybe the next time we have you on it’ll actually be 100%. How’s that sound?

Vince DiGuglielmo
Let’s Oh,

Justin Price
I would have I would have given you 100

Yeah.I bet I’ve been playing around for 10 years.

Mike Mage
Yeah. Well, so that actually brings up a really good thing. Justin, you’ve actually known Vince a long time. And we were talking about this a little bit before we started recording but you actually have some like wonderful stories of your time in the past. with you and Vince and I’d love if you you sent a really good thing in our slack line that Vince is batting above 500. In what I can remember what you said met youth trips to the hospital or something. Yeah, the his average of hospital trips per youth trip he’s adding about

Justin Price
two mentors credit though. He he had senior year without me and I think he probably did senior year with Justin No hospital trips. I mean, so it could be with only sixth grade to 11th grade.

Mike Mage
Yeah. Well, I would love, you know, just because it may be just one of those stories because you’ve, you’ve piqued my interest so much.

Justin Price
And you know, Vince really tells it the best, but all I know is my wife is a nurse and we were youth pastors, and Vince was in our student ministry. Definitely, if he can’t tell from the first podcast we did with Vince that he was a standout student. A straight up rock star even back in middle school, and he had the long hair to go with it. Yeah. And and this basically, he, he just would find a way of ending up in the hospital. And I’m not a big hospital guy, but my wife would always say that I think they actually bonded quite a bit you know, and she’s got a special place for events in their heart because of all their hospital time together and then I you know, that One thing that you brought up that I thought was definitely the most funny, but also the scariest, which also kind of made it somewhat funny. was a Gatorade bottle and you tell it really well, I’d love to hear. Yeah, your recollection.

Mike Mage
Yeah, go for it.

Vince DiGuglielmo
Yeah, absolutely. You know, guys, I love reliving childhood trauma. So this is gonna be great. It’s gonna be really good for me. So, I’m in Justin’s youth group, we are on a cry trip, which is Christ in youth. We’re on a cry trip and we’re up in these college dorms. So every day we cry, you have your morning chapel, and then you have like the evening chapel, and there’s free time in the middle. So during the free time, you know, most kids take a nap some you know, mess around or walk around the campus, whatever they want to do. We had two baseball players in the group, and they thought it was gonna be fun to you know, in the hallway, take this Gatorade bottle, fill it maybe a fourth with water and just whip it as hard as they can at each other and like play dodgeball, essentially. And these two are probably about 25 feet apart. Yeah. And and their rooms in between. And meanwhile, I’m taking a nap. And I wake up from my nap. I’m a little groggy. I walk out into the hall, and bam, I get hit in the head with a Gatorade bottle. From maybe this is like point blank range. This is like maybe five feet essentially at most. Yeah. And my head, it really hurts. So I grabbed my head, I grabbed my head with both hands and I remember laying down and I’m on the ground and then the pain subsides. I’m like, Alright, I’m okay. I’m okay. Everybody’s, you know, over top of me, like looking down. You know, are you alright? Are you alright? So I take my hands off my head and I I look and there’s just this circle of blood and I just freaked out. Of course. I think They get I think at this point, you know, I’m like 14 or 15. Yeah. And I just start, you know, crying and screaming and like I’m putting bloody handprints all over the walls like just like freaking out. Luckily, there was also a doctor that was a chaperone on the trip and I had this long gnarly hair. You know, I was a skateboard kid. I love metal music. I rock the long hair. So I took my hair and instead of going in stitches, we didn’t actually have to go to the hospital. He tied my hair together into stitches. And wow, yeah, it just healed that way. So way. Yeah, the big downside was I was still covered in blood and I smelled disgusting. Cuz blood does not smell nice. But I was fine. I went the rest of the trip. I was absolutely fine. And it’s so funny. You know, I’m bald. Now. I shaved my head. And I still have the crescent scar. I didn’t Yours until I started shaving my head and I have this big Crescent scar. So I owe that all to Yeah, I owe it all to cry. I owe it to fun youth group times in baseball.

Mike Mage
So fun, so fun.

Justin Price
You You did a great job, I think of always pushing the limits or finding yourself in the middle of others.

Vince DiGuglielmo
limits. That’s more accurate. I don’t think I ever push the limits.

Justin Price
No.

But I think that’s what I love about you. You’re always you’re always in whatever is going on. You are in it. 100%. And I think that you know where we’re at with social media. We talked about getting into a conversation today that was more practical after talking more conceptual. You know, you were talking to Mike and I about a couple of things that were really relevant, I think for churches today. And I was thinking about it and it’s like, man, there’s just been no trust. training for this at all. And so when we look at a group of people running churches, it’s hard to find people doing it really well. And you really can’t blame anybody, because it’s like, everybody’s just doing the best that they can with a whole lot of change. And so I thought, you know, you put together some things and some ideas that that will help, I think, with a lot of the crisis communication. And I’d love for you to kind of unpack that a little bit. kind of funny for us to talk about you. Your hospital trips and crisis’s. You’ve always handled crisis is really well and that was the one time I remember you being really scared. And then afterwards you remember being really upset that your favorite shirt got the blue one got ruined with blood.

Remember that I remember Yeah, it was her shirt.

Vince DiGuglielmo
It was

Steve Irwin. I had I had a seat.

He was like he was like off to the side like leaning on the side of the shirt. It was like a really weird design. But it was like Crocodile Hunter and it was a bright white shirt. It was ruined. Yeah. So we, I remember, we hung it outside the window. Sorry, I’m derailing this again. But I hung out the window and flew it like a flag. And I think we were asked to take it down because it was a bloody shirt.

Justin Price
Yeah. I didn’t send the message that the youth camp wanted.

Mike Mage
I just real quick before we move on to a very important topic and crisis communication. I do love the only thing I really learned from that whole story is that blood doesn’t smell good. That’s something I never really know. So that’s good to know. Moving forward. Anyways, that’s a nice segue. Perfect. Yeah. Well, yeah. Vince, why don’t you talk to us a little bit about sort of what churches can do is like things sort of changed so much over the course of not even just weeks, but days, you know?

Vince DiGuglielmo
Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. I mean, the reason I wanted to talk about this is just because, you know, obviously, there’s A lot going on in the world. It depends where you live. It varies state by state, it varies city by city. You know, maybe if you’re out in the country, you’re not closing, there’s not as much social interaction or opportunities for virus to spread. If you’re in a big city, it could really change week by week. And, you know, churches are being put in this really unique position of having to communicate to hundreds of members, week by week, are we open? Are we closed? Are we virtual? Are we partly open with social distancing? So you know, my background, if you didn’t hear the last episode, my background is at the university level. And one of the things that we went through was crisis communication. And there were several times that we had to put that into action, whether it was you know, snow days or threats of violence on campus, or just big events happening. You know, that each of those things had to be communicated clearly. I don’t think the church has that same level of preparation as a lot of corporate entities do. But the church has also you have a unique situation. So I want to talk through some of these things that are very practical that you can do whether you’re a pastor, whether you’re managing media at the church, whether that’s social media or video, I think it’s really important for everyone to be on the same page about crisis communication and what the plan is, right? So I kind of have three big steps here. And you know, stop me we can we can talk through any of these or you know, ask questions, whatever you like. But I have three big steps here that I think are pretty vital to the crisis communication plan. Before you unveil pretty much any information. I would say, you know, the first step is to pick a position and stick to it. So pick a position stick to it. You want to normalize that language across your entire team. That’s, that’s the most important thing is having one unified message because you don’t want to be saying you don’t want to go online and say, we’re going to be holding church in masks or rich rip, sorry, excuse me, masks are required. And then someone else is posting on social media and says, we’ll be following the CDC guidelines, because you just said two different things. And what are those two things mean? Does that mean your social distancing as well? Does that mean you are wearing masks? Like only within the sanctuary or within the lobby? You know, so what? You really need to set clear communication and make sure that everyone who’s sharing information is on the same page.

Justin Price
What about when your pastor or your elder board or your deacons changes it on you? I mean, how do you how can you help defend this? Take one I don’t think that most, most of our creatives that are listening to this are feeling really wishy washy about it. How can any Any tips for how to help communicate the importance of sticking to it? I feel like I don’t think people are just like, let’s try this and say this, but I don’t think anybody ever goes out trying to be confusing.

Vince DiGuglielmo
Yeah, I mean, I that’s just something that you have to formulate in the planning stage. You know, I would say, and this, this kind of ties into what was going to be my third point, but essentially just, you know, making a schedule of when you’re going to release new information or when you’re going to update the information available. So, you know, maybe this is a weekly thing. Maybe COVID is really bad in your city. Maybe it’s a weekly thing where you have to make these decisions, or you’re hearing people are getting sick, and you have to call, you know, a weekly meeting and say, all right, what are we doing this week? Let’s all get on the same page. Maybe it’s a quick 30 minute thing, but you know, what does that look like? You decide what you’re going to do? And then you decide the language around it, and then you decide how you’re rolling out the language. So if that’s the Really the best way I can imagine you would avoid those conflicting messages, and just making sure that everyone is on board that has some position of power, you know? So if you’re a person that people would look to and say, Hey, what’s going on with church this week? You should be part of the plan.

Mike Mage
Right? What’s the second point didn’t?

Vince DiGuglielmo
Yeah, so the second point that this is where you’re actually rolling out the information. So essentially, you want to repeat this message until everyone’s seen it so much that they’re rolling their eyes and going, Oh, yeah, I heard that churches and this week, right, you know, or Oh, yeah, I already know this. We want the message to be 100% saturated. So that means putting it on every platform, you’re rolling out on out on social, you’re rolling it out through email, you’re talking about it in church, if that’s, you know, a possible platform for you just any way that you can get the message out or putting it in a in a paper format. Just making sure that it has full saturation. Yeah. And this is really where the brunt of the work is.

Mike Mage
Yeah. So I have seen a couple of churches do the communication of, you know what they’re doing when they come back. And it’s almost feels like they are trying to be too cute with it or like too creative with it. And like, to me, it almost feels like this is the kind of stuff that you probably shouldn’t complicate with creativity. You know what I mean? Like, but I don’t know, like, what, what are your thoughts on that? Like, is this something that should be like pretty cut and dry? Because it is pretty serious? Or, you know, is it okay with churches like trying to, I don’t know, communicate it in several different ways. But to me that might like get the lines crossed.

Vince DiGuglielmo
Yeah. I mean, from where I stand, I think one of the most important things is having it just in writing you No, I think having a video message is great. And having more creative approaches can be good to get people to actually see the content. Because you know, as we covered in our last social media talk, it’s really hard for people to see your content in the first place. So video, video is always helpful. But say, you know, you have a list of guidelines, write those out in the copy, you know, have the message clear, make it available for everyone to find easily you want it is easy to understand and find as possible. So, and then once you roll it out, you know, that’s where this is where I see a lot of the mistakes happening. You know, you roll out your crisis communication plan, you’re saying this is what we’re doing for church this week. And then I’ve seen church accounts kind of wash their hands of it and say, Alright, we’re done. But that’s this is really the big part because you need to be monitoring the comments, especially if you’re big church, because I, you know, I, there’s a church of 5000 right down the road, and I follow them on social media and, you know, keep tabs on what they’re doing. And they posted, they posted their update and didn’t reply to any comments, they had about 75 comments, some supporting their decision to close for the remainder of the summer, some praising it, or emphasize some opposing it rather. So they had both sides, and some asking questions, you know, asking for more details. And they weren’t answering any of the questions. They weren’t commenting on any of the support or the opposition, which I think is really important. You want to know or you want to establish that you’re there for people. You know, it can be really tough when people are upset about what your decision is. But you need to empathize with them and say, Hey, we understand that we’re in condition Seeing you. But we believe this is our best course of action and we want to keep everyone safe. And and then a lot of times what will happen is there might be a little bit of a back and forth. And the best thing to do in that situation is to move the conversation to a direct message. When when there are emotions involved, people can get really volatile, you know, even within the church, and it can get kind of nasty

Mike Mage
socially, you know, in the church.

Vince DiGuglielmo
Right. So, you know, bringing it into a direct message is huge, because there you can have a much more candid conversation, you can be more personal and you can set up a future meeting time if necessary. You know, this is a sensitive thing and you don’t want you don’t want just a simple update message to result in members leaving the church right. Yeah, right. So I think being as personal as possible, but doing that in private because if you do that right in the comments, you know, you have the opportunity for people to jump on and dogpile. And you know, You’re one person. Sure, or at best, you have a small team, but you’re talking about sending a message to 100. So it can get out of hand. Yeah,

Mike Mage
well, and I think too, like, it’s it’s sort of a guess we did talk about it last, last podcast with events. And then we did talk about a little bit before we hopped on here. But it really like if your strategy is to build community and really connect with people. All of this makes sense. You know, like, it’s it, you are trying to be as personal as possible in like a pretty impersonal world. But if your strategy, again, is to get to know people and build that community, taking these things offline and turn it into a direct message, and really, you’re trying to communicate that you’re doing this to care out of care for people, it makes a lot of sense.

Vince DiGuglielmo
Yeah, and I don’t think we can ignore the fact that this is such a politicized issue with just where we are in the whole process. Sure. It gets very politicised, so depending on, you know what your stances or what you plan to do with church this week or this month, people can get really emotional and really hurt feelings over things. And I think it’s important to establish that link in just saying, Hey, we understand where you’re coming from. Let’s let’s talk about it. Let’s set up a time to talk about it if necessary, but let’s at least have a quick chat. Sure. So that can work wonders and kind of restoring those hurt feelings. Yeah,

Mike Mage
absolutely.

Vince DiGuglielmo
So and then lastly, the biggest thing that you can do after that is just communicating when more information will be available. You know, when people know when to look for updates, they won’t be asking, when’s the next update? Yeah. You know, when, when you just put out there, hey, we’ll be releasing more information. Every Monday, we’ll give an update or you know, maybe it’s not a weekly schedule. But, you know, you could always say, Hey, we don’t know the full details right now. We’ll be updating you. You know, to Tomorrow night, and then people know that tomorrow night and you don’t get a million comments, and that just establishes the fact that you’ll be back. And you’ll be available and present. For further communication. I think one thing people are really afraid of doing on social media, or in any sort of corporate communication is just saying, Hey, we don’t know at the moment. And I think that that’s okay to do. You can say, Hey, we don’t have all of the information currently, or we haven’t made a decision on this yet. We’re weighing our options. We’re, we’re going to have a decision by this time. And you can look forward to that. Without that sense of closure. That’s where it can get really irritating and where you can look very amateur, in not communicating with people correctly. And additionally, I would say something that’s really smart to do is, you know, just having a point person that will be responding to them. Formal requests for information, you know, depending on what kind of church you are, you may have media requests that might be a thing. You will of course want to point person for that but you you want a point person to be setting up those conversations with people. And of course, the point person to be doing your social media, you probably have one already, but you know, it’s always just good to establish those roles and formalize them.

Mike Mage
I think with your first your first point and just pick a position and stick to it. I feel like you could add that to all of them. And it’s really just like this in time of crisis. Like your community, your congregation needs some sort of stability like they need you to stick to something. And even if it’s even if it’s you, you’re sticking to like saying like, we kind of don’t know what’s going on right now like that is better than saying nothing at all or being really wishy washy or just Kind of like, yeah, we’ll update you and we have something for you. And like, I don’t know if, because like, you could do that either every day or like, once every two months, you know, like, it just depends on what something means to somebody, you know. So I think that’s really that’s it, you’re increasing stability and your communication is super important.

Vince DiGuglielmo
Which, you know, at this time in life, I think any sort of stability is really nice. Yeah, you know, people, people need that. And people want that. And I think a lot of churches are providing great resources for people to connect outside of the typical church service, whether that’s smaller home communities, doing just the online services, a lot of these things are really great. And they just they aren’t fully supported by an established communication plan. So I mean, I know this is a dry topic. I know it’s not something that you really get excited about talking about, but it’s, it is seriously something that can Establish a lot of trust between the church and the church community. Right? It’s, it’s something that can can have a really positive impact is just forming a communication plan around crisis communication. And of course, it’s not just COVID it could be, you know, this is good for any future event that could possibly happen is just having this sort of network in place that you can work through, and then it’s not, you know, no one’s panicking. No one’s freaking out about telling people you know exactly what to do.

Mike Mage
So let’s say you develop let’s say you, you are the point person, whoever, you know, you are some a person who works at a church. They decided to take on, like, I’ll run our social media accounts or whatever, you know, like our church, we have 300 people in our congregation. And you know, sure, I’ll run them. How does that person get other people on staff on board with this is this Like, do any requests or you know, any sort of communication, it doesn’t just have to come from this person, or is it better to sort of give people language to say, you know, does that make sense?

Vince DiGuglielmo
Yeah, I think it’s great to give people language to say, I think, you know, that that’s part of the pre planning step is just, you know, normalizing the language across the entire team. So, you know, in that event that someone approaches, you know, because people are going to approach who they’re most most comfortable with, or who they relate to the most. So making sure that everyone on the team is on the same page and can provide the same wording, which I think is pretty important, or at least be able to provide an explanation. Yeah, you’re definitely going to want to do that because right? People tend not to all circulate through the same channel. Sure.

Mike Mage
Well, they just interpret things weirdly, because even you just saying like CDC guidelines is a very different thing than saying we’re gonna wear masks, you know, like, yeah, those mean very different things. Yeah. And, and then even just like writing something down having it written, written, and like, at least someone could point someone to something on the website to say here if you really want to know, like, it’s all written down. This is what we’re doing. Like, that’s like the simplest thing that you could do. But it’s so necessary and you have to do you know,

Vince DiGuglielmo
yeah, 100% and I mean, I wish you know, I My only regret here is that we could have talked about this sooner because I know you know, just seeing all the mistakes that have been made, and all the churches that are hurting from this. I you know, I hope that this conversation does help moving forward.

Justin Price
I was hoping that Vince would share with us three instances of what not to do. So take your year, three things to do. Give us like three little quick lightning round styles of what not to do. Kind of If somebody is listening, just to kind of sum it up

yesterday, okay, switch it up. What do you got?

Vince DiGuglielmo
All right one, softening your position. Even if you don’t change it, I think, you know, people like me, I tend to be a little more like empathetic. I always want to play to the audience I’m talking to Yeah. So that’s what you don’t want to do. Don’t play to your audience. You have your message, you have your language, stick to it. Don’t soften your position, to responding to comments, respond to comments, that’s, you know, not responding to them is the mistake. Just go and do it. So if they’re in support, tell them thank you for understanding. If they’re against you say we’re sorry, this is inconvenient for you. But here’s but here’s why. Right? Third, I would just say, you know, be be very clear in when your updates will be, you know, don’t say hey, we’re getting more More information will be available. Yeah, give give as much as you can more of information will be available tonight. Yeah, or tomorrow afternoon. So yeah.

Because, you know, the more vague you are, the more uncertainty total are feeling.

Mike Mage
Well, the softening your position is something people, especially in the church world, do all the time on everything. So like having an established confident position with reasoning behind it is important for every aspect of life. But especially when it comes to a crisis and a pandemic, you know, that makes a lot of sense. So well, cool. I mean, this is, this is awesome. This is like a hitch in the teeth. Sort of episode.

Yeah, well in with how many churches are having to live into social media? So much more I would imagine Vince will probably have you on again at some point.

Vince DiGuglielmo
Well Hey, thank you guys so much I love coming on. I love talking about communication, social media, all of these things this is it’s fascinating to me and the fact that you know, you’re able to help so many church creatives across the country. I think that’s super cool. Very important. So I’m happy to be a part of that. Awesome.

Mike Mage
Well, man, I absolutely love having Vince on. Just like you said, Justin. I mean, he is absolutely making cold that guy is so awesome.

Justin Price
dropping bombs of knowledge,

Mike Mage
dropping bombs, in really like one of the things that I absolutely love about him is his commitment to community. And in doing so, there is a commitment to communicate consistently, and that’s a lot of seeds there. But, but I think, obviously in a, in a crisis, you absolutely need that even if it’s a commitment to communicate, I don’t know, you know, every day or so every other day or whenever you have set your schedule, it is so important. When you are leading a community of people to be able to consistently communicate something for them.

Justin Price
It’s a great reminder that we don’t have to have the answers, but we do have to communicate and I think if you can take away being consistent and the understanding that you’ve got to force yourself to, to talk to your audience about the things that are happening, don’t ignore it, don’t pander to them. Just talk to them about where you’re at and over communicate at this point. We cannot over communicate. In fact, if I think that at a certain point, if it feels like you’re sick and tired of saying if you think everybody is rolling their eyes and saying We get it, then you’ve probably just started to communicate what you actually wanted to say. So you can’t over communicate. And you’ve got to be consistent. Because right now, you might only get one chance, you might say something 10 times, but you might only get your congregation to hear at once. Yeah, they may, they may only see one post, they only may may go to your website one time. And then if it’s unclear, and there’s conflicting stuff, there, they’re just we just don’t have the bandwidth or the capacity to try to screw around with it right now.

Mike Mage
Well, and I feel like the biggest problems that I have in my ministry in my career, whatever is assuming that other people know what’s going on, and every every time I get in trouble, it’s because I’ve assumed something that people can either just read my mind or, you know, know all the information that I know. And that’s just that’s simply not the case. And so also speaking of I am not going to assume, or we’re not going to assume that you are subscribed to this channel and would absolutely love for you to do. So if you get it, yeah, thank you. If you get a chance, make sure to subscribe to wherever you get your podcasts, follow us on Spotify. Subscribe to us on iTunes, Apple podcasts, and share this podcast with your ministry, with your creative team with your friends, or even your enemies Go for it. And we would love for as many people to be able to get involved and get engaged with this. And really, we want to build a community of creatives where we’re able to have more conversations about these things that matter in our creative ministries. So

Justin Price
we see those subscription numbers growing and the download numbers going up with each episode and we’re just super grateful. Yeah, that you guys are listening and sharing it and, and reviewing and rating. Yep. So thank you so much. It’s

Mike Mage
amazing. So, thanks so much for joining us here at the healthy church growth Podcast, where we believe that healthy things grow and growth means life.

Healthy Chuch Growth – Episode 17 – Kelli Ogboke

Multi-Sensory Marketing in the Church.

Multi-Sensory Marketing in the Church. We have Kelli Ogboke, from Cokobo, who is an international designer that has recently overseen the design for a fast-growing church of 15,000. She’ll explain how to awaken visitors’ five senses, and why that is important.

On Instagram: @KelliOgboke


Transcriptions:

Justin Price
Tell me a little bit about how you become an international designer and and now are also helping your home church for the last few years you have been helping oversee design campuses for a really fast growing Church of 15,000. And you are now somehow seeing everything that goes through into the building goes across your desk, what has that progression kind of been like and give us a little bit of insight to what is going on there.

All right, we’re here with Kelly on bouquet. From Cokobo Design. Kelly is a designer who is designed internationally in Milan in Paris in London, in Ireland. You’ve done education spaces, residential, commercial. You name it, you have done it. Kelly, welcome to the healthy church growth podcast. I’m so excited to have you this morning.

Kelli Ogboke
So yes, so several years ago, my husband, I moved back to Florida and we found a church that we’d found online. And we were excited to go. And within the first year of being there, there was an announcement that a new campus was going to be built out. And it was the first kind of extension campus of our home church. And they were announcing it and I, for whatever reason, decided to go up to our pastor and say, Hey, this is what I do for a living, I’d love to help somehow. And so I got invited on to kind of a board like a committee to help oversee the process. And it’s very excited to do that. And one thing led to another and ended up becoming the interior designer for the remainder of our six campuses that have grown almost one a year for the last six years. So insane. Yeah. And each one has grown into its own, you know, its own thing and has developed into more and more responsibility. For me, and they’ve been, you know, a great, it’s, it’s my, it’s kind of like I’m my own client in the sense that I get to design for the church that I’m part of. And so it’s an it’s a, it’s an interesting experience, and it’s a humbling and an honor to do.

Justin Price
So. That’s so cool. You know, I think about being a young creative at a church. And so many of us as pastors, you know, we picked out the furniture in the lobby and the paint we were responsible for the especially the more creative pastoral staff was given the you know, it was either the pastor’s wives or the creative staff that was given the, the objective of designing the interior space and when I found out that you were, as a you know, as a firm were responsible for this massive undertaking in and also have dissolved some of the most beautiful church spaces I’ve ever seen. It kind of was like my mind was blown a little bit that it was even happening that there was like the opportunity out there for churches to be designed at that level. But it’s not expensive design. It’s not It’s not like you just like spend a ton of money on really expensive finishes and things like that, like you use the same materials most everybody else does usually inexpensive tiles and Formica in bathrooms and things like that, just like, like the rest of us. But yours looks so much better. So so I would love it. If we could unpack a little bit about what goes into that and hopefully maybe inspire some of the pastors who who one couldn’t afford to hire kokubo the way that your home church has been able to afford with their incredible growth, but maybe even just to get the conversations going for them. Most of them right now, if they’re listening in the next few months, they’re there may be in a position where they’re building a shut down due to COVID. And they actually have some time where they could paint, they could do some things to kind of clean up their experience. We know, the majority of the churches are, you know, hundred to 250 people. And I thought it’d be really, really cool to just talk to somebody who is doing it at the highest level and has done at the highest level. What, what is one thing you know, I know it’d be really easy for us to talk for eight hours. But what what is one thing that you feel like you could kind of get into and dig into a little bit to help people start to think about how you tackle a campus or a building project or any you know, what’s a core design principle that you can unpack, I think for for our pastoral staff, they could kind of take in as a principal.

Kelli Ogboke
Okay. So I guess the first thing I would want to kind of the first myth to dispel would be that a good design has to be, you know, super wow factor that there has to be expensive materials that there has to have all these digital things that you know, that it’s gonna cost a lot of money to be well designed. So the first thing would be to redefine your definition of a well designed church, right? So if we’re just, we’re just talking about church, this goes across the board and other spaces, is does the experience that you want. We’re going to just from a visitor perspective, we’ll talk about a visitor perspective. So how do you want that person to experience your building and your space and the good the definition of good design is does it achieve that experience? So it’s not does it have you know, all the fancy frills and, and designer things
Which there’s nothing wrong with but that is not that does not define it. So, you know, the first thing I would say is to go to your kind of your core values of what you want that experience to be, you want it to be, you know, most people would say they want it to be welcoming, that there’s this warm comfort that you can come in and you feel like you can let your guard down that you can enjoy yourself that you can just kind of just go in and experience
ultimately, you know, leading to an experience with God. Right. So breaking down barriers to that. So if you if you were to say that that is our, that’s our core experience value, right? So how do we assess our current situation? based off of that as your metric, right? So if you start as you enter the property, right, so if it’s like, we’re going for that consistent, meeting, that value of feeling welcome, nurtured, warm, comforting, right. So as you’re entering the property, you know, you would walk through this kind of process of
Evaluating which is a good thing to do now, right, especially kind of rethinking, as people are opening up churches again and
is coming into the property that there’s clear signage rights, we talked about clear signage, to let you know where you are and how you need to get where you’re going. And nice tip is like just making sure that the landscaping is manicured there that it doesn’t have to be, you know, mature landscaping, it can just, it can be young plants that are put there with some mulch and very simple through your parking and your Wayfinding and availability. And then as someone is coming into the lobby, that
that what their experience is, is consistent, right? So we want to look at,
you know, how you’re experiencing it from you know, your five senses, right? So you’ve got like, you know, the the look and the feel and the sound and you know, down even to the taste and the smell of coffee, you know, so
I guess the big thing that I would, I would want to say is to look at the consistency
So
there’s a lot of value in probably even starting with removing things, right. So if you have, you know, walking into the lobby and you’ve kind of got some mismatched furniture or some of the artwork feels a little dated, or it’s kind of several different styles kind of going on, it would probably be more valuable to remove that versus necessarily trying to add more things. So people maybe feel like they can’t get rid of it unless they replace it. I don’t have the budget to replace that. Okay, where is so and so gonna sit every Sunday morning if we think back, right, right. Okay, so a good example would be you know, just like it let’s say there’s an older light not my older piece of artwork on the wall. Yeah, right. Maybe it’s a little faded. It’s you know, it’s a
landscape. See
You know and it is just kind of a dated piece right? So you’re like okay, well if I take that down that wall is gonna be blank and it’ll feel kind of sterile, right? But one thing that can be done is you know take that down and maybe printing graphics right so it could it could be you know, a branding thing it could be a core values thing it could be just sciences Welcome home.
It could be something you know that that is a graphic piece you know, it can be printed
fairly inexpensively through like a quick signs printer, right. And basically any any like signed printer can do a large format print for under $10 a square foot, a couple hundred dollars could fill an art space with a branded piece. Rather than you having to go out and spend an expensive or buy an expensive piece of art that was like really inspiring. The like a type otter fee type thing that you did yourself in Photoshop could
totally be printed even for as little as like a couple dollars a square foot if it was like a black and white, right water, right and then put in an Ikea frame 20 bucks, like a big post the biggest IKEA frame you can get, right and even, you know, certain, you know, printing companies can do it on, you know, on a substrate of like Gator board or something that has a thickness that wouldn’t necessarily even need to be framed. Because one of the things with artwork is like the size and the scale, you know, it’s like, you know, when you put larger art on the walls, it just has a better presence than smaller pieces. And, you know,
that’s a very inexpensive way to do it is to have something printed from assigned printer, you know, either like you said, printing it, you know, on almost kind of plotter paper and putting it in in large, basic frames or putting it on a substrate that you know can be printed on to, you know, a thicker material that can create an art piece. So in that scenario, let’s say you’ve got a yellow wall and it’s got a Thomas kincade on it.
You know maybe you reconsider the paint color and you put a large graphic print up there and you’ve completely changed the look right for a couple hundred bucks for a couple hundred bucks. So
you know that’s I guess that’s where we come into maybe it’s it’s removing some things not necessarily just adding more stuff to a space so than with with furniture you know perhaps you cannot afford to change out all your furniture and you need a certain amount of seats and it would be awkward to remove all that furniture. If things can be refinished in a ways maybe some the wood tones or metal tins could be painted. Right so maybe they can all become consistent. Is it okay to have blank walls? It is okay to have some blank walls right? You do not need to fill every well not every wall needs a theme. What am I just painting my brand colors on the wall? right so let’s say about paint. So one thing
when it comes down to consistency across the board, right is that to come?
Come up with a, a paint palette of probably three to four colors that are complementary to your brand colors. So really popular for church brands to be blue. Right? So the looking at colors that are complimentary to blue, right, so it could be a lot of neutrals, you know, grays,
gracious,
you know, but not necessarily painting your paint colors to match your brand. Right there is there is room and space for small percentage of accent walls or accent areas to be in your brain colors. But it would be something I see where people can get stuck in. They think that okay, if I, if I’m branding my space to my church logo and brands that I need that same blue or red or whatever it is to be on the wall and that’s not necessarily true. It’s actually better to just be a nice backdrop to your brand colors and being complimentary. So think more bright
neutral colors that will work well with your with your brand. Mm hmm. And then, you know, when we just talked about like the large artwork and being more of like a graphic that it just creates a nice backdrop to that and let that be where your pops of color and things come in. what’s the what’s the percentage rule if like, Where do I know I’ve got I’m using too much brand color, what’s the break? I would not do more than 10%. So somewhere around five, so shoot for five shoot.
I mean, that’s all it’s all relative to right. So it also just, it’s a scale thing, right? So if you have, you know, a huge lobby space, there would be opportunity for more
of that pop of color just out of scale. Right so that I guess it’s so what would flow with the percentages.
But you know, smaller spaces, a little small accent goes a long way.
What about like the when you’re talking about paint

Justin Price
What about the whole idea of like different spaces? You’re talking about things being consistent? But what about like doesn’t the kids the area need to be a totally different vibe so they think it’s special and the youth space need to be totally different and weird and crazy. So they think it’s a destination. How do you how do you marry consistency with all these different age groups and sections of the building? Do you have any tips for for that or thinking through that?

Kelli Ogboke
I mean, there’s no reason that it can’t feel different, it should feel different, right? But so there is a there is a balance from you know, consistency across the board, right. So for example, that might look like similar.
Similar paint color schemes going throughout with its own flair thrown in. So in the kids area, you may still have
your basic color schemes on walls the same but you’re throwing in
either
Graphic are or, you know, doing like mural type things that can bring in the colors to kind of theme the area without completely abandoning the consistency that is coming through other parts.

Justin Price
Cool

Kelli Ogboke
If that makes sense.

Justin Price
Yeah. So that your neutral should tie any of those rays all together, right? It should work with those.

Kelli Ogboke
So yes, so in your three to four color palette of paint colors through your whole space that would be consistent. Some of those should be able to easily go into all of the areas as a backdrop to whatever maybe theming your space.

Justin Price
So talk a little bit I think it’s hard for us to get our heads around that, you know, because there’s typically like, each ministry department gets to control how their space feels, you know, and so if we’re talking to a worship pastor right now, he may feel like really, really insecure about trying to tell the children’s pastor
how they should change those
that are currently flanking the entrance to the children’s wing right? What? Do you have any, any, like just any helper helpful tips or thoughts that could help make that conversation go easier? What How do you handle this? I mean, this is like a real thing. I didn’t prep you with this question. But how do you handle you know, talking, taking design sense to somebody who isn’t a designer but is passionate about their area of ministry, and thinks that that passion should should flow into design decisions.

Kelli Ogboke
Now, I don’t know my first answer. I don’t know if it’s applicable across the board, but I’ll just go ahead and say it so the, the thing that would be the most helpful in this situation is that there is a global meeting of, hey, all of your department heads commander standing that the church, you know, we all know we need to
update our look.

So I think Yeah, no, I mean, because if you do come in, and you say, okay, we need to change that because it’s, it’s not vibing with the rest that I don’t, I don’t think that that is as effective as a global buy in of, okay. So we may not have the budget to redo everything and buy new furniture, and I mean, even painting a whole building is expensive, you know. So looking at like a phased, a phase situation, but getting that buy in of like, this is where we want to be. And this is some ideas of how we can do that and creating the consistency, but allowing room for, you know, personality of those spaces, right? There’s no reason I think, you know, I’ve definitely made this mistake before where I think okay, I’m just so about getting this consistent feel that you could almost make those spaces too sterile, right? And then once they’re done, it’s like okay, everything is great, right? It’s very consistent, but now it’s very boring, right? And so having them then kind of come back in and add that flair and that fun and you know, so I don’t think that the idea is to take away all the bright colors or to take away all the things but to rethink maybe it doesn’t need to be primary colors red, blue and yellow don’t need to flank everything but maybe, you know,
maybe there’s room for going more muted more jewel tones, more pastels, maybe like just depending on the space that we could take it from looking like a stereotypical primary school to you know, more of
just elevating the design the graphic in that way. I like that. So if we want to get on board with consistency, we should get all the stakeholders in the room and agree first. Well, yeah, just say you know, like, Okay, this is where we want to go as a church and whole and
and have a conversation about
how we could achieve that across the board in different departments. And then there’s buy in I’m also just getting ideas from people, right? So it’s like, you know, I can definitely come in with preconceived ideas about how a space should look and come into, okay, this is we’re going to do but that may not necessarily totally vibe with, you know, the department head, right? Because they have, you know, he she has a different experience of how, how the kids interact, how the parents interact, and you know, what I think may look really good, may not function as well, right? So it’s just that conversation of, you know, like, let’s talk that out, let’s get the buy in. I mean, I’m, I have to do the same, you know, from going into redesign, a campuses children’s area, you know, I, I have to get the pie and just like, you know, any pastor that you were saying that might be looking at like a worship pastor, and he’s like, Oh, I really want to change this, for overall feel the same similar process, you know, going in and getting the Bible
And the ownership and then the collaboration.

Justin Price
I think sometimes we, as creatives get excited about something like that, or if somehow we get permission from the elders or from the staff, you know, from, or a senior pastor to, like, help make it better. We missed that by in part, I’m at least when I was younger. I struggled with that a lot. And I think I probably stepped on a lot of toes that way. And I think that’s a really super, super valuable tip. super important. The other thing too, that you said, you kind of breeze through this, and I wonder if you’d unpack it a little bit. But when you’re creative, and you’re trying to do something, you usually do things to make people notice it. Mm hmm. And you were like, it doesn’t have to be opulent. It doesn’t have to have this, like not everything has to have this wow factor. In fact, that’s really a secondary to getting rid of obstacles first. So in talking about consistency, you are actually easing the experience you are unifying it. You’re simplifying it, you’re getting rid of things. And I think that’s tough because like, how do you walk in especially cuz you get paid a lot of money to do some like big commercial things.
And you literally walk in and like, take things away.
You know, you’re simplifying things. And it’s like every bathroom has the same stone, why did we pay a designer to pick one material for every bathroom in one paint color? You know, a lot of times, the building has been built over phases. And so you’re saying, rather than necessarily just picking one of those bathrooms and trying to upgrade it, like maybe the most public bathroom and just try and upgrade that and spend all of your budget there. Instead, like spread your budget to try to bring everything to a more consistent thing that that’s more valuable than one while bathroom? right consistency is going to be king in minimalizing. The bad is greater than creating the wall moment. That’s kind of a bit
idea for me to get my head around. You’re simplifying it, you’re getting rid of things. And I think that’s tough because like, how do you walk in especially cuz you get paid a lot of money to do some like big commercial things.
And you literally walk in and like, take things away.
You know, you’re simplifying things. And it’s like every bathroom has the same stone, why did we pay a designer to pick one material for every bathroom in one paint color? You know, a lot of times, the building has been built over phases. And so you’re saying, rather than necessarily just picking one of those bathrooms and trying to upgrade it, like maybe the most public bathroom and just try and upgrade that and spend all of your budget there. Instead, like spread your budget to try to bring everything to a more consistent thing that that’s more valuable than one while bathroom? right consistency is going to be king in minimalizing. The bad is greater than creating the wall moment. That’s kind of a bit
idea for me to get my head around.

Kelli Ogboke
Right? You gotta think about taking the obstacles away. Right? So if you’re making a clear path towards, you know, any direction, right, so there could be things that could help you get there. But there’s, I find, especially when you’re talking about smaller budgets, that removing the obstacles actually has a little bit more impact, right, of course, you’re going to put things back we can’t just empty room entirely.
But it’s kind of a less is more but removing the things that kind of take away from the upgraded, updating, feel, right. So there was a trend of putting, you know, script words vinyl stick ons, right to walls, right. And it could be a, it could be a scripture, it could be thing and there’s there’s space for that, right? There’s we’re applications, but I’m just letting people know, it might be I don’t know, but
there can be well when you know
You can put vinyl wording on walls in a nice way it should be done by a graphic designer so that your scale and proportion is correct. And you know, so that it it’s not fatiguing to your eye. Right? So when you look at it doesn’t kind of just feel I don’t know if it’s my eyes, but that, that that was a trend right so that was a trend for a while people putting up kind of, you know, stickers, kind of graphics like that. Now that I would say would be probably an obstacle to the updating of a look right?
taking that away, you know, fake flowers, things like that, that could start to feel dated. Now fake succulents maybe not as much right you know, there’s that isn’t a trend right now that can kind of feel a little bit more updated, but you know, kind of like fake silk flowers and graphics on the walls and stuff, those types of things to be taken out. Instantly kind of can freshen right versus just adding more things to it. Love it.
That makes sense.

Justin Price
We’ll keep walking us through this experience here. So we’re taking a path of consistency with Kelly from the door. We’re talking about the lobby, and you have kind of also really kind of jumped into this concept of consistency philosophically saying that that is the number one greatest thing we can fight for. If we’re, if we’re going to try to help the design of our church building, right, is to bring it consistent, and more neutralize the backgrounds and eliminate the obstacles. We covered the main thoughts. Yes, okay. Yes. You said walk through like a visitor. Try to get rid of everything. If you don’t have any budget, you can at least get rid of anything that is a major distraction

Kelli Ogboke
Right If it’s not going to aligning with the overall feel that you want, right? So it’s like don’t be afraid to remove some things that feel contrary
To the look, you’re going for love that. So one thing in a lobby, you know, we talked about like the five senses, right? So the one thing that it’s like, I like to compare thinking about a design and a feel for a lobby, if you don’t know where to start, right, you’re like, Okay, we’re going to do something, maybe we take everything out of our lobby, and we’re kind of starting from, you know, where do we look for inspiration? And I think smaller churches can get, you know, kind of stuck in looking at large church inspiration, right? So you kind of look up these larger churches more, you know, well known. And they’ve got these fabulous lobbies with enormous high glass wall ceilings and big LCD, LCD screens, and there’s all sorts of stuff going on. And kind of think that that equals, you know, a good church design.
And thinking about the scale, they’re right to the scale that they have is much different than a small church. And so let’s just not even look there, right? So let’s just throw that out. Right. So let’s look at maybe hotel law.
And a small, you know, kind of boutique type feeling of walking into hotel lobby and experiencing hospitality in that way. Because hotels spend a lot of money in designing their spaces to be welcoming to make you feel at home, all the things that we want to feel when we walk into church. That’s great. So when we talk about, you know, where you get information where you get help to where you get coffee, right, so in some churches, you’re able to set up, you know, service of coffee, where there’s somebody with like a coffee bar, and it’s similar to a coffee bar experience where you walk up and you order and you get a coffee, and maybe there’s an espresso machine. And so there’s a whole design, but that that’s not an inexpensive endeavor, right? If you don’t already have that set up to try to do that is probably cost prohibitive. So looking at a self service station, but not just slapping, you know, some crafts and a plate of doughnuts on a folding table, right? So looking at it like how that’s displayed, right? So
You know, again, going back to hotels and how they do their self service coffee areas, you know, those items that they have that you know, organize your condiments and you know, your cups and things like that they’re not expensive, and they’re not exclusive to hotels that can be bought on Amazon, how you display food, if you’re doing coffees leave for doing donuts and things like that, or pastries or things, look at, you know, maybe acrylic
displays that kind of protect the foods foods isn’t just kind of sitting out, right, but it has a nice display and it’s just not just thrown on paper plate or you know, just those little things, those touch points or you know, low budget things when you think about the impact that they have. So if you’re not doing any coffee or at all right, so that is something to consider maybe bringing that in as there’s a smell, there’s the taste, right? So those are things you’re experiencing, and then what you’re touching in order to get that so if you are self serving that like how
you’re interacting with that experience
is a great way
to welcome people, right? So it’s like there’s a welcoming aspect of coffee in general. There’s a welcoming, comforting things that people know how to interact with coffee. Right? So it’s like I, you know, when someone’s never been to a church or they’re not comfortable church, they most likely have been in a coffee shop before they know how to operate themselves, right? Go in and get a coffee sit down, right? Like, that is something that’s like, comfortable to know that process. So giving that as an option, either, maybe they don’t make it into the sanctuary. Maybe they just sit in the lobby. So there’s that there’s this option to do that and operate as like maybe a phase one of their experience. Because that’s a that’s a already known experience of what to do. Right. So that’s one thing that can be a barrier is not knowing how to interact with a church environment if you are completely new to church.

Justin Price
Yeah. I love that. What’s something else in the, in this experience you had mentioned earlier about lighting? Mm hmm. What can we do for lighting to make this experience consistent and good?

Kelli Ogboke
So lighting is a whole. There’s so much to it. Right? So one thing that, you know, just picturing kind of like a smaller church, existing building, where there, you know, there isn’t an opportunity to change all the lighting, most likely there’s overhead lighting, most likely, it’s fluorescent, and very just kind of basic overall, and could be kind of harsh, right? So
there are lots of things in that right. So a lot of times the fluorescent lights would be, they might have bulbs that are different color temperatures in them. So when you look up you see like there’s bluer funds. There’s purple ones, there’s kind of more orange and yellow ones. So first thing is like making sure that you have a consistent color temperature, right. So that’s your kelvins. Right? So that’s, you know,
looking at consistent color, temperature
And then considering maybe if you have over if you’ve just got this one you know switch and everything turns on and it’s all very bright, maybe look at you know disabling taking the bulbs out of some of them and then bringing back accent lighting so that can be floor lamps, table lamps, even, you know
while washing lamps a lot of things that do
in like AV indirect lighting you know, kind of just like shine up the wall for a little bit of a different effect.
As a way to kind of not have every you have different levels of lighting in a room, right so you have just adds a little bit more warmth
in small group kind of gathering areas you may even consider not using any overhead lighting and just using lamps around just a little bit more cozy warm.
Home like feel.

I think there

Justin Price
A designer like you who does use Milan and Paris spaces, do you only use Italian lamps or where where does someone like you furnish a Bible study room with table floor lamps?

Kelli Ogboke
I definitely even in our larger budget projects I don’t think I’m spending terribly too much money on floor lamps and things just looking for something simple.

Justin Price
Where what’s your go to for a small Where could somebody go to to pick from the same stuff that you’re picking from?

Kelli Ogboke
I mean, online, there’s
target and target. do I use? Um, yeah, no, I haven’t used target. I have used IKEA. I mean,
I, okay. There are great brands, your clients know that you
um,
there there are great brands online even, you know,
do I don’t know if I’m endorsing any any
Any company’s online right now? Um,
I think there there is, there’s a lot of opportunity for something
shopping online and you know, you could get a floor lamp, a simple floor lamp under 100 bucks, right? And, you know, adding a handful of them throughout the space can, you know you’re doing it’s doing three things it’s uploading, it’s downloading and it’s doing diffuse at the side, right so it’s like, you know, just a basic drum shade on a pole, right? Like it’s, there’s not a lot to it, maybe it’s a tripod base or something like that, which is it’s just, it’s, it’s creating a glow up down and kind of a diffused glow around. So that in itself is creating three levels of light. And then if you’re taking
some of your overhead out and placing that in an area now, you’ve got four levels of light, so
it’s just creating a little bit of depth in a lighting design that you can play around with right you think about it at your house.
Like if you turn you know, only a couple lights on through the house at night, there’s kind of a mood, right? You know, so you can adjust the mood versus turning all your lights on at night and everything’s just bright and whatever.
One thing you’ve asked me a lot about is the color temperature like what’s like the golden color temperature right? So the most kind of neutral somewhere around like 3500 and so your daylight is like in the 6000s. Right? So that’s that real blue light from you know, fluorescence and things like that. I would probably stay away from that.
Because then some of your decorative fixtures might be doing kind of an incandescent which is more like 2500 2700 so that’s that warm yellow II orangey glow of like candle light, which in you know, certain light fixtures is very appealing, but when you put it next to a 6000 Kelvin light that’s very blue, it feels you know, creates that eye fatigue, right because you’re like eyes are trying to adjust between like this
candlelight and sunlight at the same time, that’s actually happening. Most people don’t realize they’re having that it does feel uncomfortable, right? I mean, you’re not walking and go, Oh, my eyes are so fatigued, it’s just you kind of don’t, it feels like inconsistent because when would you be in the sun and have a candle light at the same time? Right? You know, so you’re kind of creating this artificial experience that’s not
a real, you know, it’s not comforting, it doesn’t feel natural, right. So if you had overhead lighting at like 33,000, or 3500, and an incandescent light, it’s not going to compete as much.

Justin Price
I love that. So practical tip, change all of your overhead lighting to 3000 to 3500 K, or at least bring it consistent. Right? And if you can’t do that, at least make it as make it all consistent. But but maybe discourage people from doing 6000 right. I mean, most probably aren’t doing the new blue LED is like actually a cool thing.
Huh, but I think it can feel really cold. Well, especially in a church. Well there is application for it just like there’s anything application for a writer.
But you also have to realize that the color temperature of your light changes the paint color experience, right? So some of your, some of your finishes can change color and wash out.
And doing that, right or if you have, you know, maybe like you have these, this yellow carpet that you don’t have a budget to change it. And then you know, depending on the lighting, the color temperature, maybe there is a value to washing out that yellow a little bit. But if you went too warm, you would almost highlight it and make it more yellow is what I’m saying. So there is there is no

yellow carpet, maybe Maybe you could get away with a 42

Kelli Ogboke
Right. So I guess I just say that only to say that there isn’t just this one thing that you can just throw across board and say that that’s going to work across the board. Because obviously, there’s context.

Justin Price
I feel like you could literally take all of these points and break them for an hour. I mean, just thinking about lighting design for public spaces, there’s a lot to it. You You mentioned creating a mood. You’ve told me before about pattern and drama and having breakup of light, it shouldn’t just all be like, even light across the whole entire room. You want to create different pockets and everything. So I, I think we definitely should come back and talk about experiential lighting. We like I think in the production world, creatives, always, you know, think about lighting, and we put a lot of time into church about how we light a stage. And maybe we think some of us think a little bit more about how you light the auditorium. But we hardly ever think about how we like the bathroom in the hallway to the bathroom in the entrance and the lobby. So that’s really Got a little bit of an eye opener there. I think we should definitely come back and circle back online because I think you’ve got a lot what is the last thing that you want to cover in your Quick Tips walkthrough for consistency. This is so good.

Kelli Ogboke
Um, so my last thing would probably not even really be a design change or update, it will be more experiential, and there’s kind of really no excuse for this one. So it’s the cleanliness, you know, the experience of the bathroom, you know, it’s very similar to how you experience at a restaurant, you know, the restaurant could be great, but then you go in the bathroom, and if it’s, if it’s off putting, it’s it can ruin a whole experience. So, you know, cleanliness and looking at smell. But then you know how people also interact with, you know, picture a visitor coming in, they’ve gotten their coffee, maybe they’re a little self conscious of coffee breath or something like that. So offering you know, there’s mouthwash
stations. There’s just myths, just involvements right very simple, very inexpensive, but it is another level of hospitality and offering amenities right so you know there’s you know, for a long time you’ve gone into bathrooms and certain restaurants and things and you’ll have like, you know, you don’t need a tray of colognes or anything like that, you know, like that. Not that type of amenity basket, but something that just offers a little bit of just give somebody another level of comfort that they feel more comfortable lingering, talking to people

Healthy Church Growth – Episode 16 – David Miller

Is it time for the Church to Adapt?

Is COVID the push the church needs to start adapting finally? We speak with guest David Miller, the VP of Coaching at the Slingshot Group, and the new author of “Improv Leadership,” on how the Church should adapt. 

On Instagram: @imdavidmiller, @SlingshotGroup

Improv Leadership: https://www.amazon.com/Improv-Leadership-Lead-Every-Moment/dp/0310112958


Transcriptions:

Mike Mage
Welcome to the healthy church growth podcast.

Welcome to the healthy church growth podcast where we believe that healthy things grow. And growth means life. I’m Mike, one of your hosts for the podcast. And before we get going here, I really just want to say thank you so much for joining us. These conversations we’ve been able to have with so many people has been like incredibly inspiring to Justin and I, and we just we continue to have so much fun and continue to learn so much and, and for you, our audience, we really hope that you are getting the same thing out of it as well. And if you are, we would absolutely love for you to right before we start, just make sure to share, subscribe, all that fun stuff, all that those that are the language that we’ve all had to learn during this COVID time for all of us going online for everything. But it really does help us when you share when you subscribe when you review When you drop us a DM on Instagram or Facebook, for us to connect with you so that we can continue on having these really great conversations. Joining us today, as always, I have my co host with me, Justin price, Justin, how you doing, man?

Justin Price
I’m doing great, Mike, thanks for the introduction. Also, thanks for the listeners for listening and for subscribing. It is. It’s super encouraging. So

Mike Mage
Yeah, this is this has just been a really cool journey for us a really cool endeavor to create a podcast about healthy church growth in the middle of a once in a century pandemic. So that’s been super cool. And today on our podcast, we have David Miller, who is the VP of coaching at the Slingshot Group, and he’s a brand new author of improv leadership. And he’s actually an old friend of mine. I met him back in Orlando when I was going to school at UCF. And you He was the student director of the church that I was attending. In Justin goose heading into this interview. what’s what’s one thing you know, that you can tell us that really just sort of struck you about this interview?

Justin Price
Well, first of all, that David’s just a super nice guy. And I gotta plug David for a second if you’re interested at all in some coaching the slingshot groups. They’re not a sponsor of the healthy church growth podcast, not yet. At least they don’t know. But I gotta say, you know, just just what a great guy David is. I think that if you you know if you need some coaching, definitely. I hope that this podcast is gonna just whet your appetite a little bit for what that could sound like from him because Mike and I just got a about a 40 minute coaching session from him that I know he was like, he was taking notes. I was taking notes I don’t I we blacked out at one point. I’m pretty sure You know, just trying to keep up with with the goal that that David was bringing. So yeah, I would say get out your notepad David’s just got a really really great perspective. He understands where you’re at in the church as a leader, as a creative as an ex rock star touring musician. He, he has been through many places that you guys have been through and, and what a refreshing perspective he’s got. So just just really, really cool. I know for us, we took a lot of good stuff away. And so without further ado, Mr. David Miller.

David Miller
Think about like what’s happening in culture nap? Yeah, right. Like the church and I mean people but like, let’s enter the church. The church has to be able to adapt right now. And it’s it’s fascinating to watch the churches and leaders that are adapting. Yeah.

Mike Mage
Welcome to the healthy church growth podcast. We’re so glad that You’re joining us today on our show, we have an incredible guest. One that I’m very, very excited about. We have David Miller, who is the VP of coaching at the Slingshot Group and new author of improv leadership and incredible book that just came out. David, thank you so much for joining us.

David Miller
Oh, man, it’s great to be with you.

Mike Mage
I, uh, so David and I, we actually have known each other for a while. And it’s been a while since we’ve seen each other. But I, David and I met, I don’t know, 10 12 13 years ago at a church that we used to work at or that he used to work out in Orlando that I attended. And David, I don’t know if you knew this, but I was. So I met you post dreads and so all I had ever heard fortunate. Yeah, well, it’s I know. So here’s the deal. I had heard that there was this new student director at this church that we were at, and I was like, I think they guy’s name is David Miller. And everyone’s like, oh, the guy with dreads, and that must have happened like five times. And so I got super excited. I’m like, man, he’s got dreads, like, this guy’s gotta be cool. And I meet you in no dreads and so the the first huge disappointment,

David Miller
huge disappointment.

Mike Mage
So the first question I have to ask is, was getting like a normal human haircut part of the job requirements? Or were you just finally able to pay for a haircut?

David Miller
Right? No, those are both valid, valid options. So So no, I so I would speak in at status and stuff, you know, the babies and young adult thing that we were doing while I was or just before actually I was teaching for like a group of kids that were like at risk teens. So it was like a kind of a ranch situation where they live there. They have, you know, these host families and then they go to school while I was a teacher, and in order for me to get that job, which was the job I had right before coming on as the student director. Yeah, they made me cut my hair. And I and I remember talking to my now wife, then then girlfriend and I was just like, I don’t know if I’m gonna take the job, they’re gonna let me cut my hair. I mean, I think that I’m probably gonna, you know, turn it down and she was like, Are you dumb? Like, be you know, go go go get the job. So

It was a yard of you though. So like that is it had become

There had become and here’s the here’s the thing now my hair is just weird you know but like you know I have to like then hair was such an identity thing I had like long girl hair before that like your hair down past the shoulders and you know the whole deal. So that became identity then all of a sudden the dreads the dreads became identity and so I don’t know, man, but yeah, no, I I almost I am I’m almost sorry that he met me after that. I feel like you missed out on on quite an experience. Yeah,

Mike Mage
I mean, you just morphed into like a totally different person in my head. Yeah, just just a dude. Yeah, just like yeah,

This is like another white guy that we brought on. Just exactly here and yeah, it’s not cool.

David Miller
Yep. No.

Mike Mage
Okay. I bet you Ashley was very happy that those were on their way out.

David Miller
So I was I was in a band that in college and so we went like to Ohio or something. I met this guy with dreads and I was like, Oh my God, that’s interesting. Like, who does that? You know, we were gonna be there for a little while. And I remember calling her and saying, hey, I’ve got a surprise when I get back from tour. And I came back from tour with dreads. I left with long hair and came back with dreads and that was the that was that was a great surprise for everybody.

Mike Mage
It was a surprise.

David Miller
Yeah. And she stuck it out with me. And that that speaks highly of her.

Mike Mage
Yeah. Well, David, that’s all we wanted to talk about. Thank you so much for coming on. Yeah,

David Miller
man. It was great. Just building healthy churches for creatives.

Mike Mage
Well, this pivot that no one knows really how to pivot out of here, but Obviously, like I said, you know, you’re the VP of the coaching division at the slingshot group. And we’d love to just hear a little more about what slingshot group does. I mean, it’s they have such a huge impact on the church right now. And then maybe a little bit about how you got into doing this. For sure.

David Miller
Yeah. So slingshot group, you know, it’s been around 13 and a plus years, you know, founded by two guys started in the world of worship. So, you know, Monty Kelso and Stan anacott, we’re both you know, really big in especially like, right, kind of right at the tail end of of what is known as like the worship wars, you know, where it was like, we’re a traditional church is going to become a contemporary church, and then how do we do that? They would coach people how to do that. And then they’d be like, well, gosh, we agree, but we have nobody who can actually, you know, actually lead now. So will you help us find someone and so really came out of their personal network from kind of record producing and stuff they had been doing with promise keepers and you know, all of that. They have been going for about five years. And, you know, they had decided, hey, we’re gonna we’re gonna really expand into helping all levels of the church, but we’re not experts in that I love when leaders know what they’re good at and what they’re not good at. Yeah. And they just said, we’re not experts at that. So we need to bring in experts for each of these divisions. And so they brought me in to really help to launch their student ministry division, most of my experience was in student ministry and and so they just kind of said, Hey, you know, you know, youth pastors, we know, you know, worship leaders, why don’t you come in help churches find the best youth pastors for their, for their staff, and, you know, really help them figure that out. And so the whole idea of slingshot group is you know, we have this tagline we build remarkable teams through staffing and coaching, okay. And it really that that’s that’s what we do all day long. We help find the right fit. We partner with churches to understand really, who they are what makes them unique and who would fit on their team. And then we find that person, and then and then we do coaching, will walk with that new staff member will come on to your team for a season and you know, help with leadership development. We do succession coaching, we, you know, we kind of, you know, just depends on really what what you need there. And so, for me, I started with with a lot of staffing and kind of almost as just earned a voice in the churches that I was, you know, helping Sure, and then they would kind of say, How else can you help us like, you know, we want you to stick around how else can you help us and it would morph into a really natural coaching relationship. And that’s, that’s where my role kind of shifted.

Mike Mage
Yeah, but super cool. Cool. Okay, well, obviously, you’ve been able to talk to a bunch of churches, sort of about their pain points and not just in student ministry, which I’m sure is a pain point for every every church. But as you’re coaching people And especially maybe even now over the past, you know, six months when everything just feels like it’s all been thrown up in the air and disrupted What do you see as like some of the more prevalent issues that people are really having trouble grasping?

David Miller
Yeah, I, you know, I think I think with leadership in general, we’ve become enamored by two things, we become enamored by talent, which makes sense, you know, I mean, when you are around a talented person, you know, you tend to lean in. And so we become really enamored by that we’ve also become enamored by almost that, that that stereotypical forceful leader that charged the hill mentality leader, and that’s that’s what’s and that’s what so much of our leadership is made of in the church are really those two things. What’s what we’ve found is that, you know, those two things can be great, but left to their own devices. They crumble because they they don’t really end up learning a lot of the basics of ministry. I mean, People have forgotten how to how to, you know, really excel in interpersonal communication. You know, people are struggling with leading up like me and the amount of conversations I have to have about leading up is is crazy because it’s, you know, we, we’ve, we’ve bought into these lies that our boss is super human and they never make mistakes and that we’re going to end that they’re gonna have all the right answers at all times. And so for us to be able to say, hey, what if what if you just realize that that was a human being that you can walk with and that you can actually help lead them along the way? You know, finally, you know, even the idea of like, seeing volunteers as like more than a means to an end. You know, again, because of the big personalities that we have, oftentimes we have these big visions and, and so we need people to accomplish these visions. Yeah, we end up you know, using them as like as like cogs in the machine, right versus like individuals with something to contribute. And so and so what happens is that will come in a lot of times, and we’ll do anything from basic skill development. So hey, how do you lead a rehearsal? How do you lead a volunteer training? How do you you know, I mean, so there’s some really basic stuff that are just skill. Yeah. And then we’ll come in also, and we’ll do leadership development, which is, you know, more of what I just listed out. So many people that we meet, it’s like you have the natural ability, you have the the talent or the drive, you just missing some of these basics that if we can walk with you that that would be huge. I would say those are the two biggest, I think on the on the back end of it. Coaching has become simply a trusted voice for so many. So there’s some that that they have the basics. They have the skill and the talent and the drive, but they feel alone. And they’re doing it everyone that they talked to is you know, that their boss or their volunteer, or, you know, is some way connected to the ministry that they’re leading. Right and any any sense of voice ability, we’ll make that person nervous. And so we we put up this facade of perfection or of strength, and instead of allowing someone to speak into who we are, and so, you know, we’re not counselors, but we end up being that for so many just, Hey, can I just have you on speed dial so that when I walk out of a meeting, and I feel like I want to punch a wall, I can talk to somebody about it. And I don’t actually do that. Never happened comes. Yeah, I can I can imagine.

Justin Price
Can we pause real quick? I think David misunderstood the question. We were asking about issues that Mike’s staff has.

David Miller
Yeah, got it. Got it. Got it. Okay. Got it. I’ll narrow my focus a little bit. Yeah.But okay. Yeah. So that’s, that’s been helpful and and i think that’s kind of what coaching has become for so many is skill development, leadership development, and then that trusted outside voice.

Justin Price
Yeah, it sounds it sounds like that coaching may or may not have given you a lot of great content for a book is this is this where a lot of improv leaders ship came from was just this experience.

David Miller
Yeah, a lot of it. I mean, I’ll if, you know the truth is a lot of this experiences as probably will foster many books, you know along along the way, coming from different different vantage points, improv leadership. A lot of the stories come out of this experience, but the concept itself really starts with it was when I took over as the vice president of coaching. I really looked at our organization and our coaches and said, what makes us unique? Like why would someone want us to coach their team instead of, you know, named the organization or the individual, you know, those different things, you know, what, why would someone choose us? And, and I start to kind of, you know, realize, like, we need to figure out a little bit of what our secret sauce is and what our process is. And so improv leadership became before was, it wasn’t supposed to be a book. improv leadership was supposed to be our internal training process for the coaches that are on our team. Yeah. Here’s how you Draw the best out of the people that you’re that you’re leading that you’re coaching. Here’s how you do that. Yeah. And, and so it started that way, almost five years ago. You know, we launched it in our organization and trained all of our leaders in these five core competencies and get and you know, constantly are coming back to this. Then like, as things evolve, then it became, you know, I would be talking to an executive pastor, and, you know, he or she would say, Well, I, you know, I’m supposed to coach my team, I’ve got, you know, 10 or five or 20 people on my staff, how do I use improve leadership? And so we started to train leaders, and so we would have these trainings that we would do all over the country. And, you know, today we’ve probably brought in the live trainings like 1000, you know, 1500 people through kind of a live training, and it was someone heard it in the training, and said, I need to introduce you to someone at Zondervan. I need to introduce you to a book agent Let’s see if this could become a book. And we were like, it’s not it’s not a book. It’s like, Why do you keep saying it’s a book? And so we want to talk to them and they’re like, no, like, like, put your stories to it. Right? Teach us how to do it. But But tell the stories of how you’ve seen it done well, and how you’ve messed it up. And, you know, how, how it’s necessary in this climate. Sure. And, and so then it became a book

Mike Mage
Totally in process. Well, I, I love even just the idea of improv leadership, like the, the the name itself implies, like flexibility. And, you know, obviously talking to church creatives, like they really, at least, you know, from my experience, musicians understand to a certain extent, some of them understand not all. I did go to the School of Music, at a university, they don’t understand this. Most most other musicians do that. Like there is this flexibility. There’s this idea that like, every time you play a song, even if it’s, you know, your basic four chord worship song, something is going to be different about it. And I love just even how the title almost sort of, like implies that a little bit like, right, this, this is gonna be something that it flexes and moves and yeah, you know, you kind of have to live within this to adapt and you know, be creative, which is there still rules, there are rules

David Miller
To music, right? There are rules to what sounds good and what doesn’t. Right. And, and you’re allowed to break the rules at a certain point you’re allowed to play within the rules, right. And I think that’s, you know, right now, man, like, most leadership stuff out there, and there’s some great leadership stuff out there. Yeah, most of it is linear, most leadership stuff that I that I read totally, or that I’ve, you know, been to the trainings or, you know, have the certification or you know, whatever. It’s, it’s this, it’s this first do this, then do this, then do this, and it’s this little In your process that takes you forward into something. And that’s just not what leadership actually is like in real life. Sure. In real life, you have to be nimble like that musician. And so we talked about in the book this idea that that you know, in most of the you know, your worship, you know, bands, you have like someone, you give them the tabs, you give them the chords, someone can if they practice enough, they’ll be able to play that song pretty well. Yeah, but the moment that the time signature changes a little bit, or the moment that the person in front says, you know, alright, let’s go ahead and, you know, vamp here for a minute or redo one of these courses, like all of a sudden you see them like seize up, yeah, and not able to kind of move forward. And so for us, it’s, it’s only the best musicians actually have the ability to improv Sure, like the average musician can’t do it. They understand the concept, but only the really good who have mastered their, their their instrument, who have enough trust with the other people that they’re in the bandwidth to be able to improv in. moment to contribute in a moment, depending no matter what kind of what what comes, you know, right then and there. Yeah, we start looking at leaders and saying, Can leaders do that? Like, we’re pretty good as leaders, when we know what the rules are, we’re pretty good when we know when our job is, you know, the amount of time that someone says to me, Well, that wasn’t in my job description, right? Give me the right job description. And I’m like, it is in your job description. Other you know, right. Right. Other needs as required? Is Yeah, yeah. is everywhere, right. It’s everywhere. And so So the reality is like, like, there isn’t a job description that will accurately compile everything that you’re supposed to know, do. You have to be able to adapt? Think about, like, what’s happening in culture nap? Yeah. Right. Like the church and I mean, people but like, let’s into the church, the church has to be able to adapt right now. And it’s and it’s fascinating to watch the churches and leaders that are adapting, yeah, that are able to have conversations about racial reconciliation that are able to talk about you know, politics or the Coronavirus or Why we’re meeting or why we’re not meeting and everyone is freaking out about different things and and we’ve become this consumer thing right where everyone wants you to, hey pastor tell the church what I want you to tell the church you know, I want us to meet I want us to not make I want us to talk more about Black Lives Matter. I want to talk less about Black Lives Matter I want us to write and and as leaders, we’re having to respond to all of those things. Yeah. And, and I’m watching as some leaders are doing an incredible job of responding. Yeah. And I’m watching as the majority of leaders are flubbing this and and trying they have great intentions. Yeah. But they’re so afraid of because they’re because they want it’s it’s it’s the rules. It’s, well, what is the rule that I’m supposed to follow here? Well, those have been thrown out. And more than ever, yeah, they no longer apply most of them and now more than ever, we have to be able to improv or leadership, right. And so again, the concept that it was written long before any of What’s happening? What’s happening? But but we’re in this this space where it’s can leaders respond to a global global pandemic? Can leaders walk into a room not knowing what their role is supposed to be and contribute in a moment? Can leaders sit behind their camera on their, you know, on zoom and manage the mute button? Well, can we figure out what the next step is supposed to be? And the best leaders, the ones who can lean on their wiring, their, their training, their education, their experience, are going to be able to come out of this. You know, I think really well and if not stronger than ever, right. And that’s, that’s the hope. That’s the hope of, from the very beginning of the book.

Justin Price
Yeah. Yeah, I just, I feel like you’ve got us hooked. Can you give us maybe like two of the five principles from the book, two that you think are most interesting to just share? It doesn’t To be a shortened up thing, just like a couple sentences about some of the first two principles, which doesn’t sound like it’s linear, what they could be writing the order, right?

David Miller
Yeah, yeah. And they are, they’re the whole, the whole thing I’ll tell you about the two that we’ll talk about here in a minute. All five of them can build on each other. All five of these concepts can come out, you know, we can weave in and out of, I think of it almost the lens of like a toolbox, you know, like, like, you know, it’s whatever you’re going to do you as the person who’s working on that project, you know, when to use a hammer when use a screwdriver, you know, right. You know, when you’re supposed to do that. I want to make sure that I arm you with the best hammer and best screwdriver I can find. Yeah. And so this really is a toolbox, all five of these tools. And then within each each, you know, we say actually, the five are competencies and there are tools within each competency. And I want to make sure that you have everything that you would need for whatever the situation is. You’ll be able to Walk forward in Yeah, I would say that the two that as I think about your audience as I think about going forward night again, I think all of them would would fit but the first one I’ll look at is precision praising so kind of our tagline for precision praising is carefully crafting praise to inspire and chorus corrector team. And so here’s here’s a reality that I think people have to understand is that people are motivated by praise. Yeah, uh, it is very rarely have I have I come down on someone and really critique someone and then walked away and actually come back better. Yeah, more often than not, it is it is praise that has helped someone to move forward. It’s not that you can’t correct but it’s, it’s it I think we’ve leaned so heavy into correction and into kind of cracking the whip that we’ve forgotten what it looks like to actually praise someone. And so it’s a it’s a skill that has to be re looked at. So in, in our training we we talked about, like we almost will reverse it. engineer, a time that someone has praised you and it changed the trajectory of your story. Yeah. And and when you can reverse engineer those different things we talked about, what was the setting of that? Were you alone? Were you with a bunch of other people were it was it was it public? You know, who was that person in your life? Like, who are they in your story that they were able to speak that to you. And understanding these basic kind of concepts and principles of praise will start to motivate your team in a brand new way. Because it gives you that like endorphin rush, right? Like, there’s something about, you know, if you walk in, and someone says to you, Hey, that was great, then that’s like, Oh, that’s awesome. Like I can I can kind of ride that for a little while when your supervisor or someone who has leadership or influence in your life says what you just did, really affected the quality of the service that we just had, or or really change the trajectory of who we are as a church. You can write that praise for a month. Yeah, right. And so when you start to understand that The importance and the beauty and art of praise, then you can really start to motivate your team and move them toward common goals. Yeah.

Mike Mage
Well, that’s to me it is. I feel like one of the things that I I teach all my the worship people here is, you know, like, it’s it’s incredible how much is incredible how far a thank you goes. And so like, like, I’ll literally from the from the day that I got here, after every worship service, I make it a point to go say thank you to everybody. And I’ve told this story before, but like, yeah, the very first time I did that, I went up to a bass player here who’s been here for you know, however many years way before I even got here, and to the church, and I said, Thank you. And he was it looked like I punched him in the gut. You know, like it looked like I really just had walked up and I just punched him and was like, What did you say? And I just said, Thank you. And with like, straight on, he just said like, no one’s ever thanked me for playing bass here before and like Which is insane, then say and so like, like I love it and I love how you’re drilling down on like even making that more. I mean like it can be as simple as a thank you but like what you’re talking about like can actually start to change people’s trajectories and like slowly and push them in like really healthy and encouraging directions.

David Miller
Well we talked about in all of our organizations like the values of our organization, right and so we you know, we list them somewhere on some document and the really good churches will actually have people you know, they’ll have people like memorize heat right those and what they are and then we stop there My thing is when you see someone living out your values, why don’t you tell them how good they did? When you see someone you know, right like, like there’s a difference there’s a difference in saying good job and telling someone what they did. That was so good, right? There’s a difference in moving for with someone like like my wife a lot. I’ll say, Hey, that was that was really good shake, but What did you like about it? There people want that 100% and We crave it the most. You know, I remember I, co author and I and Stan Endicott. We, we did a talk for, like 150 Executive pastors. And almost the whole talk was about precision praising. And I had one of the, you know, one of the kind of big name, you know, big name church guy came up and said, Man, I’m really glad you shared all that with these guys. Almost like implying they need it. And I don’t I don’t need it yet. He said, and he said something to the effect of this was a little too touchy feely for me. And what I love and here’s, here’s the fun, here’s the fun of me and Stan working together. Is that, you know, Stan is in his 70s he’s kind of like an elder statesman, you know, you walk in the room, you just like that guy’s awesome. Yeah. You know, like, I’m a punk with like, you know, half sleeve tattoo, you know what I mean? Like, you know, and walking in and you’re like, what, Who’s that guy? Yeah. And, and, and I remember this guy walking away. I was kind of sharing with Stan for a minute. I was like, Oh, that’s, you know, a little disappointing. Like, you know, I thought I thought he’d really get it. And Stan said this thing that like really affected me, he said, he said if, if more leaders understood precision, praising fewer of their staff would quit, and I just, and I just was like, cool that guy. We’re good. Yeah.

Justin Price
David, can I ask you a personal question on it? Yeah, please do like a personal so in our agency. I feel good about the fact that we are leadership stuff every Monday sets a goal to find something to praise publicly for that was done that’s at the heart of the culture, not good work. So he taking it even a step further, we want to reinforce the cultural values. And so rather than just saying like repeating them, every staff meeting we we actually look for a way to actually see somebody who has been living them out. And so we will before we have the full staff meeting, the leaders kind of talked through a so and so this was great, and it’s a huge red flag. If we don’t have any Anything like if we found like three or four weeks and it’s like, I mean everyone’s kicking butt and it’s doing like everyone’s doing really good work, but I don’t really see anything like stand out culture above and beyond type stuff. That’s like a Okay, so what do we need to do to really foster that? How can we how can people any any practical tips on like, how can we be better at precision, like finding the nuances that you know, guess? Doesn’t feel like it’s repetitive and doesn’t feel like it’s getting generic because even for me, I mean, I, we, we built that as part of our culture and it’s still really tough to find new things into inspire any, any like little nuggets there. I’m just kind of poking into this one because it’s Yeah, trying to get some coaching from you. Love it.

David Miller
So I have I have three thoughts really, really fast. Okay, so I think that the first one is, it should worry you as much about your leaders as it does your staff. If your leaders can’t find things to praise. Yeah. Right. So So part of it. Yeah. Is it? You know, the question that you should have in some ways is is, is our is it that our staff isn’t living on our values? Or is it that our leaders have such a high bar before they’re willing to praise someone that they that they’re not able to see it when it’s right in front of them? Yeah. And so and so there, there’s a reprogramming of our own minds to be able to, like, I know, I used to literally believe that if I praised less that when I would pray it would mean more. I used to, I would say that to people why I hold my praise until it’s really deserved, so that people will will know that I mean, it Yeah. Yeah, never.

Justin Price
Yeah, never really say it, right.

David Miller
Yeah. And and I’ve never felt more dumb. Yeah. I mean, like then later on and realizing how how praise really affects people. And so and so your leaders have to have to have the value of wanting to find praise. The people that are on your team Yeah, is I think is I think a piece of it. I will say that not all praise has to be public. So I could see it getting repetitive and or becoming expected. Oh, we’re gonna walk into a meeting someone from the leadership team is going to say something about one of us. And so I could see it losing what what we call in the book, The weight of praise. So the weight of it is not as heavy. If they if they figure you’re only doing it because it’s a checklist item. Yeah. And so I really lean into leaders and saying you can schedule praise, but don’t make sure they don’t know you scheduled it. Yeah, you know, I’m saying like, you know, make it feel so organic, but if you’re not, if it doesn’t naturally happen, you need to schedule it, then you should do that. Yeah. And, and continue lean into it. And so that kind of that third pieces like I would have them, lean into them as individuals. There’s something about walking up to someone’s desk and be able to say this thing that you did, was was really valuable. Because not everyone on your team, highly values praise publicly, right? Some there’s gonna be someone on your team who public praise makes them feel shameful. And that’s their own issue to figure out, but it certainly may actually hurt. Yeah, we will make them feel uncomfortable. But but to be praised, like more one on one might, they might, they might ride that for a little while and feel and feel like they’re on cloud nine because of that. And so there’s something about figuring out who your people actually are like the curiosity, being so curious about your staff that you lean into them and you know, this person loves to be praised publicly. And so I want to make sure that I fill that love bucket that that that they have, yeah, and this person would be mortified if I praise them publicly, and I need to be really intentional about that as well.

Justin Price
It’s so cool. David, that’s that’s so valuable for so many teams I’ve been. I love that. Definitely a lie I believed for a long time was that I only Give authentic praises and so I hardly ever give them. And yeah, and that’s wrong.

David Miller
Totally wrong. Well, it’s, it’s it’s wrong, but even even as you use the word, the praise does need to be authentic. Yeah, right. Right. Um, you know, they people people, barges doesn’t have to be that high

Justin Price
For praise, the bar

David Miller
Doesn’t have to be as high, you know, so, so yeah, I mean, but it does need to be authentic it You do have to believe it. Because they will know if you’re blowing smoke, right? Like they will, they will be aware of that. And it’s something we talked about in the book if you couch praise, or if it’s like, if it’s a praise, criticism, praise becomes something and again, I’ve been through leadership training that literally tells you to do that right. And I’ve been in leadership trainings that say they say this is how you give criticism is make sure you praise them on the front in the back end, man Yeah, like we’re our defenses are up. Yeah, with that kind of stuff. Like like we have learned, oh, you praise me Here comes the hammer, right? You don’t even like and so we have learned that and, and so again, we talked about If the only time your staff ever sees you is because you have a project for them to accomplish, or you need to correct something that they did, that every time you walk by, they will flinch. Yeah. But if the if you create opportunities that when you walk by, they’re like, oh, man, I wonder what he’s got for us today. Right? You know, there’s something exciting about the boss walking by your desk, versus terrifying. And I better act like I’m really working. And I think I think we do that we do that as leaders, we create that environment where we are the heavy instead of instead of the carrot. And I think we got to figure that out.

Justin Price
Sure. I think you’re just you’re striking a lot of PTSD for our listeners right now who have all been in bad work environments. And it’s like, oh, I feel that you can like go right to that moment when you’ve been working for that boss, who is just the heavy and yeah, it’s like every time they’re around, it’s like, what, what next?

David Miller
Yeah, I’ve worked for a boss in a supervisor who had his own parking spot, his own entrance and his own bathroom and so there was No chance to accidentally run into them. There was never a natural interaction, every interaction was planned. And, and, and again, and I get why he did that I get I get the the version of leadership that is put as many barriers in the way so that you don’t have to accidentally interact with anybody because you have a lot of things to accomplish. I can cognitively understand that. But when I put myself in the position of a leader and realizing that the best way to do these things is through them, and to really invest in others. Well, why, you know, why do I have a gatekeeper standing, you know, sitting at their desk, making sure that the only people that get in really deserve it, you don’t I mean, like, there’s, there’s, there’s a disconnect there for the reality, especially with younger leaders. I mean, you know, when you have millennials and Gen Z coming through, I mean, they don’t want you to be just their boss, they need to know that you actually, you know, like give a rip, you know, they need to understand that you care about them more than what they can produce for you. And, and if you’re only talking to them about what they can produce for you, and you Never have an accidental conversation at the urinal. You don’t I mean, or you never walk by them when you’re going to your car, like, you know, and give them like a goofy fist bump or something. I mean, then then all you are is is the heavy, and it’s gonna really mess with their drive to be a part of your community. Yep.

Justin Price
Can we make that the Can we make that the call out for this podcast is that if your only positive praise is the goofy fist bump as the later

Mike Mage
But what’s, uh, what’s the second competency that? You know, you can you can drill down a little bit on

David Miller
Yea, I want to talk about what I think could be maybe one of the more difficult ones. And so this idea of will be called going north. So, you know, going north is using indirect influence to redirect a person’s thinking or perspective. I mean, when you think about this concept, like we’ve I did, we identified five fundamentals of going north and here’s the reality of it like, we’ve all had leaders had to have those really difficult conversations with someone and it feels like you know, as you need to have a tough conversation or you need to somehow move someone forward they’re stuck in some way or you’re stuck in some way. It’s it’s like hitting a brick wall. Yeah. Right. Like you know, they walk into your office and they immediately cross their arms and you know, they’re they’re armed and ready for battle because they know what’s about to happen. Yeah, um, you know, what we’re really challenging leaders to do is is is to use again indirect influence you know, so like the five for example so like reveal common ground with them somehow become like minded right? You know, surprise them with a gift. You know, if you walk in and you if you’ve ever been given like a even just a trinket, you know, I mean, something small, but if you’ve been given a gift, a piece of candy, even here, your your defenses start to lower, you know, disrupt the setting, in some way. Like if every time you’re going to fire someone, you do it in your office. And that’s it. Chair, maybe you don’t make them sit in that chair, right? You don’t I mean, like, like, every time you’re having a card conversation with someone, you know, you you do it at five toward the end of the day to make sure this thing happens like, like, somehow you got to figure out, like, we need to have a hard conversation but I need to somehow as a leader is my job to get around this wall that is going to be naturally built up. So so you disrupt the setting. I one of my one of my favorite of that was actually at the church that that we were at, Mike, you know, I had a team of seven. I actually I think this was when Melissa was on staff. Okay, sister Melissa. Yeah, yeah, your sister. And, and I, like we were just hitting the wall. I mean, you know, it was it was just like a, you know, you remember it was one of those hard charging churches and you know, and and so there’s always something to accomplish and totally, and we were you know, and we put on our own camps, and so this whole thing was happening and, and so I mean it we were burned. And I remember talking to someone from another ministry and saying, Hey, I bought everyone these little airsoft guns like really cheapo ones that wouldn’t actually hurt anybody. But I remember buying them could you set up like a like a little course for us in the office we had our own kind of suite you know we were in as they sequestered us away from the rest of the staff because we were so loud noisy right and so so one edit so we had all the lights turned off put on some random lights and I and I had I had them each go in one at a time and we would time each other to see who can hit the targets with these airsoft guns and you know, people like army rolling, you know, through the office and then crawling through going around a corner. And it just, it just like, took the took the pressure out of the balloon. Yeah. You don’t immediately off a little bit. Yeah, we’re just in that moment. I everyone’s on the edge. Let’s just have fun. Yeah, for a second. And then we went back to work. Mm hmm. And so it was again, this disrupt the setting, you know, idea within within what we’re what we’re talking about last two Teach using a story. So we’re obviously doing that here on a podcast like dragon, I can say do this, or I can tell you a story about how to do this. And it connects to someone in a different way. And then create a shared experience. And you know, so again, as you do that with your team,

It really does start to lower, lower those walls. Yeah. And, and rather than telling someone what to do, you can model it and use this indirect influence idea to really show them through your actions, how it could be a recent story, I was coaching a pastor who was just in a rut, you know, again, I think that that as as human beings, like we are creatures of habit we we search for normally, like we search for the box. Yeah. And you know that because, you know, like, I bet you if we if we were to talk to your listeners for a minute, most of them walk in and have you know, they park near the same spot every day they walk out of the same, the same door of the auditorium or, you know, wherever it is, they sit in the same seat sit in the same seat. I mean, how many people at your church like, that’s my seat, you gotta mean like, you know, and they’re at least gonna, you know, the church I go to I walk in, I take a right every weekend, you know what I mean? Like, well, when I’m able to walk into the church, right, you know, it’s like, walk in and take a right I don’t do it on purpose. That’s just, it’s it became the place I remember sitting on the left side of the auditorium and it felt weird, like, it just didn’t feel like it was like we were in the same place and and so we do that in like, like, people are creatures of habit. As leaders, we we can really succumb to this and so ever again, I remember talking to a leader and he was in a rut, and I and I said this weekend, I want you to walk in a different door. I want you to park on the other side of the parking lot. And then and then you know, when you walk in and you always talk to that same guy in the sound booth. I want you to go talk to somebody else. Yeah, when you walk in the door and and i I remember talking to him after that weekend. He was like, he was like, man, I thought that was the dumbest advice. Like walk in another door. And he’s like, but I had ideas for our church that I hadn’t thought of. Yeah. Because I kept looking at it from the same angle over and over and over again. Yeah. And so there’s something about as leaders from time to time for ourselves. We’ve got it, we’ve got to change it up. Yeah. And for our team, you know, don’t order lunch in the same spot every time. You know, like, like, find opportunities, the best classes when we were all in school, the best classes were on beautiful days when the teacher took us outside to do class,

Justin Price
Sir, no doubt.

David Miller
Why is that? Like, you don’t I mean, like, it’s like it created a memory. It created something that just felt different than the monotony of every other day in every class. And so there’s something special about it. And literally nothing was different. They taught the same material they were going to teach inside classes taught outside the class. Right? Right. We’ve got to get better at this. Yeah, at being intentional in the way we lead people. And, and I and I said at the beginning, like, you know, this is one of the harder ones to master because it’s not science. This is art. Yeah, this is this is not, this is not, you know, on Tuesday, go outside on Wednesday, eat at this other restaurant on Thursday, you know, like, like, there are tricks you can do. I remember taking my staff and saying and saying, hey, on Wednesday, it’s going to be go left Wednesday, because when we would go to lunch on Wednesdays, for some reason, we always turn right. Meaning only got to the restaurants that were on the right. And so it’s like today, we’re going left? Yeah, you know, I don’t know what’s over there. And there’s just something about that, as a leader to remove the rut. Yeah.

Justin Price
Yeah. I think that a lot of leaders need to hear that encouragement because it is a it is extra work. And so I think we’re taught a lot of times that being more efficient is a better way to learn. lead. And that’s how we find ourselves in those ruts. And I think about like, I’m thinking through every leader who’s listening to this, who has just had to change everything, their scheduling, their location, their meetings, everything and they’re like, I’m just happy if my people make it on on the zoom call for the staff meeting, I’m just happy. If we pull off another Sunday and don’t see numbers drop online attendance, and we don’t get shut down in our building, if we’re a church that’s open, you know, these are the kinds of things and it’s like and David’s over here talking about bumping up the staff retreat budget. And totally, though is by by David’s book, it’s gonna give you all the support, you need to bump up that staff retreat budget, and that’s but in all reality, though, is what you’re saying is so valuable and so true, and it’s worth it. What you’re really saying is that it’s worth it if you want to be effective. If you care about the people you’re leading, then then yes, stay up the extra night. Figure it out. You know, we have a remote agency and one of the first things we had to do was figure out how to bring community to people who are all over the country. And I remember the first time my, we had somebody on staff help me, I wanted to deliver pizzas to everybody’s door at the same time. So I changed up the meeting. And so I was like, if everybody could get pizza, delivered at the same time, that’d be really cool. And then we took it a step further, and we said, Hey, we were actually introducing an intern the week before. And so I said, as you introduce yourself and what you do to the intern on our online meeting, we said just tell them your favorite pizza and where it’s from. And so so the person who was in charge of getting those pizzas ordered took notes. during that meeting, we then delivered everybody’s favorite pizza. It was a ton of work, though. Most people in leadership positions would have like if I had submitted that to my boss in many of my jobs before, if I wasn’t the one writing the check, I would have had that push back as like, Are you kidding me? Like you spent 20 hours ordering pizzas for people? And how about the 400 bucks you spent on pizzas for meaning that you normally do for free. But I will tell you that in the last year, that is something that still comes up like that is still and it’s something that we even as a team still try to figure out how to outdo because it was a surprise and delight. Yeah, it was a changeup. It was something they had never experienced before. And so we still it’s still my best idea. So feel free to take that and use it. Okay, we’re still working on it. We’re still chasing Chasing the Sun on that one. But David, I love your heart for where this is. I love this book. And I, I’m super, super stoked that you’re working to get this out there because there’s so many guys who grew up I know I grew up in the church as a young guy with no mentoring, and to have coaching and coach resources even if I can’t afford slingshot group in coaching from you guys in my church will buy that I can buy your book. Yeah, and I can get it. And so thank you for for what you’re doing, man, this is really, really awesome.

David Miller
Yeah. And just I love the story, you know, I mean, it does it. It is extra. And that is a true statement. It is extra. But I, I’m wondering what leaders are filling all their other time with? You know, I mean, I’m saying why, like, why did that, you know, I mean, you know, we’ve all read death by meeting or we’ve all looked at, you know, our felt death by meeting you know, it’s, it’s when you look at what’s actually happening in your organization, you know, aren’t most most meetings most companies most leaders are thinking through the lens of return on investment, right? Yeah. And so if you start if you moved away from the rest of this stuff, and you start understanding return on investment on those pizzas is exponentially greater right then then, no doubt 10 Normal meetings that you would do you know what I mean? Like, you know, whatever. I mean, I mean, when you think about churches like so in student ministry, camp is ridiculous. Like, like taking students to camp is a ridiculous thing to do. Yeah. For the amount of money that it takes. I remember when we were doing our own camps. Yeah. I mean, like, I remember how much of our yearly budget went into doing camp, and then how much we charge different people and all the different stuff and

Mike Mage
Starting to scratch to Oh, yeah.

David Miller
And so it’s and so camp is crazy, until you look at it through the lens of return on investment. When you start looking at the fact that you can do if you take students to a camp that’s worth more than a year’s worth of Wednesday nights. Absolutely. When a student goes to camp. As far as as far as connection as far as discipleship, as far as you know, I mean, memories and experiences that they’ll have for the rest of their life. Doing that is worth a year of Wednesday night you know youth group. So return on so is it extra work of course, but return on an investment is going to say that like doing that is is completely worth I would rather get rid of some of my Wednesday nights yeah then not do camp. Absolutely I would rather for your meetings like like I would rather figure out these. So one of the things I did for slingshot group is is when I took over as the as Vice President for coaching, I bought I made these enamel pins that you know that that went on you know, jean jacket or a backpack or you know, whatever. And I made these pins and we have like 50 to 55 people in Sintra group. But I have 21 coaches, I only gave the pins to coaches. And I said this is for you. This is every time you look at this pen, you remember the impact that you have, you remember what it means to be a part of this team and every time I bring on a new Coach, I give them an enamel pin. Yeah. And and that that became a thing,

Right? Like I want, you know, oh man, I can’t believe I lost my enamel pin. That’s so heartbreaking. Here’s another enamel pin, like I you know, I mean like, right, like, like, this is gonna matter. And that little gesture, like catapulted us forward in this disjointed team because we too are a distributed company, we’re, you know, we have people all over the country. And so to be able to mail that to someone and for them to, to open it and, and to look and you know, I’d get on Facebook and I’d be tagged in a post on Facebook about the enamel pin that they got for joining the slingshot group coaching team. Yeah. And I mean, you know, it was it’s, it was free advertising It was. It was bonding in some way it it made them look at me as a leader as I’m providing free I see you. You are not just a cog in the machine. I know who you are. I want you to have this. I mailed it to you personally with a note from me and didn’t take it your time. of course Yeah, right. Yeah. It was terrible. Yeah. I mean, it’s fun. Right. Like, like, but but the return on investment has been exponential. Yeah. Yeah. And we continue to try and figure out ways, how do we help someone to know that they’re a part of this team and that they matter that they see that they’re seen, and that they’re not just a cog in the machine? Yeah. And I think that’s, that’s the that’s the goal.

Justin Price
Right? That’s awesome. I mean, I want to be a coach just for the enamel pins. I mean,

David Miller
We won’t sell them. I had someone say, Well, why these are so rad. Why don’t we sell these and I was like, we’ll never sell them. They are they are expensive. There’s something about getting something that no one else can get. And the only reason you’re on the team.

Mike Mage
Yeah, yeah. Even if it’s something simple. It’s so cool. Yeah. Well, David, this has been amazing. Like this is awesome. Because like Justin said, I feel like we got a free coaching session. So I’m super, super grateful for you for what you do to the slingshot group, but for your book is well, I just want one quick thing before we head out. Where is where are some places where people can catch up with you and see all the cool things you got going on?

David Miller
Yea you know I really do most of the stuff that I do through slingshot group so slingshot group org is is the site you know, we have that as kind of all of our social media I have the the blessing and curse of having the name David Miller. So good luck finding me on social media as one of the most common names in America. But most of my stuff it’s it’s I’m David Miller is like social for most of my shirt, but stuff that I’m doing. And then check out the podcast. I mean, yeah, we’re on we’re about to launch season four and putting some different stuff out.

Mike Mage
Yeah, and the it’s just the slingshot group podcast

David Miller
Slingshot Group Podcast. Awesome.

Justin Price
Yeah. Really appreciate your work. Appreciate your time

So fun being with you guys. Mike, we could go on for another hour easily on going north and I know you’ve got a lot of time. Thoughts on it? Maybe we’ll even do a follow up podcast, maybe like a little bonus follow podcast because, you know, we just touched the surface on going north with David, try to keep this into some sort of a format of a podcast and and just let him tease you a little bit you should definitely get the book. Yeah. improv leadership. It’s available places that books are sold. And on Amazon Yeah. Which he didn’t, he didn’t say, but we will say that for him and, and dig into these things. But, you know, he threw us a softball pitch with the precision praise. But the going north is is super, super tough to do

Mike Mage
Well, and I think that out of the two of the five that he was really talking about, I mean, like all five of them can really increase your capacity and your ability as a leader. And really like as I was reading through them, in jest, and I sort of just like we probably shouldn’t go into all four cuz that yeah, that’s why you can get the book. And but, but the the precision praising you know like that’s something you can do tomorrow. That’s something that you can do right now. I mean get out your phone and text your bass player or your drummer or you know your your comms director or something and figure out something small that’s organic and authentic, and really just begin to change the trajectory of their life by simply saying, Thank you. I mean, like, That’s incredible.

Justin Price
It’s so good. It’s something we can’t do enough of Mike and you are really, really good at it. And I feel like I get a little better just by being around you, because it’s just kind of wears off a little bit on it. You know, one way that our listeners could actually practice it right now would be to go over to, like, wherever you’re listening to your podcasts from iTunes, and actually leave a little encouragement, a little precision praise on this podcast. It would help us a ton or jump on like Facebook and be like, Hey, have you guys heard this podcast? That’s really great. Mike mage is the best podcast host in the history of podcasts or, you know, whatever it is that you’re feeling authentically. I know mostly that would be that But whatever it is, that would be a really good way to practice you know, I think just to give you something tangible to go and do right now, that would be super super appreciated and helped helpful to us as we continue to to grow this as an opportunity to give you all more free content. Mike, what else what else we got for today? Any any teasers for next week? I’ve got a I got a little teaser for one coming up.

Mike Mage
Oh, let’s hear it. You want to hear it? I I would love to hear it.

Justin Price
So our next podcast is actually kind of a crazy one. This this girl, we promised you guys we would try to be more diverse. And we promised you all that we would try to be more diverse. And race right. This girl is is a really, really ridiculously talented designer. And I know that a lot of us are worship leaders and pastor roles and things like that. And it’s like what is designer have to do with anything? And maybe the graphic side of people are going, Oh, yeah, it’s graphic. She is an interior designer. She is a licensed interior designer. She went to school, she has a Master’s then she went to Italy learned Italian to get her degree in Italian design, which they only teach in Italian. So you have to learn the language to get this degree her master’s there in oh nine. And she’s coming on. She’s actually the design lead for a large church. And she is not on staff. She is a contracted design lead and there is nothing inside of their building that they do that doesn’t pass through her desk. As a contractor. She is hired out to do that and she does lines all their campuses. This is a church that has seven or eight campuses. And at first we were like, well, what would that even? How would that even relate to our audience? You know, a lot of us are doing 10 jobs in our church, you know, like, the last thing we need to worry about is interior design. But the reality is, we do need to worry about interior design. And also people are thinking about closing their doors, and not having church, this is a really good time to maybe fix some of your environmental design things. And it’s not about big budgets. It’s just about knowing the right things to do.

Mike Mage
Justin, that sounds amazing. I can’t wait as a guy who is a worship leader and sort of like a pretty small church. I was terrible at Interior designing and really just like figuring out where things should physically go in a room to make it feel the most inviting to make it feel the most warm. And really everything that people experience when they walk through your doors will have an impact on them. And is just like you said, Like now’s the time. You know, when you’re not having anybody in your room, now’s the time to maybe change some stuff up and freshen some stuff up. So, yeah, look really looking forward to that. Once again, thank you so much for joining us for the healthy church growth podcast where we believe that healthy things grow and growth means life.