Who’s Coming Back to Church and Who’s Not | Dan Reiland

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Dan is a leader’s leader, has a ton of wisdom and experience. It doesn’t matter what level of leadership, you’re going to learn from him

Podcast Transcription


Bart Blair: [00:00:30] Welcome to episode 44 of the Mission Marketing Church Growth Interviews podcast. I’m Bart Blair joined as always by Jason Hamrock. How’s it going, Jason?

Jason Hamrock: [00:00:40] Bart, it’s going really, really well. I am having a ball talking with churches these last couple of weeks because churches had a great Easter. We’re past that now and churches are kind of getting ready for the summer, it just seems to be some really good momentum, people are coming back to church. I’m excited about what’s going on, even though they have some big obstacles in front of them, just be encouraged today. Right? That’s going to be the theme for today is to be encouraged because God is good, He’s in control, He’s in control of whoever’s in control. And I just take that to heart and go, you know, thank you, Lord, for having our back.

Bart Blair: [00:01:16] Yeah, absolutely. You know, we’ve seen in the last year a lot of negative stuff as it relates to churches, a lot of pastors have really struggled, covid had just made it hard, made it hard relationally, made it hard technically, made it hard missionally. That doesn’t mean that being hard, sometimes facing hard things really helps us grow and it stretches us, but I’ve had some conversations with churches that have actually thrived and seen some amazing things happen. Literally, before you and I got on this Zoom call, I got off of a call with the pastor of a church in Ohio. This pastor took over the church in May of 2020, great time to take on a new church, a church of 25 people, and they had 145 people at Easter this year and are now averaging about one hundred on Sundays. Now, some of our listeners are going, well, 100 people, that’s a small church. It’s actually kind of a normal-sized church in North America, the average church size is probably 100-150 people. But what was amazing was that this church had its first baptism in ten years after Easter and that to me, like that’s a win.

Jason Hamrock: [00:02:29] I got chills, truly.

Bart Blair: [00:02:30] That’s a win for me, and a win for us, it’s a total win. I know, it’s awesome. And so I say my goal in life is for every church that I work with to have a problem with their water bill, that their baptism tank has to be filled so often that their accountant is complaining about how much water they’re using. And. Well, now, of course, we do serve some churches that don’t do immersion baptism, they do sprinkling and pouring. And those of you, it’d be hard to rack up a really big water bill. But I hope that you do, even if you’re spring cleaning pouring, I hope that you rack up a big water bill because we want to see more and more people coming to faith in Jesus.

Bart Blair: [00:03:07] Yeah, so today we have a guest on our podcast, this is a guy that I’ve known about for a number of years, his name is Dan Reiland. He’s the executive pastor at Twelve Stone, that’s a church that a lot of people might be familiar with, he gives us a little bit of insight and a profile in the interview that we have with him. I reached out to Dan on a flyer a few weeks ago, Dan is a guy that’s like on, he’s been on Carey Nieuwhof’s podcast, like, so he runs around and in pretty big circles. He’s like friends with John Maxwell, worked with John Maxwell for twenty years, and Andy Stanley, like, he was on the board at North Point, and so he runs in some pretty well-established ministry circles, I guess that’s the best way of putting it. And he posted an article on his blog that I caught on Twitter a number of weeks ago saying, who’s coming back to church and who’s not? And I clicked on it, it got my attention, and I read the article and I was like, you know what, this would be a great conversation for us to have on our podcast. So I sent him a direct message on Twitter and he sent me his email address and said, let’s set something up. So we had the privilege of sitting down today, earlier today and having this great conversation with Dan Reiland. Anything you want to add to that, Jason, before we run the podcast, the interview?

Jason Hamrock: [00:04:29] I’ll tell you what, yeah, we get to talk and interview a lot of different people, Dan is a leaders leader. He’s has got a ton of wisdom and experience in the ministry world, and the things that he’s going to share, it doesn’t matter what level of leadership you’re in, you’re going to learn from him. He also wrote a book, he’ll talk about that, and so I highly encourage you to get that book. But Dan is full of knowledge and it’s just a privilege and honor to have him on the podcast. So…

Bart Blair: [00:04:57] Absolutely, absolutely, 100%.

Bart Blair: [00:05:01] Hey, if you are a fan of our podcast, if you listen to this regularly or even irregularly, we’d appreciate you on whatever platform that you consume this content, to give us a rating, give us a review, and share it with somebody that you know and love. Surely there’s another ministry partner or a friend or somebody that you know who could benefit from the content. I can’t imagine anyone who wouldn’t benefit from this content that Dan Reiland is going to share with us today, so make sure you rate us, review us, share it with the friend. We love you, if there’s anything that we can do for you, make sure that you reach out. And with all of that, here’s our interview with Dan Reiland.



Bart Blair: [00:00:17] Dan Reiland, thank you so much for joining Jason and me on the Missional Marketing Church Growth Interviews podcast. We’re excited to have you as our guest today.

Dan Reiland: [00:00:25] Thanks, Bart. I’m looking forward to it with both of you guys, is going to be a great, I’m anticipating a great conversation.

Bart Blair: [00:00:31] I think it’s going to be good. Now, I’ve known who you are for some time because you have a fairly robust profile in the church community, you’ve worked in a number of different ministry organizations and churches, and some high profile churches. But for our listeners, those that might not be familiar with who you are, why don’t you share a little bit of your story? Tell us how you got into ministry. Tell us what some of the things are that you’ve done that you would consider the most significant places where God has led you and allowed you to serve, and then tell us, too, about the stuff that you’re doing today. So that was a whole bunch of questions all in one, and I just want to talk for a while,

Dan Reiland: [00:01:08] All in one, all in one. We’ll give you the fast version, and of course, if you find anything interesting, we can talk more about it. But so, yeah, actually, my call to ministry really began with people believing in me. I was really, I wasn’t saved until I was a graduating senior in high school, and it was a rapid ride into it from then. People saw some gifts, saw some calling, saw some talent, spoke that into my life, and it kind of just took off from my college years on and never slowed down from then. Even though from my background in criminal justice, I was a private investigator for a very short time as God was calling me to ministry, and I actually started ministry in the college department.

Dan Reiland: [00:01:58] And then what keeps me going, obviously, well I shouldn’t say obviously, but seeing changed lives, getting to do what I get to do for these many years, starting with John Maxwell after seminary as his first…Here’s my claim to fame, are you ready for this? My claim to fame is I broke John Maxwell’s internship. I was his first intern at Skyline in San Diego, and he shut the program down after that, he said, we are not doing that again. I thought, how bad could I be? But the good news there’s redemption in the story, at the end of that he said, come on Danno join the team, and that launched twenty years together, which brought us to Atlanta.

Dan Reiland: [00:02:40] And in between that church and where I am now, I was at North Point with Andy Stanley as an elder on the board for a while, and that was an incredible ride, Andy’s a genius, I learned from him. And then God called me to Twelve Stone, where I’m now Executive Pastor, again, nineteen years, can you believe that and this fall it’ll be twenty. And so I’ve served as an executive pastor, I think they’re calling it now more chief of staff because I’ve been raising up a young, brilliant, amazing executive pastor to take my share soon enough. And I’ll do some other things there, more in church planting, residency, helping pastors. So there it is in a nutshell. How about that?

Jason Hamrock: [00:03:23] Wow!

Bart Blair: [00:03:24] Can you tell us a little bit more about Twelve Stone? Tell us a little bit more about Twelve Stone Ministry.

Dan Reiland: [00:03:28] Yes. Kevin Myers is the founding and senior pastor, he founded the church in 1987, and it’s just an incredible story. You know, some churches leap, they just go, they grow fast, this was a layer by layer by layer by layer church. And so then, I joined the team in 2001, and by 2008 we went multisite to the point now we’re at seven, eight, campuses and asking God to go more. And so that’s where we are today, and doing some really cool things, and I can say that because the team is young and smart and doing a great job, but that’s what we’re up to. And I mentioned the residency, one of the things that I really love and have a passion for, maybe even a little bit of known about, we have 30 full-time residents who are college graduates, ministry majors, who come in and spend two years with us in a training program and then we help place them into a really strong, vibrant churches around the country. And it’s one of the coolest things I get to be part of.

Jason Hamrock: [00:04:37] Oh, wow. Yeah. And for them to be able to come under the wings of Twelve Stone and then be launched out has got to be a real great momentum builder for these guys, these young guys are going to be taking over ministry. That’s pretty cool. So I’d like to jump in and sort of take the conversation in a direction where, over the last twelve, thirteen, fourteen months the church landscape has shifted, it’s changed. And so you’ve been around, and you’ve been in ministry for a long time, what have you, what’s kind of some of the bigger takeaways in dealing with Covid, and how has that now affected the local church? And what do you think the future holds?

Dan Reiland: [00:05:23] Yeah, I’ll share couple-three thoughts and we can talk about it as much or as little as you like. But you know one of the things that a lot of us are talking about now, that’s just significantly different, significantly different, is that how difficult it is to lead when you can’t see around the corner? You just, you know, the whole process of vision is completely changed because we can no longer predict. And you might think Jason, that, well you really couldn’t predict the future before. You’re right, but there were things that were predictable and they’re now no longer predictable. And so what’s happening is we’re learning how to cast vision in shorter bite-sized pieces, where in Covid we were, and when I say we, all the churches that we kind of hang out with and know, we were going to as short as a three-month bite because things are changing so fast. Now, of course, we’re trying to get to six and nine months. If your church is, the percentage of return is higher, you know you’re 60-70 percent, you might even be trying a year out. But I don’t think many people are thinking beyond a year because you just don’t know the play.

Dan Reiland: [00:06:41] Another thing, of course, would be in your world, I think, is that digital and live are here to stay, they’re just here to stay. And the complexity is figuring out how they play together, it’s really complex, do you really just put a camera in front and send it out in three different ways, you know, like online, and then into home gatherings, and then to stream into your campuses, you know, because that doesn’t really work. And so are you going to…Sometimes end up doubling and tripling the work to try to get it into the environments in a way that’s custom for each environment. So, we’re all in that space, it’s not going to go away, and it changes staffing, it changes everything. How you have to deal with the multiple modes of doing both of them.

Dan Reiland: [00:07:30] Here’s one more, here’s one more, I think culture has permanently changed. This covers your last question. I think cultures permanently changed in how it views church, almost even, do they even need church? There’s a lot of honest conversations these days of like, did we shoot ourselves in the foot with the online? Which I don’t believe is true at all, but there are complex questions on how you lead them out. And that the truth of the matter is people don’t really visit churches anymore, a church website, and that you’re online, that’s the new lobby. People go to go their way before they come into your church, and so I think I’ll end it with this, I think we’re all church planters now. You have to have a mindset that’s fresh and it’s new, and the churches that are going to do really well, are the churches that are hungry, the churches that are hungry.

Dan Reiland: [00:08:34] You know, Carey, you probably know Carey Nieuwhof, he’s a great friend, a great guy. He said something that I think is so true, and he said on one of his podcasts, he said, trying to get people to come back to your church isn’t vision. Now, it’s good shepherding, we should do it, but that’s not forward motion just trying to get people to come back. So it’s a new day. Jason, it’s a new day.

Jason Hamrock: [00:08:58] Well, I’ll add to that, I think, because we get the opportunity to talk with a lot of churches and hear from phenomenal leaders and what they’re doing. We speak into it from our lane, it’s all about being found in Google and what people are looking for. And as you just said, lots of people are turned off by church, but they still have issues, that’s never going to go away. And we need to be able to minister to them by reaching them in Google when they’re having a problem with their marriage or parenting or addictions or whatever it might be, and I kind of feel like if churches that make that leap to make those connections, are going to develop relationships with people that can ultimately get them into church. But like you said, just expecting them to show up, you kind of said they’re going to go to their website, they’re actually going to check out their Google profile before they even get to the website.

Dan Reiland: [00:09:50] You’re right. You’re right, Jason, they’re going to do that first. See, that’s just the boomer in me coming out, right?

Bart Blair: [00:09:58] I moved back to the Dallas Fort Worth area, which is where I grew up. I moved back three years ago after having been gone for almost twenty-five years, actually more than twenty-five years. And my wife and I, we made a decision, we were ninety-eight percent sure which church was going to be our home church before we actually physically got to the community because we were checking out churches online. Now, we’re church people and I’ve been in ministry and there were very specific things that we were looking for. And we looked for a church that on as many levels as we could, aligned with our idea of how a local church reaches people in its community, and effective ministry, methodology, and theology, and all those things. And so, but we were able to really kind of peel back quite a few layers just by exploring website, watching services online, and that was three years ago. I think that’s been amplified to a level that we could have never even imagined at this point because, you know, one of things that we see trend pretty regularly on a very high level is people are still, even though a lot of churches are back in person, people are still Googling church online like crazy. We watch these numbers, this is what we do for churches, it’s what we do for a living. And we see that, we see the trend of people Googling church online or church livestream is still very, very high, in spite of the fact that people can come back to many physical locations in many different communities, and areas. So, that’s just stuff that we, you’re right, we have to be forward-thinking in this.

Bart Blair: [00:11:43] I want to kind of jump into another topic of conversation, which was actually the reason I reached out to you to ask you to be a guest on our podcast. I follow you on Twitter, and you didn’t even know that I existed a few weeks ago, but I knew you existed. I follow you on Twitter and you tweeted about an article, a post, a blog post that you had written called Who’s Coming Back to Church and Who’s Not. And that got my attention, and I clicked on it, and I read the article and I was like, this is what I want to have a conversation with Dan about. So, I reached out, and that was kind of the impetus for having this conversation today. And we’re going to link to that article in the show notes for the podcast, but let’s talk about that for a few minutes. Why don’t you kind of unpack that a little bit? Who do you see coming back to church, who’s not coming back to church? Why don’t you kind of unpack that for us a little bit?

Dan Reiland: [00:12:36] I’ll do both of them, sure. Well, as a practitioner, I mean, I’m a pastor at heart and like I said, I’ve been doing this for a long, long time. Actually, I started back in the Jurassic era, and so I’ve seen a lot. So, I’m going to, on a very practical level, the thing that I’m most excited about, that many of us are, is that new people are coming. People we’ve never seen before are coming, and so that’s encouraging, obviously, on a spiritual level and we’re excited about that. And we’re having wonderful conversations, finding out why are they coming now, when they’ve really not been in church before? And then I think, of course, on maybe a more of a logical realm is that regular attenders, your regular attenders that are coming back are the ones who are more comfortable now with large crowds, they’re a little bit more ready to be back and they’re coming back. I think another group, which is important, the volunteers, who feel a little bit more of a heightened sense of calling and serving, are coming back. And then there’s an interesting group, and this is going to be one of my most fun conversations, people are coming back specifically for worship. And, you know, and I’m asking why, why that? Because you could worship at home, you could put on some great music? And they said, yeah, but we don’t do that very well at home. When we are online, we really don’t sing. When we’re, even in a group, we don’t. And so they’re saying, so we get to help, here’s what I love, we get to help people do well what they don’t do well on their own, which is worship and so that’s really cool.

Dan Reiland: [00:14:24] Which is very different, though, then the group that is not coming back. And this one, see those are a little bit more logical, except maybe that new the visitors, but who’s not coming back as more of a surprise to all of us, including us at Twelve Stone. But something’s changed in culture, and the lifestyle and habits of many wonderful Christians has changed. And without any kind of judgment at all, it’s become a convenience and they kind of like their new lifestyle. They kind of like, you know, watching church while they’re eating pancakes and pouring syrup on it with their kids and going to the lake and all those kinds of things, and so they’re not coming back. And, you know, I know you guys know, that the trend of attendance was already lower, you know 1.7 two 2 times a month, that was already and this elevated it.

Jason Hamrock: [00:15:21] Right.

Dan Reiland: [00:15:21] And so we’re casting vision and having conversations and discovering sometimes a little prompt, a little invitation, and they say, you know what, I need to come back. But then there’s another group that’s not coming back, and they’re also really honest with us is, they’re just not ready. Covid has a lasting fear in them, and it’s kind of got in their soul a little bit. It’s not about a habit or a lifestyle, they’re still fearful and concerned, and some, quite rightfully so. And then maybe a last group, some who are attending, but they left your church and they’re going to another one. And that happened because, you remember the tension, because the tension is not completely gone. They’re just switching topics of if you were open, if you opened too soon, people are mad at you. If you open too late, people are mad at you. And then it went to masks, if we make you wear a mask they’re mad at us, and if you don’t. And now the new one is, if you’re vaccinated, or if you’re not vaccinated. So we’re all in this tension place, trying to love people through the gospel. But those are, that’s off the top kind of a thing, what I’m seeing happen on a practical lane.

Jason Hamrock: [00:16:40] Yeah, I’d agree with that assessment, and I kind of scratch my head at the…Well, I get excited about when I hear, when I talk with churches and they are like, we’ve got new people coming and we’ve never seen them before and they’re young. You know, that gets me like, yes, that’s awesome because that was dying pre-covid, it was on its way down for a long time. So that’s really cool to see, and churches that kind of can go there and get that, they’re the ones that are going to be well off. I get a little bit…like I scratch my head at the seasoned Christians who decided to check out for the things that you just said, because of all the other external things coming in. Now they can go to the lake, they can do stuff with their family or whatnot. You know, they’re probably still giving, maybe, but I question then, how are they doing on their discipleship path? How does a church lead them and help them get closer to following and be more like Jesus? And how do you measure that from a distance if they’re not coming back? That’s the one that I get a little bit like, oh, what’s a church going to do? So what would you say to, like, pastors and church leaders, you know, how do you engage the people that are coming back? But more importantly, if people are watching from their living room and they decide they’re not going to come back, maybe because they don’t, it’s not because they’re afraid of health issues, they’re just finding, this is pretty awesome. Now, how do you do, how do you manage that? Even though there’s still probably giving, and I don’t know if they’re serving or not.

Dan Reiland: [00:18:15] Yeah, well, obviously there’s a difference between engagement and attendance and all those kinds of conversations. But I think the most important thing, Jason, right of the top, is approach every person as an individual with love and grace and not guilt, for sure that’s the better road. Because I think we could as preachers, we could get a little preachy and start quoting Hebrews and everything like that. And while that’s truth, that’s truth and that’s good, I don’t know that that’s helpful. I think they need to feel the love and grace of the gospel without guilt, and then because you’ve got to have both sides, otherwise it’s just soft to nothing, we are engaging with honest questions. And so they sense no guilt, they sense love and grace, which I highly recommend. And then like, hey, let’s talk about it, what’s preventing you from coming back? Would you like to come back? When might you come back? Is there anything we can do? You know, just engaging, honest questions? And we’re finding that to be really productive, and most respond. And we actually have a couple of options, either coming back to the big rooms the campuses or coming back to what we call a Twelve stone home, and those are in cafes and pubs and barns and homes. But those are actual worship experiences, it’s just all digital. There’s a leader, it’s impact-based, they’re a little bit large. It’s not like a small group, it’s a little bit bigger thing. So, we have multiple options for people to come in. But I think that’s the best way. and when they’re coming in, I think we just can’t miss some critical things like spiritually engaged worship, I think that’s so critical.

Jason Hamrock: [00:20:04] I agree with you. Yeah, because no one ever, I always kind of sort of shook my head when we were watching online and they’d say, okay, everybody stand up. I’m in my living room on my couch, I’m not going to stand up, it just feels weird. And you don’t want to hear me sing, my family does want to hear me sing.

Bart Blair: [00:20:19] I confess I was not in the living room to stand up, I was probably in the kitchen making bacon and pancakes while the worship band was playing so that I had my breakfast ready by the time the sermon started. I’m just confessing my sin here. Fortunately, my church was only closed in that capacity for a few months, so I was only a sinner for a few months but eventually, we got back.

Jason Hamrock: [00:20:40] Hey, Dan?

Dan Reiland: [00:20:42] You’re all good.

Jason Hamrock: [00:20:42] Hey, Dan, how are you gathering that information from the congregation? Is that through surveys, phone calls, or online?

Dan Reiland: [00:20:52] Actually no surveys, we’re not a big survey…One on one conversations by the dozens and hundreds and hundreds. We’re just, and almost everyone is the same, we’ve had so many people literally not back in a year, and Easter was kind of their mark. And so it would go like this, Jason, literally. So, man, I know we love you guys, we love the church, and then they’ll say, we just kind of got out of a habit. And we’re coming back, we’re thinking about, we’re getting ready to come back. I said, so being given permission and they know I love them, I said, what is getting ready to come back mean? Talk to me, you know? And so I discovered that I said, well, how about Easter? Come back then? Yeah, that’s a good idea. And they came back, and they been back ever since. So we’re watching that happen over and over and over again. And I would say it this way, in two words, a loving nudge is all it seems to take, but it’s not happening without it.

Bart Blair: [00:21:55] I’ve found in most of my ministry life that the people that I’ve had the opportunity to lead and to shepherd and to influence, always do better when you’re able to give them some clear next-step direction. So, I think that when we talk about assimilation and discipleship pathways and things like that, we’re always focused on next-step. But to your point there, I think for a lot of people their next step is merely figuring out how to get them to re-engage incarnational in the body. And maybe it is a large, on-campus, in the worship center, experience, or maybe it’s into a barn or a pub gathering, that’s probably where I would be if I were at Twelve Stone. I’d be in a barn or a pub, you said barn, right, you said barn services?

Dan Reiland: [00:22:51] The one I just was that last weekend was a wonderful cool coffee shop, cafe. And yeah they have, and then of course many of them in homes, but they’re really cool and the diversity of people who show up is amazing.

Bart Blair: [00:23:04] Yeah. And so, yeah, I think that casting vision for people, giving them a compelling reason for their own spiritual journey as to why it’s important to be there, not guilty them into it. And I want to go back to that question again, and reframe it a little bit, because, Dan, you’re part of a very large church. Jason, you’re part of a large church. The church that I’m a part of is a large church. And I can tell you that with a church of ten thousand people or more, most of our leaders, most of our staff people, they don’t even know the names of a lot of people who haven’t come back, they don’t have that kind of connection. Ninety-five percent of churches in our country don’t have that problem, you know, they have five hundred or fewer people in them. A lot of pastors that I think that are really hurting and struggling the most are that the pastors of a church of 150, or 200, or 250, where the people who have left and they’re not coming back were actually friends, and ministry allies, and people they’ve been really connected with. So, how would you coach a pastor in that type of scenario as it relates to managing both those relationships as well as the stewardship responsibility that they have to try to help keep those people growing in their faith and connected to the church?

Dan Reiland: [00:24:22] In the smaller environments?

Bart Blair: [00:24:24] In the smaller church environment, yeah.

Dan Reiland: [00:24:25] Yeah, yeah, yeah. I’m just coaching a young pastor in that very situation. And one of the things, one the first things we talked about was helping him get past his discouragement because he was just so stuck in discouragement, thinking is where is God, and the people are gone, and I poured my life into them. And I think that’s the first step for pastors because I really do believe, Bart, that one of the number one tactics of the enemy against spiritual leaders is discouragement. And so we’ve got to help each other rise above that and see it differently, where, yes, we love our flock, we love the congregation, and we’re responsible for every one, and yet, they don’t belong to us. And if they go to another church, or another thing, that’s okay. And to focus on them one at a time, just to focus on one at a time, be grateful for what God brings back. And to get a little bit strategic here, I know we’re on the heart side of of of separating, but working on that discouragement, focus on one at a time. And then as they come back, after a while, you have to stop chasing people that don’t want to be chased. Otherwise that discouragement, you just get pulled into that place. But after a while, I think go after the ones, pour into the ones who are ready to receive it, and go for the new ones that God brings your way and focus there. Otherwise, I think our wonderful pastors can get stuck in discouragement, and that’s just not a good place to live.

Bart Blair: [00:26:09] Yeah. Yeah. Thank you for sharing that. I just, you know, I was a pastor on staff at a couple of churches, and neither of them were large churches, and I’m still friends with the staff and the leaders in those churches. And I just see it firsthand all the time, the discouragement. That’s, I mean, that’s the word you chose to use, and that describes and defines very well what I’m seeing with a lot of pastors. Going back to what you’re saying before, it’s like it was the, is covid a real thing or not a real thing? Should we be open, should we not be open? Should we wear masks, should we not wear masks? And, you know, pastors in normal-sized churches, that’s what I like to call them, the normal size church, man, they’ve just, you know, they were losing friends and losing allies left and right as a result of trying to do the right thing for the people in their church community. And so I know a lot of them are discouraged, and I appreciate what you shared there. And hopefully, if there are some of those pastors that are navigating that right now and listening, they’ll take those three points that you just shared and find a way to apply that. But you’re right, I think that discouragement is a key tool for the enemy, and how he makes us ineffective in our ministry.

Bart Blair: [00:27:19] I’d like to just kind of wrap things up a little bit. and we have a couple of other questions for you here just to kind of close things out. You know, there’s been a lot that’s going on here in the last year and even prior to that, I know you’re connected with a lot of churches and a lot of church leaders and you’ve kind of got your finger on the pulse of what’s happening in the church space here, at least in our country. What are some churches, or who are some leaders that you have seen kind of navigate into and through and out of covid well? And yeah, what are some of the things that you’re seeing that are kind of outside the Twelve Stone that you guys are learning from and I’m looking to?

Dan Reiland: [00:28:01] The first thing, another good, positive, encouraging note. I think there are many, many churches that are doing really well, quote-unquote, post covid, depends on what you believe in all. And by the way, when I say doing really, really well, because you’re right, we do get to talk to a number…I’m on another [inaudible] roundtable this afternoon, where we get to talk to each other live and what was happening. And I would say anybody who, any church that has more than 50 percent of their congregation back now from pre-covid, you’re doing well. I just want to encourage them, you’re doing well. Don’t get stuck or discouraged if you’re not there, but even 50 percent or more, you’re doing really well and keep going. To your question, Bart, some churches I guess we all know, but this is who I would say Life Church based there with Craig Groeschel based in Oklahoma, are doing a really great job, if anybody would want to check out what they’re doing. I think another one that’s one of my favorites, they’re just brilliant at what they do, they love God and everything is Church of the Highlands with the great team there. And then one in your backyard, Jason, is CCV in Phoenix, Christ Church of the Valley, they’re doing an extraordinary job. But there’s many, many, many who are doing really well, and because I love the church, I’m encouraged by that. I know it’s difficult, and it is different, but I’m completely convinced and I’m very confident we’re going to come out on the other side better and stronger. We’re just not quite there yet, but we’re on the way home.

Jason Hamrock: [00:29:40] Yeah, I appreciate that, because I think as you get, and I’ve said this before, when we were in the midst of the covid crisis, I was encouraging churches. Because I get a lot of discouraged pastors going, man, our giving is okay, but it’s being whittled down, and our numbers are okay in terms of online views, but we’re just concerned about where we’re going. I said, hey, look, you’ve got the best and the brightest, all of us, all of us, churches that are 50000 people or 50 people are all in the same boat. So just understand, you’ve got some seriously talented, gifted, wise leaders, thinking about this stuff. So pay attention to what’s going on because it’s going to ripple down. And, you know, guys like Craig and Andy and all those guys that are leaders in this space, down to the ones that are running a church of fifteen hundred, we’re all in the same boat. And so it is encouraging, because I do hear, when it’s a smaller church, more people aren’t coming back in terms of percentages, but they shouldn’t stop, you know, they need to keep going. So, yeah.

Bart Blair: [00:30:48] One last question, as well as a leader, Dan, that’s one of the things that you’re known as, you’ve been a leader in a number of churches and number organizations. What do you do to sharpen the saw to make sure that you are learning and that you’re still growing as a leader? Who are you looking to? What are you listening to? What are you reading? Anything that you can share with Jason and me because we want to get better at what we do as leaders. And then the byproduct is that the people who actually listen to this podcast might be able to benefit from that as well, but this is a selfish moment. Tell me how I can be a better leader based on what you’re learning.

Dan Reiland: [00:31:18] Well, that’s a large question, because I am a student of leadership, I love to grow, I love to keep learning. I have mentors who still pour into me, I seek them out regularly. And another way, though, at my age and stage for the way I keep growing is I actually intentionally hang out with really young staff, and really young adults, and really young thinkers, and leaders, and it keeps me young. I want to know what they watch on TV, I want to know what music they listen to. I want to, you know, I don’t try to pretend I am them, that won’t work, but that keeps me young, keep me growing. To your question more specifically, I think we’ve mentioned some, I think I mentioned Carey Nieuwhof, I think is a podcast is phenomenal. I love listening to Craig and Andy, their leadership podcast Craig Groeschel and Andy Stanley, just really, really smart. But, again, there’s so many, there’s so much.

Dan Reiland: [00:32:10] I am a book guy, I love it, so I actually grabbed a couple of books because I knew you would ask this question. I thought I’m going to do something different today, rather than naming all these leadership books I’m reading or read, or what I should recommend, or what’s on my blog post, a list of books to read. And I just grabbed literally on my desk the books that are on my stack to read right now. And I picked the ones that are not, so I am not shamelessly promoting mine, I’m stupidly not promoting my own book. These are not leadership books and they’re highly recommended to me. I can’t wait to read them, this one The Infinite Game by Simon Sinek, I’m looking forward to that. This is going to be a really, really good book, it’s not about winning or losing, but the longer play, the longer game. This one is highly recommended. I’m looking forward to, Canoeing in the Mountains. I don’t know if you’ve read this, but it’s a strong story.

Bart Blair: [00:33:10] I have read that one. I’m a Lewis and Clark fanatic, I’ve read so many books about that, and when I found out about that book, I was like, oh, I grabbed it like the day it came out. Such a fantastic book.

Dan Reiland: [00:33:24] Tell me, was it good?

Bart Blair: [00:33:24] Yes, very well worth the read, very well worth the read. Yeah.

Dan Reiland: [00:33:27] I’ve got one more by Adam Grant, I know I’ve not read these books, but I’ve looked at them, I scanned it, Think again. I’m pumped about this one too, so, there’s a few. I do have to mention one, I’m going to contradict myself. A couple of books that I’ve read in pairs, it’s been a little while now, maybe eighteen months, two years ago. But they’re so good, and they’re so strong, and they seem so applicable right now. I should have written down the authors of them, but Essentialism by McKeown, I think it’s, is it, Greg McGowan? But Essentialism, and then Deep Work by Cal Newton, I think. But anyways, it’s Deep Work and Essentialism, and they really dovetail together for just going to a deeper place. And this is the time and space where surface just doesn’t cut it anymore in your personal life, in the church, surface is out. And so that helps you wrestle down in the complexity of, those two books, of the swirl, and the fast, and the stuff going, working twice as hard for half the results. All the stuff we talk about, those two books are really, really great.

Bart Blair: [00:34:40] Ok, I’m going to let you, I’m going to ask you to go ahead and plug your book though. We’re going to wrap things up here, you tell us your most recent book that you’ve written. Plug it.

Dan Reiland: [00:34:50] Plug it? Like purposely?

Bart Blair: [00:34:53] Go ahead, plug it. Plug it.

Dan Reiland: [00:34:54] The book just came out last year, a genius time to launch a book is literally April, just beautiful timing after two years of work. But anyway, it’s called Confident Leader, and I’m just really excited about the interviews that are in it and that the biblical narratives, but it’s a very practical book, Confident Leader. And I think it’s being a help to a lot of leaders right now. And I’m actually finishing up another one, my first ever devotional, written specifically, directly, to leaders, and that should be out in the fall. So I’m really pumped about that.

Jason Hamrock: [00:35:36] Oh, wow.

Bart Blair: [00:35:37] That’s awesome.

Dan Reiland: [00:35:39] Your Leadership Isn’t Enough.

Bart Blair: [00:35:43] Your Leadership Isn’t Enough, is that available for preorder yet, or is that still pending? No yet?

Dan Reiland: [00:35:49] We’re still pedaling fast, but we’ll get it done.

Bart Blair: [00:35:52] All right, we will link to your blog, your book, and everything in the show notes here. You are a gift to the church, I appreciate that. You know, I don’t spend a whole lot of time on Twitter, I get on there, I don’t know why. But I’m grateful that I did, I’m glad that I did, and I ran across that post that you wrote, and I’m really grateful that you said yes to a couple of guys that you don’t know to have a conversation and just let us pick your brain on things that are going on in the church world today. Dan, thank you so much for the generosity of your time, and your leadership, and your influence. Jason, anything that you want to add as we wrap up?

Jason Hamrock: [00:36:31] No, I think, you know, if there’s a nugget anybody out there needs to learn, it’s that everybody has one of these. So these are called, they’re called cell phones, and they’re actually invented to talk. So you can actually pick, you can actually call people and check in how they’re doing. So I think ministry leaders, you know, programming is good, ministry is better. Call people, that’s just the takeaway right there.

Dan Reiland: [00:36:57] No doubt. Well, thank you for the invite, I’d love to do it again, let me know.

Jason Hamrock: [00:37:01] Absolutely.

Dan Reiland: [00:37:03] It’s been fun to get to know you guys a little bit, and I pray that God continues to bless what you’re doing because we really are, I really mean this, we really are all in it together, it’s a big team. We say all the time, you know, God’s doing really, really, really big things outside of Twelve Stone, and it’s just fun to hear about them.

Jason Hamrock: [00:37:21] Yeah. Well, thank you for your ministry, and we appreciate your time.

Dan Reiland: [00:37:25] You’re welcome.

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