Bob Franquiz on Leading a Church that Attracts Unchurched People


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bobfranquizEvery church thinks it’s reaching people far from God … Bob Franquiz came to the stark reality that his church wasn’t. On today’s podcast Bob talks about his journey from transforming his church from just reaching “insiders” to becoming a magnetic church that attracts unchurched people. The episode is full of practical insights to help your church reach people who currently aren’t attending any church.

Bob Franquiz // [Bob’s Site] [ChurchNinja] [twitter]

Interview Highlights

01:54 // Bob’s first job out of Bible College.

02:30 // How Calvary Fellowship’s church plant got started.

02:48 // From living room, to hotel, to theater, to high school.

03:55 // An accidental consolidation.

06:05 // How God used a painful experience to grow Calvary Fellowship.

06:50 // The single stat that motivated Bob to want to change his church’s culture.

09:08 // Bob explains that getting a lot of people in the church doors is not a problem.

09:34 // Who is the most important group to ‘win over’?

09:55 // The hard question a pastor needs to ask.

10:58 // The key to making your church magnetic.

11:45 // Bob gives a practical way to develop a heart for the unchurched in your volunteers.

12:23 // An old school tactic for showing your church evangelism on a weekly basis.

14:06 // Rich encouraged checking out the local Bingo hall.

15:10 // A practical and revealing post-grad assignment.

18:04 // Bob’s simple first step to take if you want your church to improve it’s ‘front end experience’.

19:32 // You only have half of the adequate amount of signage for a guest.

20:20 // Dripping versus Dumping church vision.

Lightning Round Highlights

Helpful Online Resource // OmniFocus

Books That are Having an Impact // ‘Pull‘, ‘Begin‘,  ‘80/20 Sales and Marketing‘ (Perry Marshall)

Inspiring Ministry // Hillsong Church

Inspiring Leader // Brian Houston, Greg Laurie

What do they do for fun? // Three kids (6, 4 and 2), play guitar, watching the Red Socks

Check This Out // 8 Effective Ways to Follow Up With Guests at Your Church



Interview Transcript //

Rich – Well today we’ve got a ninja on the line. A guy who’ve I’ve been real excited to have on the podcast. I think we are in for a real ride today with all kids of content. We’ve got Bob Franquiz, he’s from Florida. I wish we all lived in Florida because that’s just where all good things come from. Calvary Fellowship. Hey Bob, thanks for being on the show!

Bob – Rich, thanks so much. I’m glad to be here.

Rich – Well why don’t we start with just a bit of an introduction. A bit about your church, you. Give us a sense of your context.

Bob – We started our church thirteen years ago in a living room. It was my wife and I and 5 other people. It was not the launch that most guys have but we felt called to start a church and we had no idea what we were doing. I graduated from Bible College and then I actually, a month after I graduated, the guy who was the director of the college was let go and they called me and said ‘we’d like you to be the director of the school.’ It really was like the inmates running the asylum for the next 4 years. And then I was an assistant pastor at the church where the school was connected to. Then we got sent out from there to plant the church. Once again, I spent all the years in college, then 4 years running the college, so I showed up, literally I had a Bible in one hand, a guitar in the other. It was like the makings of a Bon Jovi song. A 6-string on my back. And we started this church and we had no idea what we were doing and amazingly God began to bless it and after a month or so, two months, we left our little living room, and then we moved into a hotel. We grew in the hotel, actually it was two services in the hotel. Moved to a movie theater to accommodate more folks Eventually started a second service in the theater. Then we started a third serve in the theater, across the way. So we actually had two theaters that we set up identically. So we had these staggered services happening. So I would get done teaching one service. I would have 5 minutes to leave the pulpit in one theatre and then walk across to the next one. Which is a crazy thing because I would be teaching in the second or third service and think, man, I feel like I just said this, am I off. Ya you did say this to another group like 20 minutes ago. So we did that and then the theatre was kind of crunching us with time so we actually moved to a high school. And it was the largest auditorium in our area so it sat a little over a thousand which allowed us to go back down to two services. From there we actually launched a campus here, that was in Miami Lakes, and we launched a campus about 15 minutes north in Miramar. And this is the funny part because people think that this is like brilliant strategy on our part. We started a campus and then, so we had two totally portable campuses then we were asked by the campus in Miami Lakes the principle there said, hey, you gotta go. After all of this time saying please let us stay and what not. And I get it, it just wasn’t making any sense. The way it works, the county in Miami, the school doesn’t make any money, the county makes the money but the school gets all the headache. So anyway, it didn’t make any sense so we actually ended up leaving. We looked at all these facilities and they just weren’t adequate so our thought was let’s consolidate everything in our Miramar campus and let’s get serious about buying a piece of property. So we consolidated everything and that’s when guys are like, man your move was so brilliant, and so strategic. Dude, it’s totally by accident. But then, we consolidated and then we bought a piece of property and we are actually getting ready to break ground here in probably the next month or two on our first building. We are excited about that.

Rich – Wow, so that’s amazing. That’s quite a journey there. The thing I love is that there is a lot we are going to be able to get out of today’s conversation. From a living room to a movie theaters…..I’ve done a lot of church in movie theaters over the years so I can identify with the pain of that. It’s also great too. It has some ups and some downsides. And then through moving and all the campus deal and all that, you been privileged to be one of those churches that seems to be constantly reaching people. There’s new folks constantly walking in the front door all the time. I want to learn a little bit more about that. When you look back over the last number of years, what is it that God’s used, and what have you learned to kind of see people get connected to your church?

Bob – Well I think the first thing was an extremely painful experience. My wife and I moved to MIami because we wanted to reach people. This is an area where more that 90% of people are totally disconnected from God, disconnected from church. But what happened was in the first 18 months, our church grew, but we didn’t reach any non-Christians. We were reaching people who were maybe disconnected with church but they were already believers, they were already walking with God. Maybe they were a little unhappy at the church they were t and they liked our style or whatever. So we actually, after 18 months, and I actually talk about this in my book, the first 18 months of our church we didn’t reach one person that was far from God. And I remember seeing that report, a guy who’s one of our assistant pastors now, showed me and I was floored. I thought even by accident we could have reached a couple of people and we didn’t, it was rough. And that was probably the beginning, it was a really tough moment to say, if we are really going to reach people we are going to have to begin to change the culture of our church and get intentional about reaching people who are far from God.

Rich – Wow, what a sobering moment. First of all, I just applaud you for even calling that out. I think that if we are going to be honest, if we have worked in a growing church we have that question. ‘Is anybody getting connected to the kingdom here? Or are we just moving people around?’ We know statistically that the church that are actually reaching people outside, unchurched people, is actually very small. In a lot of ways with what we are doing it’s like there’s this concentration thing happening in the church. Big churches are getting bigger. I applaud you for even just calling that out. So what were some of those first steps you took to say , ok, we’ve gotta change our culture. It’s like, I can’t take this anymore. What were the first things you did to make those changes?

Bob – Well I think that the first thing was really, we saw it as the culture itself had to change. And every time I work with pastors, and I work with hundreds of pastors through Church Ninja, our coaching but, one of the things that we look at is, we’ll say, sometimes guys will come into our coaching because they know we do a lot of stuff with online and offline media. And they’ll come in because they know there’s that pet media that they’ll want to learn to master. So some guys say ‘I want to learn how to do Facebook so I can learn to reach a lot of unchurched people.’ And as I begin to talk to them and we start probing a little bit, they’re not reaching anybody. So before you start getting a whole bunch of people, once again, we can get a whole bunch of people to your church, that’s not a problem. If you can learn to do direct mail well, Facebook well, Google adds, get your church doing servant evangelism, you can get a lot of people to a service. The question is, what happens to the people when they get there? These are the hard questions that pastors need to ask, is what is a kind of environment do we create? I tell guys this, the most important group that you have to win over are your servants. It’s the volunteers in the church because they are essentially the group that’s creating the culture. So that really becomes the first part I mean, do the servants in your church do they love lost people? Do they care that there are lost people? You know, you and I, I mean everybody likes you, you’ve never experienced this but I’ve been in environments where you just know you are not wanted. You’ve never had this experience because everybody likes you. But most of us, you walk into an environment and it’s like, hey, I’m not really supposed to be here. You know, this is kind of a weird vibe. Man people who are unchurched they get that, they know when they are not wanted. They know when its like, ‘how do you not know where our children’s ministry is, what a hassle, I gotta walk you over there?’ There’s another vibe that’s, man, I am so glad that you are here. And people talk about being friendly. I’ve been to a lot of churches, you’ve been to a lot of churches, and most churches are friendly with each other, like the people in the church. But they are a little standoffish with those who are newer. I think they key to making your church magnetic, to seeing your church begin to explode with growth, it really begins, it’s not a tactical issue, it’s a heart issue. Do you love unchurched people and are you willing to do whatever it takes to reach them?

Rich – Now what have you done to try help cultivate that heart with people. Obviously you preach it. What are some other things you’ve done to try and move your own people to say hey we want actually welcome people when they arrive.

Bob – You’ve gotta preach it. You’ve gotta talk about this stuff to new believers. I mean we talk about evangelism, reaching people, in our new believers class. But some of it is, and I talk about this pretty regularly, is I try to help our church to remember what it is like to be a lost person. And I’ve been a Christian now for more than 20 years. I became a Christian when I was 19 and it’s, sometimes we can forget what it’s like to be a lost person. To have no hope whatsoever, and then aren’t we grateful that someone reached out to us, shared the gospel with us, invited us to church, gave us a book, a tape, a resources, a cassette if you’ve been around that long. And all of that factors in. I think part of it too, I’m a bit old school in this sense, I’m 39 but I’m old school in this sense. You know we do sort of like a ‘come forward’ invitation for people to come to Jesus and what not. Some people say it’s totally outdated. You’ve got to figure out what works in your context. In our context it works incredibly well because what’s happening is that people are seeing evangelism happen in every service, every Sunday. So every service, when we present the gospel, and they see people get up and come forward and man people are crying…You can do this and be manipulative, ‘come forward if you love your mom.’ ‘Come forward if your name is Mike.’ You know what I mean, people do stuff like that. And sometimes that stuff happens. But if you are just ‘if you are ready to know Jesus I want you to meet me right here and watch God do a work in your life. That I also believe is part of what creates that culture because people see that and they think I would love to see my friend, my family member, my mom, my dad, my sister, my brother, my kids, come forward, I would love to walk forward with them and have them experience what I’ve experienced.

Rich – I think that’s a real key insight there that I don’t want people to miss. It’s not just, there’s the preaching part of it, but it’s trying to find those pieces in your services, whether it’s people coming to the front, whether it’s baptism services. It’s creating those moments where you highlight, life change in taking place here. One other thing, a couple years ago, and I’ve encouraged churches when they are looking to launch new campuses to take, it’s a real practical tactic, is to take their launch teams to go play Bingo one night. Because Bingo, it’s like it’s own sub-culture. You go there, there’s a secret language, everybody has their special chair, you’re seen as competition when you are there as the new person, and it gives that visceral response you were talking about, ‘oh, I’m not feeling very welcome.’ It gives people that feeling, plus you might win some money, it’s one of those if you are looking to kind of create, or help people to understand that, that’s the exact opposite of what we are trying to do. We don’t want people to feel that way when they come to our church.

Bob – It’s funny that you say that. A couple years ago, one of our pastors was pursuing a graduate degree and so his either religion or philosophy teacher or whatever, told him that he needed to, he had and assignment, and one of the assignments was go to a service of a faith that’s not your own. He said, ‘hey Bob, I’m going to go this synagogue on Saturday would you want to come with me?’ That’s sounds kind of fun. So we went and man it was like…you know, I said yes, and then I wanted to find out what it was so I’m online, what am i supposed to wear, what time does it start. And then I get there and it was all the stereotypical things. I got there 10 minutes early because unchurched people get there 10 minutes early because they don’t know exactly what the deal is. They had a table, like a resource table, announcements and all this stuff, and I’ve been in church for a long time, and I grabbed this sheet of paper and I’m looking at this sheet of paper because I’m like I don’t know if I’m supposed to take this flyer that says what they’re doing. If they did it at our place, that’s why we print 100 of them so you can take one but I was there and I was like, I don’t know what I am supposed to do. I wouldn’t even walk into the sanctuary because I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to do. There was this opening on the wall, it’s kin of like a drawer, and they had all these little yamakas in there and I didn’t know. I mean are those for sale? Am I supposed to wear one? You know, a Gentile like me, I didn’t know what the deal was. Sure enough, right when the service was starting the guys come in, they grab a yamaka, pop it on their head and walk right in. Ok, that’s what I am supposed to do. To me it was an incredible enlightening experience because I didn’t know the drill. You can go to a church service and we all know that three things are going to happen no matter what church we go to…there’s going to be music, there’s going to be a message and there’s going to be a an offering. And even if there is no music or message you know there’s going to be an offering. But to go into an environment, and I love the Bingo idea, to go into an environment where we don’t know the drill, we don’t know how it’s going to happen. It really gives us the experience of what it’s like to be an unchurched person who shows up on our door for the very first time.

Rich – That’s great. Changing gears a little bit. One of the things that your programs are known for at, and your books, we will get you to describe a little of that in a bit. It’s kind of the front end experience, the communication to people outside the church to try and attract them to your church. What are kind of a few things, tips , or insights you could offer our listeners on that whole area, that they might just want to take a few steps into that sort of thing for their church.

Bob – Really what I would encourage a pastor to do, this is just a real simple thing, is one Sunday you are not teaching, show up when everybody else shows up. So everybody else shows up, your service is at 10 o’clock, they show up at 10 o’clock, show up at that time. Don’t go through the back door because you’ve got your secret entry way and all that. Even if you are portable, you’ve got secret entry ways, through the gym or whatever. But instead just go the normal route. And that was one of the things that we learned. I showed up one Sunday, I wasn’t teaching, and I showed up and I thought, man, this is a really long walk. Nothing we could do, but it’s like a really long walk. You know from the parking lot they’ve got to come around the front of the school and I realized they’ve got to come to the front of the school and I realized there’s no one there. So we actually started putting greeters there. Most of the time, and those guys are just directing like, hey, you’re in the right place. But I think you’ll learn a lot. Checking your kids in at the same time everyone else is. You’re going to see what the bottlenecks are and all that, that’s really going to help, and really to look at it from the perspective of what would be helpful if I didn’t know anything. Whenever I do consulting with churches, I’ve never consulted with a church that’s had anywhere near the adequate amount of signage. It’s when you think you have enough signage, you’ve probably got about half the amount of signage that you need. It’s just the reality. It’s like well, why do I need three signs leading in the same direction? It’s because most people are probably only going to see one of them. The question is you don’t really know which one they are going to see. So I think there’s something like that. I think I would also, just going back to the evangelistic piece. Are there moments in your service where you are communicating the vision of your church to reach people and to disciple people? You know, one of the things we do, and we just have this thing we talk about and that is, dripping vision is way better than dumping vision once a year. We do it every week. One of the things we’ve seen is when I do a come forward invitation I give a copy of, there’s a book that I just wrote that and it’s a new believer’s book and it came out at the same time as ‘Pull”. There was a different book before that but I tell them that ‘hey, I want to give you this, it’s my gift to you, it will help you take your first steps.’ So they’ll go and get that book, and that, I have about thirty seconds right there before I close the service, and we do our announcements at the end and receive our offering. But I’ll have thirty seconds there and that’s just my opportunity to communicate to our church that this is why we do what we do. This is why we give, why we serve, why we sacrifice, this is why we have to be uncomfortable sometimes for the sake of seeing people who are far from God come to know him. There’s got to be those moments in your service where every week you are just communicating and dripping the vision of your church.

Rich – Ah, this has been fantastic. Ton’s of great insight. Anything else you want to share with our listeners.

Bob – If I can, at the expense of shameless promotion…just over my shoulder you’ll see, strategically placed copies of my new book ‘Pull – Making your Church Magnetic’. I’ll tell you what. I’m really excited about the book, not only because it’s all the strategies that we use to really go from reaching no one, to reaching a couple thousand people in the last two years who were totally disconnected. These are not rededications, these are hardcore non-believers that are coming to Jesus. I love it because it is the Calvary story. First part is called the Un-Magnetic Church. It’s the story of Calvary and how everything began to change. And what had to happen in my life and really the…the book is about outreach and evangelism but the first chapter is really all about leadership. It was about 5 or 6 decisions that I had to make that really were the things that God used to turn the ship around and allow us to be a church that now reaches lots of lost people.

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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.