Church Marketing is Just Great Storytelling | Kurian Babykutty

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This week Kurian Babykutty of 40 Parables discusses with us how Jesus modeled that great church marketing is just great storytelling.

Podcast Notes

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Podcast Transcription


Jason Hamrock: [00:02:09] Well, Kurian, welcome to the podcast. How are you doing today, man?

Kurian Babykutty: [00:02:13] Good. How are you guys doing?

Jason Hamrock: [00:02:14] Oh, we’re blessed, blessed beyond what we can even possibly think and imagine. So I’m so excited to have you on the podcast because of the content and what you do. And so for our audience and our listeners that that are not familiar with 40 Parables and what you do, why don’t you give us a, just take a minute and explain your background and how you got to the point where you’re at today, and let’s go there for a second.

Kurian Babykutty: [00:02:41] Sure. Well, when I say 40 Parables, a lot of people ask me, wait, is that from the Bible? And in my cynical mind, I want to ask them, I mean, if you read it, you would know. But even I didn’t know on day one that they were actually 40 Parables, because you literally have to read them and count them and remove the duplicates to figure out that somehow Jesus exactly had 40 Parables in store for us. I didn’t know that, for a long while, I thought there were 39, 38, and so on. But I began this company with a co-founder back in 2015. And the reason I got there was about four years before that, I was in business school in Boston, and I had plans to work, and continue to work in my background, which is in mobility and marketing. And so I had no plans to serve anything remotely connected to the church world, and I wanted to continue what I knew best or whatever I had learned. And somehow I felt in between my first and second years in business school, the Lord telling me to go and serve His kingdom. And I couldn’t even spell the kingdom, I knew nothing much about it. I mean, I was born and raised as a Christian back in India, but I knew nobody here when I got here to the U.S. who was working in the church world.

Kurian Babykutty: [00:03:46] And so I said, Lord, in fact, I actually went for a job fair, like an internship opportunity between the two years, and it didn’t work out. In fact, in my first job that I went for, nothing came, nothing happened. And then I felt the Lord telling me, I told you so, nothing’s going to happen until you try what I’m asking you to do. And so I did, I wrote these one-pagers to 100 Christian organizations, I actually wrote to exactly 100, saying, hey, here’s what I see on your website, here’s what I think you guys are trying to do. I’m an MBA grad trying to do an internship, I’d love to come and serve over the summer, would you consider taking me in? And 93 of them did not write back, and 7 of them wrote back and said, we agree with everything you’re saying, we just don’t know what to do with an MBA grad. I’m like, hire me, and so that didn’t happen for a long time.

Kurian Babykutty: [00:04:32] So I still live in Boston and I’m persistent like I’m persistent in the parables, and I’m writing again and again. And then there was this guy in the Leadership Network, Tim Nations, he said, I wrote so many times to him and he said, just to get you off my back, I’m going to tell you that there is an event happening sometime, this is way back in 2011, there’s an event happening here in a couple of weekends from now. If you want, you can come, but I can promise you there is nothing for you here. I said, Tim, you have done your job in the Lord, it is the only thing you ever needed to do for me. I mean, I had no idea what I’m talking about. So I put my money down, I flew from Boston to Dallas and had a fun three-day trip. I mean, I met so many leaders, that was Kevin Penry from Life Church, and Jim Tomberlin from Multi-Site, they were all teaching. In fact, I met Jim after ten years last month, and I told him that you’re the first guy I ever heard speak to a bunch of church leaders about the church world. And so I learned so much, I rubbed shoulders with all these guys, but again, nothing happened for me.

Kurian Babykutty: [00:05:27] And then I’m walking out of the Leadership Network office here in Dallas, and then I meet one guy called Chris Armas, and we talked for about ten, fifteen minutes. And he says, Hi, and he’s Venezuelan, I’m Indian, so we connect on a bunch of things. And again, I’m like sure, thank you so much, and then as I’m about to walk out, I meet a guy called Justin Lathrop walks in. And then Chris says, hey, Justin, you should talk to Kurian. And we’re like, sure, we will, and we exchanged cards for one minute and we walked off.

Kurian Babykutty: [00:05:55] Again, I walk back, I’ve got two days left. This is how the Lord does it, right? We have to wait till the last day for the Lord to show up in all His glory. So I go back and got two days left, and because I’m an immigrant, I mean, I was here a couple of years before I went to business school. But because I’m an immigrant, if I don’t do the internship, I have to go back to India for two months. And I can’t flip burgers, I have to do an internship in line with what I’m studying, which is marketing, strategy, and things like that. So I go back to Boston, I’ve got 36 hours left to get a confirmation for an internship, and then Justin Lathrop calls and says, hey, yesterday I met you and you said something about mobility and marketing. And I said, yeah. He said, do you know Kindrid? I’m like, No. He said, do you know One Hope? I’m like, no. He says Kindrid is a text giving tool, it’s quite new, churches are starting to use this and they’re looking for some marketing help, I think you might be a good fit. He said do you have a resume? I said, sure, I do, and I sent it to him.

Kurian Babykutty: [00:06:46] In 7 minutes, after I emailed him the resume, I get a call from this guy and he says, Hey, I’m Leighton Cusack, I run Kindrid, I just got your résumé, I just love it, this is everything we wanted. Are you available to start on Monday? I’m like, Yes, can I start yesterday? For sure. So just like 24 hours before my time was up, the Lord found a way for me to work. So I went to work with Kindrid, this was back in the day in 2012 when Kindrid had ten churches, they were grossing $4,000 through their platform every month. And so they invited me to come to Florida, and I went there and the three co-founders and me, I’m their first intern, and they got acquired by ministry brands, I think, in 2017 or 18. And so we were sitting together, and they took me out to Five Guys, and we’re all having some sandwiches there. And at that time I said, oops. And the guys are like, what happened? I said, I just realized that the amount of money that Kindrid is making this month is not enough to cover the sandwiches for all four of us today. And they’re like, I know we’ll get there. I said, I know, I know, two weeks maybe, so we worked on a bunch of stuff. I say good things happen when I leave, in two years, I think they ended up grossing $14 million a month from $4600 a month. I had a blast working there, and then I continued working with One Hope who owned Kindrid at that point. And so I was in B-school, so everything I learned in school I got a chance to try and implement that and Kindrid and a couple of organizations I work with. So I was very blessed for the guy who nearly didn’t work in the kingdom, in the church world. I was blessed. God gave me a chance. So I worked with One Hope, and they are a $40 Million annual nonprofit, they’ve got 25 different subbrands. So at one point I went and told the CEO, I think you guys should start an agency. He’s like, what do you mean? I said, you have 25 different subbrands, and every time you start a new product, you go and find a new audience. There aren’t so many newer audiences, I’d rather that you build the audience so that every time you have a product, you already have an existing audience to feed this into. He said, what does that mean? I said, I think should start an agency. And they said you started an agency. I said I will if you will give me some of these projects. He said, sure. And so that’s how I actually began 40 Parables in 2015, is to work for them full time, and we began an agency to help One Hope. And over the next couple of years, the Lord let it take flight, and that’s how we’ve been around for seven years.

Jason Hamrock: [00:09:06] So how do you specifically help these, and it’s mostly nonprofits like Parachurch Ministries that you’re helping?

Kurian Babykutty: [00:09:13] Well, our goal on day one was to actually save the church world. But one of the things that I’ve observed as an Indian, I’ve seen these guys who do Muslim ministry, and the way that the Muslim ministry is, you can’t just go there and tell them, hey, I know you’ve been believing in Prophet Mohammed all this while. Guess what? The real Lord is Jesus, you know, are you going to flip your beliefs? It doesn’t happen that way. I’ve seen people go to the Muslim world, spend two or three decades with them, living with them, being one of them, understanding them really well enough, and then over time bringing maybe ten families to the faith, ten. And so I’ve learned that in the marketing world, you have to be one of them to understand who they are, what they need, and where they might change. And so we wanted to serve the church world, but we knew nothing about the church world. And I thought that if we want to build products for the church world, a few years later, the best thing is to start serving them maybe in some angle in the nonprofit space who’s trying to reach the church world, figuring out exactly what their needs are. So today we’ve built two or three products in the church world this year, and we’re rolling them out next year, but it took us seven years to get there, and we use this time to really learn what a nonprofit is trying to do, what a Christian business is trying to do, what is Missional Marketing trying to do, right? You want to reach the church world. Why are they not just driving in hundreds to your office and saying, sign me up for SEO, sign me up for this? What’s the disconnect? So we took this while to learn the disconnect between the two, the chasm between the two, and how we can help. And so that’s what we always wanted to do, just that we began serving nonprofits with marketing, with marketing services.

Jason Hamrock: [00:10:45] Okay. So you mentioned…So I’m really curious because you talk about the 40 Parables. How did that come about where you, I mean talk a little bit about the model, right? When I look at your website, I’m really intrigued because you do such a good job of leading me and telling me a story. And so for our audience, who are primarily church staff people, mostly communication directors, who themselves are trying to tell a story, what’s something you can share with them on how to relate the parables of what Jesus taught to what they’re trying to accomplish?

Kurian Babykutty: [00:11:27] So typically in the church world, in fact, the reason we named it 40 Parables is I felt that as churches and as non-Christian nonprofits, we aren’t doing justice to the fact that Jesus Christ is being our savior and the best storyteller of all time, we should be the ones who got the storytelling thing in our pocket. And so we thought of the 40 Parables he’s narrated and we thought, can we use these same stories and can we help our people rethink our messaging as he did? In fact, we’ve got a few quizzes about 40 Parables. And like, for example, in which parable did Jesus talk about the cities? Or I normally ask them, imagine a duck, a donkey, a lion, fish, which of these animals are not in the parables? Then I can see, guys, oh, man, I think I know this one. And so we aren’t really paying attention to the parables, we’ve read them, they’re like stories. If we go and read them back, again and again, we’ll find a bunch of stuff that’s there because he’s narrated this beautifully.

Kurian Babykutty: [00:12:24] And churches, I feel, have some kind of struggle with the term called marketing. Even as I work in a nonprofit, they had a vice president for everything except for marketing. They would actually call it innovation, but in reality, it was marketing. We just have this struggle with the word called marketing. And I tell them, hey, the first words of Jesus in the New Testament is when Jesus comes and says, “Repent, the time has come, it’s fulfilled, the kingdom of God is at hand, repent and believe in the good news.” He’s talking about the Kingdom of God, he’s introducing a new concept to a bunch of religious guys called the Jews, and they’re like, what is this Kingdom of God? That’s their first question back. He’s introducing a newer concept. He’s marketing a thing that never existed until that point and people did not know. So in my opinion, Jesus began his words in the New Testament with a marketing message, talking about a newer concept to a bunch of people who weren’t part of his target market and never knew about it. And in 17 of the 40 Parables, he begins with The Kingdom of God is like this, like a [inaudible], like a treasure, like a field. So Jesus was marketing his message all the time to a very specific set of target members. So I want to help this process so that churches can see, hey, maybe marketing is not a bad thing, it’s something we’re doing all along. It’s something we’re called to do, especially with the Great Commission, and how can I help them get closer to the reality that marketing might be like Christianity?

Jason Hamrock: [00:13:41] Yeah, I mean, I’m in the same conversations with you that when I talk with churches, they’re like, oh, we just don’t like, use the word marketing around here. I’m going, okay, but you know who the GOAT marketer was?

Kurian Babykutty: [00:13:55] Of all time, yeah.

Jason Hamrock: [00:13:56] And you know, it’s duh, right, it’s Jesus. He had the best, I mean, he was a master at that thing, right? And so Bart actually shared with me a quote on marketing that I really, really liked. Bart, I’m going to read the one that you shared with me last week, I used it at a conference I spoke at. And it’s this, it’s from a guy named John Squiric, I’m not exactly sure how to say his last name, Squiric, I think it is. But he said, “Church marketing is the action of spreading or promoting the Gospel of Jesus Christ, through the use of various types of communication, media or strategies…” And this is the point here, “…to capture attention, engage, educate, and persuade people to take action.” And if we can do that with our messaging, and I always go to the last one, persuade people to take action, that’s exactly what Jesus did.

Kurian Babykutty: [00:14:47] All the time.

Jason Hamrock: [00:14:49] And so it sounds like you’ve really mastered that.

Kurian Babykutty: [00:14:51] Well, I don’t think. Like, for example, I went into business school thinking I knew marketing, at least some bit of it, I thought maybe I knew, like 20% of marketing, I worked for seven-odd years before I went to business school. I walked out of business school realizing I knew less than 0.01% of what real marketing is, and I realized that I actually don’t know what marketing is. In fact, I was preaching in my church two weeks ago and I asked my church, and we were talking about the Great Commission, and I asked my church, how many of you marketed any brand, any product, any service? And I gave them five options, I use a tool for real-time engagement, I told them 0, 1, 2 to 5, 6 to 12, and more than 13. And everybody, 75% of the people in my church have marketed more than 13 products to their friends and their families. Then I asked them, how many of you have marketed the Gospel of Jesus Christ? And 75% of 13 plus fell, dipped to 23%, there are people in my church who have never shared the Gospel, there are people in my church who have shared it to only one person, and the majority, 48%, have shared only the 2 to 5 people. But these products and services that we use, we know alternatives for them, we switch from one product to another, and yet we’ve marketed the heck out of them. Jesus, whom we believe in, we’ve never changed our guard multiple times and we are not likely to either, but we have big trouble marketing him. And so I help them understand, I even ask them, what’s the difference between marketing and sales? I asked these guys when you go buy salt from your grocery store, is it because they market it to you, or is it because they sold it to you? And I ask them this question and they were raising their hands, and some are like marketing. And if they say sales, I ask them, and let me ask you guys if I may, when you buy salt, is it marketed or sold to you?

Bart Blair: [00:16:31] It’s because they sold it to me, they don’t even market salt.

Kurian Babykutty: [00:16:34] Then did they give you a discount option? Did they give you buy a pack of salt, get one more? Did you find a coupon somewhere? Did you find a guy at the grocery store saying, hey, Bart, salt is here? Come and pick it up on the way out.

Jason Hamrock: [00:16:47] I don’t need any, but I’ll go ahead and buy it because you just sold it to me. Yeah, no, I had a need for it, so I go buy it.

Kurian Babykutty: [00:16:54] So can I ask you, which brand are you buying, by any chance? Are you buying Morton’s? Which kind of salt do you guys buy?

Bart Blair: [00:17:01] I usually don’t, I’ll go with whatever’s cheapest.

Kurian Babykutty: [00:17:04] Correct. So the way most market salt consumption happens is because of marketing, and mostly the salt that we purchase is the salt that we have seen in our homes for generations, for decades, like the salt our parents pick is likely to be salt that we picked. In the late eighties, there was this massive campaign for brand awareness about salt and Morton’s and a bunch of those brands, and they got our moms and our dads hooked to the salt brand, which is stayed forever. And those parents of ours marketed the salt brand to us without selling it, and nobody is ever selling salt. And so we are called to be the salt and light of the earth, and I tell them sometimes we don’t know the difference in even how salt and light is marketed to us, but is it actually sold to us? So I think we have this negative connotation about what marketing is, though we market. I mean, I’ve got two kids at home, and I have to market the heck out of things for them to sometimes do stuff. Do you know what is amazing lightsaber is going to look like if you clean up your room on time? I have to market a bunch of things. We’re doing this all the time, we just have trouble with the term.

Jason Hamrock: [00:18:03] Yeah.

Bart Blair: [00:18:03] Yeah, That’s a very interesting point. I want to go back to something that you were talking about earlier when you were sharing sort of your process for beginning 40 Parables. You said that you didn’t know the church world, and so you needed to kind of put yourself in a place where you could be the church, or be in that environment. I wanted you to try to maybe peel the layers back on that a little bit, because the next thing that I thought about when you were talking about Jesus being a parable sharer, a storyteller, is I realized, well, the best way that Jesus marketed to the world was actually by coming and being a human being, being like us. You know, I do have a tendency to think sometimes the church world fails at marketing well to people outside of the church because we don’t really know them and understand them well. You know, we have solutions to their problems, but we don’t often market the right solutions to the right problems. I mean, everybody’s problem is ultimately a disconnect from God, right? Every person born is with sin nature, and is separated from God by their sin. And so as the church, we want to market the most important thing as being salvation, but the vast majority of the people that we’re trying to reach aren’t seeing salvation as their biggest problem, that’s not the problem that most of them are trying to overcome. So when you think about being a marketer, being an agency that’s trying to solve problems for your clients, what’s sort of the thought process that you go through to kind of immerse yourself with your clients? To feel and understand their pain points so that you can actually meet them where they are?

Kurian Babykutty: [00:19:48] So the way, I mean, this is a great point. First of all, I really feel there’s this massive disconnect between the church and the people the church is trying to reach. And for some reason, that gap seems to be increasing, the nature is volatile, and it doesn’t seem to be getting there. And I know Jesus got this plan, the church is going to last past everything else, and I keep wondering why we aren’t doing this the same way. I was really amazed at how, when protesters were standing outside Chick-Fil-A, there was this massive news about how Chick-Fil-A is taking some of its stances against the worldly stance. And then the next biggest news line I read, was how this one Chick-Fil-A worker, he came out, he brought sandwiches and water and coke for these guys who are protesting. And suddenly the narrative changed, like, they were here to protest against Chick-Fil-A, but they saw the church doing something that they could not resist. And I felt that of all the religious leaders and across all religions, most people know about Jesus Christ. Very, very few of them, I don’t think anyone has a problem with Jesus Christ, and I think it’s because he had no hypocrisy. Like he was, you could not find fault with Jesus. And I feel today, the outside world has a ton of reasons to find fault with the church. I don’t think we’re, I mean, if we look up to Jesus, I think there are many more ways for us to be authentic and for us to be real.

Kurian Babykutty: [00:21:05] Like recently, I mean, we’re in Dallas and we know about this pastor who had a moral failure. And this church said, hey, as soon as this happens, we want to do something about it. And when things go wrong, this is our greatest opportunity to tell the world, we’re just like you, fallen just like you, were all the same kind, the difference is that we have a Jesus who makes things absolutely different. And so we have nothing to hide, we want to be just like him. And so if you, I come from India, where the father of our nation is Gandhi. And one of his quotes was, “I love the Jesus you’re talking about, I just don’t like the Christians that you are because you’re nothing like your Jesus.” And so I wonder if in this marketing process, like if we can rethink the way that we are not just messaging, but as Bart said, even being Jesus to them, and I feel some of us might be the only Jesus Christ these guys will ever know and ever see in their entire lives. And so I wonder if we can rethink what are we saying, who we are, and the way we serve nonprofits with a bunch of marketing services.

Kurian Babykutty: [00:22:01] But our primary bread and butter thing is marketing strategy and marketing thinking for them, planning. And so the way I sell it, is I ask these nonprofits, I ask them if I placed your CEO, your COO, your CMO, and a bunch of your leadership guys in five different rooms, and I ask them, what’s your why? Why do you exist? What do you do? And how do you connect the two? If I ask you these three questions, will all five of you write the same thing? And almost always, the answer is no. I’ve actually tried this, the first time I got a response was the 41st time, the first 40 times I ask this question, the answer is no, we will not write the same thing. And then the 41st person said, yeah, we will, but that’s only because we had a consultant come in two months ago and help us get there. And I tell them, see if we’re not coherently and consistently saying the same thing in our leadership, how is our organization and our church going to say this to a bunch of guys with a completely different view of the church, and sometimes even a dislike of the church. So that’s how we’re trying to get us to be on the same point that Paul tells us actively to be able to defend our faith, if we’re not on the same page about what our faith is, how do we actually go to defend it? So that’s where we’re trying to help the church world think about marketing differently.

Jason Hamrock: [00:23:10] Wow, that’s really good. I was on a call with a church and I asked, what are your goals? And they couldn’t answer it, it was so micro-focused. I’ve got Sunday coming up in a few days. And all right, that’s awesome, I get that. But how many baptisms are you striving for? You know, how many people do you want to get into a small group, or take this class, whatever that might be, right, how many more people do you want to bring in? And they don’t really necessarily think that way. And you are so right, if you were to ask the leadership team, what’s the goal? Like, they probably couldn’t put their finger on it, they’d be on in different spaces there, and certainly, with different ministries having a different objective for their ministry, not a church as the whole.

Kurian Babykutty: [00:23:57] Oh yeah, I agree. In fact, I’ve talked to Bart about the church I go to in Dallas. So when I moved from Boston to Dallas in 2019, my wife, she sent me a bunch of churches. So I moved straight to Plano first, in Plano in Texas, and my wife sent me some 25 church names and she said, you’re the church website guy, tell us which church to go to. She gave me 25 names, so I went through 25 websites, and then I actually call these pastors. I spoke to a few of them and I told them, hey, I’m new to the city, I’m from Boston, and I just moved in last month, I’d love to find a church that’s a good fit for us. I just want to know more, can you help me understand why this church might be a good fit for me? I’m not joking, six of the seven pastors I spoke to, they all told me why I should go to church, but they completely missed out on the opportunity to tell me why I should go to their church. And I wanted to tell them, bro, I’m with you, I want to come to church. I’m trying to find out why I should come to your church, which is a big difference than just coming to church. I even went to their website and they have verbatim word-for-word copied from somewhere, pull into the parking lot, flash your lights and will come and pick you up. So we emphasize a lot on these tactics, but strategically, we’ve missed out on the messaging that we have to tell these guys. So I drive past 101 churches in Plano, a bunch of churches in Frisco, and about 50 churches in Richardson, to go to this tiny church called Loft in Richardson, Texas. So there are probably 210 churches I’m passing on my way from my house in Frisco to Richardson, Texas, to go to this one church. And I think that’s 210 opportunities lost for a guy who I was here trying to find out which church to go to, and as we know, a bunch of people from both coasts are moving into Dallas day after day after day. And I think if the churches can be relevant to say, hey, this is what we do, this is what we are after, this is why we exist, and if you’re looking for a church like this, maybe we invite you in. Like when that much happens, it’s so much easier for people to find a church that they can call home.

Jason Hamrock: [00:25:48] Wow. That’s good stuff.

Bart Blair: [00:25:50] Let me ask a follow-up question to that. So when you came from Boston to the Dallas-Fort Worth area, you were already following Jesus. And so you were looking for a church that you could plug in, grow in your faith, and use your gifts, talents, and your treasures to help that church be what God was calling it to be. And there are certain things, as a marketer, if I’m going to market to that already saved person, there are certain things that I need to communicate, right? Whatever our theological positions are, how we do missions, how we function as a church together because you’re looking for that vibe, you’re looking for that community, you’re looking for whatever it is. The majority of the people that we’re trying to reach are not people who are moving to the community and who are already following Jesus.

Bart Blair: [00:26:37] I was actually at a lunch yesterday, church planters in Collin County, and one of the pastors of one of the larger churches in our county shared that on Easter, a couple of years, it was 2019, I think was the number he shared. In 2019, 9% of people in McKinney, Mckinney is a city of about 250,000, 9% of people who lived in McKinney were in an Easter church service in 2019. So this is pre-pandemic. Sure, it’s Easter Sunday, which is one of the most attended Sundays of the year, and it was only 9% of the population. There are 91% more in the community, and I think this is probably consistent across the country, at least 90% of the people in our communities are not actively looking for a church. And if they are actively looking for a church, they’re not looking for a church for the reasons that most churches want to say, you should come to our church. Well, because we’re committed to Scripture and because we have a great worship band and because we have a wonderful children’s ministry, I don’t think that’s what, by and large, most people who are disconnected from the church are going to be attracted to about your church. So let me get you to lean into this question a little bit. If I’m really going to market who I am and what I am as a church, to the people who up to this point haven’t really shown much interest in church, what do I need to do, Kurian? How do I market myself to reach the people that I really want to reach?

Kurian Babykutty: [00:28:06] This is an amazing story, in fact, there are two stories adjacently placed in the Bible. There’s this rich young ruler who comes to Christ in Luke, 17, and then in the next chapter, Jesus goes to Zacchaeus’s house in Luke 18. Both of them have something to do with salvation, the rich young ruler comes to Christ and says Good Teacher, what do I do to inherit eternal life? Jesus tells him a bunch of things to do, poor dude can’t do it, and he walks away disappointed. So he came seeking salvation, so there are two segments here. Zacchaeus is not seeking salvation, he’s happy where he is collecting taxes, and making money. Jesus goes to meet Zacchaeusis where he is, in fact, he tells him, come down for I want to spend time in your house tonight. Jesus does not share, reportedly in the Gospels, Jesus does not share the Gospel with him. Jesus goes to his house, and spends time with him, Zacchaeus stands up and says, here and now I give him half my money to the poor, I four X those I wronged. And Jesus says salvation has already come to this house, and so I wonder if the follow-through of thinking about segments. It’s not by coincidence that the Lord placed two characters seeking the same thing in adjacent chapters in Luke 17 and 18, two of different segments. The guys who are already in McKinney, the guys who are moving to McKinney, the guys who like church, the guys who dislike church, the guys who have a favorable opinion of church, the guys who are not even bothered about church. And you talked about how we sometimes try to attract these guys with a great band, wonderful music, and amazing lights, and I feel that if we’re attracting them for the wrong reason, the minute its luster fades off, their desire for the church and Christ will also fade off because they never came here for Christ in the first place, We’re attracting them with something that’s very temporal.

Kurian Babykutty: [00:29:40] I want to say that all of us have struggles in our families, we have broken marriages, we have struggles with getting kids raised properly, we have a lot of problems. During the pandemic, I was telling my pastor, that our church was shut down for a little while and I was telling them the difference between me and my neighbor on Sunday has dramatically decreased. We’re both at home, I used to come to church at 10 a.m. on Sundays. Now we’re both at home, and we’re both watching TV, I can actually see from my house that my neighbor is watching TV. I don’t know what he’s watching, but I can see the TV up. And then I realized he’s actually watching Netflix because I can see the logo on the left, and when the tada happens, I can see it. So we’re both watching TV, I’m watching YouTube for our church live sermon, and he’s watching Netflix. We’re both at home, it’s 10 a.m., we’re both watching TV, and there’s very little difference between me and my neighbor at 10 a.m. on a Sunday during the pandemic. And I told him that all of us are struggling with how to handle our kids who are sometimes on the walls, sometimes in places we don’t want them to be. How do we keep them together? Can we create some kind of resource that I can go and tell these guys in my neighborhood, dude, I’m struggling with my kids, my church gave me this resource on how to help kids during the pandemic, and then I got this, I was blessed by it, I want you to have it too. If the church can talk to the problems that we are facing, I think they will actually experience Christ who will give them freedom through the struggles, through the addictions that they’re having. Versus us saying, hey, whatever happens, come to church at 10 a.m. on a Sunday, that’s our starting point. And.

Kurian Babykutty: [00:31:03] I think that’s a big difference from how Jesus, he didn’t tell all the disciples to round up the kids and bring them here. He walked to where Zacchaeus is, he met him where he is, he went to his house and salvation happened there. And so I wonder, I mean, I don’t know if I’m answering your question, but I wonder if we can actually find out what are one, two, three main problems that our community is going through, and we ask them. And James is right, he says we did not receive, because we did not ask. So have we asked, have we found out what our community is struggling with? Can we create resources for them? I know that there is one community church on 121, when we drive by we see marriage counseling. Great point, like how many families in 100 are not struggling with their marriages if we can be open about it. So as we find problems that they are struggling with, we actually give them a chance to understand how Jesus can actually transform a marriage, make it move from upside down to right side up. Like, nobody else can solve a marriage problem like Jesus Christ can, and once they get in, they’ll realize if he can do this, imagine what kind of a free life he would give us. Forget heaven that can happen later, why on earth, the transformational power of Christ is, in my opinion, far better than any marketing message that we can craft on a website, you can actually give Jesus to them if we find out where we can be in their lives. So if we can meet the Zaccheaus where he’s walked to his house, man, I think salvation will come to that house.

Jason Hamrock: [00:32:19] That’s the difference between churches that, I’ll look at a church website and I see their mission statement above the fold on the home page, and I just shake my head. Like, nobody cares about your mission statement, especially unchurched people and de-churched. They don’t care about that, you’re wanting to reach the world for Christ, that doesn’t matter to them. What matters to them is, how can you help my marriage? How can you help me be a better parent? How can you help me know Jesus better? And I think that’s what we need to communicate, we’re about helping you discover, right, and get engaged. And that has to be shared through stories, through images, through words on a website. And of course, then you have to actually do that ministry, for real. But just getting people to recognize on a website that that’s what we can do. And I think you’re so right, we want to meet you where you are and not necessarily force you to have to come to church to get answers.

Kurian Babykutty: [00:33:13] In fact, yeah. Sorry.

Jason Hamrock: [00:33:15] Go ahead.

Kurian Babykutty: [00:33:16] When you said meet you where you are. I need to go back and pull this up because this is very handy, there is an example in the Bible where Jesus walked from Jerusalem to somewhere, which reportedly took three days. So he walked for three days to this place, he did this one miracle in the last verses, and then you walk back to Jerusalem. So he walked three days, probably spent half a day there and did the miracle, and then he walked back. So he spent a whole week for one miracle, he was only here for three and a half years, but somehow he decided it’s important for me to invest one whole week to do this one miracle. So he actually did walk to these Zacchaeus’s and went to their homes and he fixed their problems where they are, and of course, they will never want to be without him after that.

Jason Hamrock: [00:33:57] Yeah, you got to think that he did that for an illustration for us, because he could easily go, snap and done. I mean…

Kurian Babykutty: [00:34:06] He can plant the idea in Zacchaeus mind, to go to Jesus. He can tell the disciples, go bring the guy here. He can organize an event in Zacchaeus house and 1 million guys can benefit from it. He really wanted to meet Zacchaeus where he is, not just literally where he is in the neighborhood but where he is, his situations, his life, and his problems so he can be a transformational character in that person’s life.

Jason Hamrock: [00:34:28] Well, that’s the perfect picture for us. He did that for us to say, no, no, no, no, don’t build a building and expect them to come to you. I mean, people will, but you’ve got to go, right? And if you have to travel for three days, okay, but go and meet people where they are.

Kurian Babykutty: [00:34:46] Yeah, we tend to think that the church as the building we staff, and step one is to come to church at 10 a.m. on Sunday. I don’t think that’s step one, I think that’s step two, or we need to be at step zero. Right. How do we reach out to them first? Like Jesus says, he begins by saying again, the kingdom of God is at hand. Naturally, the Jew goes, wait a minute, what is this Kingdom of God? I thought I had this God stuff completely down to the tee, I follow all the rules. There is the Kingdom of God, what is that? If straightaway attention is captured, then you can decide what to do next with it.

Jason Hamrock: [00:35:16] Wow.

Bart Blair: [00:35:17] I think the people that were trying to reach, people who are far from God, they make their decision about church based on the same reasons they make decisions about everything else in life. So I go to this restaurant, or I buy this product, or I drive this car. Sometimes it’s because a friend or a family member told me that I should try it. Sometimes it’s just because of the image that comes along with it. Sometimes it’s because I’ve been convinced through advertising or marketing that by having this product or living in this house or whatever it is, it’s going to improve my life in some way. And, you know, in the marketing world, and I assume, Kurian, that you would agree with this philosophy, is that in the business world we will say someone will do business with you when they know you, like you, and trust you. And there’s a journey to get a person to know you, to like you, and to trust you in order to hand over the money. And I think churches can and should work harder at using their online presence, using their marketing, using their digital communications, using their presence in the community to establish those three things. Do people know me? What do I need to do to get them to like me? Because I want to move them then from liking me to actually trusting me? And you know, not everybody liked Jesus, but trusting Jesus was the kicker. Right? When people saw what he could do in their lives and for them, the trust level went through the roof and that’s what made people follow him. And so I think that as a church, you know, you were singing Jason’s song just a minute ago when you’re talking about helping people with their marriages, helping people with their parenting, right? Felt needs is something that we talk about with churches all the time because I go to church websites and they’ve got a million different things on their website, and somewhere buried on page 42 is, oh, we have divorce care. I’m like, you need to be leading with divorce care.

Kurian Babykutty: [00:37:16] Page one, I mean, above the fold.

Bart Blair: [00:37:18] Yeah, exactly. Those are the types of things that I think are really going to move the needle in people’s lives when we’re able to actually start doing ministry to them and communicate what we’re doing in our church, using whatever means we can to let people know that we have ways of helping them overcome some of their biggest life challenges and hang-ups. There’s another church in Frisco that I know, that does celebrate recovery, and I used to take walks and I would pass by their building on the evening that they would do celebrate recovery, and they had almost as many cars in the parking lot in the evening when they did celebrate recovery, as they did on a Sunday morning for a worship service. And I think that that should tell you that there are plenty of people in our community who are just struggling, there’s so much hurt. And there are so many opportunities for us as the church to be the church and to actually be like Jesus and really meet our neighbors where they are.

Kurian Babykutty: [00:38:13] Yeah, In fact, imagine in the New Testament when Jesus is walking out and healing people and they come in droves to him and they’re seeking something from him to fix their problems, to fix their lives. And he says, oh man, I’d love to help you, but here’s a flier, come to my church on Saturdays. We’re just outside the Jewish temple, you can see us there, and then, hey, step one will start there. No, he actually fixed their problems first. The blind man by the temple, he fixed this problem first. Even the adultress at the well, he said go and sin no more. But he’s there for her first, he’s not saying I have this amazing solution for you, all you got to do is come on Saturday and I can tell you. No, he didn’t, he’s not selling the church, he’s actually selling the solution to their problems where they are. And Bart, I think you said is about knowing the customer, my personal, I mean, I call myself a Drucker-driven neuro marketer. I like what Peter Drucker says, I mean, sometimes his statements about faith are not something that I can completely agree with, but I like how he thinks about marketing. And I think his definition of marketing is one that I carry very close to my heart. He says that the aim of marketing is to know the customer so well that the product sells itself. And I think what we do is we don’t want to do the hard work of knowing the customer really well because that means we have to stop with our plan and stop with our assumptions. It’s far easier to jump into tactics than to say, man, let me put my assumptions at bay, let me go back and find out, who are these people? What do they want? Where do they hang out? How do they solve their problems today? How are they not solving the problems? Which are the ones they tied or which are the ones that are desperately in their heart yearning for a solution if we spend that time? Drucker’s promise about marketing is that the product will sell itself. And I think that’s true of us more than anybody else. If we get to know people when we find out what they need, we have I mean, we are part of a group that has a solution that will solve their problem and point them to Christ. All we’ve got to do is for us to know them. And just like Drucker says, the aim of marketing is to know the customer really well that the product will sell itself. And sometimes I wonder if we have faith that knowing them will actually solve the problem, and sometimes maybe we don’t. And so when you said knowing the customer is step one, I think that is the step and maybe the one that we’re faltering at.

Jason Hamrock: [00:40:23] Wow. I’m making a note on something.

Bart Blair: [00:40:24] Yeah.

Jason Hamrock: [00:40:26] I think you could have it on the title of your website, Jesus will solve your problems. And you could say, don’t believe that’s happening, then watch these stories of testimonies of changed lives.

Kurian Babykutty: [00:40:38] I mean, I feel he’s already solving problems. The only question is, do we want to go to him and find ours? And as he’s struggling with it, we are the guys whose problems he has saved in some way or the other. I did go to an event in India and somehow I’d spoken about how I learned what it means to start overcoming the lusts of the flesh. And some guys, some young guys in India were talking to me and they’re like, so I heard that you learned how to overcome lusts of the flesh. I said I didn’t learn completely, it’s a daily battle, but at least I started winning this battle. And as a young man, I can tell you, in all probability, every male that I know, we’ve already succumbed or struggled to lust the flesh at some point, like, if somebody hasn’t, man, I want to go find that guy out. And so I asked these guys, why are you here today? And they said, we can’t even talk about this in our church, we can’t even ask our leadership about this, like nobody has a solution for it. And so I went halfway around the world for a conference, and a bunch of guys found out something because we had talked in a group about how to overcome the lust of the flesh. People are yearning inside for solutions for their problems, and Jesus can actually solve it, in some cases he already solved it. They just don’t know about it, they don’t know how to tap into it, and it would be a shame if we weren’t the best marketing vessels to tell them about how Jesus can change lives.

Jason Hamrock: [00:41:53] Okay, well, we got to land this. This is so, so good, I could keep talking and asking questions, but, yeah. Thank you so much. I mean, you know, church, you’ve got to go check out 40 Parables and we’ll put the link on our show notes because I think you’ll learn a lot about how to tell a story and how to engage people. And, yeah.

Kurian Babykutty: [00:42:16] If I may, I want to say don’t go to our website because our websites mainly…

Jason Hamrock: [00:42:21] Okay, don’t go to his website.

Kurian Babykutty: [00:42:22] No, no, it’s aimed at generally helping people understand what we do. I’d say more than that, go to our blog on the website. We have a daily blog, and we write every single day, which means we write 250 times a year. It’s a one-minute blog, read the blog for a few days. Because if you agree with us about where we are with marketing and where we should be, then go back and read our website. Let me help you, let me actually practice what I’m preaching. Check out our blog, if we aren’t marketing properly, then there’s no point trusting us with your marketing or trusting any of us with your marketing, we need to be living the marketing that we’re preaching. And so I’m saying, don’t check us out, we’re a marketing agency for the ministry, and we are like many others. But check what we’re saying, check what we’re doing. If you don’t like our site, don’t ask us to build a site for you. If you don’t like what we’re saying, don’t work with us, right? We like to be authentic for this world that does not believe.

Jason Hamrock: [00:43:09] Yeah.

Bart Blair: [00:43:10] And you’re very active on LinkedIn. I see that you write and you post, a lot of it is sharing the blog content from your website on LinkedIn. Outside of your website and LinkedIn, are there any other places that people can connect with you, follow you, or if they wanted to talk to you or ask questions? What’s the best way for them to do that?

Kurian Babykutty: [00:43:29] Well, first off, thankfully, to my parents, I’ve got the most weirdest name of all. If you search my name, there’s only one of us in the entire world, all 8 billion, and you can only find one of us. So you will not miss me with my name, but I’m on LinkedIn. Our blog is also called, it’s manna, like every day, six days, just like Chick-Fil-A, six days of the week it comes in and we’ve got a summary for you, it’s not there on Sundays. And so you get to see what we’re seeing in a minute, it’s on It’s also on our website, but you get an option to subscribe to an email if you want to, or I post about it daily on LinkedIn. So yeah, we’ve got a website for it, and we’ve got an email that people can check it out and reply back to us, and I’m on LinkedIn too.

Bart Blair: [00:44:10] Kurian, thanks so much for hanging out with us today.

Kurian Babykutty: [00:44:13] It was my pleasure. I mean, you guys asked a bunch of questions that I love to talk about. I’m depressed that this is only a 40-minute podcast, man, I could have been here for 2 hours and bored the heck out of you guys. But thank you for all that you guys are doing to help the tribe of Levi. I really feel that they’re the guys who really have committed to this cause, they’ve given up whatever they need in their lives to help the church, and they’re the guys who need help the most. They already have 2 million things on their plate, they’re completely burdened by the things that they’re supposed to do and can’t get there. So thank you for all that you’re doing to help them. And hey, if we all can do something for them, and you, it would be my distinct pleasure.

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