Best Practices for Church Communications | Clint Lewis

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Does your team rest? This week Clint Lewis of Gateway Church explains the best practices to implement with your communications team.

Podcast Notes

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Podcast Transcription

SHOW TRANSCRIPT

Clint-Lewis-Recording.mp4 -CO
Clint Lewis: [00:00:00] How long are we going to go?

Bart Blair: [00:00:02] Um, we have about thirty five minutes left on our calendar. Do you have a you have a hard stop. Ok. I think thirty five minutes is about all we need to go, but if we’re in the middle of something good and Jason, do you have a hard stop? I don’t think so, but I have a I have a 30 minute, I have a 30 minute buffer, so I’ll be good. So if we don’t all have a hard stop, if we need to go over twelve thirty central, then we might do that. But we’ll just kind of see where the conversation goes. Here we go. All right, I am recording in three two. That was the three two one that you wanted, right? Sorry, we don’t always do that. So I just thought I’d do it. All right. Here we go. Three two.

Bart Blair: [00:00:43] Hey, Clint Lewis, thanks so much for joining us on the show today.

Clint Lewis: [00:00:47] Thanks, Bart. Thanks, Jason, glad to be here.

Bart Blair: [00:00:50] So, one of the things that we love to do with our guests, just to get the show started, is to have them share their story. So, we’d love for you to fill us in on where you came from, what you’ve been doing with your life, and how you ended up in the role that you’re fulfilling at Gateway today.

Clint Lewis: [00:01:10] Yeah, thanks so much for allowing me the opportunity. It’s really nice to meet you guys, and I appreciate that, and hopefully, something that I share today will be of encouragement to someone. You know, my story is a little bit interesting to me, at least, but when people hear it, I’ve gotten it down to the one-minute elevator version, so I’ll give you the two to three minute.

[00:01:30] There we go.

[00:01:31] If that’s fair. But I’ve been a part of Gateway Church since 2003, so the early days, they were two or three years old when my wife and I came here. Pastor Roberts’s book, The Blessed Life, was one that was very meaningful in my life, and made a lot of sense to me and how I walked out in my life and live life. So for twenty-five years, I was in the media space, radio in particular, and with a handful of different radio stations and radio groups. And a twenty and a half year career at a station in Dallas and station group, and top sales rep there.

Clint Lewis: [00:02:10] And then around 2016, 2017, the Lord began to call me into ministry and to work for Gateway Church, and it made no sense to me whatsoever, but I was called, and I heard, I believed, and I obeyed. And so over about a year-long conversation of saying, wait, are we sure about this? Because I don’t want to be that guy that walks away from a storied career, and I was successful in my business, and I walk away and go work at the church. Yay. Ok, great. So the Lord spoke to me very clearly one day, and I asked him for scripture to back the decision to leave my career, to go work for Gateway Church, and he very graciously and immediately said the words Luke 5. Now, pastor, I did not know, and I had not memorized, Luke 5. So I go to Luke 5, and it’s the story of the fisher of men when Jesus walked up and called them to follow him. And I thought, oh, that’s cute.

Clint Lewis: [00:03:11] Well, the Lord then took me on a journey, cross-referencing Luke 5:1-11, Mark 1:16-20, and Matthew 4:18-22. And here’s what the Lord showed me, he showed me that when he walked up onto the shoreline, he called them to follow him and they immediately, the keyword there is immediately, drop their nets and follow him, they then got in a boat with him, they were in the shallows, he took them into the deep. And the Lord shared with me right there that what he was going to show me in the depths, where he was going to take me, is going to look different than what’s in the shallows. And the waters look different, the things look different, the Lord created in the deep versus the shallows.

Clint Lewis: [00:03:51] Then the Lord showed me where he called them to throw their nets out. Well, they were in their vocation, occupation, at the moment. They’re like, Nah, we fished all day, there’s not a good fishing. They threw their nets out, their nets were bursting with fish, and the Lord showed me in that moment that he’s going to take care of me provisionally, as well as when I got to Gateway, what that represented was salvation and I’m bursting of salvation. And I’m like, OK, that’s that’s excellent.

Clint Lewis: [00:04:16] Well, if all that wasn’t good enough, the Lord asked me, he said, Clint, what have you done in your vocation and your occupation? I’m like marketed, promoted, sold things, worked with clients. And he said, right, one of the analogies you would use is you’re a fisherman, you caught a whale today, you caught a minnow today. I’m like, oh OK. And the Lord says to me, he said, what you’d been doing in your vocation and your occupation, you would catch things that were alive that then would die. He said I’m flipping the script, I’m calling you to a place where you’re going to catch things that are dead, that will then become alive in me. Where do I sign? I’m in. So that’s my Luke 5 story, as I like to call it, and really, it just boils down to caring, believing, obeying, and following the Lord.

Jason Hamrock: [00:05:05] Wow, I love that story, I kind of have a similar thing, I come from Marketplace. I like to think God has a sense of humor, like, you want me, like, no, no, no, me to do to play this role? And it was…I’m so blessed that I stepped into the space of being a communication director of a really large church, it blessed me way more than the other way around. And it’s all because God had a plan for our lives, right? Like you just said, we just submit and obey, and I believe it, and it’s worked out really well. So, OK, so tell us, give us a little picture of what it is that you do for Gateway?

Clint Lewis: [00:05:51] That’s a great question. A lot, we do a lot.

Jason Hamrock: [00:05:54] Welcome to ministry.

Clint Lewis: [00:05:57] Exactly. So basically, in a nutshell, our team is responsible for the voice of Gateway Church, and the brand of Gateway Church, and the things that are heard, spoken, seen. I think, I kind of wanted to give an overview of the team that I lead, if that’s all right.

Jason Hamrock: [00:06:20] Yeah.

Clint Lewis: [00:06:23] Part of the team, if you will, one thing that I’ve tried to do since being here is to really surround myself with the best of the best. And I learned that a long time ago, but one particular individual who caught my attention that, to me, does it the best in the Christian music industry is a guy named Toby Mac. I don’t know if you’ve heard of Toby or not, but if you look at Toby and his longevity, you go, what has made Toby successful? And I had the opportunity one time to sit down with him and have this conversation, and actually tell him that what I really admire about him is that he is surrounded himself with some of the best musicians, the best singers, the best producers, the best artist, and that’s what has helped propel him for decades. So just taking that concept, I’ve surrounded myself here at Gateway with the team who are just some of the best of the best.

Clint Lewis: [00:07:12] We’ve kind of reworked our structure, when I came in, I realized we were set up more like a production house, where the ministries, or the campuses, would ask us to produce a widget, produce a thing, and so we got really good at producing things. But we had a mind shift from being the doers to being the stewards. And what I mean by that is, that we were steward vision, we would steward a burden. So when Pastor Robert was coming out with a new series, for example, we’d ask the question, what’s the burden? What is the vision that he’s wanting to accomplish with this? Or if we have a ministry that says we want to do a thing. Great, what’s the vision, and what’s the burden? And then it’s our job to help create, whether it be visually, or with words, or with a video, to help support that vision and even that burden. But when we kind of reworked ourselves, we put ourselves in a position instead of a production house, more of a mini boutique ad agency. And really, with that, again, like I said, it’s to steward the vision, the burden, and the heart, and then we create from that perspective. Our primary role and responsibility, we’ve started to shift our thinking as well as our outward-facing actions towards people, and that was we’re here to support and serve. Now, we’re not the doers of all the things anymore, but we do have experts on the team who can speak into that, and then we can help seek solutions for whatever your goals are or that burden is.

Clint Lewis: [00:08:57] We also began to use language like, we’re here to serve and support our clients. Yikes, you just call a ministry a client, and that is actually picked up some language internally where it’s not a bad thing. I mean, they are the ones that are carrying the need to deliver on an event, or the weekend services element, and so they’re the client we’re here to serve and support them and to help them, again, to accomplish that goal or deliver on that burden.

Bart Blair: [00:09:31] Let me ask you a follow-up question to that, Clint. So you’ve been on the staff there at Gateway for about four years? Can you, you kind of alluded to what the department was like when you first got there. You’ve obviously had to lead some change to get the team where it is today, and it’s one thing to lead your team towards that change, it’s a completely different ball of wax to get buy in from all the other ministry leaders who were accustomed to just seeing your team as a production shop, hey, we’re having this, we’re doing this, we need this. What were some of the, I’d love to hear some of the strategies that you had to implement to get buy-in from some of those ministry leaders. As well as to hear about how maybe you had to overcome some pushback that you might have gotten from some of the other ministries, from some people who, hey, look, Clint, I’ve been on staff here for 10 years and we’ve been doing it this way for 10 years, and now you come in and you want to change the way we do it. They are going to be some people who are probably going to get their feelings hurt about not being able to do it the way they’ve always done it. Can you speak into that a little bit?

Clint Lewis: [00:10:44] Absolutely. And I think there’s a…Ok, just go with me here, because we’re going to touch on a few different things, and you tell me what you want to chase, how about that?

Bart Blair: [00:10:52] Sure.

Clint Lewis: [00:10:52] So, I’ll take it a little bit high level, and then we’ll kind of figure out where we want the conversation to go. But I would respond to that by saying, the best thing that my oversight told me coming in is to do nothing your first six months, I’m like, do nothing my first six months? That makes no sense. He’s like, just do nothing, I want you to come in and listen and observe. And then the next six months begin to ideate and pray and ask the Lord, how does he see it? What does he see for the future? So again, it’s getting leadership buy-in, just being patient with the process, and not coming in immediately and going change, change, change. So that’s one piece that I would add.

Clint Lewis: [00:11:29] A second piece would be, I had to work on my team first, as you alluded to, and then we work inside outward. And so with that, there are things like skip-level meetings. So I would put together skip-level meetings, and I would get my leaders comfortable with me going to the people that they lead, and go take them to coffee and to lunches and ask some honest feedback and some direct questions. There are things called lateral and linear leading, I don’t know, you can google it and look things like this up, but my reality is I was living it, I didn’t know what it was called, but it was me leading upwardly, me leading diagonally, dotted lines, break down, I’m this position and I do this. And just go, hey. let’s just get in the room together and figure out what’s the problem we’re trying to solve? We’re great problem solvers, we want to help you, we’re here to support and serve. And so I think that’s where a lot of this played into the question that you asked.

Clint Lewis: [00:12:31] The other thing that I would just love to address would be that, you know, I work together to establish a vision and strategy based on the overall vision and strategy of Pastor Robert. So we began to have those conversations, and we’d say it this way, our role and job here is to steward the heart and the vision of the capital letter F Father, Father God, and the lowercase letter f father, Pastor Robert, that’s why we’re here. And so if we can all agree on that, we’re coming from a position of, like, that’s a good place to be. So it’s not my vision and my heart, it’s more stewarding Pastor Robert’s. But I think that we’ve earned that trust over the years, coming from different scenarios, different situations, delivering successful campaigns for different ministries, so they became some of our biggest advocates. Owning failure, having difficult conversations, taking honest feedback, so just all of those things have helped us to really move our team and this organization forward.

Bart Blair: [00:13:45] What does owning Oh, sorry, I have just a quick response to that, what does owning failure mean in the context of your ministry? That is huge, because that is a really, really hard thing for teams, and for leaders to do, is to own failure. Can you just touch on that a little bit? And then I’ll let Jason ask his really, really good question, that’s coming. I don’t know what he’s going to ask, but it’s going to be a really good question. Owning failure.

Clint Lewis: [00:14:12] Jason, write it down so you don’t forget it. I think it’s going to be good too. Owning failure, honest feedback, giving honest feedback, having a recap meeting proactively, and asking, how did we do? How did you like that video? Did that land? Getting, before the thing airs during the weekend services, feedback. Allowing people to speak into your art, your work, realizing that it’s not a knock on you if they say, I don’t like the colors, I don’t like the words, we need to change this, we need to change that. So I feel like it’s asking the right questions on the front end, delivering on the product, then asking the right questions on the other side of it. Your work isn’t done just because it ran during weekend services and you got claps, on the other side of it, let’s debrief and say, hey, what worked, what maybe is an area of improvement, and what do we need to celebrate, and who do we need to celebrate? Right? And so there are times when we don’t get it right, and it’s, OK, how do we steward that feedback without getting our feelings hurt, without saying, oh, they said my art ugly or anything like that?

Clint Lewis: [00:15:26] Because the reality is, we strive here at Gateway, and with my department, to have excellence. Let me define excellence as it’s defined by our team, excellence is doing the best you can do with what you have to work with. And so I’ll ask the team, was that the best you could do with what you had to work with? And they look at me and said, one hundred percent, we had people that were out sick, on vacation, broken toe, you know, whatever the thing is, did you do your best? And if they can look at me and say, we absolutely did, then you auto-correct for next time, you learn from it, you grow, and we get better next time.

Jason Hamrock: [00:16:04] Yeah, a couple of things. I love what you said there about the follow-up process because we do a lot of coaching. And churches are so, so guilty of all this work leading up to an event, have the event, and they might have a follow-up conversation the next day, but it’s on to the next thing. And I’m going, no, no, no, you need four weeks of after the fact to really unpack. And what did you learn? What are you going to take away and apply that to the next thing so you’re not stuck in this crazy habit? So I really appreciate you saying that. That’s for you, church leaders. It doesn’t matter if you’re a single person, you run the show, or you’ve got 20 people, you’ve got to have that follow-up.

Clint Lewis: [00:16:48] That’s right.

Jason Hamrock: [00:16:48] My question for you is, you said earlier, way back when. You said something to the effect of you had to work internally, you had to focus on the internal, your team, and making sure you’re all on the same page. So break that down, because obviously, you’re leading a bigger team than most churches, most of the churches that are probably listening to this, they may be a one-man show, one-woman show, or they might have two or three or four people, but maybe not, you know, fifteen or twenty. So how did you, six months of just going, I’m analyzing, I’m just taking it all in, I’m understanding what’s the good, bad, and the ugly, how did you do that? How did you lead your team to really make sure you had a well-oiled, and a healthy machine, before you could really go outwardly and help the ministries?

Clint Lewis: [00:17:39] All right, so it’s not an overnight process, you have to have patience. And really, I think without going through each one, I think the best way to say it is, and this is something that I pulled from best practices in the marketplace, I had to daily understand and walk in the fruit of the Spirit. So we had to have patience, we had gentleness, kindness, kindness in my responses, joy, peace. Sometimes I have a tone, and I’d own that, I’m like, I’m sorry, I love you all, forgive the tone. But it’s daily walking in the fruit of the Spirit.

Clint Lewis: [00:18:13] I think I also had to get the right, as people like to say, you know, you had to get the right people in the right place. I restructured our leadership, this is something that might be a nugget for somebody to hear if they have a little bit bigger team. I can only tell you what I learned and what I’m learning, but I set up what I call the triangle leadership. And let me just, if I may, I’m going to read a few things because I think it’s super important. Triangles are used in bridges because they’re evenly distributed weight without changing their proportions. So did you catch that, that triangles are used to build bridges because they evenly distribute weight without changing their proportions? When force is applied to a shape like a rectangle, it’ll flatten out. This beam turns a square into two triangles that distribute weight evenly, so weight is distributed evenly in a triangle. All triangles have one thing in common, apart from having three sides, they are stable. But triangles aren’t just mathematically significant, they’re also fundamental to the way that we build our environments both physical and virtual. Triangles are special because they are exceptionally strong, also, three is the number of perfection or completion in the Bible, the number is repeated throughout the Bible as a symbol of completeness.

Clint Lewis: [00:19:35] I had an aha epiphany, and so I’ve set my team up with a director of marketing and support. So think, our communication coordinators, they are the air traffic controllers, they control all the air traffic of all the things for all the ministries in the campuses and things that need to be said, and they help the planes to land without planes hitting in the air. So I call them our air traffic controllers, and their job is not to control, the pilot is in control, but their job is to help guide and lead and direct the people best to land the plane.

Clint Lewis: [00:20:08] Then, and this is kind of an area that a lot of churches don’t have, but we have an editorial director, all of the words, words are important, words matter. Pastor Robert’s a grammarian, and I hope it’s something we never get away from, that words matter, and communicating grammar properly is important.

Clint Lewis: [00:20:25] And then the third is my creative director, who’s over my film team, and our creative team, the designers. Now, I do have a film lead and a design lead, and they report up to my creative director.

Clint Lewis: [00:20:42] And so it’s a little bit of a unique setup, but I have found that those three being the decision-makers have made us stronger, we have built bridges, we have been able to move things forward for our organization in a very, very healthy manner. And then there are other interactions with our other teams, and it would probably take us another hour for me to break that down, with our digital strategy team, and our live production team. But the reality becomes, it’s about collaboration, it’s about working well with one another, it’s about walking out daily, the fruit of the Spirit. I got a couple of other notes on this, but is there anything you guys want to ask on that thought?

Jason Hamrock: [00:21:26] Well, I’m curious to…I mean, that’s phenomenal feedback about what you were able to do there, and apply that. What are some of the best practices of things you did in the marketplace that you brought over to the church? Because it’s like, you’re like looking at us going, why are you guys doing this like that?

Bart Blair: [00:21:46] I’m going to bet that some of the things we just heard are some of the best practices from the marketplace, right?

Clint Lewis: [00:21:51] They are. So, I’ll tell you what, I’ve got bullet points for you if that’s OK. Why don’t we do this? Why don’t I hit the bullet points? And then you stop me if you want to unpack, is that fair?

Jason Hamrock: [00:21:58] Let’s do it.

Clint Lewis: [00:21:59] All right. So let me back up a second, though, let me say this because this is important, this is very, very important. If there is nothing else, to people listening to this, if there’s nothing else they get out of our time together and their time spent with us, this is the most important thing. Everything changed for us when we committed as a team to Sabbath weekly, every week, our team Sabbath’s. And it was birthed out of Pastor Roberts, he did a series, Take The Day Off. It is also a book, so it is available. And I don’t know your number of listeners that will be listening to this, but I’ll tell you what, the number 50 sounds right to me. So if there are 50 people at the end, we can get my email, and if they’re in this space of communication, or even ministry, and they need help in this area, they can just email me and we’d love to bless them and just give them Pastor Roberts, Take The Day Off, book. That book, when we developed out the series art and worked through that, we decided as a team to commit to that. And I’m telling you guys, when we did that, and we have done that since fall 2019, it has been a game-changer for our team. So all of the things I’m saying are great, but we were not fully committed to that as a team, and so we are now. And I’m just telling you that has absolutely changed how effective and efficient we are, our relationships, what we’ve been able to develop and create. We’ve been able to stretch all the things. How do you do what you do? How did you do what you were able to do during the pandemic? All those things, we Sabbath, we Sabbath each and every week.

Clint Lewis: [00:23:46] But to go back to your question, let me give you a few bullet points and practical thoughts, and then we can unpack. Responding versus reacting, be responsive. And here’s the scripture story, you know, when Jesus was in the boat and the storms came, and Jesus was sleeping, and the disciples reacted, Jesus responded. And the power of a response versus a reaction, it’s right there in the Bible, it can calm storms, it can help do away with fear and worry. And so just that idea of being responsive versus reactive, that’s one nugget.

Clint Lewis: [00:24:31] The fruit of the Spirit, I mentioned those, and just walking that out daily.

Clint Lewis: [00:24:35] How to best put together a successful communication and marketing campaign, prioritizing the person over the project, that’s another nugget for you. Annually, we revisit our structure, and we also develop, as a communication team, a road map. We set quarterly goals, and we look at those goals and we follow up on those goals. And if we fall short of those goals, we ask, why? Do we need to roll it?

Bart Blair: [00:25:03] I didn’t want to interrupt you, but I have a question on goals. What kind of goals does a communications team, does a communications department, set? I mean, how do you define a win for your team? Break down some of those goals, some things that maybe you would be doing practically. Or, also think about…Yeah, yeah, let’s just do that, let’s think about what are some goals that you and your team set. How do you do that?

Clint Lewis: [00:25:32] All right. So we usually break those up by client needs. And again, when I communicate client, I mean, weekend service is a client. Executive, one term that I changed as well, we used to have executive push-ins. And I said, no, no, no, no, no, we have executive opportunities. We have an opportunity to steward something from our executive team, how cool is that? Like, who gets to do that? So it’s an executive opportunity. So we break all of those out, we break out in ministry campaigns or needs, so we’ll put those on our roadmap. The other thing is, we look at spiritual, relational, and professional, so we’ll break out the roadmap on those categories. So we’ll look at relational connections. You know, Shay, who’s my director of our editorial team, she wanted to put together a quarterly lunch with all of the writers, and all of the content curators within Gateway, that write words, or review words, or look at words, and she just did that recently. Well, that was on our map, that was a goal that we had as a team, and she had individually. We did the same thing with our film team and some of our creators.

Clint Lewis: [00:26:46] So, the other thing is self-development, so that’s on our roadmap. So it’s not just goals related to the number of people that will attend an event and things like that, it’s more about laying out all of the things that are important based off of what our categorical needs are per the client. And then, we lay that out, we see if we have an overload in a quarter so we can move some things around. We had to move a few things around for some ministries because we realized in the second quarter there’s just a lot going on with Easter and setting up for summer series, like all these different things, and here comes the executive opportunity that dropped in. So it allows us just to see a clear picture of where we’re going, and how we’re going to get there.

Clint Lewis: [00:27:31] And I’d be remiss to not mention this right now on self-development, there are three books that I highly recommend, and I’m not getting paid to share these, but I’m open to that. But the three books that we really dove into as a team are, and they’ve been important to us just in looking at, we did a lot of the things in the books, but it just cauterized and put into words kind of like, oh hey, that’s affirming. But book number one is H3 Leadership: Be Humble. Stay Hungry. Always Hustle by Brad Lomenick. The second book is Developing Female Leaders by Kadi Cole. Now, I’ll say on that, it’s not just about female leaders, but it’s about leadership in general, it’s a fantastic book by Kadi. And number three is Herding Tigers: Be the Leader That Creative People Need by Todd Henry. All three of those are great resources for any pastor, any communication director, or anybody on the communication team.

Bart Blair: [00:28:32] Ok, well, I’ll call Kadi and Brad, who was the third guy?

Clint Lewis: [00:28:37] Todd Henry.

Bart Blair: [00:28:40] Todd Henry. Ok, I’ll give them all a call and let them know that you’re open for endorsement fees or whatever it is that they want to send your way for bringing that up.

Clint Lewis: [00:28:49] Just send more books, because I’m giving them out like candy.

Bart Blair: [00:28:52] Ok, yeah. I’ve read Brad Lemonick’s book twice, I haven’t read the other two, but I will add those to my list. Hey, we just have a few more minutes left together. Jason, what questions are burning in your mind that you want to ask?

Jason Hamrock: [00:29:09] Yeah. So, give us a real life example of an experiment that you guys have recently done that another church can go, oh, that’s a great idea, I can try and implement that in my church.

Clint Lewis: [00:29:22] Oh, goodness, an experiment. Like…

Bart Blair: [00:29:25] Something innovative. Have you been doing anything innovative?

Jason Hamrock: [00:29:27] It could be a campaign you ran, or some kind of a giveaway, or something that you guys just tried it. You’re like, let’s just go there, let’s try it.

Clint Lewis: [00:29:36] Well, I think certainly our text line has been something that’s been very, very positive. Because what it allows, it allows a direct communication and a bridge to people, and so it also allows us to communicate fairly quickly with people and communicate where people are. You know, right now, I think it’s more important than ever to get the right message to the right person at the right time. And if they’re trusting us to have their cell phone, obviously you have to be careful with the text communication because what we don’t want is to spam them or to ask them to give us, like we want to have gives to them. Whether it be a reminder of weekend services, or, hey, here’s something we’d love to share with you as a word of encouragement, things like that. So you want to be very, very careful with it, and really steward it.

Clint Lewis: [00:30:25] But I think just forward looking, you know, one of the things that we’re looking at working on currently, it’s kind of a newer, newer space in the marketplace called MarTech. MarTech. And if you do a Google search and see the companies that are developing MarTech teams, and what they’re doing with this, it’s really pretty fascinating. So there’s a lot that we’re doing in the MarTech space, mainly to know who is the one of the many. So we really want to know who is that one person that’s coming to us, whether it be email, or online, or even in person because we want to make sure that we’re giving to them and delivering to them the right message, at right time, to the right person. And for us, ultimately, it’s delivering on our brand promise of, and I know that’s, I don’t mean to say it like we have a brand, but we have a tagline that says, we’re all about people. So if we’re all about people, then I need to make sure that I’m communicating with people with what they want and what they want to hear about, not just scatter shooting and having this multichannel splash of information. And so it’s really driving us more to an omnichannel strategy that delivers on, in the tech space, what it is that’s important to them, because that’s being all about people.

Jason Hamrock: [00:31:52] Yeah, it is. Yeah, I love that concept, because you’re just using technology to bridge that gap of building a relationship.

Clint Lewis: [00:32:00] One hundred percent.

Jason Hamrock: [00:32:01] Instead of saying, here’s an advertisement come to our church, come sit in a seat, and then we’ll feed you. No, no, no, you’re going to them where they are in their time of need, with their felt needs, connecting with them. And then you’ve got this process right, and you can do your discipleship path or whatever it looks like. But I think a lot of churches will have like a text in church, notice the words in church, that means it to be in church to get that whole text thing going on. What about outside the church?

Clint Lewis: [00:32:31] That’s right.

Jason Hamrock: [00:32:31] So your concept of using technology, texting, to get people outside the church? Hello.

Bart Blair: [00:32:38] Well, I can testify to the text thing, because my wife and I, I don’t even remember, I don’t even remember how or why. We were sitting in our living room, we live in Frisco, Texas, and obviously, Gateway is a Texas-based church. And we were sitting in our living room one evening, and we were flipping through YouTube and we ended up on a live stream from Gateway. I think it was a live stream, and it was Pastor Jimmy Evans was preaching something, and my wife texted the number that was given. And for several weeks, she goes, why do they keep texting me stuff. This is more about my wife and her understanding of what she was doing when she texted the number, but she eventually unsubscribed from the text number. But you know, there’s a lot to be said there.

Bart Blair: [00:33:25] I would like, again, we don’t have a ton of time left. But a lot of churches have tried texts, right? A lot of churches, especially in the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, that went, oh, well, we can use text. Could you give us a two-minute overview of how, at Gateway, you have implemented text to be the tool that you think is helping move people forward either towards Jesus, or in their discipleship, or just relationally connecting? And how are you actually using the tool? And what advice would you give to churches that are thinking about implementing some kind of texting platform for their church?

Clint Lewis: [00:34:08] I think it’s a really simple answer, and that is, it’s meeting people where they are. And if we’re going to be the best we can be at being followers of Jesus, and trying to connect with people, why wouldn’t we want to be where people are. And we are more on our phones and texting in how we communicate than anywhere else, maybe outside of some of the social media, but even that, you text with family and friends, you text with business associates. I think you guys even texted me, hey, you ready for this podcast? Let’s jump on. I mean, that’s how we communicate, why wouldn’t we want to go to where people are? Now, the balance is, is not over marketing, over communicating, you have to steward that with excellence. You have to steward it very, very well, or you will lose them and they will opt-out, which is not what we want.

Clint Lewis: [00:35:01] But all that to say, I will tell you this really quick story. That during the pandemic, we had someone 300 and 400 miles from Dallas Fort Worth who saw one of our promos, or our ads, and said, text if you’re hurting, broken, or lost, and this particular gentleman was suicidal. And we quickly, when he texted that into us, were able to get a pastor on the phone and get him the help that he needed, all because he texted us and we gave him an invitation to text. So, I am convinced more than ever before that text is a great option to connect with people. But you want to steward it well. You want to also not use it for sending, I want you to go to this event and do this thing, you have to have some give. But ultimately, often, we have it just available when they want to have a conversation. So when they reach out to us for prayer, or they reach out to us, hey, can you help me to find this, that, or the other? We gladly just serve them and help answer their questions. So to have a two-way conversation with someone via text, it’s invaluable.

Jason Hamrock: [00:36:09] Hmm. I have one more question, and then we can land this plane. How do you get buy-in from your leadership on the things you want to do?

Clint Lewis: [00:36:17] Oh, that is a great question. You know, we really do work together to establish a yearly vision and strategy based on the overall vision and strategy of Pastor Robert, Gateway Church, and our elders. I think we’ve really done a good job of earning trust over the years. So the buy-in, quote-unquote, I believe, comes from the different situations and scenarios that we’ve delivered. We’ve launched successful campaigns for the campuses and the ministries, and we’ve done our best to be responsive, under-promise, over-deliver, super-serve our clients, if you will. You know, and really just establish a team who is here to help support and serve, not be the doers of all the things, but how can we help solve a problem? How can we help support you in the vision and the goal that you have for whatever it is you’re trying to do and accomplish? And through that, learning to be good listeners, learning to be good problem solvers, there’s been times that we’ve solved problems that aren’t ours to solve, but that then, it just really meticulates out, and it’s just this wave that goes outward. And next thing you know, we have people all over this organization talking about the communication and the digital strategy team, and how great they are to work with. You know, and the reality is, it’s just treating people the way we would like to be treated. Super serving, under-promising, and overdelivering as much as we can, and at the end of the day, that buy-in has come over time. And I think that’s what’s important too, people that are listening, if you’re in an early stage of a ministry or a space, give it time, be patient, go back to the fruit of the Spirit, there’s a reason that patience is in there, you know, and just trust the Lord daily, daily, for that daily bread. And go to the Lord, seek the Lord, I can’t tell you how many times, again, we got it out of order spiritually, relationally, and professionally. Those are the three areas that we want to excel in and grow in, but if we put professionally first and that’s all we focus on, that’s most important, but we ignore spiritual and relational, well, it gets out of balance. So having a good balance of those three, but if you have to sacrifice one of the three, let’s make spiritual number one, relational number two, and if we have to sacrifice in an area, that professional side of it, you know, what we can make that up over time, I believe, because we do really good work and do great things. But, that spiritual and relational piece is super important.

Jason Hamrock: [00:39:07] Yeah, well said.

Clint Lewis: [00:39:09] Thank you.

Bart Blair: [00:39:10] Clint Lewis from Gateway Church, this has been a real honor and a real privilege to have you on the show today. And I want to make sure, that before we started recording, you made a reference to the fact that you want to help other church leaders, communications directors, that you’re really open to that kind of connection. You and I connected on LinkedIn, and I appreciate your responsiveness there, and I believe we’ve started a new relationship, and it all started on LinkedIn.

Bart Blair: [00:39:41] How can our listeners, our audience, how can they connect with you if they have a question or would like to connect with you in some way? I think also you were alluding to the fact earlier when you were talking about Pastor Roberts’s book on the Sabbath, that you had some copies that you can share with some of our listeners. Do you want to explain to them what you meant by that, and how they can connect with you?

Clint Lewis: [00:40:01] Absolutely. Here’s my email address Clint.Lewis@Gatewaystaff. com, Clint.Lewis@GatewayStaff.com. And I am on LinkedIn, so if you’ll just reach out to me, I think I have 50 in a box that I’d love to give to the first 50, I suppose. And just reach out, email me, and then we’ll send you that as our gift to you. Really, again, it’s the one thing I want you all to take from this podcast, if you’re not Sabbathing, start now, and the importance of it, God has a lot of promises in there for us in the Bible, as well as you’ll read it and Pastor Roberts book, and it’s super important. It’s so important, that I’d love to share that resource with any of the viewers or listeners of this podcast, and I hope it encourages them. And yes, I would love to connect with anyone that might need a word of encouragement, or needs some direction, or has further questions on anything we talked about.

Bart Blair: [00:40:55] Awesome. Clint, thanks again for joining us on the show today.

Clint Lewis: [00:40:58] You bet. Thanks, Bart. Thanks, Jason.

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