Developing a Leadership Pipelinepodcast

Discipleship Leadership Development in Church Planting: Stevie Flockhart’s Leadership Journey

Thanks for tuning in to the unSeminary podcast. We’re talking with Stevie Flockhart, Lead Pastor of 901 Church in Tennessee.

Have you ever struggled with the desire for personal recognition and validation in ministry? In this unSeminary podcast episode Stevie shares his personal journey and struggles with comparison and the desire for success. Listen in as he examines critical lessons we can learn from failures, the importance of cultivating a culture of vulnerability on your team, and insights on discipleship.

  • The comparison trap. // On some level everyone struggles with the temptation to compare themselves to others and receive recognition from man instead of God. Stevie admits that as a leader who wanted to make a difference in the world, the desire for validation and achieving was a struggle. However, through two failed church plants, God gently pruned Stevie so that he learned to lift up the name of Jesus and be faithful with small things. All of this eventually prepared him for planting 901 Church in 2019.
  • Free to fail. // Stevie’s experiences have given him the opportunity to create a culture at 901 Church where people are free to fail. The staff is encouraged to be wise and be good stewards, but also to be vulnerable, take a risk and not be afraid of failing. Failure teaches us and builds character, making us the people we are today.
  • Enjoy the journey. // We can be so focused on the destination that we don’t pay attention to the journey we are on. But Stevie says the destination is often a mirage. There is a lot of dysfunction in the idea that if we just get to our destination we will be fulfilled and satisfied. Only Jesus can satisfy us so we need to learn to enjoy the journey, both the successes and the failures.
  • Learning from others. // In an effort to avoid comparison, we can’t to hide from others. Stevie says while we don’t want to compare results, it’s valuable to compare disciplines, principles or values and to ask what we can learn from others who are farther along than us on the journey. If we want to learn from others, we have to be willing to do the things others did to get where they are.
  • Apprenticeship. // Both discipleship and evangelism must be prioritized for effective ministry. In addition to offering groups and serve teams, 901 Church has an apprentice program where staff and other leaders meet with two to four people twice a month in order to grow their relationship with Jesus. In addition to reading books and doing things like scripture memorization, they have a lot of conversation around two questions: What is God teaching you right now? What are you doing about it? This intentional discipleship process becomes a pipeline that raises up leaders within the church.
  • Don’t go alone. // Stevie credits the success and growth of 901 Church to the financial and practical support they received from other churches and networks along the way. As a church leader or church planter, seek wise counsel from others who are farther along in the journey. Part of the way Stevie shares his own learnings is through participation with the Extraordinary Church Collective and also as co-host, along with his wife, of the Essentials podcast.

You can learn more about 901 Church at, plus listen to the Essentials podcast there. If you’re a church planter, connect with Extraordinary Church Collective here.

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Episode Transcript

Rich Birch — Well, hey, friends, welcome to the unSeminary podcast. So glad that you have tuned in today. Oh, man, we’ve got a great conversation lined up. I’ve been looking forward to this one for a while. Today we’ve got Stevie Flockhart from us. He is the lead pastor at a church called 901 Church in Memphis, Tennessee. They’re both one of the fastest growing churches and the most reproducing churches in the country. It was planted by Stevie in 2019, very opportune time, right before the pandemic. Uh, and they’ve seen a whole ton of people take steps towards Jesus. We’re gonna talk about that today. Their dream is to reach the city and have multiple locations across nine, the 901 area and beyond, really ultimately helping to reach, uh, the world in Jesus’ name. Stevie, welcome to the show. So glad you’re here.

Stevie Flockhart — Man, so honored to be here. Thanks for having me on.

Rich Birch — Yeah, fill in the picture there. What did I miss? Kind of talk me through what, you know, kind give us the 901 story. Give us a bit of the flavor.

Stevie Flockhart — No, that was everything. You hit everything. So, no. So we, uh 2019, uh, my family and I, uh, married to Whitney, uh, been married for almost 13 years. We got three kids. So the five of us moved to Memphis, uh, in 2018 to plant the church, to get ready to, uh launch. And so spent time with the launch team. Uh, you do not know… if we knew Covid 19 was coming in 2020. Well, guess what? We were launch in 2021 or 2022, whatever…

Rich Birch — Yes.

Stevie Flockhart — …So, uh, we, uh, we launched with about 30 or 40 of us. And man, God just showed up. His hand was all over it um, learned a lot, uh, over the last several years. I’ll get to that in a moment. You know, we planted in, uh, the Atlanta area, went down to, uh, south Florida to revitalize a church uh, unsuccessfully, you know, so in the world’s eyes, man, I failed at it twice. And, uh…

Rich Birch — Okay, okay.

Stevie Flockhart — I came to Memphis, planted, and, uh, God just started blessing. And his, his favor was all over it, uh, truly skyrocketed. And every category you would ask, whatever, from attendance to salvations, to people, to groups. And then covid hit, you know? And so, uh, you go to three 30 or 40 people to several hundred in a year and a half, you think, my goodness, what’s, what’s happening here? And then Covid 19 hits, you know? And so, uh, if it had been up to us, you know, God really asked, Hey, what do you want to do?

Rich Birch — Yes.

Stevie Flockhart — What’s your perfect plan? You know? And so, uh, we’d have probably planted in 2021, maybe even 2022. And so, uh…

Rich Birch — Yes.

Stevie Flockhart — So we plant the church, And then a year later—uh, Easter 2019 was when we launched—and so truly, almost a year later, a little less than a year later…

Rich Birch — Wow.

Stevie Flockhart — …COVID happens. And so just like everybody else, we have to, uh, shut down, uh, meeting in person. Uh, we’re online. And it really did, uh, I don’t even wanna say killed momentum, of course it did. But it kind of gave everybody this new perspective of, so what now? You know? If we’re gonna continue to grow the church, continue to do what we need to do, we might have to do it in ways that we’ve never done before. And so, uh, we came back July of that year, and I’m telling you, God’s just been so good. I feel like we’ve planted the church twice, you know?

Rich Birch — Right.

Stevie Flockhart — So, uh, it really, and I think that was everybody’s, uh, feeling, but again, for us being so fresh and so new, but God has continued to bless. We’ve continued to develop leaders. Uh, we’ve seen over 1400 people saved in four years.

Rich Birch — Wow, wow.

Stevie Flockhart — Uh, over 700 baptized. It’s just been nuts. And so, uh, uh, developing leaders, uh, I gotta give, uh, just a nod to my spiritual father, Mack Lake, who’s just poured into me…

Rich Birch — Love Mack.

Stevie Flockhart — …and helped me just with processes and systems on how to, not just not do it all yourself and delegate, but truly reproduce yourself. You know, delegate…

Rich Birch — Love it.

Stevie Flockhart — …reproduce, empower, equip others underneath you to continue to build the church. It’s been unbelievable.

Rich Birch — Yeah. I love that. I love, so, such a great story. And I, I love the journey your, you know, your own personal story that, you know, God’s had you on, and I’d love to go there. I’d love to actually hear more about that. You know, you end up on these lists on fastest growing, most reproducing, and…

Stevie Flockhart — Yeah.

Rich Birch — …you know, what does that do inside your head? Is that, how do you fight the… there must be just a natural kind of comparison game thing that happens. Take us inside that. Help us unpack that a little bit. What’s, what’s the story that’s happening there?

Stevie Flockhart — Yeah. And so I think, uh, you know, for me, you know, and everybody’s journey’s a bit different, you know?

Rich Birch — Yeah.

Stevie Flockhart — But I think we all struggle with some of, uh, a lot of the same things. And so, especially leaders and, and guys that want to inspire, you know, and change the world. You know, there’s, so that comes with that sometimes if you’re not careful, you know. The flesh, your enemy will continue to try to lie to you. And so for me, uh, this is the crazy, let’s call it, uh, ironic thing about this: six, seven, eight, nine years ago, I wanted so badly to be on that top 100.

Rich Birch — Sure.

Stevie Flockhart — If I could, Lord, if I could just make the top hundred, then I could die, you know?

Rich Birch — Yes, yes.

Stevie Flockhart — Top hundred whatever. Don’t even have to be largest or fastest hundred [inaudible]…

Rich Birch — Love it.

Stevie Flockhart — …that started this year – just let my name be out there. Something…

Rich Birch — Yep, yes.

Stevie Flockhart — …that someone has to know about me.

Rich Birch — Yes.

Stevie Flockhart — And God just has a way, as you know, and as those who have grown in it know, just this way of disciplining and pruning. Uh, and he’s so kind and gentle, but it just hurts so bad. And so, uh, I just had this void, you know, and I knew Jesus, but I just needed to be known – by you, and by that guy, and that guy.

Rich Birch — Yes.

Stevie Flockhart — And, uh, and something takes place where, and again, there’s no formula, there’s no magical equation. So please don’t hear that today. But when you start putting your priorities and you get your priorities right, uh, and just being known by God and being known by, you know, listen, if, if, if God loves me, and I know he does, and if my wife loves me, and those three kids love me, all the other stuff, just kind of, just kind of falls to the wayside. It really, really does. And so, when you stop caring about those things, I believe that’s when God really started giving me more. God really started trusting me with more. And so you could go to scripture and say, faithful with the small, he’ll give you more, but, uh, if you’re faithful with what he’s already given you, and I was not for so long, you know? So I would say, uh, and I wouldn’t even say, man, that I was doing it for the wrong reasons. I was just doing it for, uh, other reasons. Man, I was, I wanted to do it for God’s glory. Man, this is for your glory, Lord.

Rich Birch — Right, right.

Stevie Flockhart — Just give me a little bit, you know?

Rich Birch — Right.

Stevie Flockhart — And so I’m here to preach so people would be saved. I just want everybody to know how many people have been saved? Are you with me?

Rich Birch — Sure.

Stevie Flockhart — And so, uh, not until there’s this renewing of the mind…

Rich Birch — Sure.

Stevie Flockhart — …where God takes me through a season. When I say a season, I don’t mean three months. I wish it was three months. You know, four, or five, six years of just pruning…

Rich Birch — Wow.

Stevie Flockhart — …cutting off, tearing away, pulling the weeds of my soul out, to bring me to the place where truly this is for his kingdom, not mine. His church, not mine. And I have seen over the last three or four years that when that’s your posture in your heart, cause God can’t be mocked, you know? So that’s why I, when I say there’s no special secret, like you can’t trick God into pretending like it’s not about you.

Rich Birch — Sure.

Stevie Flockhart — And then he’ll give you more so that you can get more, you know, that God can’t be tricked or mocked.

Rich Birch — Yes, yes.

Stevie Flockhart — Uh, but when you’re truly faithful with what he’s given you, when you understand it’s not about you, it’s about lifting the name of Jesus, I do believe that’s when he starts giving you more influence, uh, and sending more people to you cause you’re not pointing to them to you, pointing them to you anymore. You’re pointing them to Jesus. So that’s what we’ve experienced.

Rich Birch — Yeah. Yeah, I love that. Well, and even your story of like, you had to… there’s so many people would come on a thing like this and they would skip the fact that the first couple things didn’t go well. You know, they would skip that.

Stevie Flockhart — Yeah. Sure. Right.

Rich Birch — Which is kind of the easy thing to do, right? It’s just like you, you know, you show up and it’s like, we started and things went amazing. And that, that just isn’t the truth, right?

Stevie Flockhart — Yep, yep, yep.

Rich Birch — So how, how do you, how do you lead outta that place? What’s that look like for you as you lead with your team and with other people around you? How do you cultivate that as a part of, you know, even your, your culture, your, um, yeah, the team you’re, you’re with?

Stevie Flockhart — Yep. I love you used the word culture. Uh, you know, we have a culture within our church that’s, uh, so goes the leader, I believe, so goes the people. I believe that. And so our staff, uh, we have a staff culture. One of our staff values is we’re free to fail. And so out of that, there’s this vulnerability, there’s this freedom of failure. We take risk. Uh, now let’s be wise, let’s be good stewards, you know? Let’s don’t go spend $3 million and go, let’s just see if it’s a risk tomorrow. You know what I mean?

Rich Birch — Yes, yes.

Stevie Flockhart — And so there’s wisdom in that. But, uh, uh, looking at my story, if I could go back, and I’ll say this sometimes preaching, I’ll say this sometimes leading on my staff, if I could go back, people would ask, you know, what would you change if you could go back?

Rich Birch — Good question. Yeah.

Stevie Flockhart — And you immediately wanna say like, I wish I wouldn’t have planted so early. You know? Cause I was this young guy and thought I was the, the greatest thing that ever hit the church world, and they just couldn’t wait. You know? And God just had me to bring me through. I wish I wouldn’t have done that, but I wish we wouldn’t have gone down to South Florida and spared 14 months of literal hell down there, you know? And so, cause I believe then we were ready, but the church wasn’t; they just weren’t ready to change, you know? And they were in their ways. And so, if I could go back, Rich, I’m being honest with you, sure there are moments and times, but if I changed anything, I wouldn’t be who I am today, you know?

Rich Birch — That’s good.

Stevie Flockhart — And I’m grateful for the journey. And so, uh, the destination, I’ve learned, is oftentimes a mirage. Like, you know, like, just, if I could just get here… once you get here, you want to go there, you know?

Rich Birch — Right.

Stevie Flockhart — Now there’s health in some of that, you know, but there’s also a lot of dysfunction in, if I could just get here, I’d arrive, I’d be fulfilled, I’d be satisfied. Well, Jesus is really the one that can truly satisfy, you know?

Stevie Flockhart — And so the destination really is a mirage. It’s the journey. So enjoy the journey – the successes and the failures. And so where I am today, you’re talking about, you know, unSeminary, what they did not teach me in seminary was how you would feel when you looked at the guy down the road who’s got a whole lot more people coming to your church than you have at your church.

Rich Birch — Yes.

Stevie Flockhart — What they did not teach you was, you know, cause again, what we’d pray and what we’d want, I mean, we’re getting real on this pod… Like what we [inaudible]…

Rich Birch — Yeah, yeah, yeah. Totally.

Stevie Flockhart — …change the city.

Rich Birch — Yes.

Stevie Flockhart — And I pray that you would bless this church, and this church, and this church. Just bless my church…

Rich Birch — …as well.

Stevie Flockhart — …a little bit more, you know?

Rich Birch — Yeah.

Stevie Flockhart — Yeah, yeah. Like, bro, I was jacked up. A little bit more, you know. But even, I guess even the growth, like as well.

Rich Birch — Yeah, that’s good.

Stevie Flockhart — What if God wants to radically change the city. And it’s from the church down the road. And the church up the road, you know? And you gotta be okay with that. And so, uh…

Rich Birch — Right.

Stevie Flockhart — I think we all fall into the comparison trap. We all fall into the, uh, feeling worthy, feeling validated. Uh, we all fall into the performance trap, you know? I know for me, uh, that’s just where I was. If I could just perform, if I could just, uh, check off the list, then everybody would see what I’ve accomplished. And somehow I was naive enough, you know, to think that my value and my worth was tied to how many people were coming to my church…

Rich Birch — Right.

Stevie Flockhart — …uh, how many people I had on staff, you know? And, and it’s, it’s a lie man. And the devil will ruin your life with it. So.

Rich Birch — Right.

Stevie Flockhart — And I lived it.

Rich Birch — Love, love it. So one of the things you said there got me thinking about this tension I think we feel where you, we don’t wanna get caught in the comparison trap, and I really appreciate you doing a good job, you know, helping us get inside that. But the other part of this is we wanna learn from other churches. We do want to, it’s not like you can kind of just hide…

Stevie Flockhart — Yep.

Rich Birch — …in your, you know, under a turtle somewhere. And I know it would appear like, yeah, you’re trying to learn from others, you’re trying to grow from others. Help us understand how does that work? How, how has that impacted your ministry? Is there a nuance between those two?

Stevie Flockhart — Yep. I do, uh, believe that. So I would say compare disciplines, compare principles, compare values, uh, compare, uh, uh, less results, and compare journeys, you know? And so this person, I could feel, uh, insecure about that guy, or I could go to that guy and say, how did you get here? You know, what did it take to get, so I could compare marriages and say, man, if my marriage was just… or I could say, how in the world do you and your life, your wife, love each other so much? How in the world do you parent your kids like that?

Rich Birch — That’s good.

Stevie Flockhart — You know, your kids aren’t perfect, man. How did they get to that point, you know, where you’re releasing them, you’ve given them authority, they’re making their own decisions. You need to compare those things, you know? So could I believe sometimes, and again, we’re talking about the renewing of the mind. This is a healthy person, a spiritually mature, and emotionally secure person asking themselves, wait, how do I get there?

Rich Birch — Right.

Stevie Flockhart — And so a lot of times we want what other people have, but we’re not willing to do what other people did to get it, right? You know?

Rich Birch — Oh, it’s so true.

Stevie Flockhart — So, yeah. And so if we’re living in this, uh, dysfunction of, you know, uh, worthlessness and validation, if I, that’s not a good place to be.

Rich Birch — Right.

Stevie Flockhart — But if we’re living in this place, like I want to be used greatly by God. I want my marriage to be successful. I want my kids to love the kingdom, and love the church, and not be burnout. How do I accomplish that? We do need to compare disciplines and principles and values to other people. Cause sometimes our disciplines and our principles and our values aren’t lining up to, uh, put us in the place that we’d like to be in. You know? So…

Rich Birch — Love it.

Stevie Flockhart — I think there’s value in that for sure.

Rich Birch — Love it. So good. Um, so one of the things you said, again, going back to one of the things you said earlier, kind of pivoting back to that. Your church obviously has a focus you have a focus on reaching people, people who don’t follow Jesus. You mentioned, you know, 1400 people saved, 700 people baptized. That’s amazing. Praise God. That’s in, that’s incredible. And you know, we know that that’s because God’s at work, right?

Stevie Flockhart — Sure.

Rich Birch — Ultimately, there’s not some magic that you’re doing, but obviously there’s something as a leadership you’re doing to stay focused on that. What does that look like? How do we keep our churches focused on evangelism?

Stevie Flockhart — Yep. Yep. Uh, I mean, culture’s, everything, uh, but you’re pointing people back to mission and vision. And so, uh, our mission statement and, and 901 Church is we exist so that people would be reached and lives would be changed. Uh, it’s our way of saying, we are here so that people would be saved, and disciples would be made. I think we have done ourselves an injustice the last several years, especially in the world of podcasts and everything’s online as social media. We’re debating and fighting, and there’s division within the church, evangelism or discipleship. Oh it’s just a show and entertainment on Sunday to get people there, you know? So it’s like, it’s this weird, uh, reality of like, oh, so obviously if your church is big and has lights and there’s a band, it’s gotta be shallow.

Rich Birch — It’s so true.

Stevie Flockhart — And obviously if your church is small, and it’s like, it’s must be depth. It’s like, oh, well, goodness. Like, I think we’re missing the point here. We’re focusing on methods and not fo focusing on mission, you know?

Rich Birch — So true.

Stevie Flockhart — And so we’re here everything we do, man, and so we talk about it in staff, and we pray over this, and we fast over this. And we, uh, we have systems and metrics to make sure that we’re living out our mission. And so, every sermon I preach, every song we sing, every group we have, every recovery conversation, every marriage counseling, every person in the parking lot or serves in students knows, I’m here, priority one, for people that do not yet know Jesus. That’s why I’m here.

Rich Birch — Yep.

Stevie Flockhart — People reach. But we’re not just gonna stop there. Do I believe it’s the most important thing? I absolutely do. But do I believe it’s the only thing? I don’t, you know?

Rich Birch — Yep.

Stevie Flockhart — And so now let’s make disciples. Now let’s get cyclical for a moment. I believe, a disciples number one priority is for people that don’t yet know Jesus. You know?

Rich Birch – Yes, yes.

Stevie Flockhart — And so, uh, and so again, people reach, lives changed. Everything we do is for people that do not know Jesus. But, now you’re a part of the family. You are in the army, you know. We are not us focused. We will not be inner focused. It is continuing to be people that are not here yet. And our people have grabbed a hold of that, you know? And so they love…

Rich Birch — Yeah. Love it.

Stevie Flockhart — …and it’s a part of our vision, our mission, and now it is our culture.

Rich Birch — Yeah, I love it. So love that. That’s so good. And one of the common misnomers, and you kind of touched on it there, was, you know, that fast-growing churches are all shallow, that they’re not interested in discipleship. And that my experience in, you know, 10 plus years of studying these, that’s just not true.

Stevie Flockhart — Yep, yep.

Rich Birch — That actually to be a fast-growing church, you actually have to do both. You have to do discipleship…

Stevie Flockhart — Sure.

Rich Birch — …as well as evangelism. The words might look different at every church, but you have to do both. Talk us through what that looks like. What does your kind of discipleship process look like? How are you, how are you helping people take steps to Christ? That’s, that’s, you know, all those people that got baptized. What are you doing to help them, uh, grow in those relationships with, with Jesus?

Stevie Flockhart — Yeah. And so, I mean, the easy, quick answer would be, you know, we, we push, uh, groups, you know, every single week. You know, we push getting involved on serve teams, you know. Uh, one of the, uh—let me be nice about it—one of the silliest conversations I could have with somebody, is coming to a church, 6, 7, 8 months, they hit the road. Nobody talked to me, nobody loved me. My uncle was in the hospital, whatever, you know, the, the situation is. And unfortunately those things happen. But oh my goodness, we’re so sorry. What group are you in?

Rich Birch — Yes. Yeah, yeah.

Stevie Flockhart — Well, I’m, I’m not in a group yet. What serve team do you serve on? Well, haven’t… I was going to, but it’s like, so you truly, let’s just get real for a moment. You show up on Sunday morning. You are the back of somebody’s head every week. You sing your songs, you hear the sermon, you leave, and you call that like you’re a part of the church? Like, no, you attend a service, you know? It’s gotta go beyond that.

Stevie Flockhart — And we talk about this stuff, you know? We, we, the truth sets us free, you know? So we say get on a serve team, it accomplishes so much. You are the hands and feet of Jesus. You’re serving others. But you’re also building community within those, you know. So even‑I get to that to a moment‑we have, uh an apprentice program at our church. Uh, every staff member, every leader has to have two to four people that they are meeting with, uh, at least twice a month where they’re walking… some, some of it’s books, some of it’s scripture memorization, some of it’s both.

Rich Birch — That’s cool.

Stevie Flockhart — Uh, some of it truly is just real life, uh, uh, you know, walk through, Hey, I’m going through this. I need some help right now. And so it it just looks like a, uh, it looks like the way Jesus did it, you know? He spent a, uh, a ton of time with the three, and then a whole lot of time with 12. You very rarely saw him spending an a ton of time with the crowd, with the people, you know. But he’s the most influential people person of all time. How is this? I think it’s the leadership development and the discipleship development process, you know? So those three men acted like Jesus, thought like Jesus, dealt with conflict like Jesus. And those three men went in, you know, met new people and planted churches. And so again, this, this, this trickle effect, this multiplication effect that takes place, uh, it happens all over the world, but it can happen within our church, and it has to start with discipleship.

Rich Birch — Yeah, I love that. Let’s talk about that apprentice thing. I love that. That is that, um, so like, I, you know, I think I heard you say every staff, you know, they have two to four people they meet with at least twice a month.

Stevie Flockhart — Yeah.

Rich Birch — Is that people that are on your team? Is that people, you know, how, how do you define those relationships? How do you ensure that’s actually expanding beyond, you know, kind of just the, the relationships that might be just in front of them? What does that look like?

Stevie Flockhart — Sure, sure, sure. So I do believe in, you know, affinity groups where we’re draw we’re drawn to naturally people who are mm-hmm.  either like us, or have the same age kids, or some of the same hobby, you know, for sure. And so we don’t just say, go find three random people. You know, but it’s people that…

Rich Birch — Yes.

Stevie Flockhart — …you, you would want to have dinner with, people that you’d want to invest in. Somebody that you would, or a couple that you would say, this is somebody I wouldn’t mind spending a whole lot of time with over the next year or two, you know? And so we’ve just kind of put this into practice. We’ve always, you know, had the multiplication effect for sure.

Stevie Flockhart — But, uh, I need to go find three people and three couples. It would be, you know, where I’m spend, I’m golfing with them. I’m meeting with them at Starbucks. We go out to dinner with them every few Fridays where we’re spending the time with them, and we’re talking through, you know, and sometimes it’s as easy as two questions. You know, what is God teaching you right now? What are you doing about it? What is God teaching you right now? What are you doing about it? I mean, those two questions. You could have hours of conversations…

Rich Birch — Yes, yes.

Stevie Flockhart — …with those two questions. Uh, and again, it’s kind of, uh, never ending. It’s open-ended. And so, uh…

Rich Birch — Yes, yes.

Stevie Flockhart — …every staff member has, you know, an apprentice, uh, or they should, you know, every leader, every team lead, every coordinator. And again, we do it, and the language doesn’t matter right now, but you know, there is uh, a flow; there’s a leadership pipeline that we have that every single person are some people are just showing up. Then they move into team members. Well, then those team members can move into leading a team. But then when you recognize and you equip and you pour into, that person can then lead a department, and then you recognize, and you pour into, and you lead and you equip, and then that person can lead, uh, an organization, you know? So lead others, lead leaders, lead departments, lead organizations. And there, there really is a structure and a system, and there’s a way to do this. And I think it’s the Jesus way.

Rich Birch — Yes, yep.

Stevie Flockhart — And so, uh…

Rich Birch — Love it. Some good Mack Lake pipeline stuff there too. He would’ve, uh, he’d be very happy that.

Stevie Flockhart — The man, the myth, the legend. Yeah.

Rich Birch — Yeah. Yeah. He’s incredible. Yeah. That’s so good. I love that. And I love the, you know, the simplicity of, you know, hey, let’s gets, get in relational, uh, get in, you know, get a relationship, kind of intentional relationship with some people. And then just some simple questions. You know, what are you learning? What’s Jesus teaching? What are you doing about it? Like, let’s just keep that in front of people. I think, man, just that alone, if we could get our people to do that, man, we’d have a leadership development revolution going on, you know, around us. That’s, uh, you know, that’s, that’s fantastic.

Rich Birch — So kind of talking about the, your actual planting experience this time, um, talk us, talk to us about, you know, are you connected with a network? Did you just do this all your own? Did you drop into, you know, your town, you know, and just like open the phone book and start calling people? Talk, talk to us about that.

Stevie Flockhart — Wow…

Rich Birch — What’s the support around you look like?

Stevie Flockhart — Sure. I think that’s some guy’s stories and I salute them…

Rich Birch — Yes.

Stevie Flockhart — …and I honor them. Oh my goodness.

Rich Birch — Yes, yes.

Stevie Flockhart — But no, we could not have, uh, been where we are done what we did, you know, New Season church in Hiram, Georgia when we first started, um, donated probably $50-, $60,000 worth of AVL sound system…

Rich Birch — Yeah that’s great. Wow.

Stevie Flockhart — …for sure. But then, uh, a church, uh, and I consider him, my pastor now Pastor Paul Taylor, Rivers Crossing Church, Cincinnati, Ohio. Uh, they just saw something in us, invited us to be, at the time it was called 10 and 10 Network. And, uh, they, I mean, hundreds of thousands of dollars over three or four years. Uh, and what they did for us financially allowed us to bring on support staff, you know, so just going back to that leadership pipeline, yes, you can do it with volunteers, but when you’re able to bring on staff, uh, it’s just a game changer, you know?

Stevie Flockhart — So that’s where, again, I can tell somebody like, you know, uh, when you’re faithful in the small, God will bless you. I mean, I started the church. I was the lead pastor and the janitor and the student director…

Rich Birch — Yes.

Stevie Flockhart — …and the receptionist, you know…

Rich Birch — Yes, yes.

Stevie Flockhart — …and so, and the card note writer to the first time guest, well, then weeks go by. Yes. And you, you know, empower and equip, but they just came in, uh, financially helped us, you know, emotionally helped us. He was a pastor to me. And so I was, uh a part of, uh, the 10 and 10 network for two or three years. We’ve just changed the name. Now I’m on leadership with them, called Extraordinary Church Collective, ECC, again, based outta Cincinnati. But, uh, anybody that wants to plant a church, we’d love to have a conversation with you. But, uh, they, it was a game changer for me. We would not, maybe 901 exists without ’em, maybe, perhaps. No way, we’ve seen 1400 people say, there’s no way I have 20 staff members four years into this. There’s no way we’re looking at location number two right now, being able to renovate it  without them, the mission, the vision behind church planning, uh, and what they want to continue to do. So it’s huge. It’s huge.

Rich Birch — Yeah.

Stevie Flockhart — Do it without ’em.

Rich Birch — Yeah. I love that. And that, you know, that’s one of the things that we’ve seen, and friends, you probably know this if you’re listening in, but one of the things that you know, is like a definitive, Hey, we’ve, we’ve learned this lesson, you know, when one of the defi, the divider kind of dividing lines between church plants that make it and those that don’t, is that, that the ones that have a network are more likely to make it. They’re more likely to push through. And so, yeah, Extraordinary Church network, that’d be great. Where, if people wanna learn more about them, where do we send them online to learn more about, about that, that group?

Stevie Flockhart — Yeah – – and , uh or Google…

Rich Birch — Dot com. Ok, great.

Stevie Flockhart — Yeah. And so, Extraordinary Church Collective. Uh, my name, Steven Flockhart…

Rich Birch — Perfect.

Stevie Flockhart — …pastor Paul Taylor.

Rich Birch — Yeah, yeah, yeah – that’s all good. Yeah.

Stevie Flockhart — And again, we’re starting, it’s, it’s a network. It’s a collective though.

Rich Birch — Yes. Yeah.

Stevie Flockhart — Much different. Maybe some, uh, traditional networks, and, uh, anybody, what you just hit on though, is I think the key to life, it’s community.

Rich Birch — Yes.

Stevie Flockhart — It’s it, you can’t do it alone. You can’t be isolated. And what you just said, Rich, is so true. A lot of guys are failing and falling because they didn’t have people in their lives to either help them, hold them accountable, or just say, yo, hey, I’ve been there. I’ve done it. Here’s what I believe you should do. And pastors and authorities in your life to say, sometimes not just, Hey, here’s what I think you should do. Here’s what you should do.

Rich Birch — Yes.

Stevie Flockhart — And here’s what you should not do.

Rich Birch — Yes.

Stevie Flockhart — Go ahead. You know?

Rich Birch — Don’t step on that landmine. Yes, exactly. I have done that. I lost my leg. Don’t do it.

Stevie Flockhart — Yeah. Wise council is, so, yeah.

Rich Birch — Yeah. That’s so good. That’s so good. Well, when you look to the future, when you look up over the horizon at 901, what’s, what’s on the horizon? Where are you, you know, kind of what are you thinking about next? What are the questions you’re asking as you look down the road?

Stevie Flockhart —Yeah. And so, uh, when we planted, we always knew, so even 901 Church, it’s the area code. It’s a brand of where we’re at in Memphis. I mean, the Memphis Grizzlies talk about it all the time. Rise up 901. Justin Timberlake…

Rich Birch — Yep.

Stevie Flockhart — …Al Green, whatever. I mean, everybody just talks about the 901. And so from the very beginning, our vision behind that was to reach a city to change the world. And so we wanted to be multisite, uh, multiple locations. Uh, God, that’s a long story. I can tell you later off podcast, God gave us a 15,000 square foot building…

Rich Birch — That’s amazing. Praise God.

Stevie Flockhart — …15 minutes from us right now in the, another city just gave it to us. A church that was struggling, uh, was gonna shut down, sell it, and give the money to missions. They just gave us an almost $2 million property; they just handed to us.

Rich Birch — Praise God.

Stevie Flockhart — So we’re renovating that right now. So over the horizon is more locations, multiple locations within the 901. People have asked me, it’s like, what happens when God blesses and God does what he does, and you want to continue to church plant. So we’ve planted churches in Scotland and Chattanooga and the Ukraine and Arizona, and a digital church online only right now. But what happens, like, well, are they 901? They’re not in the area code. You know, the brand is messed up. It’s like, well, we’ll reach a city to change the world, you know? And so, uh, uh, multiple locations we want to, raising up leaders, once again. And again, moving people from one location. We’ve got about 200 of our people right now ready, excited, prepared, equipped, uh, raising them up even now to go over to the next location that’ll launch later this year. You can’t just hope to launch a location next week and send some people over there. There’s a process. It’s going back to that pipeline, getting them ready. So, uh, you ask what’s on the horizon, that’s what’s next. But, uh, we do see ourselves in 6, 7, 8, 9 locations over the next 10 or 15 years…

Rich Birch — So good.

Stevie Flockhart — …within all around the 901.

Rich Birch — Wow. This is so great. This has been so fantastic, Stevie. I really appreciate you taking time, uh, you know, to be with us today. Lots of, you know, just, I gotta page your notes here, stuff to think about and chew on. I, I know for sure our listeners do as well. Uh, just as we’re wrapping up, anything else you’d like to say, uh, before we close down today’s conversation?

Stevie Flockhart — No, thank you, Rich, for having me. I’m honored. If anybody’s listening, uh, keep Jesus the focus. Not a magazine, not a number. Be faithful with what you have. And he just promises to give us more and more and more. Be a good steward. Uh, let him be, let be trustworthy and let him be able to trust you more. So that’s what I would say to anybody.

Rich Birch — So good. That is so good. Uh, where do we wanna send people online if they wanna track with you or with the church?

Stevie Flockhart — Yeah. That’s our church, uh, website. But my wife and I also have a podcast called Essentials Podcast. Uh, we just help marriages, uh, parenting, leadership, you know, it’s the essentials of life. So man, anybody that would wanna support that or go there, we’d be very, very grateful.

Rich Birch — Love it. Yeah, we’ll link to that as well on the show notes. So, thanks so much, Stevie. I appreciate you being here today. Thanks for sharing with us. I really appreciate it.

Stevie Flockhart — Thank you, Rich. See you next time.

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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.