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Tagged with “strategy” (5)

  1. 3 Ways Disney is Improving that Your Church Can Learn From | unSeminary

    3 Ways Disney is Improving that Your Church Can Learn From

    Podcast: Play in new window | DownloadSubscribe: iTunes | Android | RSS | MoreThe Walt Disney Company continues to be an organization that churches should learn from. Obviously, our “core business” in the local church is totally different but there are many similarities in what we’re attempting to do and what Disney does:

    We’re both attempting to keep people engaged with “life span” offerings. 

    Families play a huge role in our strategies.

    We balance tradition and innovation on a regular basis.

    We offer both digital and “in person” experiences.

    Communication and storytelling are core to what we do.

    We deal with the public in crowds on a regular basis.

    A close observer will see that Disney continues to improve its experience and we can draw out many examples for our churches, including the following:

    Data-Driven Decision Making // Disney uses the information generated from its experiences to guide decision making. Forecasting models determine the kind of vacation packages preferred by guests and help the company provide targeted hotel offers to its customers. Guest usage patterns are examined in real time to determine how to best deploy its team. Sales in its retail stores are fed back to the central warehouse to alert them when more inventory is needed. Every action that guests take at Disney is a potential “data point” that could help drive decision making. For church leaders, how are we tracking the data driven by our guest interactions to serve them better? When your nursery reaches near capacity, could your database flag a follow up with parents to ensure they had a good experience? How could small group attendance “drop off” be flagged as something that your team should follow up on?

    Digital Team Management // The scale of Disney’s theme-park operation is staggering. Each week, Disney has to pay more than 80,000 cast members and schedule 240,000 shifts. Dealing with the complexities of ensuring that the right team members are in the right location at the right time has led to Disney investing heavily in a scheduling system. The outcome was a 20% improvement in its management of labor resources and the project paid for itself in the first year. In a similar way, your church can see huge improvements in volunteer team management when you use your database to manage your teams. Rather than a series of spreadsheets (or worse, a bunch of sheets of paper!) used to track where people are plugged in, your database becomes the central place of communication and connection with your volunteers to ensure you have the right team members in the right place. Avoiding the problem of the same person serving in two places at the same time is a critical part of ensuring we’re not burning out people. Although we don’t pay our volunteer teams, we should be finding ways to reward those volunteers who serve with excellence. Simple acknowledgment is the beginning of a reward system for your volunteers … when was the last time you reached out to say thank you?

    Personalized Experiences // Disney’s MyMagic+ initiative is a billion-dollar investment that is a combination of a website, a mobile application and a wristband that collectively allow visitors to customize their experience at a Walt Disney World. The initiative has involved training 80,000 employees on new technology, equipping 28,000 hotel room doors with radio frequency readers, and installing scanners at the parks. The implementation has resulted in a breathtakingly personalized experience for guests as they journey around the park. Photos taken in the park are magically saved in the cloud and are viewable at the end of the day back in guests’ hotel rooms. You can use the app to schedule a time to skip the line on your favorite ride and then simply wave your magic band at the gate to be let into a shorter queue. Behind all of these (and many more) personalized experiences is a series of databases that track and serve guests throughout their entire Disney experience. In a similar way, churches need to look at our databases as tools to provide personalized experiences. Think about the personal data you have and leverage it to provide a more personal experience. You probably know many people’s birthdays … why don’t we send birthday cards like the dentist does? Seeing which service people hand in their offering most weeks can tell you which service they attend … you could ask them to serve with a specific team during that service time. By looking closely at your database, you could figure out which kids are moving up at the beginning of the school year and have their new small group leaders personally reach out to them.

    The Walt Disney Company provides so many great examples of using information and data to make a better church experience. This inspires me to keep thinking about how we’re leveraging our databases to be more than just a warehouse of names, phone numbers and email addresses and to use them to take our ministry to the next level. Here are some great articles to dig into if you are looking for more lessons from Disney:

    How Bob Iger Remade the House That Walt Built

    Disney World Parks and Resorts mines magic from business analytics

    Disney Bets $1 Billion on Technology to Track Theme-Park Visitors

    The HBR Interview: Technology, Tradition, and the Mouse

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    —Huffduffed by theprd

  2. Chad Fisher on Leading a Millennial Mega-Church | unSeminary

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    Hello, everyone. Today I’m happy to be chatting with Chad Fisher from Rock City Church in Columbus, Ohio. Rock City Church has been pegged as one of the fastest growing churches in the country for two years in a row, so obviously they’ve gotten some things figured out around those parts.

    Chad was a young man who wanted to serve in ministry, but found that there was a real disconnect generationally in the church. Back then his church was basically the youth ministry and he had rarely spent any time in the rest of the church and its services. Chad asked God to use him to reach out to his generation and bring them back to the church, and also to help him break down the generational barriers in ministry. This lead Chad to a desire to plant a new church and he connected with others who helped and encouraged him. As a result, Rock City Church was planted in 2011 and has grown quickly ever since.

    Engage young people while also pulling in older generations. // Chad believes that it’s harder for older churches to engage young people. Younger pastors and leaders have an advantage to drawing in young people and really reaching them, while also bringing in the older generations. One way to do this is to reach out to the older generations by asking for advice and using them as teachers and guides to the younger generations. This requires an intentional focus, as Chad says in today’s episode.

    Using creativity and branding to reach the young. // Rock City Church recently did a survey asking young people what it is at the church that they believe reaches their generation the best. The most common responses had to do with creativity and branding—things that don’t seem very spiritual, but which can have the biggest impact. Young people are bombarded daily with graphics, videos, and music from companies marketing their brands. Churches can use these same techniques to reach out to young people because it’s something they can relate to and part of the world they know.

    Simplicity and generosity. // The two things that Chad believes define Rock City Church and reach out to the younger generations best are simplicity and generosity. The message is simple. The worship experience is simple, without a lot of stage props and flash. The service is simple, focused on the message of Jesus Christ. Young people are looking for simple truths, a clear explanation of what it means to follow Jesus, and exactly what the Word of God says. On the subject of generosity, Rock City has a program called One For One, in which they set aside $1 in honor of each person that walks through the door. They then use that money to bless others. The heart of God is generous—He generously gave His Son to us to save us. Churches should demonstrate that generosity to others and model the heart of Christ through giving.

    Too much disconnect. // Chad believes that a lot of churches lose people by having too many videos, announcements, and other things that disconnect or distract the audience from the simple message of Christ. Let the audience hear the Word of God and what it means, without too many distractions. Invite them to join ministry teams or life groups and they can then live the teachings of Jesus through their work.

    Learn more about Rock City Church at their website or follow them on Twitter @RockCityChurch. You can also follow Chad on Twitter @CFisherOnline. Email the church at or Chad at

    Thank You for Tuning In!

    There are a lot of podcasts you could be tuning into today, but you chose unSeminary, and I’m grateful for that. If you enjoyed today’s show, please share it by using the social media buttons you see at the left hand side of this page. Also, kindly consider taking the 60-seconds it takes to leave an honest review and rating for the podcast on iTunes, they’re extremely helpful when it comes to the ranking of the show and you can bet that I read every single one of them personally!

    Lastly, don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, to get automatic updates every time a new episode goes live! 

    Episode Highlights

    00:44 // Rich introduces Chad and welcomes him to the show.

    01:14 // Chad gives us the history of Rock City Church.

    04:58 // Chad explains why they decided to name the church Rock City.

    07:08 // Chad talks about the difficulties some churches face engaging the younger generation.

    09:17 // Chad talks about the advantages of multi-generational churches.

    13:35 // Chad offers examples of approaches that resonate with millennials.

    15:50 // Chad talks about how Rock City avoids disconnect with the church.

    17:49 // Chad talks about generosity and Rock City’s One for One scheme.

    21:50 // Chad talks about the impact on giving since launching the One for One scheme.

    23:09 // Chad offers practical tips to pastors.

    Lightning Round

    Helpful Tech Tools // Evernote,, Hillsong Network,

    Ministries Following // Church of the Highlands,, NewSpring

    Influential Book // A Tale of Three Kings by Gene Edwards, Simple Church

    What does he do for fun // Family

    Contact // @cfisheronline,

    Episode Transcript

    Rich – Well hey everybody, welcome to the unSeminary podcast. My name’s Rich the host around these parts and so glad that you’ve decided to tune in today. We know that you’ve got a lot going on at your church, there’s a lot of things, you’ve got a lot of time pressure in your world and we’re just thankful that you’ve taken some time out to listen in to today’s conversation. We’re hoping that today will be encouraging for you, provide you some good handles and maybe challenge you a little bit, to think a differently about your ministry.

    Today it’s our honor to have Chad Fisher with us. Chad is from Columbus Ohio, he leads a church there called Rock City Church. This is one of the fastest growing churches in the country, a few years in a row it has been pegged as one of those, which just means they’ve figured a few things out and are wrestling with some of the right questions and God seems to be blessing their ministry. So I’m super excited to had Chad on the show today, welcome.

    Chad – Thank you, thank you, glad to be here.

    Rich – That’s great. Why don’t you tell us a little bit about Rock City, how did you get started? Give us that story.

    Chad – Yeah you know, I think a lot of what we’re going to talk about really comes from our story in the beginnings. I was a 20 something that wanted to serve in ministry but I was finding there was a real disconnect generationally. My church was essentially… as a 20 year old my church was the youth ministry, I was a youth leader and over the course of probably a three year stint in youth ministry as a volunteer, I could probably count on one hand, in the three years, the number of times I attended that church on a Sunday morning, there was just a wide disconnect.

    So early on I was serving in ministry and really asking the Lord God, “What do you want to do through me and how can you use me to make a difference?” On one hand it was, “How can you use me to make a difference in my generation?” because I was seeing a ton of my Christian friends that I grew up with and went to Christian school with falling away. Most of them, probably 80% of my Christian friends that I grew up with are no longer walking with Jesus today.

    So one was, “How can you use me to make a difference in their life?” Then the second thing was, you know, how can we start to break down the generational barriers that exist in ministry instead of being so compartmentalized where we have our kids’ ministry, our junior high, high school, college and young adults and then finally like the big people church? There’s very little interplay between the age groups.

    So ours was just a real desire to make a difference for Christ but also I think in me it was a desire to have elders mentoring me that I could not find. It was to be the church as one that I think Jesus sees in the church.

    Rich – Absolutely.

    Chad – I just wasn’t finding that. So early on it felt like the Lord was leading us to plant a church. I had no idea what that looked like and what that meant as an early 20 something, so we sat on it for years. I ended up serving fulltime in a church as a youth pastor and a worship leader, I spent about five and a half years in that fulltime role. That didn’t end very well for me and for [Inaudible 00:03:21], so we became sort of like church orphans if you would.

    Rich – Okay.

    Chad – It was in that season, the in between, a real test of our faith that the Lord began to reawaken this desire to start a church and we felt like we were in a different place, a better place but also a more desperate place as well. The Lord just really connected us with the right people. We connected with the ARC Network, The Association of Related Churches. Another church in our city at the time, we were living in Toledo at the time and Cedar Creek Church out of Perrysburg Ohio…

    Rich – They have a great church.

    Chad – A great church, great leaders, they recognized something in us that we weren’t able to recognize at the time. So they just became friends to us, encouraged us and helped us realize the dream. We planted the church in 2011 and have not looked back year on year. I say that you can’t plan for growth, but you can be prepared for it and I think that’s been our strategy. You know we don’t have huge growth goals, we’re not trying to break records, we don’t so much plan for growth but we prepare for it. We want to make sure that we’re ready for the people that we expect God to send and we’re able to minister rightly and our staff is prepared, that financially we have the margin that we need to seize the opportunities as God brings them. It’s been a fun story and we’re four and a half years in now at Rock City and I’m loving every second of it.

    Rich – Very cool. Now why Rock City for people that aren’t familiar, why that name? That’s a unique name.

    Chad – Yeah I guess so, it didn’t seem too unique to us. You know, I guess part of our story was interesting in that we felt called to plant a church before we knew what city we would move to.

    Rich – Okay.

    Chad – So that’s interesting. So growing up in Ohio that seemed like license to us to pick the warmest coastal city that we could find.

    Rich – Yeah.

    Chad – So we felt called to start a church. We said, “Let’s move to Atlanta or let’s go to Ashville North Carolina or let’s go to Miami,” just some place warm, beautiful, coastal, just tropical whatever, you know tropical compared to Ohio.

    Rich – Yes.

    Chad – My wife and I were in a car driving to Atlanta and there’s a place called Rock City, it’s in Tennessee. It’s a little scenic view thing and actually it cost a little too much for us at the time to even go and see what the view looked like, but the sign said Sea Rock City and it just sort of clicked to us and our dream and desire was, “Lord put us in a city that we can really shake, that we can really make an impact, a difference in.” We were in Atlanta looking and praying and there seemed to be many churches shaking that city. Atlanta has a lot of churches, great churches.

    Rich – Yes.

    Chad – But we just didn’t feel like that was us and when the Lord eventually called us to Columbus we felt like there’s a lot of great churches in Columbus but this city, there was a feel that we could shake this city, we could rock this city. So really that’s where it came from, I’m not overly spiritual.

    Rich – No that’s cool.

    Chad – It’s kind of, yeah.

    Rich – Cool, well let’s look back at part of what you said earlier. I appreciate what you were saying around, which to me I think for some people that are listening might seem like contradictory; at one point saying, “I don’t see a church that’s maybe being as effective as kind of reaching my generation,” and this idea of like 80% of your friends who were in the church turning away, but then at the same time saying, “I want to create a church that’s kind of multi-generational.” Those seem at odds with each other, tell me about that.

    Chad – And I think they probably are at odds with each other in a lot of ways, particularly for older churches. I do think that it’s much harder for older churches to engage young people, it is very difficult. I think that there’s this whole new wave of church planning and it’s being led by a lot of young pastors and it’s not that older churches can’t engage young people, it’s just harder for them.

    Rich – Right, right.

    Chad – I think that we, as young pastors and through this amazing church plant movement that’s really happening right now across the nation, churches are popping up everywhere and they’re growing fast, they’re reaching lost people.

    Rich – Yeah.

    Chad – I think we as young people have a unique opportunity in this moment to be the ones to engage the elder generation. So it’s not that the elder generation isn’t trying to engage young people, it’s just very difficult when it works that way. I think that we need young pastors, young leaders to be wise enough to know that we don’t know all the answers, we’re not smart enough on our own, we don’t have the experience that the elder generation has. We’re just finding that it’s a unique opportunity for us, as young people, to not just surround ourselves with young people, but to be absolutely intentional about building into our teams people from elder generations that can speak into our lives, that bring wisdom experience and it doesn’t happen by accident.

    Rich – Right.

    Chad – It’s very, very much an intentional effort on our part. We talk about it a lot, we give examples a lot of people that we’re connecting to. You can see it on our staff, we all don’t look the same. We have one husband and wife that just joined our staff, they’re 67 and 62 years old, not something you might expect from one of the fastest growing churches in America, one of the youngest pastors in America leading a church like Rock City.

    Rich – Yes.

    Chad – But we love it. We love what he can bring, they’ve served in ministry 30 years.

    Rich – That’s amazing.

    Chad – So we’re learning a lot from them. I just think it takes a real intentional focus to do that.

    Rich – Right, so why don’t you kind of unpack that a little bit, what would you say some of that intentionality your trying to bake into Rock City, around reaching millennials and this kind of multi-generational deal?

    Chad – Well I think, no matter what church you are, I think that to reach young people, programming is almost everything right? So it amazing, we just sat down with a group of young interns, like young millennials to older millennials, but there are a lot of young millennials.

    Rich – Right.

    Chad – We said, “What do you see in Rock City, ways that we’re being successful at reaching millennials?” The one thing that came up in every category in every meeting was creativity and branding. Things that seem like the least spiritual, but it’s like that persona, it’s what we see in the world. We see very clear imagery, there’s clarity and communication when you look at the brands that are like running the world, but then you walk into a church and there’s nothing relatable, usually. So I think that a lot of the programming, the marketing, the graphics, the video, that side of ministry really matters to young people.

    What we found out though is that when you make programming, shape your programming around reaching millennials, you are automatically going to reach their parents and their grandparents.

    Rich – Interesting.

    Chad – When you get a 25 or a 35 year old that walks through the doors of your church, maybe they grew up in the church but they have then left the church, it’s been 15, 20 years and that parent, that grandparent has been waiting for that kid for the last 10, 15, 20 years, can’t do anything to get them to step foot in a church but now they’re seeing, not only is my son going to church but he’s serving, he’s giving, he’s going on mission trips, he’s posting videos on Facebook, he’s wearing flat bills that have his church name on it.

    Rich – Yes.

    Chad – Like, when did that become cool?

    Rich – Right.

    Chad – Or to put your church on a shirt and wear it right? I don’t know when that became cool but it’s because God is doing something in their life. So the parents and grandparents see that, so they start to come. What they feel immediately when they walk through the door is when they look around, they’re not used to seeing so many young people in church and so there’s a barrier there. So the quicker you can break down that barrier, when you as a younger church see an older person walk through your doors, you better engage them within the first two minutes.

    Rich – Right.

    Chad – You better welcome them warmly, you better give them the grand tour, you better treat them like they’re royalty. Why? Because you need them.

    Rich – Right.

    Chad – The church can’t be healthy if we’re not a church of all ages.

    Rich – So true.

    Chad – So it takes intentionality in our part and I think for older churches the challenge is going to be staffing younger, empowering and engaging the younger generations and of course that’s going to be easier for me to say than do because we’re a young church, but 20 years from now, we’ll be faced with that.

    Rich – Right.

    Chad – Are we staffing younger? Are we surrounding ourselves with creatives that are doing things that don’t make sense to us but they know that they make sense to their generation? So we’re intentional. Our board is very diverse age wise. Our staff, like I said, we’ve just had a 67 year old, a pastor of 30 years join our staff. We love that, it says a lot to the 20 somethings on our staff as well that, you know what, we all don’t have to look good in a flat bill.

    Rich – Right.

    Chad – We are and we don’t want the 67 year old with a 45 year old and a 55 year old to feel like you’ve got to be in skinny jeans and wear Air Jordan’s to do ministry. You come as you are, you look who you are, you should be who you are and young people are going to respect you and you’re going to have an opportunity, not only to learn from the young people but the young people are going to have a great opportunity to learn from you.

    Rich – Absolutely, I think there’s a lot of pastors that are listening in, they would say, “Gosh I feel like the millennial generation, we’re not doing a good job,” and sometimes they can try those kinds of superficial approaches like, “I’ll cut my hair shorter, I’ll grow a beard and I’ll put on skinny jeans,” and that doesn’t resonate. What would you say, or maybe more deeper philosophical kind of approaches to ministry that you feel like are resonating well with millennials? Are there any of those that go beyond kind of the surface?

    Chad – I think simplicity and generosity.

    Rich – Okay tell me about that.

    Chad – Those are the two things that really define our church. So simplicity, the messaging is simple, the worship experiences are simple. We don’t use a lot of like… we don’t do stage props and use a ton of message illustrations and we don’t stack our services with a bunch of announcements and try to fill it up with as much as we can fill it up. We start with worship, we say, “Come on let’s stand and worship,” so we start with worship. We might have a bumper video, mostly we have a bumper video that might be a minute or two that will lead the way from worship into the message. The message is about Jesus, it’s the straight gospel, it’s not a watered down version of the gospel. The gospel is simple, the gospel is life changing, the gospel is convicting, the gospel hurts sometimes when you hear it, but what young people are looking for is they’re looking for simple truths, they’re not looking for how to try to convince people to follow Jesus. What they want to know is what does it mean to follow Jesus, what does the Bible say?

    Rich – What does it look like, yeah?

    Chad – What does it look like? What does the Bible say about the cultural issues that we’re faced with? Don’t tiptoe, just give them Jesus, teach them the word of God. Then they’re going to have the opportunity to either say yes or no.

    Rich – Right.

    Chad – And because you’ve been honest and forthright and you do so in love and the message is simple and there’s not a bunch of frill and add ons, you know, you end the message, you give them one last time to respond to Jesus, maybe sing a worship song at the end and then, “Before you leave, hey three things we want you to know,” and that’s it. So very simple services, very simple programming.

    Rich – A question for you. So I’m a 40 something guy, leading in a church that 10 years ago was really hip and I think we still are, I still think we do some cool things, but what would your challenge be? I think my sense is, some churches, we can over program, to use your language, there’s kind of the frill and the add on, what would be some of those things that you’ve seen as more typical in say a generation older programming that for your church if you like, “That’s just too much, we need to pull back from that.”

    Chad – Oh man, feeling like you have to start with the song that people know.

    Rich – Okay.

    Chad – Like something from the top 40 radio or something.

    Rich – Like Taylor Swift?

    Chad – Right, nothing wrong with that.

    Rich – Yes, I get that. I asked you, I asked you to give it to me, come on.

    Chad – But it’s an example because I think when people come to church they just expect to hear something that is Christian right? I mean they’re in church so you don’t have to play something from outside of church.

    Rich – Yes.

    Chad – I think a lot of churches tend to just do way too many videos, way too many transitions. There’s way too much disconnect from our time of worship which should just jump in and then our time of hearing the word of God and being able to respond. It’s like we try to put so much into it that disconnect is everywhere.

    So I just think simple. I think also programming, not programming but the way that the church functions. So we say, “If you walk through the doors of Rock City”, we say, “we want you to experience Jesus here in this worship experience, we want you to find a life group because we all need friends that are going to help us follow Jesus and we want you to serve on a ministry team.”

    Rich – Right.

    Chad – That is it. “As you’re experiencing Jesus, as you’re serving on a ministry team, as you’re engaging in a life group, guess what, you’re going to live out the heart of God, you’re going to learn what it means to be generous, you’re going to learn how to share your faith, you’re going to grow in your faith, you’re going to be challenged.” So we don’t have a bunch of programs, ministries.

    Rich – Right, classes all of that stuff.

    Chad – We just say, “Get in a life group, serve on a ministry team, bring your friends and family and unsafe coworkers and neighbors to church with you and let’s keep winning the people around us to Christ.” So just the ask is simple, the message is simple but it doesn’t mean shallow.

    Rich – Absolutely, earlier you had mentioned generosity, that kind of stuck into me, that’s something that you really saw as a value, you want your church to be generous as well. Tell me a little bit about that.

    Chad – Yeah generosity, it’s in our DNA and it is in the DNA of Christianity right? I mean God is generous, he gave his son, he didn’t have to, he did.

    Rich – Right.

    Chad – So everything we do as a church we’re looking at it as, “Okay, how are we reaching lost people and how are we modelling the heart of Christ?” And the heart of Christ means God and the heart of God is generous.

    So one of the things we do to break down the barrier is people expect to walk through the doors of a church and they are asked for money. One of the things we let people see every Sunday is, “Just for being here, we’re making a donation in your honor.” So just for showing up through something we call, One for One, for every person who walks through our doors every week, and it doesn’t matter if you attend two services we’ll count you twice, every week we’re going to set aside $1 to meet a local or global need, we call it One for One. So if 2000 walk through the doors this weekend, we’ll give $2000 this week to a local organization or a global need. If 3000 people walk through the doors, $3000.

    So it’s really cool and what we’ve found is, in the early days of our church, when it was just a few hundred, there were stories like, “Hey, through One for One we were able to bless a single mom with groceries and here’s a letter she wrote.” Obviously we don’t say who it is all the time but, “Here’s a letter. Here’s how just for being a part of this church, for showing up, we were able to bless this family.”

    As our church has grown we’ll take an entire month, sometimes we’ll take two months and say, “For August and September, for every person who walks through our doors we’re going to take One for One and we’re going to give it to this,” and you’re talking about multiplying thousands of dollars that can meet practical needs.

    Rich – That’s incredible.

    Chad – A lot of church pastors they’ll say, “I don’t know how we can do this, how can we implement it?” The reality is when we implemented it we had no idea how it would affect our bottom line, we had no idea how we could afford it, we just decided to do it.

    Rich – Right.

    Chad – And realized that as we began to do it the giving increased, the generosity of the people increased.

    We also don’t reward ‘yes’ with a gift. I mean we used to, but we thought why give something to them just for getting their information? Why not model for them what this church can do? So we say, “If you’re a first time guest, we so much value you and if you fill out a guest card, for every first time guest card we get this weekend we’re going to make a $5 donation in your honor to one of the most well-respected and known non-Christian organizations in our city, it’s called the Mid-Ohio Foodbank.”

    The Mid-Ohio Foodbank is what’s stocking the shelves of almost every food pantry in Ohio. It’s not a Christian organization per se but they’re doing the ministry of Christ and people love that, it’s like, “Man, just for filling out a card, this card is worth $5,” and through our partnership with Mid-Ohio Foodbank they are able to provide $50 worth of groceries for every $5 donation because they’ve got partnerships with banks and they’ve got matching donors and they’ve got partnerships with Kroger and other places that are in the food market. So they’re able to take a $5 gift, put $50 worth of groceries on a person’s table.

    If you’re a guest, are you not going to fill out a card if you know like, not only is this $5 but it’s going to provide $50 worth of food? It just lets people see what the church is all about and it lets people start to understand the power of the collective. Like when we collectively come together and make up our minds to do something significant to be generous to make a difference, together we can do more, serve more, reach more, give more than ever we could do on our own. So those are just little ways that we…

    Rich – Fantastic, that’s great. I love that. I love what you’re doing there with first time kind of guest bribe for the lack of a better word.

    Chad – Right.

    Rich – Now did you see any kind of difference in response rates on any of that stuff? Obviously it’s a huge..?

    Chad – Overwhelming.

    Rich – Really?

    Chad – Yeah, I mean it has been hard for us to figure out, we started that, I would say early Summer we started that and we went from probably 40 to 50 guest cards a week to 90 to 120. So it more than doubled. So the question for us is, are we just in this incredible season of growth, different from the last season, or is it the donation that we’re actually giving to someone else versus giving to you? I think it’s probably a little of both.

    Rich – Yeah [Inaudible 00:22:21].

    Chad – An overwhelming difference, we now look back.

    Rich – That’s fantastic. I know in our church, I just want to affirm and people that are listening in who are saying, “We could never do anything like that, the One for One or what you’re doing on the first time guest stuff there.” I just want to affirm you to step out in that. We’ve seen that in our church and when we step out in generosity, whether it’s kind of mass mobilization stuff or doing reverse offerings or doing this kind of thing that we’re talking about there, our experience has been that the Lord meets us there financially and that has been incredible. I know there are some people that live in the fear of that.

    This has been incredible, anything else? There’s a lot we could talk about, a lot we could dig in on. Chad is there anything else you’d like to say before we jump into the lightning round?

    Chad – Can I just give a really practical tip to pastors?

    Rich – Yes please do.

    Chad – Okay, so when we were in the early stages, you know we had 200 or 300 people, so One for One cost us like $300, maybe it was $311 okay?

    Rich – Right.

    Chad – You’re not asking for giving but you can say, “Through One for One this week we were able to provide $311 in groceries.” Okay say it. Don’t ask for anyone to give a $311 check but they will, every time.

    Rich – Right.

    Chad – I mean it was amazing to us. If we said, “Hey this week we were able to provide $620 and whatever through One for One.” Someone would write a $620 check to cover it, people started adding dollars to their giving just because they didn’t want the church giving for them if they weren’t giving themselves. So it’s like, you don’t have to ask people, sometimes just let your lights shine before men so that they praise your father in heaven, they see your good deeds and they get excited about it. If you have that fear, and we did right? So just say, “This is what we were able to accomplish last week,” and someone’s going to approach you in the lobby and say, “Hey pastor I want to cover that.”

    Rich – Right.

    Chad – Or, “Hey pastor, I want to double that.”

    Rich – Right, right.

    Chad – Then you get to go to that single mom and say, “It’s not £200 in groceries it’s $400 because someone in the church has doubled it.” They wouldn’t have given that any other way.

    Rich – Right.

    Chad – So tell the stories because the stories are what challenge people and inspire people and you’ll be so amazed how God works in the hearts and in the minds of believers and they’re going to step up and cover that bill.





    —Huffduffed by theprd

  3. Larry Hubatka on Seven Day Seminary | unSeminary

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    Today I’m excited to be talking again with Larry Hubatka from Elevation Church. For those who don’t know, Elevation Church was founded in 2006 by Pastor Steven Furtick and his wife Holly in Charlotte, NC. Elevation Church has now grown to 13 locations–10 in the Charlotte area, 1 in Raleigh-Durham, 1 in Roanoke, VA, and 1 in the greater Toronto area.

    Elevation Church always wanted to equip and empower other ministry leaders, from broadcasting weekend messages to participating in conferences and internship programs which help people learn how Elevation Church works. There is a practical side to ministry that seminary doesn’t always teach you, and that’s what Elevation Church wants to share.

    Can we equip people for ministry? // Most interns that come into Elevation Church’s internship program are young and new to ministry. The experience they receive in this program is very hands-on and teaches them about the practical aspects of ministry as well as the the behind-the-scenes work that needs to be done. It can be a challenging program, but most people leave with the feeling that it was the best thing they’ve ever done. An experience like this one often helps the interns decide whether this calling into ministry is right for them. Elevation also offers a one day event called Inside Elevation, which lets you get a good idea of how the church operates and reaches out to the community.

    A crash course in ministry to help guide the next step. // Elevation is starting a new program called Seven Day Seminary. It’s impossible to get an entire seminary education in seven days, but Elevation does hope to train and equip people quickly. Not intended to replace seminary, Seven Day Seminary is instead a crash course which includes 25 to 30 sessions over 7 days. If you’re feeling called into ministry, but aren’t sure if it’s right for you, this can give you a sense of what to expect.

    Practical training versus spiritual formation. // Everything in ministry is connected, both the spiritual and the practical parts. There won’t be a perfect ratio of work/life balance because it’s all connected in the end. So going through short training events like the ones Elevation offers can help those who are struggling with whether this is their calling, and that is what Larry and the rest of the team at Elevation hopes to accomplish in these programs.

    If you’d like to find out more about Elevation Church, you can visit their website at Or for information on their new program, visit

    Thank You for Tuning In!

    There are a lot of podcasts you could be tuning into today, but you chose unSeminary, and I’m grateful for that. If you enjoyed today’s show, please share it by using the social media buttons you see at the left hand side of this page. Also, kindly consider taking the 60-seconds it takes to leave an honest review and rating for the podcast on iTunes, they’re extremely helpful when it comes to the ranking of the show and you can bet that I read every single one of them personally!

    Lastly, don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, to get automatic updates every time a new episode goes live! 

    Episode Highlights

    00:33 // Rich welcomes Larry to the show.

    00:43 // Rich gives us some background to Elevation Church.

    00:55 // Larry details the different locations of the church.

    01:25 // Larry talks about his role and the structure within Elevation Church.

    02:46 // Larry tells how Elevation Church has evolved in the 10 years.

    06:17 // Larry talks about the Intern Program at Elevation Church.

    08:15 // Rich and Larry discuss Inside Elevation.

    08:59 // Larry talks about Seven Day Seminary.

    15:15 // Larry talks about integrating your whole life as part of the basics of ministry.

    15:17 // Larry offers contact info and details of Seven Day Seminary.

    Lightning Round

    Helpful Tech Tools // Hangout

    Ministries Following // Pastor Craig Groeschel at LifeChurch, Northpoint, Hillsong.

    Influential Book // The War of Art by Steven Pressfield.

    Inspiring Leader // Mark Cuban, Elon Musk, Michael Bierut, Mark Zuckerberg.

    What does he do for fun // Family. Surfing the web, digital blogs. Digital marketing. Team building. Sports.

    Contact // larryhubatka on Twitter

    Episode Transcript

    Rich – Hey everybody, welcome to the unSeminary podcast, my name’s Rich, the host around these parts. Thank you so much for tuning in, I know there’s lots you could be doing as you’re getting ready to minister at your church this weekend and I’m just so thankful that you’ve decided to spend some time with us today. Today it’s our honor to have Larry Hubatka with us, from Elevation Church. Larry welcome to the show.

    Larry – Thanks Rich, thanks for having me.

    Rich – I’m so glad that you’re with us. For folks that don’t know, Elevation Church was founded in 2006 by pastor Steven Furtick and his wife Holly. A great church, really impacting Charlotte, North Carolina and beyond and I think you have 13 locations right now?

    Larry: That’s right, so there’s 10 in the Charlotte area and then 3 outside. One in Raleigh Durham, one in Roanoke Virginia and one in the GTA, Greater Toronto area.

    Rich – Nice, now as a boy from Toronto, I’m just so thankful that you guys are…

    Larry: Yeah, nice.

    Rich – I’m not there anymore, but I really appreciate…

    Larry – But you’re still on the Blue Jays and Joe Carter?

    Rich – Well, but yeah that was the last time anybody was doing a good job with the Blue Jays.

    Larry – Nice.

    Rich – Except for this year. So anyway, Larry leads a creative team there, you oversee film and all kinds of things, part of the weekend process.

    Larry – Yes.

    Rich – Why don’t you tell us a little bit about your role at Elevation?

    Larry – Sure, so Creative Pastor’s a little different at different churches, sometimes it Creative Art’s Pastor, sometimes it’s Creative Pastor, a bunch of different names. For us at Elevation, Creative Pastor means overseeing design, brand management, communications, marketing. So we have a separate team, it’s really our Worship Pastor Wade Joye who oversees programming and worship. So sometimes it’s all combined into one, for us it’s broken out. So ours is a little bit more like me playing the role of a Creative Director at the church and we’re actually structured with a little bit of an agency model. So the Creative Department runs like an agency, with each of the different areas or teams operating like clients.

    Rich – Cool.

    Larry – So it seems to work pretty well for us.

    Rich – Good, yeah that’s very cool, nice I love that. That’s good to hear, kind of the inside. Now one of the things I noticed about Elevation, I would say over the, I don’t know, year or two, just as an outside… Now if you don’t follow Elevation you really should, it’s a fantastic church doing all kinds of great things, but one of the things I’ve noticed, there seems to be a bit of a shift, which is around almost helping other churches doing a bit more of that. I visited a couple of years ago, where I kind of had to come through a backdoor to let somebody show us around and talk to us, but that seems to have changed a little bit, you seem a little bit more proactive on helping other churches. Is that true, am I seeing that right? What’s happening on that front?

    Larry – I hope so, I hope we’re helpful.

    Rich – Yes.

    Larry – You know, we’ve not been around for that long. We’re in our 10th year of ministry right now and it’s not like we’re so far removed from… Even the first few years, I still remember, I’ve been at the church from the very beginning and I still remember, just in the early days where you are struggling to find volunteers and you’re doing the setup and the teardown with the team and the team unfortunately is like the same 8 people every single week and you’re like, “Come on people, stick around and help us load this trailer up,” and it’s 4 o’clock in the afternoon on Sunday and I’m like, “Oh my gosh, this speaker feels so heavy.”

    So it’s not that far removed, we still get it and I hope from early on, you know, Pastor Steven’s done an awesome job of just setting the town to say, “We’re going to be a church that wants to be a part of the community,” versus feeling like we’re going to come in and do our thing and try to make a big name for ourselves. I think we really decided that we wanted to… We used to describe it this way, “We really hope that the city would be in tears if something ever happened to this church and we had to shut our door.” So you want to be kind of woven into the fabric and feel like, when you talk about the city of Charlotte and the other communities that we’re in that you have to talk about Elevation Church.

    So to answer your question, I think from early on we had that sphere, we really wanted to help people. You can only do so much.

    Rich – Right.

    Larry – I mean, some of it was like we didn’t have the resource to do a whole lot based on what we hoped we’d be able to do one day but we did what we could. So we started with things like, providing our resources and the assets that we would create for the weekend online and making them available, putting Pastor Steven’s sermons up online, just doing anything you could to say, “If we’ve got something that might benefit another ministry let’s do that.”

    Then it slowly evolved into an internship program and an apprenticeship program, which is like a 6 month commitment for somebody to come and feel like, “I’d love to see how Elevation does its thing, events,” like one day events where people will literally travel. We were just talking this morning about the next event and there are literally people coming in from all around the world, which is pretty fun for us.

    Rich – It is cool.

    Larry – You know, the 10th year of ministry we’re able to have that kind of an impact, that’s been really good to us. Then we’ve got this Seven Day Seminary program which we’re super excited about, which is like a crash course and hands on practical ministry. We’ve never done it before, but we’re believing that it’s going to be helpful. They’re going to get an idea of like, “Okay, so I went to Seminary and it was awesome and I’m really thankful for it, but there’s a practical side to ministry also.” Yeah there is, it’s one of the things that we’ve discovered ourselves in the first 10 years.

    There’s a lot to learn for us still on the day to day side of ministry, how do the way volunteers greet somebody in the parking lot affect the preaching of the Gospel? How does team building play into this? There’s a lot to what we’ve experienced that I thought, “Gosh, this would really be great,” and Pastor Steven’s said, “Let’s do something like that and offer to people.” So Seven Day Seminaries are kind of a fun one for us right now because it’s fresh.

    Rich – Yeah absolutely that’s great. You know, obviously here at unSeminary we try to provide practical training as well and when I heard about Seven Day Seminary I was like, “Gosh that just sounds great,” what a great…

    Larry – Yeah you’re right.

    Rich – Let’s step back to just get a sense of, what are you doing on the intern program, how does that work? Give us the insight behind, how is that helping you as a church, for other churches that might be listening in today?

    Larry – Yeah that’s a good question because there’s several different goals when we do a program like that.

    Rich – Yeah.

    Larry – I don’t oversee the program, I am involved because there are interns that work in our department and obviously we’re vetting people when they come in through the application process but the team that oversees that is really trying to accomplish a couple of different things. Can you equip people for ministry?

    Rich – Yeah.

    Larry – Interns typically are 18 to 25, it’s not a set rule, but typically that’s about the range that they’re in. But for them to come in, be exposed to, again a real life ministry experience, it’s very hands on. I would think that our interns that come in for ministry training, they typically come in for one or two terms, fall, spring or summer, but when they come in it is probably the hardest thing they’ve ever done but I think almost all of them walk away feeling like, “That was the best thing I’ve ever done.” So it’s a really wide scope and when you think ‘intern’, sometimes you think, like they go and get your coffee…

    Rich – Right, right, do the photocopies.

    Larry – “We’re not going to put anything significant on you,” but I literally, before I jumped on this call with you, I was just having a conversation with our Creative Team about a piece we just did, highlighting the experience of one intern and this intern was literally talking about the things that he was able to do during his internship and I thought, “That’s the stuff that I do, that’s the stuff that like all of our staff do.”

    Rich – Right.

    Larry – I guess for us to be able to expose an intern to that and honestly help them figure out, “Is this the calling that God has placed in my life to do a ministry this way at this level?” It’s awesome. Some of them stick around and we invite them to come and join the staff. Some of them go back to their churches and they jump in there and they take what they’ve learned and try to apply it or translate it. But it’s been a great experience for us as a church, it just lets us expose people, train people and obviously it helps us as the same time.

    Rich – Absolutely. So that’s obviously a long commitment right?

    Larry – Yeah for sure.

    Rich – Three or four months long?

    Larry – Right.

    Rich – Then obviously on the other end you have stuff like kind of a one day come, kind of get a… it’s a glorified tour.

    Larry – Yeah right.

    Rich – You’re seeing the facilities, you’re getting a bunch of input on kind of how ministry happens, which obviously is great, I would encourage people… What is that called, I forget what that’s called, that [Inaudible 00:08:14]?

    Larry – So that one day event’s called Inside Elevation.

    Rich – Right if you haven’t done that you really should. It’s a great opportunity to get a good sense of what’s happening at the ministry there.

    Larry – Yes.

    Rich – It’s a good thing to bring volunteers to.

    Larry – That’s right.

    Rich – I’m assuming like, hey if you want to kind of help cast vision for your people, I literally just had a conversation like this this week with a team member of ours, a volunteer, where they have never… we’re the biggest church they have ever been to and for them to cast a vision for, “What is it that God might do at your church?” Obviously everyone doesn’t want to become Elevation, Elevation’s Elevation and you guys would say that in what you do.

    Larry – Right, absolutely.

    Rich – But it’s a great way to cast vision. Now in between those two you have the Seven Day Seminary. Tell me about that, what are you going to be covering, what’s somebody going to be getting out of that, as they go through that experience?

    Larry – Yeah, we’re getting a lot of questions about it, because one, the name is pretty intriguing. Somebody would say, “So let me get this straight. You think you’re going to give us a Seminary’s worth of education in seven days?” Well we’re not going to do that, we can’t do that, it’s not possible.

    Rich – Right.

    Larry – Seminary is amazing and you should go to Seminary.

    Rich – Right.

    Larry – Just know why you’re going and what you’re going to get out of it. We actually were inspired by Seth Godin’s altMBA program, I don’t know if you’re familiar with it?

    Rich – Yes, yes fantastic.

    Larry – He’s like one of my very favorite authors, I know he’s inspired a lot of us on the staff and Pastor Stevens saw his altMBA program and thought, “That might be a really good approach for us to take in terms of trying to equip and train people quickly.” So the short version of that program is, he says, “This is an alternative to getting your MBA. Come and spend 30 days with us online and it will basically train you how to work with people and how to tackle projects.” But we thought, “Well that principle could really work well for us.” We are an alternative to Seminary in a lot of ways, but it’s not a replacement for Seminary, I think it’s more of the, “Come and spend seven days,” and literally it’s like a crash course, we’ve never done it, so I’m telling you what we’re planning to do.

    Rich – That’s right.

    Larry – Talk to me in a few months and I’ll [Inaudible 00:10:06].

    Rich – Yeah.

    Larry – But our goal is to have you come in and literally for seven days, we’ll still finalizing the schedule and it looks like it’s 25 or 30 session over seven days, where we cover everything we can possibly cover. Sessions from Pastor Steven teaching directly. He’s going to be doing a bunch of interviews with some of his Pastor piers around the country who we would say are some of the greatest church leaders in the country. Then a lot of the staff will be teaching, but this is really us helping somebody who feels like they might be called to ministry but they’ve not actually known what to do to get started.

    Rich – Right.

    Larry – So I kind of think the profile on something like is, somebody who says, they might be working in a church, maybe they’re in a smaller church, maybe they’re in the general market and a business person. So they could be a mom, somebody who just has some leadership acumen, who thinks, “I’ve been called to ministry, I don’t exactly know what the next step is but if I come and do this Seven Day experience, I’ll probably get a good feel on whether or not ministry in the local church is for me.” That’s kind of the goal.

    Rich – Very cool.

    Larry – Some of these people might stay connected to Elevation Church, some of them might just go back to their churches, or they might feel like, “Yeah, I love ministry and now I’m going to wait and figure out what God does and what doors he opens up.” So the goal is really like, inundate you in seven days, hopefully a short enough period that you can actually take a week out of your life to do it, but long enough that you can really get immersed. I’m super excited, I think we’re ready for it to get here.

    Rich – Yeah, so now is this different than a conference? Like a straight up kind of a three day conference, how would this be different?

    Larry – Well it’s going to be real hands on.

    Rich – Okay.

    Larry – So our general approach is, we like the challenge assumptions, just in general, about how we do ministry and Pastor Steven is like, he’s wired this way. So he’s really wired to say, “Okay, so maybe we’ve always done it this way, but why don’t we try something different?” So the biggest difference will be just the hands on part of it. I don’t know what you studied, what did you study in school?

    Rich – Yeah I actually went for ministry stuff, I trained for this kind of thing. So yeah I went to Seminary.

    Larry – I was a science major.

    Rich – Yes great, very cool.

    Larry – So I was a science major at the University of Washington.

    Rich – Lectures and labs.

    Larry – Exactly, so lectures, it’s not completely fair but it is a good connection, people understand it. A lecture might feel more like a conference and a lab might feel more like what Seven Day Seminary is.

    Rich – Yep.

    Larry – Where it will be hands on and you get to get your hands dirty a little bit and then decide, “Okay I liked that. That was actually interesting to me. I can see myself doing more of that.”

    Rich – Right.

    Larry – Or say, “No, ministry in that format, in the local church may not be for me. Obviously I love the local church I want to go to, but maybe being on staff at a local church might not be for me.” So either way, we’re trying to help people really dive in and understand, “If this is the calling God has placed on my life, what could it look like?”

    Rich – Right. Okay very cool. Now how would you, we kind of talk about the ratio between practical training and then I would say spiritual formation, like I’m assuming that part of this is going to be a bit about candidates, their inner relationship with Jesus.

    Larry – Sure.

    Rich – How does that ratio work out?

    Larry – Clearly it’s all connected. We’re talking about developing whole people. So even in the way that, I’ll use our staff as an example. Every time we interview somebody that we’re considering to come on staff, number one question almost always is, “What about work/family balance?” It’s a funny question, because to a certain degree we have a little bit of a canned answer and we tell them the same thing. It’s not really about trying to compartmentalize and figure out the perfect ratio, I think this is a lot more about integrating all of your life together because you live one life.

    Rich – Right.

    Larry – So your ability to say, “Now if I’m called to this as a husband and a dad, well it’s really my family’s calling to this too, we’ve got to be in this together. We’ve got to communicate well about the different seasons, we have to bring our families along with it.” So that’s how it relates to us in a higher, staff development scenario, but I think from a practical versus personal development, I think it’s a little bit of the same. They’re so intertwined, it’s hard to break them out, but I think we like to break it out because it makes us feel better, “Well I’m going to go and do some spiritual development and some spiritual training and them I’m going to go and do some hand on practical training.”

    Rich – Right.

    Larry – So it maybe sounds like we’re speaking out of both sides of our mouths but that’s a little bit like saying, “I love The Hunger Games movies, that guy couldn’t speak to me through The Hunger Games.” Well in some ironic way I watched a movie and I was like, “What a great concept, I should teach my team on sacrifice, on work ethics.” So a little bit of that.

    So we’re going to lead with a practical side meaning there’s definitely a hands on way to approach the basics of ministry, but clearly it’s all connected.

    Rich – Right.

    Larry – You can’t come in and do this if you’re not spiritually filled up and serving out of a good place.

    Rich – Right.

    Larry – We’ll touch on it but it won’t be all one or all the other, but we’ll definitely lead practical as our entry point into the conversation.

    Rich – Okay very cool. Anything else you want to share about Seven Day Seminary? Tell us about how we can find out more information about it.

    Larry – Oh yeah, thank you for asking, that’s great. If anybody obviously is interested or any of the different ways to experience Elevation Church, you can always go to the church website, but specifically for Seven Day Seminary, go to and it’s spelled out. If you go with either the number or spell out the word seven, it will get you there, but, there’s a short application process and I want people to do it who are… So the perfect person would be the person’s who’s thinking, “I always felt like this pull to me to do something like this and I never fully pursued it.” Well cool, you can pursue it now for a week and figure out if this works. Now it’s November 7th through to 13th, hang on, let me make sure that’s correct. Yes November 7th through to 13th.

    Rich – Great.

    Larry – November 7th through to 13th.

    Rich – Yes.

    Larry – It will be a week here in Charlotte, North Carolina and we’re excited about it. So that’s probably it. You asked some great questions, I think the same kinds of questions we get when we’re chatting with people about what’s going on here in the ministry.

    —Huffduffed by theprd

  4. The Talk Show ✪: Ep. 88: ‘Cat Pictures’ (Side 1), With Marco Arment

    The Talk Show

    ‘Cat Pictures’ (Side 1), With Marco Arment

    Saturday, 19 July 2014

    Topics include the design and development of Marco’s new iOS podcast player, Overcast, custom UI fonts, the difficulty of low-level audio programming, and pricing strategy — with digressions on U.S. politics and other non-controversial subjects.

    Download MP3.

    Sponsored by:

    File Transporter



    Marco’s Overcast announcement

    Matthew Butterick’s Concourse typeface


    Pacific Helm

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  5. Why We’re All in Sales - HBR IdeaCast - Harvard Business Review

    Business bloggers at Harvard Business Review discuss a variety of business topics including managing people, innovation, leadership, and more.

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