During the COVID-19 crisis, our team gathers weekly to discuss the latest From the Front Lines of Ministry. We are using ChurchOS to stay clear and focused. See how other church leaders around the country are using ChurchOS as they navigate the new normal.
HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE CALL:
- Crowdsourcing Content in your Services to Promote Engagement
- Database Calling Strategies
- PPP Communication Thinking
- Digital Engagement Pathway Innovations
- An Idea on How to Gain Time in your Calendar
- Beginning Thought on Physical Children’s Ministry
- Audiences you have in a Digital Reach Zone
DIGITAL ENGAGEMENT PATHWAY GUIDELINES
- Use the visual of the Engagement Pathway so your team can collaborate together and know where strategies fit
- Remember to have all components of your Great Commission Engine represented
- Speed of implementation of new strategies is key.
- Think – What can we launch this week (not in a month)?
- The speed someone is willing to connect to Jesus, others and you is fast
- Connection processes used to take weeks if not months
- People are willing to connect in hours and days now
- Speed of implementation of new strategies is key.
- Know the best ways to promote engagement on different platforms
- SIMPLIFY – complexity and multiple steps must be reduced to an absolute minimum
- Your Digital Engagement Pathway builds the base for what we should count
- Remember, we count so we can objectify and benchmark the improvements we can make in our our strategies
IC TEAM MEMBERS ON THE CALL:
- Kirby Andersen – Content Development & Church Relations Lead – Intentional Churches – Tulsa, OK
- Mark Kitts – CTO – Intentional Churches – Orlando, FL
- Bob Miller – Ministry Leader/Coach – Thomas Road Baptist Church/ServantOne – Lynchburg, VA
- Tim Winters – Executive Pastor – Shepherd Church – Porter Ranch, CA
- Doug Cowburn – Executive Pastor – Elim Gospel Church – Lima, NY
- Matthew Robinson – Lead Pastor – First Baptist Church – Orlando, FL
- Matt Wright – Lead Pastor – Willow Creek Community Church – Chicago, IL
- Mike McDaniel – Lead Pastor – Grace Point Church – Bentonville, AR
- Jared Perkins – Executive Pastor – Plum Creek Christian Church – Butler, KY
- Jill Gille – Executive Director or Projects – Eastside Christian Church – Anaheim, CA
- Larry Wren – Executive Pastor – Pathway Church – Wichita, KA
- Mark Montemayor – Executive Pastor – Real Life Christian Church – Clermont, FL
- Sy Huffer – Lead Minister – College Heights Christian Church – Joplin, MO
- Tiffany Ann Johns – Strategic Consultant – Self-Employed – Parker, CO
- Rob Kastens – Joppa, MD
- Doug Parks – Co-Founder & CEO
- Bart Rendel – Co-Founder & President
- Tasha Johnson – Director of Operations
Doug Parks: Hey everyone, welcome to the Front Lines Ministry call. This is our sixth in the series, and thanks for joining us. We’re going to get at it pretty quickly here, but appreciate the comments coming back of how helpful this has been, and especially the team’s investment of time, to be here. Bart, quick fly over GC engine. We just feel like we need to give context because this is the agenda we’re using for the calls. We’re clicking through this tool from ChurchOS.
Bart Rendel: We have lots of new people tuning in, and so we just like to kind of, this becomes a structure for our calls. It’s actually on the board right over my shoulder as well. On your screen, just going to walk through the ideas from these three scriptures in Matthew, Acts and Luke 15, and that is these five core components, create the foundation of church. We think they’re true right now even in this digital moment. I’ll be at remote, and maybe we’ll be back together soon, we’re praying in the next few weeks, but it’s still going to be true.
Bart Rendel: And that is in the piston number one component, we call the gathering or the catalytic we can experience in our book. Why is that important? We preach and we lift up Jesus to his rightful place, and miracles happen. The Bible is clear in that component. And in Piston Two, life change, best happens in relationships. And you just look at what was going on in Acts 2 and you see that. And so, how are we going to build and foster life changing relationships right now? It’s pivotal.
Bart Rendel: And then Piston Three is now we’ve got people surrendering parts of themselves to Jesus, and eventually then their whole selves. And as we advance as a church, how are we stewarding that life change as people surrender and fostering that, and then facilitating that action back into the accomplishment of the great commission through our churches. Lot in that piston number three. And then this is all centered on what we call the one out of Luke 15. And the focus of Jesus on the one through three incredible stories. They give us different nuances on his focus of seeking and saving the lost.
Bart Rendel: And then lastly, that final picture is our engagement pathway, which right now is digital. We’re going to talk a little bit about that on today’s call. Talked a lot last week about it and the week before. We’ve been realizing we have to figure out how to connect people to us, Jesus and others, just like we always have into this great commission engine. We’re going to talk through these things today. Hopefully you’ll get something out of this, and move the needle forward when it comes to making more and better disciples.
Doug Parks: Thanks Bart. We’re going to get right after it. Our one comes from the passage in Luke 15, it’s really about relational evangelism and how we’re reaching our communities. We have some ideas emerging out there. Mike, we’ve always known that, the outreach and how we serve our community is a great way to build a bridge for relationship to start. And then I thought, Mike McDaniel, who’s in Arkansas, if you’ll share what’s happened with one of your outreach things and some good news.
Mike McDaniel: We like to mobilize our people around Piston Three that surrendered living. Obviously, everyone’s online now and Facebook live is our primary platform, and it was really a cool story that developed this week. And one of the friends that I have known from high school was watching, lives in our community, been out of church for no less than 15 years. And just has had a lot of turmoil in his life, but he engaged, watched us online as we’re sitting here in the process of encouraging our people around some surrender living action items around developing some care packages for kids in schools that are under resourced, that are now without food.
Mike McDaniel: Well, I hadn’t talked to this man, this friend of mine in years, and he reaches out to me on Facebook and said, “Hey, I was watching your service the past three Sundays.” Which is good. So, he’s not only there once, he’s been there three times, and I’m going to be dropping off some of the items that you listed. It’s just pretty cool to see how even before maybe belonging, he is acting out in that act of service. And as far as I know, he was actually the very first one to drop off care packages for these under-resourced kids. Again, just a cool story of reaching somebody who’s been out of church, and yet they’re immediately engaging in the process.
Doug Parks: That’s great Mike. I keep making the case. I think we’re in the invest invite strategy, in investing in our ones at a level never before seen in our generation right now. It’s a cool, I know our neighbors are, again, we just continue to engage each in deeper conversations, it feels like everyday on the lock.
Doug Parks: Churches are starting to get more proactive around evangelism, and really connecting the unconnected. Jill, you guys out in California, decided to do a different calling campaign. You want to talk about that? Why you did it, how you did it?
Jill Gille: Just early on, we felt like we should try the phone call thing, and heard other people were doing that too. We set out to call about 13,000 or so people. Anybody who’s been connected at all, whether it was just a one time visit or long time members. All five of our campuses set out to do that. We put together a team, and I believe they use Slack to help manage all that communication and whatnot. But we were finding, we just got this word in our all staff meeting on Tuesday that, people we call that just came to a Christmas service, and that’s it, that’s all they’ve come to, were really blown away that a church would take time to call them and just check in.
Jill Gille: It’s all we were doing, just checking in with you and seeing how you’re doing. Can we help you with anything? Can we pray for you? And so, they were truly blessed people like I just mentioned earlier, are going online and checking out the church. They blatantly say, “I would never go to a church, but I’m going online to see what you have to say.” We’ve had some staff members share that they’ve had family members that are agnostic and atheist, and never would’ve set foot in the door, and they’re now plugging in, and even plugging into the kids portions of things as well. Phone calls have been worth it, and we’re getting more stories that we can share.
Doug Parks: That’s great. And Matt, right? You guys are doing something similar in Chicago, right?
Matt Wright: Yeah, very much… Go ahead buddy.
Doug Parks: I was just going to say, talk to us about how you’re connecting people who are far from God by doing that.
Matt Wright: Yeah. It’s very similar to what Jill said, and it’s funny to say that what I think one of our most evangelistic things that we’ve done in the last month has been to call everybody in the database, and yet, just like what Jill said, the amount of people that came only for our Christmas service, or only came a couple of times a few years ago. For me, I loaded myself up, and I had a long list of people to call. Hearing from folks who say, “Wow, nobody has checked in on me in three weeks anywhere in my life.” And those kinds of stories.
Matt Wright: We are really intentionalized. We’re doing that. We’re managing it. I know, Jill, you said you’re using Slack where we’ve got a massive Google sheet, that we’re using that we’re sharing with everybody, but we’re able to put in next steps. And so, what are the next steps that these folks need to help them get connected to digital groups? Get connected to, if they need something or if they want to help with something like that. It’s been a good connection strategy. Honestly, our other digital engagement strategies have been hard to try and dial in and figure those out. Just calling people has probably been the most effective thing so far. It’s a lot of work, but it’s worth it.
Doug Parks: It’s great man. Just a for posterity sake, how many people have you guys called?
Matt Wright: It’s a lot. Just go ahead and say it’s a lot. It’s always a lot.
Doug Parks: Hundred? Hundreds of thousands?
Matt Wright: Yeah, it’s a whole lot of folks.
Doug Parks: It’s good.
Larry Wren: Hey Doug, can I add something there please?
Doug Parks: Sure. Yeah.
Larry Wren: Working with the church in Savannah, and we’ve incorporated something they’ve done with the phone calls. I think we were both out of the gate, just like everybody else, calling through our database, and checking in on folks. They started adding to the end of every call, “Is there somebody that you would like me to call, to check on and pray for?.” And so, they’re actually getting a lot of new fresh contacts that are really open doors. We’ve started adding that onto the end of our [inaudible 00:09:18], second and a couple of our campuses are on their third round of calls checking on people, and we’re now starting to ask that question at the end and it’s open to new doors for contact.
Doug Parks: That’s great Larry. Thanks for sharing that. I’m gonna switch to Piston One. Start talking a little bit around our services that are now digital, and Doug Cowburn, you have started to give some thought to what’s going to happen to children’s ministry when we start meeting live again. You want to share about that?
Doug Cowburn: Yeah. Again, it’s just something we’ve just started thinking about. And here in New York, we’re still under very strict protective guidelines, and we’re noticing that our community is adhering to those and following them. And so, they are very conscious about it. We’re thinking that our adult services are going to open up before our kids services open, and we’re going to be really paying attention to what the schools are doing first assuming that their schools are open over the summer, but still what are the schools doing is a good indicator for us that the community itself is ready to start having their kids go out and start interacting and doing those kinds of things.
Doug Cowburn: We’re going to be very intentional about sending out communication about what we’re doing differently to increase the community’s confidence in what we’re doing. Things that we’re considering is doing temperature checks at check-in to make sure that we’re not admitting any kids that are sick. And then, another thing we’re considering, having volunteers wear masks, and maybe even have our volunteers do the temperature checks and stuff like that. We haven’t again decided on everything we’re going, but those are some of the things that we’re thinking about. And timing is really big part of that and how the community feels about it also.
Doug Parks: Yeah, I think that’d just be something I would emphasize for us all to remember. Don’t get ahead of the norm in your community. That would be a bad, bad decision to get ahead of whatever the norm is in your community across any of these conversations. Thank you for that. Matt, right? I am intrigued. You guys are using crowdsourcing inside of your services to get engagement up several levels. Talk first about how you’re doing that, and then give some examples of how it’s improving engagement.
Matt Wright: Don’t get too impressed, this is not that hard. What we’ve been doing, let’s talk about the problem first. The problem is, is that we want to increase participation. The problem is that people, we’ve moved from a participatory service to an observation kind of a place. We were thinking how can we just increase participation? We’ve done it three times, and it’s fairly simple. We’ve set out a call, “Hey everybody, we’re going to do an element about Psalm 23. Record you, your roommates, or kids, your parents, whoever. Record yourself, reading Psalm 23.” And gave super simple explanation about how do you hold your phone and all that stuff.
Matt Wright: And then compiling all those together in a video of all of us together. Like it’s a corporate reading if you will, of this passage. We did one this last week where it was, we’re going to sing the doxology. So, if you’re the musical type, or [inaudible 00:12:33], if you’re not, don’t worry about it. Just sing it. And we had so many people send in videos of them singing the doxology, and we just put a pad down in the KFC, and clipped the video together. And then out of that, went into us worshiping and more polished.
Matt Wright: So, while we’re compromising on quality, the ability for people to say, “Hey look, that’s so and so.” Or, “I get to be a part of that.” It’s increasing the collective participation thing. Every time we’ve done it, it’s been a huge win. Call it crowdsourcing, call it whatever you want to. We’ve done fun stuff around, send us pictures of e-learning, some funny elements, and things like that as well. But anytime we do crowdsourcing, it’s a win.
Doug Parks: As we’ve been at IC trying to figure out the digital side, we got exposed to a tool that I’m curious for one of you guys to try. It’s called Mentimeter. It’s menti.com, and it’s an interactive thing where you can ask questions and it’ll build responses in a visual way. Is pretty cool deal. I’ve been after my home church to try this thing out, but we haven’t gotten there yet. I’d love to see one of you guys try it and report back. Jill, you guys have five sites, right? Is that right?
Jill Gille: Yes.
Doug Parks: Talk to us a little bit about how, first, what you’re doing at the campus level. You’re engaged in the campus pastors how in the service, what are you doing with them now?
Jill Gille: Yeah. Pre and post mostly. Rolling, I’m sure like many of you are doing, we’re rolling I think at least 15, 20 minutes before service time rolling out different things from our compassion ministry. We’ll have various other campus staff sharing maybe some type of announcement, our NextGen folks will get on and talk about how you can keep your kids from birth through young adults involved and what’s out there for them coming from us. Our campus pastors have been involved in that, and it’s been really great. It’s given them the unique opportunity to speak to our greater audience, so to speak.
Jill Gille: And because we’re used to being remote already with the campus 2000 miles away, we were able to completely incorporate our campus that’s 2000 miles away because it’s all digital. They’ve actually gotten to be more involved with our greater outreach. It’s a warm feeling, I guess I would say. Just to see all these guys stepping up in front of cameras that they normally don’t do because our message is delivered via video normally anyway to all of our campuses.
Doug Parks: While we’re on multi-site, talk about, you guys have started to begin to think about what the physical is going to be in congruency. Talk about what you’re thinking about right now with your campuses as they think about reopening.
Jill Gille: A couple of things there. Just size-wise, depending on what we’re released to do. Does this mean we can open our smaller campuses before our broadcast campus? What does that look like? For all campuses, we’re looking at square footage though, because if there’s something about being six feet away, they were talking about that with restaurants and stuff, setting up less tables in a restaurant. I think like you guys, you start doing the math and it’s like, well, how do we do that? And not to say it’s not worth it, but when you’re running a large facility, like our broadcast campus used to be our largest with 2000 seats.
Jill Gille: I know there’s guys on here with a lot more seats. Can you open and run something, run all the air conditioning, run all the utilities and operations, and then how many services do you have then to make that work? How do you turn people away? We also thought about what if we open our smaller campuses, and our larger campus attendance starts going to those campuses because the doors are open. Well, then we have an attendance challenge again. Enough people won’t have enough services to get everybody somewhat through the doors.
Jill Gille: We will be taking some hard look at also just can we keep all the campuses, could we keep them running? Should we do something different? We’re thinking outside the box? probably not a whole lot I would say on this call right now, but just we’re having some tough conversations
Bart Rendel: I’d tune in to future calls Doug, I’m hearing that.
Doug Parks: Thank you.
Bart Rendel: It’s coming fast, right?
Doug Parks: It is coming fast, and I’ve heard this over and over again about multi-site right now, especially if you’re portable, what’s going to happen to those? Tim, I’m going to put you on the spot here because last week you talked about California being super stringent, and you guys even thinking about, do we have to do 15 or 18 services in order to get people in to the size that you’re allowed to be? Have you guys progressed in any of that thinking?
Tim Winters: I’d say we’re leaning more toward not meeting when they allow us to meet until we can meet pretty full on. We have a 30 day [inaudible 00:17:59], we figure roughly we can get 750 at six feet apart. And like Jill, when you look at the economics of that, we don’t know that it’s worth it. We pretty much take an ally and Jill might, we prefer to take an ally. We will not be able to meet until sports can have basketball or football and baseball can meet. Once they can meet, they may let us meet for the size of our church. We’re looking probably August. Again, we’re guessing like everybody else, but we’re guessing it’ll be August-ish before we can meet realistically.
Tim Winters: And children’s a big part of ours too. We don’t let children in our sanctuary, and now we’re going to be saying, “Please bring your children with you because you can sit together in a group and give us more people because, just take [inaudible 00:18:48], but again, we’re guessing like everybody else right now.
Doug Parks: If it’s helpful, just I think for everybody out there to hear how you guys are attacking it and thinking through it. I’m going to jump to, the engagement pathway.
Matt Wright: Hey Doug, real quick.
Doug Parks: Yeah.
Matt Wright: One thing I heard, I believe it was Carrie Newhoff who said this one. And it’s just been rattling around a lot in my head right now, especially as you see some States that are allowing some gatherings. A couple of weeks ago, I heard Carrie say something along the lines of, “Loving our neighbors may mean waiting.” That may be the best way for us to love our neighbors here. For sure, we’re not going to run ahead of what the government officials tell us, but we have a higher authority that we have to look at, and we have to say, “what does it mean for us to love our community well?”
Matt Wright: I feel that conviction heavily, that that needs to come down to all of us. It’s between us, and it’s us and God and say, “How are we loving our communities right now?” And the answer may be for us to get really, really good at church online and wait a little bit until we believe it’s actually safe for us to do it. That’s something that we’re kind of kicking around in our minds as well. Sorry to interrupt.
Doug Parks: No, that was good. And I do think, I’m going to, I think we do know this is going to be true, and that is just as we as a nation came into this in tears, tiers, not T-E-R-A-R-S-T-I, or levels. We came into this in levels, we’re so going to come back out of it in levels where some States are way more, or even municipalities are more restrictive than others. We’re seeing it already this week with stuff starting to open today. We as church leaders really need to be cognizant to that rule. Don’t get ahead of your community. And I think there is wisdom in what Andy Stanley did in saying, “Hey, we’re just kind of making school being back in the target of when we’re going to meet physically again.”
Doug Parks: That was great. I’m going to switch the engagement pathway for a minute. [inaudible 00:20:48] through up the crossings again, this is their latest evolution. This seems to be the primary, innovation ground that’s happening out there. I’m not going to not so much detail, I may come back to that in a minute. I just wanted to talk to the principles that I’m learning as I’m helping my home church, Canyon Ridge. Number one, I cannot emphasize enough, if you do not have a visual like this, that you and your team are collaborating around, you’re making it harder on yourself.
Doug Parks: When I have a zoom meeting, like yesterday I had a zoom meeting on some social media email campaign stuff we were doing. I was able to throw this up until the comms team, let the comms team, the operations team, the content team, all see where the strategy was fitting in the funnel because it was in multiple places. I would really encourage you, however you’re doing this, we’re about to come out with a guide around creating your own digital engagement pathway in the next week or so. And I would have this tool up front. And remember, even though the GC engine goes hand in hand with this, this is one piece of the GC engine, the Great Commission Engine, all the component parts of the Great Commission Engine are represented in this funnel.
Doug Parks: The relational evangelism, our reach zone at the top, by the way, heard on a call with first Orlando. Matthew, do you remember the three audiences Tyler was talking about that you have to be thinking about in your relational reach? Putting you on the spot in here, but can, there’s three audiences it seem.
Matthew Robinson: No problems. Our team is recognizing in our communication that there are three audiences. There are those insiders, are 99 who have been with us. They’re tuning in, they’re watching. There’s also our local community who may not have come in our building, but we’ve had several local TV stations reach out for us saying, “Can we use your stream? Can we point on Sunday morning program to what’s going on?” And we have a new local audience that’s never engaged with first Baptist Orlando before in person or in our brick and mortar, but who’s there with us.
Matthew Robinson: And that’s a group we’ve got to communicate every weekend too. And then we have this new expanding almost global audience. When we look at our reach data from the platforms that we’re on, there’s people tuning in all over the world. It’s a way in which we’re going to start thinking now of what we’re doing for disciple-making and getting them in an engagement pathway, even though there’s no chance unless they’d come and see Mickey Mouse once they open up, that they’re probably going to ever be in Orlando.
Doug Parks: That’s super helpful. A couple last rules of thumb here. A governing rule for you and your team should be speed, speed, speed. The quicker you can implement and deploy something that should not take weeks to be innovating around, you’re losing a time every weekend or online service that you do where you don’t have some of these strategies in play. And on the flip side, we’re following the startup Guy Kawasaki principle, the entrepreneurial principle, ship something, get it to 60 or 70%, put it in play and learn each week, and continue to adapt to what’s working out there.
Doug Parks: On the flip side, the other thing I would say as a rule of thumb, the speed at which someone is willing to connect to Jesus in your church, is it the highest levels it’s probably ever been? Meaning the fastest. Normally, this flow would have taken weeks if not months to connect someone to your church. We literally have churches now connecting people from an online service into a group within 48 hours. The speed at which all this is happening, very fast. One of the things to remember about the top of the funnel and the way in which you’re showing church online is that it’s platform specific. The way that you interact with people, they share, they do different things. In fact, Lee Coat talked about their discovery is if people were watching on YouTube or Facebook, they were more likely to be one of the ones, meaning they weren’t really connected to your church as opposed to those watching from your website.
Doug Parks: Knowing those rules, and then of course, I’ve been saying this from the beginning, simple, simple, simple. We all, me included as church leaders, I tend to over complicate things. And right now, the more simple, and we’re going to have Jared in a minute give an example, Jared Perkins. The more simple the ask and the connection, the better. The less least amount of clicks, least amount of things to fill out. Simple is better. And then lastly that this format then, when we ask the question of what is everybody counting and why. Remember we count things to inform strategy and that is the purpose of counting. And so, out of this starts emerging the metrics that we’re going to count around shares potentially along the way. Just a couple of highlights because we have this up here. You may have heard these before.
Doug Parks: Lee, in the crossing, they’ve gotten very proactive on the front end and during the service of looking for people who are unconnected. They’ve deployed volunteers and teams to be in chat rooms ahead of time, and on the platforms looking for unconnected people, and trying to connect them very quickly through the welcome text deal. The coolest idea they had, many of you heard this before, he’s gone old school. Discover is their next step or first step class, whatever that is for you. They’ve completely revamped it. It’s a 45 minute, the discover lounge is a 45 minute experience. Lots of people from the staff are in there and some volunteers, and they are relationally connecting, talking about their values and connection.
Doug Parks: But the way they’re incentivizing people to get to the discovery lounge is connecting with a discover RSVP. Anybody who does that through their connecting processes they’re doing in each platform, they then, if they’re in Vegas, they send a personal gift. They’re sending a crumble cookie to the families, or the people that sign up, and they’re using Uber and Lyft drivers who are low on income in Vegas. They’re helping them, they’re getting a lot of social media traction from the Lyft and Uber drivers as dwelled in as people getting a cookie is blowing their mind right now in this environment.
Doug Parks: It’s feeding back to the top of the funnel where we’re in our reach zone because then the social media and the shares are picking up because of their connection, process there. Jared, you talked about, you guys are trying, you’re working on learning from another church, and when it comes to Engagement Pathway and how you’re connecting people, talk about, learning about simplicity. You went through three phases, I think. A, B and then finally C of what they’re learning. Tasha, you can finish here.
Jared Perkins: Yeah, we’re having trouble getting traction around that contact level there on the engagement path. We call it baby step. We’ve tried a lot of things and have a philosophy here that we’re growing into that we just say and we try to fail fast. If things aren’t working, we try to figure it out, and make it work. On that baby step, we’ve tried to do a web form. We’ve done the text message, we’ve had a Zoom room open to try to get people to take that first baby step with us, and haven’t gotten any traction on that. Talking with another church, this week, we’re trying just… Because they’ve had success in it, trying to just have a phrase to ask people to post in the comments. The phrase that we’ll be using is just, “Jesus saved me.”
Jared Perkins: And our primary stream comes through Facebook live so they can just pop in the comments, type in Jesus saves me right there in the comments. And then from that we’ll have staff go back and try to track that person down through just messenger, or seeing if we have some common friends that are already part of the church. That’s most likely how they got into our online service anyway. From there, we’ll do follow up and try to bring them into that engagement path that way.
Doug Parks: That’s great Jared. There’s church that’s already attempting this, right?
Jared Perkins: Yeah.
Doug Parks: Talk about what happened with them.
Jared Perkins: They were about a week ahead of us on the learning curve there. They’ve been doing the same thing we’ve done, and we’ve had a conversation about that. They were just seeing zero people texting, very few people going to the web forum. And when they switched over to this, just in the last couple of weeks, they have about 40 people that posted, “Jesus saved me.” That was their phrase. And they announced that opportunity in their online service that this is what you need to do.
Jared Perkins: When those folks posted that, they went through and connected with them, and I think they said they found about 20 of those folks were just their own people who had posted that, people that were already connected. But I was at 40, about half of them were brand new people they had never connected with before. They got their staff aligned around, getting those folks connected, and then, I can’t remember the numbers exactly. I think they had about 10 or 12 baptisms that next week.
Doug Parks: That’s great man. And again, it’s not the phrase, right? Although, that’s an awesome phrase. It’s, I’m wanting you to hear the simplicity. It’s just very direct and very simple, not another step. I’m going to shift to Piston Three, which is surrendered living. It’s the giving of our money, time and talent. Only one thing to highlight here, I know giving patterns are all over the place across the US, but Jill, you guys moved. Tell us how you moved from 60% online giving to 72% online giving. What did you do? What strategies did you employ to get there?
Jill Gille: I’d say in the first two weeks of all this, we immediately had one of our staff take this on and came with ideas. We did our research with our database and our giving records. We found that there were 700 people or so that we’re still giving via check or in person on the on a campus. We sent them paid for envelopes so that they could turn around and continue to do that. But we also went after that number and another large amount of people that maybe have given one time online, but were not giving consistently. Many of us we have an automatic, comes out of our paycheck kind of deal. We went up to the people that didn’t have the automatic, and contacted them, encourage them in a very loving way, and just help them get through maybe the obstacle that they were going through to commit to doing it digitally. So we bumped it up.
Jill Gille: I would just say really quick, and I didn’t say this in my notes earlier, but just to encourage churches out there that maybe weren’t as far along in online giving when this happened. I know that’s been very challenging to get people converted now that you can’t really be with them. But I think this is an opportunity, and we’re looking for opportunities through all these tough times. I’m just amazed how God keeps showing opportunity in the thick of it. And so, this is an opportunity to help people make that change and start giving online, because they kind of have to, in a way, they don’t have too much of a choice.
Doug Parks: It’s amazed me the number of stories I’ve heard about, like here in Vegas, we have an air force base, and the stories of people who don’t need the relief check, figuring out creative ways to give that money away to help others in their community. I don’t know, are you guys all experiencing that? I was hearing back stories of creativity and generosity that maybe we can help spur on even with our thinking beyond giving to the church? Just as we start wrapping up here, I’m going to switch to a little more operational pieces, and the three P, or P cubed loan, has been in motion, going in motion again next week for the next round. Sy, I wanted you to talk about how you guys are thinking about it first, and embark given some prioritization thoughts if you will after that. Sy, you want to talk about how you guys are thinking about it?
Sy Huffer: Yeah, absolutely. We were able to qualify and receive funds from the PPP, which is going for us. We are a debt free church. We made our debt in January. And so, it went specifically to payroll and utilities for us. And our giving has actually remained pretty, pretty, consistent and funding with our budget he does each week at this point, people have just really shown up in some incredible ways. And so, the leadership, we want to make sure that we are taking care of our staff and paying our bills, but also the giving remaining of where it’s at. And we think the economy, we just had some big layoffs in our community this week. And so, we’re thinking that it’s going to hit us a little bit later down the road.
Sy Huffer: We’ve been asking, “What do we need to do?” And we feel like the Lord is calling us to get to take a percentage of that money, we give 19% to outreach every dollar given right now. And we’re considering something along those lines with, if the giving remains the same, that money that would’ve gone to payroll using portion, a percentage of that money to give the benevolence and give to the community and help people who are in need, and to just kind of build that up, and really care for, and show and share the love of Jesus in this season to people who are hurting and who are definitely a need. That’s how our elders and our leadership are wrestling with those funds, and what that looks like for us.
Doug Parks: Thanks Sy. Here in Vegas, the ripple that our business guys are projecting is the mortgage defaults are going to start in mid to late summer. And so, our church is trying to get in the war room and think strategically around how do we help people around the housing piece part. Bart, you had some thoughts around if you applied for, or receiving PPP funds. How should your church be prioritizing thinking?
Bart Rendel: This is no particular order, just stuff that we’ve been gathering over this last few weeks when this came out. I just wrote down some things that I think would be important to think about. One is proactive communication. Segmenting your audiences, what your givers need to know, what does the public need to know, and what maybe your staff need to know internally. And then that leads to proactive strategy. This is a temporary loan and temporary situation. If you’re in size situation, and giving stays strong, it’s actually going to allow them to be benevolent.
Bart Rendel: When I say temporary, it really is only going to last 55 or 60 days before you have to give account. Did you keep your employment levels at the level they were? And again, I’m not in the weeds on the nuances of that, but everyone should be, if you did accept it, is to understand what that means for you. I also think that there could be a temptation to diminish the perspective that we’re still reliant on God to provide. I think during the season, we have to elevate that. Maybe you see that as like kind of like our [inaudible 00:37:17] are like, we got providence from places we didn’t expect, but that doesn’t mean we’re still not reliant on God.
Bart Rendel: Strategy and reliance, still maintaining a strong focus on the one, don’t let your 99 diminish their sights on giving or their evangelistic focus. And then Sy said something that occurred to me when I was talking to some friends that are actually, one friend who chose not to do it. And that is, could we begin to make proactive plans about our debt? And I say that knowing that is easy to say and then difficult to implement. But in Sy’s position where they’ve eliminated, they’re able to be basically more flexible, although they’re accepting it. Coming out of this, could we be very aggressive so that if something like this unfolds again, and I do think the coronavirus is not done with us yet for sure, but yet, could we be proactive about our debt, and staffing, and all those ratios as well. Just again, being proactive strategically going forward.
Bart Rendel: I know the churches that are out of debt or have minimal debt or in a different position than those that have it. And I’m not against debt, and Doug and I will tell you about when we believe strategically, it makes sense and does it, but just something to put on the table to be thinking about. That’s all.
Doug Parks: That’s good man. That’s good. And Matthew, you guys, you want to talk about your reduction plan for just a moment [crosstalk 00:39:01].
Matthew Robinson: Yeah, with the PPP funding, we recognize there’s a day 57 that comes after those eight weeks. I think someone mentioned this on one of those calls, and it really helped us name what we know is an unbelievable time of opportunity that we’re in right now for making adjustments, or rethinking our ministry model and approach, and also what the ongoing reality is that we’re facing here in Orlando with a significant decline and gigging. And while we have two months of funding to help us with payroll, some of that is turning in to employer funded unemployment for staff that we are just not able to carry and maintain after this government funding is going to run out.
Matthew Robinson: We’re being upfront and honest with all of our staff who are far load, who are now being able for this period to make call, and also really challenging ourselves to make the best use of the opportunity that we’re in to say, how do we need to be structured in the seasons ahead so that with this new ministry model, the introduction of an online campus for us and in addition to our other campuses, what we need to really, the mantra in our team is, doing more with less. And that’s what our attitude and approach is.
Doug Parks: Thank you. Thanks for sharing that. And then finally, Tim, I find it fascinating that you’ve hired a position, you want to talk about the summarizing, what it is first, what you’re having someone do, and then how it’s helping you?
Tim Winters: One thing I try to do is out think Satan. To do that, I have to think like Satan sometimes. And I think if he were to make it about me, the best thing he could do is keep me in my man cave where I’m at right now, watching webinars all day, checking emails and thinking about all the new ideas everybody has. That’d be the best way to hinder my church. I need to be with my people, talking to my people, encouraging my staff, loving my staff. That’s the best use of my time. Early on, I was getting inundated with emails. My inbox was full of opportunities to hear great thinkers. They’re all good, all the ideas, all the experts, all the things. And literally, all day I could have been in a webinar, a Zoom meeting, or listening to a press conference of our mayor, governor, or city.
Tim Winters: I have one friend who’s in the ministry, and not employed right now. I’m actually, I’m paying him, I think you can find volunteers, but I’m paying him to be on these webinars and to take notes. I would never do it with this webinar because this one is so unique. And you wouldn’t want to do on this one. But most of them, they’re repetitive to some degree. So, I have him doing them. Another unique thing is I have one person who’s a friend of mine who’s not a advanced Christian, and he’s listening to stuff, and they both take notes. And then non-Christian sometimes say, “This is the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard.” Which I would have thought as a Christian leader, “Yeah, that’s great to listen to a non-Christians perspective on the same webinar.”
Tim Winters: It’s been interesting to do that. But you can find people on your staff who aren’t doing anything, weekend people or whatever. They would love to do that because they know they’re helping. They’re helping you, they’re helping the church by giving you some ideas. I can quickly go through notes. Generally, in a one hour webinar, there’s at least one nugget in there I want, so I can go back and listen to that particular webinar or just skim through the notes. It’s helped me a great deal because I was missing things I want to be a part of, and there’re a lot of good stuff out there. But multiply me basically in my time by doing that. It’s helped me a great deal.
Doug Parks: Super creative man. Very creative. Reach out. Thank you guys. Bart, you have any last words?
Bart Rendel: No, I don’t think I have anything substantive. Sorry this time around. I think just be encouraged. You can’t be innovative all the time, somebody said that on a call the other day. You can’t live in innovation mode, but we can right now. And so, let’s use this energy that’s in the system to think creatively and get to that new normal. And I think… By the way, Doug was on an incredible call yesterday with Rick Russo, the guys from Stadia. You’re going to want to check it out. Again, I think there’s a lot of calls that start to sound similar, but of course, Doug’s going to try to point it into real helpful perspectives right now. If you didn’t get a chance to check that out, you need to. Kirby? You want to… Doug, you’re going to toss to Kirby for a close?
Doug Parks: Yeah. Kirby.
Kirby Andersen: Well I think I would just close with the same kind of thing Bart has said. Maybe a little bit master of the obvious, this week is, I was just talking with other church leaders, I was just continually amazed at just God’s hand at work in the church right now. It’s really just encouraging and mind blowing at times, and just as confidence.
Kirby Andersen: Even though this is a sharp learning curve for all of us, we’re going to figure this out. We’re going to get it. And I’ve just been so encouraged by the church’s response and adaptability, we can be a little bit stodgy at times, and Doug, I love the speed, speed, speed. We’re going to get better, and it’s not going to be because of us, but if we just keep our eyes on him, it’s going to be a tremendous season. How about I just close in prayer.
Kirby Andersen: Lord, we’re just so great full right now, and even though we often are taken by surprise, we know that you aren’t. As we honor our limitations and in all of that, we’re trusting in your control because we certainly aren’t. We’re just thanking you right now for establishing our thoughts and our steps. Play for the whole church that you will make us make our minds in line with your perfect will. We’re not trusting in our ability to hear from you, but really in your ability to make your voice heard. Like [inaudible 00:45:16] said Lord, we’re asking that you would just bless us, that you would expand our influence, that you let your power and presence be with us. We ask this week that you would show us what we need to trust you for more in this season. Thank you for that. In Jesus name. Amen
Doug Parks: Amen. Thanks.
Bart Rendel: All right. Thanks everybody for tuning in.
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