Rising to the Leadership Challenge Of COVID-19 | Matt Ware of Victory Church

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Our guest, Matt Ware is the senior pastor for Victory Church in the Denver area. During the past year, every church in the country has had to pivot because of COVID-19. In this podcast Matt gives some really good insight into how they made a very successful pivot during the changes brought by COVID-19.

Podcast Transcription

SHOW TRANSCRIPT

Jason Hamrock: Today, I’m speaking with Matt Ware. Now Matt’s the senior pastor for Victory Church in the Denver area. Matt and I are going to be talking about pivoting. And during the past year, every church in the country has had to pivot because of COVID-19. So now the question becomes, what are the next pivot steps you need to take? Because going back is not an option. Well, Matt, gives some really good insight into how they made a very successful pivot. I hope you enjoy.

Jason Hamrock: Well, hey, Matt, thanks so much for joining us. Glad to have you here.

Matt Ware: Yeah, glad to be with you, Jason, appreciate the opportunity. And Man, I just love what you guys do, love being able to partner with you in all of this, so glad to sit down and chat for a few minutes today.

Jason Hamrock: Absolutely. So tell me what it’s been like for you to to lead through this last season of ministry with COVID.

Matt Ware: Yeah, you know, it’s interesting because I think obviously people have very, very different perspectives on this, kind of depending on their context, and their wiring and all of that. And so, I actually feel like this has been the best, most exhilarating, most exciting leadership opportunity for me that I’ve ever had and I’ve absolutely loved it. And of course, that’s not to say that there aren’t some hard days and some stressful situations, as we’ve all been through over the last number of months. But I think from a leadership perspective, you know, my view on this is really leaders are made for for these types of situations. You know, leaders are are made in crisis, they’re made for crisis, I think. You know, crisis calls leadership out of us, I think, in in a greater way. So I’ve honestly loved it, and that’s not to say that there’s not real issues that you’re dealing with, with people in the church and in ministry and the challenges that they’re walking through. But from a pastoral position, from a leadership position, I just think, man, there’s never been a better time or a better opportunity to jump in and just lead people toward the best things that God has for them.

Jason Hamrock: So I’m sure, you know, there’s like two camps. Leading your staff is probably a lot easier than maybe leading the congregation. What has it been like for both?

Matt Ware: Yeah, I think in our context, and of course everybody’s context is different. So, to just give you maybe a little bit of perspective for us, we had not been live streaming our services prior to COVID. Of course, we did what a lot of churches were doing. You know, we put the video on the website twenty four hours later on a Monday or Tuesday or whatever, but we weren’t actually live streaming. And so, of course, like everyone, we pivoted very quickly. What was interesting for us, is we had already actually launched a resource initiative about a year ago to raise funds because part of our vision was to be live streaming, and so we had already raised some funding for that. And so we were able to quickly pivot to that in terms of having the resources to get some of the gear, and the set up, and all those things. So we were in a very unique position in that way because not only was it out of necessity, but it actually just gave us a catapult forward into some things that we had already planned from a vision standpoint. And so for our congregation, that was a huge win because all of a sudden the world’s falling apart, but our church is doing something and moving forward and we had already given to it. And so that was a win for the church.

Matt Ware: But of course, the challenge of leadership for everybody, even if they were live streaming, is how do you now engage people in an exclusively online environment. And so, you know, just like everybody, we’re learning how to do that and figuring that out. And really, I think trying to make the shift between, the shift from attendance to engagement. You know, I think pastors are so dialed into this idea of how many people are coming, and we know it’s not just the number, but we know that those numbers represent people, and lives, and stories. And so now, you know, we don’t see the people in front of us necessarily. You know, even if you’re reopened, you don’t see the crowds maybe like you used to, but how can you gauge engagement? And that’s really something that we’re focusing on both in online, and now we have just begun to have services in person again. So engagement, I think, has been the big challenge from a congregational leadership perspective.

Jason Hamrock: So, looking at 2021, which let’s get through this year and over with quickly.

Matt Ware: Are we thinking about 2021 already, come on.

Jason Hamrock: But so, you know, when you think about the church, I heard a quote one time and I forget the source of it, that said, “We want to be seen as an online church with physical locations.” It’s a different mindset, right? And when you think about the future and how you create that engagement, not just with your own congregation, but from people in your community. Is that something you guys are thinking about, and planning about, and then you’ve had to execute on it?

Matt Ware: Right.

Jason Hamrock: But what does that look like for you, for your church in the future?

Matt Ware: Yeah, I think that’s a that’s really a great question that that the whole big C Church probably is wrestling with right now. It’s been interesting because, you know, when we first shifted to an online environment, you know, the company line, you know, not just for us, but for everybody is, hey, the church is not a building, the church is people. So even though we can’t be in the building, we can still be the church. And and all of that’s true and that’s right, but what we also discovered in the process is that there is really a value in the gathering of the family of Christ. And so how do, we how do we bridge both? And say, you know, we really can see online engagement as legitimate engagement in the church, while also recognizing there are some things that just don’t translate outside of human interaction.

Matt Ware: And of course, we live in a world that’s different in so many ways. And so it’s interesting because one of the, and I would love to quote them on a it, but I don’t remember who it was. They were talking about this idea early on, it was maybe like in May of this year, and they talked about the idea that it doesn’t matter how you meet the person that you’re dating, you know, you might have met them, you know, in a church service. You might have met them, you know, in a club. You might have met them online. However you met them, and especially you’re talking about this digital environment, the goal is not to have an online relationship. The goal ultimately is to, you know, even if you met him through online dating, you actually want to sit down in a restaurant, have dinner together at some point. And so we are thinking about this idea that online is great, and there’s so much ministry that we can do. But ultimately, we still believe there’s such a value in people having interaction with each other.

Matt Ware: And so how do you meet them where they are? Which is online right now, in a lot of cases and I think will increasingly be. And we’ve all known that online is the front door for the church for a long time anyway, but then how do we actually sit down at the table with them, so to speak? And so I think that we’ve had some some interesting experiences with that already. I’m sure, like some other churches where people are engaging online, and they’re actually joining our small groups, and we’ve had people start giving to the church even though they’ve never physically been to the church. And so so we know there’s a ton of potential there, and yet we’d love to have real face to face contact with them, too.

Jason Hamrock: Yeah, well, I get really excited because I think this pandemic has caused leaders like yourself to have to think about what online looks like. How can you engage somebody, disciple, somebody from a distance, but ultimately understanding you really want to have face to face communication and when you can, interactions when you can. But for you to even start with building ways and methods and content to connect with people online, I think there’s a ton of value in that. Because the church wasn’t online, it was all not just come to our church and then we’ll connect. You know, and that’s changed.

Matt Ware: Absolutely, absolutely, and I think that’s where everybody’s got to get creative, probably in their own context, because what we’ve discovered is, you know, what is working in some other church doesn’t necessarily work for us. And probably some things we’re doing wouldn’t work in other places, too. So I think there is still this value of saying as a spiritual leader, as a shepherd as it were, to this flock. Do you know your flock? Do you know the people who God’s already brought into your community? And how do you meet them, where they’re at? And we, to be honest with you, we’ve tried some things that worked and tried some things that didn’t work. And man, what a great year to to experiment with things. And if it works, you say, man, you know, God’s really with us. And if it doesn’t work, you blame it on COVID, and it’s just it’s great. So.

Jason Hamrock: Oh, that’s funny. So give me a couple of things that are working.

Matt Ware: Yeah, one of the things that we just, we launched early on, just as a way to keep people engaged again, you know, realizing that engagement was the marker, not attendance. We did this thing on on Facebook Live every night at seven o’clock, Monday through Friday. We had a different one of our staff pastors get on and just do like a five to seven minute, just kind of a devotional. Here’s a just a thought or a verse that I want to share with you, and just pray for people and whatever. And something as simple as that, and we called it Pastor Chat, and we did it five nights a week from really the start of COVID up until just a couple of weeks ago. And something as simple as that, just a little five minute thing every day, just engaged our people in a really significant way. And what was cool about it is, it didn’t just engage the congregation, it engaged all my pastors on the staff in a different way in terms of speaking to the congregation. And so, you know, some of them maybe wouldn’t necessarily have the platform. Maybe they weren’t preaching pastors, or they weren’t people who would normally be on the stage on a weekend, but now they had a direct voice into the congregation, which also bonded them to the people and the people to them. And so something as simple as that really made a difference for people to to engage them, and to engage the team, which was fun.

Jason Hamrock: Sounds good.

Matt Ware: Yeah.

Jason Hamrock: What are…This might be a probably, if you zoom out even before COVID, but what are some of the back door issues that you guys might have had that you’ve been able to close? Obviously engagements one thing, before COVID, it was a family would typically attend like 1.5 times a month type of thing.

Matt Ware: Right.

Jason Hamrock: That’s just kind of what’s going on. Are there things that you guys were doing, or will do, in the future to try and close the back door of people leaving. Especially now that we’re, we tend to the big C church is growing older, struggling to grow younger?

Matt Ware: Yeah. Yeah, that’s a great question. And I think we were actually, I think, trying to to navigate some of that stuff right before COVID. And I don’t know that we came up with a lot of good answers in terms of what are our back doors, and how do we close them. Throughout the COVID process, what we’ve discovered is that people who were really embedded in relationships in the church tended to fare much better through a crisis than those who were not. And that’s not a surprise, I’m sure, but it really came to the forefront for us. Those who were connected, you know, in small groups, or Bible studies, or other classes, if they were engaged in some way other than just attending a Sunday service, they did far better spiritually, emotionally, relationally, and all those things. So we just have to really recognize the value in creating a greater sense of community within our church. And, you know, like so many churches, I’m sure. You know, we have small groups, we have some of those things, but they hadn’t been a big thrust for us, they hadn’t really been at the forefront. And so something that we really are pushing now that we’re meeting in person again is to say, hey, you know, I mean, Acts chapter two talks about this, right? The church, they attended the temple, and they met in homes. And I think that we did the the attending the temple thing pretty well, maybe we didn’t do the gathering and homes thing nearly as well, and so we’re putting a greater emphasis on that.

Matt Ware: And we think, you know, ultimately, I think relationships probably keep people in a church, maybe more than a lot of other things, that sense of community. You know, as preaching pastors, you know, I’d love to say, you know, my sermon is what keeps him coming to church. But the reality is they can get great content anywhere, so it’s not content driven as much as it is, I think, a sense of community. And so I wouldn’t say that we’ve closed that door, but I think we’re aware of it now more than ever. And we’re trying to build toward the future that makes a sense of community, even a bigger reason to come to church, and be at church. You know, to come to hear me preach is one thing, to come be with your friends, I think is totally different and so that’s a big emphasis for us moving forward.

Jason Hamrock: Yeah, I mean, I agree with you. I think that God’s gifted you and your voice and, you know, his message through you connects people, gets them to come back. But what gets them to stick, is going to be the community. Right, that we were born in community, so I think rallying around that is a is a great strategy.

Matt Ware: Yeah. I mean, I think it is. But as we both know, it’s easier said than done. Right? Because it’s not just a program, it has to be a culture. And I think that’s challenging because, and I’m sure you’re seeing this all over the country, people say they they crave community and yet they don’t always respond to the opportunities that you give them to get in community. And so I think kind of figuring out what does it mean to actually create community uniquely in your context is important, because there’s no cookie cutter way to do this. And there’s so many great churches that have so much success, you know, with small groups or other types of formats. But to copy and pasted it, as we all know, that doesn’t necessarily work. So how do you do it uniquely in your local area, that works for your people, and really is creating a culture? And so kind of the rallying cry for our team as we come into the fall is that our push is going to be to say, it’s going to be more normal to be in a small group than to not be in one. And that’s the culture we want to create, is like this is just what we do here. And it takes time, obviously, to build that. But we think there’s a ton of value there, not only short term, but long term to the strength of the church.

Jason Hamrock: Well, and I have seen success with churches when that’s articulated everywhere they look.

Matt Ware: Yeah.

Jason Hamrock: On stage from the leader, to signage, to websites, to events, they’re all driven towards getting a community group. That’s where you can be successful. But you’re right, it can’t just be one more program on top of 30 other programs we do. It has a culture of our church.

Matt Ware: Yeah, well, and that’s where I think, you know, for better or worse, I think the church over the last number of months has been forced to really identify what are the essentials. And what we’re just kind of nice ideas or nice programs that we had in a season of of luxury, so to speak, that maybe we don’t have now. And so for us, I think we’re really looking at how do we simplify what we do? And say, just like you’re talking about, instead of this is one of 30 things that you can engage in here, maybe we only have five things. And that would allow us to emphasize those things a lot more and say, you know, this is what we’re all about and we’re going to be all in on these things. A simpler menu to choose from, but we can do everything well.

Jason Hamrock: Yeah, it seems like this has afforded you the opportunity to go, time out. OK, now, when we get back in person, what are some of those things that we might have considered a sacred cow, we are not going to bring with us? And one of the things we’re going to do in the future that, you know, we want to make the culture. It sounds like small groups, or life groups, is one of those things. Is there anything else that falls in that camp?

Matt Ware: Well, you know, we’re in a unique position right now because when we, we actually just this early September 13th, we launched back into in-person services. And we did it in kind of a unique way, by actually opening multiple sites throughout our city. And so rather than just reopening the doors, we relaunched and we launched three new campuses when we did that. And so because of that, our whole model is changing to say, you know, for us this is the first time going multisite. So I know some other churches obviously have been down this road before, and having to figure out what is simple enough that we can replicate it in multiple locations.

Matt Ware: And so for us right now, we’re saying, hey, the Sunday gathering, and small groups, that like we’re going to be all in on those things. And we’re going to see what develops from there, because I don’t think we’re in an environment in in the church in America right now to say that, hey, the 30 things we used to do, we can just go back into all of them. We either don’t have the resources, or we don’t have the people, or we simply don’t have the opportunities. And so for us, we’re just saying, man, the gathering of the church together on Sundays, and then get in homes and get in relationships throughout the week. Which I know, you know, for people who have been in church for a long time, that doesn’t sound all that exciting or glamorous because it’s very simple. But I wonder if that’s actually where maybe the church has has lost some of its way, is by just trying to do so many things, and be so many things. We’re kind of enjoying the simplicity of all of that right now. And it’s easier, I think, for people to just say, yeah, I go to church on Sunday, and I gather with my friends during the week. And there’s a beauty in that simplicity, I think.

Jason Hamrock: I think that’s right. That’s right. I love that you’re doing that, that’s really cool, so what a great model for other churches. So sounds like you’re not having to spend millions of dollars on each location, it’s more a neutral location. I mean, there’s things you have to have, but what did you learn through all that process?

Yeah, we would have loved to have millions of dollars to spend. So here’s what’s crazy, and everybody’s in a different context, we’re in Colorado, which is one of the more locked down places, you know, where our regulations are similar to California. California gets the headlines, but Colorado is in a very similar spot. And so we we realize, you know, midsummer coming to early summer, we kept having this anticipation things we’re going to open back up. And by midsummer, we realize there’s going to be a much slower path than what we originally anticipated. And so I was out of town for a couple of weeks on vacation, and I came back in mid-July. And I had this idea, that I really think was from the Lord, about instead of opening again as one church, you know, one group in one location, what if we found other locations throughout our city. And just say, hey, you know, depending on where you’re driving from, just drive this direction instead of that direction, and we can still meet as a church. And initially just became an idea to say how do we get our church back together when we can’t have these huge crowds? And so, yeah, we did it on…Everybody’s asked, you know, what’s the budget? Well, we don’t have a budget, we’re just trying to figure it out as we go. So we have found hotels and events centers, they are really hurting for business because they haven’t been able to have events. And so they love having us in there because their parking lot is full of cars, and they actually look open to the community. And so they need the the revenue to come in, and so they’re making us great deals. We’re getting into these places, you know, really easily and really cheap. And so yes, that’s what we’ve done, we’ve just gone into those places. Three locations for us, one north, one south, one east, they’re all about thirty minutes away from our current location, which in Denver is not a huge drive time. People are used to that level of commute, and so that’s worked well for us. You don’t have to have a ton of money to do it if you can find the venues that are relatively inexpensive. Of course, we’ve had to invest a little bit in equipment and what have you. We’re not actually live streaming, we’re pre-recording sermon content, so all they have to do is have a laptop to play a video. Live worship teams, and so we’ve just parted our volunteers out to those different teams or those different locations, and have each one of our staff pastors get an extra job responsibility, so they’re also campus pastors. So they’re taking on an extra leadership role during this time, which is great to see them grow. And really what we’re finding is that you can do this much simpler, and with a lot lower investment, than maybe what the traditional model has been. And I’m not going to say that it’s been easy or without its challenges, but it’s really opened our eyes as to what is possible.

Matt Ware: We anticipated at some point we would go multisite in the future. And in the back of my mind, I’m looking at all these models of churches that have done it, and thinking, OK, we need to, you know, at some point it’ll take us probably nine to 12 months, we’ll do all this research, and we’ll raise a couple hundred thousand dollars, and we’ll do all this. And in reality, we just launched three new campuses with about a six week lead time and probably, you know, twenty grand all in to make it happen. So it is possible, you know, how we sustain that long term is anybody’s guess. But like we just alluded to, nobody knows what January looks like. Right? So we’ll we’ll figure it out as we go.

Jason Hamrock: Yeah. So it’s not a church plan, it’s almost a reset for you, to figure out we’re going to do things differently. Which I think is is brilliant. What would you say to, what advice would you give to somebody that’s thinking about starting a new church, or they’re wanting to plant a church? I mean, what could they learn?

Matt Ware: Yeah. I mean, I think it does sort of depend on how you’re looking at it right now, you could say this is the best time or worst time to plant a church. I happen to think it’s always a good time to see the kingdom move forward, and so I don’t think there’s bad days or bad seasons to to launch out because I think God responds to our faith in that. I think from a practical perspective, one of the things I probably would encourage church planters, or people really starting out to think about, is that it is less about the building today than it’s ever been. And I think we know that, but this also provides us a unique way to think about that. If I were starting a church today, I would not want, I wouldn’t really be thinking about a long term or expensive overhead, you know, in terms of building. I really would be thinking about locations that I can get in and out of without a lot of resources being invested, that’s not to say be fly by night, because I think your community wants to see some sense of permanence that you’re invested there. But I wouldn’t be, my wouldn’t my goal wouldn’t be to build a multi-million dollar building. You know, my goal would be how can we begin to gather people and not invest our resources in that, invest our resources in developing those those smaller communities, which I do think is going to be part of the wave of the future for the church. The megachurch is not going to go away, I don’t think. But I think we’re going to see healthy expressions that are smaller even within those megachurches, you know, smaller congregations, more small groups, more maybe midsize gatherings that are going to happen. And so if I were starting out, I wouldn’t get fixated on, you know, man, I just want to be Life Church, or Church of the Highlands, or Saddleback, or whatever your model is. I wouldn’t I wouldn’t be obsessed with that, I would really focus on how do we gather people in this community and make a spiritual investment there? Because I think people are spiritually hungry in this season, and I think there’s tremendous opportunity. So I’d say, you know, don’t invest your resources in overhead, invested in discipling people.

Jason Hamrock: Hmm. Yeah, well said. And I’d probably add on to that my own take of being focused on reaching people where they are. Ethnically diverse, right, and then try to build that kind of community that looks a lot like heaven looks like. And I think a church planter, or a pastor, that takes that mindset is going to find success.

Matt Ware: Yeah, and I think that’s a great point. To really understand, you know, I think there’s an interesting challenge in in church planting. And I’m convinced church planting in America in the days ahead is going to look more like what a missionary might do, going to an unreached people groups somewhere in the 10/40 Window or whatever. I think there has been a tendency to say, you know, I’m going to come into this city and I’m going to bring my culture to this place. And to the degree that that is a kingdom culture, that’s a healthy thing. To the degree that it’s a demographic culture, a geographic culture, that can actually be a negative thing. And so can we get in these communities wherever we are called to be, and say, this is the culture of the community God’s called me to. And I’m going to embrace that and bring heaven to that place, as it were, but not assume that I’m going to change the cultural nuances of that place. And so when you speak about ethnically diverse, or generationally diverse, or whatever, I think it’s really now more than ever it’s important to be sensitive to that. Not only because I think it’s effective, but because I think the tenor of our societies is directed that way right now, everybody’s very dialed in to that. And so I think that’s an important thing for church leaders to be paying attention to.

Jason Hamrock: So where do you go for influence, like one of the things you’re reading, or who do you follow?

Matt Ware: Yeah, so I’m kind of a, I’m a leadership junkie, and so I will tend to follow some of the big leadership voices. John Maxwell is a go to for me, and I’ve been reading this stuff since I was a teenager. And so I still listen to his podcast, and read his books, and just love the heart that he represents and all of that. Craig Groeschel has been a big influence on me from a distance, I’ve never met him, but I listen to him all the time and really glean a lot from him. So those are big names, you know, that everybody in your audience would know. Another one, for me, that maybe is a little bit more obscure that people wouldn’t know is Dr. Mark Rutland. He leads the National Institute of Christian Leadership, which is a program I went through a number of years ago, and he was the president of Oral Roberts University and Southeastern University. So I listen to his podcast, and his book, he wrote a book a number of years ago called Relaunch, and probably top five leadership books that I’ve ever read, and I’ve probably read it half a dozen times now. I read it again this spring, and had my team read it, and it really prepared us, I think, for how to relaunch our church this fall. And so he’s been a big influence, and that book has been a big influence for us. And I’m always reading stuff, I’ve always got three or four books going at any given time. So yeah, I listen to podcast when I run because it’s a great way to kill time, and kind of kill two birds with one stone, and then try to try to read some as well.

Jason Hamrock: Good. Good. Right on.

Matt Ware: Yeah.

Jason Hamrock: All right. Well kind of lastly, as we wind down here. When you think about reaching younger people, it seems to be a bigger, kind of from the big C Church type of a thing that’s going on. I think, I think you mentioned this earlier, and I think you’re spot on where being able to to connect people with communities. Because I think that’s what people crave, it doesn’t matter what age, what color, if you’re a human being, you crave community. We are built and wired to be in community. You know, is that something that you think as you try to reach millennials, and engage those who are walking away from the church, or are not even engaging in church to begin with. Is that some of the answer, or what are some of your thoughts on that? How how do you grow younger?

Matt Ware: Yeah, I think that has to be some of the answer. You know, and maybe, you know, probably everybody has a little bit different take on this. I do think millennials want community, but I think it’s overstated that they want it more so than other other generations. And you just mentioned it, I think we all have that, we all have that desire. And so I think it’s less in my mind about like, hey, how do we reach this generation? It’s how do we effectively reach human beings? Because we do share some of the same things, irrespective of our ethnic background, or our, you know, our generation. And then certainly I think this idea of saying how do we grow younger is important. I’m convinced, and you know, we’ll find out if I’m right. But in my mind and in my heart, I really think, I think the church can get it wrong if we try to sort of soft pedal what we do and what we believe, in an effort to make everybody feel good and feel comfortable. I actually think the younger generation is far more able to handle opposing viewpoints and challenging concepts, more than we give them credit for. And so what I’ve done is just dial in to saying, I’m going to preach, I’m going to preach truth, and I’m going to preach it with passion, knowing that not everybody who who is there is going to agree with everything. But I believe that if I can present it with an authentic sense of passion, and appeal, not just to the mind, but to the heart, that there’s something attractive about that. And we know from the scriptures that the gospel is both attractive and offensive, depending on kind of where you’re sitting and what you’re hearing and how a different topic hits different people in different days. But I think to try to soften that in an attempt to make everybody feel good can sometimes be a dangerous road to go down. And so we just said, look, we’re going to stay steady, we’re going to preach what we know to be true with a heart of love. With an atmosphere of saying, we embrace people and we love people, and we genuinely show passion. And I think that works for all generations, but I particularly think younger people are drawn to that. I think they want to see something that’s real, that’s authentic, and if you can model that inf your church and in your ministry, I think that’s important.

Matt Ware: So that’s sort of on the spiritual side, I think on the practical side, what I think is as much as they want community, I think they want a chance to make an impact and make a difference. And so what we’re trying to do more now than ever, is create opportunities for leadership and impact for people in the younger generations. So we would, at the risk of sounding, you know, sort of age discriminatory or whatever we’d say, all things being equal, I want to promote younger people into roles and positions of leadership. Whether it’s on my staff, or in my volunteer team, or whatever, because I think that’s what helps create a culture. And when people walk in the door, they want to see people who look like them. So if you if you are promoting and highlighting, if you’re platforming, so to speak, that generation, then I think that makes it more attractive to them. And so we we really are a multi, a very diverse church, a multi-ethnic, multigenerational. But here’s something I think it’s interesting in that, is the baby boomers love to see younger people engaged and involved in leading the way, but millennials don’t necessarily want to see everybody at the door or everybody on the stage be a boomer. And so I think it actually is an unequal opportunity there to say if you platform young people, you will draw older people too. If you platform just older people, you may struggle to reach some younger people. And so at least in our community, that’s what we found. And I, you know, I don’t think anybody has the answer to it, but we think that’s working at least a little bit.

Jason Hamrock: I would agree with that. As I talked to churches, and I’ll look at who’s on stage, or I’ll look at the events they run. Yeah, and I kind of laugh going, well, no wonder you’re not growing younger. Yeah. The average age of the person on stage 60, you know, that’s not going to be attractive to younger people. And you have no events geared towards young families, it’s not going to work. You know, it’s sort of like, huh. So I think [inaudible] you have to kind of go through it to realize, we need to do something about this.

Matt Ware: Yeah.

Jason Hamrock: From the elder board getting younger, you know, it’s all the way down it. It has to be, it has to go throughout the whole culture of the church. And if you’re…

Matt Ware: Absolutely.

Jason Hamrock: Churches are dying because they’re not understanding that.

Matt Ware: Yeah, and I really do think there is a burden of leadership on, you know, pastors and people who are in senior leadership roles in the church to not only engage and recruit and platform younger people, but to also coach and disciple the older generation as to what their role in the church needs to be in this season. Because they can tend to want to hold on longer, and some of that’s just a product of a society now. Right? I mean, we have people who are actively in the workforce in their mid to late 70s, and maybe that wouldn’t have been the case twenty five years ago. And so they’re engaged in life in general at a more, they’re more highly engaged at an older age than they would have been before. And so my job as a pastor is to also coach them to say, hey, you’re at your stage of life, you need to be investing in your kids and grandkids, figuratively speaking. This it’s not so much about you anymore, it’s about you giving away what you have into the next generation. And helping them see that they still have value, they’re not being sidelined, but their value is not so much maybe being front and center, their value is mentoring, their value is encouraging, their value is modeling things for the next generation. And if you can help them see that, that that means they still have a place, they have an important role to play. And I think that’s healthy for the church overall.

Jason Hamrock: It’s a healthy legacy they’re leaving.

Matt Ware: Yeah, yeah, absolutely.

Jason Hamrock: Well, Matt, thank you so much for your insight. I appreciate you carving out some time. We learned some things for you today, so I appreciate it.

Matt Ware: Yeah, absolutely. Great to be with you, Jason. And again, appreciate all that you guys do. and thanks for how you help us reach our community and get the word out there. So I appreciate you.

Jason Hamrock: Yep. Thank you.

Jason Hamrock: Such good insight into leading during a tough situation. Thanks so much, Matt. As I think about Victory Church and how they have led through this season, I can’t help but stop and thank God for giving us wisdom and discernment to lead others when it seems like the world was crashing in. You know, this is a tough ministry season for everyone, but God is still good. And God’s church will not only stand, it’s going to thrive. So I encourage you to think differently about how you can reach people outside your church.

Jason Hamrock: Now, digital tools are a very key element in all of this. Now, here at Missional Marketing, our focus is to help equip you with the tools you need to reach more people. Explore our website and take advantage of the free tools that we offer. And when you’re ready, we can talk about how you are pivoting during this ministry season as well. Until next time.

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