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Reinforcing Church Culture in the Middle of a Church Revitalization with Eric Smith

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Welcome to the unSeminary podcast. You’re going to love today’s conversation. We have Pastor Eric Smith from Vaughn Forest Church in Montgomery, Alabama. Vaughn Forest is in a military area with people coming from all over the United States and all over the world to be trained, so it’s a dynamic multi-cultural community. The church grew quickly in its early years, but due to some financial mistakes along with the economic crash at the same time things went downhill until another pastor came in and lead the church during that time of crisis.

Eric is now lead pastor at Vaughn Forest but his background is in church planting. He and some friends created a church planting organization called the 242 Network. When God started stirring in him the possibility of helping an existing church revitalize, he came to Vaughn Forest to help breathe new life into the walls. Eric is with us today to talk about church revitalization and changes that might need to be made for growth.

  • Build trust from within. // The first step in the process was to lay out a 100 day plan and part of the main emphasis was to not only build the staff but to really build trust. Make sure you really have the right people in the right positions. Make changes when needed. Part of the ways that they build relationships among the staff at Vaughn Forest is by staff retreats twice a year which allow them to focus on the communication and health within the leadership and that creates a trickle-down affect in the church itself.
  • Get away to get within. // Plan staff retreats during downtimes of the year. For example, Vaughn Forest does their first retreat of the year during the end of February, after Christmas and the New Year are over and before Easter has started. They go away for three days and will stay in different places depending on where they’re going—a hotel, a retreat center, a rental house. They spend time building relationships or work through ideas such as how to infuse values of the church in a multi-sensory way for the people to experience when they come through the doors.
  • Reach the men. // We all know the stats: men go to church less than women. Part of building that multi-sensory experience when you enter Vaughn Forest is a more masculine décor. There aren’t large bouquets of flowers sitting on tables everywhere. They want men to feel that this is a place that they can be comfortable being themselves. All of that comes from the colors they choose and even fragrance in the air. It’s not that women aren’t welcome too, but if you can reach the men, then you can reach families more easily.
  • Track the values. // Traction from the Entrepreneurial Operating System has influenced the way that Vaughn Forest evaluates their staff. Part of the system is to have your staff write down their values or their purposes. The senior staff then tracks the staff on how well they’re living out those values and purposes and use the chart that EOS has created to help them do that. When Eric is considering who to give raises or more responsibility to, it’s driven by who is living out those values.

For more information about Vaughn Forest, visit their website at vaughnforest.com

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Lightning Round

Helpful Tech Tools // Carey Nieuwhof Leadership Podcast, Andy Stanley Leadership Podcast, Craig Groeschel Leadership Podcast

Influential Book // Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business by Gino Wickman, What the Heck Is EOS?: A Complete Guide for Employees in Companies Running on EOS by Gino Wickman and Tom Bouwer, How to Be a Great Boss by Gino Wickman and René Boer

What you do for fun // Work out, Play golf, Hanging out with wife and son

Contact // https://www.facebook.com/vaughnforestchurch/

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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.