4 Minutes Every Weekend to Increase Revenue & Spread Culture at Your Church with Taleah Murray

Welcome back to the unSeminary podcast. Today we’re talking with Taleah Murray, the Executive Pastor of Ministries at Crossroads Christian Church in Corona, California.

One of the areas Taleah oversees at Crossroads is offering talks and using video to share the impact that the church’s generosity is having as people give. Listen in as she talks about finding stories of life change, and how to use storytelling to increase generosity and spread culture at your church.

  • Celebrate the good things happening. // Talking about the offering can be our least favorite part of weekend services. But it doesn’t have to be awkward, or feel like you’re begging for money. At Crossroads Christian Church, every week during the services a video is played or a story is shared leading into the offering time. These stories are a time to celebrate the good things happening at the church which are made possible when people give. By highlighting stories of life change, or the impacts of various ministries, the church connects people’s generosity to what the church is able to accomplish.
  • Look around you for stories. // If the thought of finding 50 stories to tell throughout the year feels overwhelming, begin by taking a look around you and asking what’s happening at your church because of people’s giving. Taleah suggests to start by looking at the events you’re doing and missions opportunities your church is involved with. Ask your team members where they are seeing stories in the lives of their volunteers, or in their own lives. Share stories from people getting baptized, or tell the story of a big day like Easter or Christmas. How many people visited, and what happened? Then connect these stories to the giving at your church.
  • Find help with videos. // If you don’t have a videographer on staff to help with offering talk videos, look for companies or people in your area who film and edit videos. Build a team of volunteers at your church who know how to record and edit videos. Ask the young people in your church who are familiar with using YouTube, Reels or TikTok to see if they can help capture and edit footage. Even if you aren’t able to do a video every week, tell stories of life change using photos on slides.
  • Make the connection. // Taleah recommends not going over three and a half minutes in your videos. Even if you capture a lot of footage in people’s stories, zero in on how the church helped them get to the point they are now. Then during the offering portion of your service, work with your host so they can communicate to the congregation the role they’ve played in giving and how it is contributing to the work of the church in people’s lives.
  • Create culture through storytelling. // When you show stories about the people in your church, especially if your church is larger, it helps people identify with each other and makes the church feel smaller. Plus as you share stories of life change, it also helps to create a culture of welcoming brokenness.
  • Reuse stories. // Beyond the weekend services, Crossroads also shares the stories they capture on social media. In addition, at the end of the year when giving statements are sent out, the senior pastor will write a letter reminding the church of stories shared throughout the year. This helps to remind people where their money goes when they give. Letters are also sent to first time givers with a reference to what was talked about during the weekend they gave.

You can learn more about Crossroads at their website or at their Instagram page at CrossroadsCA. Plus check out examples of their offering talks below:

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Thank You to This Episode’s Sponsor: Chemistry Staffing

One of the things that they never teach you in seminary is when to move on from your current church. Over the last couple of years, we have been having a TON of conversations about this with pastors all over the United States. Of all the ministry decisions you make, leaving your position will be the toughest.

Download this two-in-one resource that walks you through the decision-making process.

Episode Transcript

Rich Birch — Hey, friends, welcome to the unSeminary podcast. So glad that you’ve decided to tune in. Ah, you’re going to love today’s conversation. You know every week we try to bring you a leader who will both inspire and equip you, and today is no exception. Super excited to have Taleah Murphy Murray—I said Murphy! Taleah Murray with us. She’s the Executive Pastor of Ministries at a great church that you should be following, Crossroads Christian Church in Corona, California. (I’ve have friends in Corona and I’m like it’s been a bad couple of years if you live in in Corona because of the name Corona.) It’s about 4000 people attending. They started in the 1890s, and they’re one of the fastest growing churches, now, in the country. Ah Taleah, welcome to the show. So glad you’re here.

Taleah Murray — Hi, thank you for having me.

Rich Birch — So glad you’re here. Yeah I know you must have, particularly early in the covered pandemic when it was all like the novel corona virus that you must have had that joke lots for sure.

Taleah Murray — We did. We did. I was part of a coaching network and they um called me and they said where is where are you from? And I’m like I don’t want to say where I’m from because I don’t want to tell people I’m from Corona.

Rich Birch — Yes, absolutely. That’s a beautiful part of the world though, if you got to be from somewhere. That’s great.

Taleah Murray — It is. It’s great.

Rich Birch — That’s great. Well, what did I miss? Kind of fill out the story, tell us a little bit about Crossroads. Give us the picture, you know, talk to us about the church.

Taleah Murray — Yeah, so Crossroads has a lot of history. We’ve been around since 1892. Um, we’re in the suburbs of ah, you know, like we’re kind of um about an hour from LA. Um so yeah and it’s a megachurch. we’re about 4000, 5000 people. You know nobody knows what they are after covid.

Rich Birch — Yes, exactly.

Taleah Murray — Um, but ah, but yeah, we I love I’ve been there for 15 years now, and so um, it’s ah it’s a great church. Um, our pastor has been there I came over with our senior pastor who’s there now for a fifteen years ago, and we’re in the middle of um, a succession plan. And yeah.

Rich Birch — Wow, that’s cool. That’s ah, lots of exciting things going on. Your role is Executive Pastor of Ministries; talk to us about that kind of what does that include? What is that framework, what what are kind of the pieces of the puzzle that you you think about all the time?

Taleah Murray — So yeah, my role is Executive Pastor of Ministries. I’m over Children’s Ministry, Junior High, High School, College, Spanish, Care ministries. Um, and I also because I’ve been there for so long, I just get to do the things that I see that’s necessary…

Rich Birch — Yes.

Taleah Murray — …so I also um am the story curator ah for us. And so if that’s a sermon illustration that we need, a story for or um, a story for offering that we’re going to talk about today. Um, and I also do a lot of like the development of our communicators. Um, and that way. So yeah I get to do a lot of different things there.

Rich Birch — So good. Love it. Well one of the things we want to talk about today is really has to do with story. And it’s this this moment in um, in the church in our in our services where we talk about the offering, or the tithes, or that kind of piece of the service. And it seems like and we were joking about this beforehand I was just a couple weeks ago was at a church that um it was like they just blew past that part of the service. Like they didn’t it was like whoever was, and I don’t think they were actually embarrassed, but it was like they were embarrassed. They were like, okay, and if you want to give, give now. And then they they you can give online. Actually they didn’t even say that. Um they just kind of acknowledge that it was that you could give, and and they moved on. But that’s not what you guys do at crossroads. Why do you think, before we jump into why you do what you do at Crossroads, why do you think so many churches are miss this moment in the service? They don’t… um, you know they kind of miss this opportunity. What why do you think that is?

Taleah Murray — I think that um, it’s awkward for people to talk about money, and so I think that people are afraid to talk about money a lot of times. Um I also think that um it’s a little bit ah like unknown. What do we do, like where’s the the coaching around this section of and can we like just blow past it? Do we sit in there and look like we’re begging? Um, you know like it can feel like we don’t really have intentionality around it. Sometimes we try to make it, and it’s worship, right? It’s a form of worship. So then do we do the whole worship, and do a song through it? So I think we’re just really kind of and we don’t have a great strategy around that moment. Um, and also I think sometimes we’re afraid of that moment because ah we don’t want to look desperate. We don’t we’re thinking about people who invited their friends to church, and we’re saying, gosh what are they going to think if they hear we’re asking for money? So I think that’s probably the problem we have with it.

Rich Birch — Yeah, that makes total sense. So why don’t you talk, first let’s kind of describe what you do at Crossroads. I would encourage people to watch online to, you know, dive deeper. You know when you see this in person, obviously you can only do so much to describe in this kind of setting what you do. But talk to us about what it looks like, and then let’s then we’ll back up and kind of pick apart the process, how do you end up there, and all that. So talk to us what a typical, you know you know, typical weekend what is the offering moment look like.

Taleah Murray — Okay, so I’ll just describe to you our service because that will help a little bit. So we have um you know three songs at the top, then we we’re a church who does communion every week so we have a host that comes out and then does communion. Um, and then we’ll do like baptisms during the next song. So we’ll have another song. And then out of that comes the offering moment. and usually that’s a video. It’s some sort of inspiring story, either it’s a person’s story, it’s a story of a ministry, or an event that we just had, um and so it’s some sort of really great video moment. And then out of that a host will come up and connect what they just saw to people’s giving.

Taleah Murray — So they’ll connect the, whether let’s say last week we showed a um video about kids camp ah kids ministry… ah, actually we’re doing that this week I believe, sorry. So they’ll come up and they’ll say um, because you give here, because of your generosity, 111 kids were able to go to camp this past weekend, and 15 of them gave their lives to Jesus. So if you want to join us in ah, generosity and making these kinds of stories possible, this kind of life change possible, you can join us by giving (and then we give them the way they can give). And then we’ll pray over the kids who made decisions at camp. And then Amen, and then we move off and a transition video will show.

Rich Birch — So good. This is fantastic, friends. Like this again, what Taleah and the team are doing here, this is best-in-class. So If you’re looking to improve this part of your service, you should lean in and learn, you know, from her. So so every week you’re doing this? So you’re looking for 50-some odd stories. Let’s start there. How do you find these stories? What how are there 50 good things happening at Crossroads?

Taleah Murray — There are! There are so many good things. I think you just have to mine for them. So now that um, we have a culture of storytelling, and because I oversee these ministries it makes it easier for me. I mean I’m I’m overseeing these ministries where there’s stories all the time. And my leaders are they they come to me. You know we have this story. You know we have this story. But I’m also looking at just the events that we do.

Taleah Murray — We do a special needs prom; I know I can get two stories out of the special needs prom because we do one where we have um, people that were giving away dresses and giving away [inaudible] they had tried them on. And so I’m you know, looking for stories with that. Anything we do overseas with our missions partners, that’s because of people’s giving, so everything’s an opportunity. I’m like what happens around here because of people’s giving?

Taleah Murray — So that happens and then um, just stories. I mean we have an invitation, you know, we’re a culture that does an altar call every week. And so… and we do baptism. So anytime there’s a baptism, I’m back there asking them, tell me how you came to know Jesus. Tell me what brought you to this moment. Um, and so there’s stories there.

Taleah Murray — And a lot of times um, you know, our team members, because that’s the goal, right? Is to have we want people to serve in the church, because that’s where they find true life change in community. So I’m going to ask every single team member what their story is, how they came to start serving…

Rich Birch — Okay.

Taleah Murray — …what that looks like. So I’m constantly mining and there is something going on every, every week. Um, you can tell the story of Easter. You guys do, you know, every church does big Easter, right? Like get somebody to take b-roll of your Easter story. Tell how many new families came, tell how many baptisms you had that day. Um, there’s a story in everything.

Rich Birch — Yeah, I love that. So first of all I love that like, you know, this I would I would agree, you know, just having your kind of an antenna up for this, and creating the space of saying we’re going to tell one of these stories every week. Um you know you’ve got to find one. It’s got to, you know, it’s got to open up. Now talk to me about the video piece. I’m sure there’s people that are listening in that are like they’re already given up. They’re like there’s no way we can’t do video every week. Friends, I don’t want you to get lost on that. We’ll come back to that idea. But why are you choosing to do video. That’s a significant investment. Tell us kind of what’s happening behind that.

Taleah Murray — Yeah, well video is the medium. Like I feel like video I mean everybody’s watching YouTube um; you know, you hear about the hours that people spend on YouTube. Reels are the thing on Instagram. It’s it’s the way. It’s the way people communicate and so it is a worthwhile investment.

Taleah Murray — And there’s been a time when we didn’t have video people. And there’s people… and I get it I live in California; you know, Hollywood’s right down the street. But there are people you can contract with. And it’s every single time worth contracting. I’ve con… I mean I’ve gotten gritty, you know…

Rich Birch — Yes.

Taleah Murray — …to find whatever we can – whoever does video I will take it and I will direct that piece of it to put it together. Um, but I would say it’s really worthwhile. It pays for itself in the end because people are moved through video. They really are. And there’s young people in your church who do video on their phones and it’s amazing. And they can edit something for you to put together for the weekend.

Rich Birch — It’s so true. Yeah.

Taleah Murray — My son is fifteen years old and he’s loves video, and he’s shooting a lot of the videos that we’re doing today. And for free!

Rich Birch — Love it. Right.

Taleah Murray — He is my son. But yeah…

Rich Birch — Yes, yeah, yeah.

Taleah Murray — But they want to learn and they want to…

Rich Birch — You’re paying him in other ways you’re like continuing to feed him so, you know, yes.

Taleah Murray — I feed him. Yes, yeah.

Rich Birch — Love it.

Taleah Murray — So but they they are willing because they want to get, I mean these young people want to be they want to do their craft. They’re doing YouTube on their own. You know, get them and ask them, hey would you make a video for me? You know, can you go to children’s ministry and video what’s happening this weekend and edit something together for us? So…

Rich Birch — Love it.

Taleah Murray — …I really think that you can do that. You can also tell this story um like some of the things when you said, how do you do 52 videos? Well there are sometimes where we are we’re not doing a video. It’s very rare, but we will pray for our missions teams that are going out, and we connect that story, and the work that we’re doing as we’re praying for them to people’s giving. Um, so there’s things like that too.

Rich Birch — Love it.

Taleah Murray — But but I would say video is a worthwhile investment. It really is. It’s paid for itself…

Rich Birch — Yeah I love…

Taleah Murray — …over and over and over again.

Rich Birch — I love that. I know there’s some executive pastors that are want me to get to that question; talk about the financial impact, but we’ll get there friends but not yet. Um, so one of the things I’ve I’ve coached churches on this area if they don’t… so I do love the the your look at video and kind of how you’re doing that regularly. But but the thing that you might—I don’t want you to get overwhelmed by this, friends—even the the one step to say we’re going to have a picture every week that shows the vision of the church. So the example you used of like the the weekend retreat, the youth weekend retreat, even just showing a picture of that rather than just talking about the youth retreat, having a picture of that is like is way more effective, but too many of us miss that um, you know you know, images speak so much louder than just ah, you know, just words.

Rich Birch — So talk to me about videos. I’m sure there’s some common things that you’re like make a great video, or there’s times where you’re like oh that didn’t really hit the mark. What would be a couple of those coaching things from you? You’ve seen a lot of these videos – what works really well um, you know, with a video that places in this moment in your service?

Taleah Murray — Yeah, so you never want to go over three and a half minutes. Like a video that’s over three and a half minutes…

Rich Birch — Oh that’s good.

Taleah Murray — …is way too long, way too long. And when you have somebody that wants to tell a story… so a lot of times we’ll tell just one person’s life change story. So ah, let’s take, you know, um we told Toni’s story a couple weeks ago. Toni’s a girl. Um, she she talked about how um she was at this place in her life where she grew up with her dad, who was in in and out of prison, her mom who killed herself when she was ten months old…

Rich Birch — Oh wow.

Taleah Murray — …and um, she just had this life that was, you know, terrible. She was abused and all of these things. So ah, we told Toni’s story; we asked her about that. Then she came to know Jesus and she started coming to Crossroads um, when she decided to make a change in her life. She had known Jesus before, but then she came to Crossroads and was like I’m going to jump full full in. She got involved in life groups and in community. Um, and then she had this condition, and she went to our Ash Wednesday service and got prayed for, and God healed her…

Rich Birch — Oh wow.

Taleah Murray — …at this Ash Wednesday service…

Rich Birch — Oh my goodness! Oh my good…

Taleah Murray — And yeah, it was amazing and so she she’s like.

Rich Birch — You got this all in one video?

Taleah Murray — In one video.

Rich Birch — This is amazing. Wow.

Taleah Murray — So but that’s a lot of things, right?

Rich Birch — Yes.

Taleah Murray — So she’s talking about all the things. So I mean I have about 30 minutes of content…

Rich Birch — Oh wow.

Taleah Murray — …and I’ve got to get that down to 3 minutes.

Rich Birch — Right.

Taleah Murray — So when she’s telling this story you have to have a really good eye to say, and a cut you know, like hardcore, you know, cut to say where am I going with this story? And there’s an arc to every story. Give me the down, you know, what happened the before Jesus piece. Then give me the climax moment when you met Jesus or whatever the thing is – for her was the healing. And then tell me what the how the church because it’s always you’re trying to make the church the hero.

Rich Birch — Yes.

Taleah Murray — I know that Jesus is always the hero…

Rich Birch — Right.

Taleah Murray — …but we’re trying to make the church because we’re saying the people in the audience need to see, I did that; I was part of that. Um, and so we do that. So you have to be really cutthroat to say where do I want the story to go? What pieces are going to be important? And then how can I get to the roundup to say at the end of it, Crossroads helped me. So I usually ask them to finish this statement, tell me why you’re thankful for Crossroads. And they’ll say, you know, I’m so thankful for Crossroads because I found community; I found whatever here.

Taleah Murray — Then I’m able to come up and hit the ball out of the park with the host piece to say because of you…

Rich Birch — Love it.

Taleah Murray — …Toni was healed, Toni found Jesus, Toni found family that she’s never had before. And you got to do that, Church, you know, because you give here.

Rich Birch — Love it.

Taleah Murray — So…

Rich Birch — So good. How do you repurpose those videos? So I do you use them in other places? Do they show up on, you know, your social channels and all that? What what else because you know I’m I’m assuming you don’t just produce them and use them on the weekends, use them at other spots too. How else do you use them?

Taleah Murray — Yeah, so pretty much every single one of them, you’ll find on our Instagram page. So um, our social media person puts it up on Instagram, so it’s content also, you know, for the weekend. Look at Crossroads; look at how you’ve helped Toni’s life change. So we use that.

Taleah Murray — And that one we also used for um—I had them do 2 cuts of that one—so we use it for our women’s ah conference. And I asked a different question at the end of it because our women’s conference was called Flourish. So I said, Toni, tell me how you have flourished in this season. So she’s able to give me that ending, and then we’re able to get the Crossroads ending, you know, for the for the weekend service…

Rich Birch — Still good.

Taleah Murray — …so we can repurpose them that way. A lot of times these ministries too want to, like for the kids, can’t video. They’re going to use that to send a parents next year to say, look at how kids camp you know, send your kids to kids camp this year because look at what happened last year; look how fun this is. And so we repurposed them for almost like market target marketing for the events that we have.

Rich Birch — Love it. Fantastic. So friends, you should go over to it’s just @crossroadsca on Instagram and check out. You can see some real live examples of this. Maybe I’ll have you afterwards, if you could if I could impose upon you one other thing, to pick out like here’s 4, you know, here’s 3 or 4 ones that are like, hey these are kind of like the best examples so that our people could point them to their video people, and say we need to make these kind of things. Um, you know that that could be really helpful if you’d be willing to do that for us, Taleah. um, so talk…

Taleah Murray — Yeah I will totally do that.

Rich Birch — That would be amazing. Talk to me about the hosting spot. So you kind of you kind of gave us an overview, but so we have an idea of what’s happening in the video. And then we come out on a live person stands on stage talk us through what that typically looks like – maybe you know common pitfalls, things that that people, you know, maybe don’t they when they fumble it, you’re like somewhere you’re you’re like oh they did it wrong. Or they’re like oh they really did it great. They… What what what makes that moment fantastic?

Taleah Murray — Yeah, so um, the… I script everybody.

Rich Birch — Okay, okay, good, good.

Taleah Murray — So this is what really helps and now a lot of them do it on their own because they’ve grown, but when you’re building the culture, you’ve got to script them to teach them the language. And so I will make the connection for people from whatever the video is to… and so now they can do it themselves. I have all pretty much every one of our hosts – we have um like, you know, eight or something that can do this and they really well. But they understand they are connecting the story to people’s giving. And so there’s certain language that we use: you did this. You know, you made, because of you you made this possible. The thank you for your generosity um, you know. So some of them are a little bit harder because we’re trying to figure out.

Taleah Murray — So um, another idea for a story type video we’ve started telling the stories of our staff members, like so people can see our staff members because… um, so we had our junior high, we have two pastors in our junior high, Katie and Zack, and we asked fun questions of them. Tell me how many, you know, kids you’re reaching, tell me what your biggest ministry fail is, you know, tell me.

Rich Birch — Love it.

Taleah Murray — But then we get down to, tell me why you love why is junior high ministry needed, so needed. And then it gets at the heartstrings, you know, and they’re telling these things about…

Rich Birch — Oh that’s so good.

Taleah Murray — …what they they love. And then the end we ended it with the like what’s a trend that’s happening right now on TikTok? And they did the tortilla slap and it was just hilarious, right? Like so…

Rich Birch — Love it.

Taleah Murray — And so with everybody laughing laughing. So now this host has to come up and tie that to giving. And so they tied it…

Rich Birch — Right. Exactly.

Taleah Murray — So the way they did that was just because you give here we have this ministry that’s reaching 480 junior high students a month. And these pastors are leading them and you see the need for them. They’re talking about all these lies these kids are getting. So sometimes it’s harder, you know, you have to help them make that connection. Um, but it really is only like the host spot afterwards is 30 seconds to a minute.

Rich Birch — Okay, quick.

Taleah Murray — Ah, we’re just making the tie real fast. We’re not trying to sound like we’re begging. We’ve made the you know…

Rich Birch — Yes.

Taleah Murray — …we’ve made the connection for them, and then we just need to always give the how. So text GIVE is our thing, you know, to this number. Or you know, go on our website, or we’re on Venmo, and but let’s pray over our junior high ministry right now. So and then we finish it with prayer.

Rich Birch — Okay, love that. That’s good distinction that hey you’re looking for 30 seconds to a minute. And just to kind of pull one thing apart there that I want to make sure, because again I’ve seen churches miss this, particularly I think post-covid or corona since you’re here, post the corona the novel coronavirus. Um we’ve missed the it was more obvious when we were all of us were passing plates, or whatever, how to give. And we now have multiplicity of ways for people to give, and we might stumble that part of it. So you are telling people every week, here are the ways. Do you talk about all those ways every week, or you just to kind of feature one? What does that look like?

Taleah Murray — So usually we have… ah so I have this script memorized but it’s usually…

Rich Birch — Yes.

Taleah Murray — …the 2 things. You know, so we tell people because there’s people watching online and in the room, so we say you can text this number to give. Or if you’re in the room and you brought cash or check, there’s offering boxes around the room that you can drop your offering in after the service.

Rich Birch — Okay.

Taleah Murray — Um and so that’s how we say it. We just added the Venmo piece and so we’re noticing as we say Venmo people are like we’re tapping into a different audience.

Rich Birch — Interesting.

Taleah Murray — So we’re kind of trying that right now. So we’re giving them the three ways. Um you know so…

Rich Birch — Love it.

Taleah Murray — But normally we wouldn’t do that. Ah, but because it’s new…

Rich Birch — Yeah.

Taleah Murray — …we’re doing it and we’re seeing how long we’re going to last with that.

Rich Birch — And do you have any kind of associated graphics with that. Do you do like ah, you know, to stuff come up on the screen, or lower thirds to kind of you know, bring the number up on screen, all that? Tell tell me about that.

Taleah Murray — Yeah, so we have a lower third that just has the “Text GIVE to” the number so that’s… it’ll show up while I’m talking. Um and it doesn’t show up during the video it shows up as soon as like the host comes up and starts talking about the how to give peace.

Rich Birch — Love it. Okay, so let’s talk about outcomes. Let’s talk about the difference you think this piece is making. We’ll get to the finance piece – keep listening, people. But let’s talk about the non-tangible. Ah so for my as an outsider, I would say man this would have driven is driving so much great culture stuff at the church. It’s because you’re celebrating, this is what our church is about. Talk to me about the non-financial kind of benefits of doing this um, you know, to the church and you know the church culture has been what that what what’s been positive on that front.

Taleah Murray — Yeah, so we’re a big church. We’re a megachurch, you know.

Rich Birch — Yes.

Taleah Murray — Like we’re talking 4 to 5000 people…

Rich Birch — Yep.

Taleah Murray — …and so it can feel really big. Now when you’re showing somebody’s story every week, or you’re showing your pastors, and you’re telling who they are, um, it becomes people identify with those people and say, I was an alcoholic too. Oh my gosh, this place welcomes alcoholics. You know, I was that too. Or I know that person is actually my preschool daughter’s teacher. I didn’t know that was his story. And so now they’re becoming small, right? So they’re coming and they’re seeing people and it makes people um more approachable, and it makes them human, you know. So I mean it just it really does connect people, but it also creates a culture of our church where we’re saying and, you know, we’re a church who welcomes brokenness. Um, and so it’s it’s a culture establisher. And then also with my ministry leaders, it’s helping them get to know people and their stories because they know I’m looking for them. So all of a sudden we become a church that’s small because everybody’s asking questions and they’re knowing they know we’re going to be asking for who who do you know? Whose life has been changed? What is your newest team member’s story?

Taleah Murray — Um, and so we just become a church that knows people because we have to know them for their stories.

Rich Birch — Love it! Yes. Love it.

Taleah Murray — So it’s really changed us to be a culture of like people feel known, and and feel welcomed, and um, it really is a leadership development tool as well because you’re having your leader say you need to know people. So make sure that you’re you’re talking to people and asking them their stories.

Rich Birch — Right. I love that; so good. We have a group coaching thing that we do with a church with about a dozen churches and they’re all over 1000. You know some 3 or 4000—in that range—and one of the things we come back to time and again, there is the real “competitor” of a church of that size or is, in some ways, is ourselves. But it’s this idea of um people, like the joke I always make is the only people that like big churches are pastors. Um, you know, we, you know, we we have to make our churches smaller. We have to figure out how do we make it feel more relational. And so this kind of thing you know you’re only telling fifty stories. I’m not and undermining that – stick with me here. You know that’s fifty stories out of 5000 people every year. That’s a ton of work to make all that happen. Um, but you’re doing that, wishing that you could tell 5000 stories, hoping that someday you’ll be able to tell all those stories. But that does in some ways it it shrinks the church makes it feel much more small it makes it smaller.

Rich Birch — What about on the financial side? You keep doing this, you’re investing you’re investing a significant amount of your time. You’re investing obviously video time – we don’t have to get into specific specific numbers, obviously. But obviously you’re convinced internally that this helps financially, I’m assuming. You know, talk about that.

Taleah Murray — Yeah, so um, we started this in 2017, probably November of 2017, we started telling stories because we had launched a campaign where we were um, trying to build ah buildings for our kids ministries and stuff. And so um, when we launched that, we decided we had to tell the story. So it became a priority for us. And at that time we were maybe telling one a month because we were just trying to keep vision in front of people. Um, and so it kind of ties into, you know, the campaign piece that giving went up, giving units went up, significantly.

Taleah Murray — Then in um, 2020 we had to double down because we started realizing, oh shoot you know that was when nobody knew what was happening, and we didn’t know what that was going to look like we were afraid if we’re not meeting every week buckets are not getting passed every week. Are we going to make money? So we started telling a story like intentionally um, weekly because we were doing a lot of things, ah you know overseas, with our food pantry was growing. And so we just did that and we went up in giving all throughout 2020 with those stories.

Rich Birch — So good.

Taleah Murray — Um, and so it has really proven um, and our giving has not gone back down to pre-story levels. You know like we we kind of adjust…

Rich Birch — Right.

Taleah Murray — …you know a little bit since the campaign kind of but but we’ve gone up significantly since we’re telling stories. And we hear a ton of feedback from people who are saying, thank you for telling me where my money is going.

Rich Birch — Yes.

Taleah Murray — Because a lot of times people don’t see, and they don’t know, and so you’re telling them weekly where their money is going.

Rich Birch — It’s so true. Yes, it’s so true.

Taleah Murray — So um, they love that people love that. And they’re proud of their church so they will share these stories…

Rich Birch — Yes.

Taleah Murray — …um from Instagram they will share them to tell people, look at what my church is doing, you know? Um so it really is great for them.

Rich Birch — I love it. Yeah, it’s so true. I think this is one of those things that we take for granted in in local church leadership is that, you know, we don’t have everybody that comes and sits in our rooms every week but we do have a large portion of them that do come and sit in front of us every single week. If we were any other nonprofit in town, ah man, they would kill for that kind of engagement. They would love to be able to have their people in front of them every single week. You think about, you know, the local food bank throws a a giant gala once a year that takes a ton of time, effort, and energy energy and they do that once, where we get to do it 52 times a year. We should take take advantage of that and get in front of our people.

Rich Birch — Um, maybe could you talk a little bit about, and this is kind of it’s adjacent to the offering um the offering portion, the offering segment. What other things are you doing on the kind of donor development side that are kind of connected to storytelling? Are there other ways that you’re you know talking with with donors or people that give to the church, or just the church in general that that are using stories? Is there other ways that you’re kind of spreading this through the rest of that strategy?

Taleah Murray — So the the way we we um will tell, you know, we’ll send statements to people.

Rich Birch — Yep.

Taleah Murray — Um, at the you know the beginning the end of the the tax for their tax deductible or whatever the amounts.

Rich Birch — Yep.

Taleah Murray — And so in that our senior pastor pastor will write a letter. And he’ll use a lot of the stories that we’ve told throughout the year.

Rich Birch — Right.

Taleah Murray — So you know we’re talking how many people we’ve served through our food pantry because of you. So when they’re seeing their tax statement, they’re seeing that story again, those stories retold um in that. And so and we’ll do that like in the middle of the year too, we send out these like, here’s where you are; you didn’t know. And then remember this is what you’ve done with your giving in a letter, a written piece. Um, at the end of the year a lot of times we’ll send a printed piece that’s like beautiful, you know, um pictures and all the things, but we’re using these stories again. Like people are, you know, we remember we’re using all the stories told, um throughout the year with the images and we’re telling people that as well. So that’s how we’re using the stories in those settings. We have somebody who is starting now to do like stewardship pastoring um and he’s praying and pastoring the people. Um, oh and also we’d send like a first time, when when the first time givers…

Rich Birch — Yes.

Taleah Murray — …we’re connecting, we’re sending them a letter and we’re telling them whatever the adjacent story was um, you know that that they just gave that week and because of you we were able to send these kids to camp, or you know whatever the case is. So um, the other thing that we do that’s kind of an align with a giving and it kind of goes to this place is we do this thing called boldly bless.

Rich Birch — Okay.

Taleah Murray — Where we ask people to get $1 more than they normally give. Um and then we bless the family and we tell that story.

Rich Birch — That’s cool.

Taleah Murray — And sometimes we’re not able to give that story on video because it’s one week. You know it’s within one week.

Rich Birch — Right.

Taleah Murray — And so sometimes we can run it over that fast. So we’ll just tell it and like you said show pictures of if the family lets us. Sometimes it’s not… we don’t want to exploit that and so

Rich Birch — Um yes because of the nature of it. Yes, yeah, yeah, because the nature of what it is. Yeah yeah.

Taleah Murray — Right. If we went shopping for a family we’ll show the staff shopping for them. You know, um in stuff like that.

Rich Birch — Yep, Love it.

Taleah Murray — So ah, but we tell the story that way. And then we’ll use that in our first time giver letter that week – because of you we were able to buy groceries for this family.

Rich Birch — Wow. Ah friends, as you have heard, this is best in class. This is fantastic. This is just yeah, so great. This has been super helpful today, Taleah. What um, anything else you want to share just as we kind of wrap up today’s episode? Anything you know in this whole area that you want to ah, encourage people if they’re thinking about maybe stepping into this, thinking about taking some steps towards this? What would you say to them?

Taleah Murray — Um, I would say that this is don’t, like you said this before, don’t leave money on the table. There’s so much that people can be inspired by and there’s different pockets that people give out of. So you’ve got your, you know, faithful obedient tithers that don’t need any inspiration. They’re just going to be obedient. But then you’ve got your on-the-fencers who just need to be inspired and you’ve got your skeptics who are saying, you know, I don’t know that I can trust this church. And what you tell them when you’re investing in this kind of thing is you can trust us. I’m going to show you where your money’s going. This is a wise investment.

Rich Birch — So true.

Taleah Murray — And that’s also language that we use with the host piece, like the church is the best investment. It’s you get the greatest return on investment at the church because you’re investing in life change and people’s eternal eternity.

Taleah Murray — Um, and so I would say invest in this portion. Invest in a video person. Invest in coaching your hosts to be super intentional um, which is why I said like I script them. Because it needs to be succinct. We don’t need people to hate the offering portion. We want them to love it.

Rich Birch — Right. Love it.

Taleah Murray — You know to look forward to that portion of the service. Um, so just be really intentional and invest your time in it. It’s worth it.

Rich Birch — So good. This has been fantastic, friends. Ah make sure you scroll down; check this check the show notes. We’ll have some links to kind of best-in-class ones from Crossroads specifically so you can kind of see that it would give you kind of a visual example of what we’re talking about here today. Taleah, thanks so much for being on. So honored that you took some time to be with us today.

Taleah Murray — Thank you so much for having me.

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Rich Birch
Rich Birch is one of the early multi-site church pioneers in North America. He led the charge in helping The Meeting House in Toronto to become the leading multi-site church in Canada with over 5,000+ people in 18 locations. In addition, he served on the leadership team of Connexus Church in Ontario, a North Point Community Church Strategic Partner. He has also been a part of the lead team at Liquid Church - a 5 location multisite church serving the Manhattan facing suburbs of New Jersey. Liquid is known for it’s innovative approach to outreach and community impact. Rich is passionate about helping churches reach more people, more quickly through excellent execution.His latest book Church Growth Flywheel: 5 Practical Systems to Drive Growth at Your Church is an Amazon bestseller and is design to help your church reach more people in your community.