Increasing the Impact of the Serving Experience on Volunteers with Rachel Long

Welcome back to another episode of the unSeminary podcast. Today we have Rachel Long back on the podcast. She’s one of the executive pastors at Emmanuel Church, a multisite church in Indiana.

Today Rachel is talking with us about building healthy volunteer teams within our churches.

  • Take a step back and evaluate. // Back at the end of 2018, even before COVID, the staff at Emmanuel started to notice that the church had shifted from a serving culture to a consumer culture which was more focused on what the church could do for you. The staff knew this consumerism was the symptom of a bigger problem and so began to examine the themselves. What they found is the staff had become very siloed and volunteers were possessively claimed by staff members. Even leadership noticed that their language became more about filling spots on volunteer teams, and they realized they had slowly faded completely off vision. The staff needed to take a step back and determine where they’d gone off track and how to make sure their volunteer teams (known as Impact Teams) aligned with the church’s vision.
  • Build a system that is a better fit. // Emmanuel began by looking at larger churches to see examples of how they could add some structure to their teams. After experimenting with a modified version of Growth Track from Church of the Highlands, Rachel and her teammate, Leah, began to build a system that would be custom-fit for Emmanuel. They developed six pillars which defined what a healthy Impact Team would look like, with the main goal being seeing people that have come to Christ then grow in Christ. This goal now aligned with Emmanuel’s vision and mission.
  • Six pillars of a healthy team. // The six pillars Rachel and Leah developed are 1) Systematic Staff and Volunteer Training – things like lunch-and-learns, vision nights and even job descriptions for volunteer positions. 2) Appreciation – regular thank yous, infusing appreciation into team nights, and taking note of what would be a meaningful thank-you to individual volunteers. 3) Impact Week – a time where volunteer teams across all campuses come and serve during one week, all together. 4) Impact Team Night – an event six times a year where the campus pastor gets to preach to his or her campus and really infuse the vision of serving there. 5) Volunteer Onboarding and Data – has to do with making sure the staff’s data is correct because good data matters. 6) Vision and Branding – things such as branded t-shirts, using the Impact Teams logo, and communicating with language such as “serving opportunities” rather than “filling spots”.
  • Showing appreciation. // Embracing more appreciation was a huge game-changer for Emmanuel and included not only new processes, but also funding their appreciation. They started with systematic thank-you note-writing and helped the staff to understand what a great thank-you note looks like. Staff learned to call out and applaud really specific instances where a volunteer had an impact in small or big ways. Emmanuel also gathers all of their volunteers in one place to celebrate them with a themed party and gifts. And one of the new things they are starting is recognizing and celebrating the serving anniversaries of each of their volunteers.
  • Impact Team Night. // Adding Impact Team Nights every other month has been pivotal to the growth and success of Emmanuel’s volunteer teams. These nights are held at each campus and include a time of worship, some snacks and have a fun theme of some king. After worship there is vision casting which is done by either the campus pastor, the lead pastor, or a panel of campus staff. Then new Impact Team members will go to Impact 101 to start the onboarding process while existing team members will go to their specific areas of service for special trainings. Trainings might include going deeper in their service area, or prepping for a holiday or other big day coming up. Team Nights are a great time, not only to connect with other team members, but also to connect with the staff that is caring for volunteers from week to week.
  • Impact 101. // During the onboarding process at Impact 101, the staff provides a tour of the campus and offers a DISC assessment to help new volunteers find their best fit. This time also allows staff to infuse into new team members the knowledge that they are growing in Christ through serving, and the volunteers are helping other people come to Christ as well.

You can learn more about Emmanuel Church at www.eclife.org, or email Leah Torrison for more specific information about Emmanuel’s Impact Teams.

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Episode Transcript

Rich — Hey, friends welcome to the unSeminary podcast. My name’s Rich, your host, and this week we have a repeat guest which I’m super excited about. And when you when you know it’s a repeat guest, you know that there’s gonna be good things coming because there’s always more to say, so I’m excited to have Rachel Long with us. She’s from Emmanuel Church – a church that started in 1977. They’re 6 or 7 (depending on how we count it and when this comes out) locations plus online. They’re one of the fastest growing churches in the country. Rachel is the executive pastor and oversees multisite – all kinds of things multisite, strategy, campus leadership. I also think you oversee family ministry, HR, finance, counseling, outreach – basically everything! Rachel, welcome to the show. So glad you’re here today.

Rachel Long — Oh I am thrilled to be back here with you today. You have such a great podcast that’s so helpful. And before we get started I just wanted to tell you thank you so much for the work you’re doing with irresistible teams. Four of my employees are going through that – they just started that process – so such a great blessing for churches. And so just thank you for doing that putting that together for them.

Rich — No I’m so so honored to have them. That’s ah that’s a cohort we run I run it with my good friend Christine Kreisher and it’s it’s fun. It’s great to do. It’s good, you know, hopefully helpful…

Rachel Long — Yeah.

Rich — …and um so it’s that’s that’s really good. So why don’t you fill out the picture a little bit; give us the kind of …bring us up to speed on where things are at with Emmanuel, and how you know, kind of what’s been happening on that front.

Rachel Long — Yeah, so Emmanuel Church is nondenominational. We do have our roots in… we were baptists to begin with and then that changed around 2005. And in 2013 we launched our very first multisite and it was about 25 minutes from our broadcast campus and since then we’ve been steadily launching multisites almost every 2 years and we just launched our… so well we’re getting ready to we’re in soft launch right now. So February 6th will be when we launch our sixth campus so very exciting time. We have but this is what’s really cool too – it’s our second church adoption, which is a whole new thing that we’ve done over the from 2019 till now. And it’s our first campus that’s an hour away from our broadcast campus…

Rich — Amazing.

Rachel Long — …So the challenges there have been different, but wow – such a great group of people and we are really really enjoying that. And Emmanuel exists to see people come to Christ and grow in Christ – that’s our vision and our mission – and it’s led by our senior pastor Danny Anderson who has led the church for just over 20 years now. Um he’s only the second senior pastor that our organization has ever had and he keeps the vision in front of us and it has been incredible to watch the staff move through covid shutdowns and only a few months of that and all the campuses to remain open. And wow it’s just been incredible to watch this team move through that, but right now I mean … looking for its next church adoption too…

Rich — Love it.

Rachel Long — So I am over expansion but I have really really great teams under me in each of those. And so our multi-site expansion team has three areas that we’re looking at now and it’ll be our first one that’s an hour and a half away from our broadcast campus

Rich — Love it.

Rachel Long — …so stretching out, stretching out and growing. But yeah, that’s just a little snapshot of Emmanuel.

Rich — That’s so good. I’m excited about the church adoption. The fact that this is your second one and that you’re looking for more. That’s such a great thing. You know we’re seeing a kind of across the country 1 in 3 new campuses is coming because of adoption, so not surprising at all that…

Rachel Long — Sure. Yeah.

Rich — Ah, that you know you guys are right on pace for that which is ah which is amazing. So that’s that’s exciting. So when you think about you know changes maybe that have been happening at Emmanuel you think of kind of you know, maybe stuff that has that’s looking a little bit different that you’ve been able to kind of see some changes in the last year or so 2 years, what would be some of those things that would bubble to mind? What would kind of come come to the fore as you think about that?

Rachel Long — Yeah, they have been some painful changes. We were not exempt from the great resignation that’s going on now where everything from corporate organizations to church organizations is seeing around 20% of their staff resign or go look for new positions or jobs and and take advantage of some things that are available to them. Not all bad, but I mean we’ve gone through a little bit a lot of bit of pain and stretch in that area. Um, you know our senior pastor was just talking to me the other day about how um the pain that we’re dealing with right now with this is what grows us into the leaders of the next level, and it helps us to move forward in in our own leadership skills. And there’s been a lot of honing – I don’t know if your listeners have felt that but um, in every executive pastor cohort I’m in, or group, they have been like: wow, we are having to really hone our leadership skills and grow in that way. And so I would say that we’ve had a little bit of pain with staff, but the other thing that has happened is we’re still seeing people come to Christ, and we are seeing our campuses start to grow and our online campus is still thriving as it was just a year ago when I was here. But also you’ve seen it change into some really ah, deeper relationships from the online campus than we’ve ever experienced before. And then people steadily coming back to our brick and mortar campuses. Um, of course when it’s safe and of course with practices that adhere to CDC but really starting to come back and re-embrace their faith, and find church was really missing in their life and finding their spot back in their church homes. We’ve still got a long way to go and it’ll take a while I’m sure. But that’s kind of what we’ve seen over the past year. So not all positive but always growing. Yeah.

Rich — Love it. Yeah, love it. Now one of the things I think many of our churches are facing in this season is um some of this is like – yeah we were joking beforehand – I don’t know what phase we’re in with Covid. Are we post Covid, intra-Covid? Who knows, but whatever we find ourselves in we’re in this kind of Covid-impacted time…

Rachel Long — Right, right, right.

Rich — …is you know we we always need to… regardless of the season, we’re always looking to try to build engagement with our people…

Rachel Long — Absolutely.

Rich — …or we try to say, how do we… how do we help our people be more engaged? Um, but it feels like that’s even more urgent in these seasons, kind of, how do we move people from being consumers to being contributors to to being fully plugged in?

Rachel Long — Right.

Rich — Um, what has that looked like for Emmanuel What? What as you’ve been kind of wrestling with that process in this season, any changes on that front or things that you’ve been working through that might be helpful for us to to wrestle through with ah with our listeners today?

Rachel Long — Yeah, you know it was even pre-covid that we looked around our organization and we started to see that somehow this slow fade had happened where we have moved um from in our serving culture in our volunteerism—we call them our impact team at Emmanuel—we saw like this—this was probably around the beginning of 2019…no the end of 2018—that we saw like, wow the the culture here has really shifted to consumer in our congregation, like: what can the church do for me, or do for my organization? But with anything else when we look when we saw the symptom, which was the consumerism in our congregation, we had to look at our staff. And in our staff we saw this siloed feeling, this siloed um: this is my volunteer; this is my person. And what was hard about that when we saw it was we realized that we had slowly faded completely off vision. And what I mean by that is Emmanuel’s vision is to see people come to Christ and grow in Christ and we had started using language that was: we’re going to fill this “spot”. So I have 4 children’s ministry “spots” to fill on Sunday, instead of looking at our people and thinking through, okay, what is the opportunity to serve that we could give them so they could grow in Christ? And really like focusing on that second half of our vision through serving. And when we saw that, man, that was a little bit unnerving because it was coming straight from our staff. And and if I’m being honest, it was coming straight from me. Like, you can’t ask them to serve in children’s ministry; they’re in the high school ministry. And back off – that’s that person’s volunteer and let’s don’t poach! And whoa whoa whoa whoa whoa! We began to think about like running a Sunday morning or a Saturday evening – any of our weekend environments – instead of, is what I’m offering, is what we’re looking at really helping someone grow in Christ, and fulfill the second half of Emmanuel’s vision? And once we started to get our mind around that, that’s when we started to see a shift. And thank goodness that we did that then because that infrastructure has what’s served us to be up year-over-year in our Impact team members. That this time last year in 2021 we were 1590 for our Impact team members and as of this week – so we check on Mondays – we were in 1834…

Rich — Wow, that’s great.

Rachel Lon — …so we’re still continuing to grow our impact team. Um, but it’s because of that infrastructure that we built back a little bit. But I don’t ever think it’s too late. That’s just what we’ve seen.

Rich — Love it. So how did you push some of that change through, so from a change management point of view I love that you identified it, and then you started to make some adjustments. Were there, are a few kind of strategic levers there that helped, you know, make that shift for your people?

Rachel Long — Yeah, we do what we usually do, which I know is a church protocol, to look around – what are the churches at the next level than you – what are they doing, ah right? And so we looked at Church of the Highlands, and we went and visited, our teams visited, and we tried to adopt their Growth Track without adapting it for Emmanuel, and that really fell flat. And it’s just kind of funny because if you listen to the first time I was on decentralization, you know that we wreck that train first, and then we did it better. But the same is true with…

Rich — Ah, there’s a pattern here. There’s a pattern.

Rachel Long — …yes yes, thank God we’re allowed to fail forward.

Rich — Yes, yes.

Rachel Long — And but we so we tried to put Growth Track in exactly as they did it, and it it didn’t fit. Like we were putting on a shoe that was in… and rightfully so because you know, at that time we’re like a 5000 person church at that time, and we were looking at a 30,000 person churches, you know, and trying to step into that. So what we did was very similar to the decentralization – pulled back and got buy-in. And so we gathered some people from each of our teams. Um, some people who are really good at recruiting and training volunteers, and we asked them like, what areas did you see things that kind of fell apart with Growth Track and what could we do better?

Rich — Mmm-hmm.

Rachel Long — Kind of a look forward look back. And when we did that um Leah Torrison, who is still head over all of our Impact team um information—and she’s an excellent resource for anyone that would want to get more information about this—she um and I worked to build a systematic way. You know, a system and once you can build that system and work that system, um that would fit Emmanuel. And so what we landed on were six pillars of what a healthy impact team would look like with the main goal seeing people that have come to Christ then grow in Christ. So vision-centered, but yet systematic so that anyone in the organization could resource it, and use it, and put it within their ministry.

Rich — Love it. Yes.

Rachel Long — And feel supported in it, and not siloed as a staff.

Rich — Yeah I love that so just I want to get to what the six are, but before we get there, um I love just the I just want to underline for our listeners that, you know, this this is a best practice, looking at other churches, growing from other churches, but too many times we just do the copy and paste and we don’t do the step-back-and-learn. Hey, how do we adapt this to us? Like how do we so, you know, and and I just love that you’re, you know, you’re just being real honest about that and saying, hey we’ve got to figure out how this fits in our our context and and so if I understand the pillars correctly, you would say—and and correct me if this if I’m wrong—it’s like each one of these six, you would say, service teams need to have each one of these six pieces. It’s kind of like we need to work on all of these to ensure that it’s the best experience to fulfill the vision of the church. Like this is kind of like best practice for you in those areas – is that the best way to think of these pillars?

Rachel Long — Yeah, yeah, that is what worked…this these are the 6 that we saw were worked… would not… that we weren’t doing right now, and that’s what worked for Emmanuel. And we’ve done this for um, you know, almost three years now and so…

Rich — Mmm-hmm.

Rachel Long — …There was lots of continuous improvement and I’m happy to point out like, ooh this didn’t work or it worked for that season…

Rich — Sure.

Rachel Long — …but we had to tweak it in year two because it was exhausting the staff. So you know how sometimes you go grand and you need to hone in small as you get going.

Rich — Right. Yeah, totally totally. Hey, backup – let’s do this one thing. So why don’t we do this, give us an overview of all six…

Rachel Long — Yep.

Rich — …just kind of run through all of them and then we’ll dive in on maybe a couple of them that that were like the highest leverage change or ones that kind of jump to the you know the fore if that makes sense.

Rachel Long — Yeah, yeah. So the first one was systematic staff and volunteer training. So we didn’t have a solid onboarding for when we had new staff members to infuse them with the culture of um servitude that we had within Emmanuel. And so then as new staff members come, it would get lost. So we implemented lunch-and-learns with that. We have impact vision nights, and also um, we had all of the staff…we challenge them if it is a position that is worthy of being an opportunity for people to grow in Christ by serving in that position, it needs a one-page job description.

Rich — That’s good.

Rachel Long — And so the staff, that was a key factor in um, this… in training in its systematic training. We also have … another the other pillar another pillar is appreciation. So regular thank yous, and infusing appreciation into team nights, and really pushing through on adding like a favorite thing to their their volunteer information sheet. We also implemented ah Impact week, which is kind of a cool thing where everybody comes together and serves in one week together, so being one church with multiple locations. Um and I can elaborate on that. It’s a pretty detailed process but it is going out into the community as an Impact team and serving. Team nights was… when we started it, it was once a month – now it’s every other month – that was one of the tweaks…

Rich — Yes.

Rachel Long — … where we gather together and we’re a video venue Church. So this happens to be where the campus pastor gets to preach to his or her campus, and really infuse the vision of serving there. Um, and that’s on our Impact team night. Volunteer onboarding and data. This is maybe not the sassy side of it, but this is the side where we made sure that our data was correct because good data matters. And then vision and branding – making sure that we have t-shirts and we have all of the things that make a team a team.

Rich — Yeah.

Rachel Long — And that that’s across all of the different serving… so instead of children’s ministry wearing one shirt and ah, you know… the only the only ah… what do I want to say, like exception that we made was because we didn’t want our production people to have bright red shirts on stage. They have black shirts.

Rich — Yes, same shirt. Yeah.

Rachel Long — But everybody has the same Impact team logo. And so the vision and branding – making sure we’re using the same words; stop saying “filling spots”; start saying “serving opportunities”. Those were the six pillars – those that’s just a quick run through of them. Yeah.

Rich — Love it. Yeah, no, That’s so good. So good. Okay, so are were there a couple of those that were either real, maybe sticking points like ooh… you know, this this wasn’t going well, and by, kind of, your focus on it you were able to turn it around, or it was or they’re high leverage like, oh we saw real positive change because of the focus in in those areas?

Rachel Long — Yeah, I’m going to start with appreciation. I know people say thank you and they write thank you notes, but here’s how we got a little more detailed into this one. We started with systematic thank you note writing. So I, we use this system called ROCK for all of our data management, and in that you can very simply just add that you’ve written a thank you note, but we became very very focused on everyone filling out – like if you sent a thank you note, or you did a text, or you called, it might seem laborious to take 2 seconds to fill it out in ROCK, but it helped the whole organization. So making sure, and and then talking through with people, what does a great thank you note look like, which I know sounds tedious, but not just “hey, you did a great job” and signing it “children’s ministry staff” but like, “I loved it when you…”, “you helped this family come to Christ by doing this…”, “this dad came to Christ while you were in the nursery serving…” – so being super detailed about that. And then another thing is we put some serious cash toward our annual Impact team party where we pull every single Impact team member. 1500 descend upon – this time it was our broadcast campus – and we celebrate them. It’s themed out. It’s ah, there’s a gift for each of them. We really put some serious focus and money into that. And what it did was the people who are at our Seymour campus which is a solid hour and 10 minutes away from our Garfield Park campus could now see all of the people that are…

Rich — Mmm-hmm

Rachel Long — …um, serving together and it really bonded that one church and made them feel like they were really part of something. And then we started doing anniversaries. That’s our latest thing that we’re doing for appreciation serving anniversaries…

Rich — Oh that’s cool.

Rachel Long — …and really highlighting that person, um and it is at their campuses. But then making them also be something that they can wear, something that they, so that they can be recognized. Oh you’ve been serving for 5 years on the Impact team – that’s amazing. So really, um, customizing, and then funding our appreciation.

Rich — I love that.

Rachel Long — And that was a really good transition, but difficult when you’re always trying to stay on budget and stay under budget from the year before. So that’s one thing that we did that was important.

Rich — I love that I just want to underline something there. One of the things I’ve said to churches that I’m coaching in the kind of, you know, plus 2000 to 5000 range, somewhere in there, is there’s a weird transition there where um, actually you have to look at those things that very small churches do instinctively, and figure out how to do them at scale. And it was interesting to me that the two things you said would be easy for a church of 2-, 3-, 4-, 5000 people to not do which is handwritten notes – how do we systematize handwritten handwritten notes at scale?

Rachel Long — Yeah.

Rich — And then a party to get everybody together. If you’re a church of 100 people and you’ve got 32 volunteers, you’re going to do that. That becomes a lot more complex when it’s 1500 volunteers, but you’ve got to do that.

Rachel Long — Yeah, yeah.

Rich — You’ve got to do that and it’s actually, that’s a part of what accelerates that all that good stuff that happens that helps you get to that next level. I love that – that’s that’s fantastic. So appreciation was obviously a big part of it.

Rachel Long — Oh, and just to piggyback on what you just said when we were in lockdown and when we could not gather that many people, we pivoted and did party to the people, and I just want to tell you what my staff did. Our staff—this is amazing. So we figured out a way to deliver their gifts and to divide it up across the 70 staff members so that we deliver gifts for a whole week. We put an Impact team balloon, all the branding, on their doorknob or mailbox and and brought signs. Some of our campuses dressed up and did 80s and had played music as they came up.

Rich — Love it.

Rachel Long — My group did cheerleaders. There were … it it was so incredible. We gave in a time when um—that was last year… I went our, ah in 2020—when our team was discouraged because they couldn’t be with so many of their Impact team members – to get to go out to their houses, decorate their yards, and it did it took a lot of time. A lot of finance. But it was worth it, and they called it Party to the People. And I know that that and and our Heart Touch Initiative that we did is why we kept so many impact team members and they were ready to come back – that connectivity.

Rich — Um, so good.

Rachel Long — And so I just, one, want to shout out to my team, and then two, just piggyback on what you said.

Rich — Yeah, and I love that and again this is, that’s a great example of one of those if you were a small church of a couple hundred people you could think about doing that, hey, we’ll take a Saturday we’ll deliver stuff to people’s homes. To do that at scale it obviously takes a lot of time, effort, and energy, but it pushes back against that notion that large churches can’t do relationships well…

Rachel Long — Right. For sure.

Rich — …which we all know is not true, but it it really pushes back against that. That’s good. Was there maybe one of the other six that that stands out to you is like oh that was you know a really good kind of a key lever for us.

Rachel Long — Yeah, our team nights. I would say this is probably the other huge um rock that we did when we started having, first we did team nights every month so that we could onboard, onboard, onboard. Well you, if you have a large staff or small staff, you know that the rhythm of their family, it makes it hard to have a team night, you know, once a month in addition to the services that are coming every week, and small groups, and added on and on and on. So we moved to every other ah month, but super impactful because one, you’re hearing from the staff that cares for you and that you see every weekend, and of course we and Pastor Danny goes to the different campuses and preaches and and vision casts on the different team nights at different campuses, but usually it’s their campus pastor.

Rich — Mm that’s cool.

Rachel Long — And they’re pushing forward um, whatever we’ve talked about the month before in our staff lunch-and-learn. That’s just focused on Impact team and then additionally at that team night we have what we call Impact 101. And we do in-person onboarding at Impact 101. Now we do one-off 101s? Yes, we don’t want to ever turn away somebody who’s ready to grow in Christ through serving, but the Impact 101 where you can have a room full of people together that are ready to start serving, then they do a tour of the campus, they have them do a disc assessment…

Rich — Love it.

Rachel Long — …Assessment so they find their best fit and the staff is really able to infuse them with that you are growing in Christ through serving. You’re not a spot. You’re not a spot. You are helping other people come to Christ. So that Impact 101 and when you put, I don’t know why but when we named it 101 instead of like Intro to Impact, that just kind of took down all the barriers, and people were like yeah, I can do a 101 class. 101 is simple right?

Rich — Right, right. Yes, Yes, yeah.

Rachel Long — 101 is fine. That that was common knowledge and common verbiage, and so that we we consistently have Impact 101 full at the at the broadcast campus, and really great attendance at our other campuses too. And so that’s been I would say the impact team nights and the onboarding process switching, pivotal, pivotal to our growth and success and new new people coming onto the team.

Rich — I love it. Can we go one layer just a little more detail on them? So you do them every other month so somewhere around six a year there. It sounds like they’re at night, so they like and and do they include like, sounds like some, they’re somewhat like teaching – is there like a musical portion? Do they do fun stuff? Give us a little of the kind of, fill up with the, fill in the picture a little bit.

Rachel Long — Yes. Yeah, no, that’s great. So there’s always some sort of snack or food at the beginning and it’s always…

Rich — There’s gotta be -gotta be ah.

Rachel Long — …yes, right, right? And so the whole thing is themed.

Rich — Okay, okay, yes.

Rachel Long — So whatever the theme is for the night. And the campuses have like a basic theme, like you could say neon. But then the campuses have the autonomy to make it however their campus sees fit and would work for their congregation. We have worship together and then we have the vision casting from the campus pastor and/or a panel – sometimes they do a panel. And then after that—this is a key component I did not tell you—after that the people who are first there, for the like this is their first time ever at an Impact team night, they’ll go to 101 and start the onboarding process. All of the other Impact team members, then this is when we have our trainings, so they will go to their specific areas of service, and if we know we have an Easter special coming up then whatever big day is coming then they’ll work on that big day project, or if they if we know that we’re gonna do special things in a children’s ministry for big day, then they’ll work on that. But it can be whatever whether it’s the online campus or whether it’s worship, you go deeper in your training than you can on a Sunday morning debrief. So they’ll go out to the different areas to serve and and it really, is it really is… we have every campus has two services so it is where you get to see all the people that you serve with…

Rich — See everybody. Yeah family reunion kind of feel. Yeah, yeah.

Rachel Long — …and you can you’re nine o’clock – exactly – and the nine o’clock worship team and musicians can learn from the eleven o’clock what’s working for them if it’s not ah if it’s not a campus where they have the same all the way through. So it’s ah, great time to learn from your other Impact team members and see all the high school ministry small group leaders. All those small group leaders from across the campuses. So that’s what an Impact team looks like.

Rich — So good. I love that. And what what would you say on the you know, the Impact team nights is there? What’s the percentage of people—I have a feeling you and you know this—that are actually showing up to those? Like are they you know, what is that – you’re you’re good at numbers so yYou must have some sense that it’s it’s actually generating you know engagement

Rachel Long — Yes, yeah, so we we are hovering around like 65 to 68…

Rich — Okay, that’s good. That’s good.

Rachel Long — …for several of our staff their Q1 goal their lead measure is to get 75% of their team to the Impact team night. So um, that’s a goal that we have out there would be 75%. Now you talked to Leah Torrison who’s over our Impact – she’s our centralized employee over excellence and continuity for that – 100% is her goal…

Rich — Yes, yes, yes, yes.

Rachel Long — …but I would say that? Um, you’re looking at we’re striving toward 75% through conversations and reminding them and, but when we lowered the number that we had, like we when we went from 12 to 6 in the number of impact team nights we have, we saw the attendance start to to go up.

Rich — Go up. Yeah, that’s great. So good. Do you have any kind of documentation on any of that that you could share with us that would be maybe helpful for, you know, for our listeners I’m wondering if there’s anything we could put in the show notes.

Rachel Long — Um, yeah, absolutely – I have a packet for you – even the DISC Assessment – we do it digitally and paper. We have that that took us a long time to build. I have that and then um, what. I prepared was just like starting in 2018 and moving through the whole process…

Rich — Oh nice.

Rachel Long — …Some of the foundational pieces as well as the pillars. So.

Rich — Super helpful. Again this this is why I love having you on, Rachel, you’re so helpful to to folks. There’s so much we could talk about – maybe we’ll have to have you back! You know to talk about Impact weeks I think that’s a great, you know, the the idea of mobilizing, mass mobilizing people to make a difference again. We see this time and again with fast-growing churches that this is a key part of that strategy…

Rachel Long — Yeah.

Rich — You know, data is a big deal. You know I’d love to talk about that at some point…

Rachel Long — Yeah, for sure.

Rich — …it’s just a way we care for people at scale, or scale. There’s so much. Is there anything else you’d love to share just as we’re kind of wrapping up with today’s episode?

Rachel Long — Yeah, yeah, just one more thing. Um, as we moved through this and we got to where we were systematically doing all of the pieces, when I met, when Leah and I met for the next year’s evaluation, one of the things we did was look at each pillar and build pillar teams. We didn’t start with pillar teams. We kind of needed to stay lean for the first couple of years of doing it. But um, the last year we have used pillar teams and it has been a blessing. And what I mean by that is like if we have ah we found five employees that are exceptional at appreciation in all the different departments and invited them in to be a part of the excellence and continuity in the impact team by participating in being a pillar team member. So now Leah meets with them, and they get to help with buy-in across the whole organization, sure, but they’re also a voice at the table. They have a seat at the table. To talk about what is working and what isn’t working, and that way we could stay super nimble with our impact team…

Rich — That’s good.

Rachel Long — …because we’re getting constant feedback from all the different departments in all the different pillars, and the lift is not one person but you don’t have to hire an entire impact team centralized for excellence in continuity because you do have one point person but you’re still getting all the information from the other, from the other parts and departments in your organization.

Rich — So good. This has been fantastic, Rachel. I appreciate you taking time to be with us today. Um, where do we want to send people online if they want to track with Emmanuel. What’s where’s the best place for us to send them as we wrap up the episode?

Rachel Long — Sure, our our website is e like Emmanuel c like church, life.org and my last name is Long. So it’s [email protected], or if you’re specifically looking for information on Impact teams you can contact Leah Torrison which would be [email protected].

Rich — Nice. Thanks so much I Love that you’re giving out her email address. That’s fantastic.

Rachel Long — Ah, she’ll love it. She’s amazing.

Rich — Yeah, that’s great. Thanks so much for being here today.

Rachel Long — Oh thank you. Thank you.

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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.