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.

Healthy Church Growth – Episode 15 – Vince DiGuglielmo

Building a Community through Social Media

Mike Mage and Justin Price are joined by social media guru Vince DiGuglielmo to discuss common mistakes churches make on social media, and how to build a community online.

On Instagram: @kiptharipper


Transcriptions:

Mike Mage
Welcome to the healthy church growth podcast.

Mike Mage
Welcome to the healthy church growth podcast where we believe that healthy things grow and growth means life. I’m your host Mike Mage and I am joined as always by my co host, Justin Price. Justin, how’s it going?

Justin Price
It is going so well.

Mike Mage
Has anything happened in like the last three months that is pushed your entire world onto social media at all? Has anything happened?

Justin Price
For me personally I started a remodel three months ago at my house. It hasn’t pushed my world into social media, but it has flipped it upside down. Because we’ve been trying to do a remodel through COVID. Well, so well.

Mike Mage
Most people aren’t having to deal with remodel, but most everybody is having to deal with COVID or COVID-19.

Justin Price
Everyon’e Got their own remodel. Yeah. Way out their own thing. And there has been a lot of home home projects since quarantining.

Justin Price
Well, that’s that’s probably something that everyone is having to deal with for sure.

Mike Mage
But I, we, you and I both thought that it would be a really good idea to have someone on to talk to us to talk to churches and ministries and church leaders about social media, and you happen to work, you lead a company called vers creative, and you have a lot of great strategic thinking and action around social media, as most creative companies do nowadays, and so do churches. And so we decided to bring on Vince, I’m gonna try and try and say this, right. yep, I messed it up. But we had an awesome conversation about social media and really just kind of where to sit Your goals to begin your content creation for social media and suggestion, what do you think of this conversation?

Justin Price
For me, I pretty much like anything that Vince says he’s one of my favorite humans in the whole world. I’ve known Vince for a long time and had to fight for a long time to, to hire him to wait for him just the right time to hire him. And, you know, every account he has touched for us has been phenomenal. He just he’s so good at community management. A lot of people think about social media managing is like coming up with posts. And it’s not like he’s he is about how to get people talking and how to foster relationships on social. And, you know, I think, really, in this conversation, we just kind of scratched the surface. We ended the conversation, both of you, you and I were both like, yeah, we we’ve got to get another conversation with Vince just to share some of these insights. I mean, these are insights that are going out and they’re being sold to you businesses that have millions of followers on their accounts. These are large international businesses that Vince is managing. And he is sharing today with you guys a couple of like key insights into how he kind of approaches every single account that he’s managing. So I love it. His perspective on the church, his perspective on social is so authentic. Vince is literally made of gold. His heart is incredible. And I think you guys are gonna get a lot out of this. Well,

Mike Mage
without any further ado, let’s go ahead and get into our conversation.

Justin Price
I think if the passion for Jesus, in the passion for the church and the passion for the community, aren’t there, this is not gonna happen. It’s never gonna happen for you on social media.

Mike Mage
Welcome to the healthy church growth podcast. We have an incredible episode today about something that we all are having to deal with and that we all could get a little better at. So on our panel, Cast today we have Vince DiGuglielmo. Hopefully I’m saying that correctly.

Vince DiGuglielmo
Close enough.

Mike Mage
Yes. So Vince, Vince, how are you doing today, man?

Vince DiGuglielmo
I’m doing great. Thank you so much for having me on.

Mike Mage
Yeah. So we we are having Vince on because he is a social media master over at verse creative, and we’re so grateful to have him on. So, Vince, we would love for you to just give us a little bit of background about who you are. How did you get to where you are? How did you get to what you’re doing right now? Yeah, absolutely.

Vince DiGuglielmo
So, you know, I have a confession to make. First off. So before before anyone clicks out of the podcast, I have to say, I do not work at a church and I have not worked at a church. But I have spent you know, the past eight years, eight or nine years working in social media, specifically for higher education was the brunt of my career. So I worked at the University of Toledo in social media and video as an in house team. So that was the first five years of my career which is, which was a fantastic time. We had a lot of fun. And actually, you know, one point where a division one university, so but at one point, so for two years in a row, we actually ranked in the top 20 Division One universities in the country for social media engagement. Wow. Number 14, two years in a row. It’s awesome. So yeah, our main, our main gig was Twitter. That’s where we kind of killed it. Then I went and I got my master’s degree. Because I worked at the university. I was able to do that. And the day that I took my final class submitted that final paper, Justin gave me a call and said, Hey, what are you doing? Why don’t you come work for verse creative? And I said, I got off the phone with him. I said, Man, there’s no way that I can just make such a huge life change. That’s crazy. And then the very next day, I called him back and I said, Okay.

Justin Price
The best. The best story of this is I actually followed Vince through his whole career at University of Toledo. And I would oftentimes engage and follow and like, and we would talk every once in a while, Vince and I went back. I’ve known Vince since before he started his career. And there was this one moment in his career where he had a massively viral, humongous post that went national. And I just, you know, I thought it would only be fair for the listeners to hear Vince for you to recap, you know, the story of, of changing the mascot at the University of Toledo.

Mike Mage
Oh, that’s what it was. I was gonna say was it like the blue dress white dress thing?

Justin Price
It was better than that.

Vince DiGuglielmo
Okay, good. Good. I’m gonna do this to me, Justin, you need to do this to me. Okay. Okay, yeah, let’s explore one of the greatest. One of the highest highs and lowest lows of my career that happened in about a four hour span. So, you know, when you’re working with students, you have to connect with them in the way that they communicate. So that’s what we were doing. We were killing it every day posting memes that were, you know, respectful to the university, but at the same time, entertain the students connected with them. Sure. And that’s that’s why we were so good at twitter. It was every day we were posting memes we were posting content they enjoyed, so it’s really easy to get carried away. And you guys may know, the DreamWorks character Shrek is, was pretty popular as a meme. And we I thought it’d be funny to tweet out. If this gets 500,000 retweets. We’ll change our mascot to Shrek oh my gosh with a picture of Shrek And you know, I’m thinking like, Oh, this

Mike Mage
is 100,000.

Vince DiGuglielmo
Yeah, I want to make it on the teacher. Absolutely.

Vince DiGuglielmo
But, you know, I thought it was gonna get maybe two or 3000 retweets, right? Like, this is funny, whatever it had. In four hours, it had 90,000 retweets. And it wasn’t it was not stopping. Yeah, if you want to go and look it up, you can just google University of Toledo Shrek.

Mike Mage
We are we’re gonna put in the show notes. No. Yeah. Then Yeah, we can get more people to retweet.

Justin Price
So then he got picked up on national news.

Vince DiGuglielmo
Really? I have to tell the end of the story. So yeah, it did it. Good morning, America.

Justin Price
Of course, all the time. Good Morning America had talked about University of Toledo. I don’t think Vince got credit for that. Yeah.

Vince DiGuglielmo
Yeah. So essentially what happened was As you know, we did that with it without any sort of approval we gave heads up our, our direct supervisor saying, Hey, we’re sending out a tweet, it might get some attention. Yeah, we never imagined that it would balloon into this huge thing that was being retweeted by people across the country and other countries. Just, it just spiraled out of control. We were getting all these news requests and our our poor media, our poor media manager, she was fielding all of these all these calls and had to tell them, no, this is just a joke. Eventually, the athletic director did shut it down.

Justin Price
We had to pivot.

Vince DiGuglielmo
And it didn’t turn out the way that I would have hoped. But still, it was a fun memory. And you know, for the for the remainder of you know, I think that happened in April. So throughout the summer and into that next month. football season, you would see a few strikes at the football games. And you know people still asking what about Shrek? shrugs? So there you go. That’s my big. That was my big news debut.

Mike Mage
I just googled it and there’s very funny USA Today Toledo says its Twitter campaign to change mascot to Shrek was a hoax. Come on. What I put a bad headline that’s a bad man.

Vince DiGuglielmo
Yeah, that’s slimy. That’s not even what it was. It wasn’t a railroad. It was just, it was just a joke, man.

Justin Price
Wow. You know, so Vince has been overseeing the strategy, the social media strategy at verse for a while and he’s had the opportunity to oversee some multi million user accounts and continue this in some really cool ways. We’ve seen some amazing post in success over the years by just listening to Vince Do things that I’d never know as a creative director I’d never would have thought up I’d never would have even thought about. And, and the one thing that I would say I would give Vince the most credit for is just he has this knack for listening to what’s happening, and finding ways to interpret it into the community. And it has a lot to do with understanding the community, and building a community if you just if you’re out there listening, and you’re like, Hey, I’m gonna try something crazy like that. Maybe it’ll work for my church. I think the thing that that happened, though, that you you got to make sure you hear is that Vince had built this following this audience on Twitter for years before this thing actually happened. And so there was so much groundwork that went into something going viral like that, we oftentimes just think we see the end result thing we see the last post we see, you know, things like that. And what we miss is just all of the, the prep it takes to get your audience to that point. And so I just you know, when I think about Vince’s skills more so than his ability to do this massive viral type of a post is more about just really he’s a genius at understanding community building. And what’s funny is that we get into this on this stuff. It’s it’s amazing how simple some of the things are that that I he has done for our accounts. But but it’s just more of like, the practice and the the putting in the reps. And, and then and then just feeling out the audience and seeing how it can play out. But I’m excited for us to kind of unpack some things for churches. I hope you guys listen through this. We’ll make this a shorter episode than some of our other ones, but it’s gonna be powerful. It’s gonna be really good. Well, thanks for sharing that Vince too. I know you’re incredibly, you’d love to tell.

Mike Mage
So, so Vince, you’re obviously you do a bunch of social media stuff, and obviously in the time that we’re living in right now and this hasn’t probably changed, but just the focus from, you know, churches having to really live in social media spaces is now becoming way more of a highlight for everybody. And so I would love to just sort of get your thoughts on, what do you see churches doing right now in social media that is working maybe just from like a real broad sense? Or maybe what what are the shifts in social media? Have you seen over the past three months for churches?

Vince DiGuglielmo
Oh, wow, the past three months, I mean, the past three months have been huge, you know, with with COVID, everyone has to put a much greater focus on live streaming and really both bolstering their digital audience. And it’s unfortunately it’s kind of a thing where you know, if you didn’t have those assets to begin with, if you didn’t have a large digital following, if you didn’t have that connectedness or a person on staff who is running the social media, you see a lot of these churches kind of floundering which is unfortunate in it. But you know, one thing I do want to address I want to go back a little bit further because there are two. There are two big things to me that I see churches doing. And a lot of community based organizations doing that are against what really works on social media these days. So if you want to think about social media, really, it’s it’s our way of connecting with each other at its core, you know, human humans just want to feel connected with each other. And that’s what social media at its core really is. You know, when it started, that wasn’t so much the case it was this novel thing, where we we’re really finding out what is the identity of Facebook, what is the identity of YouTube? So the first thing that I really noticed that a lot of these community based organizations are doing wrong, which I would definitely love churches in that category is trying to go viral, staying in that viral mindset. And of course, we just spend the first You know, three, five minutes talking about that track. But the thing is, that’s not as effective before as, I’m sorry, it’s not as effective today as it was before. So you know, when YouTube first started, especially, it’s easy to call out those hits, you had Chocolate Rain, Charlie Bit me these things that everyone was kind of experiencing. But as the internet progressed and social media progressed, everyone kind of specializes what they’re interested in. They’re following the pages they’re interested in. So it’s become a cluster of tight knit communities, versus this one community that everyone’s kind of taking a part in. So really, you know, when you’re trying to go viral, you’re probably spending, you know, you might be spending a lot of time some, in some cases, a lot of money on a big production or something or, you know, something that’s just have this huge scope, and then if it doesn’t work, it’s easy to get deflated. About that, or just resign social media all together and say, well, it doesn’t, it doesn’t work for us. Yeah, we weren’t able to hit it big. When really you’re you’re missing the point. You’re not trying to hit it big on the whole internet. You know, really what you want to do is foster that community that you already have and take what you have in person and bring it online and really generate that. So you know, and even if you do go viral, I think one of the last things I saw from the church that went viral and expanded even outside of the church community, was that the drummer for what was the song Ocean’s right Yeah, uh huh. Yeah, the metal drummer, and that that went outside of the sphere of influence of the church, but that’s going viral, you know, What impact did that have? Right? Probably not much,

Mike Mage
especially it probably even more negative than

Vince DiGuglielmo
anything, you know, all that to say, you know, going viral. It’s really not the greatest moment. marketing strategy, if you want to call it that way, you know, because the impact is so low.

Mike Mage
Can you can you give us maybe like one or two examples. So obviously, you know, the drummer drumming on oceans like that went viral, but that church was not trying to go viral. So because I feel like that’s what happens is people the things that actually go viral are not the things that like people are really trying to go viral. So what does it look like if a church is trying to like, chase down this strategy that is pretty ineffective? Can you give us like one or two examples of what that might look like?

Justin Price
Yeah, I saw some I saw some like Christmas things this year, where churches really went all out on a couple of things that hit really well. At Christmas. I think Easter didn’t do well this year. I don’t know why. I don’t know why it was it was a COVID thing. The you know, the years in the past, I think some churches have done well. A lot of churches, you know, are obviously not in a position to be going after it. But I think the larger churches who are are attempting are succeeding with it. But I really, you know, more than the morality thing is is just I was kind of curious to like, Where’s your head at Mike with what Vince just said about a segment in social media escape? You know, what are you? Are you experiencing that? Do you see that as far as you know, is your social media totally different than mine?

Mike Mage
I see social media becoming like maybe it’s maybe it’s what Vince is talking about is like people just trying to go viral. So they just throw stuff up there. That seems crazy, disingenuous and like over the top, and I guess that’s, I’m not looking for that in my social media world. Like I feel like I’m I’m looking for what you’re talking about Vince and like, just genuine connection with people. And so like a lot of the things that I even tend to engage with have nothing to do with big splashy statements or super well manicured pictures or you know any of that kind of stuff like I want what you’re talking about, especially right now, where it feels like me as a nine on the enneagram but also is like an extrovert, like I need connection. So bad and I am missing out so much on just the natural rhythms of that. So yeah, Justin, I mean, like, to your point, I think that the algorithm that social media has is so smart and is so well attuned statistically to who we are as people that it’s it is technically I guess, giving us stuff that we want, but it’s probably not giving the stuff that we need.

Justin Price
Are you saying his book is segregating us? Yeah.

Mike Mage
Yeah. I think that they they understand, I mean, because there are, they are just trying to pull you in deeper to their platforms and like, that is

Justin Price
I need to get more click time like more clicks. Yeah. So they can run more ads.

Mike Mage
Well so here’s a great here’s a great

Justin Price
even sure that’s a bad thing. Sure. No and I don’t not inherently evil even though I know your thoughts on social media.

Mike Mage
Well, yeah, but like so let’s say my wife and I were sitting in bed and you know, we’re both on our phones and like my my, so my Facebook I’m scrolling through is I political posts, Good gracious. It is gear talk for praise and worship. It’s people selling their pedals and guitars, on forums. It’s stuff about worship leading or whatever, it’s stuff that I’m, you know, interested in. And then I look on hers. And she has the weirdest Facebook Like, like profile or her. What do you what do you call Grace? A certain Facebook newsfeed. Oh my gosh. We should have a list of definitions in the show notes too. But yeah, her her newsfeed is just like the weirdest crap. It is. It is like, these really strange, like kitschy videos of like, you know, dogs praying before they eat their dinner or something. Or, you know, it’s some weird news story about, you know, some kids getting abducted in Idaho or something. And then it’s like a bunch of moms trying to sell things on, like mom swap sites or something. And so like, it could not be more radically different, even though her and I probably have like close to five or five or 600 mutual friends, like neither one of us sees anywhere close to the same thing.

Vince DiGuglielmo
Yeah. But just to answer your question from before, I mean, the things they, you know, to put it in tangible, what organizations are doing and try and go viral. It’s things like that. I mean, it’s it’s flash mobs. It’s, you know, the big, flashy productions. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with you know, there’s a definite difference between Putting on a well done production service and providing that level of entertainment or value for your audience. That’s a completely separate thing continue to do that continue to create good content. But, you know, what’s the intention behind it? Yeah, would be my question. Right.

Mike Mage
Well, that’s really good. Well, what’s your what’s your second thing that you think that you know, organizations or churches are are not doing great.

Vince DiGuglielmo
Wow, I’m impressed that you remembered that was a quite the tangent. We went off on Thank you. No, thank you. So the The second thing is just treating social media like a billboard or a dumping ground for flyers, you know, your your Facebook page, your Instagram page. It’s not a cork board in the hallway. Don’t just fill it with flyers, no one. No one wants to see that. I mean, if we’re going to be honest, sure. People need that information. And I think there are Are the correct avenues to get people that information? This event is at this time, you know, where we’re having a potluck, we’re having a picnic, whatever it is. That’s important. service times are important, especially with, you know, COVID. Now, is the church open? Is it closed? Where’s the livestream? Where can Where can you view that there’s a way to deliver it so that your news feed or your Instagram feed isn’t just all fliers. Yeah, because what happens is, you know, people aren’t necessarily liking these things, right? They’re not liking, they’re not commenting. So every time someone scrolls past one of your photos, and they’re not liking and they’re not commenting, Facebook and Instagram, especially, are taking that into account and factoring that into their algorithms. So that person specifically is not going to be served your posts in the future at as high of a rate. Now on Instagram, you can actually go and see the accounts that you interact with the most The accounts that you interact with in the least it’s in your follower tab. Oh well, so you can see which ones that you’re not really getting served well, just based on the fact that you’re not liking you’re not commenting. And then overall what that does to the page is that devalues your posts for everyone. Not you know not in a huge way but you know if 90% of your audience is not liking commenting clicking anything for then overall, you’re going to have a less a smaller impact in a newsfeed tour.

Mike Mage
Okay, so how can you change that so how can you go from you know, making because I totally see what I probably see this more than the first thing that you were talking about, especially with a lot of smaller churches, you know, like, this is a way for us to contact you know, our people. This is a way for us to connect with our people. You know, as we get rid of our bulletins as we get rid of our newsletters, like, this is what we’ll just dump it all into social media, because that’s where everyone is. So what’s like the healthy balance between? What’s like the healthy balance between, you know, connecting with people, but also informing them? And is there like a better way to do that than just like a post or even a picture?

Vince DiGuglielmo
Yeah, that’s a great question. So I think, you know, the easiest thing you can do is move that content to your Facebook and Instagram stories. And email, of course, you know, emails, a place where people say, Hey, tell me about events. Tell me about what’s going on. That’s where you should be sending a lot of those event based, event based communications. And then yeah, of course, the stories because when you go into stories, it deletes after 24 hours. So people who are checking out your church for the first time on social media, they’re not seeing a bunch of fliers. They’re seeing what’s actually happening. You want them to come to your page and see humans where they want to See that it’s a place where they can come and connect with other people. They don’t want to see a bunch of text that doesn’t tell them anything about who you are. Yeah. And then I would say, you know, a third option would be have your pastor or someone on your communications team to present What’s going on? You know, I think that’s okay. I think there’s there’s some transparency in that and there’s even some charm in that if you have someone on staff actually showing up and saying, hey, I want to see you at this week’s church service. I want to see you at our Wednesday night picnic like Yeah, come on down. Well, I there’s definitely something to that as well.

Mike Mage
That’s cool. What is like the so if you were to post something, not in stories, but like an actual post on Instagram? What is like a mark for you? Maybe it’s a percentage of people engaging with it. Maybe it’s like actual engagement. I don’t know how you how do you judge whether something is a good post or not? So that like I post something I was like, wow. That didn’t work. I’m not going to do that, again, I gotta pivot and do something else what’s like a good, like stat or, you know, mindset to go and

Justin Price
we call that a key performance. Hey,

Mike Mage
go. Thank you. Yes, it’s a cake the business talk. Appreciate it. Yes.

Justin Price
What what are some of the key performance indicators? Vince, for us the measuring? Yeah, I

Vince DiGuglielmo
mean, if you’re talking about Instagram, just, I think likes are huge. I know, that’s super simple. But just looking at the amount of likes, you know, we were just looking at a church client a couple weeks ago, that, you know, we were doing some social media audits and running some things for them. And I just went through their page and saw what’s getting likes. This happened to be a church that posted a lot of flyers, but also had some content with humans in it, you know, they had a lot of good baptisms. They had some events, and you could see the stark difference between the flyers and the humans. You know, when you see something like that, that trigger something and say, okay, post more humans. That’s, you know, that’s just that’s reinforcement. That’s reinforcing behavior. So, do more of that, of course shares. I think one of the biggest things for building community is if you’re tagging people in the posts, and they’re sharing it, that’s, that’s really huge. So how many shares is it getting? Comments are great, of course, I mean, those are the big three. And on the back end, as a manager, you’ll be able to see impressions too, which is great. For those who aren’t savvy and all the social media lingo, that’s the amount of times your post has showed up on a newsfeed. So it could even be to the same person multiple times that will count as multiple impressions and reach is the counterpart to that how many unique users have seen your posts, so those are always going to be helpful metrics to look at.

Justin Price
I got if we were managing account for any church and you guys If you’re a church thinking like how can we do a better job managing it? What are these KPIs? All it looks like is listening back replay, stop this right now playback, those things that Vince just said, put them into a spreadsheet. And every Monday morning, go in and just check them. Just Just check your just check those stats, and record it. And then at the end of the month, just look at everything and say, are we doing better? Are we doing worse? That’s how you know if you’re, if you’re improving, or if you are missing the boat. That’s It’s really that simple. So that’s what our like, what our team what our managers would do. And then we would just send a report back to the church and say, we’re doing better or we’re doing worse, and this is how we would prove that would be through those KPIs. And there’s something

Mike Mage
that I really liked with that too. It’s so easy for us. I mean, cuz everybody has access to social media right now. And whether you’re an organization or just a regular normal person or it’s your personal account or whatever you want when you post something like there is that instant, instantaneous thing that you’re looking for or that you want. But I think going in in from a strategic standpoint, taking a larger set of data, and then viewing that as opposed to individual posts might just at the end of the day might just help people’s like mental well being and emotional well being rather than just trying to take each post in a singular format. So I really like I love that.

Justin Price
That’s a great point, Mike. Yeah, yeah, really good. Well, hey, I you know, Vince, I just was wondering if either of you guys have any thoughts on the fact that I just I’m so tired of seeing worship pictures of like, from behind the pictures of the stage where we’re all worshiping the band and how great they are. I know that’s not what’s really happening. But it was like, I feel like so many social when I because we do a lot Have these you know, church audits and and we’ll have people say, Okay, can you tell us what, you know, what do we need to be working on? What do we need to do? It’s like I look at it’s just news. It’s it’s flyers and, and pictures from of this stage from behind somebody who’s raising their hand, which is obvious, obvious indication that it’s a phenomenal worship team. If somebody is raising their hand,

Mike Mage
that’s a question

Justin Price
I want. That’s what I’m imagining. And what I really love is when they’re the only one in the whole room, and you can tell the photographer or the whoever’s I can turn to me, like, got behind the one. That’s a bit of a tangent, but I have to,

Mike Mage
I don’t know what you’re talking about. I’ve never been in that situation at all, ever. I’ve never done that

Justin Price
not looking through your churches. If you’re in that position, it’s time to move on and time to start building some community and not just post pictures of your worship and even though your lighting guy probably did a really nice job and Probably it’s really dope. Alright, so I want to talk about influencers and micro influencers specifically. So everybody knows, for the most part if you if you’ve been alive and on social media for the last couple of years about influencers, like, you know, multi million dollar per post influencers that have hundreds of millions of followers and, and get paid tons of money to post things for brands, just the fact that I said it, some people are listening to this, and they’re like, they’re cringing, that I’m even bringing up influencers into this conversation. And I think, Mike, you might have used the word slimy. Yeah. But like so this is the world that we live in, you know, that I live in as a digital creative director is helping people’s message get out through social media, right. And so there’s two ways to do that when you’re an organization, right? When you’re a personal account. Facebook is doing all of the algorithm things that Vince just told you. If you’re a person who gets engagement Facebook, you know, allows you to get engagement. If you’re a business who posts great content that gets engagement, Facebook still doesn’t want to give that engagement away to you, they want you to pay for it, we typically will only see like, point 02 to 1% or 2% on a good day, an organic engagement without any money being spent for boosts. Yeah. And so you’re it’s a pay to play game when you’re a business or an organization. Everybody on the track with that?

Mike Mage
Yes. Okay.

Justin Price
So, so that’s why oftentimes, you know, we for most of the accounts that we run, whether it’s for a nonprofit or for profit, we always have to put in Media Buy because it’s like why are we going to spend all this time making a post and then only point 02 percent of your audience even sees it right? We need to spend 20 bucks 30 bucks 50 bucks whatever per post to boost it so that your own audience who already said they like you will actually get to see your content and that’s, that’s just the game that’s it’s a media channel, right? that’s what that’s what they built and, and good job for them for doing it. And, and both, you know, the whole engine works really, really well if you play that game, but personal people can get their message out there. And if they are engaging Enough Enough with their content that within their personal accounts, Facebook has not choked them because Facebook wants those personal organic engagements to keep happening. And so this whole undercurrent now that there are trillions of dollars being spent on digital marketing that has just been moved over from traditional marketing. Yeah, and and now that there’s so much saturation in sponsored ads, and we’re so attuned to like, sponsored ads and things like that, that used to work really, really well and we’re starting to like really drown block that stuff out mentally when we’re scrolling through our feeds. This underground this this whole market of influencing, underground kind of a way through influencers has worked really taken hold as a very effective way to sell and to get your message out there and to get brand awareness and so even to the point where we’ve seen influencers like Kim Kardashian is just the one that I always just throw out there as one that you’ve most likely heard of. Like we wouldn’t buy something from Kim because we know that she was just paid to post that and maybe and we might still buy something from him from Kim if we’re if we’re a fan and that kind of thing but

Justin Price
but like if Mike maids just like generally like promote something or casually you know, Mike, what do you have 1000 Yeah, about that follows. So we would call Mike is a micro influencer. And so from a sleazy marketing way, I just like the most valuable way I can actually get 1000 people in Mike circle to know about my brand is for Mike to post an authentic post about it, and so on. Just throwing this out there for you guys to tell me how sleazy and how wrong this is. But I think when I think about the church opportunities for growth and for marketing and for brand awareness for a church, we’ve always said that 90% of people who walk into the church know somebody else in your church, right? What I know is that like, that’s your best possible audience to like authentically, this isn’t marketing talk. This is just like real deal. If I know somebody who goes to your church, you know that relationship is the best way that you can potentially grow your church through the people who are already at your church, right? So making content that people at your church want to share is the best way to get brand awareness out there to your potential growth platform of your audience. So the potential that you have for growth is kind of highly available within the network. of the People who go to your church Yeah. And so it to me it’s like to take some of the principles of micro influencing, which is basically to supply people with the kind of messages you want out there and the kind of products you want being posted by them. And encouraging them to post on your behalf authentically would be like a ridiculous way to grow your church like a it would just destroy if you just took those principles and I know it sounds kind of slimy but I basically walked through this with another church and we looked at this exercise of like, if you took you know the top hundred most engaging people in your church, which basically means like now when when people start going to your church, you want to get their, their social media handle, and you start following them and you start franking them. And you started actually, if this was a business, this is what we would do. You know, you would rank them and you would go after your top hundred people that are going to your church and you would say Pay you get a free cup. Will you take a picture of it on Instagram when you’re drinking coffee and watching church online? Hey, here’s our here’s our new baptism shirts, here’s our new you know, shirt what this campaign or whatever Will you take a picture some cool lifestyle picture, you know in that shirt or with your family or wherever. And it would be a an amazing way to get everybody to want to wear their shirts. And this is already happening, by the way on an organic level. Like, what I’m suggesting is that we actually be intentional about finding good, you know, basically brand ambassadors and then actually delivering strategies content to them and making it easy for them to talk about us. That’s all I got to say go. What are you thinking?

Mike Mage
Oh, that’s it, Justin. That’s all you had to say.

Vince DiGuglielmo
No, so so what you’re talking about? It’s incredibly effective. There’s no two ways about it. You know, that people sharing their experience. is always going to be the most effective thing you can do to sell your organization. Now you’re talking about, you know, you’re talking about doing it in a way with the micro influencer model. And really, I would call that even astroturfing. Yeah, you’re, yeah, you’re taking that grassroots approach and kind of manufacturing it. So, I mean, to me, I, you know, if you’re listening to this and you are thinking of that is going to be a really effective method it is it is going to be. I’ll tell you, though, what excites me more than that is when it happens on its own. And you’re giving people the tools to share and reinforcing behaviors outside of a model where you have to ask them to do it. I think to me as an introvert and someone who just doesn’t generally like to impose upon anyone, asking people to share things always just feels uncomfortable to me personally. What what’s exciting is when you see a community brewing in your church or your organization, and that overflows onto social media, I think that’s the end goal. Right? So when I worked at the University of Toledo, our goal, running the main academic, Facebook page and Twitter page Instagram page was to foster the feelings that our students already had, and to encourage them to share their own experiences in a way. Yeah, yeah. I mean, they have the school spirit. So they’re posting photos. What we do when that happens is share those photos. That’s a positive reinforcement. So if someone’s doing that with your church, they’re sharing photos, you can share those photos. And what that tells them is, you know, the church likes it when I post photos, I will post more photos. So and you do that on a larger scale, you’re doing that you know, every week, maybe you know, two or three times a week if possible in the stories or on the feed. That just means that more and more people are going to be creating content around that experience. And what I’ve seen, be really effective. And this is the best really example I can share of this is there was a group of friends at my old church that I was not a part of. That’s not important. There was. There’s a group of friends of my old church that they all met at the church, they I think they were in a life group together, or you know, they just started hanging out, and they were in each other’s weddings, and they went on vacation together. And every time they posted, it was always man, I remember when we met back at church, when we met back at this service when we met back in our life group, and what a better advertisement for your church then you can find lifelong friends and real life change and do life with people around you. So I mean that what you’re talking about Justin is very effective. I’d like to take get just one step further and just say that we can foster that community overflow and bring it onto social media. And that’s where the real advertisement happens.

Justin Price
You know, I love what you’ve said, Vince, I think there’s probably a happy medium, between both. So there are certain ways where you could be thoughtful and intentional. And in try to make it available for people to be so doing things like photo opportunities inside of a building, or on your campus. Yeah. Get making it just, it’s the dip. People are taking pictures there. So if it’s the difference of just making sure that your logo or that your colors or your theme or whatever is is made easy for them, you might have twice as many pictures you might have. You know, I don’t think that there’s anything wrong with that. That is a completely strong marketing concept we would give any business is to have a photo spot somewhere within a business. To allow people to share what’s happening there. And or to remind them, even if they don’t take a photo in front of that, they’re more likely to take a photo while they’re on your campus and geotag it into to give you more lift. The second thing, though, is Vince’s we were kind of flirting around with is is kind of a principal, we use that verse that we have been using, since the first day that I ever creative directed a service and that is Vince back back 15 years ago, when we were doing church together, and you were a volunteer. It was is this service shareable in the way we talked about it then because sharing wasn’t a social media thing then it was will people go home and talk about it? And we would do crazy things right? Like we would do some pretty insane things within the service. That way the intentionality was like, Can we do something can we push the content works trying to portray in a weird way. And so sometimes it was like art installations to, you know, to help deliver a message point. Sometimes it was like, we’re not going to we’re not going to do a conventional service structure. We’re going to pray for this, you know, local need. And we’re going to break up in this way, and we’re going to go try to do something different. Or we’re going to go do X, Y, or Z. I mean, we, we took a fresh approach so often because we were trying to say, how do we make this more? How do we make this something that is not just vanilla, and something that people just leave? And they forget. And so so much of creative directing, is trying to say, can we can we push this Can we? Can we push it any further and make it memorable? And now, you know, I’ll be the first to admit I pushed it too far on many occasions.

Justin Price
I know you’re, you’re holding back some laughing Vince and you could tell some terrible stories on bad ideas. But you know what I would rather I would rather go down as it with my creative directing, you know, career of going down on a bad idea than not trying and just playing it safe. And when you look at how much those ministries grew, I mean that that ministry when you start we, you know, geez, when we first met that ministry grew by 10 X in like, four years, that was insanity. The next ministry doubled, the next ministry doubled. I mean, just like, really, really amazing growth. And I’m not saying that it was because of me or these memorable moments, but they certainly played a factor in the growth of those of those ministries. And so anyways, that’s where I think is there is a healthy balance is to use that understand that principle and then go, have we given people an opportunity to grab a handle that they could share, have we given them a bite sized nugget that they could, that they would share that they would want to talk about, have we done anything that that has sunk in deep enough where It’s worthy of being talked about. I know, you know, Mike recorded this awesome cover of where the streets have no name. And it was like, it wasn’t the best performance of were three times no name. And I’m sorry, Mike. And I told I called Mike afterwards like it was like, but it was it was really unique. It was really fresh. It was a little it was just different enough. I think what I had been like three years since I was standing 15 feet away from Bono singing that and in the fact that like Mike took me back to that place and connected it. And that was like something that came out of his churches stream was like, so powerful that I wanted to talk about it. I wanted to tell Mike how great it was, I wanted to tell my friends like this gave and tried to cover Bono like, and he did it and he and it was successful, you know, in his own way, and it was unique. And that was so cool. And it gave me something to talk about. And obviously you know, sometimes giving people something to talk about is like really deep spiritual. Live change things and sometimes it’s covering you too. You know, it’s, it’s gonna be a lot of different things. And there’s not some like perfect formula for any of it. But this mentality of going after what you’re doing and asking yourself even just that check of like, is this memorable? Is this worthy? Like, is this even worth like? Because I think the gospel is really memorable. And I think when Jesus was like giving us a model, during his three years of ministry, he was doing a bunch of really crazy stuff. And he was changing the venue up and he’s using all of these different tools to his advantage. And yeah, maybe there’s a lot of bad things inherently about the internet. But I feel like if Jesus ministry was happening right now, he’d be shaking it up on social media. I don’t know I could be wrong. You guys can you guys can tell me I’m wrong, but that’s where I’m at. And I’m I’m sorry for getting on soapbox there. I promise I’ll be quiet.

Vince DiGuglielmo
I just want to say quick in addition to that, too, you know what what you really saying is, I think if the passion for Jesus, and the passion for the church and the passion for the community aren’t there, this is not gonna happen. It’s never gonna happen for you on social media. If people aren’t excited about what’s going on in your church, they’re not going to go online and tell other people about it. They’re not going to be posting about their experience about it. So that needs to happen first.

Justin Price
That’s true social media can never be the fabricator of the passion. Like there’s no there’s no out there’s nothing you can do no strategy that you can do to make this passion and to get that that underground, that current of excitement and share

Mike Mage
well, and I think that that’s if we’re talking about an authentic bridge to like a genuine thing. That’s where that resides in. I mean, like you can, I feel like people our age and younger, are our generation and younger, whatever millennials and Gen Z Specifically, they they know when something is fake. And I think that if you are genuinely and authentically passionate about something that comes through really well too, so that to me maybe that’s like the biggest thing that I’m, as you know, we’re talking about social media and figuring out how to make this, you know, a unique expression of what is happening in your church or in your ministry or in your organization, whatever. Maybe for me, like that’s, that’s the biggest piece that that I need to see in something that is that makes me want to engage on social media. So

Justin Price
we’d love to have that conversation more with you guys. We’d love to, you know, everybody who is listening, I would love to engage in deeper also would like to hear stories about what what people are doing to to use social media for good. I think there’s a lot of Really cool things happening in the midst of all the the baloney.

Mike Mage
Right? Isn’t that that’s that’s the best word for that right? Sure.

Justin Price
We definitely need to have Vince back on mic as well. It’s the one takeaway. I think

Mike Mage
that like this. We’re just literally just scratching the surface. So just scratch it. Yeah. Hey, Vince, is there is there one more as we wrap up here, this last thing? Is there. One more thing? Maybe just like one tiny. You know, word of advice when it comes to social media, something quick that you can leave with our audience. Stay away from Shrek.

Mike Mage
I love it. No, that’s, that’s beautiful. Well, Vince, thank you so much for being on this. And like we said, We’d love to have you back on again. So awesome.

Vince DiGuglielmo
Thank you guys. This was so fun.

Justin Price
I know that Vince is incredible. And sometimes you know when you work with somebody every day, yeah, you take them for granted. Right? You know, we don’t i don’t just get to sit down and have enough conversations with Vince. Yeah. And, man, what a great time. So much good information and knowledge. I love his heart. I love how he can take like just slimy marketing stuff and steer us in the right direction with it.

Mike Mage
Well, and I mean, like you were saying earlier, he really is, it seems like he’s made of gold. And in a world. In a world, in a world where it feels like social media, it has so much weight and darkness to it, honestly, not to get like, overdramatic but he does bring a level of heart and positivity and just the the idea that it’s there to build community is super important. So I don’t know about you, but one of the biggest things I learned is I just need to post a picture of Shrek and I think that we’re good to go. That’s that’s all it takes. Yes, yes. The only thing I took away from this so

Justin Price
in 10 years later, it’s still

Vince DiGuglielmo
Track.

Mike Mage
No context, just a little bit Shrek.

Vince DiGuglielmo
Yeah, it’ll work well,

Mike Mage
hey, if you if you liked this podcast if, if this is something that you’ve thought was valuable, we would absolutely love if you could share this with your team, if you could share this with your ministry, your your staff team at church, your friends, even your family. Sure, we’ll take that. And if you could share that with us, if you could rate this podcast, it really just helps us to helps us to not only know what’s working and what maybe isn’t working, but it also helps us to engage with you and continue to create this content for you, the church to continue our healthy growth. So, once again, thank you so much for joining us here at the healthy church growth podcast where we believe that healthy things grow and growth means life

Healthy Church Growth- Episode 14 – Mike Mage

Bonus Episode.

In light George Floyd’s death and the conversations happening around race nationwide, Mike Mage discusses how creatives can pave the way to a more inclusive and loving Church. We also lay out how the Healthy Church Growth Podcast will be more intentionally inclusive and aware moving forward.


Transcriptions:

Mike Mage
Welcome to the healthy church growth podcast. My name is Mike, and today is going to be a little different. I don’t know how we should actually come in and talk about this. I don’t know how I need to address this. I’m going to do the best I can. And I’m going to try and do as minimal editing as I can. Because I want this to be a little uncomfortable. I want you to know how uncomfortable I am. I’m sure you are too. Then I wish we weren’t. I hope you’re doing all right in this time. I really do. And it’s crazy that Justin and I had this idea to start this podcast about healthy church growth and team culture and a little bit of leadership but also like a little bit of creative practical tips for those in the church and We had that idea so long ago, it was the fall of 2017. And we recorded some things. We did a few rounds of interviews. And it just, you know, never really got off the ground. And we get back together in the fall of 2019. Really the winner end of 2019. And so we’re going to do this. Let’s do this. Come on, let’s do this. We still believe in this. So still great. Let’s give this a go. And so 2020 rolls around. And we have all these interviews sort of banked up. Literally, right. The moment that we were releasing them is right as the moment that at least for America, for the US that the Coronavirus hits, the pandemic hits, things start getting shut down, lockdown happens. And we are doing a podcast of a healthy church growth. And so you know, there’s a saying that says Like, if you will Want to if you want to make God laugh, go ahead and make plans. And that’s kind of what happened a little bit, or at least it’s kind of it feels like it happened and pandemic rolls on. Churches looks weird. Church feels weird. We all go to online platforms and the way we knew of doing Church has changed, now has changed and we’re in a totally different landscape than we ever were before. And you add on top of that, all of the disruption that is happening in our culture and community now, in regards to racial tensions, there’s protests. There’s people getting hurt. people’s livelihoods being called into question, anger and resentment and outrage at a scale that I don’t feel like I’ve ever seen in my life, and I feel like We need to talk about that. And we as healthy church growth, want to be a part of that conversation. And I tried to write out something that I was gonna say about this. It’s just really difficult. And I can’t imagine what it’s like to be a person of color right now. Really ever, in this country that I felt like, has given me every opportunity to succeed, then it’s really just been up to me to work as hard as I can to obey all the rules to follow the steps one by one. Man, I feel like this system is worked out great for me. But I am a white male, that a predominantly white church in a predominantly white area. And that’s been my experience for most of my life. You know, I remember in 2014 I just made the decision before Thanksgiving of 2014 to not be a part of believe anymore is one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever had to make. My son was born my first son Caleb was born in 2014, June of 2014. And from the moment he was born as probably a couple months before that, I knew that I couldn’t do that thing anymore. That about bellary if I couldn’t do bellary anymore, I’d that’s not the data I wanted to be. And things get right sized very quickly. When you have a kid for Thanksgiving, my family and my wife’s family. We’ve known each other for 20 years or so. And we actually vacation together a couple times which is super cool. I just went over a lot of people who can say that about their in laws, that they can all vacation together the family and their in laws and get along really well. And so we did that this was the second year in a row that we had done that, but I remember watching protests about Michael Brown

Mike Mage
And the anger, the pain. That was a real thing. That’s that’s one of the first times that I remember thinking, wow, this is different. And I remember, but I feel like it was the same week. Tamir Rice, a 12 year old boy in a park somewhere in Ohio, who’s playing and he had a toy gun that he pointed at an officer. And the officer shot him. And I said nothing. I remember having a conversation in the kitchen with my mom about all of this. That we were having lunch and I remember talking about and how crazy it was. And we were in Blue Ridge in so just north of Atlanta. And at the time, I had just moved home from Atlanta moved back to Tampa with my wife and my son. But we had just moved from Atlanta and there was so many Black Lives Matters, protests and walks and blocking I 75 in after I remember us talking about how messed up it was. But then I said nothing. I, I did nothing. And I don’t know why. And that’s really hard to wrap my head around. Why didn’t we say anything? Maybe it was out of fear. Maybe it was out of ignorance. Maybe it was out of apathy. But I can’t do that. Now. Know that this issue is complex in me even saying that is an understatement of the century. Truly, he was 12 years old. My son is six. I know for a fact that if my son, a toy gun, something that is very clearly a toy at a police man, he would not be shot. Why? I was talking with Justin and Hannah, who’s one of our project managers about I feel like we should say something. That’s what I said to them. Justin just said this is so out of my area of expertise. But I want to help and I want to do anything I can what can we do to help? What can we do? I think that we can encourage. I know that there are protests that turn violent and destructive. I know there are chaos makers, but there always has been. I’m not even talking about the ratio protests. I think that the chaos makers have always been around me chaos was in the beginning. God put order to chaos. He put peace to chaos. And then there’s always seems to be this pole. back to that. When the way of God, the way of Jesus is one of peace, one of restoration, reconciliation, Grace, mercy, love. That’s what we can do. I think there’s a lot of different ways I mean, for me as a as a white person, as a white male, I have had to understand where I have been given preferential treatment. Even in like how I wake up in the morning. I do not have to worry. I’ve never worried about being unjustly arrested, or worse. Never. It’s our responsibility, all of us to make every life matter, including people of color. Listen, you can listen, you can let people of color lead, have them lead. You can diversify your ministry. So after the George Floyd, shooting, and protests really begin to break out my pastor Matthew Hartsfield

Mike Mage
The situation as someone in a leadership position as a pastor should. And he read the verse from revelation revelation seven nine. That just said, After this I saw a vast crowd to great to count from every nation and tribe and people in language, standing in front of the throne and before the lamb. The kingdom of God is a diverse kingdom. For us to pray, on earth as it is in heaven, we have to understand that the kingdom is one of every color, every nation, every tongue, it’s all of us. So why can we get that? There are some churches that do this better than others. Sometimes demographics play a large role into this Where you are locationally I get that. But I’ve had to look at our own ministry, my own ministry that I had up in my worship ministry. And I think if you’re a leader in ministry, you have the opportunity, especially with your volunteer teams, to reflect the type of community you want to see. You get a chance to do that as a leader, as someone who has an impact and an influence on your ministry team on your church or on your community. You have the opportunity right now to be a reflection of the diversity that is found in the kingdom of God. I’ve been have had to have a good look at healthy church growth this podcast. In this past episode we did with my sister Melissa minor, the experience Director at bay hope church. She was the first woman we had on the podcast 13 episodes in an hour I remember remarking Wow, that that seems rough. That test and we have had zero people of color. I honestly I haven’t even tried. But I feel like that’s that’s where a lot of white people are. We haven’t even tried and that’s convicting. So, from this point moving forward, we are going to do our very best intentionally to try and gain a diverse perspective, from not just male, female. But from all walks of life. To try and get a more diverse, more faceted, more nuance. Honestly, more fascinating look at the kingdom of God, not just the one that we might be accustomed to. That’s our promise moving forward. That’s our goal moving forward. And I’m just gonna leave you with one last thing here. I was reading in my reading plan so I, I started a reading plan. It’s always at the beginning of the year, or, you know, I don’t know that’s not true. I started a reading plan. And it’s always like a Bible in the year kind of thing. And instead of doing the full Bible in a year, I did the Old Testament in a year in the New Testament in here, and it’s from the the guys that the Bible project. And if you are not, in any way, shape or form aware of the Bible project I asked you to just check them out. There are amazing, amazing to Mackey. JOHN Collins in their whole team, they’re incredible. They have sincerely shaped my theology over the past two years. And I I just happened to be in Proverbs. But I also happen to be in James. And I did not realize that James took so much of his work from Proverbs, so much of his letter came from Proverbs. And in the same reading, this is what I had back to back. And we try not to belabor the the the metaphor of healthy growth. Our tagline is healthy things grow and growth means life. And even though we could relate that to plants, and we could relate that to, you know,

Mike Mage
trees and all that kind of stuff a lot. We try not to do that as much. Just because that’s that’s pretty low hanging fruit, no pun intended, I promise. But this was, I thought that this was this was really great. In Proverbs 22 eight this is those who plant in justice will harvest disaster and their reign of terror will come to an end. And then look, I mean, I’m talking like five minutes later. I was in James three at the end of James three James 318. And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness. To plant something you must be intentional. We did not get to this point, unintentionally and that is a hard pill to swallow. I have not been intentionally trying to plant seeds of peace and of justice in a righteousness and have therefore been planting seeds of interest Justice, harvesting disaster in pain. My prayer for you today, whenever you’re listening to this is that you find those seeds of peace. And you plant them wherever you can find them on social media, in your conversations with your children, in your ministry teams, and your creative team, with your pastor, we just can’t be apathetic anymore. I think we can be quick to love, show grace, as much as possible, do those countercultural things that Jesus implores us to do? And at some point, I think anger is okay. I do. I think to express anger, the way that Jesus did in the temple Fine, and I feel like I see that all the time on Facebook and social media. Well, Jesus turned over the money tables. He absolutely did. And then a couple of days later, he gave his life for every single person. Jesus did not stay angry. Thank you so much for joining us. And I can’t wait for these conversations that we will continue to have the more diverse conversations we plan to have. Because the kingdom is a diverse one. We love you, healthy church growth audience and we would love for as many of you to be with us, because we believe that healthy things grow and growth means life.

Healthy Church Growth – Episode 13 – Melissa Meiner

Rethinking Hospitality and the New Normal in Your Church with Experience Director Melissa Meiner

Rethinking ‘Hospitality’ and the ‘New Normal’ with Melissa Meiner. Melissa is the Experience Director at Bay Hope Church and former vocalist for the band Bellarive.

On Instagram: @mrs_meiner, @leaderoaks, @bayhopechurch, @bellarive

Middle School Mike Mage with his Dwight Schrute haircut:


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 live. I am your host, Mike Mage. And once again, we’re so glad that you have joined us for these really great conversations that we are able to have with people in the church world leaders in the church world thought leaders in the church world, especially for all of us having to tread through this really weird time that we’re going through right now. We just we have a lot of questions, and there’s a lot going on. And so we want to be able to discuss that with people. But we also want to maybe dig down a little deeper into some some more timeless truths as well. And we think that we can find a lot of those in these conversations. And if you love these conversations, and you want to be more a part of them, feel free to subscribe to share and to rate these and really engage with us on all of our social media platforms at the Facebook and Instagram. And we just we would love to get to know you. We would love to engage with you and hear. How are you doing? And maybe we can get some conversations going on what you think healthy church growth looks like as well. Joining me as always is my co host, Justin. Justin, how’s it going, man?

Justin Price
What’s up Mike, it’s going great.

Mike Mage
Today we have on the podcast, a great interview, if I may say so myself from the experience director of the church that I actually work at bay hope church in Tampa, Florida. And yeah,

Justin Price
You were so natural on that interview. Oh, yeah. Thank you. Like, it’s like it was like you knew the guests for years.

Mike Mage
It’s like, I might have known Melissa Meiner since the day that she was born. Would you say that?

Justin Price
Yeah. That was the feeling that I got from it. And there’s nothing like an interview where it just feels that natural. So that was a cool man. Great job. It was one of your best.

Mike Mage
Well, for those of you wondering what in the world we’re talking about Melissa Meiner, who is the experience director at bay hope church and also an incredible worship leader, just happens to be my sister as well, who just raved before this podcast, Justin said that she was older than me and I will let you know she is not older than me, we are very close in age. But I am actually older than she is. And, Justin, what I’m what we’re leading into this interview, what are some thoughts you have going into this interview?

Justin Price
I think for anybody who thinks about what it’s like to direct the experience at church, when that’s a part of your job or your entire job like Melissa, is this conversation to me just kind of unearth what a difficult switch. It has been to change everything about your job to change all of the ways that you did your job. That’s right. Really, really, incredibly difficult to do and the attitude that I think she has taken through it is so encouraging. I kind of it’s like, man, I really can’t complain about the changes I’ve had when I think about like, she has got a great attitude about it. And I love her honesty that she doesn’t necessarily have everything figured out. But she’s got a couple things that have been working really well and I really just crazy crazy, inspired by what she is trying to accomplish so quickly and the changes that she’s made so fast that I think our listeners think you guys are going to really get a couple of great nuggets. I was thinking like when I listen to a podcast if there is one thing I could take away and implement, or remember or write down or share. That’s a good podcast for me. This one’s probably got two or three and I’m gonna say we should listen to Melissa Meiner interview with Mike Mage and I right now

Melissa Meiner
However, you can harness authenticity, transparency and vulnerable vulnerability in your environment, do it.

Mike Mage
Today on our podcast, we have someone who I happen to know pretty well. Her name is Melissa Meiner. And she just happens to be my sister. However, that is not the only qualification. That that’s the only that’s not the only reason she’s here with us on the podcast. She’s going to be she’s going to be talking to us about a lot of really great things, especially in this time that we find ourselves in this pandemic time. And so Melissa, thank you so much for joining us.

Melissa Meiner
Welcome. It’s an honor.

Mike Mage
And Melissa is currently the experienced director and a worship leader at bay hope church, and we’ll get into talking about that a little bit. But Justin, I think that as we started here, I think you said you had some things you want to ask Melissa before we got going.

Justin Price
I do. Thanks so much for being here Melissa, we we’ve been excited about it. Good. Yeah. Mike is always just telling stories family stories about you. And, you know, when you when you were kids and embarrassing you and I know you’ve, you’ve heard some of those and and I thought this is the the chance for you to kind of level the playing field a little bit. And so, you know, I had really just, I wanted to know what it is, is probably the most embarrassing story that you can share with our audience about Mike. That will not get him in trouble.

Melissa Meiner
Okay, legally, very good boundary to draw. Thank you for drawing the

Mike Mage
The only boundary

Melissa Meiner
Right. So Mike and I are extremely well relatively close in age. So we’re only like 20 months apart. And that has caused us to walk through life in like a stair step manner. So basically, whatever He did, I would follow. So he’s an amazing leader. amazing guy, love his family love his wife. Um, that was all the niceties. I got them out of the way. So, yeah, it’s the preamble

most embarrassing thing about Mike.

Well, it’s honestly it’s super hard to embarrass him. Because he is the life of the party, I would venture to say he gets away with a lot of stuff. He gets away with a ton of stuff that if it were like you, Justin and myself and Mike in a room, and we all three did the same thing. We would probably be forced out of the room or fired and he would just be having a grand old time. But in terms of embarrassment, I really want to hone in on his seventh grade wardrobe choices. So we went to

Mike Mage
Nobody has A good Middle School experience. Why are you doing this. This one thing

Justin Price
I love where this is going

Melissa Meiner
I honestly, I tell people that I kind of peaked in middle school in terms of how cool I was so that I had john lennon glasses and braces and my haircut looked like a men’s haircut. So that’s the best that you’re gonna get. Um, but I, he had this way about he was very stubborn about his wardrobe choices and in the middle of, I would say January or February. Now granted, this is Florida, so he wasn’t about to get hypothermia, but he would only only wear a short sleeve white shirt, like an undershirt wouldn’t wear anything over it. And then he would wear these very faded blue jeans and they were faded because he just wore them every day, and His hair was oddly reminiscent of the commonly known character of Dwight schrute from the office.

Justin Price
Like for real like, dude,

Melissa Meiner
it was it was so good. Um, but yeah, I will say that that’s a fairly embarrassing moment of Mike’s life now. It’s not really a moment it’s more of a stretch. It’s a I was an era, an embarrassing era. I can’t speak much more into that but not apart from that a moment that would be embarrassing was he left one shoe at the post office before his fifth grade year? One shoe, not both just one. He actually had to walk back in and ask for one shoe from the post office. So that was another embarrassing moment.

Mike Mage
I don’t know what I was doing or why it happened. But I used to take my shoes off in the car because we were waiting for Melissa in a voice lesson. So like what I need to make myself comfortable right. And somehow and I honestly I don’t know how it happened. But somehow I lost one shoe just one at a put at the post office because my mom had to go to the post office in between And she actually made me run in with one shoe on into the post office

Melissa Meiner
JustinIt was perfect. It was perfect

Mike Mage
to wait in line

Melissa Meiner
Disciplined.

Mike Mage
No, I even I was like, Yeah, my mom, get in there and ask about your shoe. As if someone is gonna return one shoe from the parking lot.

Justin Price
Did they have it?

Mike Mage
no

but it was the discipline of making a child go in to a public establishment with one shoe on. He learned his lesson Justin. He has both shoes on right now I think. Do you

Justin Price
are you wearing shoes at all?

Mike Mage
I am, no pants.

Melissa Meiner
I heard someone recently called jeans, hard pants.

They don’t want to wear anymore hard pants.

Justin Price
Well cool. I’m glad we got that out of the way. Thanks, Mike. Yeah,

thank you, Melissa. I will have that mental picture. In fact, I’m gonna maybe draw draw. I think that’s

Melissa Meiner
needed. Yeah, that

Justin Price
criminal sketches of MIke just so I could picture it.

Mike Mage
I wonder if we can put maybe on the healthy church growth website or something? Yeah, like, with the transcript or whatever, if we can put in with the notes like a picture of me in seventh grade.

Melissa Meiner
I think we need it.

Justin Price
I think our listeners should be going to the site right now. Yeah.

It’ll be in the show notes.

Melissa Meiner
Wow.

Mike Mage
All right. Well, thank you for joining us.

Melissa Meiner
I don’t need to do anything else. I am done.

Justin Price
Have a great night Melissa.

Melissa Meiner
Thanks so much.

Mike Mage
That’s all we needed. Okay, well, I’m too, maybe not better things, but maybe more important things as opposed to just roasting me. So we sort of we, you know, we sort of already established that you are the, obviously your worship leader and an incredible worship leader at that. But I would love to Know how you got to be at the position that you are in, obviously, you know, the experience director at bay hope church, maybe, maybe just give us a little bit of your backstory and in short format, obviously, but you know, how did you get to this this point to where we are now?

Melissa Meiner
Yeah. So, um, I started my relationship with Jesus in the sixth grade. And that was honestly where I started leading worship. So I’ve been leading worship for two decades plus at this point, which is really crazy to think about, and one of one of the marking moments was when I got into college, and we started a band that I know that Mike has talked about on this podcast called bellarive. And we were just able to go to a lot of different venues, we were able to go to a lot of different churches, see different demographics of people, hang out with them, worship with them, experience what their normal was, and just kind of learn how to lead worship in all these different avenues. It was so beautiful. So we did that for a while. I finished up college over at UCF and I was working at a church over in Orlando and I just I love the local church I love. I love the community that it brings. I love the life that it brings. I love that. We’re the plan that God has chosen. I think that that’s a really powerful thing. And I never ever want to make light of that. So after the season with bellarive, I decided to move back to Tampa, from Atlanta. And I actually started working at what was then Vandike church now Bay hope church and I was the student worship leader. Mike was the main worship leader at our main campus and it was super cool. I learned so much in that position and forever grateful to the leadership of Van Dyck now Bay hope and just what they were able to pour into me and they honestly brought out I would say gifts that I didn’t know that God had placed inside of me at that point and one of them is to kind of see the whole experience. And so my job transitioned from being the student worship leader into being the associate worship leader, which Mike was my boss, which was really fun. He fired me four times. Maybe five. No, I’m just kidding. I’m wonderful boss. Great guy. Great guy. He’s not sitting across the table from me.

Mike Mage
It didn’t lead to any awkward conversations.

Melissa Meiner
Totally fine.

Justin Price
And can we record your next performance review? That’s really good for audience.

Melissa Meiner
I would love that only with the picture of his seventh grade road. Oh, yes. really bring him back to humble station. Thanks. So then, yeah, our our boss, his name is Zack and he kind of asked me to step into this role of experienced director which has been super fun. So I’ve been doing that for about a year and a half now along with this other role, that called The Oaks director, which is a leadership development program that’s run out of Bay hope church for high school and college age kids. And it’s just a blast. I mean, I love what I get to do, I get to have my hand and a lot of different worlds. And I get to hang out with a lot of different people that have different passions, but the centering focal point is people connecting to a life changing relationship with Jesus Christ, and that’s never gonna get old. So I love it.

Justin Price
That’s awesome. And then two months ago, all of your experiences changed.

Melissa Meiner
flew right out every window that’s ever existed. Yep, just right. Gone.

Justin Price
So how stressful has that been for you to adjust and adapt so quickly?

Melissa Meiner
Yeah. I think one of the most beautiful parts Well, actually, I’ll stop and I’ll tell you where our church specifically was at the the week that we decided to close the doors. And we were actually renovating our sanctuary and so We were already displaced. And I think that that is such a looking back. That’s like such a beautiful thing that God had already done that he had already uprooted us from what was normal, because we were meeting in this room that could hold close to 900 and close to 1000 people every service. And then we were forced to go into the lobby because construction was starting on this new, you know, worship center. So we had 550 chairs, just packed like sardines into the lobby. And that was the week that you know, hand sanitizer started coming out and you started seeing a bunch of different stuff and we met there the next day as a staff and we prayed and everybody was socially distance. Some people were starting to wear masks, which was starting to be really weird and, and then leadership kind of made the decision to shut the physical doors and just blow open online campus and yeah, honestly, it has been so Powerful, I mean, to see the engagement of online campus has been one of the most encouraging parts of this whole, crazy wild journey. And it’s just reminded me that God is not surprised. He is not fearful, he is not. Under this COVID-19 anxiety, like he very much knows what’s going on. And I believe that this is a spark for the local church for the capital C church for a new wave of normal. And that is really exciting to me. And so, in the midst of that, absolutely everything changed. You know, I haven’t seen our guest services, volunteers and 11 weeks, as a long time to not see your volunteers, and I love them. And I love our worship team. And we haven’t seen the majority of them face to face since then. And so there’s definitely things that are different, but we’ve adapted we now have Have a studio. And that’s where we’re shooting all of our online campus. programming and content. And the team that we have at Bay Hope is really incredible. Actually, our other brother Andy is the head of the online campus. And he’s just the Lord has been working through him in ways that like, it’s just crazy. It’s so awesome to see. And, yeah, it’s it’s been wild, and it’s been crazy. But

Mike Mage
obviously, you’re the experienced director and part of your job is about production is about creating, you know, this thing that looks like a Sunday morning production or you know, something like that. How would you say? I mean, it me knowing you and me knowing your role, obviously a little bit more behind the scenes and everything. What is the difference between like experience and production? Sure. Does that make sense?

Melissa Meiner
Yeah, totally. So experience has its hand in the entire experience of what somebody will come on to campus and see and feel and know and understand. So apart from the worship 60 minutes or however long your service is that’s what I define as the production element of it so that’s what the tech that’s what the lights that’s with the sound. That’s what the worship team, the pastor the announcements offering, the specials, the communion, the baptism, that all of that stuff that is the production element of what the guests will experience but outside of that, it’s the parking lot. It’s the lobby, it’s the coffee if the it is the coffee good. Are the bathrooms clean? Is there a place for a young mom to go if their baby’s crying are people being kind when they’re being walked to their new kids room, stuff like that. So it’s, I don’t want to say quality control because that makes it sound like Like retail, but it’s making sure that the first time guest is experiencing the next level of hospitality. And the reason why we do that it’s very intentional because Andy Stanley has this visual of a funnel that everything at church is a funnel. And I get the honor to be the start of the funnel. So from the moment that they step onto the campus, are they experiencing Jesus even if they don’t know it yet? Is Is it engaging? Is it welcoming, because one thing can set somebody off, and then mate, who knows, like, who knows what their relationship will do with Jesus would be like, one way or another. And so our goal is to really make sure that they feel like they are wanted there and that they are welcome and that they’re not alone. And you know, the ultimate the final goal is that they would engage with Jesus and that their life would be changed and then their family would be changed and then they would bring their friends and that they have experience that. So I would say that production is definitely a huge component. And I have my hand in that as well. But for me, it’s more of the global Yeah. Sunday morning experience. Right. Right.

Justin Price
It sounds it sounds like some churches might call that a hospitality mixed in with maybe just giving a hospitality position a bit more oversight and ownership.

Melissa Meiner
Yeah,definitely.

Mike Mage
Well, and like one of the reasons that I think it’s it’s cool that we’re talking about this is because, you know, most churches I think in America don’t have either the bandwidth or even the budget really to like and I think it is becoming more of a thing though hospitality is people are starting to understand more and more that like this experience is goes beyond the 60 minutes service or however long your services and extends far beyond what’s after in what’s before it, but I just I remember and just I don’t know if You are we’re like this at all like when you were working in churches, but when I was the worship leader at a smaller church, the idea that church started when someone arrived on campus, and that it didn’t, that it ended when people drove off the campus, and even extended when they’re in their car after that as well, like those thoughts never crept into my mind. And so I just, I think it’s it’s super important for whoever’s listening, whether you’re, whether you’re the worship leader, or whether you’re the communications person or even, you know, some sort of in the creative arts department. What you’re doing is impacting and affecting a lot more than just that moment that you’re doing something this Yep, it just did you have those thoughts at all, when you were leading worship at a church because I definitely didn’t.

Justin Price
Early early on, I didn’t but I think as a creative director, I had some really great mentors who were both experiential designers. So they, you know, they were doing digital things that were pretty groundbreaking I think and helped me understand how to translate that to the church. And then also had, I got connected with a friend of mine, named her name is Jacki Arena. And she’s a hospitality designer. So she just, she’s the one who like designs, all of the rules for Marriott, and for like, these big, you know, hotel brands. And so she was going to the church and she’s like, I feel like God’s called me to volunteer somehow, but like, I don’t really know how and I was like, This is crazy. Yeah. And so she actually helped a lot and I was like, man, every church building should be treated like a hospitality building. Totally. And we should think through like the like, and this is somebody who’s dedicated their whole career. I mean, she’s, she’s been doing this for 25 years. She has designed hotels all over the country and different countries. So she brought in everything from just, you know, material wear and tear to the design of materials to understanding and picking surfaces that you touch. how that translates to the user that we were going after the specific type of audience we wanted at that church. And then that kind of worked so well, when we redesigned and started to take the brand into a physical form that we actually said, we’re going to carry this all the way to the ends of the property. And so the Front Entry signage, we wanted to carry the brand story all the way from there. And so as you came in, and as you entered, we were starting to tell this story, what was what God was doing and what we intended for people to do. And that sounds like really philosophical, but it was as simple as like, we put out signs on an A frame, right? And that started preparing people to think about it and it wasn’t because we saw some other church doing it. It was it was beautiful. It was becoming we felt like God was calling us to do something with our, with our congregation.

Mike Mage
Let’s think about that for just a second. So, like a church who might not have, you know, the budget or the capacity to think or to hire like a hospitality or experienced director? What are some like? What are some tips that you could give them some practical ideas on how they can think outside of just the music or outside of just the message or outside of how do these lights look? You know, what are some tips to maybe get them thinking outside of the production element of the service?

Melissa Meiner
Sure. I think a main thing for me is I try to pray three words, over and over, either when I’m leading worship or just leading a group of people, whether it’s the Oaks kids or whether it’s in a hospitality setting, and it’s authenticity, transparency and vulnerability. And those three keys I feel like are going to unlock A lot of things in people’s lives. And so However, you can harness authenticity, transparency and vulnerability in your environment, do it. For us, that looks a lot like in our lobby, we have a lot of space that are that’s open, where people can stand and they can talk to one another. But we also have spaces where you can sit and you can kind of huddle. And I’ve seen people use that space to talk and to hang out and sometimes they’re praying and sometimes it becomes like this like super sacred moment and you’re like, Oh my gosh, I gotta get out of here, you know, like, but I would say whatever it takes to allow people to be real and to to fight the monster of having to button up to come to church. I don’t think that that has any sort of room in our culture today because everything is so levelled, especially right now, and I think that that’s going to be part of the new normal walking into churches is the megachurch pastor and the worship leader that is faithfully shepherding his flock of 72 people. They’re on the same level right now. And they’re on the same social media platform, and they’re on the same YouTube. And I just think it’s going to be really important to put your best foot forward that people might be honest. And so that’s a tip. However, you can harness that honesty. I think that not every church is the same. I think that whoever’s listening you have different demographic of people I am no I am in no way, shape or form claiming to be an expert on anything. But I do know that God has put you in this place for a specific reason. And so however you can seek God within your strategy for the new normal, I think is is really critical. And I’m reading through Genesis right now. And so I’m reading Through these different characters, and it’s wild and untamed and so crazy, and I’m reading through Joseph, and he’s an amazing leader, because he has taken his circumstance and his situation. You know, his other brothers, they left him for dead literally, they thought he was dead for years and years. Lo and behold, he’s like second in command of all of Egypt. And he has this dream, and he tells them and that’s how this whole thing starts. And then the dream comes true. And there’s a famine and, you know, he has this incredible head on his shoulders where he’s able to pull his perspective out of the current moment and look at all of it and he was able to say to his brothers, don’t be upset, don’t be angry, because God has preserved life through this situation. And to, to have that sort of mentality in what we’re walking through right now to pull yourself out of whatever situation you might be walking through. Whatever demographic you might be leading into, just say, like, God’s doing a good work here. How can I harness that in every aspect of what somebody is going to see touch, feel, hear, drink, if it’s coffee, you know, how can I harness that for the good?

Justin Price
I want to I do really want to ask you about this, like so you used to be able to impact people’s experience by offering services, whether that would be mints in the bathroom, totally making sure that the bathrooms were clean, you had coffee, and now you are in this level playing field going against productions. pastors, worship teams, who have access to your audience now, right. 24 seven, and they, you know, they’re different. And again, I it’s hard to say they’re not competition, but they’re certainly vying for for people’s time. And you want to create that experience that God has called you guys to do but, you’ve lost like all of the tools in your tool belt like the the different pieces that you would typically be able to get their attention with when you could even hold their attention on your campus and maybe put them in a socially an environment where it was socially unacceptable to be just staring at their phone the whole time now, you only have the phone to talk to them and those texts still come through. Yeah, those Instagram you know, notifications still pop up in the middle of your worship set. So Holy cow, and that’s why I’m like How are you? How are you even awake right now? How are you not stressed out or, or mental hospital because, you know, that is such a difficult thing to just to take on. You know and I I’m guessing I think your team has done an amazing job. You guys really are absolutely killing it. But you know, man, what a crazy thought to think like, why can’t you use your volunteer team to to be somehow engaging online, right? Have you figured that out? Have you hit any hurdles with that? Is there things that you’ve been able to transition? to kind of bring that to life?

Melissa Meiner
Yeah, I think that that’s an awesome question. And I had I pulled up this. I have a manila folder for all things reopening. And it’s just getting bigger. And because there’s just more things coming out every day, but Tony Morgan, his unstuck group did a survey of 500 churches in one of the first weeks of April, and they were talking about online engagement and offering online services and yada yada yada and some of the data has been, like pretty incredible. So only half of the churches that were surveyed had online campuses, online services before the crisis. The larger the church, the more likely they were to be offering online services, but now nearly, well, sorry, nearly 80% of mega churches had online services. before the crisis will only 27% of small churches had an online option. Now, almost all churches are using online services in some format, only 5% of churches that they interviewed in all 500, 5% of church churches do not have online options. So like the way that the local church has pivoted has been remarkable. And it’s so cool. It’s so it’s beautiful to see the online engagement, the guest services volunteers, something that we’ve been that we’ve been doing Justin as we have virtual lobbies before the service. And so our guest services coordinator, she’s on there, one of our pastors is on there. And some of our guest services team hop on there just to like, say, hey, and that has seen, like increased engagement every week, which is really cool. And you’re not talking about anything groundbreaking. I mean, it’s 10 or 15 minutes before the online stream starts. You know, it’s an open zoom and we have people but the really cool thing about that is that it’s a lot of. The older demographic, yeah, it’s a lot of the 60 plus people that have been stuck inside their house, and they are just loving it. And, you know, and so we say like, Alright guys, like, go find your seat in the worst, you know, and like, they just turn off the zoom call, and then they’re into church. And so I would say that there’s definitely ways that that we have started to engage people. That’s cool. Yeah. And and the new normal is definitely going to be something that we all have to get used to. But I think if, you know, the virtual lobby works for our church, it might not work for another church, that that could be listening, but there are things that we can do creatively, to engage our community. It’s just been really powerful.

Mike Mage
Yeah, churches are talking more and more about reopening. And I know that for you, that is a slew of problems to solve and just new situations or rising and all that kind of stuff. So as churches begin to like open back up, how are our experiences going to be different? Like, what do you think we should be expecting? And maybe like a 30,000 foot level maybe like on the ground floor level, you know, somewhere in between? I don’t know. Yeah, what you’re thinking of?

Melissa Meiner
Yeah. So the 30,000 foot level is that no one’s done this. Yeah. So this is all brand new territory. So please just extend grace to yourself, extend grace to your team. The ground is ripe for things to fall through the cracks, and that’s okay. Because this is, this is really difficult. And one of the local churches main taglines, since I’ve been a part of it, is we’re just going to keep doing it this way. Because we’ve always done it this way.

Mike Mage
You’re talking like church, big, big church.

Melissa Meiner
capital C church, we’re going to continue to do it this way, even though it hasn’t worked in years, because we’ve always done it this way and I have always loathed that comment. I am not one for just letting things be swept under the carpet like that are swept under the rug. Some sort of thing that you put on the ground. That’s fluffy. That’s not

Justin Price
that’s a red flag comment for me. Anytime I hear that I’m like, woah,

Melissa Meiner
Yes. Yeah, like why why did we not? Yeah, it lazy at best. Yeah, and much worse. It could. It could be really yeah. So anytime I hear that I kind of cringy church comment, but that’s not really able to be used right now. And like that’s really awesome because that means that we are allowed to do things that are new, that are fresh, that are going to be part of the new normal. And I’ve been working a lot with I wouldn’t say a lot but I’ve been Working some with this guy. His name is Reverend Alex Shanks and he’s brilliant. He’s a brilliant mind. He’s from the United Methodist conference and he had written this post about why reopening church is different than like reopening a retail store. And he, he basically said, returning to the way things used to be would fly in the face of the Jesus who warned against pouring new wine into old wine skins. We are creatures of habit and averse to change. So we will have to make every effort to create a new model of church. And I love that.

Justin Price
Drop the mic.

Melissa Meiner
Yeah, seriously, like, it’s so encouraging. Because, like, Jesus was the one that said that. Yeah, you know, like, it wasn’t like Alex was the one that originally said that like Jesus was the one that was like, it’s okay to do new stuff. Yeah, and it’s not gonna work the old way anymore. And at best, it’s gonna break both right? So like, just go ahead and move into the new territory. So I’ve been using that as a ton of encouragement. And so hopefully for you guys that are listening, like just be encouraged and know that it’s gonna feel different. And I think that that’s a really great place to be. So that’s some of the 30,000 foot level, the more on the ground stuff. I know that you guys are probably working with some sort of other person, whether it’s a part time person, full time person, maybe you have a staff that’s really large, maybe the staff isn’t so big, but I think one of the main things is to over communicate to your staff right now. I don’t think that you can communicate enough. There’s so many news articles that are coming out every day, every hour, every minute, it feels like something is different and changing and the guidelines and the protocol and the phases and the this and that and it’s just so much onslaught that there’s no there’s no greater way to validate your team’s worth than to communicate with them. At this point, so communicate anything communicate what you’ve heard the latest updates to be, what the plan is currently, how you’re currently planning to accomplish the plan. You know, I had a great leadership mentor that said, plan the work and work the plan. And that’s really, he operated his life out of that. So and once again, there’s going to be, as we get closer and more churches start to open. We’ve already heard rumblings of that here in the Tampa Bay area. I would highly encourage you to extend grace to your members that are asking the question, when are we going to open again, because to say I don’t know, is a totally honest response. And you can you can fill that comment with grace and I would highly encourage you to do that.

Justin Price
When are you guys going to open up again?

Melissa Meiner
We don’t know. We are we are looking at it right now. One of the main so I’ve kind of crafted around the reopening plan. Since a lot of it has fallen into my lap, not all of it, praise Him, but some of it has. My mission is for everybody that walks onto the campus, no matter what age where you come from that they that they would be safe, and that they would feel safe. And we have an amazing facilities team here. So the being safe is going to come way more quickly than the feeling safe. And you know, I’ve been thinking about the five year old and the 85 year old that are going to want to walk back onto campus on the same day, and they’re going to need different things. And I want to open when both of them feel like they can have an experience worth attending.

Justin Price
I think like what’s at stake? I don’t know how if we have to like spend much time on it, but what’s at stake is just being that church that had a big outbreak, and what that would cost and I think, not what it would cost your reputation or your brand but the fact that you would be putting your congregation at risk for that, you know, and to lose, you know, members of your church because you really couldn’t wait to have worship back in the in the sanctuary together.

Melissa Meiner
Right.

Justin Price
And that’s just that’s a very, very difficult weight to bear. I think for every staff right now, totally. Man, and I’m super grateful that I don’t have to make that decision.

Melissa Meiner
I know, it’s hard. And, you know, the words mitigating risk. If I could, I could make a million dollars if I would get $1 every time I heard that phrase, but that’s really the number one question right now. And I know it’s uncomfortable. I know it’s not always fun to stay at home or to wear a mask inside of a target or whatever. But a lot of people are under the assumption and the awareness that they’re not doing. Those things for themselves, you know, they’re doing those things for the safety of other people. And I think that that’s a really beautiful missional mindset to the whole COVID-19 thing is to just acknowledge, like, I am not the only human that exists. This is not all about my comfort. I am going to stay home when I would rather go to my favorite restaurant tonight. You know, that’s a it’s flying in the face of the selfishness of the Western culture. And I think it’s calling out a lot of really hard things that we’ve been unable to process in the past and it’s literally making us stare at it. In the face.

Mike Mage
Yeah. So I know you’ve been, you know, talking about reopening and everything I know you’ve been talking to a lot of pastors and church leaders in at least the Florida conference, the Florida area, and where Bay hope is, you know, United Methodist Church, so uh, you obviously have been in contact with a lot of United Methodist Church pastors. What is like the general, You know, the general feeling about reopening?

Melissa Meiner
So there’s, I’ve been able to be on a call with small churches that are desperate to open. And then larger churches that have a thriving online platform that could stand to wait a few weeks and or months. Yeah, I mean, there, there’s a church in the area that doesn’t want to open until there’s a vaccine. And, and that’s a hard thing, you know, but then you look back at their demographic, and it makes total sense because they don’t want to put anybody at risk.

Mike Mage
Right. They don’t want to be the cause.

Melissa Meiner
Absolutely. So I the general feeling is that no one wants to do the wrong thing.

Mike Mage
Yeah.

Melissa Meiner
And that’s really difficult. I think. I’m trying to minimize the risk trying to let everyone know that the staff and the volunteers are looking out for the well being that’s a that’s very much a red thread through the conversation. There’s a lot of offshoots of that, you know, broad strokes, there’s nothing that you’re going to touch anymore on a campus and if you are, they’re going to wash it after you leave. That’s a very, very general thing. Like no more offering passing, no more. communion, no more handouts, no more this no more that was communion just in the way in a different way. Everything’s going to be pivoted to allot for safety. Yeah. Which is, I think is great, you know. So that’s some of the general feel some and then. So that’s like the middle of the road, where everybody it’s like a Venn diagram, you know, of extremes of people really, really wanting to open early and then people really, really, really wanting to wait. And so that’s kind of the middle and then some of the outliers are some people have already opened You know, 4% of churches have already opened or never closed, and just kind of flew under the radar, you know, like that’s in this unstuck group thing. Like, that’s wild to me. And then there’s churches that are going to mandate masks. There’s churches that have, there’s a huge debate going on right now about congregational singing. And so being aware of that, and knowing that singing in the how loud you talk or how soft you talk has an effect on the droplets that are being released into the air and I am not a scientist and I do not pretend to be but these are the small things that I know is that it goes further if you talk louder, or if you’re singing, that’s an outbreak that happened out west. You know, a lot of people got sick out there because of that. Yeah. So you really have to weigh a lot of factors. And I just keep coming back to the reality of like, God put you here. You’re here man, like and it’s a crazy season. To be here, but you’re here and God trusts you with your people.

Mike Mage
Well, and the reason I asked, I asked all these questions is just, I think the biggest thing that we can all come back to is kind of what you said earlier in, that no one has done this before, specifically in this context. And I know that a lot of people, you know, you go online, and you Oh, what songs are the is this church doing? What are the children’s stuff that this church is doing? What? You know, what design elements is this church doing or whatever, but like there is no consensus when it comes to reopening your church and how to experience church in this day and age, especially as we move forward over the next couple of months. So I think what Melissa said is right is just give yourself some grace. And, you know, maybe like, it’s okay that you think this is really hard because it Really is.

Melissa Meiner
Genuinely just is.

Mike Mage
Justin, do you have anything else as we finish up here?

Justin Price
I have so many questions right now that I’m trying to process what would be most valuable to talk about. Because, man, there’s just my my biggest takeaway this is this is unfortunately, part of my personality of that I believe there’s just a lot of room for us to get better. Yeah. I you know, and I think that there is an online experience that is proven itself. But quite if I, I don’t know if I’m allowed to say this, but I’m tired of the online church experience.

Mike Mage
I think a ton of people are

Justin Price
I think it’s that there’s not enough engagement and interaction. I think that sure I don’t go to church to be talked to. I go to church because of the community that’s there. And right now, the way most churches are doing online church does not actually provide that even I love the lobby, the open lobby thing that you had brought up. I have not heard of that, or I had not seen that. Yeah, I just I don’t think that what we’re doing right now can replace church. And that might be why so many people are anxious to get back to church. And for me personally, you know, I would love to have another conversation with you, Melissa just helped challenge and how even just like hear how you’re processing and making better because you guys are doing so many great things. But I feel like there is the answer is not to go run back to church necessarily, but maybe to figure out what steps we’re missing in the online experience, and that people are actually potentially on our campus. And we’re not yet designing the experience for them on our digital campus or, you know, and that, really they’re living with us all the time. And how well are we using our apps you know, some of us have these apps that we just push out sermons on. But our apps can turn on notifications. And we can be communicating with our, with our congregation so many more times than we are with. And we can also segment those communications. So, you know, there are, to me a lot of untouched things that are super hard and I’m not being judgmental or blaming anybody who’s figuring this out for the first time right now. But I really do. I think there is a lot of room for us to grow the church. We know there’s a viable market for online church campuses. Now the question is, how can we make that a good experience? Yeah. I you know, so, anyways, that’s, that is where my head is at right now. Is that I think, Mike, we’d need to do a follow up.

Mike Mage
That sounds good. Well, Melissa, this has been incredible. And I would love to have you on again, just like Justin said, Is there any sort of parting wisdom you’d like to leave our audience

Melissa Meiner
Well, probably not wisdom, but words short, I just want to encourage whoever’s listening that the new normal will be worth it. You are actually living in the new normal, whatever your new normal is right now. And I, I believe that God has shaken the religious Foundation, not his relationship with you, but the religious foundation of where we are as a culture. And it’s going to be a beautiful outcome. And so, if you are at your wits end right now, I am just I am praying that you would be able to fall back into your relationship with Jesus and know that he is so proud of you right now. He It’s been a long couple of weeks for all of us. And it’s been a long couple months and I don’t think it’s it’s going to be over anytime soon. But please press on. Don’t give up meeting together whether it’s online for right now. In the interim or in person. It is worth it. And God is seen in that community. So yeah, I just think take heart. Yeah, because he’s overcome the world. And he’s not afraid of what’s going on right now. Sure. And I am so super, super honored that I got to hang out with you guys today.

Mike Mage
Well, thank you so much. And if you want to find Melissa on Instagram, which is where she probably is the most, I would guess first.

Melissa Meiner
I definitely don’t have a tick tock, not because I don’t want one but because I don’t understand it. So if someone wants to teach me how to tik tok, well, that’s gonna be my new normal.

Mike Mage
you can teach Melissa to tick tock on her Instagram. Yes, @Mrs_meiner which is her last name. You can find her there. And then also another thing I do want to talk to you about at some point is the Oaks development program. Yeah, where can where Can someone find out a little bit more about Oak

Melissa Meiner
Before we do that podcast, we have a website called oaksleader.com. Yeah. And you can go there you can go to @leaderoaks on so you just switch them around on Instagram and Facebook and Twitter.

Mike Mage
Cool. Yeah. Awesome. Well, so cool. Thank you so much. Absolutely. So for joining us,

Justin Price
it’s been a pleasure. Thanks. I did I really I really want to close out with just saying thank you for I love your positive outlook. I know I’m over here like I can’t get better right now. And you’re just like, take heart. I really do. I love your outlook in your attitude. I think you are doing a really great job. And

Thanks, Melissa. It’s been super encouraging for me. I am not going to sleep tonight. My wheels are spinning.

Melissa Meiner
Awesome. Thanks, guys.

Justin Price
Mike, I don’t think it’s really fair that Melissa got a chance to tell an embarrassing story about you. It was nice that we didn’t embarrass her you know.

Next time we get her on the podcast, I think it’s only fair that you, as the older brother get to say to tell an embarrasing story.

Mike Mage
I think that that’s that. Yeah, that’s a good one. She, she might have a few. And you, the audience will just have to just hold on to that. Just hold on to that little thing in the back of your brain. You know, there’s there’s some things about Melissa Meiner, that might be a tad bit embarrassing, but it’s fine. I think, Yeah, probably. It’s probably podcasting one on one not to embarrass your guests. So I’ll take the brunt of that, you know, I’ll sacrifice my pride for that. And that’s fine.

Justin Price
You know, it’s it was kind of weird to think we’re on. We’ve done more than a dozen interviews so far on this podcast, and that was our first female. I definitely think we need to hear some more women who are working in this department. But really, Mike, what did you feel like was the biggest takeaway from the conversation with Melissa?

Mike Mage
I think at best She’s in between a rock and a hard place at worst, you know, it just it can get so much harder than that. And this situation that we’re in So as of recording this, you know, it’s May 2020. And our entire world has been disrupted. And then you know, her entire job is to create an experience that is engaging and connects people to Jesus and kinda like she said in the interview, there are so many of you listening that don’t have someone who is just like, dedicated to creating that experience. And you know, it is even harder for you and so like we empathize with you, I mean, we, this is something that we are all figuring out together. And I think it’s it’s actually kind of a beautiful thing that this this might be opening up a lot of conversations with churches who might not be talking to each other. You know, but just trying to figure out what are you what are you doing Church down the street church around the corner like how are you guys doing this? Why are you doing this? When are you opening? And you know, I feel like a lot of churches just want to be on the same page. And so if that’s you, if you are having to control or create or direct or plan, some sort of experience that some level of your leadership is talking about reopening up, don’t hesitate to talk to other churches around you. Or maybe you know, get in contact with us. Maybe leave us a comment. Leave us a message on Instagram or Facebook. You know, we would love to have that conversation with you as well.

Justin Price
I think that’s a great point, Mike, that she’s between a rock and a hard place. I think for me, walking away from that conversation with her admitting that I’m struggling with the experience I’m getting from my church right now. Is not critical at my church. Like I think that I mean, I think every church leader right now just deserves a huge you know, standing ovation. For what they have accomplished the fact that, you know, online churches at 90, high, mid 90s percentage wise, you know, just goes to say like man congregations are trying so hard staffs are trying really hard. Everybody’s, you know, kind of in it. But But feeling the burn, you know, Mike I knew we were just talking about how just and they’re kind of tired of being in emergency mode. You know, you can do that for a month, you can do that maybe for two, we’re getting into this like stretch of like, this doesn’t feel good anymore. And now we got to figure out a new, a new normal and, you know, I just besides the empathy I feel for what she’s doing and and the encouragement, inspiration I feel from her, you know, energy to keep going. I just, you know, I want to challenge I hope, I hope that everybody feels challenged to continue to think through the user experience of what it’s like to be a part of their church right now.

Mike Mage
Well, once again, thank you so much for listening to this healthy church growth podcast. We are so grateful that you have joined us. We’re about this was our 13th podcasts. And we would love to keep continue on with this. But we can’t do this without you. So make sure to share to subscribe to rate to you know, follow us on our Instagram or Facebook account and engage with us there. We’re trying to get on there more to have conversations with you and find out how things are going with you as well. So, thanks again for listening to healthy church growth podcasts where we believe that healthy things grow and growth means life.

Healthy Church Growth – Episode 12 – Nik Goodner

Getting Rid of Sacred Cows in Church with CRTV Church founder Nik Goodner.

Is it time to rethink just about everything we do in ministry? Is the Sunday morning service a sacred cow that we need to get rid of? On this NEW episode of the Healthy Church Growth podcast, we interview CTRV Church founder Nik Goodner (@nikgoodner) about this and many other topics.

Nik Goodner Instagram @nikgoodner

CRTV Church Instagram @crtvchurch

Resources – https://www.sundaysocial.tv/ 


Transcriptions:

Mike Mage
Welcome to the healthy church growth podcast.

Well, welcome to the healthy church growth podcast where we believe that healthy things grow and growth means life. I am one of your hosts, Mike my age. And we have absolutely loved having these conversations with you, with our audience with these guests that we’ve been having on just really being able to interact with you and how we can see churches grow in a healthy way. And before we dive into this intro, I really just want to let you know that we would absolutely love for you to subscribe and share and rate this podcast not so much for just you know, to see the podcast grow, but we really want to interact with you, our audience, and have conversations with you and engage with you in any way that we can. And by subscribing and by sharing and by rating this podcast. It’s a way for These conversations to get in front of more people so that we can all together be on this journey of what it looks like to grow in a healthy way. Joining me today for this intro and for the interview that we had here in a minute is Justin price. And Justin, we had an insane conversation with Nik Goodner and talked about some really crazy stuff. It’s pretty incredible.

Justin Price
What’s up, Mike, we did have an insane conversation. And it does mean the world to us when you guys subscribe, and like and follow and engage probably more than anything is engaged in the conversations we’ve been able to have with you all. In the last two months for me, I think have made this podcast worth all the work, really like a light in the darkness has just been connecting authentically with people and you know being in a community. building a community has been absolutely a huge reward and an honor So jumping into the Nik Goodner conversation like, man, I would say, Jesus, let’s get like some notepads out right now and be prepared to write some things down that are probably gonna, gonna feel challenging.

Mike Mage
I mean, he is I know what’s funny after following for those of you that don’t know, Nik Goodner, he is the, I guess he started this thing called creative church, which is a community online and you can find it at CR TV church, on Instagram and on Facebook, and it’s just this community of creative leaders in the church and to following him. He is actually an eight on the enneagram so he is your classic challenge. So true. Yeah. And I mean, you and I were talking about this before you know, we started recording this intro, but just how a lot of the stuff that he is saying Right now feels to really almost like, it’s like you’re going to get this like really hard massage. Like there’s just this not attended rain example. There’s this knot in the churches back and like Nik is one of those people who has just taken his elbow right to that knot. And I think it’s really incredible to see especially from like a creative vantage point, someone really pushing on those bruises and on those knots, you know, trying to work them out.

Justin Price
No doubt, you know, I think that one of the temptations when you are acting as a consultant to the church and you’re not necessarily leading your own congregation are leading your own creative team, like in Sunday morning. The temptation is like to maybe pull back into like, just give a nice soft massage, you know, to just make people feel good to just, you know, ease the pain just to touch. And I gotta say, I feel you know, I’m always skeptical when I’m getting ready to talk to anybody who’s a consultant because consultants also kind of a word for non committed. And as a creative consultant myself, there are days where I’m just super glad I am not all in with with the project I’m working on I know it will end. And the thing you know that can that can come from that is just a some people cannot have a very soft way of doing things or talking or looking things and I gotta say, like, for one reason, for better or for worse, I think it’s for better. I think God has really ordained Nik and his his using Nik to say some things to the church that I don’t know maybe if he was in the middle of a congregation today right now trying to lead in the midst of this as tired as the rest of us are. He might not have the challenger at full speed, you know, to be saying some of the things he’s saying right now, but at the end of this conversation, Nick drops a bomb that I think some of you Ready to hear I you know, I’m just I’m just preparing you. He’s dropping some heat. You know, he, Mike, you I think you had to take it took you a little while to recover from this conversation emotionally.

Mike Mage
It didn’t fully hit me in the moment until I went back and edited I was like, Oh, no. Because he says it was such calmness and but yeah, make sure you listen to this full interview because just like Justin said, I think we need to coined the phrase dropping heat, dropping a key, Nik drops some heat here. So, so buckle him. This is our conversation we had with creative church founder, Nik goodness.

We’re talking about the church down the road, and what they’re doing for Easter and what they’re doing for this and it’s like, Yeah, but like what’s God called us to do

Mike Mage
Well, welcome to the healthy church growth podcast. We are so glad that you have joined us for this episode. And this episode is, is really, really cool, really special. We are having a conversation with Nick Goodner, who started a little group called creative church and is a huge creative voice for churches right now. And, Nick, thank you so much for joining us on this podcast.

Nik Goodner
Thank you guys for having me. I’m excited to be here.

Mike Mage
So I just I have a pre question for you. And this I guess isn’t really really a question but I have been crushing on all of your content like a 90s girl over like Leonardo DiCaprio. It has been amazing. Thank you so much for everything that you’re doing right now just through Instagram and all your other stuff.

Nik Goodner
Yeah, well, thank you. I’m flattered I really am. You know, it’s It’s not every day you get that kind of compliment where you’re crushing like Leonardo DiCaprio, like Get 90 year old over Leonardo DiCaprio. So thank you for that. Now, now I’m embarrassed that I’m not gonna be able to do the entire podcast and I’m just gonna be, I’m just gonna be flustered the entire time.

Mike Mage
Yeah, that was the goal. My, my six year old so almost six year old son has been watching the Parent Trap, like the 90s version of the Parent Trap. And they’re all they talk about is Leonardo DiCaprio. So yeah, sorry.

Nik Goodner
So you gotta you gotta tell him there’s more movies than that. That’s what I have to let them know. You have to let them know there’s more movies.

Mike Mage
It’s so with the advent of Disney Plus, there is like this resurgence. I feel like of those, like 90s Disney Channel movies. And like, Yeah, he loves them. It’s so crazy. I don’t understand why. So you said when we were talking a little bit beforehand, and I’ve seen on some of your stuff that you grew up in Florida. And now you sort of moved in this position as sort of like a creative coach. I’d love to maybe just get like a real, real short version of how did you get to the position that you are in right now? Like, what’s a little bit of your background for our audience?

Nik Goodner
Yeah, so I grew up in Florida, and well, I grew up all over the South. My parents were church planters. And so we moved around a lot. A lot of people ask me, you know, whenever I tell him, I’ve moved like 32 times ago, were you in the army? I was so yes, the Lord’s army because we moved around a lot and you know, where the Spirit leads, so to speak. And so he grew up I grew up a parents are church planters. And then after I graduated high school, I decided I wanted to go to Bible college and kind of follow in their footsteps. And just outside of Bible college, I got a offer to go down to a church plant in Orlando. And I was born in Florida, born in Central Florida. I always loved Central Florida and I said Do you know why that why the heck not? Let’s go and I went down there. helped out for about almost eight months I met my wife there she was also she she and I both went to Bible college at the same time. We never knew each other Bible college, but we met each other at this church plant because the youth pastor who was or the student director over the Bible college was the one who went left to go start the church. So we met, we get married, and we moved back to Tulsa. That’s where we went to school at. And about three months after moving back to Tulsa, I get an offer at a church in bartlesville, which is about 35/45 minutes up north from Tulsa. And we haul up and we move up there and become a student minister, and then a creative director. And then the rug is kind of pulled out from underneath me and the church shuts down it closes and I was very passionate about what we were doing at that church. And so whenever it closed, it kind of shook me a little bit, because I could see the I could see the I could smell the blood in the Water. And you know, being growing up as a church planter, I can kind of tell where the or identify the markers of where things went wrong. And so I spent the six months after it closed, kind of beating myself up rehashing, like, here’s where we went wrong. Here’s what we should have done better. And finally, it just came to a point where I was like, I can’t sit here and do this for the rest of my life. We can’t lean on only I was only like, 21. At the time. I was like, we can’t let this define me. And I decided to start an Instagram account called the creative church. That was back when we had all the vowels in the name. And there’s always a fun, it’s always a fun story. About three months go by and I’m like, I want to start a website. And so I look up to buy the domain for the creative church. And it’s not available, someone else owns it. And I don’t even know if it’s still owned by them. But I go, what can we do and movement watches was getting real big at the time. And so I was like, we could take the vowels out of creative and call it creative church. And so I did that best branding decision I ever made, like ever made. And it comes because I couldn’t find the domain for the creative church. And we’ve been called a lot of people call CR TV church, it’s creative church, but I won’t fault him for that. So yeah, so we started that back in 2015. It’s been going now almost five years, it’ll be five years in October. And we’ve had our ups and downs and our evolutions throughout the entire time. And I feel like over the past two years, we’ve really gotten in a groove as to what we want to do what I want to do and who we want to be, and celebrating and inspiring and empowering church creatives to be creative every day. You know, that’s, that’s our goal. That’s our mission. We want to be Spirit led and healthy at the same time. So I love what you guys are doing because you guys big focus is health. And so I love I love what you’re doing with the podcast. So

Mike Mage
what one of the reasons I feel like I’m really drawn A lot of your stuff is, I think a lot of church creatives, really just creative people in general, we have a tendency to almost like think, want to think above people, and it almost like leads to like a pretentious nature to things. And I feel like you all of the content that you’re posting is so grounded. And I really really appreciate that. Because it I feel like it’s it’s stripping away the almost the inaccessibility of what it means to be creative in the church, you know, and I just saw, I don’t know if there’s a lot of people that are doing that. So I really, really appreciate that. You are a great designer, Nik. And it looks like you know, maybe you have some background in that. I don’t know if you went to school. What did you go to school for exactly in Tulsa.

Nik Goodner
I went to school for student ministry and kids ministry . I didn’t go to school for design. Actually, I never, never designed until I got my creative director gig at the, at the bartlesville. Church. That’s whenever I started lid lid, my wife, she was a graphic designer. And she’s the one who taught me how to do it. And I just fell in love with it became really passionate about it for about a year and a half started a business where I was doing it. And then I like some things in life. I’ve lost interest in it over the years. But I can still, I can still do it as a necessity. But I’m more into finding designers to fit the style nowadays and paying them to do it because it’s a younger man’s game. And even though I’m not 30 yet, I still feel old in design, like I feel like I’m archaic. And yet you see all these, you know, kids coming up that like 16, 17 years old and they’re just blowing me away. And I’m like, Oh my gosh, this is phenomenal. And I’m over here you know, still trying to figure out you know if I can use Gotham slanted or not, yeah. So so it’s kind of a it’s a main sent in for me a little bit. It’s something I’ve kind of lost interest in doing over the past few years but I still do it as a necessity because you know, working with a small team, you have to do your own design sometimes. So yeah,

Mike Mage
well i think that’s that’s a really good almost like a baseline for I feel like a lot of where our audience is, you know, these people who you know, maybe they start out as worship leaders, but then as they you know, start to go into their job you know, they realize oh, like the bulletin needs to be totally changed or like you know, these slides need to be totally like I need to learn a little bit of creative work or learn Photoshop or I need to learn you know, Illustrator a little bit more man this video needs to get done I need to learn premiere or Final Cut. So like what were what what are some of your like three resources for, I guess your creative inspiration or as you are getting going Even though you’re not really doing it as much, like how did you actually get your foot in the door, knowing that like, it almost was like you were being creative out of like a necessity, which is what I feel like a lot of churches are in.

Nik Goodner
Yeah, so, um, you know, not everyone’s gonna have Lydia but my wife was a huge inspiration for me, and in a great teacher for helping me do Photoshop those first few years. You know, because she was a graphic designer for like, three years before we met, and she did it all through high school, so she knew all the ins and outs and I didn’t and so she was a great teacher. She was number one resource. I can’t I can’t get away with saying that. Second, definitely YouTube. YouTube is is phenomenal. And if you don’t, if you don’t if you’re not watching a YouTube video once a week to learn something new that’s on you like you can learn anything with YouTube. And I yeah, I’m a fanatic about learning new stuff I love. I love to learn new ideas, new stuff and YouTube is that key Avenue. And then the last thing and this is this has been more so in the past few years for keeping relevant when my designs is Sunday social.tv from Joe and Jonathan Kaos are well, Jonathan mom Joe Kavaos and the thing that you can do with a PSD subscription and you can break down their designs. So you kind of learn by dissecting what it is they did how they did it, and that has been a huge asset for me. Yeah, over the past few years, as I’ve kind of phased out of doing design, being able to grab something from them and rework it for what I need. Is is massive as if you’re a designer starting out right now. I mean, get that PSD Sunday social subscription, because it’s going to benefit you in more ways than one, and you will be able to learn how they did it, and you’re gonna be able to learn, you know, how you can rework things to do things better. Sure. So those are my three big resources that I’ve used to kind of learn design and stay relevant in my designs.

Justin Price
I’m looking at it right now the Photoshop templates are 19 bucks a month, you can’t pay a graphic designer for an hour. That’s a that is an awesome resource to get, you know, church related set up PSD files and man talking about breaking down somebody else’s files and seeing how they structure a project is so eye opening, you know, you look, there’s 100 ways you can do something. There’s typically like 10 of those ways that are easier. And that that was a huge thing for me, Nick was when I was learning After Effects was buying template program like projects and breaking them down and like actually repurposing them for church stuff. But then you start to pick up like your Tips and your own styles and looks and things like that even in an after effects I in Photoshop. I mean, I remember man there was like graphic template, old old graphic templates sites that you know you’d buy, like for poster events and things like that back in my youth ministry days, we would we’d break those things open and I’d be like, I can’t believe how do these people even come up with this 15 years after of graphic designing later? You know, you’re like, Oh, yeah, this is all kind of makes sense. But man, just thinking about that template tip is so huge.

Mike Mage
Well, Nick, the the one of the coolest things that I think you’ve already sort of said is like, you know, design is, he said as a young man’s game, which I think is great. And I think that’s that’s accurate, to a certain extent, and you’ve instead of trying to figure out in spending more and more time on trying to like, figure out how to do that better. You pivoted yourself into building like a creative community and like leaning on other people, which I think is like such an incredible mindset and point of view that a lot of people don’t necessarily have, when it comes, especially when it comes to ministry, like sometimes, you know, our goal isn’t to do the work, it’s to equip other people to do the work. And so you’ve been building, like a creative community online for, you know, five years or so. What has been like the hardest lesson you’ve learned? And, you know, what tips can you share to those just now waking up and realizing that like, their community could be grown online in tandem with sort of the digital expansion of their physical communities?

Nik Goodner
Yeah, so the hardest lesson I learned, man, that’s uh, I there’s been a lot of hard lessons. You know, we’re a little bit unique in the fact that we operate like a church online. But yet at the same time, we’re operating like a business. And that balance and striking that balance because we don’t have people who donate to us or we don’t have people who give to us. We, you know, sell partnerships, we do events, things like that. Striking that balance has been very difficult for me, and to how do I, how do I give like a church? How do I operate like a church? And then how do I operate like a business at the same time? So that’s, that’s one of the challenges that has, I mean, that’s the one that comes up immediately. The second one is there’s a little bit of arrogance in running an online community like this, that you have to combat a little bit of ego, that you have to get the fight down. And, you know, throughout your time, running it, it has its ebbs and flows, where it’s like, oh, I’m fine, I’m good. And then it’s like, oh, it’s really it’s really bad. It’s, you know, I really feel egotistical right now and that’s typically plays out for me in a competitive spirit where I want to, you know, if someone comes up and they’re doing something similar, I want to figure out how we can just, you know, for lack of a better term, wipe them off the earth, let’s just let’s let’s become better than they ever can. And let’s let’s, you know, make sure that they don’t have a voice in this community. That’s something that I’ve wrestled with from day one. And that’s honestly our there. Because it’s, it’s, you know, whenever you’re doing what God’s called you to do, and you see someone doing something similar to what you’re doing. You can feel like they’re, they’re taking away from what you’ve created or what you’ve done. And you have to really look at it through a lens of the church down the road. It’s not my competition. God can call two completely different people to do two relatively common things, same things, and I think about Paul and Apollos Whenever he said, You know, I was planted, I watered, but it’s God who gives the increase. Yeah, and that’s kind of my my fallback verse for whenever I do get in those moments of, you know, I should be the one that has all the recognition or I should be the one that has all the, the views or whatever it is, or I should be the one that, you know, you know, is, is more quote unquote famous, but it’s really wrestling with that ego and settling it back down and remembering that, hey, other people can be called to do this, other people can be in this space, I can operate in this space, and we can all work together versus, you know, drawing lines and being divided. Because whenever we do work together, the kingdom of God grows and gets better. And that’s what’s important. And that’s the real mission and it’s not who gets the recognition. So yeah, so that’s one of this. That I’d have to say is probably the one that keeps reoccurring because I’m in a season right now where it’s like, I You know, everyone can do what they want, I’m all fine. And I know there’s gonna come a day whenever it’s gonna flare back up. And it’s it’s it’s been a constant struggle and constant wrestle. And I think it, it might have to do with, you know, the fact that whenever I started creative church, nobody else did something like this. And now we have about seven or eight people doing something like this. And so it’s kind of like, you know, the O G status that you want to maintain. But you got to realize that that’s not that’s not the kingdom. That’s not that’s not a thing. So you gotta go. You gotta let it go and move on. So yeah, yeah, that’s my, that competition thing has been something I’ve wrestled with. Yeah.

Justin Price
When you say doing this, what do you how do you describe? You said like creative church is like part church part business. What do you describe like this as? Is it simply the online community? Is it the I almost feel like you’re you have been inventing new revenues. streams within the whole thing. So, you know, how do you even define what is a competitor? What’s not? It’s, it’s, you know, for Mike and I, I actually think this is an excuse for us to hang out and to get to talk to people who are inspiring. You know, we haven’t we’re not smart enough to figure out a business model. I don’t know, you know, how do you describe it, Nik? Like is what is what is this.

Nik Goodner
In the business side of this, We are, you know, you have a demographic, which is church creatives. And you have a reach, which is what what you’re doing to influence church creatives. And whenever somebody comes in and wants to reach church creatives with the same type of content as you that’s what I start to define as a competitor. And that’s how to identify them as like a competitor. And what often happens is they’ll start small, and you’ll see them in Facebook groups, kind of trying to grow their their following In their business, and then as it as they get more and more than they become more structured, and then what you start noticing is they begin to replicate your actions five years ago, and you go, Okay, so there’s a little bit of experience that comes with it where sure I can, I can sit there and go, Oh, well, they’re doing exactly the same thing that I did five years ago. This is they obviously want to position themselves as a, as almost like a creative church competitor. And so that’s, that’s something that I’ve been able to identify, I think for whenever I’m looking at churches, I think it’s any church that moves in, down the road from you. Like, that’s the competitor that you’re always fighting. It’s the big church in town. For instance, I worked with a lot of church plants, and I don’t know how many meetings I was in, where we’re talking about the church down the road. And what they’re doing for Easter and what they’re doing for this and it’s like, Yeah, but like, what’s God called us to do? And why did they even like, yeah, they matter because they’re, they’re fulfilling a piece of the kingdom. But they don’t matter in this scenario, like they’re not like our decision shouldn’t be based off of what they’re thinking or what they’re doing. And that’s the, that’s the wrestle that I have to that I have to that I have to take with me into creative church. You know, whenever a new kid on the block comes up, I think to answer your question, actually, I want to go back I’m I messed up the podcast flow a little bit. But I wanted to answer your question. I did this think of something. And it actually doesn’t have to do with how God worked through me. But how God worked through someone else. Whenever I was first getting started. There was another church. It was church stage design. So it was Jonathan mall. And I don’t think he’s gonna, you know, be mad at me for sharing the story. I’ve complimented him several times. And whenever I was coming up, there was a moment there where he wrote a blog post, about how he sees these younger people coming up, and kind of filling the role that he used to have. And he’s now pivoting into something new. And he became kind of an inspiration for me with all this and with that, kind of, you know, driving that ego down. I constantly think back to that time. If someone else is coming up new and they’re doing it a little bit better than what you’ve done it as what you’ve done it, maybe it’s time for you to pivot and let them have the space that they’re in now, which is a very hard thing to do. I’m not, I’m not gonna paint that one as easy at all and then I’ll give you an off of that. I’ll give you the scenario. That happened here over the past year. We started out and it’s been ingrained in us to repost artists work and mix in our own content. Whenever we started, we were the only ones doing that on Instagram. There were websites and blogs that did it. But we were the ones doing it on Instagram. Nowadays, there’s at least four accounts who are doing it and they’re curating feeds that are way better than what I could curate at. And over the past year, I realized that we’re going to have to leave our space and doing this like we’ve done it for so long. It’s been a staple, but it’s time for us to go ahead and pivot to something new and allow them to flourish in this space because they’re doing it way better than I’m doing it. And I can give up the reposting and we’ll start doing creative coaching, consulting, and we’ll start doing the content and making that pivot has been a breath of fresh air for us. And it’s also I think, given the opportunity to these other companies, these other competitors to really flourish in their own space. So that’s that’s my that was my example to answer the question that we may or may not have cut out the podcast.

Mike Mage
No, we’re not. We’re not cutting that out.

Justin Price
Good. That was so good. There’s actually two things I want to revisit there. First of all, if you’re not learning something getting online with a Skillshare YouTube masterclass at least once a week learning something new, you are going to be passed up. And it’s not learning the new stuff that’s actually allowing you to adapt to change into find that new thing to be able to see where God is wanting you to go next. The second huge gut check was that that thing you said about sitting in meetings talking about the church down the road, whether you’re a startup, a church plant, a business mega church. We all have sat in those meetings where we have been talking about other churches worried about what they’re doing, thinking about what they’re doing getting frustrated if, if it was too close to what we were doing, and instead of focusing our energy and time on the thing that God called us uniquely to do at our church, I can’t reiterate how strong those two points were. I hope all the listeners grab on to that. Hold on to that. Thank you, Nik. Love, absolutely love so good.

Mike Mage
Now that you’ve been able to engage with creatives for a while, in this community, do you see a common denominator amongst creatives who are doing amazing work and growing in, you know, similarly healthy ways? Are you seeing a trend among other creatives who are doing like relatively so like these people that are coming up under you? what’s what’s sort of the trend, what’s sort of like these things that are sticking out about what they’re doing and also growing in a healthy way?

Nik Goodner
Yeah, so I think anytime there’s growth that’s actually sustainable, that we’re producing good fruit, there’s always good roots. So whenever I see something successful and getting past their first year and their second year, I always suspect that the people behind the scenes have really put an emphasis on their health and their self care, and their spiritual health and our spiritual well being, and keeping their sinner settling their calling. That’s a big one. Because we can oftentimes try to imitate other people’s callings that we like or that we see or we think, oh, we could do that. But settling that calling for yourself and saying, This is what God has called me to do. This is how I’m going to operate. And this is how I want to operate is really important, because there’s a other there’s the other token to that the other side of that is the ones that do it for about three months and that I never had hear from them again. And it’s often because they weren’t trying to be who they were called to be. They were trying to be who someone else was called to be. So whether it was me or whether it was someone else, they were trying to replicate or imitate that other person’s calling. And that’s, that’s always the To me, that’s always a center of burnout for people, is whenever you decide that, hey, I’m going to not settle what I’m called to do. Instead, I’m going to try to imitate what other people are called to do. Because I believe strongly that God gives you a grace for what you’ve been called to do. But he hasn’t given you that same grace to do, and other people have been called to do so whenever you’re feeling like on the edge of burnout. Now, I’m not saying this is the only symptom. There are definitely other or I’m not saying the only the only cause but there are definitely other causes. But for the most part, I can typically trace a creative burnout back to someone trying to do something that they’re not designed to do they’re not designed to do they don’t have the grace to do it.

So that’s the trend. The trend that I’m seeing is whenever you have growth, oftentimes you have those good roots, those healthy roots, and you’re able to produce that really good fruit and get past those 2-3-4-5 year marks.

Justin Price
I love that. I’ve never heard that phrase said that way. Specifically, the grace to do it. That’s cool. I don’t know if you got that coin Nik, but I love it.

Mike Mage
We’re gonna steal it will steal it. Yeah, that’s fine.

Nik Goodner
You can have it. I don’t know. You don’t have to steal it. You can have it. Thank you.

Mike Mage
Well, hey, just sort of like following up for you. Sort of about the because I do love I do love the idea that good fruit comes from good roots. Because I think that’s 100% accurate. People who do things in a sustainable way, are not in it for almost the results, it’s almost like because 95% 90% of the work is all like the grind of it all, you know, whatever you whatever work that you’re in, creative or not, and you love what you do you have a passion for what you do. It’s almost like you’re suffering for this, like 10% 15% or whatever, because like the rest of it is just like this slog almost. So like, What are you? What are some things that you’re doing to sort of keep up healthy and good routes?

Nik Goodner
Yeah, so let me start by telling you what I didn’t do, right. About year, two and a half and year three of creative church. I was in I think I was in a worse place than whenever I started creative church. I had really begun to distance myself distance myself from the community because there’s there’s this idea in leadership and I’m sure you guys have heard it and that is like as a leader You have to be distant from the people that you that you lead. Yep. And whenever I first started, I didn’t think that at all. And I guess I just listened to some teaching and I don’t know, I just felt like that was right for me like, Oh, I have to distance myself. So I became very isolated. So I wouldn’t talk to people in the community. I was, you know, kind of get that air of, again, that ego of, you know, I’m, I’m the leader, and you guys are the followers. And I have to, and I have to, you know, isolate myself from you guys. And so year two and three, to 2.5 to three was was very hard for me. Because as a young young leader, I was very arrogant to think that I could do this all by myself and have this kind of weird divide.

And that, we produce some really good stuff, and this is the this is always interesting to me. We really produce some really good results during that time. But the burnout for me at the end of year three was so apparent that I didn’t know whether I wanted to do creative church anymore. Like I was like, I’m done. I don’t want to do this. I don’t want to be a part of this. I’d really neglected any form of self care. I wasn’t, you know, developing myself spiritually. I wasn’t spending time, like I should read my Bible. It was, it was this again, it was this isolation factor. And coming into year four, I really, I took a kind of a sabbatical in which I took about three months off. And I you know, I didn’t do creative church for three months, we ran reposted content, and then we took a whole month off where we’re like, we’re not gonna say anything, we’re not gonna do anything per month. And during that time, I met with some people talked with some people got some, you know, some friendship counseling, not official counsel, but friendship. counseling. And I realized that the way I was doing things was completely. It just wasn’t me. Like I’m a person who if, you know, if I’m going to be the leader of the group, I want to know every single thing that the group is dealing with, like I want to be in the group like I don’t have this whole platform mindset. And I think that that was what was was killing me is because I was trying to put myself on a platform that I didn’t belong on. And again, that goes back to the whole grace thing. Grace for things you’re not you’re not called to do. And so coming into your four in this past year, I’ve really been focusing on developing myself care, getting with people hanging out with them doing zoom calls, this COVID-19 that we’re dealing with right now. It’s been huge because I can I’ve seen how we can connect with the people that are in our community through zoom calls through Skype calls and things like that. And we’re doing I’m doing More, to talk with him to meet with them. And it’s been a lot of, there’s a lot of life in that. And so the, the thing that you have to do in order to maintain good roots is, the first thing is always to make sure that you are surrounded by a community that lifts you up that brings you in that supports you. And then you have to maintain that spiritual aspect of yourself. I had a pastor growing up, he’d always say, the natural and the supernatural come together to make an explosive force for God. And that’s kind of the tension that we all have to live in as a Christian is there’s a supernatural side to what we’re doing naturally. And if we don’t curate this supernatural side, if we’re not growing in the supernatural side, what we’re going to wind up doing is burning out on the natural side. So it’s really a marriage of those two coming together to be that bold Christian or be that explosive force for God. So yeah, that’s it. That’s been my experience. That’s what I’ve taken away over the past, you know, five years of doing this.

Justin Price
That’s awesome. I’ve got a I’ve got no follow up on that.

Nik Goodner
That’s’s always good to hear

Mike Mage
he answered the question perfectly. That’s why.

Well, that’s that’s incredible. I think that, especially right now, if I mean, I, I shudder to think about if you were struggling with not us specifically, Nik, but you like General, somebody struggling with isolation, and then all of a sudden a worldwide pandemic hits. And, you know, it’s what a horrible time to start dealing with issues of isolation, whether self imposed or not, when we literally can’t see anybody right now outside of digitally. So I would imagine some creatives are going through that right now. What’s been a way for you, Nick, to sort of mitigate that to not feel so isolated And to continue on with like creative work what’s, what are some some best practices to sort of mitigate isolation right now?

Nik Goodner
Yeah.

Solving the isolation problem is always a two way street. You can have people reaching out. But if you’re not reaching back to other people, you’re not solving the isolation problem. So there is a give and take on both sides. So we can, you know, as a platform creative church can only do so much we can do zoom calls, we can reach out to people, we can text people. You know, we can comment on their feed, we can do things like that. But if someone has drawn into themselves, it’s very hard for them to solve their isolation problems. So the advice comes from both ways be reaching as a platform as a church be reaching out, be doing what you can zoom calls, opportunities for connection, okay? And even even don’t do mass calls do personal calls, I mean, do personal texts, things like that personal emails to connect with people. Don’t just rely on your mass calls because oftentimes, the really, I’m an introvert, that really introverts, the introverted people. I don’t want to be in a room of 100 people on a zoom call. I just don’t I have no desire to do that. Yeah. And that’s always a weird thing for people to hear whenever they’re like, Oh, well, you’re so you know, you’re so you’re so extroverted online. It’s like, Yeah, but that’s exhausting for me. Yeah. I don’t get any life from that. I am very exhausted at the end of that. But, uh, so you know, reaching out to people on that personal level and saying, Hey, man, just thinking about you. You know, what are you up to how you doing? So anything I can do for you things like that things that we’d normally say to reach out to people. And then if you’re on the other side, where it’s like I’m isolated. I i’m not i’m separated from everybody. You have to be able to self identify and say, Hey, I’m going to Do something about this isolation. So I’m going to take up those opportunities for connection. Whenever people text me or you know, I need to text them back, and things like that. So it’s really a two way street that we have to. We both sides, both parties have a responsibility that we have to get the exercise.

Justin Price
Yeah. Hey, Nick, recently on Instagram, you made a post that stated that you were on the innovation side of the creative spectrum. Remember that?

Nik Goodner
Yes.

Justin Price
And you were saying that it was great because it gives you an opportunity to say goodbye to some sacred cows. What are some sacred cows that you feel like as things go back to normal? That you would are specifically calling out?

Nik Goodner
Yes. So can I can I do you mind if I explain the the innovation adaptations for quick? Absolutely, yeah. So this is something I read in a book that I was again, this is one of the things I learned something new every week. I learned this I just picked up a book and I was reading I was like, Oh my god, this is this is interesting. There’s a guy named Michael curtain Creighton, and he’s a cognitive psychologist. And he authored a book in like 1970 ish. And he had a theory on creativity in which everyone is creative. First off, but you have a preferred style for your creativity. So there’s people who are highly adaptive. And then there’s people who are highly innovative. So your adaptors are people who are remixers they take something and they’ll remix it make something beautiful. They trust and pursue that status quo. They look for in rely on inspiration. And then they’re essential for growing organizations you want adapters in your organization’s to be there to run the systems that a pioneer is creating that comes from the innovation side, which is they want to be pioneering. They’re going to be constantly questioning the status quo. They’re gonna be overflowing with like new radical ideas. These are the people like you get around them. They’re like, Oh, we got a new idea. I got a new idea. Oh, got an idea, you’re like, slow down, slow down. We barely got up. This is this is what angers the adapters about the innovators because they’re like, we just we just got the first idea off the ground stop

Justin Price
You’re describing the exact conversation between our operations guy and myself.

Nik Goodner
You know the struggle because the innovators though they’re essential in times of change. So like the COVID-19 is bringing out some innovators right now. And they are thriving, like I’m thriving in this environment. Like we talked about couch Fest, either before the podcast or just beginning of this podcast. And it was stuff like that to just over filled me with joy to do because I felt like we had become a lot super stagnant. And here we’re able to take on these challenges. So we’re so innovators are always very critical in times of change, whereas adapters always flourish and kind of the status quo, maintaining Building. So that’s a innovation adapter spectrum and everyone kind of falls on that spectrum somewhere, I lean towards the innovator side, where I still kind of almost have a foot in that adapter side. And now that I’ve done that and got excited by explaining that, what was the question?

Bring it back around.

Justin Price
We’ll bring it back around. The question was being an innovator. What do you think some of the sacred cows are that we’ve got to let go of as a church?

Nik Goodner
Yes. Okay. Thank you.

First, sacred, first sacred cow and I’m gonna risk my life and career for this one. Do it is is the Sunday morning service. The idea that Sunday morning is the only time that we can gather as a church. The idea that Sunday is our Super Bowl.

I think that’s the first that’s that’s the first Creative, or that’s the first sacred cow.

Mike Mage
Just a small thing there.

Nik Goodner
It’s a small thing. It’s a little one. It’s so true. It’s a it’s a little in for some people. It really has become a sacred cow. Because whenever this started happening, and you know, the government suggested that we closed churches down, we don’t have gatherings of larger than 10 people. People got, I mean, watching the community on social media people got upset. Yeah, like you could tell this. Like, for me, I love online church, I go online church, you know, probably 50 75% of my time on online church. So for me, this wasn’t that big of a deal. But I could see for other people this was almost like ruining their lives. And I think we’ve we’ve held on to the idea that church has to happen on Sunday morning. That it has to that this is, this is this is the only way that we can do church is if we push everything into Sunday. Sunday’s are game day. And then from there, everything’s a ‘B’ program. I think what we’re going to see moving forward is a lot more churches saying, churches an all time thing, like we got to do this every day of the week. This isn’t just once a week thing. We can’t just come in here on a Sunday morning. We have to be doing things to connect people throughout our week and, whether that’s physical or digital, we have to be doing things to connect with people. Like we can’t just come on church on Sunday, and then, you know, throw out our sermon recap videos throughout the week and call that a week. We can’t we can’t do that anymore. We really have to be engaging with people and being with people every single day of the week. So that’s the first sacred cow. It’s a big one. And again, I’m risking my life, career and everything to to say it. I’m sure I’ll get feedback

Justin Price
Can we just camp on that for one second.

Nik Goodner
Yeah, sure.

Justin Price
What you’re describing though, is a problem that Businesses globally are adapting to now. And that is diversification. And anyone who’s got all of their work in one account is risking the health of their organization. I love that you’re describing something that’s actually really dangerous for churches to go back to.

Nik Goodner
Yeah. It is very dangerous. I like in this is a weird thing that people probably don’t know about me, but I like the stock market. And I like investing into companies. You probably don’t know that about me. I don’t really talk about it very much. I didn’t but you didn’t know a lot. Like I said, it’s, it’s very personal. Um, but I’m watching right now what’s happening. I’ve invested some into Darden. Darden is the collection of restaurant melons like olive garden and cheddar and that’s cheddars in this because I worked for Olive Garden for a few years whenever I was in like high school. And so I had investments there and then I put more investments in there. But like what’s happening right now with the Olive Garden is is really showing them that they Can’t go back to what the way things were, like whenever you think the Olive Garden you’re thinking, I’m going to go in there and sit down. And some of you are thinking, dude, that’s gross. Why is he talking about the olive garden?

Mike Mage
The, the real, OG

Nik Goodner
The real OG. and they don’t have I mean, the online ordering for that thing. I tried to order something last night because I call when Olive Garden. It’s income, like it’s it’s impossible to get what you want. And it’s it’s so many layers. It’s not like ordering off of doordash or Uber Eats, it is complicated. And for Darden what they’re experiencing right now as they their stock was at 120 before COVID-19. Their stock is now at like 68 trading at 68. What their what their what they’re seeing right now. Meanwhile, other restaurants in the same spectrum who are already had an online presence, their stocks going up. They’re trending upwards. What they’re seeing right now is we can’t go back to doing things the way that we used to Do them. And the way this idea of you know all we have to have everyone come to the restaurant in order to enjoy our food. We got to rethink how we can do that. And I think the churches in that same Olive Garden boat we are, we cannot depend on everyone coming to us anymore. And that honestly goes against what Jesus told us in the Great Commission, which is to go out to all the world, we’ve become very familiar with the come to us strategy, come to us, come to our event, come to our platform come to our church service. And we’re sitting in our buildings every week waiting for people to come to us versus going out and being interactive with them. And I think, if anything, that’s what COVID-19 is going to change in the heart of the church, and what’s going to make them realize is, oh, this is a very act of faith that we’re involved in. And if we’re going to have longevity and influence and relevance. 30 years from now, we’re going to have to get even more active in the lives of the people that we’re serving in the lives of our community. And that’s not just doing, you know, Park cleanup days that’s actually being on social media that’s actually creating content on a day to day basis. Versus making everyday like I said, game day on Sunday. So that’s the again, it’s, it’s, it’s really. I feel like it’s really breaking creatives. We knew this a long time ago. You talked to creative community, they knew it already. But it’s really breaking down the minds of the pastors a little bit and opening their eyes to Oh, now I get what you were saying, Oh, that makes sense. That’s why we need to be on social media. Okay, so yeah, I get what you mean about going live every day. I thought you were just joking. You know, I mean, you talk to creatives, and that’s what their pastors are saying right now. And it’s very, very clear that a lot of the pastors they weren’t I don’t think they were digging their heels like all we’re, you know, we got to do things this way. I think it was just like, there was no inconvenience for them to change and Change is always prompted by great inconvenience. So like whenever we’re like, that’s the breaking point of change, like, we’re not going to change if it’s really convenient to stay the same. But whenever it becomes inconvenient to say the same, we have to change. And that’s what a lot of pastors are realizing right now is, oh, it’s not convenient to stay the same anymore, which we have with the inconvenience has caused us to rethink our approach. And it’s really a blessing in disguise for how the church can continue into the future.

Mike Mage
Man, I totally agree with you. I think that this idea of the attraction, its attraction, I don’t mean that in like, you know, a negative sense to a certain degree, but like the idea that we need to build buildings, and we need to create services and experiences on one day a week, so that people will come to us. You’re right is like very antithetical to what Jesus called us to do. And that is go out into the green. So go out to where people are. And, you know, I was, we’ve been talking about this a little bit here at the church that I work at. But like, when you have people experiencing God more than just one day out of the more than just one hour out of the week, so there’s 168 hours out of the week, and you have 167 they are not connected to a community of faith, or to a life with God or whatever, you know, the average person is super busy. But yet, we’ll have these weeks, you know, when things were normal years ago, you know, these weeks throughout the summer, where we’d have our kids camp, and we’d have, you know, hundreds of volunteers on campus, and that’s going Monday through Friday, and then we get to our Saturday and Sunday services. And wow, wouldn’t you know, that, like our worship experience was actually so much higher, like the engagement was through the roof or, you know, we do our student camp and it’s the same thing. They’re going out on mission projects, and then they come back in You know, like they, they have their own worship experience too. But again, it’s involving everybody in the church, from kids to students to adults. And then when we get back like those are some of the best weekend’s we have in engagement for worship, because people are actively engaged in what God is doing throughout the week. So it’s almost like what you’re describing Nik is, like this flywheel effect of like this momentum. And you know, we come in whenever it is, or we experience God, but it only goes to like, encourage and build upon itself. Isn’t that kind of what you’re describing?

Nik Goodner
Yeah, yeah. It’s really getting everyone to become participants in what God is doing. Because the more we participate, the more buy in that we’re all going to have. And I think that, you know, making sure that because right now, the majority of the church doesn’t participate in the Sunday morning service. And that’s, I don’t need I don’t need data to tell me that I can go to any church in America. Know that, you know the majority of the people sitting in these pews, they’re just here to enjoy worship. Enjoy the speaking and then they’re going to go home. And yeah, that’s that’s a little bit of participation but I’m talking about actual serving in the church actual being a part of the church, the majority of the church isn’t, isn’t doing that. And we know what you and we all know here is that whenever you’re actively serving in the church, your buy in to what’s going on your relationship with God, it goes up because you’re actually participating in the work that he’s doing. You’re seeing that behind the scenes. And if you’re in a healthy church, it’s fueling you to be to develop spiritually if you’re an unhealthy church. It could be burning you out. But as long as you’re in a healthy church that serving is going to be something that cat is is is catalysts for your relationship with God. And I really get the participation factor for getting that church at getting the church. Everybody participating on a weekly basis is so, so important.

Justin Price
Nik, we want to be respectful of your time. But I would love to give you the opportunity to talk about another sacred cow if you’d like to, if you had another thing.

Nik Goodner
So the other sacred cow since I did one for pastors, I better do one for creatives.

Justin Price
Buckle up, Mike

Mike Mage
Yeah, sure.

Nik Goodner
Hold on everybody.

The other sacred cow is for creatives that I’m seeing is in this season. They’re finding it hard to relinquish creativity to everyone else. They’re kind of holding it as I’m the creative. You all aren’t creative. And the I think we’re talking about a little bit earlier how there’s kind of this stigmatism amongst creative that we kind of think above the people, right. There’s a little A lot of that going on, I think what the sacred cow for us creatives is, you know, the pastor that I’m serving, he isn’t my enemy. He can have creative thoughts and ideas, just like I can have creative thoughts and ideas. And that leads to better collaboration, because what I hear from a lot of creatives is they want to collaborate, but they want to collaborate with other creatives. And what I always go back and ask them when I’m talking to them is, what are you doing to collaborate with your pastor, your student minister, how are you collaborating on that level? Or are you just trying to collaborate with the big name creative right now because you want that recognition? Because there’s a there’s, you’re going to be a lot healthier. If you’re used to collaborating with the people that you’re serving with, versus trying to collaborate with somebody who’s making a name for themselves in the creative church space. It’s, it’s important that creatives during this time we have to remember That we are not the sole bearers of creativity, that God does not give us all the creative ideas for design for film for video, we are here, and God has placed us in this season in this time in this place, so that we can serve the people of our community and the people that are around us are going to have ideas that we’re going to be able to build off of and facilitate that are going to change the world for the lives of the communities or for the lives of the people in our communities. So that’s the sacred cow for creatives right now is relinquish some of that creative standing and understand that it is okay to collaborate with people who you deem not as creative as you.

Mike Mage
I don’t relate to that at all. It’s fine. Fine, no. You’re not talking about me, it’s fine. Everything’s fine.

Nik Goodner
I think I just risked my life and career on that one too.

Justin Price
Risky

Mike Mage
You’re so right though. It’s crazy like this. It feels like Right now is a it’s just a magnification of so much of what’s happening. And, or a polarization almost. And, you know, like in church work, you’re seeing who you’re seeing who’s worked, who works hard and who doesn’t work hard. Or you’re, you know, you’re seeing creatives really tried to be creative, but it almost feels like you’re trying to draw this line in the sand. And, you know, like, that’s not, that’s not that shouldn’t be our goal. Our goal should be to try and, you know, reach as many people as we can to, to connect as many people as we can, in whatever way that is successful. And, you know, it’s, it’s, it’s rising above that, and I think that you’re so right, because it’s just, and then again, you know, when we when we head back into church, we need to keep that same mindset of being able to work with our children’s person who literally wants to use clipart and you know, like in there Whatever their their Sunday morning, talk to their kids. And, you know, try and work with them and get good video content or whatever, there’s, there’s so many things that we can do better. And this whole experience of the pandemic and everything is really shining a giant, magnifying or light in a magnifying glass on all those problems. So you’re totally totally right,

Justin Price
Those two sacred cows, when you think about it, they could change for the creatives and for the churches, such an, a huge impact that they could have on the kingdom, and on the world, just letting go of those two things. Think about the kind of people whose ideas could be heard by creatives, if you would relinquish that thought that I can only work with really great creatives or they’re the only ones that have good ideas, the kind of impact that that kind of inclusiveness could make mixed with letting go of Sunday morning, as another sacred cow is, is really, really exciting for me as somebody who has Loves dreaming and thinking about the future, Nik, man, you’re the real deal Your heart is showing through in this. For anybody who’s wondering if creative church is just a show or a sales gimmick or something. It’s not Nik, what you’re throwing down is so inspiring. I hope that what what you’re saying in this message does stick and we’ll reach, you know, our friends, some of the church community, and will make an impact.

Mike Mage
Yeah, Nik, real quick before we let you go, where are some places people can get you or can connect with you?

Nik Goodner
Yeah, well, first, I just want to thank you guys for what you’re doing here. The Healthy church growth podcast. I believe what you guys are doing is phenomenal. Because in this season, and then the seasons that are going to follow, having healthy church growth is going to be is going to matter more than having explosive church growth. Because if you have explosive church growth and you do not have it healthily, what you’re going to wind up is burnout. You’re going to wind up with burning out other people, and you’re going to wind up with toxic environments. They were Spit people out and have have have these these people have a bad experience with the church. So what you guys are doing here with this podcast, I really appreciate it. And I thank you guys and I just didn’t want to champion you to keep doing what you’re doing and I’m so excited to see what you guys are gonna create next. Yeah, totally, uh, you know, You embarrassed me at the beginning of the end. So if you guys if you’re looking for me, the best place to find me is on Instagram, @NikGoodner.That’s me personally. Also Facebook, on Facebook a lot. And that’s just, you know, just search Nik Goodner, names all the same. And then if you’re looking for creative church, if you’re creative, who is isolated, they want to community someone that they can feel connected to someone that can encourage them, inspire them, empower them to be creative every day. You’re gonna fall in one of all creative church in @CRTVchurch. And that’s it. creators on Instagram at all the other platforms and then of course CRTVchurch.com. And then if you’re if you’re younger and you want to see some really awful tik toks no I’m joking.

Mike Mage
Let’s do it.

Nik Goodner
It’s Nik Goodner at a I don’t even know how Tik Tok works. Just searching a dinner and I’ll pop up. You know, I have 20 I this. Three days ago, I posted a video and I have 20,000 views. And I keep telling my like baby sister, like who’s 14 who’s been trying to get you know, all this recognition. I mean, like, yeah, you know, I’m famous on tik tok. Now, you know, being smug about it. But what I learned the secret to my tik toks are is if I’m not in them, they’re a lot funnier. So, yeah,

Mike Mage
there’s that ego thing kind of all back to it. That’s that’s, you learn how to come up with that. Yeah. Yeah.

Well, cool. Well, Nick, thank you. You so much this has been an absolute treat. like Justin said, Love your heart.

Nik Goodner
Thank you. Thank you guys for what you’re doing. I appreciate you having me on. And I look forward to you know, getting to know you guys more.

Justin Price
Yeah, yeah. Thanks, Nik.

Holy smokes Mike. I don’t think anyone could argue what an encouraging word that was from from Nick, that we can definitely pull creative ideas from everywhere from everybody’s got good, valid things to add to bring to the table. Yeah. That you know, I love. I’d love a phone call from anybody who feels like that’s not a valid sacred cow. Sure, but I’m curious for you. Who has to plan worship for Sunday morning this week? Yeah. morial Day weekend. does not get a four day weekend, right or three How did you feel about that statement? I mean, he just kind of ease right into it. He did.

Mike Mage
Yeah, he’s smooth talk to us right into saying, Hey, I mean, you heard his voice. that dude’s got a voice on him. And yeah, yeah, so he’s just dropping that bomb so easily. And yeah, it took me a while to really like sit with that. And I, the more I started thinking about it, the crazier it is. But honestly, the more right he is, and I just I really do think that there’s something to the idea that people need to experience the church more than just on one hour a week. And you know, the math is simple, like there’s 168 hours in a week. And if people go 167 hours without hearing from the church once and then they pick it back up for one hour out of the week. I mean, like it’s, it’s going to not be as good as it could be. If they were able, in some way, shape or form to experience the kingdom of God throughout the week, and and I think, you know, moving past that to it doesn’t need to be programming. I think it like, I mean, you know, you worked at a church, like churches love programming, they love it. And like what do we do there? Mike? Yeah, it’s events and it’s classes and it’s, you know, all that kind of stuff. And I, honestly I don’t know. And like, again, you know, it’s weird too, because people’s jobs are tied into programming, you know? And so what happens when all that programming goes away? And you know, how do I do my job then? Because it’s not it’s not a calling anymore. It’s a job. And so how do i do my job now? And so I think those are the type of questions that people really do need to be asking.

Justin Price
It’s gonna be really tough, I think for people to process forward. And I’m super excited. I think as I can Unity for creatives to come together and try to figure it out together, I think if one church had to try to just figure it out, and then tell everybody else how to do it, I think that’s not a great recipe for what the world needs moving forward. I do think, though, that there is a lot to uncover about even how we measure success. You know, I mean, Jesus, like we all measure the success of our church based on the amount of donations we get, and the number of butts in the seats, or even views on the online church. It’s like, but that doesn’t measure discipleship that’s happening like daily. Yeah, well, even if we’re like, well, these people are engaged in small groups. But that doesn’t really measure discipleship, but you could, through digital devices, measure engagement by people who are checking in getting resources on a daily basis, you could definitely check, right, your social media engagement. I think some closed groups certainly could be better utilized from some church congregations for people Unity sake, even like groups like, this is a needs based like I don’t do you guys have that a bay hope like, here’s something that we like I’ve got a need I can go on Facebook and a private group of gay hope people and I can put that do you have that?

Mike Mage
yep yeah we have we have a cool we have a moms mentoring moms group we have a a just recently we started because we haven’t seen a worship team at all, you know, we invited everybody who’s on a worship team into our Facebook group and like, you know, like that’s a point of engagement that we have now that’s like even better than we had pre COVID because like that people are on there interacting. But it’s, it’s closed. It’s not for like worldwide consumption. We’re not trying to market stuff like we’re right. We’re only doing it because we know that people we need to connect with people and people need to connect with Jesus

Justin Price
in those groups just from a like a marketing standpoint. those groups Are are great because they do notify you really well. Yeah, and there’s all those groups. So like it’s it’s harder to miss something. And when it’s like your friends, these are the people that you’re used to being on stage with. They’re talking, you want to jump onto Facebook for that I don’t really want to jump onto Facebook for a whole lot, but that either would jump onto Facebook. There’s a lot for us to learn. I feel like we just kind of ripped off the bandaid on something that maybe a lot of people haven’t really considered. I think a lot of people are still like, well, maybe there’s just a you know, eventually we’ll be able to get back to how it was. Yeah, yeah, this week has been nothing but talk of new normal. I feel every single conversation I don’t know who who’s starting that but good job, whoever is getting that going. Because it’s it’s very relevant. And yeah, and definitely a good way to describe it. So we’ll be talking about the new normal a lot here and cannot wait for you all to to hear the rest of the the conversations that have been happening. They get released every other week. Right here. If you are not subscribed, now is the time. Mike, tell them how they can subscribe. Oh, yeah,

Mike Mage
you can subscribe anywhere that you find your podcast. So Apple podcast, Spotify, I’m sure that there’s plenty of other places, but those are that’s the majority where people are listening. And you can also go to our website, healthy church growth.org. And you can also find us on Instagram and Facebook, make sure to go there. Check out all the content that we’re posting. I’m trying to be on there a lot more, wanting to have conversations with you as much as possible. So, next podcast, Justin and I just recorded an interview with the experienced director at bay hope church, Melissa Minor, who just happens to be my sister. And we are talking a lot about what is it going to look like when churches do reopen eventually, and it’s an incredible conversation, one that I think more and more of you are going to be having.

Thanks again for listening to the Healthy Church Growth Podcast where we believe that healthy things grow and growth means life.