Ministry is not closed.

The COVID-19 crisis has changed the way every church is operating across the country. Losing the ability to gather is something that no one would have anticipated two months ago, and now we’re all struggling to comprehend empty buildings on Easter Sunday. Creative thought leader, Stephen Brewster, gives practical advice about the unique opportunities at this moment to challenge your creativity, grow your church, and share the Gospel.

>> Episode 7: Eric Williams


Transcriptions:

Mike Mage:                

Welcome to the Healthy Church Growth podcast. 

(music)

Welcome to the Healthy Church Growth podcast. My name is Mike Mage. I’m one of the hosts here where we believe that healthy things grow and growth means life. I just want to take a second before we get going here and say thank you. Thank you so much for being so engaged with our first few podcast episodes so far. Make sure to continue to subscribe, continue to share, continue to write. Continue to share this even with your creative teams at your church or your leadership teams and just get some conversations going with them, but also with us. We would love to hear how you are interacting, how you are engaging with this material. It’s just me today, here on the podcast and the team here at Healthy Church Growth, me, Justin, Jason, the rest of the Vers crew, we obviously have been super affected by what’s happening. Coronavirus, COVID-19, whatever you know, you want to call it. And most of the time when we record these podcasts, we record them, you know, months in advance, weeks in advance, and we just we kind of wanted to do something that is relevant to what we are all experiencing, what we’re all going through, because now is the time for us to be creative. Now is the time for us as the church to embrace this disruption. Now is the time for us to see how healthy our churches are, how healthy our culture is and how much we can grow in the midst of this uncertain time and figure out the best way that we possibly can to connect people to Jesus because that is our ultimate goal. That’s our ultimate mission. And the way that we have been doing that for as long as we can remember is now changed as the doors at our churches are now closed and we are having to live out our ministry online. So a couple of nights ago, Jason, our executive producer, texted me this post from a guy named Stephen Brewster and said, ‘Hey, I think I can get Stephen Brewster on the podcast to talk about our current situation with the global pandemic and everything. Is that something that you would be interested in?’ And of course I said yes. Stephen Brewster is an incredible church consultant and church creative coach and so many churches that you know of, that you’ve heard of that are doing incredibly impactful things, Stephen has had a hand in helping them out. So obviously, would love to have him on the podcast and talk about this craziness, this weird existence that we’re living in right now. So wherever you are, whoever you are, if you’re feeling like you don’t know what your church is supposed to be doing, if you’re a worship leader or your church communicator, if you are on the creative teams in some way, shape or form and you’re feeling like at your wits end, this is a podcast for you. This is a conversation for you. And I really hope that you enjoy this conversation I had with Stephen Brewster.

(music and guest quote)

Stephen Brewster:                 

“We have to have authenticity in what we do. We have to know our values. We have to know the voice and the purpose of our church, and we have to be more authentic than we’ve ever been.”

Mike Mage:               

Well, welcome again to the Healthy Church Growth podcast. We’re so glad that you’ve joined us. We have an incredibly special guest with us today to really, sort of talk about our current situation and how incredibly crazy everything is. And, you know, as church workers we’re just really trying to find something that’s normal, we’re trying to find some normalcy. We’re trying to find some sort of common ground with what do we do and, you know, going through the list of people that we know, Jason, one of our executive producers just sort of threw it out, threw it out to me, ‘Hey, what if we invite Stephen Brewster onto the podcast.’ And I was so super happy about that. So, Stephen, thank you so much for joining us. I’m so, so glad that you’re here.

Stephen Brewster:                 

Oh, man, I’m so honored to be with you guys and to get to chat today a little bit and hopefully maybe help some people navigate through this season of life that we’re in.

Mike Mage:               

Yeah, well, real quick. I’d just love for, if there’s some people on the podcast who don’t know who you are, just maybe give us some quick background as to who you are and what you do for a living.

Stephen Brewster:                

Yeah, there’s probably a lot of people on the podcast who don’t know who I am or what I do for a living. So let’s be just real honest for a second. So my name is Stephen Brewster. I get to help churches navigate creativity and the music business and leadership. So I was in the music business. I dropped out of college my senior year, moved to Nashville, Tennessee, senior year of college. My parents thought that was a beautiful idea, by the way. (laughter) Like you’re one semester, you’re one semester away from getting your degree and you drop out to go, move to Nashville, go in the music business, like there’s not a safer bet in the world. So, yeah, I moved to Nashville, jumped in the music business, and God was really kind and allowed me to have, like, a really fun career, a really full career, working in a couple different labels and in management. And then, left the music business to go work as an executive creative director at the church and, got to do that for several years. Our church exploded while we were on staff, not because of us, but just while we were there. And, we got to take, like, the rocket ride of all rocket rides to learn so much about leadership and creativity and multi-site and broadcasting and just everything that, it’s funny how God always uses the processes of your life to prepare you for what’s next, right. And so, we did that for several years. Then about two years ago, we actually started our own business where we help churches navigate overcoming being overwhelmed. And we really specialize in helping churches navigate the music business, helping worship teams in that space, then simultaneously helping you know, with leadership, development, growth, volunteer development. And then I just have such a heart for creatives and creative artists and creativity and just I think that, you know, I’m a firm believer that God, the first inkling of God’s character that he showed us was his creativity in Genesis. And before he showed us about love, before he showed us about grace or mercy, or provision, he showed us about being creative. And so I am, I’m on this mission to help spread creativity everywhere I can. And so, so, yeah, that’s kind of what we do. My wife’s a certified Enneagram coach and a certified experiential therapist. So she helps, we tag team as much as we can, but then she has her own thing going on. So yeah, we live a really crazy life.

Mike Mage:               

That’s awesome. What? What number are you in the Enneagram?

Stephen Brewster:                

Bro. I’m a hardcore 3. And yeah, hard, hardcore 3. What about yourself?

Mike Mage:               

I am a 9 wing 8.

Stepher Brewster:

Oh that’s great!

Mike Mage:

Yeah, it just, it really leads to some very conflicting places in my life. (laughter)

Stephen Brewster:                

Well, all of our numbers do, like the 3 and 4. The 3 and 4 cocktail is conflicted. And the 9 and 8 is definitely conflicted. Yeah, you know, So, yeah, there’s that Enneagram is a beautiful, is a beautiful tool, yeah, for self discovery. So I love, my wife’s absolutely amazing at it. And I don’t say that because I’m married to her, but, so, yeah.

Mike Mage:               

That’s incredible. Well, it’s super cool that you, the, you know, God talking about, or you talking about God, you know, he showed us his creativity first. And I, my pastor, he just, he just spoke to our song writers group at our church and he gave this, like, you know, short little message, sort of encouragement about how, you know, in the beginning, God created. And really what he was doing was putting order to chaos. Yeah, and so it’s really cool, like, you know, your whole ministry of what you’re doing, helping churches, not feel so overwhelmed and that’s super easy to be overwhelmed. And, you know, like it says on your website, like when you’re overwhelmed, you know, you either don’t know what you’re doing, or you just don’t do anything, you know. And I think that that’s a huge, huge problem with churches. So speaking of overwhelming, obviously, this current situation with Coronavirus, COVID-19 and this global pandemic is obviously very overwhelming. Very chaotic. And you actually posted something that I thought was super interesting and has definitely made me think about some things. So what, you posted on Instagram, and you basically said that churches need to be thinking about becoming TV stations. What made you think of that?

Stephen Brewster:               

Yeah, well, you know. So I’m right now I’m in a  season where, like I’m on the phone or on a zoom call every single day, talking about what is happening in our world. And how can a church navigate and how can they maximize this moment. And then the reality is, so when crisis happens, typically, there’s three places that people go in crisis. And if you think about overtime just even in our own lifespan, if you think about the places people go, when there’s a crisis, people run to faith, people run to, creativity and they run to knowledge. Those are like the three places people go. We run to faith because we need the hope of faith. We run to knowledge because we’re trying to learn anything that we can learn. And then we look to innovation and creativity to help solve the problem. Well, in most of our past disastrous moments, if you think, let’s just talk about America, okay. And let’s talk about like, let’s pick the last two major like national disasters. 9/11 and the recession. Our churches filled up during those seasons. Right? When you think about, when you think about a mass shooting or something like that happens, like that is so tragic. The first thing that we all do is we start praying for each other. And people who don’t even know if they believe in prayer start praying in those moments, right. We run to faith. Well, in this season, we run to faith, but where do we run because there’s no churches to go to, right. So, yeah, every bit of attention is on the Internet right now. It’s on social media and it’s on your platforms. And so for years we fell into this trap that if you didn’t come to the box, you weren’t part of the ministry. Right. Well, the box is broken. Now it’s you can’t even get into the box right now, right? What if we took the box and made it ministry and put it everywhere? And that’s what I, you know, we have the tools. We have the resources. We definitely have the content. As many times I’ve read the Scriptures, I have never been able to get the address of Jesus’ Church. And so, like, ministries can thrive right now. So as you think about, if I was a pastor and I still consider myself a pastor, even though I don’t have a flock, but my flock is digital now to actually, and so as a pastor, like, the two things that you want to do is, you want to convert new believers and connect people into community. Right. Well, there’s no better way to do it than through the Internet right now. And so let’s take what we’ve done in the box and figure out how to put it online and then build some consistency of how we’re programming online so that we can share it with more and more people. It will help the people that go to your church because they’re gonna get ministry done for them and and to them, it helps them connect with other people in your church that are going through the exact same thing. But the volume of new followers that you can collect right now, especially when you have a product like we do, Jesus is the best thing ever. And if we can just take that and share that hope and that love and that reality that Jesus cares and he’s with you and you don’t have to be afraid today. And you know what, you’re gonna be afraid today but he’s still there to comfort you. Like what a great message that we have. And we have the megaphone. Now, we don’t have to wait till people come into our church to use the megaphone. We can use it every single day. So yeah, I was, I was talking to my friend who, ironically, works for an install company that installs big production into churches. And I was like, ‘Churches have to be TV stations right now.’ Like you have to start broadcasting out your ministry. So kids ministry, student ministry, small groups, you know, setting up virtual counseling, like I have a friend who’s a counselor, a therapist. He’s busier than he’s ever been, and it’s all online. It’s all virtual. He said he’s booked from eight in the morning till six at night doing counseling because people are so scared. So what if we took all of the ministry that we do and we just programmed it? And we said, ‘Hey, every Monday, I know that in my house, I live in Nashville, Tennessee, if I turn on Channel whatever at four o’clock, I can watch the Ellen Show every single day.’ Right? So what if at four o’clock everyday I could tune into the prayer meeting that our church is having online, and join that. What if, like my kids, they’re, the church that we attend they’re doing a kid’s small group zoom call at five o’clock tonight for the elementary kids. Awesome. Great. Phenomenal. So we just need to maximize those moments.

Mike Mage:                

Well, it almost feels like, I mean, there’s so many different roads and avenues we could go down with this, but like establishing some sort of consistency. You know, the church has established consistency for centuries now, that, like Sunday is like our Super Bowl. Like every, you know, if you go basically walk into any church at around, you know, between nine and 11 o’clock on a Sunday, church is going to be happening at some sort of level, and you’re like, it doesn’t, it does seem like kind of a paradigm shift to establish some consistency, but, like, that’s how the church has operated for hundreds of years. Yeah. Okay. So you, you said too, sort of with this post, that church is the center of presence in programming. I’d love for you just to talk a little bit more about that.

Stephen Brewster:                 

Well. So all of my programming friends, they jumped on the broadcast train early because they knew that they could just take the communicator and put him into multiple venues around the city on video. Right. Super easy. All my presence driven friends and presence driven churches were like, ‘Oh, that’ll never work. You’ll never be able to like, you can’t capture what we do on video.’ And I understood that. I really did, like it made sense. But the reality is we don’t, God’s presence is still gonna show up in everything that we’re doing right now, right. That’s, that’s non negotiable. What the reality, though, is while God’s presence is showing up, we don’t have a room to go into, right? So we’re standing dead in the middle of the intersection of presence and programming. And so we’ve got like, this is God’s moment to dispel all of the myths that both of those sides have believed for the past 20 years. Right? The like; I remember, I have one friend, he’s a dear friend, but he used to tell me all the time, ‘I’ll never go to a church, that I have to watch the pastor on the screen.’ And he was, like, dogmatic about it. Guess what? You’re watching your Pastor on the screen right now. If he wants his Pastor, it’s gonna be on the screen or any other Pastor for that matter, right. And so, because we’re sitting in the middle of that moment, authenticity is more important than ever before. We have to have authenticity in what we do. We have to know our values. We have to know the voice and the purpose of our church, and we have to be more authentic than we’ve ever been. And I think this is probably the scariest part for me, as I watched friends who are doing ministry online right now, they’re learning how to do it for the first time. And they’re trying to copy models that they see rather than just looking in the mirror and being authentically who they are.

Mike Mage:                

Man, that is, that is true. I hadn’t even thought about that because it almost, it seems counterintuitive that because you put a camera in front of somebody’s face and then you shoot it, you know, to all these different networks and everything, that, you know, like the presence people, for example, would argue that that is not authentic. So the reason that they want to be in the room, you know, is because it’s that authentic experience. But you could argue just the total opposite, like you actually have to become more authentic for it to become, like, actually, impactful for people. That’s really great. Yeah.

Stephen Brewster:                

100%.

Mike Mage:               

What are some of the most important things for churches to understand about, sort of what this looks like. And you know, obviously, you know there’s churches on a lot of different levels and, you know, there’s a lot of churches especially, you know, the majority of churches are smaller than the megachurch. 

Stephen Brewster:

Yeah, I mean, 80% of all churches are 200 or less, so.

Mike Mage:               

Yeah, exactly. So you know what can this look like for a smaller church?

Stephen Brewster:              

Well, that’s where I think that creativity thrives right now, because, like, you don’t, the threshold of excellence has dropped, because right now, Justin Bieber is on Instagram Live the same way that your pastor can be, right. And so, like, the playing field just now just just leveled off. Yeah. Now it comes down to: Do you know who you are? And do you have something to say? And if you know who you are and you have something to say, then you get to maximize this moment. And God’s called every single church and every single pastor. And here’s the reality, just like every church shouldn’t be 10,000 people. Every livestream shouldn’t be 10,000 viewers, right. God, the Earth, when God created the Earth, he created it with the intentionality of diversity. He knew how different every single person would be. And so he was so wise that he created churches to reach all of those different kinds of people, right. And so in this moment, we have to maximize who we are and who are the people that God called you to reach. Go reach them. Don’t worry about, don’t worry about the quality. I mean, don’t let it be terrible, please. Like we all know, like there’s some basics, like make sure the lighting is OK. Make sure that the camera’s not shooting right up your nostrils, like silly things like that, but represent yourself to the standard that you’ve set for your church. Lean into your values and your beliefs and your purpose, and then do that like crazy online. And watch. Watch how God uses it and how the engagement just goes through the roof. And the other thing that I want to say about engagement too is in this season, the share button is so important. One of my friends last night made the comment, when you hit the share button, you’re not sharing content, you’re sharing Jesus. And I was like, ‘Wow, that’s huge!’ And so every pastor should be asking people to share at the end of what they’re talking about. 

Mike Mage:               

Totally. Well, that was; So I run the worship team and obviously, at Bay Hope Church and obviously the method in which we were connecting with people and connecting people to Jesus is very, very different now because that’s not possible for us to get in a big room and play full band and do the same things that we were doing. And so I sent them out an email yesterday, and I just said, if, like, we need to be married to the mission which is connecting people to Jesus, and our methods have changed, so, like, literally share everything that you possibly can with people because you never, you have no idea who this is reaching, you know.

Stephen Brewster:                

Yeah, you have no clue. And you have no clue who it could reach.

Mike Mage:               

Well, just another question based, just sort of going off of that, are there any sort of next steps in engagement for people to take outside of just sharing? Have you come across anything that may be…

Stephen Brewster:                 

Yeah, so as you start to create your content strategy and you’re, you know, like, here’s the thing, most churches aren’t gonna roll out 24 hours of programming like NBC, right. Like that’s just, I mean, even the biggest of churches can’t handle that right now. But let’s say you have one piece of content that you’re going to start to share every day. Like you’re gonna go live and have your pastor talk to your congregation, or you’re going to do a zoom group every day or whatever your one piece of content is. Drive everyone to that content. And then in the first 10 seconds, 10 minutes, explain to them what the most important part of why they’re there. And in the last 2% of the content, ask them to help you share it if it’s been valuable to them. Because everyone is going more, Instagrams engagement rate right now is up 76% over last week. I just read this yesterday. First off, that’s mind boggling. (laughter)

Mike Mage:              

Yeah, I know. Crazy.

Stephen Brewster:               

Like I can’t even comprehend the millions of users that that is.

Mike Mage:              

Well, and considering how many people, how much time people spend on Instagram already.

Stephen Brewster:                 

Right! That’s what I’m saying. Like we use it way too much as it is. And now we’ve just upped the game 76%. It’s like, that’s bananas, okay. And, not only bananas, it’s probably unhealthy. (laughter) Like a little bit somewhere in there, it’s probably a little bit unhealthy.

Mike Mage:               

We’ll deal with that later. (laughter)

Stephen Brewster:                

We have counseling for that. We can address it, we can address that another season. But in this season, what I would encourage us to do is make sure we’re driving people to and towards that content.

Mike Mage:                

I was listening to a podcast by John Mark Comer. I don’t know if you know who he is. 

Stephen Brewster:             

Oh my gosh, I adore John Mark Comer. Like we’ve gotten to hang in a couple Green Rooms. Oh, man. The realist of real dudes.

Mike Mage:                

I just read his book, “The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry,” and it has wrecked me. And I think God has a sense of humor because in him telling me I need to slow down, he actually gives us, like, a lot of time to slow down now. 

Stephen Brewster:               

Well, and as a 3, I don’t do that well anyway 

Mike Mage:                

Right, right. And so you know him and Mark Sayers have this podcast called “This Cultural Moment” and it’s incredible at putting definition to, you know, our cultural existence and what’s happening, the post Christian society and all that kind of stuff. And so Mark Sayers in one of the most recent ones said, how, you know, the next revival that needs to happen is through our network, talking about, you know, social media and all that kind of stuff. And this might be like an incredible example of that. 

Stephen Brewster:

He was prophetic. 

Mike Mage:

Yeah, no kidding. And so maybe on, so, and while I think that that’s possible and that’s happening and more churches than ever have had to sort of, like, take up the mantle of social interaction through the Internet, are you, can you foresee any sort of downside of, sort of flooding our networks with this sort of content right now?

Stephen Brewster:               

Well, so I mean, obviously there’s two things to be afraid of. Fatigue and just overwhelming with content. But the reality is, that’s not the concern. Every good thing has a bad piece included in it. And right now, us overwhelming people or having too much content isn’t the problem. Like we’ve got people who feel alone, feel scared, who feel, who have no hope they’re losing their jobs, they may be losing loved ones. Like we have way bigger issues to solve right now than if we have too much content on the Internet. So what I would say is let’s lean super hard into ministry and figuring out how to get ministry into the lives of people. And then we can regulate that later when we get back into a building, right. But the reality is, there’s probably some things we’re gonna learn right now that we should continue to do even when we’re back in the building. Let’s not waste this crisis. Let’s learn from this crisis and learn new ways to engage people so that we can just do ministry better and more effectively for the next 50 years. So to answer your question, it’s a long answer to answer a very simple question. Sorry. I’m on a soap box if you can’t tell. (laughter) But I would say there, I would say we’re not, we shouldn’t be worried about content volume. We should be worried about ministry effectiveness. And we can adjust content volume later.

Mike Mage:           

Yeah. Well, I want to put a pin in that for a second, cause that’s the question I want to get back to you in a second. But just one more, so as this TV station thing that we’re talking about again, thinking about the 80% of churches that are 200 below, is there, like, a logical flow as to maybe what they can roll out from the beginning, and then maybe what’s the number two thing that they should do?

Stephen Brewster:                 

That’s a great question. So I think there’s three pillars of content. Okay. So our most important the top of the shelf content is your weekend messages. Any live streams that you can do with your pastor or your leadership team. And, like all worship and then any ministry that could be done. Like those four things make up the top shelf. Then the second shelf would be like ministries, right. So, like kid’s ministry, student ministry, zoom meet ups for groups. I love, I’m loving watching different groups meet up in Zoom and then people posting pictures of it. Zoom has never been a more popular thing in the world. 

Mike Mage:

I know. No kidding. (laughter)

Stephen Brewster:               

Like Zoom is gonna own the Dow Jones when this is over. They’re gonna just call it Zoom Jones because it’s the only thing that’s (laughter) that and toilet paper are the only things that are real profitable right now. And so, like, that’s that second tier of content. Right, then the third tier content is just like, recycled content from the past. Taking an old message and breaking it up into clips or, you know, something fun, like, I’ve seen several churches where they’re doing, like, guided workouts during the day. And, one of the churches that I get the privilege of working with, the pastor’s wife is an amazing cook, and she loves to cook. So they’re gonna go in and, like, do like a weekly cooking show with her. Like, taking like, basic ingredients and making a good meal for your family right now. You know. So just, like we get to be creative right now, and so. But I would say, like the live content is really, really important. And don’t just go live on Instagram. Go live on Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube. Your message on the weekends. That’s still the pillar content, right. Then as soon as that message is over have a strategy for how you’re going to drive people back to that throughout the week. And I know all of my video friends love Vimeo because it’s so sexy. But put it on YouTube and put tags with it so that it can reach more people.

Mike Mage:                

Sure, well and how many people are on YouTube? It’s like in the billions, right? 

Stephen Brewster:                

I mean, it’s the second largest search engine in the world, right? And so, and then in this moment, let’s dominate those tags, you can grow your church because here’s the thing, we’ve always put an asterisk next to the online number until about two weeks ago. (laughter) Now we’ve never put an asterisk next to online giving, like those dollars, those dollars counted exactly the same, but we always, we never valued the attention and the person online to the same level we value the dollar in the bank account. And now we’ve changed because there is, currently we have the worst attendance in our buildings in the history of every church.

Mike Mage:               

Yeah, across the world.

Stephen Brewster:              

It should be 10 people if you’re recording live, which most of you are breaking the law and it’s like probably 20 or 30, or zero.

Mike Mage:               

Yeah, well, or just the team in the room. Like that’s what we’ve been doing. Whoever is the team in the room, like that’s who’s there for it. 

Stephen Brewster:

It’s gonna hurt your growth. Like the Outreach Magazine’s “fastest Growing Churches” list is gonna be really skewed this year.

Mike Mage:               

Yeah, no kidding. I hadn’t even thought about that. What are some strategies as to, do you think it’s even worth people trying to count numbers as opposed to, like, trends? Does that make sense?

Stephen Brewster:               

What I would count is engagement. So let’s look, because it’s hard to count numbers. You got people who are tuning in for 15 seconds, very hard to determine who’s watched the entire message all the way through. You don’t know. Like my family, we watched, because we get to work with, like, some awesome churches around the country, we probably watched, like 4, 5, 6 different services every weekend right now, including your own home church. And so when you see my IP address come up, you don’t realize that there’s six of us watching that. So, counting that number is probably chasing the wrong data, right. The right data is number of hands that are raised to accept Christ. The right data is number of people who text in or email in because it’s their first time and they want more information on how to get connected. The right data is number of shares, number of likes, number of comments. Those are all, those are all practical data points that we can chase that our assimilation team, who has no notes to write or phone calls to make, now has emails to send and text messages to send to all of these people who are identifying themselves in our chats, online through shares, through likes and raising their hand to accept Christ. I heard, I’m gonna probably get the number wrong, but I’m pretty sure this is right, that Craig Rochelle said that 10,000 new churches downloaded church online in the last two weeks. Okay, that number I know is right. They also identified that 28 million people accepted Christ in the last two weeks through just church online. So if we want to talk about presence and programming intersecting, it intersected for 28 million people. 

Mike Mage:

Man, that’s crazy. 

Stephen Brewster:

That’s a revival. 

Mike Mage:

Yeah, that’s the revival of the network Mark Sayers was talking about. You know, it starts like that. 

Stephen Brewster:

Yeah. 

Mike Mage:

Man. That’s super cool. I, OK, so moving forward and coming back to sort of that question that, the topic we were talking about a little bit. Obviously, you know, like you were saying, there’s a lot of things that we can learn from this. And you know, like a lot of us are, a lot of us are probably asking the wrong question in, like, ‘When is this going to end?’ Or, ‘How long do we have to do this?’ Which I think that leads us down like a very, a non-growth path, you know, because then it just sets us back, we’re just gonna go back and do the same thing that we’ve always been doing, which I don’t think it’s gonna work anymore.

Stephen Brewster:

Nope.

Mike Mage:

So I think the way more important question is, what kind of effect does this have on the church moving forward? And how should we embrace this all moving forward?

Stephen Brewster:                

Yeah. So I don’t know that we have the clear path out yet, but I do agree with you that there’s two types of people in the middle of this crisis right now. There’s the people that are just holding on until it ends and they’re gonna try to revert back to the ways that worked before, and they’re not gonna work. And then there’s the people that are looking at it and saying, ‘Man, this may not be ideal, but there’s an opportunity here. So how do I take advantage of this moment.’ And I don’t mean take advantage in a manipulative way. I mean, ‘How do I learn? What new method is going to come out of this? What new norm could come out of this?’ What, we’ve been married to a method for the last 50 years, 60 years, right. The method disappeared in two weeks. And now I mean, like you, I don’t know a more disruptive moment for American Christianity than when all of the churches got shut. Like, that’s something that you would hear about in the Bible, right. And so you can look at it as in the negative sense of that, it is, it’s negative. We all wish we could gather together. There always will be room together, together. And I don’t think that, like, I don’t think that the switch is flipped and like, no one’s gonna go back to church. I actually think there’s gonna be more people going back to church coming out of this. But six months after they start going back to church, we’re gonna start to drift back into our routines right. And soccer and swimming and lacrosse practice and staying at work late, and all these things are gonna start to bombard our lives again. But more, more people are going to know the result and the answer is ‘let me log online.’ And so I think the biggest win for every church right now is: What are you learning about online ministry that you’re going to apply? If it’s one thing, if it’s five things that you’re going to apply to your toolbox of doing ministry when we all go back to church.

Mike Mage:                

Yeah, well, that’s great. Yeah, what, It’s been, I don’t know, it’s been cool to see, like, I’ve been super proud of the church that I’m a part of. You know, last week we basically just threw everything out like, we knew everything was gonna be like, ‘Okay, what can we do?’ Just to see people’s brains start to work and flow. And, you know, like you were saying earlier, like, just get creative, like, almost try, do and try anything. Like you’re saying there’s never been a more disruptive moment and maybe, you know, 9/11 like you were talking about. So just a couple more real quick questions here, and then we’ll be done. What are some churches or some things that have been inspiring you lately? Obviously, I don’t want, I don’t want this question when people hear it to be like, ‘I’m just gonna emulate what these other churches they’re doing.’ But what have been some churches or some people that have really been inspiring you in this time to sort of get some ideas from?

Stephen Brewster:            

Yeah. So one thing I want  to piggyback on what you just said a second ago. I think that, I think that it is; We’re talking about Easter in three weeks, right. I don’t know when this podcast is gonna air, but from when we’re recording, from when we’re recording we’re three weeks from Easter. And last night I did a zoom call with, like, seven friends talking about what they’re going to do with Easter. Now, one of my friends is a guy named Drew Bodine. He is one of the leader, executive leaders at Central Christian in Las Vegas. There’s not a church that is more attraction really focused than, like they had Santa Claus fly in on a fabricated sled at Christmas time. Okay, you cannot get more, it’s Vegas baby. It’s Vegas! You gotta go big in Vegas. And he’s like, ‘Man, we don’t get any of the tools that we’ve used in the past.’ And so it’s why creativity is, creativity runs to crisis every moment it can, because at its core, creativity problem solving. And so, in this moment, we are like, we have to figure out, what’s our best method. And so a few things, I’ve seen churches; I saw one church, they hired a DJ to Instagram Live from his house. And he threw a DJ party for an hour and half. Totally, totally awesome. I know another church they had, like, they have two guys in their church that are like, I don’t know that they’re professional comedians, but maybe semi professional comedians, and they’re having them go online once a week and do a bit online through their church. Virtual counseling for people that need to speak to a pastor or need prayer. Eight hours a day, virtual online you DM  the church, they set you up with a zoom call and a pastor and ministry happens. One of things that I really wanna highlight is Central Christian that I was just talking about, they started, they have done, Vegas is hurting desperately because of this crisis. Most of the income in Vegas happens through casinos. All the casinos are closed right now, right. So they started giving away food. They’ve given away literal tons of food in the last week. And then they set up a special line for first responders and policemen and their families. And it was like off the grounds, the line was. And so, like, there is so much ministry to be had. There’s so much hope to share. There’s so much creativity to engage. You just have to, again, and I know if sounding like a broken record; What is the thing that makes your church unique? What is your purpose? What are the things that you value that people talk about when they talk about your church? Lean into those right now and do them like you’ve never done them before, whether it’s digital or physical. They had their guys standing in a line and each car would pull up. And after they handed them their food, their supplies bag, whatever it is, they would drive up to the next spot and a pastor would just lay hands on their car and pray for them. Like what a special moment. The ministry is not closed. Just our buildings are.

Mike Mage:                

No, that’s awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Well, Steve, thank you so much for hanging out with us and talking about this. I obviously want to respect your time and everything. 

Stephen Brewster:               

I mean, I’m shut up in the house, so I’m, this is the most social interaction I get. So, like, honestly, I’m feeling the conversation right now. (laughter)

Mike Mage:               

Aright. I mean, we could keep going if you wanna keep going. 

Stephen Brewster:

It’s a two part episode. It’s a two part series on Steve being bored at home. (laughter)

Mike Mage:                

I mean, for real, though. Yeah, you send all the kids out of the room, and this is like the one hour.

Stephen Brewster:                 

I know it’s quiet in my house right now. I’m like, I’m gonna pretend I’m on this call even after we hang up, because it is so worth it, right now. (laughter) No, but thank you. Thank you for having me on today. And thank you for the ministry that you guys are doing and how you’re trying to just help equip churches, help prepare churches. It means a lot that you guys are doing what you do, and it’s special, it’s important, and it’s extremely valuable. And I’m honored to just get to be a small part of what you’re doing.

Mike Mage:              

We appreciate it. Hey, if there is a way that people can, you know, connect with you, stay up to date with you. How can people sort of follow you on social media and your website, and all that kind of stuff?

Stephen Brewster:               

Absolutely. That’d be awesome. If you would like to do that, I would love it. My Instagram is B_rewster. You can go to stephenbrewster.me is my web page. And you can get to me there as well. New podcast launches in about a week and yeah, lots of, lots of fun stuff is; I’m trying to personally lean into creativity right now. Just because we have the time and the space to do it, so.

Mike Mage:                

Yeah. Well, awesome. Well, hey, if this insane period just continues on, maybe in a couple of weeks, we’ll meet back and do that part two. (laughter)

Stephen Brewster:

Let’s do it. I’m here.

Mike Mage:              

Yeah, it’d be awesome. Well, thank you again so much. It was incredible. 

Stephen Brewster:

Awesome. Thank you. 

(closing)

Mike Mage:

Well, wow! I absolutely loved that conversation with Stephen Brewster. So many great things in there. So many little takeaways for us. One of my favorite things, he said, was towards the beginning and he just said “people run to faith, knowledge and creativity in times of crisis.” And we as a church, we, as a creative ministry have an opportunity to do all three of those. So continue to be creative and how you’re reaching people. Just like Stephen said, our boxes are totally broken in how we’re doing things and now, you know, is not necessarily the time for us to really be second guessing a lot of our content. Obviously make sure that it’s right. Make sure that it’s true. Make sure that it is a level of quality that is not, you know, terrible. But this disruption has leveled the playing field for us and so really lean into that. There is a ton of things that you can do to reach a ton of people. So, just like Stephen said, if you want to follow him, obviously follow him on Instagram and check out his website. But also, that podcast that he was talking about is coming out very soon, and it’s called “Blue Collar Creative,” and you can actually find this conversation that him and I had on that podcast is well. But make sure to check all your podcasts apps for that as that will be dropping here very, very soon. So once again, thank you so much for joining us on the Healthy Church Growth podcast. If you liked what you have heard or you have found that there’s value in what we’re doing, please share this. That is the biggest thing that you could do for us or rate or subscribe to this podcast. There’s nothing better that you could do for us. But if there was going to be a second best thing that you would do for us, it’s engage with us on our Instagram on our Facebook page or through the review section wherever you get your podcast. Let us know what you’re dealing with as a church creative. And maybe that’s something that we can add to our conversations that we’re having on this podcast. So as we wrap up here, I hope that you have been encouraged. I hope that you’re staying safe. I hope that you’re staying healthy. I hope that this virus is not coming anywhere close to your doorstep. And whatever your church situation is, I hope that you will embrace this time and lean into this disruption that we’re all experiencing together because you’re not alone. Not only is the rest of the world with you, the God is always with you, so thank you so much. Once again, my name’s Mike. And here on the Healthy Church Growth podcast, we believe that healthy things grow and growth means life.