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Lori Englebert on Leading a Low Staff but High Attendance Ministry

Welcome back to another episode of the unSeminary podcast. Today’s episode is exciting because we have Lori Englebert, Family Life Pastor at Life Church in Green Bay, joining us.

Life Church is committed to making everyone feel like family. They demonstrate this at the very beginning by having their volunteer team waiting for you in the parking lot with wagons to give new kids rides to the children’s area, and high fives or fist bumps for the adults. Life Church has made a significant investment in their family ministry, which runs through a strong volunteer community serving under just four full time staff members. Lori is here today to talk about how they have built up that volunteer community in their church.

  • Focus on people. // When someone first becomes a volunteer at Life Church, the first thing the staff says to them is, “We care more about you as a person than what you can do for us.” Church leaders have a tendency to focus on the overwhelming ministry needs in their jobs, and feel a lot of pressure weighing on them to get the job done. So to help volunteers feel appreciated as individual people, the team at Life Church took time to reflect on what they would want if they were working as a volunteer on their own team. Ask why you would want to work on your team, and why you think someone else would want to do it too.
  • Get to know you. // The family life team walks their volunteers through training, just as most other churches do. But they added an extra step by keeping profiles on each of their leaders, creating “Get to know you” sheets about each of them. The staff them uses these profiles to follow up with their leaders and encourage them in a way that’s uniquely meaningful to them. Lori notes these are based on The Five Love Languages, explaining: “It doesn’t do much good to give them a Starbucks card if they’re words of affirmation.” As the volunteers get down into the trenches with the staff, the staff lets them know how appreciated they are in a love language that speaks to them.
  • Share information behind the scenes. // Among these get to know you files are the basic information about each of their leaders. These include birthdays, anniversaries, family life details. Keep a calendar that alerts you to someone’s birthday and stop by to visit them with a cupcake. Send a “happy anniversary” text. The family life staff at Life Church has a lot leaders to cover, so they keep a group text among them where they can share information. If someone has had surgery, they let everyone know through the text so that if another member is visiting them they already have the information to check in on how they are doing.
  • Grow your leaders a little at a time. // During their training, volunteers go through a leader handbook to know what’s expected of them. They start with an initial walkthrough in Life Church’s environments without kids or students. Then they are buddied up with someone already serving in the ministry and trained volunteering side by side with someone else. Each leader is given small bites of training through leader emails and teaching tips, rather than being bombarded all at once. Take your leaders to conferences to give them tools to do their jobs. “The number one thing is trust your people,” Lori says. “When you build relationship and they’re equipped, keep loosening those reins and trust them.” Build relationships with them and allow them to walk on their own. That doesn’t mean that they won’t come back to you when they need to. If there are problems they are running into, sit down with them and figure out how to solve it together, but trust that they have the tools and knowledge to do so.

To learn more about Life Church in Green Bay, visit their website at

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Lightning Round

Helpful Tech Tools // Wunderlist and Snapchat

Ministries Following // Orange

Influential Book // The Emotionally Healthy Leader: How Transforming Your Inner Life Will Deeply Transform Your Church, Team, and the World by Peter Scazzero

Inspiring Leader // Reggie Joiner

What you do for fun // anything having to do with her family

Contact // email Lori or visit the website

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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.