Greg Atkinson on 4 Keys to Creating an Irresistible Church


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greg_atkinsonOn today’s podcast we have church consultant, author and pastor Greg Atkinson. We’re talking about four areas that every church should work on to become more irresistible in the coming year. This episode is overflowing with helpful thoughts on how to make your church the kind of church that people will want to attend and to tell their friends about. We based this conversation around a chapter of Greg’s book “Church Leadership Essentials“. Listen in on this episode for some practical insights on things you could improve at your church in the coming weeks and months.

Greg Atkinson // [Website] [twitter] [Church Leadership Essentials: What Every Pastor Needs to Know]

Interview Highlights

00:30 // Greg’s ministry experience

01:10 // Greg is the editor of an online magazine

02:00 // Greg’s new book, ‘Church Leadership Essentials’

02:20 // Becoming a more irresistible church in 2014

02:45 // Becoming more irresistible in the area of First Impressions

03:16 // First Impressions begin online before a guest has attended your church

03:20 // Guests should know that they matter to us before they hear that they matter to God

03:49 // The fastest growing churches in America expect guests

05:30 // Greg asks ‘is the pastor approachable, accessible?”

06:02 // Rich recalls a time when he was mislead to an empty new comer room

08:25 // How humbling that the pastor of one of the largest churches in America is still available to speak with after each service

10:06 // Walking slowly through the pews

11:00 // Becoming more irresistible in the area of Children’s Ministry

12:16 // Kids environments must always be Clean, Safe and Secure

16:40 // Paint goes a long way

17:17 // Impact of impressive Kid’s environments is greater on parents than kids

19:52 // Becoming more irresistible in the area of Security

20:11 // A mega church that Greg failed in the security area

25:59 // What’s involved in good ushering

28:57 // Becoming more irresistible in the area of Attractional Worship

29:55 // Church success is dependent upon people inviting their friends

31:56 // Greg reminds us that we don’t want to offend a guest by anything that is within our control

33:59 // Greg’s book – Church Leadership Insights: What Every pastor Needs to Know

Lightning Round Highlights

Helpful Online Resource // Gmail, Google Hangout

Books That are Having an Impact // Emotional Intelligence 2.0 by Travis Bradberry, Dangerous Calling by Paul David Tripp, What the Plus by Guy Kawasaki

Inspiring Ministries // Crosspoint, North Point, NewSpring, Seacoast

Inspiring Leader // John Maxwell

What does he do for fun? // Date nights with his wife, hanging with his kids, movies, guys night out

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

Interview Transcript //

Rich – Well, welcome to the unSeminary Podcast.  Rich Birch here, your host.  We have got a real treat here to kick off the new year today.  We have got speaker, writer, consultant, Greg Atkinson with us.  Greg is a 20 year veteran of church work.  He’s a real expert in so many different areas and a gift for us as we kick off the new year.  He’s actually left the local church environment to make himself more broadly available to serve churches all across the country, ultimately around the world.  Also is working with an online magazine right now.  Greg welcome to the show.  Why don’t you tell us a little bit about the online magazine you are working with these days.

Greg – Thank you for having me.  I am in a season right now where I am speaking, and writing and doing some freelance writing.  Working on some book projects that will be coming out in 2014, 2015.  And I am the editor of Christian Media Magazine.  It’s an online magazine and we are going in a new direction.  We just have a whole new look.  A whole new feel.  We went through a rebranding process and are coming out in the new year going strong trying to reach church leaders of all types to get them to read the magazine, to learn about media resources for them.

Rich – Nice.  Very cool.  We will link to that in the show notes so people can get a sense of that and learn more about that.  It’s obviously a great resource for people to get plugged into.  Well one of the things you wrote, you have written a number of books and we will talk about your book a little bit later. One of the books you wrote recently, I have it on my kindle so I apologize to those who can’t see that….’Church Leadership Essentials”. It’s a fantastic resource you should check out.  If you over the holiday season got your new Kindle, you should buy this book.  It’s only $5, common!  One of the chapters in there we what to really drill into for churches, because I think a lot of churches can benefit from this, is How to be Irresistible.  How to be more irresistible as a church.  You actually talk about 4 different things in there and I think that’s a great for all of us.  It would be great if in 2014 our churches were more irresistible than they were in 2013. So let’s talk about those 4 areas.  What’s the first area churches should think about when they want to be more irresistible?

Greg – Well in the book, and in my writing and my teaching I talk about 4 areas and the first area is First Impressions.  And that, as you know, starts before they come to the actual campus.  I include online presence in that.  I Include your use of social media, your website. Most people nowadays will check out your church online before they ever come to it physically.  Once they get there, Mark Waltz from Granger has a great quote in his book where he talks about how you’ve got 10 minutes somewhere between the parking lot and the children’s center 10 minutes will pass.  They should know they matter to us before they hear about how they matter to God.  So I like to focus on those first 10 minutes and letting people know that they are welcome, they are loved and that we were expecting them.  One of the things I found when I work doing my consulting is that the fastest growing churches in the country actually expect guests, they aren’t surprised when they show up.

Rich  – Oh wow.  That’s good.

Greg – It’s like they gear everything towards the first time guest.  Everything from Welcome Centers to Children’s check in, to signage, to parking lot greeters, everything is geared towards that first time guest.  So they are ready and waiting for that first time guest to show up.  Just having that good first impression in that first 10 minutes.

Rich – Ya that’s good.  Is there something that you’ve come across that some church has done on that first impression stuff that has been particularly intriguing to you?  Wow, that’s something I’ve never seen before.  To kind of make those first time guests feel extra special and welcome as they arrive.

Greg – A lot of churches that I have worked with will do some kind of either a VIP room after the service, or a Guest Central after the service, or a meet the pastor.  Some kind of opportunity where you go into a separate room, decorated like a party atmosphere, I love the VIP rooms that churches do and they have the little giveaways, maybe a little bag with goodies in it with stuff about the church to welcome people.  And then you get to actually physically shake the pastors hand and some of the other key leaders at the church.  Some kind of way that they get to actually make that connection on the first visit.  Actually, when I consult with churches, one of the things I look at in my report is ‘Is the pastor approachable, accessible?”  And that’s something that visitors are looking for, are they going to get a chance to talk with him, to hug him, to pray with him.  So that’s something that I like to see is at the end of the service, to have some kind of guest central or visitors spot where people can come in and meet key leaders.

Rich – That’s amazing. That’s a great tip.  My wife Christine and I, when we were first married, it was within the first year.  We were looking for a new church.  We had moved into a new community.  And we went and visited, it was kind of one of those churches that was going and blowing in town, it was doing a great job.  And during the service the church said ‘we’ve got this new comer room, we’d love for you to be there’  You probably see where this is going. And they had some signage out in the foyer saying here’s where the newcomer room is.  And it was a little bit weird because it was downstairs and kind of off in a corner but we were like, oh this is fine.  So we go and we stand and there’s sure enough a big sign, ‘new comers’ in front of the door.  And we go in there, and we just stand there.  And there’s no one there in the room.  And I was like, and I’m like a Christ Follower.  I love Jesus, big-time. And we are standing there feeling so awkward, what’s going to happen next, and no body came in.  So we just kind of slinked back out the door.

Greg – That’s poor execution.

Rich – We slink back out to the parking lot.  You know, that’s a great church.  I’ve often thought of that with the guest services stuff at our church, because that’s a great church.  They do a great job and are doing a lot of fantastic things. And there are are weekends when things go wrong and your normal system doesn’t happen. But you know what, the reality of it is, there are people that visit every weekend so you have to nail that stuff 52 weeks of the year, or however many weeks of the year you do services.

Greg – You gotta give it attention. You’ve gotta give it your presence.  You’ve got to make it a priority.  One thing I like to help churches do as a resource is to brainstorm creative names.  I mentioned you could call it a VIP room, a Guest Central, a New Comers Welcome.  One of my favorites is Erwin McManis in LA calls it the After Party.  And so they have a party after each service and you can meet each pastor, and Erwin if he is there live.  Love to throw out different ideas.

Rich – That’s fantastic.  On that front, still to this day, Bill Hybels, you know I find this humbling, after all these years he will hang our at the front and talk to every person and shake a hand and interact.  I think there are a lot of pastors of churches that aren’t 30 thousand people, or however many Willow has gotten to these days, who are like “i’ve got things to do, I’m a busy person.”  I commend Bill on that!  He’s willing to stand around.  I had brought a friend to Willow in the last year and we were at their last service, we did the tour thing and poked around and popped into the auditorium at the end and sure enough, this is now an hour after the last service and Bill is still hanging around, shaking hands, talking to people.  And I was like, hmmm, that’s a humbling sign for me because I think I am often just rushed on Sundays.

Greg – It speaks volumes.  When I consulted with 12Stones in Atlanta, their pastor Kevin Myers, they were just recently named the fastest growing church in the nation, but he’s down front praying with people, hugging people, crying with people, counseling with people after each and every service.  We all have that potential to be rushed, like you talked about, it’s human nature.  I wrote a chapter in the book about walking slowly through the pews.  That is something that I learned many years ago, nearly 20 years ago from my veteran uncle who had been a minister for many years.  He came up to me after one of the services and I said, ‘What did you think?’  I was a worship leader and I thought I had done a good job leading and I thought that was all that mattered.  And he said “Greg, walk slowly through the pews.  You rushed right by people, you just rushed down the aisle, and you were always in a hurry to get places, and you didn’t make eye contact and shake hands and speak to people.”  And so I never forgot that, and we always have to be intentional about walking slowly through the pews.

Rich – That’s a good bit of wisdom for sure.  So first impressions, that’s the first area.  What’s the second area we should be worrying about in 2014 if we want our church to be more irresistible than last year?

Greg – In Childrens Ministry, we as evangelical modern churches we are often trying to reach parents with young kids. And how you welcome kids when they come, how your rooms are decorated, all that speaks volumes, what they learn, is it just babysitting or do they actually learn stuff about the Bible and about God.  Great churches send kids home with devotional material, or homework to go over with their parents.  I love the ORANGE philosophy and the thought of partnering with parents where we send resources home, at my church, with the kids for them to show their parents, and the parents bring it up over dinner. ‘Ok, this Sunday you talked about Daniel.  What did Daniel do?  Then the discussion.  Actually in some ways it’s like a reverse discipleship because a lot of the parents aren’t strong Christians at all.  But the big three that I always talk about, and there’s a chapter in the book about this, is Clean, Safe and Secure.  Clean: If a parents drops off a child and it is a wreck.  it’s not clean, it’s not sanitized, presentable, it’s not nice neat and tidy.   It’s going to give a negative first impression.  Again, they are going to feel like you weren’t expecting guests and they’re going to get a negative impression, and you don’t want anything negative in the first 10 minutes.  Clean, Safe and Secure.  Safe means that there’s nothing dangerous in the room, there’s no jagged corners or corners sticking off the edge of some rusty table that a kid could fall and cut their eye open on. It’s got to be safe.  And last, secure.  It’s got to be secure.  How you get in, how you get out, how a child get’s checked in.  That’s why so many churches use database systems like Fellowship One, where you get the name badges, and you have to have a matching number to check the child out.  And also secure meaning there’s not a back door that’s unattended in the children’s facility where the kid could wander out into the street and get kidnapped or picked up.  In my church there’s one way in and one way out of the children’s part of the facility and those were monitored by security guards.  We had a great security team.  And you didn’t get out with a child unless you had a matching sticker.  It was very secure.  Clean, Safe and Secure.

Rich – Very cool.  On the children’s ministry front are there some common low hanging fruit that churches could implement even in these first months of the year.  I think a lot of times people get overwhelmed when they go to a church like North Point or Mariners out west and be like ‘oh my goodness, this is Disney World, we are not going to be able to do this.”  But are there some low hanging fruit that, people could do, even right away to help improve their children’s ministry.

Greg – Ya, we recently, the church where I was most recently the campus pastor, we were a multisite church and we moved into a new facility.  I wanted to do something like North Point, Mariners, kind of a wacky world theme.  Where Wacky World comes in and decks out the walls but we couldn’t afford it so we hired a local designer, a local print shop to make us those appliqués that stick to the walls, that look like Wacky World.  So it was done very economical, very cost effective, but it looks professional.  It looked like something I’d seen because my old church I was pastor at in Dallas, they had used Wacky World so I was familiar with what their stuff looked like, and it looked like it, but it was done by a local print shop so it was very economical.  My thing is excellence in all things, so if you can shoot for excellence, it doesn’t have to be Wacky World if they are not in your budget and you can’t afford it, but if you can try to, you know I was looking at a church…I visited a church two weeks ago and they are a great church, a large church, a mega church, but walking down the halls to their children’s facilities, they were just bland.  It was like khaki, or cream walls, just walking all down the hallways.  There was no vibrant color, nothing inviting, nothing exciting letting me know that I was in the children’s wing of the building.  Just real drab and bland.

Rich – Absolutely.  Ya, the environment piece is a huge deal.  It’s amazing.  Even if you are a church listening here today and you are thinking I’m not even sure we can afford to get some printing done, well you should look into it because it’s not as expensive as you think it is. But even if you can’t afford that, you would be amazed by what you can do with paint.

Greg – That’s what I was going to say, paint will do it.

Rich – Absolutely.  You can paint some walls.  We just went through a renovation of a facility and people are blown away by the kids environments but when you step back and look at it, it’s mostly paint.  There’s some environment stuff too but mostly what you are impacted by.  There was a study done recently, I believe it was by Cogun I need to go back and check the reference on that, where they basically went in a studied and asked kids and parents and families in these church environments where they’ve had the kind of Wacky World environment pieces and the impact that it’s had on them, and what they feel about the church, if it’s the kind of place that they can invite their friends.  It’s interesting, what they found is, the kids…those environments, very quickly, within a couple of weeks, they just become paint on the walls.  It just becomes kind of expected.  They think of course I go through a slide to get into my kids environments.  But listen, for parents, it almost lasts for years.

Greg – It’s the parents.  It speaks volumes to the parents.

Rich – Absolutely, years later you are thinking ‘oh my goodness, I can’t believe my kids get to go down a slide to the kids environment!’

Greg – That’s what I wish church leaders would realize.  They think, ‘they are a 3 year old, what do they care, let’s give them some crayons and let them color.’  They don’t realize we are trying to reach the 20-30 something parents that the kids are precious to them, their pride and joy, and when they come to a church that is inviting and welcoming to kids and has that Disney Land kind of feel, colors and attractive, compelling looking appearance, it just speaks volumes to the parents.  And that is included in that first 10 minutes.   Making that first impression  when they think my kids are happy, I am happy, and because it is clean safe and secure and I am not going to worry about their safety so I can worship and actually pay attention to the message and pay attention to what God wants to do in the service.  I can allow God to speak to me.   I am not worried if my child is going to go out that back door, or hit is head on that rough corner of the table.  They are not worried when it’s clean, safe and secure and they can focus on what God wants to do on their hearts in the worship service.

Rich – Absolutely.  That’s a huge lesson.  That’s one of those things I wish more church leaders would take to heart when it comes to their physical facility.  OK first impressions, children’s ministry.  What’s another area that we can invest in this coming year to make our church more irresistible?

Greg – Yes, the third area is security.  A lot of churches don’t think about this.  That clean, safe and secure, the word secure there, that applies to adults as well.  They want to feel secure. I worked with, I’m not going to say which church it was, but it is a well known giga church, mega church with a well known worship leader and pastor.  Amazing church. And I worked with them as a secret shopper  and I did my report and the last question says would I return to this church. Would I come back as a guest and I said no.  And they were stunned and shocked but they were also pleased that someone was honest with them.  That someone would shoot straight with them.  And that’s what a consultant is supposed to do.  I’m not just supposed to tell you what you want to hear.  And they said ‘tell us more about this.  Why wouldn’t you come back?  We have some of the best worship in the country?” And I said but you’re not secure, and I didn’t see any security present.  I didn’t see any people with ear pieces in. I didn’t see any police officers roaming around which should happen in mega churches.  I didn’t see anything around to let me know that I was safe.  We live in a world now…I’m a movie guy, I love movies. And just the other week at my local theatre there was a shooting that I was almost there and I would have saw it and it would have wrecked my life for the rest of my life to have seen it.  But a guys wife went out on a date with another guy,  and the husband came and gunned down, the guy shot him 5 times in the movie theatre parking lot, and everybody around that was going to a movie saw it and I was this close to being there and seeing it. You know, there has been a number of church shootings.  There’s been kidnappings and disgruntled parents coming in and grabbing their kids out of kid classes.  A divorced dad taking their kids without their mom knowing.  So security, if you want tour church to be irresistible, and if you want it to be welcoming and inviting and again that God factor.  You want people to focus on Christ and the worship service, you don’t want them worrying about are their lives in danger. You gotta have security measures in place.  So when I work with churches, and I only work with  very large churches, but I’m looking for the people with ear pieces in their ears.  I’m looking for people with the walkie talkies.   I’m looking for the people with guns on them.  I’m looking for the people that give me a dirty look if I try to go somewhere that I am not supposed to go. Because I’ll try to get into children’s ministry areas that I am not supposed to get into as a secret shopper. And I’m looking for people to stop me and say ‘whoa, where do you think you are aging?” and I’m testing that security as a secret shopper.  It’s just something that in this day and age, as much as a I hate to say it, now we are in 2014, you got to be secure and you have to take security seriously.  We had an incident about 2 months ago at my church where I was campus pastor where a guy came in drunk.  And he was known, he was a guy I had been counseling about alcoholism, and had been trying to get him into AA, and he was too proud to get into AA.  He said he could beat it all on his own.  He needed to be in AA and he had a reputation for being very violent when he got drunk and getting into a lot of  bar fights and beating people unconscious.  He was like a MMA fighter, lethal.  He could really hurt people. And so he came up to me on a Sunday morning and said ‘Man, I’m sorry, I failed.  I went out to a concert last night and I have been drinking all night and I’m so sorry.”  And he was just wreaking of alcohol and I patted him on the back and said ‘I love you man, maybe God will speak to you today.”  And he went into the service.  As campus pastor I went to all our security guys, we have two police officers, off duty police officers who just always carry guns with them.  And then we have ushers and security folk and some ex-military guys and I just went to each of them and I pointed the guy out.  And I said he’s drunk and if he makes a move for the stage, tackle him, don’t let him get to the stage.  And I just had to point it out.  And that’s just me doing my job to keep our church secure and safe. Thankfully nothing happened.  He left, he cried after the service, he said that God was speaking to his heart and he left but who knows how many drunk people show up to churches on a given Sunday.  But I had every eye in there on him security-wise, trained on him just  watching him to see if he made any sudden moves to rush the stage and so just gotta take precautions.

Rich – That’s obviously, pardon the put, but that’s a sobering thing to talk about.  It’s the kind of thing that we don’t think about a lot but it’s the kind of thing that a lot of us go back and loop back on our security procedures for this coming year and say what is it that we need to improve on this front. Maybe we need to be a bit proactive.

Greg – This is something that doesn’t get talked about all that often.  Some of it is just within your first impression ministry you have parking lot, you have greeters, you have people that attend a welcome center or information center or guest central.  But you also have ushers and you don’t want to forget the art of good ushering or good ushers that not only seat people, but are active and attentive during a service.  We had a situation, it was a year ago last January, where we were, I’ll never forget it because it was our last service in our old facility before we moved campuses.  We were getting ready the very next week to move to our new facility as a campus and this was our very last service in our old building and it was a very special, meaningful service and I shared memories from people because we had met in that building for 5 years and I shared stories.  And as I’m talking, I’m up front sitting on a stool sharing stories form people having a very powerful meaningful moment, this women with dementia started walking up to the front started screaming and yelling at the congregation, and talking about her husband thinking she was cheating on him and her husband had been dead for years, he wasn’t even alive.  Her husband thought that she had done something with her husbands brother and she talked about people climbing through her window and she was just talking out of her mind and in my mind I was thinking where are the ushers ushering this women our of here.  I didn’t want to be the mean bad pastor that tells this woman to be quiet.  So I was patting her on the back saying ‘ok, ok, ok’ and I’m just patting her on the back and thankfully she wasn’t mic’d.  I didn’t hand her a microphone so most of the people couldn’t hear what she was saying it was just gibberish, but I was hearing the nonsense that she was saying.  So we had a meeting after that where we said, ‘if something like that happens, if you see anyone like that come up to the stage that shouldn’t be coming up to the stage you need to just grab a hold of them and say please come with me we need to usher you out.  Just ushering, just basic ushering. I’ve seen, I remember in college seeing someone rush the stage and try to take a swing at the pastor as he was preaching.  I’ve seen a lot of stuff in my days.  Twenty years of ministry, so security is important. You want people to feel safe at church.  If somebody tries to run a the pastor and try to take a swing at him, you remember years ago Charles Stanley, Andy Stanley’s dad got punched in the face.  So when stuff like that happens people don’t feel secure and safe so we just have got to take precautions.  That’s all I’m saying is take precautions.

Rich – That’s good.  That’s a good one.  Alright so First Impressions, Children’s Ministry, Security which we just talked about.  And what’s the fourth area that we could be looking at this coming year.

Greg – That would be excellence in attractional worship.  And that means that you put everything you’ve got into that. Whether you meet on Saturday night or Sunday morning or Sunday night into that worship experience, or worship experiences…giving it everything you’ve got from worship flow, song selection, authenticity, your communication, preaching, teaching, sound, video and lights, making services memorable and powerful. I think of that passage where it says go out and compel them to come in.  Things are done in such a way, and we really had this at my last church, it was such an amazing worship experience that people wanted to tell their friends about it.  And I remember years ago attending the evangelism conference at Willow Creek and hearing Bill Hybels talk about the success at Willow Creek has always been and will always be people inviting people.  And that was hard for me to hear because I am a marketing guy, I am big into marketing.  I could market with the best of them.  I’m big into marketing.  But I needed to hear it’s about people inviting people.  At the end of the day it’s about word of mouth.  Word of mouth will always be the best form of marketing.  So when you craft services where people can encounter the living God and where they are guest friendly and you don’t use churchy talk, you don’t say anything in which you would have to explain and get into the Greek and get into theological reasons of why you would have to use that word.  We try to avoid all churchy lingo and try to talk just like you and I are talking right now, just common, casual conversational language.  And make it where our people feel safe.  So you have your core there, where your people are attending and they trust you and love you.  And trust is that key word, they have to trust you.  They have to feel comfortable.  They have that person that they have been building a relationship with at work or at school and they say ‘hey, why don’t you come check out our church.  I think you would really like it.  It’s not like any other church.  Come give it a shot.’  And then everybody tells those stories of the week that their guest that they have been inviting for so long finally shows up and they have that cringe factor.  They are thinking oh I hope everything goes all right. I hope the pastor say something stupid.  I hope he doesn’t preach on money today.  They have that cringe factor and they see that the stakes are high and they want it to be a great service for their guest that they have been praying for.  So we as pastors, as worship leader, as service programmers, we are always aware and sensitive to the fact that it is somebody’s first time at our church.  And that happens every Sunday, it is somebody’s first time at our church and we want to make sure that they are not offended by anything that is out of our control.  If they get offended by anything Gospel, we can’t help that.  The Gospel can be offensive.  But if they are offending by bad lighting, or poor communication, or music that’s not done with excellence and you have an off day musically it just turns people off.  So just doing your best when it comes to the actual worship experience.

Rich – Absolutely, that’s one of those lessons to let just soak in.  There’s a lot there.  There’s a lot to unpack but continuing to invest in what happens Sunday from your own teaching, to what happens in the musical piece in the morning and all those individual elements.  Maybe you take one or two of those and say ‘I am going to spend three months with our musicians so say ‘how can we bring this up?  How can we bring up the quality from there?’  Then we take another 3-6 months and work just on teaching, on that piece. Work your way through the service to bring the quality up so it does have that attractional outsider focus.  This has been an incredible conversation.  I want people to understand, today we, this is a bit awkward, but this whole conversation has been based on one chapter of Greg’s book.  Now, I’m not a book sales guy, but you really should pick up this book.  Today we’ve been talking just about one piece of this and we’ve pulled a lot out, it’s been like a 1/2 hour conversation and the thing I love about this particular book ‘Church Leadership Insights: What Every Pastor Needs to Know, it’s similar to the kind of content that we do at UnSeminary.  It’s really practical and it’s stuff that they just don’t teach you in seminary.  They are not wrestling through this kind of content.  I think it’s the kind of thing you could pull apart, you could use it for training with your team, buy a bunch of copies and use it in that environment.  Or just walk through it and say what difference does this chapter make in our church and how do we just go out and apply that.  Is there anteing else on this content that you want us to wrestle through before we move onto the lightening round?

Greg – I was just going to say, when I first came to my campus they were in decline and they were struggling and I was actually the third campus pastor in three years and they had dropped down to a very low number of people and were really struggling and so I just went into evaluation and assessment mode.  I had been a consultant before I came to the church so I looked at the weak links and they were first impressions, children’s ministry and worship.  Those were the weak links at the church.  So I hired a part time children’s minister and if money is an issue don’t let it because I could have had a lay leader do it, a lay leader be the children’s minister but I hired a very part time kids pastor to oversee kids and take that to the next level.  And then we had a transition with our worship.  We had an interim worship guy.  We had a transition and then did a nationwide search to find a worship guys and it was great.  We found a guy who was from a North Point Strategic Partner Church, one of Andy Stanley’s strategic partners church.  And he did a great job.  He got our concept of church for unchurched people and reaching the lost and he took our worship to a whole new level so we started slowing turning things around.  And then honestly, first impressions was always a work in progress.  We doubled or tripled our team in size but we kept adding greeters, we added a parking lot team, we added two people to the information center and started expanding the role of ushers and just started putting a lot of beef and emphasis into those areas.  So it was, when I write about this, this is what I was dealt when I came to this campus as campus pastor, these were the week links that I had to address.  So all of my writing is born out of experience.  And like you said, it’s not stuff they teach you in seminary, it’s not stuff they teach you in BIble College.  This is just stuff you learn the hard way so I hope it helps people.


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