How to handle the challenge of firing a staff member or volunteer.
Hiring and firing people are the most important things you can do to maintain the health of your organization. In this NEW episode of the Healthy Church Growth podcast, hosts Mike Mage and Justin Price, founder of Vers Creative, discuss how to master the art of having those difficult conversations.
On Instagram: @Mikemage @techjustinrp @vers_creative
Mike Mage Welcome to the Healthy Church Growth podcast.
Welcome to the Healthy Church Growth podcast. We’re so glad you’re here joining us today. Today, we are continuing a conversation that we started on our last podcast. In our last podcast, if you haven’t listened to it, I encourage you to go do it. Because it is a, it’s probably a lot more fun and happy than the one we’re talking about today. Today, we’re going to be talking about firing slash letting people go slash having really tough conversations. But before we do that, before we, you know, dive right into that, just want to really say thank you. Thank you so much for getting involved in this conversation. Thank you so much for getting involved in what healthy church growth looks like.
It’s been incredible to hear from you, the audience, to kind of hear what you think healthy church growth looks like as well. We want to continually make this a journey for all of us, because we know that God has called us to very unique places and unique locations and has gifted us all uniquely. So it’s an incredible thing to be able to talk about. But Justin, today, we are talking about letting people go or fire them, arguably one of the hardest topics, practically speaking, that we could probably cover and frankly at topic a lot of us do our absolute best at avoiding at all costs
especially within the church. And I haven’t had to have like a lot of these conversations over the years. But I know for you being sort of the leader of a creative agency, you have sort of had to have these conversations a good bit, right.
Justin Price I would even say my challenge for this topic would be that I would say we did not want to fire anybody. Okay. And so my challenge to you is that healthy church growth looks a lot like not firing people. Now that’s going to resonate and feel a lot happier than the set-up you just gave us.
Mike Mage I guess
I want to establish the groundwork that we’re about to go into. Yeah.
Justin Price So I think there’s actually a ton of hope for anybody who’s in a particularly bad team. I really, you know, the one that my heart kind of breaks for is for a young worship leader who maybe has some volunteers who suck, who show up and don’t practice, who you know, really hurt the whole like dynamics of the team. And they need to somehow figure out how to let them go. And even the nuance of firing a volunteer is super relevant to the conversation I want to have today. So, Mike, I’m glad we’re doing this. We’re doing this speed lightning round, I’m gonna try to crank it up. It is early for us. Mike and I are both hiding from our families in our closets. And so bear with us this morning. If it takes us a couple minutes to get the blood pumping.
Mike Mage it
We’re trying, we’re trying.
Justin Price but
But man, and also, I don’t think talking about firing is something that would really get the blood pumping. But
we’ve got we got three things I got to go first last time, Mike and I thought it would be only the polite thing to do to let you go first. So you’re gonna set the pace here. Hit us with the lightning round. We both have three things. We’re going to ping pong back and forth here. Get out your notepads. Challenge it. Before we actually jump into this. Can I say it’s been really encouraging to see you guys participating in the conversation of what healthy church growth looks like. It’s been really cool to hear other people who are working and serving inside of a church, whether it’s volunteer or staff, to say, finally, a conversation that is about a healthy culture, not about hype culture. A conversation that’s about what we believe is really good for the church and not necessarily just what will grow the church.
So thank you guys for jumping in. It’s been really encouraging. I think Mike and I are fed by getting the the feedback and the ideas and even just hearing your thoughts on that. So as Mike said, thank you, I just want to I want to echo my own thank you. It encourages me, it energizes me to keep doing this. I’m really, really grateful for how you all are jumping in on the conversation and to see, hopefully an impact of people feeling like we can actually make our church cultures healthier. And that that ultimately is, is the best thing that could come out of this podcast. So thank you guys for implementing some of these things, challenging some of the things we’re saying and finding what is the healthy church culture for you.
Mike Mage Well, and sort of to tack on what you’re saying and sort of pivot us into this, you know, conversation, I think that you know, you and I like we’re not 100% experts on this topic. Like I do think, you know, over the past, however many five, six, ten years or so, like I have
Justin Price Absolutely.
Mike Mage Okay, so diving face first in here.
gotten to understand more and more about what it looks like to hire, to bring on people well, what does it look like to maybe fire or let people go well in a way that’s healthy, and productive, and hopeful, kind of like you were saying, however, you know, like hearing from other people, also helps all of us grow. So we need each other in this in not just this topic, but in all the things that we’re talking about. So,
Justin Price absolutely.
Mike Mage Okay, so hidden diamond face verse in here,
Justin Price Number one from Mike Mage is…
Mike Mage So, first thing you and I were talking about here is I’m a nine on the Enneagram, which means I’m a peacemaker, and which just even thinking about the topic of either firing people or letting people go, what terminate however you want to word, it fills me with the utmost terror. I naturally want to never talk about this topic. And I creating conflict is one thing that I just genuinely want to avoid. It’s just part of who I am as a person. So knowing that however, this is this is something that I’ve begun to learn is not one, like giant moment, in either my life or someone’s life, like this is a constant thing that is happening over time. And so you know, I think when I when I, when I opened myself up to the idea, that firing slash letting people go slash terminating them, whatever, when I opened myself up to the idea that like, this is an ongoing thing, and isn’t just like one like nuclear explosion that happens out of nowhere, it sort of gave me a lot more peace in in all of this to like, begin to build guardrails and pathways for not just myself, but also my team. So that’s sort of my preamble from a number one here. So my number one is, you must set expectations. So just like every good parent, just like every good leader, whatever, you know, you must set expectations. And then once you set your expectations, you have to do it again. And then you have to reinforce it. And then you have to reinforce it again, and then reinforce it some more like this is the top priority, anywhere you go as a leader. And if you didn’t do it, when you first got into your role as the leader, then the best time for you to do that is right now. So you got to start now if you haven’t done it. And then yeah, like I said, when you set those expectations, you must over communicate them. You can even preach them to your team and figure out a way
Justin Price to do that. Because the moment that when you set those signposts in the ground, and then you continually come back to them, people will understand what your culture is supposed to be about, they will understand,
even maybe before they mistake when they make a mistake, or when they make a mistake, you know that like, oh, we’re always pointing back to these things, these expectations were already setting. You know,
Mike Mage writing them down, there’s another practical thing. I mean, Justin, I know for you, you guys at Vers, you guys have probably written down your expectations somewhere. I know that’s not mind exploding, or whatever. But you got to write them down. If anything, just so your team has actual access to the exact wording of your expectations and all that kind of stuff, you have something physical to point back to. And then you know, just in writing in creating your expectations.
One thing I really tried to do, Justin, is I always try from the very beginning, it should be a privilege to be on the team that you’re leading, whether you’re working on it, whether you’re volunteering, it should never feel like an obligation to people. I think if you can make those if you can make those subtle shifts, if and when you’re setting your expectations, that is the start, that’s the the groundwork, that’s the foundation for you know, for a really healthy team. But also, it can help lead you into whenever you have difficult conversations, it can sort of help you in guiding you through that. So I know that it’s not like specifically having to deal with firing or letting people go like in that moment. But like I said, as as an Enneagram nine, like I have to view it as sort of this long term arc that happens. And it sort of helps to reinforce the relational aspect of it.
And you know, like you and I were talking beforehand, I know when I was the leader of a small church, man, I feel like my primary job even not even just as an Enneagram nine, but my primary job was to avoid conflict at all costs to try and keep my team happy, as opposed to try and keep my team like moving in a forward direction, continuing to do great work. So
Justin Price I like that Mike, maybe a response to that is the the stat that runs around is somewhere in the 40 to 45% more likely to achieve a goal if you write it down. So writing down expectations if you’re going if you’re going, you know, ‘hey, we set these expectations and people just aren’t meeting them.’ My first question is always, ‘Hey, have you written it down?’
Mike Mage Totally.
Justin Price If you if you want a really quick lift on achieving goals, write them down. Absolutely. So my first point that I would like to just kind of get the elephant in the room out of the way out of the room, so we could focus on some healthy things is moral failure. So my lightning round thought to get off of the table is moral failure. Mike was talking about, so moral failures can be really big, and they can be really small.
I’ve often said that, hey, don’t, you can’t, you really can’t trust somebody on your team
if they’re, if they’re doing something small, wrong, they’re gonna, they’re gonna do something big wrong. The way we do one thing is the way we do everything in the sense of moral grounds. And so one of the peacemakers biggest issues is to try to say, ‘well, that smaller moral failure is okay with me, and I’m just going to look the other way,’ and not realize that you’re setting yourself up for potential cancer that can grow really quickly, or could infiltrate your whole team. And so the hopeful, helpful tip here is that, if you can think about the whole team, think about the whole congregation, think about your whole organization. And even if this is, even if you’re like, ‘Hey, I’m like third or fourth on the totem pole here, but I’m leading worship.’ You’re 21, you’re leading worship at a church, a larger church, and you see some moral failure. And you could look the other way and say, I don’t really want to ruffle feathers, it’s not that big of a deal. It’s so and so is maybe misusing some funds, maybe so and so’s misusing some equipment, maybe so and so’s misusing doing this. Or maybe there’s a lot of flirting happening in the green room. It just doesn’t feel right.
You guys, the the best thing I can say is, is to, to stand up for it, to to confront it while it’s small, and either get rid of it at that point, try to help that be removed before it turns into something bigger. Because if it does turn into something bigger, say that flirting turned into to an affair
that you guys that ends up hurting so much. Those affairs hurt churches, we’ve seen that for the last 10 years, almost every major leader in the church get taken down with affairs. And so I think just as a as a culture,
looking for those, like weak spots where people kind of come in, and I’m not judging people who are flirting or having an affair. I’m not, this isn’t a statement against those people being bad people or saying that, hey, but but the idea that you can say like, well, it’s not that bad, I really shouldn’t confront I really shouldn’t, shouldn’t do it, shouldn’t handle it. If even if you’re not the the shot caller, if you’re not the executive pastor, if you’re not at a high level feeling like well, that’s their problem, guys, you should you should confront the person, you know, if you’re seeing those issues, and it’s in the same way of firing, if you are in a leadership position
in a smaller organization, and you’re going Hey, well, I need that person that’s not that big of a deal. That that that small moral failure, when it turns into something big, it will take out a lot more than just that one person. So take that person out, now, address it and get it in. And the rest of the thoughts are, you know, just the the idea that
the it’s just you just never win by trying to push something away, no matter how big or justifying it no matter how big or how small. So when it comes to firing, the moral failure part of it for me is more of a non negotiable. Dave Ramsey has some really great stuff in the Entree Leadership book about his philosophy on he even says that he if you cheat on your spouse, if you have an affair, he says I won’t, I will, I will immediately let that person go. Because if they’re willing to cheat on the person they committed their whole life to, then they will definitely cheat on me. You know, they will definitely not follow through. And some of you guys may hear this, you may say, I totally disagree. I embrace that conversation. But for me, I haven’t seen a scenario where this is has has gone wrong. And so it doesn’t mean that you have to excommunicate somebody, it means that you can lovingly come around them and help them and support them through working through a moral failure.
the whole rest of the team is still going to feel that conflict every time you guys jump on stage and that bass player who doesn’t ever practice plays the wrong baseline and Mike, you know, you’re just like, hey, just turn them down in the mix. You talk to that keyboard player, you’re like, hey, just cover the baseline. It’s gonna be…
Mike Mage We got it in the tracks. Yeah, and we got in the track.
Justin Price Yeah, we got it in the track, just just don’t have what everybody else who’s hearing that base, you know, in the mix anywhere else they’re feeling and it’s like, Whoa, it’s okay to show up and not practice. It’s okay. It’s, there’s never any, like, the expectation was written. Mike wrote had us all write down that we’re gonna practice we’re gonna show up and know our stuff. And I’m not talking about having a bad day, talking about consistently bad pattern expectations. Yeah, we all have bad days. But when we start to see those patterns, you are missing out on the opportunity, you are creating conflict for a whole team, because you are trying to avoid it for one person. So that’s the cancer kind of get it out early. Get it out while it’s small. Address conflicts when they’re small, they only grow. They never get better. It’s just like cancer, it’ll feed it’ll attract more bad things. And next thing you know, you know, you’re you’re losing organs instead of just chopping off a finger.
Mike Mage Totally. Well, yeah. So Justin, you’re not pulling any punches here in the beginning.
Just opening, opening lightning round with a haymaker here. I think that I think that what he said, it’s, it’s a really great thing to tackle right up front. And like, I also think that integrity is never something that you shouldn’t fight for. That should be always something that needs to be the backbone of your ministry of your organization. Because it’s bigger than what you’re doing. It’s who you are. And you as a person, and as a culture as an organization, need to be, you know, like, there needs to be something bigger there. And so, yeah, I think that’s incredible. And really dovetails sort of nicely into what my second point here is, is. So when a team member is underperforming, failing to meet expectations, moral failures, all that kind of stuff, you as a leader, you must address it. So. So you set your expectations, somebody does not meet those expectations, moral failures, whatever. You have to talk about it, do not let it go on. And, you know, like, there’s the this, if you get it in the beginning, if you try if you nip it in the bud, this, this has the potential to grow into a much larger problem. And kind of like you were just saying, Justin is, you know, this could grow into a cancer and you start to lose way more than you even thought was possible. And on the flip side, if you actually have these tough conversations at the very beginning, you can actually potentially gain way more than you could ever dream or imagine. So even when you think it might be too difficult a conversation to have whatever it may be, what you are doing is bigger than the problem you are facing, you have to remember that your your job as the leader of it, volunteer team, or staff or some combination, or the both is to set the culture. My pastor always has this really great line that he uses all the time. But he says that we are to be thermostats, not thermometers, because as leaders, we designate what the room feels like, what the team feels like. And the biggest culture drain is having someone on your team, underperform, or worse, someone who’s failing to meet those expectations, and not addressing it. The worst thing is not having someone underperform or not meet those expectations, the worst thing is them doing it and you as the leader not coming to terms with it, you start to lose…
Justin Price Absolutely.
Mike Mage You start to lose the trust of the team around you. And that’s where the cracks start to really settle in. It’s not when people don’t do the things that they’re supposed to do. It’s when you let them go unnoticed or untalked about.
I’ve been in some…
Justin Price Preach.
Mike Mage I’ve been in so many situations where leaders try to create team culture, or they really force team building or, you know, you have some sort of staff retreat or some sort of stupid, you know, game that you do at staff meeting or, you know, whatever, or we go to lunch and you go go ahead and sit next to someone, you don’t talk to or whatever, as a way to like build team culture. But the things that that really build team culture is when you address elephants in the room, like that’s the, that’s the thing that builds team culture, it allows us to know that we’re all held accountable for something that’s bigger than just your tiny mistake. And like, and I know you said on the last podcast, and I’ve heard you say before, and I’ve heard other people say, but it is so true that we’re only as strong as our weakest member. And I’m not saying that you must address it amongst the rest of your team and like in fact, like 95 to 98% of the time, these are private conversations that you have.
Justin Price Absolutely.
Mike Mage And their private conversations that you constantly have and
Justin Price you know, like, it’s it again, like micromanaging, is not holding people accountable. So I feel like so many people go well, I don’t want to micromanage people like no, the primary area where most leaders fail is the greatest opportunity for growth is constant accountability, like it’s not micromanagement you have to engage with these problems. And so the last thing here, too, just to sort of finish up this big lightning round, from this point to is addressing problems when you see them. At the very first one, when you first see them, it does three things that allows you as a leader to thrive, but it allows your organization to thrive and your culture to thrive. A- it shows that you care, it shows that you are invested in what your people are doing. And that is such a great gift, it shows that you see what’s happening. Second, it allows you to stop potentially large problems when they are small. If things start off is like a golf ball, then it’s so much easier to deal with a golf ball than when it like blows up into a giant beach ball. Third thing, it strengthens your resolve to have hard conversations, not just as a leader, but with your team members specifically. So this hard conversation might be hard, but it’s going to prepare you for the next hard conversation, whether it be with that person or with another person. And it continues. It’s just like creativity. It is a muscle that you need to build as a leader to walk into a walk into your office to bring in somebody and have a tough, engage in a tough conversation with them.
So my first point was a moral failure is really the only grounds to eliminate quickly. And you were saying on any grounds, address conflict quickly. So great, yeah, great dovetail there. So my next point would then be to set checkpoints. So my point number two is now getting back on the the main path I’d like to be on which is not firing. And so kind of you’ve already set the path for this a little bit. But it is that as a leader, if if you can set a three month or a six month regular check in to check in on the goals and the expectations. To use your analogy with the thermometer. You to set the temperature you have to be able to communicate and
Understanding everybody is going to be in a little bit different place on your team. Volunteer or paid, they’re all going to be a little bit different place. Now you can still talk about the temperature, you can still talk about expectations to everybody. But understanding where to help people truly grow, to help your team achieve their expectations and to find the spots that they’d need the most focus on, it should be done individually. And so setting those regular check ins and setting an expectation of check ins is super, super valuable. This is what this is this is so important if you can set that that expectation that that’s happening every at least every six months of just making sure you know that you tell people, ‘Hey, you’re meeting the expectations. And I’m really glad to have you on the team.’ Instead of just thanks for being here this week, instead of just thank you guys. Hey, great Sunday.
To say the expectation was that you always show up and know the music, the expectation was that you, you know, you’re talking to your video guy or your graphics person, or however the team is all structured out. But saying like, ‘hey, you’ve you’ve been meeting these expectations that we wrote down. Great job, thank you. What’s next?’ That not only fuels them to continue to grow and to be better. It gives them a point of connection to say, hey, yep, I’m hitting the mark. And as as people underperform, you need more checkpoints. So immediately, if you see a lot of red flags on a on a review, you know, some people call these performance reviews. And that may feel really weird. Again, I keep trying to think back, you’re 21 year old worship pastor, you’re leading a volunteer team, and you want to see growth in your church, you believe that you are being placed in this church, and you might even be a volunteer yourself.
And you’re like, yeah, I’m not doing performance reviews for the 45 year old keyboard player I have, you know, he’s not gonna do it. But I’ll tell you what, you can still meet with them. And you can tailor a performance review to feel like coffee. Like, hey, what what are your goals? Like? What are you doing playing keyboard at our church? Like, why are you Why are you here? Why do you show up every week? Why are you showing up every once a month to play whatever the schedule is, but talking about that you can talk about in framing in a way to be a good leader does not mean to have a formal structure. To be a good leader means to truly communicate expectations. And so sometimes you just have to think about spinning it a little bit depending on the scenario that you’re in. So I want to challenge you, no matter where you’re at what you’re doing. My second point is to have regular
check ins where we’re writing down the goals, we’re reviewing the goals and we’re setting new expectations. So call them goals, you can call them expectations, to meet the culture. And that’s how you set the temperature, you cannot set it by just thinking about it and hoping that everybody else somehow figures out what is inside of your brain, or by just modeling it and figuring out that everybody else is smart enough to see what you’re doing. And that that’s the the expectation. No, you have to communicate it with them, like Mike said, over communicate over communicate over communicate. And why does that mean you don’t have to fire people. Because the the second or third meeting you have and this is why I said if you’re starting to see red flags, you need to have more meetings more often. Don’t let it go six months. By the second and third meeting, we’re just like, ‘hey, the expectation was for you to know your music. Hey, the expectation was that we’re not doing Facebook posts once a month, what we’re doing Facebook posts everyday. The expectation was that, that the graphics are done on Thursday, not Sunday morning, as the sermon is getting ready to go up.’
Any of these expectations that often get unmet, if you if you set those by the third time, these people will start to understand that that they’re not able to meet the the need. And so people do not like to stay in an environment where they do not thrive. They also do not like to stay it’s uncomfortable to, when we know like we’re not hitting the mark, and when we’re reminded that we’re not hitting the mark, in a lovingly loving way, and loving communication, we want to remove ourselves rather than wait to be removed. And most people who suck in their job at their job, don’t have a leader who is communicating well that they suck. And it’s just letting them kind of do it. But in they just kind of know that they’re not really all that great, but they’re just kind of doing because like, well, no one’s ever told me I suck. So I’m just gonna keep doing it. Keep doing what I’ve been doing until you know, something else comes along. So that’s it. Set regular things, this doesn’t just happen naturally. It can, you can make it feel like to other people, like it’s just coffee, or if it’s with staff, you can set very formal, very regulated performance reviews. I know for me, and for our team, that it has been huge, it’s been a great time to even call out opportunities to shift positions to sometimes say, hey, you’re killing it over here, you’re not killing it over here. Your your position would look better if we transform it, if we don’t schedule those meetings and we don’t make that a priority because it’s hard to do, you know, we don’t have enough time in the day, we’re missing out on the opportunity to help our team be the very best that they can be.
Mike Mage Well, I think too man, if if you don’t make it a priority, and you let the only time that you actually have conversations with your team members, be the times when they’re doing something wrong. Or, you know, when they have failed to meet expectations. Rather than having like a set time that you know that you’re going to talk about it, it starts to really eradicate sort of a trusting relationship from you know, like your, from your leader to the rest of your team members. Because like crap, well, the only time that we’re going to talk is when I’ve done something wrong, or I’ve done something bad. You know, that’s the if that’s the general mood that’s going on with your team, like that’s not a great place to be. Right, you want to be able to communicate with them when it’s good, and when it’s bad. And
my third one, the lightning round here is, is probably the most practical I’ll get. And this comes with the the actual conversation, when you actually have to let someone go, fire them, not have them back on the volunteer team, whatever that may be. That actual conversation should never be a surprise. So I’m gonna say that again. If and when you actually have that conversation to let someone go fire them or not having them back in your volunteer team. It should and will never be a surprise. That’s because you’re doing what Justin just talked about. And that’s having conversations with them. That’s because my point previously before Justin’s, you have actually engaged in those difficult conversations you have set your expectations. You have, you have kept your integrity as an organization. And you get to this final moment. And it is not a surprise to anybody. And it shouldn’t be. You know, just recently in our church, we actually had to let someone go on our team who actually had some sort of moral failure, I’m not going to get into it super big. But you know, there was some sort of failing in some way, shape or form. And because the leader didn’t talk to them once didn’t talk to them twice. But he talked to them three or four times. By the time he actually got to the actually got to that conversation. It was not a surprise to anybody. And because it’s not a surprise, that means that this conversation does not have to be long and drawn out. The time for questions is over. Like there is no time for questions like it is it’s pretty apparent for everybody that this is going to happen.
Justin Price Yeah.
Mike Mage So, yeah, I learned this from one of one of the guys at our church who was really high up in like a very, I can’t remember, an accounting firm or something like he was in HR, and, you know, had been doing HR for decades. And he basically said that, like, you know, when you have this conversation, it needs to be like, five, maybe 10 minutes at the most, and at the end, and even label it as a conversation, you know, you put conversation in air quotes, because it’s not much of a back and forth. And, you know, I just, I think that the, it, there needs to be some sort of finality to it. And then, you know, moving back to, especially in like a ministry way, these are not things that that need to be, that need to be like relationship killers, you know, I think in some way, shape or form, like the relationship does change, because it has to, but again, to your first point, Justin, if someone you know, has to be let go because of a moral failing in some way, shape, or form, this is our job as it as a church, as a worship leader, as someone who is involved in ministry, this is our job to say, hey, our professional relationship must change here. But it does not alleviate you, as a leader in the church to also help offer counseling in some way, shape or form. You know, I don’t know some sort of some sort of, of moral support, if there’s especially there’s a moral failing, obviously, you need to set specific and appropriate boundaries for that. You know, you can’t get involved in someone’s, you know, addictions in the sense that, you know, like, it has the potential to really drag you down. However, there is a lot of things, creative things that we can do to actually help people out. Because we care about them more than just the job that they do. That should be the overall culture, the overall feeling of your ministry of your organization is you want people to be the best that they can be not just the best at what they do. So final final point here is even when you have that conversation, it’s a conversation that air quotes and should not last long, nor should it be a surprise at all.
Justin Price I love that point. Mike. My third point was actually going to be a kind of a weird point. And that was actually to talk about a time where I failed at firing.
I worked with somebody who I love very much. Who I poured a lot of time into, had a long working relationship with them.
You know, and seasons change, you know, people go through different times different seasons, and we had multiple reviews, we even went on to a probationary period. To me, I felt like it was crystal clear. You’re on probation. Performance is not where it needs to be. Here are the problems that I’m seeing, and I need to see these things change during this period. Or else we cannot continue to work together. I thought that was clear enough.
I think that it was kind of clear that performance didn’t change. And then when we sat down to have that conversation to end it quickly, that person was surprised that they were being let go. And so I think one of the issues when we’re working with with people in church is that we feel like well, I’m not, I mean, the church can’t like fire me cause, it’s a church. And so some people
come into these relationships and feel like the relationship is job security. And the reality is is that it’s not.
Mike Mage Yeah, that’s so good.
Justin Price And so the point for me that I took away from this is that I have to over communicate.
When I feel like we’re at a point where that person’s job might be on the line. Because I do care about the people that I work with, I do care about their livelihood, I do realize that this is going to affect their family. Yeah. And so if I love them, if I care about them, if I really do want what’s best for them, I need to work as hard as I possibly can to communicate clearly how severe the situation is, and I cannot use my dislike for conflict or my desire to like protect them from hurting their feelings, to make it end up them not understand the severity of the situation. So now I’m probably over overly communicative when I see a red flag. When I’m like, oh, man, things are not going good.
I’m also I’m also much slower to hire now, after going through a couple of like hard, hard fires. Now it’s like, oh, man, I’ll just I’m gonna definitely ease into any new hire because like, I don’t want to have to go through that again. I don’t want to. I don’t wanna have to have that that situation and to lose that relationship because I didn’t
communicate clear enough. And so on a very on a very personal level, I’ve been fired out of the blue, when my performance reviews have been through the roof. That changed my life.
I was working for a church, we had doubled the church, the attendance had almost doubled. I was in Tennessee, I loved the area, I built a house, a block from the church, in a small town in Tennessee, where like if, if I was not creative directing at that church, I would definitely not stay in Tennessee. And I walk in one day, and I had even I my wife was, was sick. And she had been off of work for a while. And we had even gotten word from the executive pastor that, hey, we’re, you know, we just want you to know, you’re good. We’re gonna take you like you guys have a job here you have job security. All this we were we were like, we were cruising along. And I walked in one day, and they were like, Hey, we want to talk. And they said, we’re changing directions. It wasn’t a moral failure, it wasn’t a performance thing. And if it was a performance thing, they had never communicated it previously, and they had not communicated it then. And they they took the opportunity to give us a great severance, they did treat us lovingly in the in the way that they let us go. And it ended up being the best thing that ever happened to me because it caused me to move back to Florida with where my family was at. And it changed my life. It’s why I own an agency now and why I’m not still working. I did end up working for another church. But when I started that next job at that church, I came into it a completely different person.
Mike Mage I bet. Yeah.
Justin Price because I was determined to never set myself up in a position where I where people would, would not value the work that I was doing for their church, after growing multiple churches so significantly to be to be let go like that with such disrespect, the lack of communication and not even bringing me into the conversations. For me, it was it was a life changing experience. And so when I when I failed to communicate that and when that was a surprise on my first fire, the first person I fired, that was a surprise.
That was another big, big aha moment for me. And so I would just say, hey, if you think that you have even been slightly ambiguous, over communicate. If you think that you are at potential of firing them, tell them do not skirt around this, let them know what’s at stake, so that you can give them the fullest potential, the fullest opportunity to say, well, then this job isn’t for me, or this job is for me, and they will fire themselves.
And that level of communication for me ever since that bad fire has I have not fired anybody. So we’ve been able to have really great conversations, people have been able to say this isn’t the right fit for me, or move themselves inside of the organization because of good communication. So there it is. That’s my not as lightning as last time.
That’s my third point, Mike these uh, it’s almost like we practiced and talked about these, they were really almost all the same dovetailed into each other just like the first time.
Mike Mage Yeah, well, I think that, you know, I think that’s a good thing.
And you know, like, it’s tough for us to separate those two would be the wrong thing when you agree.
Justin Price I agree. And I would say, if there’s one thing that we could take away from this is that if you care about having a healthy culture in your church, then caring about hiring and firing is the biggest thing you can do. It’s not about whether you should use Pro Presenter or not. It’s not about it’s not about whether your team’s on Slack. It’s not about technology, it’s not about meeting schedules, it’s not about anything else.
It is literally focusing on how you hire how you fire. I think that all of these things are rooted in this concept that is super generic, which is the idea that we we really have to treat and love the people that we were working with. We need to treat them as if as as Christ has called us to treat them and that sounds like super Sunday school. But I think that the difference between firing somebody the wrong way and even hiring people the wrong way. You know, I told you at the beginning of this like I try to talk people out of it when I’m hiring them because I want to make sure that this is what’s best for them because I want them to be thriving in their workplace doing that because a place to for of love for them and love for my the rest of my team. You know sometimes even making those hard choices, isn’t,
it’s not easy for me to do the hard choice, the conflict, the conversation, when I’m just thinking about the impact on me. The thing that usually will push me over the edge to actually have the conversation to have the hard thing is when when I hear another team member complain. When I see it’s affecting the other rest of the staff. Now all the sudden I’m like, I can’t brush it under the rug for me anymore. I’m hurting my team. And I love my team. And so I’m actually making a hard decision or a hard conversation out of out of a place for love. And guys, that when you let somebody go, the severance package, always stepping up, always doing what the best that you can, for people, is going to be the best. And sometimes you can’t do a lot, you know, sometimes you’re financially in a bad spot, sometimes you know, your organization’s not got a lot because of a bad person caused you to lose quite a bit of donations this year. You know, there’s you got a moral failure from a pastor, you’re probably going to be down a little bit.
And so it’s hard to be like, well, we’re gonna still give you a ton of money too. So sometimes you can’t do as much as you even want to, but do the most that you can do what you can and to leave people with as much respect and as much love as you possibly can. And I would say I don’t have any of this figured out, these are some things that have helped me be from like, terrible at this to a little bit better. I’m not in a good to great situation, like from like a worst to like, not as bad as where I’m at right now, Mike. So I would echo your hearts for I would love to hear more stories from people who do this really well. I’d love to get more tips from you guys. And I it’s something that as my career as a leader continues. I know it’s one of the most valuable things I can invest in is getting better at hiring and firing. I hope you guys are taking a lot away from this. If you are young leader, you can do this, you can lead up if you’re in an organization where you’re frustrated, because you’ve heard all of this and you’re like, Well, my leadership isn’t doing this. Bring it to them. Bring it to them and make it happen. Bring it to your team and start implementing it on any level that you can. You can lead up and you can say I want to review, can you you can schedule a meeting with your leader. And you can set your own reviews. It doesn’t have to come down and you can ask them what are your expectations of me and write down their expectations of you. And what are the goals that you want to have? You can write that down with them without having that system and don’t let your bad organization or your bad culture that’s being led by anybody else stop you from making a healthy church culture that’s going to grow your church deeper and wider. That’s all I got for you today, Mike.
Mike Mage Well, that’s a great place for us, for us to cap this off. This has been an incredible conversation. Justin, thank you so much. And thank you to all those people who are listening and sharing. We’re so grateful for you. But thanks again for listening to the Healthy Church Growth podcast where we believe that healthy things grow and growth means life.
Does your employee recruitment style need to change? In this NEW episode of the Healthy Church Growth podcast, hosts Mike Mage and Justin Price, founder of Vers Creative, discuss how to master the art of recruiting exceptional talent.
On Instagram: @Mikemage @techjustinrp @vers_creative
Mike Mage Welcome to the healthy church growth podcast. We are so glad that you are joining us today for this podcast. And today, it’s going to look a little different, it’s gonna feel a little different. And I’m gonna get into that here in a minute. But before we do, I just want to again, say thank you so much for sharing, for subscribing for liking for being a part of this podcast in this community, it is so cool to see people reach out and to see people comment and to see people really engaged with what we’re trying to do here with healthy church growth and be a part of this journey as we tried to figure out what in the world does healthy church growth actually look like? And today with me, as always, is our co host, Justin, Justin, how’s it going, man?
Justin Price It is going so great, Mike. I mean, we finally broke 75 degrees here in Florida, which just feels so incredible. Yes, yeah. Today, I love it when it’s sunny, and cool.
Mike Mage It’s amazing. Well, and and yeah, I I think it comes into before we record it, but if heaven has a temperature, it’s going to be around 65 to 70 degrees and sunny out. And I don’t know a lot of people that would disagree with me on that. But it’s amazing here in Florida, as of November 2.
Justin Price It’s incredible. It is amazing. Yeah, it was so funny. I was telling my staff to go out and breathe some fresh air today. Yeah, I got out. I got some very frustrated Toledo-ins. Even like a little eye roll from Buffalo and one from North Carolina who always like, shut up. Yeah. And don’t tell us to go outside, you jerk.
Mike Mage Well, and this is, you know, May through probably October, honestly, is pretty terrible in Florida. And you know, but it’s almost like you invest in those months so that we can reap the benefit when it comes to November through like, especially like March or April? Because there’s really no other place to be. I mean, it’s it feels most of the time. It feels so good out.
Justin Price Yeah, I mean, there is a reason why everybody from the great white out here. We have all these snowbirds in our population increases by two to three. Yeah, but there is a little hack for those listeners. There’s a little life hack that I live by. And that is that October. And November are secret month that we locals that are aware and wise enough. When for smart enough, we live it up. And it’s bright before all the snowbirds are fully in season and when the weather is still nice enough. So you get in September and post summer. Yep, hot days at the beach to yourself. Yeah. And then any resort. And any cool like, you know, Busch Gardens, like any amusement parks, all of the touristy things that are like 10 times longer weights and obnoxious during spring break in the typical, like break times, just, you know, you got to get creative with your schedule and switch things around a little bit. And so if you are thinking about visiting Florida, and maybe you could even apply this to other warm weather states. Think about getting creative and stop, like just sticking to the Christmas and Spring Break time and see them on summer seasons just Yeah, get your kids out of school. It’s not responsible. I can say that with a first grader. There you go see exactly take the week. Yeah,
Mike Mage executive, at some point, you got to live life. And folks, that is a free tip that we were talking about today. That’s a free tip. You even know you were getting that today.
Justin Price We’ve got no segue for that. So let’s just jump into it. You know,
Mike Mage Let’s jump into it. Okay, so what I mentioned the beginning, we wanted to try and do something a little different, Justin and I did. And it’s something that I hear about a lot from other worship leaders from other people in ministry is how do you find people I literally, I just had a phone call the last week from the pastor who’s new to the area. And you know, they’re from a town over. And you know, they called me and said, I don’t I don’t want to take any of your people, which I thought was very nice. But I’m new to this town. I’m new to the city. What’s even like, what do I look for? When I’m trying to recruit people, whether it’s whether you have some money as a church to hire somebody, maybe it’s part time, maybe it’s full time or even just simply volunteers. And so I was talking with Justin and we’re like, maybe we should do like a couple part series and what does it look like to hire people and recruit people? What does it look like to maybe ask somebody to not be a part of your team anymore? Whether it be firing or, you know, just saying now’s not the right time? Or you know, and then maybe, you know, some third part, whoever knows that is whatever this goes. So today, we’re going to sort of go lightning round, Justin and I both bought three really great points. And we’re gonna sort of just ping pong back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. So Justin, I think it’s great if you would lead off age before beauty, right?
Justin Price Oh, man, you’re gonna set the bar really high. I’m gonna start talking really Fast, here we go, you’re ready for the lightning round
Mike Mage Lightning round, we need
Justin Price Here we go. So anybody who has ever applied to work with me, I have one objective in the interview process it is to talk them out of the job, I really want to set up the expectations for the worst case scenario of what I imagine could frustrate, you could burn you out, and could make it so that you find out maybe six months, maybe a year into the job, that it’s not the right job for you. A lot of people feel like that’s not the way that they would maybe take an interview process. But the thing that I have found is I’m a pretty good sales guy. And I can convince a lot of people to come and work with me. And then they find out six months later, like this stuff that I left out, is a deal breaker for them. And so they end up finding another job or they decide to go somewhere else or whatever. And that that’s always worked out perfectly fine. However, I invest a ton of time and money into staffing them, getting them plugged in onboarding them, getting them into the culture, even like for us, we have a lot of clients of bringing it up to all of the clients and bringing them up to speed with all the clients is a big deal. And so you when you consider what it really costs to hire somebody, it’s about 10 to 20 grand whether to use a recruiter actually pay somebody to find them. Or you just look at the resources from your team to bring somebody up to full speed, you’re looking at like 10 to 20 grand worth of time, hours cost whatever. Yeah. And so I want to talk people out of the job, make sure that when I put that 10 to 20 grand in somebody, it’s the right fit for the long term. And, you know, what I’ve also found is usually when it is the right fit, the things I’m saying that will turn off most people turn them on. It’s not that it could just sometimes be the season of life. So one of the things that I often talk about is like how hard this job is challenging it is. And I had a guy I was interviewing the other day, and he just said he’s like, I’m actually ready for a challenge. I’ve been in a season of my life where it hasn’t been that challenging. And I found myself getting bored and distracted doing a lot of other projects. So that’s it, talk people out of it. And you’ll find that when they get excited about you talking them out of it. That’s a good sign. It’s a really great sign early on. So yeah, there you go. Mike, what you got what? I did it three minutes.
Mike Mage Under three minutes. That was incredible.
Justin Price Okay, I’ll try to slow down a little bit.
Mike Mage Well, real quick to just just a tag on that. Since we have like a tiny bit of time. It’s like, this is like the presidential debates. You know, I get to respond. Right? I get to respond. Okay.
Justin Price Oh, yeah, that’s good. We should build in response time. Yeah, at least a minute.
Mike Mage Right? I love Thank you. I love that. You try to talk people out of it. It’s what happened to me when I got to the church that I’m working out, or wikinut, the the executive director that I interviewed with, he kept like trying to say bad things. He’s like, Well, you know, we’re, we’re not we got our problems and everything. But you know, if you can if if the person that you’re interviewing turns it around and uses it as an opportunity, that’s the type of person that you want. Does. That’s incredible.
Justin Price So yeah, absolutely.
Mike Mage Okay, so first thing I want to say before I get started and do my number one, this is my preamble is what you do in your church, in your ministry in your organization, is not the health of your culture. It’s not what you do. It’s who you are. That is the actual health of your culture. And so recruiting is the one of the most important things that you can do, whether it’s a volunteer, or a staff member, we all know that. Just like Justin said, it costs money. If you don’t hire and recruit correctly, it costs money. Absolutely. And Okay, so the first thing and this is something if you listen to our past podcasts, err, this actually talked about a lot as well. But it’s a huge thing for me, is humility. Humility is easily the most attractive quality that someone on your team can have. humble people are teachable people, they are self aware, they understand their surroundings, they understand when you know, they should talk, they understand what they probably shouldn’t talk, they understand when they should push them to stand when they shouldn’t push, there is a level of it. For example, no one gets offended by a humble person adjusting Can you think of a time you have been offended by a humble person?
Justin Price No, never. Yeah,
Mike Mage But and even in a humble person can can bring up something that might be semi like offensive, and when they really have to push the boundary or push the envelope a little bit. And they’re able to bring it up in a way that does not get people’s feathers ruffled to the point where they’re not able to engage in a topic. And that’s, that’s what I want to so bad. I’m not looking for people to do a specific job when I when I find a bass player, when I find a drummer, when I find a singer, I’m not looking for them to do that specific job I need them to be there is some level of competency obviously we all need to have going into like some sort of specialized role, but I’m not looking for them to just do that. I’m looking for them to be leaders and leaders are people who serve and ultimately you need humility to do that. So number one quality about like, I want someone to walk into our green room and say, holy cow. This is a bunch of humble people.
Justin Price Yeah. So my response to that, Mike, is that you’re that you’re the most humble.
Mike Mage Thank you. I have that tattooed on me. Yeah, it’s right. It’s right on my chest. Right across my chest. I’m the most humble. Yeah.
Justin Price Yeah, Mike actually got a tattoo of a piece of a slice of pie on his on his bicep. And just so that people would ask him, what is that? And he’s like, Oh, it’s my humble pie.
Mike Mage That’s my humble pie. Yeah,
Justin Price Yeah. I don’t want to put humble on there. Because I want to be able to tell people
Mike Mage What it’s one of the things I work on my bicep so much I kiss my bicep is taken, taken a bite of humble pie. Yes.
Justin Price I so this is really, my number two is eight as a great one, by the way, Mike, thank you. I wish I could come up with topics like that. But you’re, you’re you’re phenomenal. And I’m, this is kind of a tag on to this. So one of the things we look for, we always say that that Pro, the difference between an amateur and a professional is that a professional knows what they don’t know. And an amateur doesn’t yet know what they don’t know. And so the amateur will oftentimes assume that they’ve got something under control that they don’t have. The there’s a I’m not even gonna sidetrack because we’re on a lightning round. But so so the way that this goes oftentimes is we’ll say, Okay, so here’s the project. It’s really hard. Here’s the team. These guys are really high caliber, you know, what, what do you bring to the team? Or what do you think are going to be some of the challenges? And as we start to dig into these questions, I mean, I fire pretty hard in these interviews, because I just want to get to the meat, right. And so when I asked those kind of like hard hitting questions, trying to set up them to respond with expectations, knowing that they’re trying to leave a good impression. So I need a little bit of EQ skills here a little bit of like, emotional intelligence. Yep. I want them to somehow turn this answer into, well, hey, I don’t know that I’m like the best. But I know that I’m willing to do whatever it takes to figure it out. I know that I won’t give up on it. I know that like, I’m I based on this experience. This is what I do know. And so I can actually figure out a couple of things that even though again, I don’t know how exactly I would solve that, those kinds of answers are the things I’m looking for out of a really strong leader, that’s not necessarily as important for somebody who’s like lower in the organization, who’s an entry level person. In fact, I would always say that’s, that’s one of the biggest tells, as far as how much experience you have is if you, the more you can say, I don’t know, the more that you know, you don’t know, I will kind of say, Okay, well, that’s probably, uh, you’re getting yourself an extra 10 grand in your salary pay? With every answer that you say, I don’t know. Yeah, that verse. Yeah. And so we always just say, like, you know, that’s, that’s something that we look for. And when people come in, it’s funny, because that’s, it’s kind of humble. Um, but it’s also humility, out of experience to say, like, I have been humbled by these projects that I assumed I knew all the answers to or I had, it was gonna have it figured out. And it’s like, and I actually just quoted this massive project. It’s this this, like, this account could be worth hundreds of millions of dollars, Mike, I’ve never done anything like this before. I’ve never, I’ve never, never quoted out for a project that has this much potential is software that’s applicable, it’ll change the world if it’s done, right. It’s something it’s so exciting. And I couldn’t even give them a number on what it would take. Because I’ve never done anything like it. And I was, I was kind of thinking back on like, I did give him a number on marketing things. I didn’t give him a number on some strategic launch things and some, you know, initial launch things and all that and first drafts and things like that. But I was like, if I came in here and tried to give you a number on what it’s going to truly take to bring this thing to market. I would be, I’d be lying. I just don’t know. And I’ve made enough mistakes. And I felt that pain, where it’s not worth trying to sell him on a number or sell that person that to number until we’re further down the line. We don’t know a whole lot more. So yeah. That’s it number two is looking for people who know what they don’t know.
Mike Mage Yeah. Well, I think that that’s great. I have you watched Ted lassa. Yet, Justin, this show and
Justin Price Have I loved every Sunday.
Mike Mage Oh my god. So healthy church growth audience, you need to after this podcast after you’re done with this, and you share it with your friends, and you share with your family and your church members. You need to then go and sign up for Apple TV and watch Ted lasso
Justin Price rifle TV plus for sure.
Mike Mage Yeah. So there is this moment and I won’t give it away for people who haven’t seen it. But there’s this moment. And like towards the end of the season, where he says this thing about how people are have always doubted him in his life. And it’s there’s this quote that he saw from a poet, I think it was Walt Whitman, I can’t remember but it just said, Be curious, not judgmental. And I think that sort of that sort of, you know, can sum that up a little Like you want curious people, and that makes sense.
Justin Price Yeah. I guess you know, the more specific thing in the creative realm, Mike would be that arrogance will make you completely fail. Because this stuff, whether it’s like ministry, or business, creative stuff, yeah, coming into it arrogating in an arrogant way it will, it will set you up to fail. It’s like coming in with blinders on. So
Mike Mage I just got goosebumps. I’m not kidding. Like, I literally just got goosebumps.
Justin Price That’s great. Because it was for
Mike Mage Yeah. All right. Well, this, this is this is cool. I’m a dummy. Because we were going over this beforehand. I was like, Oh, you know, these are kind of separate. But all of these they dovetail into each other a little, hopefully, as well, especially as we’re talking them through a little bit more. So what’s your number two. So number two, is what so first one is humility. And that kind of goes with what you were talking about to my second thing is passion or drive. And like, I know that that sounds I know that that sounds really stupid. Because like, Oh, yeah, of course, like, obviously want someone with passion or drive. But it is not as easy as you think it is. Because some people are really good at the beginning of letting you know how you know motivated they are, how driven they are and all that kind of stuff. Because that they’ve you know, they’ve gotten to a certain point. But this this passion, this drive is intentionality. That’s what you really want. And if you can combine both passion or drive, and humility, you have someone who is like the absolute best advocate for your team, for your mission for your church, your ministry, your organization, whatever, like it will be someone who is literally a rock star. And again, I don’t want someone who’s just going to do a specific job, they come they do the job, and then they leave. I want people who are on fire who are who are dying to be a part of something.
Justin Price So is it What’s a tangible way you look for that mic? Sorry to cut you off?
Mike Mage No, that’s fine. It is its enthusiasm. It’s someone who chooses joy. It’s someone who chooses optimism over negativity, it’s someone who is kind of like you were saying for that first one is looking for the opportunity, not just for the difficulty. And, and those are, those are honestly, those are very tangible things. So and, and and again, those do not come up based on just on one interview, that’s a relationship thing that is that as a leader, you know, as someone who is in charge of other people, it is my job to get to know my people. And, and I you can see those things after you know, maybe not hours, but after days, after you know, weeks, you are able to see those things. And it goes go, go go for
Justin Price now. Yeah, so I do have one way that you can check that. Yeah. And that is that this was a somebody stole from Andy Stanley. Yeah. northpointe. And he, he says in all of his interviews, he doesn’t look at any of the resumes, he just asked people what they’ve done. Yep. And so he goes, like, if you’ve only done portfolio work for your graduate or for your, your previous employer, if you’ve had no side hustle, if you’ve only done like the status quo of what is required for your job or school. He’s like, I won’t even take that interview, like past that conversation. So it’s like, it’s funny, but it’s true. He’s like, passion and drive. Mike, what I love about is like you’re very sensitive and tuned into the heart, into your you were talking about, like, the passion and drive comes from those from those conversations. But I’m always looking for these, like tangible. Yeah, and, and so I literally had an interview for a great person, she had a ton of passion and drive with what she was saying she’s passionate, she was a great fit for us culturally. And I believe she could be very, very good, good, do a very good job. But she didn’t have that anything like anything. And I was like, just like you might be a good fit. But until you go do some work, you’re not paid for. Totally. That’s passion, right? For me, I worked 10 years of side hustles like running recording studios, filming things, making logos for things that were nothing. Because I had that drive and passion. I couldn’t sit at home and watch Netflix as as good as Ted lassa is it’s not on Netflix. I couldn’t just sit at home and watch Netflix, I had to do things. And so those are the kind of people I’m looking for. And I oftentimes applaud staff members who have side hustles. I’m interviewing another person who has built like multiple e commerce platforms and sold a lot of different things on Instagram over the last few years, and I was like, I’m calling you, because I’ve watched you build your own things on the side while you’re working in other places. That’s the kind of people I want on my team. You can still build things on the side. I’m not calling you because I’m trying to squeeze you for all those hours. I just want somebody who’s not going to be content. So yep, sorry, Mike. I went totally on yours.
Mike Mage No. Well, I just think that that’s the drive because yes, passion. And so that’s why I kind of had those two words. There is passion You know, you can you can see passion and whatever, but it’s the drive, you know, that’s that the underlying there’s got to be a motor there, there has to be some sort of engine that is propelling that thing forward. Because especially I, and I don’t know if you see this, Justin, but I have seen especially in the creative world, there are so many people who have a passion I’m doing air quotes because no one can see this under an air. So many people have a passion for creative things. They want to be a creative director, they want to create things, they have a passion for things. They want to be a tastemaker, whatever that means. But they have no drive to actually just you just got to start doing something man, you got to go. And, and that’s how you get better. That’s that’s how you get. It’s how you get noticed that that’s what you are. But whatever. That’s that’s what I’m looking for in my in my team. Like, I want people who are in this again, this is for volunteers, but also for hires. I want people who are driven and like you were saying, who are not going to be complacent. For you know, the way we’ve always done things, which is like the killer line of all church ministry. So yeah,
Justin Price Oh man. Yeah. Anybody who says that word, just it, they get kind of erased from the conversation?
Mike Mage Immediately. Yes. Alright, you go Yeah,
Justin Price I would do want to bounce one more thing on that go was so good. And I’m gonna steal it into my three minutes for this. But Okay. Um, you said something that was like, very, very interesting for me. And that was that, um, I want to reiterate a point that I probably overstate, but ideas are cheap, in passion, passion that is shown in ideas, and conversation. And interest is not worth a hill of beans. Hmm. Even as an art director, even as somebody who’s whose job is to come up with ideas based on knowledge, of art history, and of concept, that person’s job still needs to have execution inside of it. And so if you’re talking about idea versus execution, there’s passion and drive, right? Um, you guys, we can get really, really misled by somebody who’s like, I’m so passionate about film. I love watching movies. Yeah, I know, I’ve listened to every podcast of every film thing there ever was, you know, and I’m an aspiring dp, I’m going to be a dp a great dp one day. And I believe that I believe that they believe that, you know, like, it sucks so much when I meet somebody like that. And I go, sweet man, show me the thing that you have done first, like, well, I’m waiting to get I’m waiting to get an opportunity to do it. Yeah. If they’re, if what they are, and even if they don’t say those words, right? If their answer is I don’t have anything right now that I’m really can show you or that you know, but I’m working on some things. I have some ideas, I have some scripts. I’m like, Hey, man, good luck, like Call me when you and I’ll usually try to say this out of love. But it’ll be like, paid, call me back. Like I want to see when that thing has become a thing. And maybe I might be the person to like, you know, cause them to actually put some action. But I will usually tell them, I was like, hey, any, any creative director or any creative leader will not consider you as even a viable option if you haven’t done something because, you know, I remember even when I was in middle school, I was making music videos with a VHS camera for my friend’s dad’s VHS camera, and they sucked. And then in high school, I made more music videos, that sucked so bad, I had fun doing them, but they sucked. And I still had them as my like, experience, you know, and, and so anyways, that’s a total silence. So here’s my last one. And I’m just gonna,
I’m gonna say this is maybe a little more unique to the creative agency world than it is quite to the church. I’m gonna try to do this in 30 seconds, because I’ve talked so much. And it is this, um, I look for people who say they want to join our team, because they’re looking for an opportunity to do better work. And it’s so funny because this is really pretty much just Mike’s passion drive. Um, what I have found as my own as as a solo entrepreneur and as like a solo creative is that you are highly limited. You can be very self fulfilling, but you’re highly limited to the quantity and the quality in which one person can produce Yep, as an artist. But if you are really excited about the creative work, the actual reps of being creative, having another creative person in your team to bounce off of to push you forward and not stall you up can move you so much faster, and can compliment you so much better. Yeah, um, you know, even the best creatives in the world had other people on their teams, whether they were recognized or not. elton john wrote the most amount of number one hits in a row and held the radio number one hits for the longest amount of time and the second that he started writing without his writing partner. He Cuz albums, like bombed. And then he came back to that writing partner, and he brought some more hits. And it’s just so funny to meet it for us to be so arrogant as artists to think like, but yet, but we can do it on ourselves because we’re really totally. And we really got this all together. And so I’m looking for people who want to push for better work and who have been saying like, I know I’ve got something inside of me, and I’ve been doing it and here’s my drive. And here’s my portfolio. But like, it’s just not enough with me on my own. And or I need another person on top of me, Mike, my boss is happy with my best. Yeah, but I know I’ve got another level. Yeah. And that idea of pushing my own personal boundaries is something that if they do not say it anywhere in the interview process, I cannot approve, like, I cannot move them forward from my interview time. And so the staff knows when they’re when they’re interviewing people as well. If that’s not something that that is a value that people are looking for, when they’re looking at our agency, then we just we turn them away, because the reality is, is there is no arrival point there. It is a journey, and you’re always pushing. And if you’re not looking to push, like if you’re not looking to take the next step to level up in any way. Sometimes it’s a big step. And sometimes it’s just a growth step like a small little thing. Yeah. But if you’re not looking for that kind of energy, you will get burnt out on a team of high performers, this team that that I work with, like big kick my butt all the time. Yep, yep. Because they’re phenomenal. And they’re always pushing each other. Yeah. And bouncing off of each other in a way that elevates it so much faster. So it’s better results. Yeah. And so I took more than my 30, because I got really passionate about this, but I’m looking, you know, when we’re recruiting, the best hires are people who are like, I, I know, I can do better work working with your team, with this team of people that you you have on your staff. And so that’s a huge, huge thing for me.
Mike Mage Well, it’s so funny. I mean, like, there is a moment where because I think you’re right, if you get to your limit, you get to where and this happened to me is this happened to me in ministry, this happened to me in real estate just recently, where it was like, I have reached my end, you know, like, I have reached the ceiling that I can with this organization, or with this church, or whatever, like I have to, you know, that’s a natural, that’s a natural point that a lot of people get to, and sometimes it’s literally, you know, maybe it’s for you as a leader or whatever, sometimes that is sort of like the the writing on the wall for you to maybe go find somewhere else. But you’re right, it is, it’s, it’s really great to have people and be like I need I want to team up with you to make something bigger and better happen, which, you know, if you’ve been following along with what we’ve been saying this whole time, throughout all the podcasts that they held the church growth, like that’s what we’re called to do is bigger and better things than we could even think or imagine, that God has for us so and Justin that my third point sort of dovetails really nicely again, with kind of what you were saying. And this is something I’m probably you probably would want to look for more in someone you’re hiring. So whether it’s again, part time, maybe you have money for a full time person, I don’t know, depending on wherever you’re at. But this is probably something more for a higher than a volunteer, even though I have several volunteers on my team that that have this quality, but it’s the quality of forward thinking. So it’s of it’s a lot of the times we think of our volunteers as very operational. So if you’re looking at you know, like the triangle of, you know, organizations or whatever, you have your operational, you have your managerial, which is like your middle management in the strategic, which is your executive level, whatever, a lot of us look at our volunteers is strictly operational, only come in to do one job, all that kind of thing. Eternity. Yeah, exactly. And you have you have somebody who you need somebody who can take a just a step, just one glance up off of the ground off of the weeds that they’re in, to look up at around them, and to think about what’s ahead of them, to maybe to maybe get some context about what’s happening so that they can make informed decisions, have informed conversations about whatever, you know, the next step might be, even if it’s a tiny thing, it’s that forward progress that you really, really want. And again, that helps to empower people that helps to encourage people that helps people not say so, you know, not get so stagnant in what they’re doing. And really, you know, as a leader, you know, one thing that I’m really looking for is that, you know, and again, all these other things that we’ve been talking about, you know, viewing it as an opportunity, having that drive, having that passion, having humility, all that kind of stuff, all of this all plays in together so and you know, I, I know a lot of you out there thinking like, Well, how do you find this? How do you get this? How do you and it’s, it’s through relationships. I mean, Justin, you’ve talked about a lot of these people that you are hiring, you know them, you know, like you have done the hard work, you’ve put the hard work in into creating a network, even personally of friends and people that you’ve worked Before whether it’s through church or whether it’s through other creative endeavors, but you know, these people, and, you know, that’s, that’s the first thing. And so maybe there’s somebody on your volunteer worship team that is ready to take a next step into some sort of paid capacity, whether it be super small, or you know, like just empowering a volunteer to maybe be a little more forward thinking someone who’s passionate and humble can can really take up the mantle to be like your lead volunteer. And, you know, like, my staff here at the church that I work at, is literally all the all of my staff members were once a volunteer first, I don’t hire outside. So I have seven people right now, no, six people, no 6565, or six people, depending on how you count them. Five or six people that are on staff, technically, with the worship department that we’re all on the on the team first as volunteers true. And like, it is not that that’s how we raise up people. And really like, that is a sustainable way to do things. Because you create a pipeline and you create, you know, like a deeper level of engagement for these people who really do feel like God might be calling them to something more. And if we didn’t have an opportunity for them, then they would probably leave to go to another church or to wherever the opportunity is calling them. So I don’t know if you have anything to say to that. But
Justin Price I do. I think it’s phenomenal. I would just validate, you know, I’ve applied for positions at Mike’s church multiple times. Now I keep getting rejected because I have not been volunteering. So if I feel God’s calling me, I’m gonna start by volunteering.
Mike Mage We have plenty of spots open for you, Justin, the doors always open. Yeah.
Justin Price Is there a spot for door opener?
Mike Mage Absolutely. Always.
Justin Price Yeah, just yeah, that’s about all I’m qualified for. But so a two two little practical things. A lot of people are like, I don’t know, the right people for this position. So before you say that, I would just encourage you to put post it out on your personal social media feeds, and post the type of things that you dream of being able to work with. So I’m looking so a lot of times, you don’t know, because you’ve not ever dreamed about the potential perfect person, man. And so now, like we used to pay for, like LinkedIn ads, and we used to pay for different recruiters. And so now always start with is like, staff members posting the job position. And it has been incredibly successful. Our staff members alone, brought in 130 something applications to our last position now a couple weeks ago. So I’m, like, qualified applications, like great applications. And I read every single one of them and looked at every single portfolio I put in the time, because it’s worth it. Yeah, you’re talking about the most important Mike, as you said earlier, this is this is the most important part of your organization. Culture is hiring right. And so, um, it’s not worth, it’s not worth skipping the time. Now. It’s like, I was told a long time ago from a coach like hay, choosing, you’re choosing to say no to things today for a later Yes. Or you’re choosing to say yes, I’m going to work on this thing now, like the hard choice today for an easier later. Yeah, right. This is that is such a good application to hiring. So practical step right here, make sure you really think through who the right person is for this new dream who that best person could be. And you talk about it to your friends, you talk about it to your network, you call friends who are more networked in you do not just post one Facebook post and say, Well, I tried, you know, I’m busy, I tried. I don’t have time, you don’t have time to hire the wrong person or to pull from the small pool, to grab people out of a small pond, you need to open it up. There’s people all over the country who’d be willing to relocate. So we’d be willing to work remote, who’d be willing to do whatever your circumstance is. And so this isn’t mind blowing stuff here. But for some of you guys who are still maybe like young leaders and don’t have good mentoring, this is like a, this is a foundational thing you need to think through, it’s your responsibility to try to find everybody you possibly can reach with your message of the opportunity, you have to be a part of what God is doing in your circle of influence. Yeah. So that that is a very, very practical tool that I just I’d love for you guys to take away with.
Mike Mage Hmm, it’s so good. Well, this is
Justin Price So the second step of that, Mike, I’m gonna take this, okay. The second step is a call everybody you possibly can call. So if you’ve not made 10 calls, even so it’s not always that the person you’re calling is the right person. Don’t think that way. Think about the person you’re calling might know the right person or might know somebody who knows the right person, right? And you just have to ask you never get those results without actually making the ask so
Mike Mage Well, what’s crazy, too is this is the last podcast you and I did together was you’re just saying, you know, we need to take inspiration from outside of the church from other organizations like we need to totally leave the church because it does Foreign in the church mindset for me to call people. But so businesses do all the time. All the time, literally just getting on the phone. I mean, right now we’re in the middle of election season, and I get phone calls all the time. You know, and like it just that’s how that’s it’s still a way that people do things. So you actually have to talk to people. Yeah. Well, this, this has been incredible. It’s been, it’s been super fun for me, I, I am learning just as much from you, as I hope maybe someone in our audience is learning as well. And, you know, for you, our audience at the healthy church growth podcast, we would love not just for you to share this because obviously, you know, we want you to do that too. But if you know when this podcast comes out, if you know, you can tag us with something that says what’s what’s one of your tips that you’re looking for when you’re looking to hire or recruit on that? And we can we can create a network of suggestions and tips for for everybody who is because seriously, it’s the most common question I get asked from other worship leaders and pastors of how do I get? How do I recruit a team? So thank you so much for listening here on the healthy church growth podcast where we believe that healthy things grow and growth means life.
What’s your leadership style? In this NEW episode of the Healthy Church Growth podcast, Heredes Ribeiro, Creative Pastor at Grace Family Church, discusses how to create a healthy work culture in the church through servant leadership.
Instagram: @heredes, @gfcflorida
Mike Mage Welcome to the healthy church growth podcast. We have an incredible interview for you today and I know they say that a lot but this is is going to be really great Justin and I we’ve just been I literally I’ve been recording for like the past half hour here just talking with Heredes area and when he said he said just just call me “H” and I’m really gonna lean into that makes it easy I’m gonna lean into that Ah, yeah it is it’s it’s it rolls off the tongue a little bit rolls out and it’s really cool. But Heredes you you actually work at Grace Family Church in Tampa? Is that correct?
Heredes Ribeiro Yeah, it’s been two years. New to Tampa, new to grace new degree loving it. A winning hockey team. I mean, what can come I know you guys
Mike Mage Did you guys watch the game? Yes. Yes champs Did you?
Justin Price I did not watch
Mike Mage What are you serious? I love I follow the whole series.
Justin Price Yeah, and a season in my life right now where sports did not make the cut.
Mike Mage You know, it’s hard. This is this is this is not for just the podcast, but it is so hard to watch all of the sports right now. Yes. Like it’s so strange.
Heredes Ribeiro Saturday night. Check this out Saturday night. Sports was gone during quarantine. Yeah. It came back with a vengeance. I had the multiviewer ESPN had the UFC fight on Gosh, the heat on I had the lightning. And then I had Miami soccer playing. I was grateful for ESPN plus the multiplayer because I like felt like a sports bar. My house was good.
Mike Mage Yeah. So I mean, but it’s just it’s like an overflow. It’s it’s overwhelming. Yeah. So that’s just a little sidebar. Yeah. But yeah, so ah, you’ve been at Grace family, which is like is really large church here in Tampa Bay for two years. Give us a little sort of rundown about how you got to grace family.
Heredes Ribeiro Yes. They found me on the side of the road. my guitar Yeah, it’s your it’s been it’s been a joy man. Such a blast getting to know Tampa. Long story short, I’m a pastor’s kid PK grew up in church in the front Pew sleeping through my dad’s. Right. Like every good church kid. always told myself I would not be in ministry. No, yeah, there’s gonna be some, you know, suit up and grab a suitcase and make seven figures and bled out. Right? That was it. And then God had a fun way to say no, like I’ve exposed the showing you. You’ve, you’ve lived through this for a reason. And really called me at a young age. I think really 19 is when I knew I was going to get be in ministry. I didn’t know how because I was an artist and music and this, how do I do that. And I don’t want to be traditional musician in church, went to college, went to seminary boom, serve that a church in South Florida, Miami, large churches will for 15 years. And the same gentleman who hired me there at the church is then he moved to Tampa. He’s been at Grace for 10 years now. He said, Hey, one day we’re gonna work together one day. And out of the blue. Out of the blue. I knew my time was up down in Miami. Yeah, it season in life. We had four kids, we were kind of looking to grow roots, from everything from family and just thinking of the future as a Hey, what’s in that? What are the next, you know, 25 years look like? And I called him up. He’s always been a mentor. He says, Hey, man, do not call anybody else. Do not talk to anybody else. Give me a week. And within a week, he actually he made up a job. That’s what I tell he made up a job to get three jobs. Yeah. Hey, we’re gonna we’re gonna get you here. Let’s figure it out. And I have been following online and we moved to, we moved to Tampa three months later, we picked up and picked up a family serving as a creative pastor now, which is it’s, it’s a great position really to serve the vision, and execute all things creative. So it’s everything from music, design, digital web, we got tech production, all of that. And it’s a fantastic hard working staff. There’s a 47 on full time staff that that we help lead. And then outside of that they lead about 1200 volunteers who deployed throughout Tampa, all the weekend services campuses, multi, I think there’s 26 services right now on a weekend. And we’ve been doing church online church at the campuses, we’ve opened back up and the whole, I just exciting. One of my first gigs here showing up was no pressure we showed up. And a month later, I was like, well, by the way, we’re gathering for 25th anniversary at the Raymond James Stadium. You got to produce that like, Oh, we still just a
Mike Mage Small thing.
Heredes Ribeiro Yeah, just football stadium. Yeah. So but just it really showed me I did very little and just showed I stepped into a really healthy place. team was in place. And so which asked him so what am I doing what’s Give me that? What’s the task at hand? What am I doing here? But it was really I spent the last two years getting to know the team seeing who’s there. And really dreaming for the next 25 years of where we’re going. Yeah, and what we’re going to do and it’s been it’s been awesome. The team’s great. The leadership’s fantastic, really healthy and super cool and fitting because this is the church
Mike Mage Healthy church healthy church growth. It’s perfect
Justin Price That’s so cool. You know, one of the things that stuck out to me when I when I met you H was how incredibly gifted you are at making people feel valued, welcomed, and drawing them in. I think that’s got to be you know, in a position you’re in. It’s a strength you’ve got to lean into, you know,
Heredes Ribeiro I just like to you made it easy, man. I just like these. So it’s not what everyone I don’t know if everybody can say that. I wish I wish everyone
Justin Price Cuz I got introduced to you through a text. mutual friend. Yeah, we didn’t know each other and even through texting you were like hospitable. You’re trying to connect, we missed each other and and and we didn’t even really have much of a conversation before we even talked. Yeah, you invited me to a really incredible event with with a great consultant vice president of Disney, which was a private event. It wasn’t like it was open.
Heredes Ribeiro Correct? Correct.
Justin Price He was up for your creative leaders. And you’re just like, Hey, come on in. Yeah, absolutely. Just heart that Spirit spoke so much to me that immediately I was like, and anything I can do to help this guy, I want to know that it was it was like a full on immediate appreciation for what you’re doing. And then I got to see firsthand before you even you know, told me what you guys were trying to do. I got to see a culture being formed there. And so, you know, for our listeners, I’m hoping we can really jump into a conversation about what is this culture look like? And why is it taking you so long and
Mike Mage Sources more than enough. Trying to steer a cruise ship here man
Heredes Ribeiro Yeah, I got a friend outside of my staff. So it’s fantastic. And I think it was really neat for you to see firsthand because it did the exact the intentionality of that event. And what we did with hellholes hosted a master class with the with the Disney Imagineer. And it was really for our team. For me, I’m big on if they’re going to work at Grace at this with this team, they’re going to be better for it no matter what. They end up somewhere else. Or if they decide to pursue something that their time we added value to their life that they grew here. So that’s a culture we’re trying to they’re not coming to do something they’re coming to receive, they’re coming to get to the attitude. So we’re starting to the masterclass series just really once a month, where they come and we add value, we treat them to lunch, we’ll bring a guest we got one schedule, she coming up with JD from Hillsong. He’s a worship leader with a song that’s the same. So that speaks to a whole nother demographic for the worship and, and I love bridging for meats, even this because I think I stepped into a healthy strong organization, but very siloed lot of professionals doing their work and their cubicles of sort and just kind of like focused and boom, in and out. And I’ve operated differently. So for me, yes, it’s okay. But I think there’s a new wave and we’re keeping ministry and work from a lot of people. Because it’s very, it’s almost too professional. Yeah, I think it’s and we get to a point where we become so good at what we do and so pro and so that I said, Yeah, no, but I think it’s good. The hustle and the scrappy in the No, let’s just figure it out. Right? Let’s not doesn’t have to cost that much. Yeah. So breaking, disrupting a little bit, taking down the cubicle walls, putting a worship guy next to a designer next to a tech and next to it. And it’s messy, but it’s beautiful. I think it’s kind of a it’s a Jackson poll kind of painting. Oh, wow. It’s all there to pressure. And that’s really, I’ve come to really do that just to kind of connect dots. I want the worship leader speaking into the video, I want the video speaking into the design of the series, I want the designer to have feedback on how the mix of the sound is great. We weren’t used to that I want specialists. But I also want the collaboration for the sake of cultural long term. And what we talked about a little bit, you know, off the record was the ability to lead, right, I think, to be sustainable in ministry, it’s got to be, you know, you got to run with people, you got to do it together. If you’re if you’re running alone, and it’s all on you, and you can’t be gone for the weekend, or you can’t be gone for the day. It’s not sustainable. And again, I can’t say that enough. Like it
Mike Mage Just sucks.
Justin Price Because even when you do something really well what are you gonna do?
Unknown Speaker Right?
Justin Price And where do you go to shake everybody’s hand
Heredes Ribeiro And the challenge and the grace. Like I said the leadership’s healthy man, there’s a lot of trust. Grace lives up and I’m speaking like as an outsider, but like, I can only do that for like, maybe like another week or two because I’m coming up on my two year anniversary. I feel like I’m a sophomore now. You know? Yeah. So I healthy leadership. There’s a lot of trust. There’s a lot of and they live up to the name like grace family. So there is grace, Holy smokes it’s people have a second chance kind of vibe. It’s like second, you can fail forward. You can go there’s grace and de de of family now not only from a nepotism and listen, we can make a case for nepotism. For like your i for i work with my brother and my son.
Mike Mage Okay, there we go. So
Heredes Ribeiro Yeah, so yeah, I wanna I’m building a team that my kids gonna beg me to be a part of. That’s how I see it. I really seemed like that, like, I want my son, Dad give me I want to intern for free. Let me just read it then I feel like I want but there’s a case for also family in the sense that I think in the Todd Henry episode, if you go back, listen to that. He talks And it resonates with me because he talks about in his book, can you fire family? Right? Can’t fire family. Right? Right. You can. And it’s so it’s so there’s a there’s a tension of coming in jack welch back in the day leadership will teach you how, hey, you can retrain somebody you can reposition somebody eventually can remove somebody, how do you Grace is not good at removing people. Okay? Historically, historically, it’s not the case. So it’s really hard to get a go, it’s hard to get fired, it’s hard to it’s not now huge health and stability that comes with that. Also challenges when you’re trying to steward, you know, the budget and the money and the time and the project
Mike Mage Investment.
Heredes Ribeiro Also, so you want to, so I think there’s a, if it’s family, okay, so either you’re going to collaborate and grow. Even if you’ve been on the team for 25 years, you’re a founding member. And you know, you’re not going anywhere. Yeah. Okay, but how do you get out of the way so that the 20 year old, where you were 25 years ago, can still step can collaborate can learn from you can so we’re teaching
Justin Price How can you share what you’ve done and save yours with that. Yeah, that new idea.
Unknown Speaker Right. And that’s it. So it’s some of it’s just trying to get I would get some experts on staff. I’m just there to extract their mind, put it on paper, extract their knowledge and put it on a on a podcast like this right? Or force them to speak. Some of their personalities are just introverts or they don’t like it. Yeah, no, but that’s just I don’t I can do it. I know how to teach it. I was like, well, let’s teach you how to teach it. Right. So we’re doing a lot of that just so it can translate. We’re six locations. Now. We’re like, how do we do this at 12? How to do this with 20? Yeah, if we’re going to continue to, you know, to take the gospel forward and move this. It’s got its it can’t die with you, sir. So it’s been it’s healthy and good. challenging, because changes change, right? And the only people like change are babies, right? changing their diapers. That’s about it. So, so yeah, but it’s in a lot of fun. And I love it. Like I said, there’s trust from the get go with the leader who hired me, his name’s Alan. And so he’s like, no permission to play permission to. That’s great. And I asked them before coming, so. So give me give me some marching orders. Because I mean, this is the culture. I came from a toxic culture came from very, at a church. I know that’s rare. I know this wherever you’re listening to this right now. I know you have there. And very much like a lot of the popular churches. So on the surface, it appears so attraction Oh, and fun. And her re I’ve been on the back end of that, that, you know, you’re I mean, the HR who had three HR people just to handle the exit interviews every year, a revolving door revolving door. 65 minutes in return. That’s crazy. Okay, it’s sad, sad, sad, sad. And I was on the I thought that that was it. No, you boom, three strikes, you’re out go. No, hustle. But there was this kind of and I think there’s there’s managed tensions a balance, I write productivity I want you know, some some, some folks are just adulting it’s not even about they’re just helping them adults, right in their first job. So you got to have patience. But I’m coming here. There’s great health and that and I asked them coming in I asked them so what’s what’s, what’s my role? My first year, what do I have? Because I’m here to clean house. Is that what you I’m I’m I’m escaped code. I’m the new guy who showed up.
Justin Price Yeah, we did restructure the departments.
Heredes Ribeiro We did. We did we did and that and that alone. Yeah, that alone, but he goes, No, absolutely not. We I want everybody in the team to win is that by the end, everybody’s still on the team. So okay, good. Because now’s the time for you to tell me that. You know, meenie miney, moe has got to go. Right? Now’s the time before we and that wasn’t so it’s it’s honest, and truth. Like, no, we want everybody here is here. And those who have gone it’s either been mutual, there have been long dragged out conversations and sincere talks about what needs to happen, which, which I appreciate. It’s never going to be a surprise. You hear that you read about it? No. It should never be
Yeah, but it happens more often than not where it’s just like, people don’t have candid conversations. Next thing, you know, they’re in an exit interview where it’s set. So it hasn’t been you know, sending anybody off. It’s been restructuring. With that comes challenges because people love their titles, love their chairs, love what they’ve always done, love their contact. I even brought the approach. We said, Well, we’ve always used this vendor. So Oh, okay. Let’s just bring three I want I want to explore new vendors. Yeah, I’m the new guy. So I get to ask that question, can we, and just and that show, you know, ruffle some feathers, because now all of a sudden, because it will, but we’re used to they know, I understand. I’m not here to add more work shirt, let’s be efficient. There’s new ways to do this. There’s, you know, we can save some money we can. But great team, and they were to come along, creating the culture again, I want to where people want to be there. So the events, the meetings, I want it to be something they want to be at. And, and we’re getting there.
Mike Mage So I’d love to one thing that you said like, you know a little bit ago was how when you got to the when you got to grace family, that the church was siloed and I want for the the, you know, the staff was siloed or even even within the creative team. It was it felt siloed and so I just I want whoever’s listening to this to know that like having your church staff be in silos, like that’s something that happens everywhere. Yes, yeah. big church, small church, medium site, whatever. Just the tendency to have these people retreat. To have church workers retreat to the areas that they feel the most comfortable in, is something that happens all the time. And I love what you’ve done. And you’ve been almost proactive, definitely active, but almost proactive and intentional about disrupting that and trying to, you know, shake things up a little bit without, you know, obviously calling into question people’s jobs and all that kind of stuff, but do the thing. You know, you come in and you’re looking at stuff with fresh eyes. I’d love to like, what are some, maybe some practical things, you know, as far as like, obviously, you know, shuffling people around where they’re sitting, you know, that kind of stuff. What are some other things that you’ve done to really help improve your culture? at Grace family?
Heredes Ribeiro A lot of the practical office stuff? Yes, I think we’ve read books about that stuff. Some have been dismissed already. Like, what Pixar and Google were doing. And you know, with the open air, all that Yeah, and some have been debunked, or they work somewhere. Like that’s the most inefficient thing we’ve ever done. Depending how you read. For me, it’s it goes back to relationship. It’s all relationships. Okay. I know that they’re not all going to connect to me. I may not be their cup of tea. Yeah. And I tell everybody, listen, we don’t all have to be best friends. We’re all going to be friendly, though. Okay, so there’s that. Number one, we have to be best friends. We have to be, but we’re going to be friendly. And friendly means okay. It’s not. If you have an issue if you don’t like that person. Let’s cut the gossip. Let’s cut the end call that out. Because sometimes even within a team like you forget that it’s like you’re supposed to be a team and if we’re not, so bringing that unity Valley constantly of like, so that its relationship for me very practical is this. I literally had everybody over the house. I’m serious about this is my wife, these are my kids. Let’s talk live. Yeah, let’s pop open the fill in the blank. Yeah. And you know, and just hanging it’s so getting to know the past, what they do who they are, and then having so for me that was key because I think again, larger organization and that’s work right? No, no doubt I enjoy it. And it’s social for me. Yeah, it’s also work. I only have 30 days a month. Yeah, I can squeeze in blank and I still have need to have a personal relationship with my wife still raise my kids. Yeah, it’s so very intentional about that. So we have the grill outs where it’s a few folks we have the one on ones with some of the very intention about socially connecting and sincere I want to know how they’re doing how live what they enjoy what sports again, sports are back now. Great social tool just to get together. Yeah, it’s about the game, but it’s not about the game, right? It’s about you know, it’s hang. So for me was just that flip but we weren’t used to that I was used to that. It wasn’t the midazolam people thought it was work so it’s funny because when I say hey, guys gonna come over the house I get in business to do this often writes happy hour. You just hit a happy hour right after work. And and the what the CEO or the supervisor then they know all around me, but they know what they’re doing right there. Boom, their social. Church staff sometimes doesn’t know how to do that. Well, it’s not funny.
Mike Mage Yeah. I feel like that’s something we should be the best at. Right?
Heredes Ribeiro It should, I think.
Mike Mage Yeah. Especially working at a church you know
Heredes Ribeiro And that’s the interesting part. Because I think because and I don’t know what in your Enneagrams y’all are what you know what personality, but pastors leaders, because they’re always with people, and it’s about people and boom, there comes a point where you’re just like, right Yeah, you got it I’m done. And so I think it’s managing energy of like making time for those I mean, those closest to those you’re leading I mean that time for those and caring so that that was that was key just a social getting to know it right off the bat. I spent the first year doing just that
Justin Price Yeah, practical. Yeah, top on that point. Yeah. If I’m, if I’m in a church, I’m leading a team of volunteers or I’m leading a staff, how many times a week Am I doing something social? Looks good. If you’re if you’re teaching your your staff right now, you’re talking to yourself right now. How many times a week? Are they trying to do something social? Yeah.
Heredes Ribeiro So I’ll break I’ll break it down the intentionality that’s not what’s on the calendar right now is this. For starters, there’s a fun lunch once a month that they fun love. That’s not a class that’s not teaching. That’s not that’s just we, we raffle depending on the team and MVP, we’ll choose where we go. Where it’s lunch paid for, we go off on location to go eat somewhere here. We’ll get armature works. We’ll go to Sparkman we’ll go somewhere. So that’s once a month, we intentionally tell everybody you are not to hang with the person you sit next to at the lake or wherever. So it’s a cross pollination of things that’s happening officially. Every other week. It’s per department. Okay, so we cross departments. So that happens, they’re very intentional during worship, those are Tuesdays. Those are Tuesday, lunches that have manufactured won’t happen today. So that’s very intentional. Cross departments outside of that, once a week, is when we’ll do the social outside of like work hours. Okay, once a week. Now that’s See, I’m intentional about who, okay, and then once you’ve come to the house, or we’ll go to an event or we’ll do something, probably two couples at a time or three people. Then I’m asking them to do the same with other people with other people. And for them, so and then it’s really practically speaking it’s code. Some of its gonna be is it’s personal. It’s like it’s my personal investing. In a relationship, some of it is it on the church? Is the church paying for this meal or not? We talked about leveraging what’s already there. So I’m not a big sports guy. I’m a social guy. Yeah. So for me, I love if there’s sports, there’s a game going on. I don’t care who’s playing. I’m gonna fire up the grill. I’m over, boom. It’s just more of just come, hang Come hang. So it’s just really about leveraging what’s already there. If they’re going to gather anyway. Yeah, make open. So we we’ve been intentional about that. That’s how I’ve led so for me, it’s been natural to do that. To a whole, I would say 40% of our team. That’s rare, bizarre. They don’t even like, it’s their personality. They’re just, it stresses them out. Yeah.
Justin Price And I think we can think of people like just like, Oh,
Heredes Ribeiro Yeah, it’s good for me to be aware of that. Because I never wanted to put them in a position of like forcing them to have to. It’s funny one time. The first time I did this two years ago. We were so like an on the clock culture. Oh, so if I go to the barbecue for an hour, does that mean I have to I can clock in later tomorrow. Yeah. And I’m like, dude, we’re just gonna have to come. We’re just gonna have fun, right? Free food. We’re just gonna have to go. But then I also wanted them like, Okay, so then in my mind, okay, how do I create something that they want to be at? Yeah, so it’s not even a question. It’s like, so those, I’m always thinking about that. So I hope that answers a little bit of the question.
Justin Price And that’s, you’re talking about something? Every creative team deals with? Yeah. And that is? Does it make your staff better? Yeah. Should you be paying for it? I asked my director of operations this all the time when I asked for a new expectation on the staff. I go, am I willing to pay for it? Right? And why not? That’s good. Do I value it enough to pay for it’s good to pay them to be there for it? Is it data borne? Or is it just like, I’m a social guy that loves social stuff? Yeah. And I actually like hanging out with my team, right? It’s actually a requirement for me to hire you as liking it. Yeah. And so it’s like, it’s super, super awkward when when it’s like, they don’t necessarily want to, you know, hang out with me for free. But if I value it enough to pay for it,
Heredes Ribeiro So you know, here’s, here’s something I learned. And I’ll put them on the spot. They won’t listen to the Listen to this. I’ll make up No, no, no, no. Our tech guys. on the clock. Thank you credit. You’d be surprised very hilarious. Our chat our tech guys. Yeah. 17 tech guys in the team. Yeah. And it’s funny because the good tech guys typically an introverted anti social leader, will make some really good at their job. They hate social gatherings every time we do the game, or the big or the hype kit, and it’s so for them, I realized that going to the movies with them. Yeah. That’s it. Yeah. Sure. Buy a popcorn, a coke. We talk shop on whatever violin or Avengers movies. That’s our love language. Yeah. And we interact for 10 minutes is just enough. Right? That’s it just understanding the love language to also know that I will say this. Also a communication, right. So it’s working with communication. And I’ll say, between the tech guys or worship leaders, typically there’s a lot of tension there. What’s typically worship leaders 20 years old, they’re young. They think they know everything. And it’s right in this segment. I’m speaking from one as one or don’t say, Yeah, exactly. But I think even from they know about, you know, they’ll tell the pastor what to say. They’ll tell the lighting guy what to do. The tech guy doesn’t want to hear they’re the experts. Like No, I’m I have the better view here. Yeah. So that community so for me communication, that’s a good example, is leading with questions. Yeah, I say so what happens a worship leader, hey, the lighting sucks, like, okay, you failed already. You’re not gonna accomplish anything. Or the tech guy saying, hey, you’re not standing your spot, and you sound horrible. Like, that’s not good. So leading, or they don’t like something or if a tech doesn’t like a song, or if they don’t like, whatever it is, whatever
Justin Price My favorite one was. When worship leaders messed up the lyrics, the tech guys loved.
Mike Mage Oh, yeah, they just have a notch. On the mixing table,
Justin Price You could see it, there was some Sundays where they were, I could visibly see Hi, fi.
Heredes Ribeiro And that’s and that’s such a subtle, like, the lyrics, but what happens if that’s not talked about in a healthy way? Yeah, that creates an undercurrent, like us, you know, pointing out because everybody’s gonna fail, or the mics not gonna go on or they miss lyrics. So even that that’s happened recently. They missed the lyrics. How do you fix that? I’ve taught the tech guy say, Hey, guys, when that happens? No, that’s the highroad go and say ask them hey, what can I do to help you? Yeah, like not like not missed out or something? Or did I miss something like, lead with a question? What can I do to help? I leveraged it as a tool, because it’s like, Guys, we have to have conversations about this. Not just let it slide, because then it builds and eventually we were lying to each other. We’re in a place we don’t like anymore. You can’t like
Mike Mage That ends up being like you push it on. A couple months and that never becomes about that type of thing that it was. It always snowballs into something greater. Yeah.
Justin Price So it’s we just it’s questions to say, hey, help me hear your heart about to say like, what’s your vision behind it? But show me some comparisons? Can you show me something else? Ask questions ssss until you understand it, or you’ll still learn a place that no, you know, I just can’t attach to it. But yeah, so that’s another practical thing. I think you made my wall of shame. In my office, I carry a Polaroid I have a Polaroid camera. I think you’re in my phone. Have you? No, you’re not you haven’t. Have you been in my office yet? No. Okay, so your next your next? I thought you did for some reason I thought you did. But I’m in my office, I have a Polaroid. So if you step into my office, or in the front, if you step in my door, the first thing you do, I take your Polaroid, you sign it, and it goes behind my door. So I’ve got about 100 now on the wall. And for me, it’s daily, I walk in there and text them and say, Hey, thought of you pray for you today. But it’s a simp simple, subtle nugget. But you see that it helps me stay disciplined. It reminds them and it just does this right. So so it’s little things like that. Yeah. And then social networking. We know. You know, I don’t know if you’ve seen the social dilemma yet. Have Okay, so watch it. I’m having like, I’m having like, 5050 their data will drop in their days like no, I’m gonna use and average it for the kingdom which we should we need to
Mike Mage Yeah, well, I think what’s really cool about a lot of what you’re saying and even just going back to like the worship leader tech battle that will ensue between now and like the time you know, the new heavens and new earth
Justin Price Episode to just focus on the worship leader.
Heredes Ribeiro Easy. Oh, and then you could do one on just design wars. Like, like lead pastor. Oh, my gosh, you know, wanting more. Make it pop
Mike Mage You guys can’t see this. But Justin is doubling over.
Justin Price It’s playing for us. There’s another I’ll say it because our pastor will own this. Like he’s the. He’s the man of all men. Like he’s manly, man. He’s awesome. So every design to him is too feminine. Every design.
Mike Mage If he doesn’t have beef jerky and a flannel. It’s just not there.
Heredes Ribeiro Where’s the bacon?
Mike Mage Exactly
Heredes Ribeiro Where’s the basis? We bring Christmas designs? Like, ah, you know, we know we already know. That’s a great tension. So so we show it to his wife first. That’s the that’s the that’s the rule.
Justin Price I am going to totally sidebar this. I want to talk to you about masculine design in the new era. Because 20 years ago, there was this conversation that came out of church out in California that said you have to design for the men, right? Or decision makers. If you have the men you get the whole family except today, the divorce rate in the single mom rate is higher. Yes. In the family unit with men. Sure. And if you and we have all these churches who are still grew up in that era, yeah, they’re just doing masculine design. And so if you do feminine design, we’ve now seen this in the last two years where we’ve done feminine design for different campaigns and things like 200 300% better. It’s crazy. Wow, for feminine design. And like I’m not just saying better reception, but actual growth. Wow, that’s great. So because they’re bringing their families or they’re bringing their boyfriends or whatever, but it’s like we we’ve been like hanging on to this very masculine total side. Yeah, no, no, but that’s that’s it.
There’s some data behind this. That’s actually like, pretty amazing that all these churches are very masculine. And they maybe that might not know,
Unknown Speaker That’s, that’s a good question to explore. Let me ask you this. And this will stay on the sidebar for a little more, make sure it’s okay. No, it has has the has masculinity changed? Yeah. Right. Because because it has masculinity become more feminine?
Mike Mage Well, I think it’s another episode. Yeah. Well, like that’s a it’s a complex thing. I think that that it needs like, it’s like 15 issues are addressed in that whole thing. Because like, I think that there’s something to that, like where design in and of itself, has gotten, like the idea of masculinity has taken almost a negative connotation, because of toxic masculinity for like, good reason to certain extent. And like, the idea that even just like the thought of like, you design something for a male, because he’s the decision maker in a house and he’s gonna be the one if you get him he’s gonna bring the whole family. Like even right now hearing that, because like, I’ve heard that before is that is a model that people 10 even 10 years ago, I heard at a conference less than 10 years ago,
Justin Price People still say that Yeah, leave that
Mike Mage And like, but even that it’s it feels so weird. Yeah, no. I mean, that’s fascinating. We should still have
Heredes Ribeiro This is the episode with ideas for other episodes. This is
Justin Price A pastor This is one of the healthiest examples I’ve ever had my last church that I was on staff as a creative director for had a pastor who was very, very focused on actually building a healthy culture. I think he he I have given him credit multiple times for inspiring the sharing of some of the things, very, very healthy culture not perfect. There’s no perfect but very healthy. And I remember the first time I’m the creative director at this mega church walking in first sermon series. Now I’ve been at a bigger church in Tennessee. And I had worked directly with that pastor, as the creative director did the sermon series. And I would, you know, talk them through same kind of get the same kind of feedback. He was very, you know, specific about it. And I remember walking into Kurt, I’ll give a shout out to pastor Kurt Parker burger. I walked into his office, and I said, What do you think about this? And he’s like, looks great. I said, but what about like, the font? Or the color is whatever he goes. He’s like, Justin, he’s like, I don’t I don’t know the first thing about he goes, it. I shouldn’t tell you, our creative director. Well, you hired Yeah. And he’s like, he’s like, he’s like, you’ll never ever hear me tell you what fonts to choose. He goes, That’s not a healthy organization. Yeah. Hundred percent that I mean, he got my loyalty. He got us to today, you know, for leading that was great in that way. And that he ever did he hold true to that. He really did. He did never never like he did he have never won. Wow, not once did he shake Now again, I’m not saying he was perfect in every single breath you ever did. But when it came to, if I was suggesting something creative in the church doubled. I mean, it was successful. So it wasn’t like I was screwing up. And it was failing. Not everything. I failed. never make a mistake. And he would correct it. You know, if we saw something that we did, that wasn’t good, you know? Yeah, they made a lot of in service production mistakes. Yeah, ideas that didn’t land. But when it came to design, especially, or even if it was an idea, that was plausible, it was like, let’s do that. Let’s try it. If it failed, we could all say it fail. Yeah, we know. And it sucks, right? Yeah. So Kurt, he that’s cool, too. You know, he will still say today like, Hey, hey, don’t ask me what font? We can joke about that?
Heredes Ribeiro I think Steve Jobs right that is he the one giving credit quote. So that was like, why hire No, something like this. totally gonna butcher this. What is it? Like the biggest mistake in leadership is hiring smart people and then telling them what to do? Yeah, right. It should be it’s the opposite. Like, no, you hired the best people and let them tell you what to do.
Justin Price It doesn’t sound like something Steve would say,
Heredes Ribeiro No. Yeah, he would say no, you do what I say.
Unknown Speaker Abraham Lincoln.
Mike Mage Somebody said, somebody said, Yeah, well, I do think too. So like that sort of leads into something we were talking about, before we really started recording was this idea of you and Justin, were having the conversation. And then all three of us were kind of talking about it to about what does it look like to influence from behind the scenes. And sort of, you know, like, what pastor Kurt was, was telling you, Justin was like, he, he hired you to do a specific thing, that he wasn’t going to vote, he was gonna let you do your thing, he was gonna let you lead. And in doing so he was leading you and influencing you to do what you were supposed to do. And so we were talking about, you know, like, not be leading and not stepping on the platform. You know, I’d love to hear from you, ah, kind of, what do you look for in people? How do you know when it’s the right time? To sort of hand people that influence or to, you know, say like, Alright, this is this is your moment, like, let’s see what you got kind of things that make sense?
Heredes Ribeiro It does. Yeah, it does. And it’s obviously going to be different for for everyone, I think it’s always, it’s in seasons, it depends on the team on the style on who you’re, I think you always have to lead from the middle. Now, even if you’re CEO, you’re always leading from the middle. And what I mean by that, and this is not an original idea. I don’t know who I’m stealing this from, but it’s just the idea that if you’re a CEO, you’re still you’re still following your board, the investors, the stock you’re looking, but and you’re also listening to those. If you’re not a CEO, if you’re at the bottom, if you just got hired and you’re the intern, you’re still listening up, but you’re also listening down, whether you’re buying the coffee, and you got to eat. So you’re always from the middle. So I think staying in that middle is always important, no matter what, that’s great. And listening up, but also and kind of a 360 deal. I would say it. So listen to your leader, right? Number one, follow that vision, because you may your leader may be saying something different. And you’re trying to do this as I think get clarity. So you’re aligned with the vision to have to say that, oh, go by want to go back to the design conversation, let’s say using that as an example. Kurt says no, I’m not vibing I want a different design. Okay, so then you have to give it to somebody else or didn’t you? At what point do you or are you the only one where he trusts you? But he doesn’t trust somebody else? So he’s just giving you the design to do but you’re like No, but I want other people to explore it like no, but you’re hired to do that. So I want you to design that like No, but I want this Give it a try or this younger person, they’re gonna have a difference. Like No, you’re. So I think that’s why it’s important. If your leader has buying that you’re, you’re gonna lead you’re gonna delegate, you’re gonna empower, which means there will be fails, there will be mistakes, there will be things that are trial and error. Right. So it’s the get mo principle, right? Good enough to move on. Yep. If you’re if your culture is okay with a good enough now, it’s not a settling culture. It is a difference. Does difference like set up? It’s just good enough.
Mike Mage Yeah, but it’s moving. It’s moving. Correct?
Heredes Ribeiro Yes. I think yes. To move on. And there’s growth, there’s conversation. So for me, it’s the old adage of, you know, the I do you watch. So have somebody right there with you. Start by doing set the bar. Here’s how I first six months I Grace? Okay. I was on stage every week. Yeah, doing announcements. Just to shift the culture one because we had a different culture with announcements. And I was like, we got to break this. No way. No one asked my questions. I was like, hey, what um, what do you what do you think about announcements? What did you get out of it? Like, do you think people are people I was asking questions? What did people sign up for that thing? Yeah. Oh, the person who shared it didn’t know the people in the back didn’t know like, what are we doing? Yeah. Again, it’s good. Good, healthy big trick, right? This is not but so we just say we should have some fun with this or let’s try different art Have you thought about bringing so I just kind of set the different model was up on stage setting Okay, now and then we started bringing people we’re doing it together. Now. Not anymore. Now. We have different people. We built a host team across the campuses. But we set the bar so I do you watch right then it’s like hey, you come you do I watch right? Yeah, and then and then then it breaks out we’re like hey, you do yeah, I’m gone right? bring somebody else to watch Yeah, and just keep that sounds so simple. so cliche Yeah, but it’s really that right? And I tell the guy everybody like this literally this morning conversation and everyone say nobody nobody’s taking time off really well this year. Yeah. Right PTO like so. They haven’t because of course
You know, the six months Yeah, exactly.
Mike Mage I think you’re right set people involved in some sort of creative ministry. He didn’t get this.
Heredes Ribeiro Yeah, no as a matter of fact, some work double time. Adjusting. So I’m encouraging them So guys, we have to blur I don’t want everybody on Christmas week to turn in their time off and we have everything that can happen. But but it’s Yeah, it’s been an ongoing just reminding them of like, you should prep like Prepare to be gone next week. Don’t ask for PTO. Just Prepare to be gone. still be here. Right. Prepare to be gone. And again, my my leader tells me that hey, I want you with a cup of coffee on the weekend hanging out. My insecurity screams I’m like, dude, they’re gonna think I’m getting paid too much. No, you’re not. That’s not that’s so it my insecurity screams like, they’re gonna think I’m doing nothing. right that the members the past that whoever. But but it’s getting over that. Yeah. Because if you look busy, and you’re acting like, oh, hustled and from, it’s too much energy, it’s not good. Modeling even for for and you miss opportunity. I think at the end of the day, you lose margin on connecting with people on see on meeting the needs. Yeah, I may be able to get to pray or connect with somebody that if I was hands on, and putting out the latest fire, now that’s gonna happen, you’re gonna put out fires, you’re gonna create margin for that. But always prepare to be gone, prepare to be gone. And I think there’s great security that help your leaders say, hey, I want to prepare for that. Do you have my back or in the back of your mind? When you’re gone? You feel like, man, they’re doing a good job. Do they need me? Me, I may, I may lose my job. You got it. You got to fight that, like fight insecurity personally. Talk about it with your leadership with your team. So they know like that was perfect. No, it’s great leadership that you’re gone. And it’s still raving. so cliche, I know, but
Mike Mage Because, like, I feel like one of the biggest things I hear from people, you know, whether it’s through this podcast, or whether it’s just in conversation, especially at smaller churches, you know, they look at, you know, bigger churches and say, like, Oh, well, it must be nice for you that you have so many people and, and all kinds of like, well, like, I’ve, I’ve had to actually work at that, like, I’ve had to, I’ve had to help develop people. They’re like, well, we can’t do that, because we’re a small church. And so, you know, it makes me like, how much of it do you think is that, you know, under resourcing, but like, how much of it do you think is like, there is some sort of like, insecurity that happens for you to step off stage, like, I totally resonate with that, like, it’s, it’s really hard to give away something that you have spent a long time of your life doing. Unless you you know, you really start changing that thing. And I think we when we were talking beforehand, you said something like job security comes in, like your ability to like lead people right not to do thing, correct?
Heredes Ribeiro Yeah. Well, especially in church. I mean, if we’re called to go into the world, make disciples. that’s a that’s a tall order. Yeah, that’s beyond this, this stage and this set on an hour on Sunday. So for me, it’s always the person who’s on our biggest stage or our biggest, it’s like there’s still something bigger the next volunteer maybe the next hire we make Yeah, for the next campus that are even know where it’s at where it’s going to happen. So it’s always for vision thinking of like, that’s how I remember my first year here. The entire team for our new campus was already developed and in place. Yeah, the campus hadn’t been open yet. Right. Right. And it’s great leadership here to see that the people from within who had been developed shadowing Yeah. And then that team would go around campuses. Okay. They would go around campuses training, they would take over for two weeks. Yeah, take over try. So it’s that pipeline that once you get, it’s hard to start, it’s just once you get the wheel, you get a few wins under your belt, you get the peace, your security level goes up, because you’re not like, okay, I came back, they still like me or love me, right. But there’s artists and creators want to be liked and loved and all that. There’s all that. Yeah, it’s just it’s innate. But I think it’s just fighting that and having the conversation with your leader. permission. Yeah. permitless. I get an example. I’m gone this weekend, I’m going to be out. It’s my father’s 60th birthday. We’re going to be traveling we’re going to go I over communicated, everybody’s in place over communicated that I’ve gone to this and that. And it’s like, he was celebrating dude. Amazing. But he didn’t care. Right. He didn’t really care. But he was like, dude, thanks for let me know. Yeah, it’s awesome bonus and that everything, but I just say hey, just make sure this and I, we over communicate it because there’s still this for the leader or for the person. Even for you. There is the value of presence. Simple presence. Yeah. I mean, I may not, it looks like I’m not doing anything. Right. But your presence still matters. Okay. It’s why wouldn’t basketball team or anybody if they’re injured or they’re not playing? Yeah, they’re still on the bench. They’re still there. They’re the biggest cheerleader there. Boom, they’re not dunking it. But they’re huge value. Yeah, huge. So I think there’s still don’t i don’t want to underestimate the value. I’ll just be gone. disappeared. No, no. Your presence so that mentorship, encouragement, spiritual covering, you name it. So I think we need to understand that because sometimes a lot of people like to lead up behind the scenes, but they’re so behind the scenes that they’re leaving all their influence on the table like they’re, they’re not present. Yeah, just to just eye contact with somebody or to say, hey,
Mike Mage They’re involved. That’s it. Yeah. So so
Justin Price They got their cell phone in their hand instead of a coffee cup. And
Heredes Ribeiro That’s it. That’s That’s who conviction. Oh, no, you know, for sure. Because then you get so busy even there, right? We think it’s here. But you’re, you’re missing and I looking up to see like, dude, social life is happening. You’re just trying to
Mike Mage I do think I mean, that’s a good life lesson in just like a presence image. Yeah.
Heredes Ribeiro Totally, no, sorry. I have a example that I texted my buddy one was in front row. And he was on his phone the whole time. And I was roasting him. Yo. Now he was taking notes, because now we’re like, we’re trying to go all digital. We’re trying to go like this. So it’s a perception thing it is, but he looked like he was totally disconnected. I was totally, he was thinking, Oh, but I was like, dude, you freaking love this. Like, everybody can see you on camera. Boom, you’re like, and you’re and you look totally.
Mike Mage But as a leader, though, that’s like you do have to, you have to think about those kind of apps. You can’t tell you’re on camera. Yes. And if you have hundreds of people looking at you, you can’t tell every single No, no, I’m taking notes.
Heredes Ribeiro Yeah, exactly. Exactly. No, yeah, it matters. Yeah, I do think just asking the question, because I do think I have my brother’s a worship leader. I asked him, Are you gonna be doing this? 10 years from now? Yeah. So what are you doing for the 10 years from now? Right now? It’s not I don’t want to like scare him. I don’t want to put sincerely thinking like there’s it’s like athletes, in some ways. It’s like an athlete. Hundred percent. There’s a lifespan. Yeah. Oh, no, some will disagree completely. And say, No, I can I’m gonna I’m gonna still do this. And that’s fine. If that’s the culture, that’s what you want to do. Yeah, that’s the type of church. We’re where I’m leading where we’re coming from, if we’re going to really invest next generation, if it’s a sound style thing, if it’s just an energy management rate, where, yeah, I can jump up and down or clap like I used to, I’ve got to be more whatever it is. So I think it’s been real about this conversations expanding even the rope. The guy who is my boss now, was my worship leader, hire me to come did worship. I’m kind of in the same path. He is. He hasn’t been on stage in a long time. Yeah. He, but he still has impact and influence on every song decision of everything we do. And he’s leading at a high level, but he doesn’t have to, and still fulfill to see again, the the disciples and the young ones growing and doing it and failing and messing up. Yep. And he sees the fruit of that. But it took a transition. I mean, he’ll tell you, he’ll tell you that it took a while for him even to land and settle.
Justin Price Yeah. And once in a while. There’s the itch of like, man, if I only got up there, I can do it. You know, I can get it done. I love this conversation, because I asked you to come on and talk about raising the tide in the culture of the creative team. And there’s not a linear path. Yeah, this isn’t like this is great. You you immediately came in and you’re just like, it’s messy. It’s messy. It’s messy. Jackson Pollock. Yeah. And I think if the listeners can if you guys can take away. One thing is to hear that there are a lot of opportunities. There’s a lot of different things. But I did hear one thing that I think we’ve heard 100 times it is cliche, it is common thing, but it’s important that you don’t dismiss it or or pass over because you’ve heard it before. And that is if you want a healthy culture, you do have you can’t skip communication. Yeah, that’s a core piece of everything we’ve talked about. Whether it’s how you train, invest with social, it’s how you communicate and be friendly. Everything that you have said has all been stemmed on communication. And ultimately, the better communicators we can be the better. We can handle hard situations better we can handle fun times. Yeah. I love that. I love that you even just broke it down to there are you know, it’s messy? Because sometimes it’s 10 minutes, it’s been willing to only say 10 minutes. Yeah. Before a movie and take someone to a movie. That’s it. Is there an introvert? Yeah. And it’s so good. Because I’m like, I’m like, you and I have a similar personality where I’m like, I would never go to the movies. Like, I want to hang out.
Mike Mage Exactly. You got kids, you know. Yeah, exactly. Exactly.
Justin Price But I would love to hang out at your house during a game and just talk through the whole game. Yeah,
Heredes Ribeiro Exactly. Exactly.
Justin Price I think it is really, really incredible to have a conversation like this, where I’m like, hey, how do you do this? Right? Education is not in thing.
Heredes Ribeiro It’s intentionality. Also, at home. So I’ll start here, because you guys are all married. A lot of family leaders. be in alignment. Also, when it comes to social with family and your spouse in the calling. They’re in the kids. And because it crosses over. It’s all in so and what happens? Now the beauty of it is this, like, my kids now have six grandparents adopted grandparents, because they’re part of the team, right? My kids are getting more gifts now than ever gotten in life because they, they so it’s a beautiful thing. It’s also messy, because there’s some days that it’s just boom, and they feel like oh, there’s always people over there’s not. And there’s always something we have to manage that. Yes. sacrifice your family for the sake of building this team. Dream Team negative. Yeah. First Team is, is your home team absolute. So that’s priority. And I have a large one, I get a four boys for kids. My wife’s incredible married for 17 years. She’s awesome. Shout out Marcy. But it starts there. And the communication there. Their times like, Oh, yeah, they forgot to tell you. How many times have I failed? Now we’ve got we’ve got we’ve got we’ve got better calendars. Now. We’ve got better systems now to help. But start there. Because then if not, you’re working upstream, you know, swimming upstream with this, like, so then they show your team shows up and you and your wife are like, not that this has ever happened, Marcy. But we’re like at odds and fighting with the themes, great culture ability. But authenticity, right vulnerability, that’s it. But they’ve seen it, they’ve seen this, you know, screaming our kids, you know, celebrate our kids. So there’s beauty in that. Yeah, there’s beauty and all of that, just making it. I will say this the shade too. But for me wrapping it up. Patrick lencioni, two years ago had a big one on and I think it’s this book. The motive,
Mike Mage Yes. his newest one’s fantastic, dude. Fantastic. Okay.
Heredes Ribeiro But his idea is just and it’s really key because we forget sometimes he says, Well, sometimes there’s servant leadership. And that’s his one style of leadership. He’s like, no, that is should be the only style of servant leadership Jesus came to serve not to be served. So for me, it’s that like, for me, it’s not like, people say, Oh, you’re just very, one of my friends calls. Like you’re just very intentional strategic about grilling and doing this thing. It’s like, okay, you can call it that. But I enjoy it. I love serving people. I it’s fun. In the process, I get to know it. So I don’t know how else not to rush should be like, you don’t know, our days that I’m tired. And it’s like, Oh, sure. Yeah, so can we all but most of the time, that just should be your default. Sure. Like if I we had a guy and one of the designers they just bought a house. They’re about to move. It’s their first home. It’s okay, so we took half the day I told the team Hale, we bought boxes, we’re helping a move. It’s great. We’re doing this Yeah, drop the project. What’s like the ROI now? It’s not like I can think strategically if we do this, I’m gonna extend his lifespan in our company by No, no, if that happens, rate I know will happen because guess what, but the energy abroad, the chemistry, guess what we serve them, they didn’t have to pay or outsource. We got 10 people together. So that start there if we can do that, and they know Guess what? They’re gonna outwork. They’re gonna do whatever. And then when you have to call that Friday night, but that change is not that big a deal. Right? Because they know you’re in it together. So servant leadership is key. It’s, it’s in the Bible, Patrick lencioni. Great book. Great, great talk. But think Leadership Summit spoke about it. Fantastic. So
Mike Mage Yeah, well, that’s in to, you know, like, the thing communication, like, that’s a big thing. And I wrote down here too, but like you, you’re very comfortable leading out of your own personality. And I think, you know, for whoever’s listening to this, maybe you’re not exactly like, ah, and like, Oh, well, I don’t know, like, that doesn’t really seem like you know, something that I would do you know, I do think you know, the principle of servant leadership like that needs to be in in through everything that we do. But it doesn’t necessarily need to look Yeah, exactly like what he is doing. It’s it’s the self awareness of who you are who God has made you to Be and people resonate with that and respond to that. Yeah. If you can be vulnerable and, you know, personable to other people on your team and throughout the church like, is the thing Craig Groeschel says? Like, it’s not, you know, no one wants to follow a leader who’s always right. But who’s always themselves. It’s good. And, you know, I think that that’s you you are, you’re harnessing that for your church and for your team. And whoever’s listening to this, I mean, learn about yourself, like how do you leverage what you can do and what you enjoy doing? Because odds are, people are going to enjoy it with you, whatever you told him. So another thing again, thanks for having me. I enjoy I’m learning as we’re talking. Yeah, I’m like making notes for myself.
Heredes Ribeiro So I appreciate you know, you guys inviting me one thing even to that because you’re right, I hope there’s not more you know, enneagram sevens are pulling everybody’s just we need the diversity of personalities to keep the you know, the balance in this world. But so lean into that I think that’s fantastic advice to to lean in. You don’t have to be you know, like that other or now there’s places right where you need to be challenged like an introvert. Okay, let’s let’s challenge this step by exactly totally and just like the extrovert needs to tone it down. Yeah, stop talking. Relax, chill. So there’s a place for growth in both we we’ve done something that was new to me and it’s been working real. When money’s a challenge. Let’s say I don’t have budget personally or as a church to buy meals fit that’s okay. Or space my house I can’t boom, spent that that though. I’ve gone through all those seasons. Find a space that’s a third space, find the lobby of the church find a picnic or a park. Yeah, have everybody bring their own lunch, schedule it and workout, right? And we’ve done where like, I don’t want to lead out. So we’ve done a book study where it’s a collective book study. So I’ll start with the book. We will literally do like elementary chapter reading like we’ll sit down the chapter will read out loud for 20 minutes, we’ll talk eat but then I signed the book and I’ll hand it to your tag. Next week. That person brings that chapter they read it simple. Yeah, I don’t have to prepare for it. Yeah, okay, I’m reading a book together the questions in the conversations we agree or disagree together on the spot Yeah, they brought their luck simple simple just we started doing this with our kind of our lead team of lead just to kind of keep it I didn’t want to add one more thing I saw that we were doing lunches say hey, let’s kind of let’s channel this together because I want to respect on what the season now where I’m asking them to do that so they’re less than my house now. Because I want more people their houses sure and more of that so that’s some being strategic of when I get time with them so we’ll do they get away so sometimes I’m like boom during the day football which pick them up eight meters and picking you up let’s go Yeah, so we’ll so midday will draw to left just to leverage that and still get time I think it’s key important and we’re getting next week we’re doing a retreat with worship leaders that they get away with being very intentional that time together is key is key is key. And it just seal Okay, thanks for having pre shot hopefully got a title. I don’t know what this is gonna be.
Justin Price So many good practical things. Thank you so much. Yeah, thank you guys. You know, I know we don’t you don’t claim to have it all figured out. No. It’s been fun, man. A super helpful for people to hear you know, what you’re, you know, processing through and what does it take to really move a team and improve culture? Yep.
Mike Mage Well, where can people find you on the internet? The internet’s if they want to follow you.
Heredes Ribeiro I am online. It’s Heredes everywhere. So heredes on Insta, Twitter, Facebook.
Mike Mage Your name is so cool that you can just get it done.
Heredes Ribeiro But thanks for having me again. Guys. This has been a joy. It’s been awesome.
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.
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?
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.
Right. Right. Well, it’s like the one thing we can stand on right now. Exactly.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
But yet, we have the best listeners. Yeah, they would never do that
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.
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,
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.
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,
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
pretty good. That’s pretty good.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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?
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
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.