From Attendance to Engagement: Zach Interviews Rich About Transforming Your Church’s Growth Strategy

Welcome back to the unSeminary podcast. Today I’m happy to sit down with Zach Zehnder, who runs an organization called Red Letter Living. The mission of Red Letter Living is to challenge all people to become greater followers of Jesus Christ. Thousands of individuals and hundreds of churches have taken one of their 40-day discipleship challenges.

Recently, Zach interviewed me on his Red Letter Leaders webinar. Today, I wanted to bring you the highlights and key takeaways from that conversation, which centered around church growth strategies and how to leverage big days, like Easter, for church engagement.

  • Creating an invite culture. // One of the most exciting topics we discussed was the potential of big days like the Super Bowl or Easter to create engagement opportunities for churches. Events are not about the spectacle; they’re about creating memorable experiences that people want to talk about and, more importantly, invite others to. This is where the concept of an “invite culture” comes into play—a church culture that encourages and equips its congregation to extend invitations to friends and family.
  • Healthier churches. // unSeminary recently completed a nationwide survey of executive pastors which compared results to those from four years ago during COVID. In 2020, 86% of churches agreed they were more financially strong at the end of the year. In 2023, that number has increased to 96% feeling financially strong. Similarly, in 2023 more church leaders would describe their staff as more enthusiastic, more hopeful, and less exhausted.
  • Take a risk and reach people. // On the other side of the equation, while in 2020 41% of respondents said that their church was looking towards a multiplication effort in the new year, that number decreased to 28% at the end of 2023. So while churches overall are stronger financially and staff is more rested, fewer are thinking about multiplication. Think about what you could be doing in your church now that you are healthier than you were four years ago. What can you launch, even if you’re not launching a new location or planting a church? Can you start a new service or expand on a ministry?
  • Shareable weekend teaching. // If you want to grow your church, there are five areas that are levers of church growth. The first one is shareable weekend teaching. A Gallup poll revealed that three quarters of the reason why people attend religious services is because of the teaching. However, it’s very difficult for people to invite their friends if they don’t know what you’re teaching about the next week. Growing churches train, equip and mobilize their people to invite their friends.
  • Leverage big days. // There are already certain days throughout the year when people are more likely to invite their friends to church, such as holidays like Easter, Mother’s Day and Christmas. The key to leveraging big days is to focus on creating experiences that are worth sharing. Do something a little bit different than the norm, such as a photo booth for families. Whether it’s a special weekend service, a community outreach, or a themed celebration, the goal is to make it so impactful that attendees are naturally inclined to tell someone about it and bring them along.
  • Engagement and volunteers. // Growing churches don’t just post digital billboards on social media, they have online conversations. They have magnetic community service and get people out of their seats and into the streets to make a difference. Getting more volunteers in your church is critical. Volunteer engagement is a driver of church growth rather than an outcome of church growth. A church with a vibrant volunteer culture not only operates more effectively, but also fosters a sense of community and belonging that is infectious and naturally leads to invite opportunities.
  • Uncover culture. // My new book, Unlocking Your Church’s Invite Culture, talks about all five levers of church growth and provides a deep dive into practical strategies that churches can implement to increase their invite culture. There is training, equipping, and motivating that has to happen with our people and this book uncovers how to do it.

My new book will be out in March and you can find out more and join the waitlist at You can also learn more about the 40-day challenges offered at Red Letter Living here.

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Episode Transcript

Rich Birch — Happy Thursday, everybody. Welcome to the unSeminary podcast. This is Rich Birch. Really looking forward to today’s conversation. Recently I sat down with my friend, Zach Zehnder. He runs an organization called Red Letter Leaders. At the core of what they do is called the Red Letter Challenge, which is a 40 day experience that you take your entire church through. And we’ve had Zach on the show in the past. I really respect him. He recently had me on a webinar of his and I said, you know, I would love could we get that, uh, you know, that recording? Because I’d love to expose it to the listeners of the unSeminary podcast. And here’s the reason why.

Rich Birch — Uh, in this book, we talk about or in this conversation, we talk about some of the core concepts of my book that’s coming up and coming out recently. It’s coming out very soon, and I want you to pick up a copy of it. It’s called “Unlocking Your Churches Invite Culture”. And it really is around church growth strategies that work today. Now, I would love for you to drop by That’s and get on the waitlist. You’ll be one of the first people to get access to this book when it comes out. But this is really comes from years of conversation, boiling down what you can do to increase the invite culture of your church. And Zach had me on his webinar to talk about that. You’ll notice that we gave away some free stuff in Zach’s webinar we talk about some free links, that sort of thing. None of that you’re going to get. That was only for, uh, the folks that were listening in on the webinar. But you can track with Zach over at If you don’t track with him, you should. That’s Well, let’s join the conversation. Uh super excited. We’ll throw it over to Zach, who will lead us through today’s conversation all on church growth strategies that work today.

Zach Zehnder — Well what’s up, Red Letter Leaders. It is awesome to have you in February’s webinar. I’ve got a great guest that I will be, uh, introducing pretty soon. Um, I just showed you who he was, but excited to have Rich Birch back on. And so I’ll tell you a little bit about him in just a minute. Um, so let us know as you’re coming in who you are. Where are you watching from? What what church are you a part of? We would love to know that. Um, also, we’re going to be talking about church growth today. And so feel free to answer the poll question. Um, did your church grow in 2023? Now what does that mean? Does that mean worship, attendance, small group, whatever… I’m going to let you just determine what church growth means for you.

Zach Zehnder — But we got a few a few answers on the church poll there. And uh, then I also want to start off the top with, uh, a great offer for you from Red Letter. Uh, we are in the midst of 40 day challenge season. In fact, this week Lent is beginning. And so we had a lot of churches kick off a 40 day challenge just yesterday. Um, but we’ve got a great special for you. Uh, what a lot of pastors maybe aren’t recognizing right now is that with Easter being early this year, it’s about as early as it’ll ever be, March 31, because there is a…

Rich Birch — Just to increase the anxiety there, just to inject a little, little bit of anxiety.

Zach Zehnder — Oh yeah. That’s coming. Um, but what that does represent is a longer window of time in that peak season. And so a 40 day challenge is a really great tool uh, honestly, every year after Easte, but this year, even better, because there’s a couple extra weeks to ramp up excitement, um, before summer hits.

Zach Zehnder — And so we got a discount there for you. It’s 10% off, um, of orders, and, uh, there’s no discount needed. That’ll just automatically apply at checkout. But if you are thinking a post-Easter 40 day challenge, uh, we encourage churches to get their orders in now. Um, that way you’ve got 4 or 5 weeks to promote it and distribute it well, to have the best experience possible at your church. With all of that being said, I want to invite, uh, or welcome, I should say, um, back to the Red Letter Leader webinar, Rich Birch. How’s it going, Rich?

Rich Birch — Dude, it’s so good. I’m so pumped to be here. And I love what you do at Red Letter and your challenges. I, you know, I, uh, I’m a fan and a, uh, client. Like, I’ve loved, you know, been blessed by your resources and think they’re just so helpful. And so, um, I’m sure there’s folks on that have, you know, that have used those and, and, um, you know, and maybe thinking about them in the future. So I anytime you reach out, I’m happy to, to jump on. So good to see you, Zach. Always…

Zach Zehnder — Cool, man.

Rich Birch — …and always good to talk to people in Omaha. I don’t know what it is about Omaha. I know I always say this to my friends in Omaha, but it’s like all the best Christians in the world are in Omaha for some reason.

Zach Zehnder — There you go.

Rich Birch — I don’t know why that is. It’s a very strange… there’s something in the water in Omaha.

Zach Zehnder — Yeah. We, uh, I don’t know if you know this, Rich. Our state slogan for tourism was… Nebraska: Honestly, it’s not for everyone.

Rich Birch — Oh, really? Ah! Yeah, I thought it was, “We don’t coast.” I saw I saw one that said that, and I was like. Or maybe that was Omaha, specifically Omaha. We don’t coast. And I was like, that right there is a great little bit of copywriting. I was like, that’s a fun…

Zach Zehnder — There you go.

Rich Birch — …fun things.

Zach Zehnder — Fun fact we were, uh, 50th out of 50 for tourism before that slogan, 5, 6 years ago, and we’ve moved all the way from 50 to 41 now.

Rich Birch — Hello! Hello!

Zach Zehnder — But, Rich, they decided last week, it went in the news last week they’re going to retire that slogan and come up with something different. So we’ll see what happens.

Rich Birch — Okay, okay.

Zach Zehnder — Yeah.

Rich Birch — Time to keep on rolling. That’s fun.

Zach Zehnder — Yeah, I’ll keep you posted. I’m sure you’re on your seat the edge of your seat, you know.

Rich Birch — That’s great.

Zach Zehnder — Hey, Rich Birch, you are the man. Rich Birch leads an incredible ministry called unSeminary. And so, church leaders, if you’re not already, um, listening to Rich and being a part of his ministry, you need to. Uh the unSeminary podcast is one of the great podcasts out there for church leaders and pastors, and it’s a weekly podcast. It’s incredible. They do more than just podcasts. Um, so get with Rich. He’s an expert on church growth. And, um, honestly, from from my end, when I think about people that are in the church space, um, that either have been a pastor or are a pastor that are serving though the greater capital “C” church with a majority of what they do, um, Rich is on my two hands, one of the top ten people that I know of just being helpful, uh, being helpful for pastors and churches. And so, uh, he gives away so much free. And, of course, it’s his living. And so I always want to push people to get further in with you. Um, but he is always so helpful. He’s going to be helpful with us again today. And so, uh, super grateful to have you on today, Rich.

Rich Birch — Sweet. Thanks for having me. I’m glad to be here.

Zach Zehnder — Yeah. I’m curious. We’re on the day after, uh the big Super Bowl here in America. And you are from Canada, Rich. So I want to know like is the Super Bowl a big deal in Canada? Or is this another thing that Americans just think is the biggest deal in the world. And it’s just like our nation that actually cares about it?

Rich Birch — Yeah. No. Yeah, I appreciate that. So yeah, I’m Canadian. Don’t hold it against me. Um, although I uh, yeah, mostly serve of American churches. But yeah, the Super Bowl is a big deal. I’m not, I personally am not a huge sports guy, so I feel a little bit bad because I’m like, I’m the guy that I was scrambling to try to get on Paramount Plus to see the the halftime show. Like that was, you know, that was what I was trying to do last night. But it for sure is a big deal. Like it, you know, like things quiet down. I was, you know, I was out for lunch yesterday and I was asking the restaurant I was at, I was like, hey, you guys, you guys showing the game tonight. And they’re like, no. He’s like, it’ll be really quiet. So it for sure is, you know, it’s uh, it’s it’s a big deal. And, you know, obviously even more so with Taylor Swift this year, and that’s for sure.

Zach Zehnder — All right. Right. So let’s get real timely here then, Rich. I want to hear from the church growth guy. Uh, we’re a day after the big game. Is there anything that church leaders can or should learn from the crazy success of the Super Bowl?

Rich Birch — Oh that’s great. Well, that’s a fun question. The interesting thing about the Super Bowl is, um, it’s a big day. Like it is, you know, and and it was it’s really cool to see, um, when churches use that, um, that day to try to invite people to come to the church. So the thing that we’ve seen is that the difference between stuck and stagnant churches and growing churches is growing churches, increasingly even more so in a skeptical culture that we’re in. You know, every I’ve said this in other contexts, every zip code in the country or virtually every zip code in the country is more unchurched today than it was ten years ago. And unless we turn that trend around, will be more unchurched ten years from now.

Rich Birch — And so, um, you know, the reality of it is that that kind of life has changed. We used to be able to do just kind of mass marketing stuff, but, um, really we’re seeing that not working as effective as it used to. What does work is our people inviting their friends. And so and a part of the way you do that is you, like, have to be engaged in conversations that people are already engaged in. Or one of the ways you do that is engage in conversations that are already happening. And so you can see, um, you know, a number of churches have leveraged Super Bowl Sunday as a, you know, whether it’s just kind of the basic like there was a number of those churches yesterday were over the weekend, were posting the that meme of, um, Taylor Swift talking to her boyfriend, saying like, hey, you’re still going to have we’re still have time to go to church in the morning, come and see us, you know, in the morning.

Rich Birch — Or whether it’s something like at Crossroads Church in Cincinnati – don’t know if you know these guys. Brian Tome, fantastic church. For years they have done a thing called the Super Bowl of Preaching where they, um, they kind of play up the football thing bigger than anybody I’ve ever known. And so if you’re if you’re looking for a church that, um, you know, is making kind of a big deal of it, they would be a, you know, that would be a great church to look at. But the what the mechanics behind that, from a growth point of view, is we know that our people are already like they’re asking, hey, what are you doing for Super Bowl Sunday? Like, your people know I don’t watch football. And they ask me, what are you doing for Super Bowl Sunday? And so, man, if your church could provide, um, you know, something that is Super Bowl related to inject into that conversation, it can stir, you know, invite ultimately. And obviously we see the same thing happen on Christmas, Easter, Mother’s Day. There are other of these kind of big days during the year.

Rich Birch — But a lot of churches uh, I think could take advantage of that for next year. Like, hey, there’s an if you don’t if you don’t make a big deal of it and you just you thought about it on the Thursday before, the thing that’s unique about that big day is I can tell you I don’t know what the date is, but there is there’s an a specific date on the calendar next year when the Super Bowl is going to be. And so you can start planning towards that. And you know that there’s going to be some sort of media circus, right? Every year. It’s it’s predictable. The culture for about 48 hours stops and pays attention to to football. And so it’s like, hey, well, maybe, maybe we should be thinking about that. Maybe we and, you know, need to do something crazy. Like you don’t, you know, you don’t need to do the Super Bowl of Preaching. But you could like, even if it’s as simple as, like the Jersey Sunday thing. Or the, you know, something like that, that is it’s already the conversation that people are having, um, you know, leverage that, uh, you know, to try to, you know, get get people in on it.

Zach Zehnder — That’s cool. One of the things I know we did at our church in Florida that I always loved was we called it the “soup” Souper Bowl.

Rich Birch — Okay.

Zach Zehnder — And, uh, and we had a guy that did the, uh, he does a lot of the turf in the field. He actually does it for the Pro-Bowl there in Orlando. And so he created like a obviously a small mock size football field for us.

Rich Birch — That’s fun.

Zach Zehnder — And we have AFC versus NFC and…

Rich Birch — Love it.

Zach Zehnder — You know people would put their canned goods that they brought in on which side they were rooting for thought would win. And then of course we would donate the canned goods to the food pantry. It was it was just a cool thing that I think is really cool. Um, the one, uh, the one thing I get every year um, this weekend, um, pastors get it too, is every year I get somebody that sends me, um, this thing right here, that says you should be as excited about church as the Super Bowl. So when your pastor makes a point this Sunday, pour Gatorade over his head. And it’s the first time they’ve seen it. So I always got a haha tap back, even though I’ve got it every year.

Rich Birch — That is so funny. That’s great. So yeah, it’s on February 9th next year.

Zach Zehnder — There you go.

Rich Birch — So coming out of this weekend, if I, you know, this is something you could be thinking about for next year. It’s in Louisiana. So I think that’s Central Time zone. So it’ll be, you know, the, you know, you’ve got to think about that from an, you know, attendance point of view. What’s it going to do to your, you know…but but yeah, I would uh, yeah, I would think that’s something you could look forward to for next year for sure. It’s kind of fun.

Zach Zehnder — There you go. All right. Cool. There’s some Super Bowl ideas for you guys. Uh, awesome. Again, thanks for joining us for Red Letter Leaders today. We got Rich Birch, uh, church growth expert and leader of unSeminary with us. Let us know where you’re watching from. And, uh, answer that poll question there uh, if you haven’t already. I see Roy from Florida. Dave says, what is there for tourists in Nebraska? Come on, Dave. We got a great zoo here, man. World class. We got the College World Series. Good golf courses. But this ain’t about Nebraska. Um, we want to help people get to your church. Not necessarily to your state, but anyway.

Rich Birch — Yeah, yeah.

Zach Zehnder — Um. All right, Rich. Uh, again, I just think you’re such a brilliant mind. You’ve already talked and we’ll come back to, you know, talking about inviteability and increasing invite culture and that’s Super Bowl, why why we went there. But, uh, you just completed a nationwide survey of pastors. So tell me a little bit about that study, uh, who was surveyed and, uh, the key insights from it. What’s up, Jonathan from Idaho.

Rich Birch — Yeah, great, great to see friends that have tuned in. So, yeah, this, um, this survey is a nationwide survey of executive pastors. And, um, so and I have not released information on this. So this is like a Red Letter Pastors exclusive today.

Zach Zehnder — Whoa! Come on!

Rich Birch — So it’s like breaking news. Dun dun dun dun.

Zach Zehnder — Can I do some emojis in this. I don’t know if I can.

Rich Birch — Yeah, yeah. Absolutely. So we’ve um and so to be honest, so we did this survey at the end of 2020, uh, going into 2021. And at the end of last year, I was thinking, hmm, I wonder, I wonder what we would find if we basically asked the exact same questions, um, of pastors, kind of where are we now four years later? Where are we, kind of rather we’re no longer in the teeth of of Covid or not really in Covid at all. And so where, you know, where we learn.

Rich Birch — And, uh, you know, to be honest, so there was some stuff that was probably not surprising. So, you know, we asked a bunch about staff morale. Probably not surprising. People would describe their staff are more enthusiastic, more hopeful, less exhausted than they were, you know, statistical average, you know, statistical, um…

Zach Zehnder — That’s good.

Rich Birch — …you know, significance of that, which is good. I think we feel that kind of health. Um, you know, interestingly, churches are, uh, in 2020, 86%, uh, strong or strongly agreed that they had, um, that they were more financially strong at the end of last year than at the beginning of last year. Interestingly, in 2023, that number was 96%. So, you know, 90. So it had gone up 10%. So churches are feeling more financially strong, at least the churches we um, you know, we we talked about, we talked to.

Rich Birch — Now interestingly, I would say so those are all I, you know, I, I think there is, so as I spent a lot of time with the executive pastors and that bears out in the conversations I talked to. Pre-COVID, you, um, you know, Zach, you’re like a lead pastor kind of guy. You know, when lead pastors get together, they’ll talk about like, well, how many people attend your church or how many campuses you have, that kind of thing. When executive pastors get together, they say, so how many weeks you got in reserve? They talk about like, what is the financial reserve of your, you know, of your organization. And for sure, we’ve seen that churches are holding more money in reserve than they were um, you know, pre-COVID. That’s been an adjustment. Um, and that’s a whole other conversation. But I think you can hold too much, by the way. I think you can, you know, I think if you, you know. So so we this kind of connects with some of that.

Rich Birch — Now interestingly, I thought on the, I would say on the kind of sad side of the equation or not as positive, uh, in 2020, 42% of respondents said that they agree or strongly agree that they were looking towards a church multiplication effort in the next year, while this year that number was only 28%, so a drop from 41 to 28. And so I would ring the bell and say, friends, this is a problem. Your church is healthier now than you were four years ago. Your your team is more rested, you have more financial resources. There is no time like now just to think about, you know, whether it’s, you know, planting a church. Um, whether it’s, you know, launching a campus, that sort of thing. And, and this does line up like I’ve, I, um, you know, I talked to church…in fact, even just this weekend, I was talking to a church who kind of 10 years ago, 15 years ago, if they looked at all their metrics, they would say, hey, we should launch. Um, but I think there’s like a there can be a hesitancy that I think has come in post-Covid. I think we’re, we’re we’re still a little bit on our back feet, even though the kind of things are feeling better at our churches were like still a little bit more reticent, maybe, maybe, um, you know, a little bit more reticent to take risk.

Rich Birch — I think we’ve been in the broader economy. You know, I keep joking that we’re like one month. We’ve been one month away from a recession for 18 months. Like, it’s like we keep thinking it’s coming, it’s coming. But actually, you know, it’s it’s not. Now, maybe it’s coming this spring. It’s like, you know, it feels like every, every turn. And that that I think in some ways has held us back. And so my challenge for church leaders would be to think about, hey, are there like multiplication things that you should be thinking about? Is there, you know, should you be launching a new service? Maybe there’s that kids ministry that maybe there’s like a new student ministry thing, or maybe, you know, there’s… Now might be the time if you’re if 96% of church leaders are saying they feel like their churches are in a strong or they’re in a stronger position than they were a year ago, man, oh man, let’s let’s take a risk here and try to reach some people.

Zach Zehnder — That’s great. And I think that probably resonates with a little bit of the audience we’re talking to now, even in the poll question. You know, I was curious what we’d get. Um, because that’s all across the gamut, I think, when you look at churches. But, um, but at least listening right now, we’re talking to, uh, it looks like 88% of the folks that have taken the poll, uh, did increase somewhat last year, 66%, one, 66% say 1-15%, and then, um, 22, 16% plus. And so that’s really good growth. And so I think that that bears out with a little bit of the statistics, at least the people you’re talking with. And I would say, Rich, are your pastors that you are surveying, are they generally going to be a part of churches that, uh, you know, there’s so many pastors and churches. So are they is it a certain segment of pastors or churches that you poll um, that would be more on the growth or mindset multiplication typically than the average, or what would you say?

Rich Birch — It could be. You know, obviously it’s biased because it’s people who have followed us in our channels um, and we talk about those things. And it was, um, it’s a it was deliberately set up as a poll of executive pastors, which kind of by definition, um, you know, is probably limiting the size of the church. We did we did a size – I don’t have those numbers in front of me, but it does tend to skew to a little bit of a larger church, which is, you know, that that, um, you know, that bias is towards the churches that I’m trying to serve. You know, those are the there’s I’m trying to serve executive pastors. And so I want to kind of get a sense of where, um, where they’re at. So, you know, if you think about, you know, lots of times the church needs to be at least a midsize church before they start thinking like, hey, let’s have somebody to who will take some of that load from the from the lead pastor. And so, um, so it might be a little bit larger.

Rich Birch — But yeah, we’re, we’re seeing that um, we’re seeing, um, yeah churches, uh, like, I think last year it feels like, which is a positive thing, like, I think I’ve stopped hearing churches talk about like before Covid… Like they, they’ve, you know, they’ve it’s been a year since I’ve heard people say that, which is really positive. I think, you know, we’re, you know, we we we should stop trying to get those people to come back. We’re not they’re, you know, are so many people or so many…

Zach Zender — Four years ago.

Rich Birch — Yes. It’s so long ago and but, you know, it held on for a long time, like people talked about it for a long time. And I’m like, okay, let’s let’s move on. We got people in front of us all the time. I don’t know if this is true for you guys at your church, Zach, but like so many times when we talk with the leaders about, um, they’ll be like, well, you know, it feels we feel like a totally different church, like we have all these new people, we have all these different people. There was like a a big mix up of people, you know, changing around churches and then new people showing up. And, um, you know, which is, you know, which is wonderful. So, um, yeah. Interesting stuff.

Zach Zehnder — That’s cool. Yeah. So with that, and by the way, if you guys have questions, feel free to throw them either in the chat or there’s a Q&A only section in there too. Um, if you throw something in either one, I’ll probably see it. Um, and we’ll either answer it as we go or spend some time at the end with a few of those questions. This one I think makes sense from Roy right now. Um, he asks because I kind of along what you were saying, I think is where this question is coming from is, sounds like by and large, um, there are healthier metrics and marks, and yet there’s, uh, you know, when we talk about wanting to multiply, people are kind of keeping that to themselves or keeping more financial reserves. And so he asks, are they are we restraining this? Is it because of fear, of fear of the future uh, with increased costs of operations and offerings not matching those increases, or what what is kind of your hunch? Or if you will, data kind of informs questions. And so the question I would have would be what is kind of holding people back then or keeping their money a little tighter if they are in a healthier spot?

Rich Birch — Well, we’re seeing, so I spent a lot of time on multisite as well. And so there’s another interesting metric in there. For for years so there have been really good consistent, our friend, Warren Bird, has done such a good job over the years around multisite and launching. And you know, this particular question, it was asking a multiplication question. And, you know, for years when you asked churches, um, what was the size of the core team that went in that launched the new location? It was always mid 70s, like 74 or 76, 72, 73.

Rich Birch — And then the most recent study that came out last year, we saw it bump into the high 80s. It was like 88, 89, which percentage wise is a big jump. Now, the great thing is I, I’ve joked with Warren and you know, some other friends in the in the kind of coaching world. For years we’ve been saying to churches, you need to have a larger launch core. We’ve been saying you can’t like the, the, the success of your campus is based on the health and size of your launch core. And so I you know, I was like, well, this is people finally listening to us. But I think, I think what the it points to another thing, which is I think there is a shift in churches. That’s a good question by Ray a, a shift in our thinking in, in church leadership post-Covid, where we are a little bit more cautious. Which I don’t know that that’s necessarily a bad thing. Like, I don’t know, you know, Jesus talks about, you know, someone went out to build a tower and they, you know, they have to measure, what are we going to do? Like, we got to think about this stuff ahead of time.

Rich Birch — There’s you know, I think there is a, um, on some of these items we can be too, you know, we can we can lack faith and lack, and we’re being ruled by fear and not taking a step out. And that could negatively impact us. But some of it is just like, hey, it’s it’s, um, we’re just being more measured. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Like, I have led in churches where we counted our reserves in days, not weeks. And, you know, that’s not a good thing either, right? It’s like, you know, you don’t want to be, you know…But I but I, you know, my challenge for leaders would be, yeah, okay. So we’ve reloaded like, no, there’s no more pandemic coming. Like you’re, you know, you’re in a healthy spot. Like, let’s, let’s be thinking about what is that initiative to take a new, you know, a new step. Um, you know, what is your you know, what is the kind of next step you should be taking? What’s the faith step that you think God…

Rich Birch — And it could literally be like multiplying from one service to two services. That’s a huge step. Like, man, I got to find a whole bunch of new volunteers. Or, you know, it could be launching a campus if you’re, you know, a bit larger. Maybe it’s launching a campus, or it’s like there’s that person that in your church that you’ve been that they’ve been wondering about church planting. You’re like, yeah, let’s get behind them and help them, you know, church plant. Let’s let’s take some new steps. Um, here for sure, I think it now’s the time to do it.

Zach Zehnder — Yeah. That’s good. And I see a question from Denise that I think we’ll get into a little bit more of the granular now, of actual church growth that I think impacts any size. Um, and so, yeah, let’s get into that then. You know, with our world changing a lot, obviously there’s some data that you, you’ve got that um, it’s been really, really helpful. Um, but what but you are the church growth guy as well. That’s how I know you at least. I don’t if you call yourself that. But I call you that. Rich is the church growth guy.

Rich Birch — Sure, sure.

Zach Zehnder — Um, so, so in an ever changing world, like, are there things that churches have done in the past that we should keep doing? Like, these are still things that if I want to grow my church and obviously I’m coming from a, uh, a standpoint that we’re all in Christ, we’re all in mission because we want to see His church grow, His kingdom expand, disciples made. And so when I say “church growth” like I’m everything is healthy. It’s a healthy mindset. Um, so what if we want to grow our churches, yeah, are there things that in the past we’ve done that we should keep doing?

Rich Birch — Yeah. Great, great question. Well, so there are um and this I’ve, friends, I promise this won’t be just a sales pitch for my upcoming book. But there are these five areas that we talk about in this, this book or that that we’ve talked about in the past that are, um, that are the kind of five levers, uh, of church growth. And the first one is what we call shareable weekend teaching. And, um, this really any church, any size, it does not cost more money. It doesn’t take more, um, you know, it’s not like some flashy thing. But but, man, we miss the mark all the time um, on this as as leaders. And it’s a real simple thing. It’s if people don’t know what’s coming up at your church, if they don’t know what you’re teaching on next week, the week after the next series, um, it’s very difficult for them to invite their friends. There was a study done by Gallup, uh, a few years ago that asked, you know, people who attend church, it was actually religious, you know, services. It wasn’t just churches. They said, why do you come? And three quarters of the reason why people come is because of the teaching. It’s actually because of what those organizations are teaching on the weekend.

Rich Birch — And so if we’re not telling people what’s in it for them, for their friends. So like, hey, coming up next week, we’re going to be talking about insert X. And this would be great for the friends in your life who are wondering about this question or wondering about that question. Do you know people who are thinking about these things? You should you should invite them to come next, you know, next weekend. As simple as that tactic is, um, we miss it too much. We we make people guess. It’s like, um, you know, when we as churches that preach based on, um, sermons or sermon series, you know, they’ll have like, we’ve got an upcoming sermon series coming on, you know, and and it’ll be like something super clever. You’re like, that looks really creative. I have no idea what that’s about. I have no idea what, you know, why I would want to come to that. Like, um, you know, you need to think about it from the point of transaction where, you know, you are where your people talk to their friends.

Rich Birch — So, like, how can I put the words in their mind, in their in their mouth, uh, the ideas in their minds, the tools in their hands that will ultimately help them have that conversation. And that really is at the core of, you know, the difference between growing and stuck and stagnant churches. Growing churches train, equip and mobilize their people to invite their friends. And, you know, shareable weekend teaching – the first of those five. And there’s a lot we can talk about and unpack there. But but really the baseline, it’s like a an aha moment. And it can be something as simple as, if you’re teaching this weekend and you know that you know what you’re going to teach on next weekend, which hopefully you do, hopefully, you know, at least a week out where you’re going, at the end of the message, pivoting to, hey, you know, next week, this is the thing we’re going to talk about. And this would be fantastic for friends in your life who are wondering about these things.

Rich Birch — Um, you know, even something as simple as that. You know, you can build up all kinds of other stuff around that, invite cards, all kinds of other things. But actually just keeping it in front of your people about where you’re going. This is why big days at work. So this is why Christmas and Easter, one of the reasons why those work for people inviting their friends is because people are clear on Easter, you’re going to talk about the death and resurrection of Jesus. Like that’s, you know, they don’t have a question. They’re like, I wonder what they’re going to talk about. Hopefully.

Zach Zehnder — Right.

Rich Birch — Um, you know, they know generally at Christmas time, good chance you’re going to talk about the birth of Jesus. And so it makes it easier for them to invite. They have a clear sense of what they’re going to go. That’s why at Christmas time, people will invite their friends at Christmas because they’re pretty sure you’re going to sing songs that they know, like you’re going to they’re still you go into Walmart and there’s, you know, songs that are, uh, those a lot of those songs are playing on the radio still. Um, and so, you know, they it makes it easier to, you know, to invite. So shareable weekend teaching that would be one of those, you know, things I would be thinking about.

Zach Zehnder — Cool. I think that’s so great. And I think sometimes we, I don’t know, I feel like we can underestimate our worth as preachers and the content that we bring every week, uh, and how valuable it actually is. It’s extremely valuable. God’s word, every time it goes out accomplishes what it what it sets out to accomplish. And so I think less from a pride standpoint or anything else, like we just need to remember God’s Word changes people’s lives, and, and look to be practical. I think that’s, you know, one of the things I think in the shareable weekend teaching is we can teach awesome theology all day long…

Rich Birch — Right, right.

Zach Zehnder — …and we ought to. And I’m trusting that the people that are on this do that already. But what is that twist of making it practical so that it that people desire to be there. And know what that’s going to do if they come.

Rich Birch — Totally. And and you know this, Zach, but like that same study that found that three quarters of the reason why people come is because of teaching. They ask those people, well, what are you looking for in their teaching? And it might surprise some people because the two things they said, the number one thing they said was they want it to be based on transcendent truth. They they people are looking for, um, things that are, and you see this in the culture all around us. It’s like, um, you know, it’s it’s like I heard a guy recently talking about he’s like, um, this is why I like you, like the Back to Nature movement. People are like, have chickens in their backyards, and they like, it’s like they’re trying to eat like their great grandparents. Or like, I heard this guy recently, he’s like, I’m making my own vanilla extract in my basement. Why do people do those things? Because so much is changing in our culture. They’re like, I want something that is true. That has been true for a very long time.

Rich Birch — And that’s true about the Bible at its core. These are stories that people have based their lives on for thousands of years. This is these are compelling narratives and, you know, transcendent truth that makes a difference. But the second thing, and it was right tight underneath, so based on transcendent truth is what they’re looking for. And the second is that it’s applicable to everyday life. That doesn’t sound like rocket science, but I think we can forget that sometimes. That it’s like, hey, this is this isn’t about trivia. It’s not about like, you know, do people really care what it says in the Greek? And I know sometimes you have to do that. Like, sometimes you, you know, you you need to make that, uh, which is fine. But the question is, okay, so I’m walking out tomorrow and it is, um, you know, what difference is this going to make?

Rich Birch — I have sometimes felt like, um, in my particular tribe that sometimes our, our teaching can it’s like at the end of it, it almost is like the teacher says, well, there’s some interesting thoughts. We’ll see you next Sunday. Like and it’s and we can miss the application. We can miss, um, you know, we can miss where we’re at. Jeff Brody, my lead pastor, the church I’m at now, he is so good at, like, driving to, like, super pointed like, let’s get to like a very specific takeaway that this makes a difference to you tomorrow. Um, you know, we need to do that.

Zach Zehnder — That’s good.

Rich Birch — So, um, shareable weekend teaching is super important. It’s it’s a critically important piece of the puzzle, for sure.

Zach Zehnder — I love it. And I’ve challenged pastors and church leaders too. I think we gotta, you know, let’s talk church language a little bit. I think we’ve got some really great effective preachers that do really well with the justification of God. But the sanctification in a lot of people’s sermons, which is the practical live it out stuff, leaves a lot to be desired sometimes. And, uh, and as much as the teaching, like you said, is true, um, and we need that, we need to know how to apply it and what difference it makes. So I love that. All right, what are some other ones that you have. That was number one you said.

Rich Birch — Yeah. So well there’s lots there’s things that are um, this is under the context of things we’ve done that we want to continue?

Zach Zehnder — That we still still do. Yeah.

Rich Birch — Yeah. So, you know, the I would say another and because we’re coming up to Easter, um, so this would be an area where I was wrong. I and so I’m not the hero of this story. So it’s kind of a fun, you know, thing to talk about. For years I would say almost half of my ministry career, I was like, man, I want every weekend to be the most inviteable ever. I want every I know we talked about big days already, but I was like for years I was like, I almost pooh-poohed—was like, aaah, that’s a bad idea—people, when they would do these big days. And I was like, oh, that’s you know, that’s uh, like that’s a waste of energy. Like I look at the church that did at Christmas time, they did the singing Christmas Tree in our town. And I was like, you know, they had like 500 people up on stage. I’m like, that’s ridiculous. Or, you know, and it happens like, you’ll see it this year at Easter. You’re going to see like, people will make fun of the churches that have, like, you know, the, you know, Jesus gets pulled up into the ceiling and like, you know, all that kind of like the circus stuff. Now, I’m not saying the church needs to have a it needs to be a circus on these big days. But the thing that happens on big days is this: two things happen. Your people are more likely to invite their friends, and their friends are more likely to attend. I ignored that for years.

Rich Birch — I was like, no, people should invite any day. Yeah, they they should invite any day, but they don’t. There are certain days during the year where they’re more likely to invite your friend. And Easter is one of those. There’s lots of reasons why that is, but what we want to do is we want to put some extra oomph, extra communication, some extra, um, effort into Easter because it’s coming up, uh, to invite them to come to that experience and, you know, to and… And again, it could be something as simple as, you know, we’re having a photo booth out in front of our, our church and, you know, get your family photos on Easter Sunday. And you and you find that person who’s a photographer at your church, and you take photos and then everything else you do is exactly the same. You don’t need to do some sort of crazy thing, but even a little thing like that, that gives an excuse to people in your and and then what you say is you talk about it for three weeks ahead of time and you say like, hey, invite your whole family. It’s a great time to get a family photo.

Rich Birch — I am shocked, I was at Disney World earlier this year and, you know, I am convinced that there are a lot of people who their like core reason for spending all their money flying to Florida is to stand in front of the castle. They literally they’re doing it to stand there and get their their photo taken. Like that seems crazy to me. I’m like, you know, you can get your family photo taken anywhere. We can doctor it up to make it look like you’re at Disney World. But you know, the same is true with this kind of like a simple tactic, like a photo. Um, you know, a photo booth is like, hey, let’s do something on Easter that’s a little bit different. I would challenge you if I was thinking of today, I’d be thinking, hey, what could we do that’s a little bit different?

Rich Birch — You know, you don’t need to drop Easter eggs from a helicopter. Although that would be a great thing. You know, you don’t need to, you know, have some, you know, crazy thing. But, um, you want to, uh, you want to, you know, do something that will ultimately, and you think about it again, it’s the kind of thing that people would tell their friends about. So, and the real the key there is eventful big days. You’re going to have you’re going to have big days. But the question is, are they eventful? Are they the kind of thing that, um, you know, people want to talk to their, their friends about? I’ll give you something that’s on the flip side of that, which is what where lots of churches lose eventful big days, because you still got time to to…Is that good? Can I give you something there?

Zach Zehnder — Yeah. Yeah.

Rich Birch — So we think so much about so you think about Easter like and I know what this is going to be like. We got we’re coming through Lent and there’s a lot going on. And then, you know, your church maybe maybe that week you’re doing like Good Friday services. You’re doing maybe Maundy Thursday. You’re doing Good Friday. Like you’ve got a lot going on. And then you and then some guy told you to have a photo booth. And so you got a photo booth. You got like a lot. And then and then what’s going to happen is the Monday after Easter, you’re going to be like, wow, that was great. We had huge attendance. That was amazing. But then what? Like where, where? So those big days, the focus of that big day needs to be on to some sort of recall, something that is saying to those people, hey, you should come back. So it’s like the start of a series. It’s um, come back to, uh, you know, um, you know, we’re giving away something next weekend. We’re, um, you know, in our kids ministry, we’ve got a special thing.

Rich Birch — We did this this year coming out of, um, Christmas at our church. We told, uh, our, our kids ministry people, we’re like, hey, thanks so much for coming to our Christmas Eve service in…and this may not work in every market, but it worked in ours. Um, I think it was like the second week in January. We were like, all of our kids ministry environments are going to have live animals at them. And so we literally had like it was like Live Animal Sunday. And it was like there was like rabbits and all kinds of fun stuff. And we told kids at Christmas, hey, come back for it. (And it wasn’t called Live Animal Sunday, there’s some other better name.) But there was like come back for those kinds of things. People miss, church leaders missed the recall. They missed the hey, come back for this other thing. There’s a church in Philadelphia that does this out of Christmas every year. They do a thing called Epic Days. The name of their church is Epic Church – every person in the city is why it’s called EPIC.

Rich Birch — And they do an Epic Day every January where they give away a free T-shirt to everybody and they say, hey, you should come on this day. And they’ll say to their people, our pastor is going to make the clearest presentation of the gospel of the year on Epic Sunday. This is the day for you to invite your friends, uh, to come. And so they they leverage out of Christmas Eve, uh, into that. Or we’ve done like a special speaker the week after Easter. So I’ll give you a hint. There’s, you know, there are these people out there who are, like guys like Zach, who are like a great communicator, who you should have come and speak at your church. Don’t have them come on Easter. Have them come the week after Easter. Say like, hey, come back next week. We’ve got this amazing communicator, Zach Zehnder. He’s going to, you know, blow your mind. It’ll be amazing. Um, you know, you want to you add something for people to come back to. Don’t miss that. Um, that really is a is a key tactic that we miss on these big days.

Zach Zehnder — That’s cool. Now you’re putting all this pressure on me, Rich, but… Well, that’s good, but for real, that’s a little bit of what we what we love to do at Red Letter Challenge, too, with our 40 day challenges, is we want you to actually go all-in on Easter, on Christmas Eve. And I know, like as a pastor, I’ve went all-in on those days and I’ve woke up on Monday kind of kind of depressed, like, I gotta do this again on Sunday. What? And so let let us do the work for you, have 40 days of ready-done-for-you stuff so that you’ve got like a proven thing that’s going to move your church in the right direction.

Rich Birch — Yes! Like this is I didn’t even think of that. That would be a killer time to launch a 40 day challenge. Like so, you know, people show up that Sunday, hey, next week we’ve got this great thing going on, like, you should come back. It’s 40 days on serving. You know, it’s going to be amazing. Here’s a great trailer. And then you there you’ve got your you know, you’ve got your, you know, sermons lined up. You’ve got all kinds of because you guys produce incredible resources to make all that so easy for people.

Zach Zehnder — Yeah. And then you can spend the extra time, uh, planning to get the live animals there.

Rich Birch — Yeah. And then you got live animals.

Zach Zehnder — There you go. I love it. Cool, man. All right, give me, uh, give me three, four and five and, uh, let’s do let’s do those pretty quick so we can get into, um, some new stuff as well.

Rich Birch — Yeah, so captivating online conversations. This fits in kind of the new, um, uh, you know, if we wrote this book 15 years ago, we wouldn’t be saying that, ten years ago even. But increasingly, the kind of key piece here is that growing churches, they, uh, they don’t just post digital billboards, they don’t post like, hey, and they might do that, but they’re actually trying to have online conversations. And so it’s actually more about stirring discussion than it is about people just kind of seeing what, you know, your, uh, you know, what you’re up to. Uh, so that’s number three then.

Rich Birch — Number four is magnetic community service. So getting people out of their seats and into the streets – critically important. So we see this time and again with fast-growing churches, that they um, they are they’re trying to find ways for their people to actually make a difference, to make a tangible difference. The people in their community see it as a good thing; we see it as a God thing.

Zach Zehnder — And, Rich, on that one, real quick. We just did, uh, at King of Kings here in Omaha…

Rich Birch — Yes.

Zach Zehnder — …two nights ago—and I know there’s 700 churches, I think, doing it now—Night to Shine…

Rich Birch — Yes.

Zach Zehnder — …with the Tim Tebow Foundation. And I can’t tell you, man, the amount of, uh, positive press, uh, and the, the big deal that things like that are. I’ve always said, like, I don’t think that every community service thing you ever do needs to be, you know, we need to tell the news we’re doing this, but it’s not a bad idea to have a couple things a year that you go all out for, um, that people want to see and celebrate you for your witness and reputation. And that Night to Shine is like one of those perfect events that everybody gets excited about.

Rich Birch — Totally. Yeah. And it is. That’s a great example because, um, you know, when you think about there’s really a double whammy happening at something like Night to Shine. One is people want to be a part of a church that makes a difference, but they also want to be seen to be a part of a church that makes a difference. And you know, when they’re when you feature like, hey, look at all this cool stuff that we did. It makes them feel better about their church, and they’re more likely to ultimately invite their friends. And so, um, you know, that’s a that’s a huge deal. And then the last is appealing volunteer service, which is really this whole in which this is a, um, this… So I wrote a book a number of years ago without which, which Allison, uh, LinkedIn there called the Church Growth Flywheel, which is wonderful.

Zach Zehnder — Awesome.

Rich Birch — These five areas we’re still talking about in this new book, I can’t get off these, but this fifth area really is a significant change in that what when we’ve stared into it longer, what we’ve realized is that growing churches don’t look at volunteer engagement as an outcome of growth. They look at as a driver of growth. So let’s say if you’re a church of 200 people, um, you know, we’ll say, well, we’ll have enough volunteers if we get to 300, that would be amazing. Um, when we get there, we’ll finally have enough people to, like, be in the parking lot or whatever we need to do, but actually growing churches look at it the other way around. They say if we want to get to 300, what we need to do is onboard some new volunteers. And when you think about this at the level of like individual volunteers, if if you can take someone who’s not volunteering and get them volunteering, think about what that does in their life. It rearranges their their agenda. You literally get on their, you know, in their calendar.

Rich Birch — And when they leave work on Friday and say like, hey, when someone says, hey, what do you do on the weekend? You’re like, oh, I’m volunteering at my church. Um, they’re like, oh, tell me about that. And then it leads into a natural, um, you know, invite opportunity. And so and typically we see a 3 to 1 ratio there. So for every one volunteer your, your church actually grows by three. So if you add if you can add 100 volunteers typically you’ll see your church actually grow by by 300, or you’ll add an additional 200. So you’ll end up being a church of, you know, a 300 people or an additional 300 people total. And so we want to work ahead on, and there’s a lot we could talk about there, but this is the mechanics behind multisite.

Rich Birch — People were like, oh, multisite, the reason why churches are growing is because they’re going to new locations. No, that’s not true. The reason why they’re growing is because they’re engaging new volunteers to go to those new locations. The churches, there are churches that are going that are just taking people who are currently serving… Well, actually, this is not this is this rarely happens. But if you just take people who are currently serving and plop them into a new location and not get new people to serve, your campus won’t grow. You have to actually get a whole bunch of new people. And we see time and again that it’s two thirds of the people who go and serve in new campuses are new volunteers. That will spur new growth, that will actually drive more growth um, you know, at at your church. Which I saw in here, there was a question around, um, like, hey, we launched with the with the ARC…

Zach Zehnder — Oh, yeah.

Rich Birch — …with ARC initially over the last two years, and sounds like maybe they’re stuck. And so we’re portable meeting a local middle school. Uh, you know, so, you know, Spencer, feel for you. That’s like a that’s a tough place to be. I, I would, frankly, I would start with the two things that we talked about on either end. One would be this appealing volunteer experience. Like too many church leaders, particularly of churches sub 500 think, how do we make this less volunteer intensive? It’s like, how do I get less people? I just, you know, and we’re just we’re gunning for like we want staff to do everything. But actually you want the polarity to go the other way. You want to be, we want to be taking things that would be done by staff and giving them to volunteers. And so it’s like, how do we get more people on teams? How do, and and then how do we make that an even better experience? How do we make their experience of serving with you even better?

Rich Birch — And then on the other, the very first thing we talked about, shareable weekend teaching. Um, you know, I would look really carefully at the what are we maximizing every one of those steps around your teaching? What can we do to ensure that people, um, you know, know exactly what’s coming? We can talk more about that, but that would be a few things.

Zach Zehnder — No, Rich. That’s so good, man. I’m, I’m I’m always learning so much from you. But that’s probably my new key takeaway from this conversation so far is, uh, seeing volunteerism, or servants, or dream team, or whatever you call them at your church, um, not as an outcome, but uh of of a church, but more as a um an accelerant for church growth. Um, that that these these are the people that… and it makes sense. They’re volunteering. They’re stepping up to new roles, whether it’s leading a small group or helping in ministry, or at even an event. And they want to tell their friends about it, they want to tell their people about it. And that and the more they’re invested in your church, hopefully the more they see and the more they talk about it. And so that’s super, super, really cool.

Zach Zehnder — So you mentioned these you mentioned your old not old book. It’s not that old. Church growth Flywheel. Great book. There’s an online course that goes with it too that I highly recommend. Um, and now you’ve got a new book coming out. Um, so tell us about that book. What’s different about that one? And some of the things in, in, in the new one.

Rich Birch — Yeah. Great. So the new book is called “Unlocking Your Churches Invite Culture”. And um, so it’s around similar topics. It’s around these five areas. We’re talking about these five areas. But I’ll give you a little bit of insider kind of insight. Um, when the the the first book on church growth really I didn’t I assumed every church leader wanted their church to grow. I but you apparently is not true. Like there are church leaders that are not convinced that this that’s like an important thing.

Rich Birch — And so we spend more time on the why in this book. We spend more time kind of unpacking, you know what does that look like? The title “Unlocking Your Church’s Invite Culture,” like, I think I’m convinced that God has wired us to want to make a difference. We want to be a part of something that, um, is impacting our culture. And so it’s not like this isn’t about you kind of importing something on your people. It’s already resonant within them. It really is um, you know, there’s a there’s really a discipleship thing that has to happen with our people to be like, hey, let’s uncover what’s already there in you. Um, and it’s also a stronger focus on culture rather than tactics. So although we get into a lot of tactics, we talk a lot about, um, you know, like, you know, give you all kinds of examples, two dozen churches, we give you examples from and all kinds of stuff like that, uh, which I love writing about, but but I’m convinced over, you know, staring at churches for all these years around these issues that that it really is about that train, equip, and motivate.

Rich Birch — You’ve got to consistently work on the culture side of it, which is, do you and like some of that is like, you know, you get your elders or whoever, your senior leaders are together and you say, okay, so who are the people that you could invite if, if we if we were going to get on the phone right now and invite someone to come this weekend, who’s the person that you would feel comfortable doing that with? In fact, let’s actually do that right now. We’re going to get on the phone. And if if your key leaders or elders at that moment can’t answer that question, they’re like, I don’t know who I would invite. I don’t know who, I don’t have somebody who I would who I’m actively in relationship with that I’m investing invite investing in that relationship. I’m inviting them and ultimately trying to involve them in my life. If I don’t have those kinds of relationships, that’s a problem. It doesn’t matter how many flyers we print. Um, you know, we’ve got to work harder on the culture, uh, piece.

Rich Birch — And so, um, so, yeah, so the book takes a bit more focus around, and it gives all kinds of practical handles around, you know, ultimately, how do we increase that invite culture? What do we do? And it’s you know, it’s 1,000,001 small steps. Like even just that piece we talked about volunteers there. So we talk about in the book the the new here, the new volunteer pathway or pipeline that that we have to that is a key…Sometimes I think we think that’s like closing the back door kind of thing. That’s like a, you know, a back door function, but actually it’s a front door function. It’s like we most churches have guests arriving at their church, and they have more guests arriving at their church than they’re getting connected. And we have to take responsibility to, to ultimately try to convert those people into people who are like, actively engaged and wanting to invite their friends to our church. And that’s and that’s moving them from being a new here guest, ultimately to a new, uh, a new volunteer. What does that look like? How do we do that? You know, we want to think really carefully around those steps. And, um, you know, and it’s it’s it’s not rocket science, but we do have to think intentionally about those, you know, those pieces of the puzzle.

Zach Zehnder — That’s good. And, yeah, to kind of help frame, frame all this a little bit for everybody too, like the very stuff we’ve been talking about…

Rich Birch — Yes.

Zach Zehnder — …right, the shareable weekend teaching the, uh, having big day events, uh, the the the Night to Shine sort of stuff that we’ve talked about, um, all of that is because your people will talk about it. And I’ve heard you say, Rich, before, the number one key to church growth is inviteability.

Rich birch — Yes, yep.

Zach Zehnder — And so if our people are talking about if our people are inviting, that is the number one key I’ve heard from Rich Birch to church growth.

Zach Zehnder — And so we need to do everything we can to arm, equip, like you said in your words, train, equip, and motivate our people to invite. That, at the end of the day, is going to be how churches grow. And so it’s our job as church leaders to make that as easily possible and practical in the lives of our people. And so, Rich, tell me a little more like, when’s the book coming out? What can church leaders, uh, expect from it? And anything more you want to double down on what I just said on on the importance of invite culture?

Rich Birch — No, you’ve hit it you’ve hit the nail on the head there for sure. Like we, at the end of the day, um, we have to think about everything we do through the lens of, or someone on your team, you know, it might not be you, but someone on your team needs to be thinking about, okay, how are we framing this in a way so that our people will ultimately want to, you know, invite their invite their friends? I was talking to a church leader recently, and this is like a, you know, guy who’s been around for a long time in a lot of churches and that he they ask the question or the in the audience we were in asked the question, what’s the what’s the greatest um, dampener – they asked the negative question – like the greatest dampener of evangelistic culture, or what I would say is invite culture. And this person, this leader said, you know, it’s it’s preaching that doesn’t connect to the real world, that it’s like there are there can be people who, you know, all you’re doing is thinking about filling people’s heads rather than moving them ultimately to action.

Rich Birch — And so, so yeah, we want to work a lot on the train, equip, and motivate. It’s all three of those. It’s we have to do training with people. We have to, you know, we have to actually talk about it, teach on it, figure out like another kind of big day example. Um, you know, the week before Easter, the week before Christmas, the week before Mother’s Day before or whatever your big days are. Those typically are like low, unchurched Sundays, like people. If you’re like, think about it, if you don’t normally attend church and you’re thinking about coming to church this year, you’re not coming week before Easter, you’re not coming to week before Christmas. You’re just not like, it’s like I’m wait till next week. Um, man, that’s a great Sunday to teach on why you should invite people to come next weekend. Because, you know, because, you know, obviously you want to be careful about how you do that. But I can tell you, those weekends you have a lower percentage of unchurched people in your room. And so let’s you obviously have to do that in an elegant way. But let’s take the advantage of, uh, of that.

Rich Birch — So the book comes out in early March. Um, but you can if you drop by, uh,, you can get on the waitlist, um, to, you know, uh, you know, to get a whatever when it first comes out, which is, which is wonderful. I wanted to give, Zach, I thought we were talking about this beforehand, but I want to give the people who are on this. So in the book, when you buy the book, there are each, there’s nine chapters and each chapter has a different content upgrade or has a tool, uh, you know, um, a test, a checklist. If there’s actually a four part video series, we include, like there’s all these different kind of digital resources that we provide. And one of them is called the Invite Culture Litmus Test.

Rich Birch — And what this is, this comes from talking to dozens, maybe hundreds of churches about, um, you know, they’ll be like, well, how do I know kind of what’s the benchmark? What are the benchmarks that we’re like that are is our church even on, you know, for reaching like, what’s the how do we measure our invite culture? And so there are three numbers that we’ve used time and again to help people understand what they are. And so we’ll send this to you. And it’s real easy. It’s like simple math. I’m you know, I did not do well in high school math. So this is not you’ll know most church leaders will know or be able to access these numbers quickly. But what it does is that you look at those numbers. And then we give you a benchmark. We say like, hey, if you’re, you know, if you’re in this range, then you’re kind of at industry average or what we would say is like, hey, it’s good. Or like you, you know, maybe you need to spend some more time in that area. So we’ll we’ll send that out to people who are registered. Um, and you know, you take a look at it, that is, you know, that’s one of the chapters kind of content upgrades, um, that we’ll just give to you for free because because Zach’s a great guy.

Zach Zehnder — No, you’re a great guy. You’re the one giving it away, dude. So you’re the great guy. All right. So, yeah, to be clear on that, I’ll follow up. We’ll follow up with everybody right after this. Um, in the next hour, we’ll send you an email that has that file. Um, and, and here’s since I’m the challenge guy, here’s my challenge. All right. Find and get whatever numbers you can get from that litmus test now. Um, so do that today, tomorrow, this week, get that done. And again, you all know this Easter’s coming March 31. And so what is one of the three numbers, at least, that you can improve on? Um, do something tangibly and practically for this Easter.

Rich Birch — Love it. Love it.

Zach Zehnder — I know there’s going to be things in there because Rich is always really practical with that. So we’ll email that. Rich, can I also throw that in my Facebook Red Letter Leaders group as a file?

Rich Birch — Totally. Yeah, that’s totally fine. Yeah. That’s great.

Zach Zehnder — Awesome. So so it’ll be there as well. So I’ll put the link to uh, the Red Letter Leaders group there if you’re not in that already. That’s where we’re having some good discussion, uh, through the month. Um. Awesome, man. Well, if you got a quick question, anyone out there, feel free to throw it in. Um, just to kind of sum up a couple things real quickly here. We got a few more minutes left. Um, we’re happy to, uh, do these monthly webinars. We love that we can give them to you for free. Uh, I’d love for you, though, if you’re a pastor or church leader and you haven’t done one of our 40 day challenges, or you haven’t done all of them, we have four of them ready to go. Um, after Easter, again, we talked about is a great time to do that. So in the offer on the side, we’ve got 10% off, um, on any order on our website that reaches a certain threshold. Um, but get those post Easter orders in like this week so you have plenty of time to promote. Um, so you can check that out on the offer sid.

Zach Zehnder — Uh, next month. I’m pretty pumped about our webinar. Um, I’m going to bring Kap Chatfield onto the podcast or the podcast – I just recorded podcast last week. So the webinar I’m going to bring Kap Chatfield on to the webinar. Uh, Kap is a Kingdom entrepreneur, pastor and content creator. Uh, get this in 2023. He started the year with a thousand YouTube subscribers, and by the end of 2023 had more than a million. Um, so we’re going to talk about that. We’re going to talk about the benefit of YouTube as a ministry for discipleship, and also get into the really practical secrets and tips of what he did, because a lot of us can do some of the things that he’s doing. Um, so that’s going to be next month. Uh, it was originally scheduled for March 14th. We’re going to push that back to March 28th. Uh, you’re on the list. So you’ll get all the information on that, church leaders. Um, so that’s going to be a really great one. Uh, Rich, uh, hey, man, if people want to connect with you more, what is the best link for them to find you these days?

Rich Birch — Yeah, just would be, you know, would be fine. My direct email is [email protected]. Um, Roy asked an interesting question there around land is so expensive today. Are there connections or resources to receive donated land or finding inexpensive properties for churches? So that’s an interesting question.

Rich Birch — So, um, this is so related to um, like the rebirth church movement that’s going on. So there are churches out there that are they are over-capitalized. That is, they have buildings that they’re not using. Um, or they’re, you know, like it’s a 500-seat sanctuary and they have, you know, 25 people attending. Um, like, Roy, I would be pursuing those kinds of conversations. The the what I’ve coached churches and the churches I’ve worked with we’ve done is identify 30 or 40 churches in your area who, um, you know, who might be, you know, who might be in that situation and literally send them a letter. And by letter I mean like an actual, like physical letter. And mail them a letter that’s that essentially says, hey, we’re from XYZ church, and we’re looking to partner with other churches to work together for the kingdom to try to help reach our community. And we’d be very open to conversations with, you know, with, uh, churches that are that are looking for this kind of help. And then list 3 or 4 things that you could do as a church, like, hey, maybe you’ve got like a worship band or you’ve got like, you’d be willing to help with teaching, or maybe you run a great VBS and you would be open, open to helping other churches with VBS, and list 3 or 4 different ways that you could help the church. So not like we’re looking for you to give us your building. That’s not the that’s not the email here. That’s not the letter. But it’s like, hey, we’d love to work together.

Rich Birch — And I think you’d be amazed at the conversations that would open up, you know, time and again, you end up at doing stuff that you’re maybe not entirely… Like our church did, did this and we’re running Alpha at a church in the north end of one of our towns. There’s 50-some odd people coming to that. Half of them are students and were partnering with the church to do it. They were like, we would love to run Alpha, but we need extra volunteers to help with that. We can do the meal. Could you guys help us with that? And we’re like, fantastic. Now, I also happen to know that that church is they’re um, they’re one of these churches. They have a very large facility with not very many people attending and are trying to figure out what they’re doing next. We want to be just engage in relationship with those people. How can we have a conversation with them? So that’s like a whole other that might be a bit mind bending there, but um, that would be an opening conversation anyways.

Zach Zehnder — I love it, man. So helpful. You always are for all of us, uh, pastors and church leaders. And see, that’s the sort of stuff that Rich knows. Like he just knows his wealth of church growth, multiplication for the capital “C” church is just so expansive. So again, I’d love for you guys to continue to connect with him and Um, check out his podcast, all that he has there. Uh, John, you asked if this webinar you can share with staff and leaders. Absolutely. We’ll send an email right after the fact. If for whatever reason you don’t get it, shoot us an email at [email protected]. There’ll be a replay link for you that we want as many people helped in this as possible.

Zach Zehnder — So um, feel free to send that to your staff and leaders. And also it’s good to see you, John. Um, but really happy and grateful to do this for you guys. Uh, thankful for your heart and ministry. Um, that you are you are growing disciples, making disciples at your church, um, helping people see the real Jesus. And so Rich, thanks a lot, man, for joining us on this month Red Letter Leader webinar, bro. Appreciate you.

Rich Birch — Thank you. Appreciate you guys. Love what you guys are up to you. Thanks so much.

Zach Zehnder — All right. Take care guys. Bye. Take care.

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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.