Ryan Visconti on Being Inside a Church Succession While Seeing it Grow from 300 to 1,300!
Ryan’s dad became pastor of Generation Church in 1989, and at that time there were about 70-80 people attending. The church began to grow and move into bigger facilities, but then peaked at 400-500 attendees and began a slow decline in members. Meanwhile Ryan entered the army and never intended to go into ministry, but when he felt the call he couldn’t deny God’s urging. Ryan started serving as a right-hand man to his dad in Generation Church with about 300 members at that time. Together, they began to break down the church departments and ministries and took a more simple approach, focusing primarily on the Sunday service experience. Today Ryan shares some of their learnings with us.
- Consider rebranding in your strategy. // Generation was not the original name for the church. The church that existed in place of what is now Generation Church had a different reputation within the community, attended primarily by older generations. So when Ryan came on board, he worked with his dad and the rest of the staff to relaunch the church. Changing the name was part of that process and served to give the church a fresh start, causing a buzz in the community. Branding and social media was a huge part of their strategy in order to reach the younger generation with a more up-to-date church.
- Learn by trial and error. // Finding the best strategy for your church is partially based on trial and error—figuring out what works best in your situation. For Generation Church, the changes they made included creating an engaging and easy-to-navigate website which served as the “front door” to the church—a big part of reaching the younger generation. Having a presence on social media is also important for sharing stories and small bits of what the church is doing. Be aware of every piece of what you do in order to create the culture you want your church to have.
- Pair vision with wisdom. // A lot of older pastors are at the point that they’re thinking about passing the responsibilities of the church onto the next person, but they’re not quite ready to release everything, or they can’t afford to retire. What Generation Church did in this regard is keep the previous lead pastor, Ryan’s father, involved and on staff, and yet pass the baton to the next generation to drive vision. So in this case, Ryan took over the lead pastor position under his father’s guidance. This allows the church to have someone who is driving hard with new vision and ideas, but still have the older staff with their years of experience to give advice and speak wisdom into situations. Ryan found it created a really potent dynamic to have these two strengths balancing each other at Generation.
- Make the most of your resources. // Increased income doesn’t always come immediately with growth. One thing Ryan found with growth is that the giving can be a year behind. At the beginning of the rebranding process it was really tough because Generation didn’t have a lot of resources due to the membership decline from the previous years. There may be many months in which your church is coming out in the red just as Generation was, but there are still many free services that a church can take advantage of to encourage growth. Remember that simple is better when you don’t have a lot of resources. But when God’s call leads you to something that may cost money, such as an additional service or more staff, step out in faith that this will lead to the growth you’re looking for.
You can learn more about Generation Church at www.generation.church.
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Helpful Tech Tools // Grammarly
Ministries Following // Elevation Church
Influential Book // Money Matters by Aubrey Malphurs and Steve Stroope
Inspiring Leader // Craig Groeschel
What does he do for fun // Netflix, read, golf, time with wife