Bart Blair: Kim Tarleton, welcome to the Missional Marketing Podcast. Thanks so much for joining Jason and me on the show today.
Kim Tarlton: Yes, thank you for having me. I’m super excited about this, and I’m definitely getting used to and getting to know the Missional Marketing team and all that. So it’s exciting just to be able to join you guys today to chat.
Bart Blair: We have just met today, e have some mutual friends/colleagues who introduced us to you and said that we needed to get you on the podcast, so we’ve got you on the podcast and we want to hear your story. We want to learn about your church and what you do at your church. But before we get into the weeds of Northview, let’s talk a little bit about Kim. Why don’t you share your story? Tell us a bit of your background and how you ended up doing what you’re doing today?
Kim Tarlton: Yeah, awesome. Well, yeah, so I grew up was raised and grew up in Los Angeles, California, down there in Hollywood. I actually grew up in Hollywood. My dad was a construction coordinator, he oversaw studio sets and all that for the motion picture business. And so I grew up in Hollywood, around Hollywood stars, around some of the elite just going and being able to be a part of that. And so that was like, that was partially like some of the goal, if you would. I grew up in a Christian family, going to church, I loved church, I thought church was like the bomb, I thought it was the greatest place to be.
Kim Tarlton: I remember coming back from like a cruise one year and all the people were like, we’re going to have this big gathering, a cruise ship. And I was like, I’ve got to go to church, and I was like 12 years old. So I loved God, I loved the church, I loved what the Big C church was doing and being a part of that. And so that mixed with Hollywood was a little interesting, a little different, you kind of had your Friday personality and then you had your weekend personality.
Kim Tarlton: So really kind of grew up in that with my family, but my dad was very heavily involved at our church and he would do big stage productions and he would build the stages for those, but then he would also write some of them. So the church that I worked at for 14 years, he started our passion play there, which is like the big Easter pageant, if you would, and he wrote the original of that and built two-story, 3-D sets. and growing up around that, I started to just love theater. And so we called it, in the church world, we called that production back where I was from, not just the sound and lighting side of production, and so yeah, I grew up around that, grew up around performers, and started getting into that myself. And I had access to, I was a little spoiled, I had access to a lot of really talented, very professional people that were in the business. And so being able to kind of work with them and kind of gain some more skill, I actually thought, I thought, that I was going to go to Broadway and be on Broadway. That was the big goal for Kim Kersey at the time, and I was just like, okay, I’m going to go to Broadway, I’m going to be a Broadway star. Back then they made $300 a week and I was like, that’s amazing, $300 a week, could you imagine making that much money singing on a stage? And so that was like, that was it, that was the big goal.
Kim Tarlton: And soon, like kind of near the end of high school, I figured out that God had a different plan for Kim and that was not it. So I ended up not heading to New York, not heading to Broadway, but instead got involved and started part-time at the church that I was at. And I was 17 years old, I was a senior in high school and started, I guess you could call it an internship, they called it part-time but it would have been an internship in a sense, in our production department doing stage shows. And it was just kind of for me, there was this like slap in the face moment that I felt like it was a slap in the face moment of like, kind of, you’re not going to be on the stage, you’re going to help us run behind the stage. And I was like, but it’s me, what are you talking about? Like, I need to be on the stage. But I started working behind the scenes and really falling in love with that side of things, from the technology and the stage design and costuming and just all of that. And really that year, my senior year, really started changing my focus from being a big star that everybody wants to be, to maybe the supporting cast, if you would, and coming up under and really helping other people succeed, but also seeing that as success myself and seeing how I could use that desire and that skill for the Lord.
Kim Tarlton: And so that’ll change, after my senior year, I ended up again not going off to New York, but instead, I stayed there in California, stayed at the church I was at, ended up working there for 14 years and running productions. And we would do like the set of big Easter show pageant, we would do a big Christmas show, where you’d have 14-15,000 people coming through the doors to come to see your show. And back then, like, stage productions were the thing, like everybody was doing big stage shows. And so it was definitely something that people would come out and hear the message of Jesus Christ, and it was super amazing, we’d do a 4th of July show. So we did these stage shows, and again, just kind of going, okay, I’m not on the stage and I may be behind the scenes, but this is something that I can do and I can use these skills, I can use this desire and this passion in these ways for the Lord, for Christ, and for the Kingdom.
Kim Tarlton: And kind of started even moving from the stage to the weekend experience, and really kind of my last six years there at that church getting highly involved in the weekend experience, and worship, and choirs, and what was happening on the weekend, the programming of the services and all that, and started working that into things. So by the time I left that church, the next church that I ended up going to, they weren’t doing stage shows, they were like, why would we do an Easter pageant, that’s so the eighties? And I’m like, okay, I’m from the eighties. But it one of those like, okay, I can’t, but the services became very important, like very engaging, let’s do an opener. Let’s do something that maybe you hear on the radio, but how is that going to impact somebody that’s coming into church for the first time? And so this kind of new idea of bringing in those gifts, those talents in a new and different way and running church services as opposed to those stage shows. So I started doing that, and that’s where I’m at, at a different church right now here in Indiana. I’m at a different church, but that is really what I’m doing, it’s the weekend experience. It’s how are people engaged from the parking lot to the seat? Because the parking lot, it starts there. And you guys know that, you guys are in marketing and communications, it is more important how we are reaching them in the parking lot, how we are engaging with them to go, here’s this place where you can come and you can maybe find healing, you can learn about Christ because they’re not going to get to the seat without that, without marketing it well, without communicating it well, without being open-handed and going, okay, the church is not perfect, but come and let’s kind of like figure this out together. And so it’s been a fun and wild ride, but that’s how I ended up where I ended up today.
Jason Hamrock: Wow, what a journey and story, thank you for sharing that. You know, a couple of things come to my mind, I’d like to run this by you. It seems like in your early days, and I think a lot of people that list