From First Fifty to New Frontiers: Mike Signorelli on Moving Your People to Deeper Levels of Commitment

Welcome back to the unSeminary podcast. We’re talking with Mike Signorelli, Lead Pastor at V1 Church – one of the fastest-growing churches in the country with locations in New York City and other cities across the country.

Are you feeling stuck moving people at your church to increasing levels of commitment? Wondering how to manage the tension between evangelism and discipleship? Tune in as Mike shares the key to empowering your leaders and how to transition people to deeper engagement and growth.

  • Model the culture. // Are we teaching people to evangelize and lead lost people to Christ in their own lives outside the church? Are we helping them disciple people? Mike knew that New York City was a tough place for a church to grow and he felt strongly that leading the lost to Christ needed to be at the heart of V1 Church. In order to develop a culture of evangelism, Mike modeled the importance of it by living it out himself and leading the first 18 members of his church to Christ. As church leaders, we impart who we are. If we don’t do what we tell our congregation to do, we become the lid.
  • Discipleship in everything. // Mike also wanted V1 to be about ruthless disciple-making. At V1 Church they intentionally connect the word discipleship to everything going on at the church, from small groups to listening to sermons. Like most churches, V1 has an assimilation pipeline, however they also have a family tree framework that helps disciples make more disciples.
  • Inward to outward-focused. // Discipleship-focused churches can have a reputation for becoming too inward-looking. To counter this, Mike presents V1 Church’s process of guiding people through three distinct phases that help them move from inward-focused to outward-focused: hospital (healing), to family (belonging), to army (mission). This framework aims to shift the church’s focus outward, combating the consumeristic culture that often infiltrates American churches.
  • Finding healing. // When people come to Christ, they are coming broken because of the world we live in. As pastors, we want people to jump in and serve, but they can’t live beyond their level of health or be generous when they are in pain. The path to sustainable serving is to make people the healthiest version of themselves. At V1 they have a huge emphasis on therapy and counseling in the hospital phase, building value into a person’s life so they become healthy.
  • Selflessly lead them. // As they get healthy, people transition to family and start to think about others. Church leaders need to discern when to put people on assignment and recruit them to serve in the church. Transitioning from a family mindset to that of an army on a mission is crucial as it furthers the church’s mission and growth. However, if you recruit people without an attempt to get them healthy first, you’re being selfish. Instead we need to recruit people after selflessly leading them, showing them that we don’t want anything from them. Then we’re empowering them.
  • 10 enemies. // Mike is giving us a free download called The 10 Enemies of Process that helps church leaders work through common barriers that could be stopping your church from moving forward. It’s a great resource to read and discuss with your team.

You can connect with Mike at his website www.mikesignorelli.com. Plus, click here to download The 10 Enemies of Process.

Thank You for Tuning In!

There are a lot of podcasts you could be tuning into today, but you chose unSeminary, and I’m grateful for that. If you enjoyed today’s show, please share it by using the social media buttons you see at the left hand side of this page. Also, kindly consider taking the 60-seconds it takes to leave an honest review and rating for the podcast on iTunes, they’re extremely helpful when it comes to the ranking of the show and you can bet that I read every single one of them personally!

Lastly, don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, to get automatic updates every time a new episode goes live!

Episode Transcript

Rich Birch — Well hey, everybody, welcome to the unSeminary podcast. So glad that you have decided to tune in. I’m really looking forward to today’s conversation with Pastor Mike Signorelli. He is from V1 Church. This is one of the fastest growing churches in the country, and—I love this—they have a vision to be a global voice of the gospel to all people. I love that – a huge vision. Love it. They’ve grown from one location to multiple campuses nationally across from Long Island, New York City, Chicagoland, Miami with over a hundred revival homes, what they call revival homes globally. Mike and his wife Julie founded V1 Church. We’re super excited to have Mike on the show today. Welcome, sir, glad you’re here.

Mike Signorelli — Hey this is gonna be an amazing conversation. By the way we love your podcast…

Rich Birch — Oh thanks, brother.

Mike Signorelli — …so shout out to my entire team who already listens and is excited about this.

Rich Birch — Well this is a bit of a self-congratulatory moment. We’re actually celebrating 10 years of the podcast…

Mike Signorelli — Wow.

Rich Birch — …which is is crazy to me. And so one of the things I love is I’ve you know, kind of tracked with your church on and off over the years. And so, so fun, actually my assistant said, I’m reaching out to V1. And it was like I don’t even think she knew that we had we had we’ve you know, chatted a little bit, been together in some cohorts, and so super excited to have you on today. Well, why don’t you fill in the picture. Kind of tell us a bit about V1, tell us about your background, ah, you know fill in the picture for folks.

Mike Signorelli — Yeah, and I want to provide as much value as I can for the pastors and leaders listening right now, and so I’m gonna be super transparent and vulnerable.

Rich Birch — Love it.

Mike Signorelli — Our church started with 18 people none none of which had a church before. I was their very first pastor.

Rich Birch — Wow.

Mike Signorelli — And it’s because I led them to Christ. And so I have the engine of an evangelist and kind of like the heart of a shepherd. They were agnostics, atheists, Hindu, Muslim. And so primarily I was like how do I lead the lost to Christ because that would be the DNA of our church. And I wanted to make sure that the the DNA of our church wasn’t necessarily transfer growth, even though there’s nothing wrong with that in certain situations. It was like I want, you know, I believe that you impart who you are, right?

Rich Birch — So good.

Mike Signorelli — And so like you can tell your church to evangelize, but if you aren’t evangelizing, as my friend John Maxwell would say, you are the lid. It’s the law of the lid. And so I was like New York City is a tremendously hard place to have a church, and less than 3% identify as evangelical Christian out of the millions of people here. And so I was like I need to learn how to lead lost people to Christ myself…

Rich Birch — So good.

Mike Signorelli — …so I can impart that into my team. And so we started with 18 people. And I actually had moved from Northwest Indiana to New York City, sold my house, cashed out my retirement – one of those stories. And so then going coming into launch day, and I know there’s somebody listening who’s going to identify with this, I was like you know what? I’ve spent all this money on marketing, I’ve done the playbook for ARC—shout out Chris Hodges, who’s a friend of mine.

Rich Birch — Yeah.

Mike Signorelli — I did everything they said to do and I expected like okay at least the worst case scenarios 300 people show up.

Rich Birch — Right, right.

Mike Signorelli — And then the next week 150 will remain and we can be sustainable.

Rich Birch — Right.

Mike Signorelli — So with with me selling my house, cashing out my retirement…

Rich Birch — That’s amazing.

Mike Signorelli — …doing every everything God told me to do, we go to launch Sunday and we go from 18 people to 50. And I was suicidal.

Rich Birch — Yes, what is happening? Yes, oh my goodness. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Mike Signorelli — I mean and I remember looking at that movie theater and seeing 50 people. And and mind you, my team is so ecstatic because none of them had ever had a pastor before.

Rich Birch — Yes.

Mike Signorelli — And so they’re thinking, like we just tripled, you know?

Rich Birch — Yes, yes yes.

Mike Signorelli — And I’m like and so on the drive home, I’m so depressed. And my wife puts her hand on my shoulders, like Mike, it’s going to be okay. I’m inconsolable – leave me alone. Don’t even talk to me. I ended up getting three flat tires that day – that’s a whole nother story. And I don’t know if it was demonic but it was like kill mode, you know?

Rich Birch — Wow. Yes.

Mike Signorelli — So it’s like I get 3 flat tires and a parking ticket in New York City. And I remember just having to make my mind up like what is it really about. Because you know we measure, but God weighs, you know? And I remember the Holy Spirit dealing with me about like what if it what if it is 50 people. What if it is 100 people? Like can you learn to love the one? And what’s it all…So I had… it was a real soul searching time. Matter of fact, it took us it took us I think a year and a half to break a hundred.

Rich Birch — Wow.

Mike Signorelli — And by the way, I was the executive pastor of a multisite megachurch before I moved to New York City, so I assumed I was going to save New York city and I was going to have this [inaudible]

Rich Birch — Right. Yes.

Mike Signorelli — And it’s it’s, you know, but in that season I I learned and another thing. And this is kind of a phrase we use in the V1 world. We go slow to go fast.

Rich Birch — So good.

Mike Signorelli — And so there was something like fast success builds ego, but slow success builds sustainability.

Rich Birch — Oh good. That’s good.

Mike Signorelli — And for me it was like we go slow to go fast. And so I I came out of my mild depression and I was like, wait a second. What’s hard… where in the world is harder than New York City? And who’s winning there?

Rich Birch — Right. Oh that’s cool.

Mike Signorelli — You know because it’s almost like one of the things about like Christian…Yeah, like one of the things about Christian mission trips is oftentimes they’re for the Christians more than the people they go to serve, right?

Rich Birch — True, Very true.

Mike Signorelli — So my thing was like, you know what? Ah what is harder… so like a lot of times you go to these other countries and you’re like, man, once I see the way they live I feel all of a sudden I feel so much better about where I live. And so I and so I started looking to Muslim nations. I started looking to places where, you know, the odds were like what’s worse than 3%. And I started looking to 10/40 window and so then we switched our strategy to ruthless disciple-making.

Rich Birch — Oh that’s interesting. Right. Huh.

Mike Signorelli — So it was like disciples that make disciples that make disciples. And so I was like, you know, what evangelical American Western, you know, like those those models I think there’s tremendous value in them.

Rich Birch — Right.

Mike Signorelli — But for me I’m in a situation where it’s like it’s a both/and. It’s not it’s not like… so I didn’t ditch the ARC model. I didn’t ditch some of the things that tried and true, but it was like I need to it needs to become a both/and.

Rich Birch — Do both/and. Love it.

Mike Signorelli — Yeah.

Rich Birch — Oh I love that. That’s so good. I um, you know I love this idea of ruthless disciple making, going slow to go fast, hey we’ve got to really focus on the people that are in front of us. How do we what what that look like when you talk about ruthless disciple making? What does that look like for you? What it look like for you in that phase? And then, you know, what does it look like today? I also just want to put a pin in this, friends. We started by describing how you talk about the vision or how the church talks about the vision. A global voice of the gospel to all people. I love I’m going to look forward to drawing the line for people. How do you go from 50 on launch day to that huge vision. I love that. So but what did ruthless disciple making look like, what does that look like for you guys?

Mike Signorelli — Yeah, well and you know a lot of times in western American church it’s like we we have, you know, people who that we “release” to do certain things. So, oh so-and-so is leading a small group; so-and-so is preaching on Sunday. So and so… And and that’s appropriate because we do need a standard by which we you know, evaluate whether or not someone’s ready for influence. But then I think what’s missing is, but but like are we teaching people to evangelize and lead lost people to Christ in their own personal life and building a value around that? And then…

Rich Birch — So good.

Mike Signorelli — …are we helping them actually disciple people and how do they do that? So if you were to ask most Christians in America, have you led somebody to Christ? Probably they’d answer no and then amongst the ones that said yes, then you would say, well are you discipling them and what does that look like?

Rich Birch — So good.

Mike Signorelli — So so here’s what we started to do. Um because I don’t want any pastor listening right now to feel like I’m deconstructing their entire church. Because again I’m saying it’s both/and, it’s both/and.

Rich Birch — Yes.

Mike Signorelli — So the question used to be, how do you disciple people at V1, at V1 church? Now the question is, how do you not get discipled at V1 church?

Rich Birch — Oh I Love it. Love it. That’s great.

Mike Signorelli — So it’s like so it’s ubiquitous.

Rich Birch — Right.

Mike Signorelli — And so it’s like it’s holistic. Discipleship is everything. So joining the dream team to serve as a volunteer is a form of discipleship, and we just say that. We’re going to disciple you through volunteer. Um going to a small group is a form of discipleship. But hey listening to Pastor Mike’s sermon on Sunday is also a form of discipleship. So there’s an intentionality of using the word discipleship, but connecting it to things…

Rich Birch — Right.

Mike Signorelli — …in a way that helps people understand, hey I don’t know if you missed it, but you were just discipled. And, Rich, were for years I would actually get up on stage and say, hey guys, I’m so excited to disciple you right now. And and they would be like, oh this is discipleship. Yes. And then ah and then the dream team leaders would be like, hey guys, I’m so excited we’re in our huddle before service starts. Let me disciple you. And it was almost like we just started narrating the moment and telling people you’re being discipled.

Mike Signorelli — But then another… Okay, so now that’s the both/and. But then another thing that we added in those early days was a system for tracking discipleship. And so in other words, there’s like a pipeline, but also a family tree. So you’ve heard about like the leadership pipelines. So the example of that would be people go to your assimilation. Maybe it’s growth track, and they become a member and then in that membership phase, they become a dream team participant. Now they’re like serving in in the parking lot, and then maybe the pipeline is they become a parking lot like leader, right?

Rich Birch — Sure. Yeah, yeah.

Mike Signorelli — But so but that’s the pipeline. But then I think most churches don’t have a family tree.

Rich Birch — Hmmm. Oh.

Mike Signorelli — So like and I know this is kind of like nuanced and it might feel a little like mystical and new like new school, like like what is he talking about. But here’s what I would do. I would literally when I meet people who I know are faithfully attending my church, I would say hey I got a question for you. Who are you discipling right now.

Rich Birch — Love it. Okay, that’s great.

Mike Signorelli — So like let me give an example of super practical…

Rich Birch — Yep, yep.

Mike Signorelli — I led this guy named Ayush to Christ who was a Hindu, multi-generational Hindu. And um, his dad had just died. And I was telling him I said, Ayush you can still have a dad. And he was like, how – my dad’s dead? I said, well, God wants to be your father through Jesus. And I gave a basic gospel message. So Ayush starts crying and he’s like, wow, that makes so much sense, like I feel something right now. And I’m like, Ayush, you’re feeling the love of the Father right now – this is… And um and so he accepts Jesus. I baptize him.

Mike Signorelli — And ah, but then Ayush says, Pastor Mike I’m so afraid to tell my mom and my my family that I’ve become a Christian, you know, because ah, you know, this is going to be devastating news because we’re all Hindus. And I say well, Ayush, unfortunately for you if you deny Christ before your family, he’s going to deny you before his father.

Rich Birch — Okay.

Mike Signorelli — So I’m telling this New York City former Hindu, you’ve got you have to go tell your whole family…

Rich Birch — Yes, yes.

Mike Signorelli — …that you are now a believer. So he goes and breaks the news to his family. They’re all bawling their eyes out. And then he comes back. He’s like okay, I did it. Am I a real disciple now? So like this is this is the gospel. And I’m like yeah…

Rich Birch — Wow, wow.

Mike Signorelli — …you’re willing to break your mom’s heart so you don’t break God’s heart.

Rich Birch — Wow.

Mike Signorelli — Like that you are a disciple. But then once he starts stabilizing. And there’s fruit in his the fruits of the Spirit in his life, now I have to go to Ayush and say, Ayush, I got a question you, who have you led to Christ? You know, who are you discipling?

Rich Birch — Right, right. And let’s push it on. Yeah yeah, totally.

Mike Signorelli — Yeah, and so like we started creating the concept of like there’s leadership pipelines, I love that, I obsess over it. But then there’s family tree.

Rich Birch — Right.

Mike Signorelli — And now I’m thinking. Okay Ayush, you maybe got rejected by your my your biological mother, your biological sister, but now you need to start creating a family tree. Who are you discipling? What does that look like?

Rich Birch — Yeah I love that. Well and I think there can be a there’s a there’s a tension that it and it’s a false dichotomy that is sometimes felt in churches where it’s like you have to either be, you know, heavily evangelism or heavy discipleship. You can’t do both. You can’t, you know, and and that’s that isn’t true. And we see that time and again with fast-growing churches that it’s like you realize, gosh, we’ve got to do both. We have to find a way to grow people up, to move them farther in their relationship with Jesus, partly because there are so many people coming in. Um, talk to me about one of the the um criticisms of a discipleship a heavily discipleship-oriented church is it can become kind of inward-focused. It can be about hey it’s just about inward kind of I’m gathering information, I’m you know, the stereotype—this isn’t actually true—but the stereotype is like it’s like ah it’s just a boat acquiring information. It’s just about acquiring trivial knowledge. How have you been able to push against that in your environment as you’ve been trying to increase discipleship at V1?

Mike Signorelli — Yeah, absolutely. And this is going to help a lot of pastors and leaders. So I look at people going through three distinct phases

Rich Birch — Okay.

Mike Signorelli — And it and it helps them go from inward focused to outward focused, as you… Because anytime there’s an obsession over self, that’s the fastest way to shrink and kill your church, you know? And and so we’ve got to get people outward focused. We have to get people thinking about other People. and and you know that’s a very hard thing to do because a lot of American culture in particular is extremely consumeristic. And so even so, for example, I tell people the the Lord’s prayer is actually we and our language, not me. So our father who is in heaven, you know, give us today our daily bread. So Jesus when he was discipling, he was using “we” language, “us’ language, “our” language. And to most Americans that’s mind blowing. They never even noticed it…

Rich Birch — Right.

Mike Signorelli — …because we’re all like me, me, me.

Rich Birch — Yes.

Mike Signorelli — So the three distinct phrases that I’m trying to graduate people through is hospital to family, family to army.

Rich Birch — Oh so good.

Mike Signorelli — And and I use that kind of language. And the reason why is because listen when people come to us, they are broken and they’re coming to the hospital. And I will tell you so my brother is a nurse and he gave me this acronym that nurses sometimes use for pain. And it’s Pay Attention Inside Now. So like for example, Rich, if I were to kick you in your stomach as hard as I could, you know…

Rich Birch — Ah, yes, thank you.

Mike Signorelli — …yeah a good friend. You know as soon as I would do it, you would become the most selfish person in that environment…

Rich Birch — Right.

Mike Signorelli — …because you would say this pain…

Rich Birch — You got nothing else to think about. Yeah.

Mike Signorelli — …there’s nothing else I can think about.

Rich Birch — Right.

Mike Signorelli — So usually selfishness is an indicator of pain. So it’s like the most selfish people…

Rich Birch — Oh that’s good right.

Mike Signorelli — …are the most the people in the most pain.

Rich Birch — Right.

Mike Signorelli — As matter of fact and you know how I know that? Because I was raised by a single mother on welfare social assistance in a trailer park, marked multiple abusive stepdads, and so I was in a lot of pain. So even when I became a pastor, I was a selfish pastor because I was still in pain. And it’s funny because you can’t be generous when you’re in pain.

Rich Birch — Right.

Mike Signorelli — You you can’t give financially because it’s like well I need I I I… And that’s why Jesus puts an example on the woman who gives two mites because, man, her her situation, being a widow, would demand pay attention inside now. I’m in a lot of pain. So that woman did a supernatural act by being generous and selfless in the midst of all that pain.

Rich Birch — Wow. That’s good.

Mike Signorelli — So well, here’s my thing though: you don’t you don’t tell people are hurting, stop hurting. You know?

Rich Birch — Right.

Mike Signorelli — Like what kind of a psychopath would I be if I was like, Rich, stop…

Rich Birch — Yes.

Mike Signorelli — You know, Stop stop, you know, acting like that.

Rich Birch — Right.

Mike Signorelli — Because, you know, what’s what’s the natural posture of somebody in pain. They get smaller. So you would if I kicked you in your stomach you would go you would become smaller.

Rich Birch — Yeah, buckle over? Yes, yes.

Mike Signorelli — You would buckle over.

Rich Birch — Yeah.

Mike Signorelli — And if I said, like stop doing that, you know… So I think a lot of us as pastors, we’re trying to tell people who are in pain stop doing that posture. I need you to serve on the dream team. I need you to serve. I need you to give more financially. I need… And they’re like, I can’t.

Rich Birch — Right, right.

Mike Signorelli — Like I can’t do anything other than this posture.

Rich Birch — So what does that look like? So I love this, you know, hospital, family, army. So in the hospital phase, what are you doing to try to help people, or what is that kind of practically how does that work itself out to kind of help people move people from hospital to family?

Mike Signorelli — Yeah, and I think this is a tweak on Chris Hodges’ stuff and I’ve talked to him about that at length.

Rich Birch — Yep.

Mike Signorelli — Yes, we believe in assimilation, but assimilation without healing is not going to produce sustainability.

Rich Birch — Oh that’s good.

Mike Signorelli — Because people can’t live beyond their level of health.

Rich Birch — Right.

Mike Signorelli — So it’s like you’re trying to ask people to do healthy behaviors that aren’t healthy. So what that looks like for me is is, and I’m just going to be brutally transparent right now. Some people come to you like Mary Magdalene. And my friend Robert Morris understands this – they call it Freedom Ministry. Some people may need to get free from demonic oppression.

Rich Birch — Right.

Mike Signorelli — There there may be things in their life that’s like man… But guess what, Rich, sometimes it’s not a demon; sometimes it’s mental health. And so in the V1 world I have mental health counselors all that, all over the United States, that we send people on scholarship journeys. And we have a whole budget for our church to be like we’re going to pay for you to go to biblical-based, you know, therapy and counseling for months, if we have to. And we’re making these massive investments in people to get them healthy. And so what that looks like is scholarshipping people from for counseling. Um and and basically like growth track for us looks like a diagnosis, not just assimilation.

Rich Birch — Okay, okay.

Mike Signorelli — So we’re like, hey that person’s marriage is jacked. We need to send them to marriage counseling for a minimum of eight weeks, and we’ll pay for it. Hey that person we think that person’s demonized. They need to get deliverance. They need to get free. And we need to teach them. Because, hey, Rich, listen I’m sorry to say it, but the new age and occult practices are ubiquitous now. People know their sign, but they can’t quote you a scripture.

Rich Birch — Right.

Mike Signorelli — You know my good friend, Mike Todd, I helped him through a session that he did at his last Transformation Conference to get people to stop participating in new age practices, like…

Rich Birch — Yeah, yep.

Mike Signorelli — So people are coming to us like jacked up. So my goal practically is do you need to go through Freedom, like you would at Robert Morris, or Transformation Church. Do you need to go through um ah counseling you know, ah extended therapy and counseling biblical-based um. Here’s another one, and this is scandalous, but churches need to start thinking like this: do we need you to um, do we need to put some resources in your life for your physical body? And and what does that look like? And so you know, um in V1 world, we might say, hey there’s somebody that will come alongside of you and go on a journey with your with you in ah in your physical body. We have stories of like people getting free.

Rich Birch — Wow.

Mike Signorelli — So think about this and this is the vision the Lord gave me. And obviously you could tell I’m more apostolic.

RIch Birch — Sure.

Mike Signorelli — I don’t go by the title but like I love to activate and empower people.

RIch Birch — Right.

Mike Signorelli — And so like in the 90s the reason why the mall, the concept of a mall was so huge in the United States was because your entire family could go and there were stores for each like niche. So like I kind of look at the local church as a mall where it’s like, hey I don’t specialize in the body, but I do have pastors and staff members that do that will that they love. They’ll love to help you figure out your diet and a workout regimen. You know? Or I’ve got like our church doesn’t do biblical-based counseling well, but I learned this from TD Jakes at The Potter’s House. He has a whole arm that does counseling.

Rich Birch — Right.

Mike Signorelli — So it’s like but we will refer you and if finances are a barrier, we’ll pay for it.

Rich Birch — Yeah, we’ll help you with that. Yeah, yeah.

Mike Signorelli — And and and so a scripture in Proverbs says the world of the generous gets larger and larger. And the world of this stingy gets smaller and smaller. So as a church we’re like, hey let’s become generous with our gifts. And provide these resources for each other. And so the example and this is like, you know, and then I’ll kind of kick it back to you. But the example is in the 1800s you have that doctor that does house visits – one doctor with the black bag that comes around from house to house. Now here’s the thing…

Rich Birch — Yes.

Mike Signorelli — It feels so good for that man to walk into your house and you get personal care.

Rich Birch — Right.

Mike Signorelli — But you still might die because he’s not he’s an expert in nothing.

Rich Birch — Right. Yes, yes.

Mike Signorelli — In the new school hospital has like state-of-the-art cancer facility, state-of-the-art ah postpartum birthing facilities. So really, what V1 has become is so what the what the people want me to be is the doctor that goes from house to house.

Rich Birch — Right.

Mike Signorelli — Oh I personally know my pastor. But what I’ve refused to do is let me generalize in everything but specialize in nothing. And so now V1 church becomes a state of the art facility where it’s like, hey I don’t specialize in marriage, but I know someone who does.

Rich Birch — Love it. Let’s…

Mike Signorelli — And that’s another form of discipleship.

Rich Birch — Love it. We’re going to come back to that. I want to come back to that as an idea, but I I want to stick for a second to that this transition of family to army. So I love that. I think you’re raising all kinds of good questions around, Hey you know, if our so our assimilation process is just about pushing people ultimately to get on a team and we’re not addressing, Hey what what’s actually happening within them, man, we’re just setting ourselves up for a failure. I think that’s a really big thought we need to wrestle with. Ah John Mark Comer, I love – he talks about this one of these great ironies of the New Testament is it would appear like for the first 3-, 400 years, well it’s clear the first 3-, 400 years the Christians were pacifists. They they really resisted um, using any kind of force. And but ironically there’s all of this New Testament text that talks about us as soldiers and an army and on mission and, you know, there’s a ton of that language there. Um, which is is a bit of an irony. But how do we how do we help move people who are connected in our church from thinking about this just as a family, but ultimately to a to an army on task, trying to get out and do something. What does that look like for V1?

Mike Signorelli — Yeah, and I’ll try to give you just a super practical answer. But it’s funny because there’s this big trend in Christianity to talk about sabbath, to talk about rest.

Rich Birch — True.

Mike Signorelli — We like, you know, like if you want to like if you’re listening and you want a viral sermon series, do one on rest.

Rich Birch — Yes.

Mike Signorelli — Because Christians obsessed over that. Never mind the fact if you don’t use it you lose it in your physical body.

Rich Birch — Right.

Mike Signorelli — So like if, you know, the muscles atrophy with too much rest, right?

Rich Birch — Right.

Mike Signorelli — And so here’s what that’s revealing. It’s not that we need more rest. It’s that we need proper rhythms. And so like I think for me practically it’s like the way to get people to serve sustainably is to make them the healthiest version of themselves.

Rich Birch — Yes.

Mike Signorelli — So like so what we’re doing is on the frontend, we’re frontloading with so much value, like I mentioned. That’s the hospital phase. We’re like, we will do anything it takes to get you healthy in the front end. So people’s earliest engagement with our church is not, hey meet our celebrity pastor. It’s hey, meet the team of people that we are assigning to your life to get every area healthy.

Rich Birch — Love it.

Mike Signorelli — Then what happens is we’re building so much value in their life, then as they get healthy, the the thought organically starts bubbling up, man, how could I do this for other people?

Rich Birch — So good.

Mike Signorelli — How could I join like, you know, I want to be like the person who helped me. And then that’s when they, now watch though, that’s when they start becoming family, like I belong here. And…

Rich Birch — Right.

Mike Signorelli — …these people really care about me and I couldn’t even help them because of the state that I came in, but now their help… But then right when we get at that point that’s when our team starts discerning, Okay, we’ve got to start putting them on assignment. Because as you know, if we stay in the family phase, number 1 that’s not biblical because the early church was adding daily. They were constantly expanding; healthy things grow, but we got it but… Because, you know, we don’t want to be incestuous, right? So then that’s when we start intentionally telling them, hey you were ah when we first met you, you were a heroin addict. We took you, you know, we took you through this long phase. Now you’ve been sober for a year. What would it look like for you to facilitate a connect group for other people who are struggling with addiction?

Rich Birch — Right.

Mike Signorelli — And what we found, Rich, is that people will most likely will not think that thought on their own. It needs to be sowed into their mind.

Rich Birch — Intentional. Yeah.

Mike Signorelli — That’s why like Jesus walked up to them and said, hey, I’ve got an idea I know you’re a fisherman, but I will make you a fisher of men. He had to sow that idea. He had to recruit because that’s that’s not a natural thought. So I think a lot of pastors right now are probably getting their mind blown because they think—and and this is I feel like this is going to be the mic drop statement of the whole podcast for somebody—is they think I have served these people so well. When are they going to start serving our house and why does that that just happen um, automatically? Guess what pastor. It’s it’s not going to happen.

Rich Birch — No. That’s good.

Mike Signorelli — And it doesn’t make these people selfish.

Rich Birch — Right.

Mike Signorelli — These people love you, they love their church, but they will become selfish unless you transition them. And then you train your leaders to transition them. So it’s ah it’s the culture of V1 to to go out into the the population and say hey, have you ever thought about leading a connect group? Hey, have you ever thought about serving you know and being a leader…

Rich Birch — Dude, that’s good.

Mike Signorelli — …on the dream team. And it’s like that’s a cultural thing. Jesus recruited so you’re going to have to recruit. .

Rich Birch — Yep.

Mike Signorelli — But watch this: if you recruit them without ah, an attempt to to get them healthy and build value in their life, you’re selfish. But if you do recruit them after you’ve shown them that you don’t want anything from them and you’ve selflessly led them, now you’re empowering them.

Rich Birch — Oh so good, so good.

Mike Signorelli — So yeah.

Rich Birch — Dude, that’s great. Love it. That is so good. There’s a lot packed in there. And, you know, I remember years ago I heard this one pastor where we were he was talking about harvest and the idea of the harvest. And like we’re you know we’re excited about our churches seeing a huge harvest. And and and he made this point that I was like, oh gosh I’ve never thought of it that way, is he said, you know, most of us in this room are are don’t come from an agrarian culture.

Mike Signorelli — Yeah.

Rich Birch — We don’t come from a place where we had to harvest. And our impression of the harvest is like that’s when all the good things happen. And and then he he points, is anybody here been a farmer? And there’s like one guy raises his hand. He’s like well what happens at harvest? And the and the farmer says, we work really hard. Like that’s, you know, and and that’s true. Like I think I’ve often thought like harvest, sure I want to have a harvest, but it’s like man really what it is is you got to lean in and it’s the same kind of army intensity. I love that.

Rich Birch — I want to come back to this idea that, hey your people—and and this is so true—um, your people are looking for you to be a pastor, to be the like jack of all trades, master of none. Do everything. Talk to a leader who’s experiencing that today, that you have gone through this transition from pastor of a church of 50 people. Um, and that’s a major kind of milestone head thing that people mindset that people have to get their that pastors have to get their head around. I’ve got to not make all roads lead to me. I’ve got to find ways to empower other people. Talk us talk to a pastor who’s in that and is struggling with that today. How do how how can we get our heads around ensuring that we’re positioning ourselves correctly and not actually giving into that um with our people?

Mike Signorelli — Well yeah, and you know here’s the thing. It’s with a lot of empathy I say this because probably the pastor does do it better, you know? I mean that’s the reality of it and a lot of pastors that I know they can sing, play multiple instruments, preach a phenomenal sermon, take up the offering and more money comes in than if somebody else does it. But what happens is you’re winning in the short term, but then you’re losing in the long run.

Rich Birch — So good.

Mike Signorelli — And I can’t tell you how many pastors didn’t finish strong because they weren’t raising up children. And here’s the thing, it’s like you’ve got… the way I look at it is um, if they can do it 70% as well as I can, and then I can take them on a journey of development. And I think that’s just part of it – changing their poopy diapers, you know, crying with them, laughing with them. But if you raise up if you if you build a culture of training and development, then what’ll happen is eventually once you do get a couple of layers of spiritual children in your leadership, they will then start policing the culture for you. And they’ll start filling in the blanks and it becomes easier and easier as you go.

Mike Signorelli — I didn’t know that in the early days. It’s just somebody would go up on stage and say something. I’d say oh they just destroyed my entire ministry. Yeah, you know, because they would say something stupid. And I’d be like ah got to fix that.

Rich Birch — Ah, yes, yes, yes.

Mike Signorelli — But here’s the thing like you’re either going to deal with the pain of doing it all yourself or the pain of development of other people.

Rich Birch — Yeah, pick your pain. Yeah, that’s good. That’s good. Yeah.

Mike Signorelli — And you have to choose your pain. You’re not getting out of pain. It’s either the pain of like I got to do this all myself, or it’s the pain of oh no, they said something stupid or they did something. And what I’ve learned is that if you’re willing to go with the pain of development, eventually that becomes a lesser pain.

Rich Birch — Right.

Mike Signorelli — And that and so because now like okay watch I’ve got a campus in Miami. I’ve got a campus in Bakersville, California, Indiana I got a campus in Long Island, New York City. I cannot physically be in those places.

Rich Birch — Right.

Mike Signorelli — But what I’ve done over time, through development and training and releasing and imparting to people, is create a situation where, like Jesus said, it’s better that I go. And and they they couldn’t understand that, like what do you mean? You’re Jesus. It’s better that you go? And most pastors their mantra would be, it’s better that I stay.

Rich Birch — Right. Oh gosh.

Mike Signorelli — And so if we’re really going to be like Jesus, we’ve got to create ah a culture in our church where it is actually better that we go.

Rich Birch — Right. So good.

Mike Signorelli — And and what I mean by that is um, you know, it’s it’s you will do greater things. And a lot of that for me comes from like I mentioned before I never had a dad. I’m a first generation pastor. Nobody invested in my church. I started it with the 18 people. And I just thought like you know what? I’m going to be what I never had.

Rich Birch — So good.

Mike Signorelli — And I and I and I felt like people didn’t believe in me, people didn’t understand me. And I was like, I’m going to be… and I was jacked up emotionally. So a lot of V1 is really me trying to be for people what I wish so badly a church was for me. And it’s with that empathy that we’ve grown. Because now, for me, I love preaching, Rich. That’s one of my favorite things, but you know what I love more than preaching? I love watching somebody I train to preach crush it. And I’m that like soccer mom on the side of the field just screaming them down being like yeah because now you know…

Rich Birch — So good.

Mike Signorelli — Now I can and and you listen what how I know that I’m headed in the right direction, because I haven’t arrived yet. I mean I’m still failing forward. But I I was on vacation one Sunday and we broke an attendance record.

Rich Birch — Love it. Love it.

Mike Signorelli — And I just laughed and I was like, okay Jesus I’m learning.

Rich Birch — Yes, yes. I love that. We we had a very similar thing when I was at Liquid, just around the corner from you. We went away, the we our leadership team went away for a weekend.

Mike Signorelli — Yeah.

Rich Birch — And we were visiting another church and that was, you know, super rare. You get all the folks that lead this thing we all went and visited another church. And it was like, you know, there was like I should we really do this kind of thing. And and it was the same thing. We had ah we set record attendance that weekend, record up until that point, record revenue as well. And and I said that on Monday, Tuesday, I was like it’s like the Lord was saying like, hey guys, let’s just remember it’s not about us. It’s about something else. I love that. That’s this is so good, Mike.

Mike Signorelli — Well and let me just tag this on there…

Rich Birch — Yeah, totally.

Mike Signorelli — …because I think this is a phenomenon is the spiritual children, they want to make you proud.

Rich Birch — Oh sure. Yeah.

Mike Signorelli — So like they’ll overcompensate. So it’s like oh, Rich and the team are gone. Let’s show them what we got.

Rich Birch — Yep.

Mike Signorelli — And then they’ll try in in their their elbow grease will get them further. So it’s like sometimes you got to factor that in where they’ll scrap these big wins for you because they want to make you proud.

Rich Birch — Yeah that’s good. Well and I love that. You said something there that really resonated with me as well as when you said, you know, I think, you know, we should be like Jesus and say it’s better for me to go. And I think in some ways some of our cultures have that completely inversed where we actually highly value the person who just stays. It’s like they’ve been there for 40 years. They’ve, you know, they’re the person who’s done the same thing for 40 years. And there’s there’s a real dark side to that, which means they have not raised anyone else up. They have not brought anyone behind them. And so yeah, love that, Mike. What a great, great encouragement.

Mike Signorelli — Thank you.

Rich Birch — Well just as we’re as we’re closing down um I I what I want to hear from you, just kind of final moments. But we also have ah this great PDF, fantastic read for folks called “The 10 Enemies of Process”. Tell us a little bit about this. I appreciate you just giving giving us this this resource, but tell us a little bit about that as we close up today’s episode.

Mike Signorelli — There’s probably, well there’s probably so much that people are thinking like I want to try the things that they talked about in the podcast. And if you have a barrier to actually accomplishing it, there’s probably ten barriers or ten reasons why it’s not happening. And matter of fact I mean I’ve done this leadership talk “The 10 Enemies of Process” at literally the second largest church in America and other places, and and it would even be worth you guys literally reading it and having a discussion with your team, with your staff, because it’s going to hit on things like self-pity.

Rich Birch — Yep.

Mike Signorelli — You know like some of those reasons we’re like why is this… how can I not get them from hospital to family to army? Why am I not transitioning them? It’s one of these ten things.

Rich Birch — Yeah, I love it.

Mike Signorelli — And so I just wanted to make that available just ah, just to love on you.

Rich Birch — I appreciate you doing that. I really appreciate that. I thought the exact same thing. I was going to say that same thing. To me I think this is a great It’s like a ready to use leadership resource. Listen friends, I endorsed it. I took some time to read it before this. You don’t even have to read it ahead of time. Send it to your leadership team and say, hey we’re going to meet next week; we’re going to talk about this. I think it’d be great to be a great blessing for you as you. And I really appreciate, Mike, you putting that together. So as we’re wrapping up, anything else you’d love to say just as we close today’s episode?

Mike Signorelli — No, you know, I’m praying that people are encouraged because um, really for me, like I said, I’m the least likely to even be achieving these things. When when we hit these statuses of fastest growing church, we literally our team cried. Because for us it was not the accumulation of numbers. It was the accumulation of stories.

Rich Birch — So good.

Mike Signorelli —And so like if you have in your heart right now, well I don’t, you know, these people are obsessed with church growth. Actually, no. I think what I want to reframe it is like God wants to give you more stories.

Rich Birch — So good.

Mike Signorelli —Your life carries more testimonies. And that’s why we cried because we knew the stories of these lives. And that’s really what I think the heart of the Father is for many people. So I’m cheering you on. I’m shouting you guys down, and I can’t wait to hear the testimonies even from this podcast.

Rich Birch — Love it. Thanks so much, Mike. If people want to connect with you or with the church, where do we want to send them online?

Mike Signorelli — Um, yeah I would say maybe go to my website. It’s mikesignorelli.com. I’ve got more resources there, a lot of blogs and different things. And matter of fact I just want to sneak this in real quick.

Rich Birch — Yeah, absolutely.

Mike Signorelli — Rich, really I believe we we are living in the fruit of your yes. And I mean, you know, this but I’ve like forced my team to do so many of your trainings, and we’ve regarded your stuff as like the best of the best.

Rich Birch — Oh so sweet of you. Thank you.

Mike Signorelli — And so this this was the full circle moment because I think when we were only two campuses deep is when I started engaging you and being like, guys, everything Rich is put out, consume it, learn it, I’m quizzing you on it. So I just want to publicly honor you and acknowledge…

Rich Birch — Oh that’s sweet.

Mike Signorelli — …your hard work because we are the byproduct of that.

Rich Birch — Oh I appreciate that, Mike, that’s super kind to you to say that. And yeah I’m like I say I’m a fan from afar. Love what you guys do. Love cheering on V1, and it’s fun to see. And there’s a lot of other stuff we could have talked about today ah, but I really appreciate you really serving our audience and and jumping in. So again I just will we’ll put a link in the show notes mikesignorelli.com – love to send you over there. There’s lots of great stuff there. Thanks for being here today, Mike.

Mike Signorelli — Thanks for having me.

Leave a Response

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.