Intentional Leadership in Church Media & Communications | Larry Anderson

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Larry Anderson, Media Pastor at Bellevue Baptist church, shares what he’s learned to have intentional leadership in media and communications

Podcast Notes

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Podcast Transcription


Jason Hamrock: [00:00:27] Well, hey, Larry, welcome to the show. How are you today?

Larry Anderson: [00:00:30] I’m doing great. Thank you guys for taking the time, and let me just say thank you guys for what you’re doing. You know, church people who are working in church communications, whatever their role, need encouragement, and to not feel like you’re alone on it is something that’s so important. And I’ve had those moments where I felt like I was isolated, and for you guys to be able to provide something that encourages people, you know, I just I’ve listened through some of your content and it’s always encouraging to me. So thank you for what you guys are doing.

Jason Hamrock: [00:00:58] Well, thank you. And hopefully, that’s a blessing to those listening right now. So just know you’re loved and we want to encourage you. So thanks for that. So for those that don’t know Larry Anderson, he’s the media pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church over there in Tennessee, and he’s going to get into his story. And I’m really excited about having these kinds of conversations because we have a posture of wanting to serve and learn, and so when we can do that, and we can pass that on to other people. Well, we know that at the end, Jesus wins, and so we want more people to know him, so that’s kind of why we do this, and so thanks for jumping on. So take a minute, Larry, and why don’t you explain kind of your history, your background, and what you’re doing these days at Bellevue?

Larry Anderson: [00:01:40] Yeah, absolutely. I love what you said about we’re all growing and learning because, you know, I think it’s easy to say you should arrive somewhere and you should know what you’re doing. And I don’t think a lot of days I don’t feel like I know what I’m doing. So, I think we need to know we’re on the journey, you know? And anything we do, we need to hold loosely and be able to learn and grow. So, speaking of growing up, I grew up, the oldest of five, and we were all homeschooled, with no cable TV in the house, so we found different ways to be entertained, and one of those ways was old-time radio. And I remember, you know, it’s kind of unique, but we got this cassette album, if you remember, cassette tapes, and we got it, and it was full of old-time radio, you know, everything from tales of the Texas Rangers, Jack Benny, all this stuff, and we just loved it. And, I remember listening to that at night, going to sleep with my siblings. You know, Adventures in Odyssey was on the air back then on the radio, they’re still making episodes, and my kids love it, but, they were on air, and I remember every night we didn’t want to get out of the pool during the summer, you know those long summer days and so we’d be out there and I’d run inside and record it off the radio so we could listen to it later, you know, record it on cassette. So even early on, I remember just a story was a big part of my growing up. We loved movies, and recorded those, too, off of TV. You know, there used to be the 24 Karat Movie or whatever it was on Saturday, and you could catch it and then record it. So we grew up doing that kind of, you know, taking those things that were available to us and really enjoying them. And that became part of our story, I think, of loving production and what it means to communicate with people on a larger scale. But I grew up at Bellevue, which is where I’m serving now.

Bart Blair: [00:03:24] Let me ask you a question about that, Larry, before you go on, because I know where the conversation is headed, I think. But tell us a little bit about the church environment at Bellevue at the time that you were growing up because I’m venturing that it’s probably very different today than what it was when you were growing up.

Larry Anderson: [00:03:41] So Bellevue, when I was growing up under Adrian Rogers, a lot of you may have heard him. he has an international, still has an international TV ministry, and it’s one of those that even after he passed away, they were able to keep going in a great way and they’re making an impact even today. I grew up under his teaching, and it was big, I mean when I was growing up, at that time, it was packed out the sanctuary, and I actually came to the church the year before we moved to our new campus in Cordova, which is right in the Memphis city limits. We were downtown Memphis before that time, and so we moved east and enabled us to have a much bigger campus and space and all of that, and that was under the time when literally they were packing out the worship center, coming to hear Adrian Rogers. And it was very centered around that kind of preaching, and he was an incredible preacher. And so, that was the style, it was the megachurch, really the heyday, I think, of the megachurch, if you want to say it like that.

Bart Blair: [00:04:35] And it’s interesting to me that you grew up in a home with no TV, yet you grew up in a church that had a significant television ministry. I don’t know what to do with that. I’m just highlighting it.

Larry Anderson: [00:04:48] It is a strange dichotomy.

Bart Blair: [00:04:49] That will come up in the conversation later on.

Larry Anderson: [00:04:51] I think you’re right, you know, you’re right, and Bellevue was actually the first church to both own and operate their own TV equipment. So back in the 50s, that was the cutting edge to do that, and Bellevue was the first to jump in to both own and operate. So TV ministry, all of that was through the culture and the very fiber, you know, of what Bellevue was, and really is in a lot of ways, it just looks different now.

Jason Hamrock: [00:05:14] That’s cool. You just kind of reminded me of something there, Larry. It’s like you’re just, it doesn’t matter, you know, where you are in your journey, you should always have a posture of learning and you can use anything to learn…

Larry Anderson: [00:05:27] That’s right.

Jason Hamrock: [00:05:27] And then apply that, because God obviously, clearly has influenced your life and gotten you on this path. I’m excited for our audience to hear about what you’re doing these days. You just took stuff that, this was your surroundings and you’ve learned from it, and now you’re applying it.

Larry Anderson: [00:05:44] So yeah, I love that, you’re right. Yeah, and if we just look around we can absorb that, you know, and take it in. There are so many times I have probably blown past an opportunity to learn, but the older you get, the more you realize what a blessing it is to be around the things that you’re around.

Jason Hamrock: [00:05:58] Yeah, and the more you realize you don’t know much.

Larry Anderson: [00:06:02] Right. That you’re just now figuring some stuff out and you’re not ever going to know exactly. Yeah, that’s right.

Bart Blair: [00:06:07] Okay, I derailed you there, sorry. We were continuing on your story, so you grew up and Bellevue was your family’s home church. Pick up from there, and college and what went on after.

Larry Anderson: [00:06:16] Yeah, so I started to get involved behind the scenes some as I got into later high school, and got to do some of the musicals that we would put on at Bellevue. And, as I did that, I started to feel like I really, you know, enjoyed it and got to be involved as a volunteer on our camera crew, got to help with lighting and some other things. And that led me to college, and really to make the decision fast forwarding to that, that I wanted to pursue communications of some kind. And I was kind of thinking of radio when I first went into it, and as I got into it, I really gravitated toward film and video, and so I emphasized in that but then took the broader communication curriculum. And that was really the first time I had any formal, what I would consider formal training in communications or learning anything about it from a book, but it was pretty cool because it felt like those things that I’d experienced started to come along and really supplement what I was learning and even back it up and validate it in a way. So yeah, I ended up getting a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Memphis in Communications and immediately spun right into, I had met a guy who was over all production at Love Worth Finding Ministries, which is Adrian Rogers TV ministry, separate from the church. And, he called me and I got to go over there and start working pretty close to right away after graduation and I was the TV editor, when I went in and started working for them.

Larry Anderson: [00:07:39] And so fast forward, I had the opportunity from there to have more influence and to get to be a part of things. And then I got the call from a guy over here at Bellevue, and he wanted to do some more with the TV broadcast, and that was the initial entry for me into Bellevue, working on the staff side. And so from there, you know, I had the opportunity, I was over 11 years to be at Bellevue and from TV editor to then being able to produce things and direct things and being able to have interaction across the team. And left Bellevue, with really a family and a full slate of really incredible opportunities I’d had, and I felt the call to go work with Dave Ramsey, and we did that for a couple of years, and spent time in Nashville with that, which ultimately led to me really sensing the ministry calling. And so from the point at which, when I got into college, I knew that I wanted to work on things that were important, you know, things that mattered, that kind of thing, but I really had not solidified a ministry calling or felt God was calling me to full-time ministry. And through my time at Ramsey, an incredible time of growth and learning and understanding, leadership, getting to be a part of a great team. One of the hardest decisions I made was to move the family back to Memphis, but it was also one of the most freeing because we knew we were called to ministry. And so when we did that, it was very much a we are surrendering to ministry calling, and that’s what led us back to Bellevue.

Jason Hamrock: [00:09:13] So, that is a cool story, and it seems like you’ve learned every step of the way there. Tell us what you’re, you know, what is it you do now at Bellevue and what’s the team that you’re leading?

Larry Anderson: [00:09:24] Yea,h, absolutely. So the team right now that we have at Bellevue, I oversee all the communications, production, that kind of thing. So I get to work with all of the team members who do that. Specifically in our area, we’ve got areas represented with web, and social, so you think about websites, social media content, what we’re writing and editing for all of our copy and everything, design. We’ve got live events, so obviously, the technical team that supports all our live events on campus. And then our video production, so video and audio production for creative pieces and short form and that kind of thing. And then our print shop and where we print in-house for printed materials, which we do less of now than we used to, but we still have quite a bit that goes through there. And then, of course, our scene shop because we still do production. So like we did a big Christmas production and our team puts that together, those set elements and that kind of thing.

Jason Hamrock: [00:10:16] Man, you oversee a lot. How do you manage to keep everything inside the rails and not lose track of projects? I mean, tell me about your routine.

Bart Blair: [00:10:26] Before you answer that, just for context, for our listeners, I think, Larry, you said that the church is between 4000 and 5000 in weekend worship attendance.

Larry Anderson: [00:10:35] That’s right. Yeah, on average run about 4000 to 5000 on a weekend.

Bart Blair: [00:10:37] Okay, I just want Our audience to have some context, he’s talking about all these moving parts, and we’re going to talk about how he’s managing all those. I think it’s good for the audience to know what scale we’re talking about here. It’s pretty big, there’s a lot going on.

Larry Anderson: [00:10:48] There is a lot going on. And Bellevue is not a, I wouldn’t call it a simple church model in terms of it’s not just Sunday morning. Sunday is one of the most important things I would say, the most important thing that we do, but we we cover the gamut of a lot of other things that happen throughout the week at our church. And so supporting those, it takes an incredible team, which we have, we’re blessed with volunteers and a staff team. So you were just asking, how do we keep track of everything?

Bart Blair: [00:11:15] You, how do you keep track of those moving parts?

Larry Anderson: [00:11:20] I don’t think I do, I really do think the leadership team of media does. And so, the fact of the matter is, we have such good people who are really good at their areas and what they do. If we didn’t, it wouldn’t be possible to do what we do. And so God has just blessed us with that, that’s not anything we’ve done, he’s just brought the people who want to be on mission with us at this time. But we do have systems and processes in place. So, you know, for us, obviously communicating what God’s doing in our city and through our city, it takes a lot, sometimes feels like herding cats, you know, trying to get all the communication in one place. And really communication, I think, is the biggest challenge in a lot of ways. For us, we use Asana for project management. So just jumping real tactical, we do have a system where we put anything that’s going to be done by a team member, it should be in there. And the way we get that into it is we have a project management team inside of our team that populates all of that, and then we also have a request form system that comes in from all the ministries so that we can keep clear communication going on what needs to be done and what needs to be developed for the ministries at any given time. So I say that and it sounds simple, there are still a ton of challenges with that system. I think the biggest challenge probably is that you always are riding the line between what you have set up for the ministry and what they’ve requested, and then also what do you need to do for your big church communication. And so those things don’t necessarily come in through that request system, and you’re always balancing and juggling that line between those two things. It is not that they’re opposing, but that a lot of times you have to keep that in mind as you’re working through it.

Jason Hamrock: [00:13:02] So you, I want to drill down on something here, so a little, this may not be on our notes. You lead people and you’ve built systems, so you’re using Asana, all these great tools to keep stuff. Tell me how you’re leading people, your people. How do you focus on that to make sure that everybody stays on track?

Larry Anderson: [00:13:24] That’s a great question. So for me, this is something that I do think my time at Ramsey, helped me with and just really encouraged me toward is that. And I think I heard Craig Groeschel say this recently, you should really ask the question, not how, but who. And so when you’re thinking about anything you need to get done that’s important, you need to ask the question who, not how. And for me, that’s why our leadership team is so important. So we have a leadership team that helps lead the media team. And this may or may not I don’t remember where this is in our notes, but I’m going to jump to it, this is kind of my soapbox a little bit. I went through a time in ministry, where I was trying to do everything on my own, and I just had the tendency, and most people do, who are a task-oriented person or a technical person, they want to jump in and do it. You know, it’s faster if I do it myself kind of mentality, is what I had. And that is not really what I think God’s called us to do.

Larry Anderson: [00:14:28] And there’s actually a passage I was listening to the Chronological Bible this week, I’m in that study, and it actually was on Exodus 18, which is a passage that opened my eyes. So you had Moses in the middle of leading the people, this miraculous moment where they walked out of Egypt. God provided, he opened the Red Sea, they were walking out into the wilderness, they start to wander, God provides manna, he’s providing, and Moses is trying to do it all in his own strength. So in 18, in the chapter, his father-in-law actually comes in and confronts him with a little bit of a rebuke, and he watches what he’s doing, and he says, what are you doing? You’re sitting here, you know, all day, you’re the one everyone has to come to for any answer, any decision, you’re the one that does it and that’s not sustainable, basically, is what he tells him. From that moment, he tells him a very clear plan that you need to select leaders who are faithful to be a part of your team, and you don’t need to hoard all this decision-making to yourself. And, that sets up the process by which they can next go to receive the Ten Commandments from Mount Sinai. But you think about that moment in the middle of those miraculous events, he had to get Moses’s attention. And I’m not really equating communications guys with Moses, but I am saying if Moses needed to have some leaders, we probably should too. So that really starts the process, we actually have to have that mindset. And that doesn’t mean you have to have in my mind, doesn’t mean you have to have a paid team. It means you need to have faithful leaders, that’s what Moses was looking for. And then from there you can train and develop and equip. And so that’s what we’re always looking at inside our team is, are we doing that? Are we developing the next generation of leaders?

Larry Anderson: [00:16:15] So practically, what that looks like for us is we’ve actually identified, and I took this a little bit from a Ramsey model when Dave Ramsey first started to teach his EntreLeadership curriculum, he actually started that internally with his company, and he did it for his people because he looked around and realized he needed leaders and he needed to develop them. So what we do is we just opened up a group last year, we’ve been doing it for about a year, and we meet on Mondays, and it’s open to anybody who wants to on the team, and we come in, we call it the leadership cohort and we meet for an hour. We walk through a book stud, and so, you know, we’re on our third book now and we ask questions, we hold each other accountable, we talk through it. We’ve got about, really about half of our team is now part of that group, which is cool because we started with a smaller group and we’ve seen people add to it, that kind of thing. That’s one practical way that we’re walking in and doing that. We’re committing an hour of our time each week to leadership development, not just do the task, but let’s talk about how we can lead better in it. So that’s one thing.

Larry Anderson: [00:17:17] You know, the other thing for us is, that I’m learning, and I’m continually learning this, I haven’t mastered this at all, I’m not saying that. Is really getting to the point where you can hand off a decision, not just hand off a task. And so that’s really where I think the line starts to cross between someone who’s just doing and someone who’s leading. And when we hand off that task, we need to also hand off the decision-making with it. And so getting to where you can let go and do that, and really, I think that’s been hard, that’s been a challenge for me to learn how to do that well, but it’s been such a freeing thing to start to do with our team.

Jason Hamrock: [00:17:54] I love that. I think that the key to that is we always say, yeah, delegate, delegate, delegate. Well, handing off things is one thing, but empowering or enabling others to make those decisions, and you live with those decisions.

Larry Anderson: [00:18:07] That’s right.

Jason Hamrock: [00:18:08] That’s really key because that helps other leaders that are maybe, you know, younger or whatever to gain that experience and grow up.

Larry Anderson: [00:18:15] Yeah, that’s right. I heard Craig Groeschel say, I keep quoting him, but he’s great, say this the other day, and he said the best thing you can learn how to say as a leader is you decide. It is so easy as a leader to think you have to be the one to decide, but if you tell that team member, you decide that empowers them and also, it holds them accountable to the decision, and those are two really good things.

Jason Hamrock: [00:18:36] So what would you say to, you know, a lot of our audience, you know, listeners, certainly they’re leading others. So what’s a good nugget you would share with them on how to lead your team or yourself better?

Larry Anderson: [00:18:50] I love that you said that second part. I think you have to learn to lead yourself first. And I think we’re all doing that, we’re still in that process. but you have to learn how to lead yourself, and then you can learn how to lead others. A book we went through in that group I was talking about is Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, if you haven’t read it, it’s great, it’s a classic. I mean, it’s been around for a while, but, Covey talks about winning the private victory before you win the public victory. And I think it’s so important to do that, to be able to lead yourself. And so that just means introducing disciplines in your life and being able to get up on time, be on the job on time, you know, follow through with your tasks. All the things that you know sometimes may seem basic, but those are actually sometimes hard to do, and so starting with that. And then when you can master that, then you’re ready to start leading others. And that’s not to say that you can’t lead if you’re not perfect because none of us is perfect, we have to jump right in. But being able to do that in a way that’s authentic because you’re leading yourself, then you can lead others well. And I would say, I’m learning. I’m just telling you guys stuff that I’m learning.

Jason Hamrock: [00:20:00] Yeah, that’s good.

Larry Anderson: [00:20:01] One of the things I’m learning, and my student pastor when I was growing up used to say this, people don’t care how much you know, till they know how much you care. And really, what it means to lead is to have influence, you know as Maxwell says leadership is influence, nothing more, nothing less. And so to have influence in people’s lives, if you’re not doing it to manipulate, you’re doing it to truly be there for them. And when you are, then you can have the influence to lead and move forward and do things that we agree on as a team, we’re going in this direction.

Bart Blair: [00:20:32] Let me follow up on that, this is actually going to get us a little bit closer to our notes and our outline for our audience. We always start with an outline, but Jason doesn’t keep us on it typically very long. But I see some of your bullet points and some of your notes that you put in here, and I think it’s important. So let’s talk a little bit about your weekly rhythm of work. Sunday is always coming, and you said you’re not a simple church model. So you always have a lot of different activities going on. When and where, amidst everything that you have going on, do you find the time to spend with people doing the leadership development work that you need to do? Talk a little bit through the rhythm of your week. What does that look like? The rhythm of your team’s meetings. And then break that down into how that actually plays out into the leadership model that you would like to aspire to.

Larry Anderson: [00:21:22] Absolutely. Yeah, so you’re right, so Sundays is going to kind of be the framework, everything kind of begins and ends with Sundays. Right? So the reason for that is because we really believe that when people experience transformation in their life through the power of worshiping Jesus ultimately and coming and hearing the gospel, that that sets them on a course to do all the other things that we need to do. And so we prized that and we value that. So we definitely start with that in mind. So Sunday is a great example of a time where I spend, that I actually have my Asana app ready back to that tool, just because I need something that’s going to hold me accountable. And so anything that comes up on a Sunday, whether it’s how we did our in-service video or how we did the live stream or lighting note or sound, or what we printed in the bulletin, if there’s any tweak or anything that came up or an idea that came out of that, I always put that into Asana to review the next day. So starting with capturing your thoughts, and it’s so easy to walk around on a Sunday and do stuff and think you’re going to remember to talk about it, but you’re probably not. So I write it down.

Larry Anderson: [00:22:28] So I start with that, and that way I can clear that quickly on a Monday morning before we get into the week, the busyness we can talk through basically like, what do we need to tweak for the next week? What do we need to do differently, that kind of thing? Then from there, we are prioritizing, so as I said, Monday is our leadership cohort group that we do. We meet on Mondays because we think we should start the week off with that, start it well, but we do that at the end of the day, so we have time to do the other things that we need to do. I personally, so with my leadership team, I’ve got eight direct reports and so I work with them each in a one-on-one setting, so we’re sitting down and that’s for me that’s biweekly. So every other week I’ll meet with each of those leaders. So of course I have it split up on the calendar so that I meet half of them one week, and half the next week, that kind of thing. Obviously, the door’s always open, but this is a time for a specific sit down, and talk through the agenda, and we have an agenda that we walk through that we both share. I expect that to be something that they’re bringing just as much to that meeting as I’m bringing. So it’s not a thing where it’s my meeting, it’s their meeting, ultimately, it’s their time with me where we’re going to walk through whatever we need to talk through. And a lot of times that’s a task list of things that are going on with the team, that’s issues we’re having, that’s how we’re going to move forward, all of that is brought into that meeting as a time to just work through that. So I think those are really important just for the culture of the team, so that people have a sounding board consistently and they have someone who’s speaking into how they’re doing and encouraging and all of those things. so that’s part of the weekly rhythm.

Larry Anderson: [00:24:01] And then I have a group where we meet as a leadership team each week to talk through the big items, you know, what are the big initiatives coming, the big promo plans, what do we need to communicate and to make sure that those disciplines that I talked about are talking together so that we’re not having stuff happening in isolation on social media that’s not happening on the website, etc… I also have a great group of leaders, like I mentioned, who are making sure that’s happening within their teams.

Larry Anderson: [00:24:30] And, so then, of course, our week always includes worship planning for the next Sunday. That’s where the music team and pastor and all of them will jump on a call, we’ll talk through the service, and that’s just real tactical. We’ll talk about everything we have in the planning center for the service and how it’s going to flow, what materials we have out in the lobby, what we have on the table and all that kind of stuff. And so that’s just a clearinghouse meeting to make sure everything’s on track for what we’re communicating and also the flow of worship.

Larry Anderson: [00:24:59] And from there we we do a quarterly I know, I’m sorry, it’s monthly now, we do a volunteer development group. And so that’s where we bring in, so a key part of what we do is volunteers, in fact, we have far more volunteers than we have paid staff, and they’re really the engine of a lot of what we do. And so we have a specific evening that’s set aside each month for them to be trained and developed, and so that’s part of what we do as well, and planning for that, making sure it happens, and that kind of thing.

Bart Blair: [00:25:29] Before we move past that, I think Jason has a question. Before we move past that, rewind real quick. You said that for the weekend planning, and worship planning, you said everybody gets on a call.

Larry Anderson: [00:25:40] Yes.

Bart Blair: [00:25:40] Who all is included in that, and what what platform are you using for that call? Are you guys Zooming?

Larry Anderson: [00:25:45] We’re Zooming, so we’re on Zoom, We really could meet in person if we wanted to, but this just allows if anybody’s out, we have a consistent place that everyone’s jumping on. So we’re on Zoom, and it includes the pastor, our associate pastor, a couple of guys from the office of the pastor, and then also the guy who’s my boss who oversees all production and everything that’s related to producing what the pastor wants to achieve. And then he brings the music guys into that as well, and so we have our Minister of Music in there, we have our contemporary worship pastor. I’ll be in that meeting, and I also have my head of production specific to media production in that meeting as well.

Jason Hamrock: [00:26:25] Well, I mean, you got a ton going on. It’s really clear that you guys are really well organized. I want to know, and I think this is really important for our audience and our listeners to really think about this, but what is it that brings you joy?

Larry Anderson: [00:26:42] Hmm. Yeah, that’s a great question. You know, with me seeing, I think, really seeing people develop and move from where they are to where they have potential and seeing that leadership group step up. And the people who are new on the team, who are brand new to their first job, seeing them embracing these concepts and really moving forward in it and wanting to do this for the Lord, that’s a really encouraging thing. In fact, in the summer, we have a lot of what we call MA’s ministerial assistants, but they’re interns, basically, but they bring so much more value than what you may think of when you think of the word intern. We’re not just looking for somebody to push a cart around or bring coffee or any of that. This is a place where they learn to be a leader in media, and then they go out and do that wherever. So they may not be at Bellevue for long, but they’ll be here for our internship. So even seeing those come through, and our volunteers, really seeing new people who have never done this before and didn’t know they had it in them to be able to see them living out their calling and being empowered to do what they’re doing now for the Lord through the church. And so I think that’s really what gets me excited. You know, another thing is probably just big projects that involve a lot of disciplines across the team. So when we get to do something big, like focused, where we’re all on the same project, and that doesn’t happen often because you’re moving so fast. But, you know, for Easter or Christmas or some of those things we’ve done, being able to jump on with a whole group and do it together is really encouraging.

Jason Hamrock: [00:28:11] That’s really good, because I think, you know, obviously the ultimate goal is for one more person to give their life to Jesus and get baptized. So like, that’s so cool. But it’s like all that stuff leading up, that’s the stuff that you’re mentioning, it can bring you lots of joy, even though that’s like the ultimate joy. There are these things in your life that if you’re not focused on, and celebrating, you can get burned out real quick and lose track.

Larry Anderson: [00:28:36] That’s right.

Jason Hamrock: [00:28:37] And now you’re going against the grain here a little bit. And so for you to say that it’s cool for you to see others rise up or volunteer because then they get to see the fulfillment that happens when you’re serving and you’re a servant leader at that point. I think that’s the best posture to have.

Larry Anderson: [00:28:59] You’re right. And I do think the other piece to that is keeping yourself around the ministry that is happening because of the work that we’re doing behind the scenes. And so sometimes you just have to get out of your office and your area and go serve somewhere else so that you can see people who are really responding in that moment to what they’re learning, lives being transformed, life change happening because it’s happening, it’s easy for us to get kind of huddled up in our area, so I love that.

Jason Hamrock: [00:29:26] I was just on another podcast here and we were talking about stories, changed life stories. You want to talk about the best marketing, you know, tip or tool you can use it’s, if you’re growing church, God is in your church, he is moving in your church. That means he’s moving in the lives of the people, which means changed lives are happening, which means there is a story to be told.

Larry Anderson: [00:29:49] Absolutely.

Jason Hamrock: [00:29:50] You’ve got to really work hard to kind of like, find and capture that story. But that’s the stuff that other people can look at and go, there’s hope. I see myself in that story, and there’s a new outcome that can happen because somebody else went through that. I can see God working. We got to capture those stories.

Larry Anderson: [00:30:06] Man, that is great. I love what you’re saying, I think that’s so key. And really, that’s what we’re here to do as a communications team, is ultimately we’re trying to connect the head with the heart. And when you do that by telling stories, you really bring people to a point where they’re ready to receive the truth. So one of the core values of Bellevue is biblical truth, we really do treasure God’s perfect word as our standard for life and faith. But sometimes to get to someone, and really get through to them, and get them to a point they’re ready to receive, you have to prepare the way for that. And you do that really through the emotions, through the heart, and that ultimately gets you to them being prepared and ready, and you know, that softening of the heart to receive the gospel. So I love what you’re saying.

Jason Hamrock: [00:30:48] Yeah. You know, listeners, I hope you’re kind of tuning into that because, I mean, that’s a theme that you want to play out in your ministry, and in your department is to go capture those stories.

Bart Blair: [00:30:59] You worked for someone who is the master of this. The reason that Ramsey is as successful as Ramsey is, it’s not because he gets on the radio, and he’s the smartest person in the room, it’s because people show up and tell their stories and their stories are what resonate with the people that are listening or reading or what have you. We, in the church, short-sell ourselves so much, that our tendency is to spend more and more time talking about ourselves than talking about our God. And our God has an incredible story, but most people have a hard time seeing themselves in God’s story until they hear the story of someone else whose life has been impacted by God’s story.

Larry Anderson: [00:31:41] That is so true.

Bart Blair: [00:31:42] Then they go, oh, I’m like that person too, maybe there is something there for me. So I think that there’s a lot of power there.

Larry Anderson: [00:31:50] Mhm. And really, if you think about it, who better to have powerful stories to tell than the church? We’re experiencing, literally, you can’t argue with the things that are happening in people’s lives, that their lives are being changed every week. When we’re baptizing people every week, we tell a quick story there in the moment, when we’re baptizing them. But then taking that, expanding that, and telling that story, I do think that’s the power. And like you guys said, really, that’s the way to get to people is through story, not through just telling them what you do or about yourself. I love that, that’s right.

Jason Hamrock: [00:32:24] Well, we probably better put a bow on this conversation. I love this stuff. And hopefully, listener, you guys have grabbed some nuggets. But I do want to ask, who are you getting your inspiration from because you’re leading a lot of people?

Bart Blair: [00:32:39] Craig Groeschel, I already know the answer.

Larry Anderson: [00:32:41] Craig Groeschel.

Jason Hamrock: [00:32:43] Who else are you following besides Craig Groeschel?

Bart Blair: [00:32:45] Besides Craig Groeschel, who are you learning from?

Jason Hamrock: [00:32:46] And Dave.

Larry Anderson: [00:32:47] Yeah, and Dave is a big influence. I still listen to the EntreLeadership podcast a lot. It’s a great one, I would just recommend it if somebody has something they want to listen to. I think for me I’m an auditory learner, so podcasts are my main thing. You know, when I’m out in the yard working or something like that, I’ll do it. Pat Lencioni is a great one. Carey Nieuwhof has really interesting stuff and conversations, I love listening to him. I like to vary it up, you know, and listen to some random stuff. There’s this podcast called Scriptnotes, which is just about screenwriting. It’s not related to any church thing at all, but it just gives you a different perspective on creative work. I listen to, I’m a tech guy at heart, Mac Power Users is a great podcast. It’s just fun, you know?

Larry Anderson: [00:33:29] But I also, a couple of books I’d say that are encouraging or impactful. I talked about Seven Habits. There’s a book called The Voice of the Heart by Chip Dodd, which is a great book, it just really helps you to think through and really understand what your motivations are and what’s kind of driving you on the inside. Groeschel, speaking of him, Winning the War in Your Mind is a really good one, I really was impacted by that.

Larry Anderson: [00:33:54] And then I would just encourage guys, when you’re in this stuff, not to get so caught up, because when you start to lead an area like this, you get caught up in the administrative of it or the, you know, the technical overseeing the thing. And sometimes you can get lost and miss the creative person that you were created to be. And so I would say for me, like it’s reading Tolkien, I love reading fiction as well, you know, and reading Lord of the Rings. And then also, I don’t know if you guys have heard of Andrew Peterson, but he’s a great creative, he’s a songwriter, but he’s also written this book, it’s called Adorning the Dark, and it’s all about the creative process. And I just think that would probably be an encouragement to somebody, I know it was to me, and it’s helped kind of shape how I see the creative process and that kind of thing.

Larry Anderson: [00:34:47] Another big thing for me, though, is being around peers. And so even us having this conversation, for people to be able to listen to others who are in their sphere, working in it, day in and day out, I think it’s really important. So for me, I’m in a group for our metro within Southern Baptist Convention where we meet together, have conversations, and try to do something at least once a year where we get together just to share what we’re going through, what we’re dealing with. How have you done this? Ask questions.

Larry Anderson: [00:35:15] And then, another big thing for me has been coaching. I would just encourage, if you have an opportunity to either have somebody help with coaching in an official way or if you just have somebody you can confide in. Being able to have a conversation about things, not with someone who’s at the job, who has a little bit more big-picture perspective, they’re not emotionally attached to it. Someone who’s been there before, someone who you can basically say what you need to say to and they can listen, and then they can start to help point you. And usually, it’s more about them listening and then you pointing yourself where you need to go. Sometimes you just need to get it out. So for me, that’s a big deal. I would even say, there’s a guy I work with on this kind of stuff, and he’s really a thought leader in a lot of ways. I would encourage, if you want to, that he’s got a newsletter that he does is great. His name is Luke Lefevre, and he it’s CreativeLeaderCoaching com is his. And you can probably put that in the show notes or whatever, but he’s got a newsletter he sends out, and it’s just encouraging to anybody who’s a creative, anybody who works in a creative area, communications or church, or parachurch and that kind of thing, kind of keeps me going.

Bart Blair: [00:36:27] Nice, that’s a boatload of stuff, lots of books mentioned there and podcasts and the like, that’s great, thanks so much. If our audience members wanted to connect with you, follow-up questions, or anything they wanted to pick your brain about, what’s the best way for them to do that?

Larry Anderson: [00:36:43] Yeah. So LinkedIn is probably the best, I’m on there. I’m hit or miss on the other platforms, but I’m there on LinkedIn. If you want to see anything else from Bellevue, we’re at Bellevue, Memphis on all of our handles, so @BellevueMemphis on YouTube, X, Facebook, and Instagram. And then you can always email me too, I’m right there on the church website Email me, I’m on the church website there and I’d love to get in touch with you. Yeah, I’d love to follow up. I love having conversations with people who are in the middle of this because we haven’t figured it out, we’re just learning together, you know?

Jason Hamrock: [00:37:18] Absolutely. I love your posture for that. So thank you for taking the time out to jump on the show. You gave some really, really great insight.

Larry Anderson: [00:37:26] Well, thank you guys for having me again. Thanks for what you’re doing. Just very encouraged to be here. And thanks for caring enough about what we’re doing in the local church to partner in this way. We really appreciate it.

Bart Blair: [00:37:37] We appreciate it. This has been Larry Anderson from Bellevue Baptist Church. Thanks again for tuning in. If you’re a regular listener, we want to remind you to leave us a rating or review if you haven’t done that. And if you happen to be new, maybe this is your first time listening to or watching the Missional Marketing Podcast, make sure that you subscribe on whatever platform that you listen to your podcasts on so that you don’t miss any future episodes because this one was a good one. And we know it’s a good one because you made it all the way to the very end if you’re listening to this right now. So thanks again, Larry, we appreciate it and we’ll see you all next time around.

Larry Anderson: [00:38:09] Thank you guys.

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