Morgan Herselman on Leading a Change Campaign as a New(ish) Leader




Welcome to this Thursday’s edition of the podcast here on unSeminary. I’m so excited you’re tuning in this week because today, we’re going global! For the first time here on the podcast, a Non-North American church leader is joining me: Morgan Herselman, of Southpoint Church in Cape Town, South Africa.

Morgan starts off the podcast by giving us a little background about himself. He grew up in a traditional Methodist church. After meeting his wife, the couple started looking for a church home and in their search, they stumbled across Southpoint. At that time, Southpoint was in its “original” form, and the Herselman couple decided this was a place they could get involved. In Morgan’s own words:

We wanted to jump in and get our hands dirty as much as we could.

Southpoint at that time was following the pattern of the Brethren Church. There was some disconnect among many of the leaders, so they went out looking for ways to solve some of the issues that had come up. They happened across North Point Ministries. Slowly, but surely, the church has transitioned to being a North Point partner and in 2008-2009, they launched as a strategic partner.

Two years ago, the lead pastor at the newly transitioned Southpoint Church received an offer to go to another location in the States. Through a series of events, which included 17 (!) interviews, Morgan was appointed as his successor. His attitude?

If God wants me there, I’m gonna be there! In June, it will be two years. It’s been a great opportunity to do something I love! 

What have all these changes meant for Southpoint?

In terms of being a strategic partner with North Point Ministries, Southpoint remains completely autonomous. The raise all of their own funding and they operate on their own ministry model. Any support they get from North Point is in the form of strategic consultants and resources. Southpoint tries to leverage those resources to grow a healthy church in Cape Town.

In Cape Town specifically, there are a lot of big churches and quite a few of these are equipped to reach a lot of people, but few of them are reaching the unchurched. Southpoint is extremely passionate about that. They have a lot of people coming who have very little regard for a church. Because of the resources they have been given through North Point Ministries, Southpoint is able to keep these people coming back and loving what goes on at the church.

Morgan says that one of the biggest benefits he gains from the partnership with North Point is that it allows him to offer some fantastic communicators. This in turn gives him time to really pour into making sure the staff and leaders are all healthy, and to ensure what Southpoint is doing is positioning itself for growth.

Positioned for Growth

Southpoint continues to position themselves for growth, even though they have been forced to make changes. They were given notice that the venue they had been meeting in would no longer be available and, in addition, the success rate of their second service was far from encouraging. More change was inevitable.

The need to change their facility location, combined with the need to solidify their core, prompted the formation of a campaign called “Come Together.” This campaign allowed Southpoint to focus on reaching as many people as possible, but also create momentum and growth as intense changes were occurring.

“Come Together” focused on a three-prong approach:

  1. Prayer: This drew people together to pray at specific times. They petitioned God for a building and the finances to provide for it.
  2. Finances: Southpoint had a building fund, but they needed additional money put into that fund, so they set a goal that was achievable.
  3. Community: They made a decision to hold one service instead of two. They also set up one or two events weekly for people to come together and get involved: to be able to ask questions and to feel like they were a part of the process instead of being on the outside.

How to reach the “unchurched”

How do you talk about these issues on Sundays to the average “unchurched” person to get them excited? How do you create interest?

Morgan says that at Southpoint, they started events on Wednesday nights for people to explore what was going on. They then divided those nights into segments, so if people couldn’t attend on one night, another time would be open to them. People could ask questions and feel relaxed and welcomed in the environment.

They also set aside Wednesday mornings for the “Come Together” campaign. Time was dedicated to praying for the campaign. All of this created great momentum. They saw an increase in the prayer culture of the church, financial giving increased and more of a community experience began to take place in the foyer. They have seen an increase in attendance as well as an increase in volunteers.

In closing today’s podcast, Morgan shares this advice for churches facing growing pains:

Create broad entry points for as many people as possible. Even the nay-sayers (can) get on board when there is prayer involved.

Episode Highlights

00:31 // Rich welcomes Morgan Herselman to the show.

01:15 // Morgan talks of his personal and professional background.

03:12 // Morgan talks about strategic partnerships.

04:38 // Morgan introduces us to the Come Together campaign.

06:24 // Morgan talks us through the three elements of the Come Together campaign.

08:21 // Morgan talks about the events created from the Come Together campaign.

11:16 // Morgan talks about Southpoint’s new location and how prayer created momentum.

13:49 // Morgan makes reference to Betterson’s book The Prayer Circle.

14:32 // Morgan talks about developing the community and partnering with a local school.

16:20 // Morgan talks about his goals for the permanent facility.

17:36 // Morgan offers advice on organizational change.

Lightning Round

Helpful Tech Tools // Feedly – Pinterest

Ministries Following // Northpoint Ministries – Perry Noble, New Spring Church

Influential Book // The E-MythThe Catalyst Leader by Brad Lomenick

Inspiring Leader // Gavin Adams at Watermarke Church

What does he do for fun // Family – Hiking – Canoeing – Fishing – DIY

Contact // – [email protected] – Twitter and Facebook @morganherselman

Episode Transcript

Rich – Well hey everybody, welcome to the unSeminary podcast. So glad you’ve decided to spend some time with us today. Today we’re going global. It’s the first time we’ve had a none North American church leader be with us. Super excited to have the pastor from Southpoint Church, Morgan Herselman with us. Morgan welcome to the show.

Morgan – Thanks so much, really excited to be here. Great to be talking to you and quite excited to be your first international guest, I think that’s quite something special, so good.

Rich – Nice, now I wonder if people can guess your accent, you know, where you’re from. So Southpoint is in Cape Town in South Africa, so excited to have you with us today.

Morgan – Yeah thanks so much. It’s a very original accent. I’ve been to the States a couple of times and some people think I’m from Boston, so I don’t know how that translates.

Rich – Nice, that’s great. Cool, well Morgan why don’t you tell us a little bit about your church, tell us about yourself, give us kind of a bit of a background.

Morgan – Yeah. For myself, I kind of grew up in a rather traditional church. I grew up in a Methodist Church. Kind of when I started looking out for a wife and met my wife, my current wife Kelly, we stumbled across Southpoint Church back in its original form and really decided, “Hey I could get involved in this,” and wanted to just jump in and get my hands dirty as much as I could.

As far as the church goes, we actually were a Brethren church for many, many years and really just a great… just content amongst some of the leaders growing up and just saying, “Hey there’s something out there that we want to be able to find,” and they went out looking and they stumbled across Northpoint Ministries a couple of years ago. Slowly but surely, over a couple of years transition, the church became a Northpoint strategic partner, in about 2008, 2009 and officially launched as a strategic partner back then and have been running as a strategic partner up until today.

About two years ago our then current Lead Pastor got an offer to go and take up a job at another partner in the States and we obviously tried to create a succession plan and yeah, I was a volunteer at the time, working in the business world and I was asked, “Hey do you just want to go along with the process?” I kind of felt like, that’s been most of the story of my life, every time I’ve kind of just said, “Hey I’ll go along with the flow. If God wants me to, I’m going to be there.”

After about 17 interviews I ended up being appointed and it’s been an interesting road. In June it will be about 2 years, so it’s been a really great opportunity and a great time there. Really a great opportunity to be able to do something that I love and build with my hands at a place of [Inaudible 00:02:55] as well.

Rich – Very cool. Now just as kind of a bit of a sidebar, obviously the church has been through a tremendous amount of change, for folks that aren’t aware, what does a Northpoint strategic partner look like? What does that mean to Southpoint?

Morgan – Essentially we’re a completely [Inaudible 00:03:14] church. So we operate as our own, we raise our own funding, we operate our own ministry model and the only real support we get from Northpoint is, we get strategic consultants and we get a lot of resources. Essentially what we’re trying to do is leverage those resources to try and grow a healthy church in Cape Town.

In Cape Town specifically there are a lot of big churches. Quite a few churches that are equipped to reach a lot of people, but very few that are out there reaching un-churched people. So we’re really passionate about that, we get a lot of people coming in who really disregarded church and because of the resources we’ve been given through our strategic partnership, these people just come back and come back and come back and just love what we do.

One of the greatest things that helps me is I get to put up communicators like Andy Stanley, Jeff Henderson, some great guys and it allows me to take some time off, really pull into what we’re doing as a church and really making sure that my staff is healthy, my leaders are healthy and what we’re doing as a church is actually, just positioning ourselves for momentum for growth at the end of the day.

Rich – Very cool. Well your church has been through a lot of change and I know specifically there was kind of a particular season that you went through, why don’t we talk a little bit about that, what was happening in the life of your church, where you said, “There’s a few things that we need to make some change about.”

Morgan – We were kind of forced into the decision that we had to make. We were given notice at the venue we were hiring and we weren’t very sure when the deadline was going to come. So we kind of, as leadership, starting thinking about, “Hey what’s going on? What do we need to do? How are we going to position ourselves to make sure that we’re going forward?” We kind of developed a campaign around the idea of, “Hey, how do we agree to get people, to get onboard with what we’re doing, get going?”

We’d also recently done a really great survey of trying to find out how many people are coming in, what’s our success rate with some of the people that are coming in. We were running two services and the response on our second service was really bad. You know, they have got their word of mouth thing, we had, out of the six people who’d been five times or less, four of them wouldn’t recommend us to a friend. That was like alarm bells for us.

Rich – Oh my gosh, yeah.

Morgan – We were just like, “I’ve got to do something about this.” So that all culminated in us creating a campaign and we called the campaign ‘Come Together’ and that kind of really allowed us to focus in on creating a broader campaign that kind of reaches as many people as we can. But that, in many ways, allows us to try and create the momentum and the bit of growth as we went into a season of… which ended up being a very, very intense change.

Rich – Okay, so the campaign. You were facing obviously a change, a potential change of facility and you’re like, “Gosh, I’m not sure, this looks like the other shoe’s going to drop here,” and at the same time, wanting to solidify the core a little bit, so you put together Come Together. What were some of the key elements of this campaign? What were kind of the parts of it? What did that look like? How were you operating differently than you were operating before that?

Morgan – Yeah I think one of the things was, when I joined the staff I didn’t want to come in and make tons of changes and chase all the people away. I didn’t want to get up on stage and you know, “This is the new desired feature for us and hey, take it or leave it.” I didn’t want to come across like that. So I had been holding back a lot of my change and waiting for a great time and we felt like this was the perfect opportunity to roll out quite a bit of that change.

So we really went in with a three prong approach and we kind of based all of our graphics on a triangle. We had the Come Together logo in the middle and we kind of focused on three areas: prayer, community and finances.

Specifically with prayer, we wanted to be able to drawer everyone to Come Together and pray at specific times and then we wanted to petition God for building and then the finances to provide for it. Whether that was going to be a permanent facility or whether that was going to be a temporary facility, we wanted to petition God for that, knowing that we were going to be walking in His will for the purpose.

As far as finances go, we had a little property that we’d sold a couple of years ago and we put that money into a building fund. We really felt like we wanted to raise that money, that [Inaudible 00:07:32] a little higher. So we kind of set a goal and we set a target that we felt was going to be achievable. We ran this campaign over the end of the year so it was perfect for a year end gift as well, allowed people to really just channel some of the year end giving into that.

Then the third approach was community and we took the decision to take out two services, combine them down into one. Then also try and create one or two events that allowed people to come together and really ask questions, really get involved and feel like they’re a part of the process, as opposed to just being someone on the outside standing and having a lot of questions and not feeling like they’re being involved in what’s going on.

Rich – That’s great. So those are kind of the three buckets, the kind of three major areas that you were focusing on. Were there any activities that you were doing that were different? Things that you were engaged in that were kind of different than your normal ministries schedule?

Morgan – Yeah, because we’re a church, [Inaudible 00:08:23] church, there’s things that we weren’t doing on a Sunday morning.

Rich – Yes.

Morgan – So this campaign was something we really felt like, “How do we talk about it on a Sunday morning in a way that excites people and creates interest, but at the same time doesn’t just completely encapsulate what’s going on on a Sunday morning?” So we created some week night events and really invited people to come and explore, just really hear about what’s going on.

So we kind of divided those nights up into sort of segments and the first time we launched this campaign, I ran two nights on alternate weeks and really made sure that I covered the same content on both nights.

Rich – Okay.

Morgan – The goal really was to say, “Hey you choose which night. We want you to be there, we want you to hear what’s going on. So we want you involved, so just come along, choose a night, RSVP and just rock up.”

We had a really great attendance for those things. I spent some time just sharing about, “Hey this is the situation, this is where we are. This is our campaign.” Then I opened it up for… we probably had about 20 to 30 minutes worth of Q&A.

Rich – Wow.

Morgan – It was interesting because the first night we had it open was really lighthearted questions, you know throwing around, some really great conversation going around. The second night that came round, there was just like really tough people in the room. I just feel the questions that I had no idea was going to be coming my way.

Rich – Right.

Morgan – So there was a really interesting mix of people that rocked up to those events. Then after that I just really spent some time teaching on the vision of why we were doing what we were doing. Why do we want to create a church the way we want to do? Why do we want to seek new premises for what we want to do?

A lot of people left feeling really excited about those things and then giving everybody the opportunity to close in prayer at the end. Not just it being me closing from the front, we asked people to circle up and really just, in their little groups, spend about 10 or 15 minutes just praying on those occasions. So that really helped kick off that campaign.

Rich – Part of what I love that you did there is, I think sometimes we can shy away from those environments that can be fairly vulnerable. When you’re just opening yourself up to answering any question from the floor, that can be an intimidating thing for a lot of leaders, but I love that you did that, because I think that speaks volumes to people, even if there aren’t really any huge curveball questions or difficult questions, it can be good to do that.

I also like that you changed up your normal pattern. On a time like this, when you’re trying to do something different, you’re trying to communicate new vision, if you just keep doing what you’ve always done you won’t get people’s attention. So the fact that you’re like, “No we’re going to do these Wednesday night events and we’re doing these on a couple of different nights a week, make sure you can be there,” just that even gets people’s attention, they’re like, “Oh maybe this is super important, maybe I should actually participate for sure.”

Morgan – Yeah it worked pretty well, we got a lot of people through on that. Then obviously, that campaign ran over our December break and I think in, probably about January, February we tried to really pick it up again.

We had put in an offer on a building at the end of December and that had fallen through right on, just before Christmas. So in January, February we wanted to try and pick up the momentum again, really give people some, just some new direction of what’s going on.

Ironically, I’d been driving past a building every day for three or four years and I drove past and I remember getting an email a couple of months ago and that building was for sale. So I kind of dived on that and jumped in and said, “Hey let’s have a look at it,” and it really worked out quite nicely. We’re pursuing that building at the moment which has been really nice.

I was able then to take the optics around, get some stuff going and then bring people around. I said to everyone, “Hey let’s just shut down groups for four weeks and I want people to come along on a Wednesday night and we want to just dedicate Wednesdays to this Come Together campaign.”

So we kicked off every Wednesday morning, at our offices, all our elders gathered for prayer. It was open to anybody, anybody could arrive and just come and pray with us and we had some good turnout for that which is really nice.

We then sent out a prayer list for during the day, if people wanted to pray any time during the day, we asked people to pray together about that.

We even asked their ministries. So like our children’s ministry got together and they said, “Right today we’re praying about this thing,” and that really helped with creating a bit of unity amongst some of the ministry areas as well.

Then it all culminated in an evening event where, I kind of follow this similar line to what we’d been doing before, but I was able to give people a lot more tangible information and a lot more interest. So I was able to show pictures of, “Hey this is the building we’ve looked at. These are the plans and this is actually what our façade could look like.” So I was able to take it that much further to create a little more momentum and we saw the giving double over that period than what we’d got in through our year end givings.

Rich – Wow.

Morgan – So it really helped us create a lot of momentum through that time.

Rich – Nice, that’s fantastic. So you obviously talked about, there was a certain amount of outcome on the prayer side, you obviously were increasing the prayer, just culture in the church, which is a good thing. Great results on the finance side, I think any churches listening would love to see those kinds of results. What about on the community side, how did you feel, kind of developing community among your folks? Did you feel like there was kind of some development there as well?

Morgan – Yeah. We’ve definitely had a much different feeling on a Sunday morning. There’s a much more fun experience, especially in the foyer, mainly because there’s a lot more people in the foyer now, because we’ve taken the two services and combined them down to one.

Just going back to the prayer thing, one thing we try to do with prayer and community was we decided to do Betterson’s book, The Prayer Circle, I think it’s The Prayer Circle. So we did that book as a church together and that phenomenally changed the prayer culture in what we do as a church.

I spoke to someone the other day, they’re doing the book for the fourth time.

Rich – Wow.

Morgan – They just loved it so much they’ve just started it again, started it again. So that really helped us as a church, kind of move forward in our prayer life as well.

Community wise, we actually see our average attendance go up between 60 and 100 people on a Sunday morning.

Rich – Wow.

Morgan – Even just combining two services down to one our average attendance has increased a lot and it’s been really nice to be able to see a really full room. We get some of those really great Christian songs on a Sunday morning and you just hear people belting and it’s really created a nice atmosphere on a Sunday morning for people coming in the door.

Rich – Very cool.

Morgan – As far as momentum growing, we’ve actually, in the last three weeks, we’ve just moved premises and the community vibe behind just gearing up for the move has just been absolutely amazing.

Rich – Very cool.

Morgan – We’ve actually gone out and partnered with a school, a local school and said, “Hey we want to come in, you guys have got dreams and aspirations for your school, we obviously have some things that we want to do, AV wise and sound wise and for our children’s environments, can we do some of this stuff in lieu of rent?” and they were like, “Hey we’d love that.” You know, they can focus some of their money and their fund raising on other projects. So we’ve come in and put some lights and sound and some projectors in some of the classrooms. The teachers love it, the kids are loving it, our environments are so much better for it. We’re still working out some tweaking issues, but the amount of volunteers, we sent out an email and we just had tons of volunteers phoning back and going, “Hey when can I help out? I just want to come and paint. Can I just come and carry stuff. I just want to help because we think this is just such a great opportunity to be able to partner with the school as well.”

So our community side of things has been really… It’s really brought us closer together as a church.

Rich – Very cool. So just so I understand, you were in another rented facility and now you’re in a school, on your way to the permanent location, is that the kind of trajectory there?

Morgan – That’s what we’re hoping for yeah. The school move is an interim venue. We still try to tab some of the financing and the structure of the purchase is very tricky. The people who work at this company don’t know that the building’s been sold and so we’ve been asked to keep it very quiet. So it’s been very tricky for us, even me fueling questions. Some people ask me, “So where’s the building?” Then you’re like, “Oh well I can’t tell you.” “Well why can’t you tell me? Why are you being so secretive? Why are you keeping your cards so close to your chest?” So it’s been very tricky trying to navigate some of those questions with people but we just try to tab one or two things.

So our goal is, we’ve rented until, we’ve signed a lease until the end of December, my goal is to be in our new facility by Christmas, we want to open up with a big bang at the end of the year and try and get as many people in that new facility as we can.

So that’s my goal, that’s my hope. It’s in God’s hands at the moment so we’ll see where that comes to. But yeah, it’s hopefully going to be an interim facility until we get to our, hopefully our first permanent facility.

Rich – Very cool. Anything else that you’d like to share around change management, you’ve obviously been through a lot, I love this campaign that you’ve led your people through, to other church leaders who might be listening in today?

Morgan – I think when I came into this position, I asked some guys who had done some of the things, taken over. One guy said to me, “Hey you’ve got to get the right people on the bus as soon as you can.” Another guy said, “Don’t come on too strong.” I would definitely echo the second one. The second one is probably… I came on strong in one or two things and actually mainly with my staff. I moved in pretty quickly and I was like, “I want this and this and this. It has to be done this way.” Coming from a business way, I was very business minded and I wanted things done very efficiently and very effectively as much as I could. I came on a little strong like that, I think I pushed one or two staff members away initially from that and had to have a lot of conversations around that.

I think when it comes to organizational change, I think if you can create broad entry points for as many people as possible, I think even the naysayers, even if they’ve got something that they can go onto, I think even a naysayer could get onto our campaign because there was prayer involved. Even if that guy’s sitting there praying, “Hey God as long as your will’s being done here, I don’t know if I necessarily agree with this, but as long as your will’s being done here, I can even get onboard with that.” I think that created a lot of success to our campaign of the change that we were going through.

It’s been tricky, it’s been hard, it’s not easy. I’ve had some people who are not very happy with the situation and where we’re going and they think they know better and that’s opened up to have some very interesting conversations and very interesting coffees with some very high powered leaders and as I’ve been doing that I’ve been able to build a rapport with them and been able to say, “Right okay you’ve got an experience in this avenue, how can I leverage you in a way, not for my personal gain, but how can I leverage your ability and make you more involved in the church, so that we can actually go together, we can just go together forward?”


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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.