How Sun Valley Community Church Is Reaching New People – Episode 230 | The Unstuck Church Podcast

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Reaching New People (Part 1)

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“When should the church change and pivot? The church should change and pivot when their approach and tactics are limiting new people meeting Jesus—because that’s why Jesus put the church here.”

Recent data from Pew Research found that “there are 45 million fewer Americans who are identifying as Christians from 14 years ago, and about 6.5 million fewer in the last two years.”

This trend in culture confirms what we’re seeing in the churches we work with. Many churches are attributing their declining attendance to a retention, or “back door” issue, when more often than not, they’re actually experiencing a front door issue: They’re not reaching enough new people to counteract the natural attrition that’s happening.

That’s why this new podcast series is all about helping your church reach new people. (Part 2 on digital strategies for outreach and Part 3 on reaching new people through weekend services are now available).

REACHING NEW PEOPLE: SUN VALLEY COMMUNITY CHURCH

In the first episode of this series, Amy and I sat down with Chad Moore (Lead Pastor) and Paul Alexander (Executive Pastor) from Sun Valley Community Church to discuss some uncommon results they’re seeing: Their church has reached new people, baptized hundreds of new believers, and even started new campuses—during the pandemic. We discuss the approaches that have led to this success and:

  • Knowing when to persevere and when to pivot
  • A new approach to identifying new people
  • Acting pastorally vs. prophetically
  • Focusing on your mission field
“The church is not a building you come and sit in—it's a movement you choose to be a part of to help people meet, know, and follow Jesus.” [episode 230] #unstuckchurch Click To Tweet "The church should change and pivot when their approach and tactics are limiting new people meeting Jesus—because that's why Jesus put the church here.” [episode 230] #unstuckchurch Click To Tweet “We aren't going to stumble into effectiveness as church leaders.” [episode 230] #unstuckchurch Click To Tweet

EVENT REPLAY: 3 Strategies for Reaching New People

reaching new people youtube thumbnail

Rather than focusing on who left, we need to get refocused on the true mission of the Church: reaching the lost people in our communities. In this free webinar, hear from leading church voices Dave Ferguson, Chris Hodges, and Jerry Sen and continue this conversation on how you can reach new people in 2022 using practical strategies.


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Transcript

Sean (00:02):

Welcome to The Unstuck Church Podcast, where each week we are exploring what it means to be a unstuck church. My name is Sean, and I’m your host. And I’m here with my teammate, Amy Anderson. Amy, where are we going with the podcast this week?

Amy (00:14):

This week, we’re starting a new podcast series focused on reaching new people. And as we kick it off, Sean, I want to welcome you to the podcast. And will you help us out with an overview of what this series is all about?

Sean (00:25):

Yeah, absolutely. I’m really excited about the conversations in this series for a few reasons. First of all, some data that Tony shared last week that really is, I think, both alarming and also motivating to our listeners. Pew Research actually recently found, and I quote, “percentage of Americans who identify as Christians now stands at 63% down from 65% in 2019.” And that’s all the way down from 78% in 2007. At the same time, 29% of Americans are now identifying as having no religion at all. That’s up from 26% in 2019. And that was only 16% in 2007. So if you run the numbers, that’s about 45 million less Americans who are identifying as Christians than from just 14 years ago and about six and a half million less than just in the last two years. Secondly, when churches reach out to us at The Unstuck Group, they’re usually experiencing declining attendance and they assume they have a backdoor problem, meaning they’re not retaining people. That was true before the pandemic and it’s true now, but more often than not, there’s a front door issue. They are simply not reaching enough new people to counteract the natural attrition that’s happening in their church. So in this series, we’re gonna talk through three specific strategies for reaching new people. And that’s what leads me to the other reason that I’m looking forward to this series. Each of these conversations are gonna lead up to an opportunity to really dive deeper on the topic at our upcoming webinar on February 17th. We’re gonna be joined by pastor Chris Hodges of Church at the Highlands, pastor Dave Ferguson of Community Christian Church and Jerry Sen, who’s the digital director at a really awesome church in Toronto, Ontario. These conversations are gonna give some practical ideas to our listeners and, I think, really help them gain some traction on reaching new people on this side of the pandemic. But today’s conversation, Amy, is one that you and Tony recently had with Chad Moore and Paul Alexander from Sun Valley Community Church in the Phoenix area. So what’s today’s conversation about and why is it the right time to share their story?

Amy (02:27):

Sure. Well, first you just got me excited about the upcoming series because you know, that’s always been my bent, reaching people who are far from Christ because the local church just changed my life. So I’m so excited to put the spotlight on that for a few weeks, but yeah, Chad Moore, he’s the lead pastor at Sun Valley. And of course, Paul Alexander is their executive pastor. Paul’s been a part of our team here and featured on the podcast several times with The Unstuck Group. So we’re pretty close to their story, but throughout the pandemic, Sun Valley has seen some uncommon results, and they’ve reached a lot of brand new people. They’ve baptized hundreds of new believers, and they even started new campuses during the pandemic. So we thought that all of our listeners would benefit from just hearing their story and hearing some of the diagnosis of why they believe they’re seeing the results that they’re seeing. But let let’s actually hear the story directly from them. And then maybe I can weigh in afterwards. So here’s the conversation Tony and I had with Chad and Paul from Sun Valley Community Church.

Tony (03:32):

Chad, a couple of months ago, Amy and I talked a little bit about what you’ve been experiencing at Sun Valley Community Church. And this has been a challenging season for many churches, but it sounds like you are starting to see some wins now on this side of the pandemic. So can you catch us up to speed on what you are seeing at this point after all the disruptions that we’ve experienced through 2020 and 2021?

Chad (03:56):

Yeah, I mean, of course it’s been crazy for everybody, but on our end, probably the, not probably, definitely the most exciting thing is we still have a lot of people coming to faith, a lot of people being baptized. Last year, even during the COVID situation, you know, even when we weren’t meeting at church, we still had over 600 baptisms for the year. People were doing baptisms in their swimming pool and hot tubs and places like that. This year, we’re like right around 550, but we’ll go over 600 this year as well, which we’re very grateful for that. One of the things we say all the time is the church is not a building you come and sit in, it’s a movement you choose to be part of to help people meet, know and follow Jesus. And this past couple of years has really tested that, but it’s been really fun to see people continue to reach out and people continue to come to faith in Jesus.

Tony (04:58):

Yeah. And just to put that into context, I mean, Sun Valley is a large church in multiple locations, but by having that many people publicly profess their faith and go forward with baptism, that percentage of people in your church is actually much higher than we typically see in other churches too. So there’s something significant happening at Sun Valley right now.

Amy (05:22):

Well, and Paul, if we’re seeing a lot of new people baptized, you must be seeing a lot of new people connecting at Sun Valley. And it sounds like it’s more new people than you’ve had in a long time. Can you share about that a little bit?

Paul (05:33):

Yeah, Amy, you know, the old number we used to chase was kind of a 1:1 ratio. To be growing at a 5% clip, we knew that for every average attender we had on a physical campus, we needed to have at least one identifiable guest. And we’re well beyond that, we’re like 1.35/1.4 to every, attender on campus. And so we’ve kind of changed the way we we’re tracking guests. We used to kind of go that old school route, Amy, where, you know, fill out a communication card or stop by the information booth or, you know, just stuff churches have just did for years. And we learned, and some of this was learning pre-COVID and the hunches we had pre-COVID, that we then COVID gave us the opportunity to experiment and do some different things. And so we started tracking the first date of record that we had on people in our database instead of an information card or something like that. And what we found is people have been telling us that they’re new lots of different ways and simply been ignoring them for years. And so we’ve changed our approach, and it’s been really, really helpful.

Amy (06:44):

Paul, I think this, what you just walked us into is of interest to a lot of our pastors. So what are some of those ways that you’re tracking, I forget what you called it, new contact, or what did you say?

Paul (06:56):

Just the first date of record.

Amy (06:59):

Yeah, the first date of record. Where are those coming from?

Paul (07:01):

It’s interesting. It’s generally the top seven or eight are the same on all of our campuses, but some of our campuses perform higher because we look at this by campus. So they perform higher in different categories based on a little bit of what’s happening in that unique neighborhood or community. But you know, obviously the physical attendance, checking kids in for the very first time, giving for the very first time. You know, we did a marriage course and you’d be surprised how many people, the very first time they ever attended Sun Valley was a marriage course, because we target marketed towards people who were identifying themselves in multiple ways through having difficulty in their most important relationships, and people want help with their relationships. And they saw this as a solution. Some of it’s invite by friends. Sometimes the first time we have information on someone is they say yes to following Jesus, where they get baptized or lots of different ways. So, I think there’s not a magic. Like here’s the way that people identify. I think it’s just allowing people to identify the way they want to and then just listening to them. And then that generates workflows and different ways with different ways people connect with us.

Tony (08:13):

Chad, as you and Paul are talking about the positive momentum you’re experiencing at Sun Valley in recent months, I’m trusting that it’s gonna give pastors hope for their futures as well. However, my suspicion is that you’ve also had to deal with your own challenges related to all the disruptions we’ve experienced the last couple of years. Would you be willing to share one or more of those challenges that you’ve had to overcome as a ministry or in your leadership?

Chad (08:41):

Oh yeah. I think every lead pastor can relate to what I’m about to say. You always hear from people on the fringes of any given issue, right? So over the past year, you’re either a coward or a killer, dependent on what decisions you’re making. And there’s the stress of that. Also in the middle of it all, cause leaders think in the future, I mean, you have to be futuristic as a leader, but it’s like, you know, make monumental decisions based on conflicting information. You know, they put a black bag over our head and said, okay, now lead. And that’s stressful. That’s exhausting. And every leader that I talk to is feeling that. I’m feeling that. And even though I think we’re moving forward now, the challenge is when your battery is depleted, you don’t just snap back. You kind of triple charge. And so, I literally saw a person that coaches me this past Friday, and he’s like, how are you doing? And I’m like, man, I’m exhausted. I feel things are turning around and he goes, well, give me your schedule this past week. And it was embarrassing because now things are moving forward, so I’m trying to catch up, but reality is I’m empty. So I think what I’m learning to do is, when the tension is high, the margin actually needs to be a little wider. And we need to make sure we’re taking care of ourselves. And I’m a huge hypocrite right now in saying that because I have felt miserably and now I’m trying to get my feet under me, but yeah, of course it’s been stressful for all us.

Tony (10:16):

Yeah. That sense, too, that you mentioned a moment ago about in the midst of all this uncertainty, as leaders still being responsible for making decisions about our future. That’s certainly a huge tension that all of us as leaders have faced in the last couple years in particular. How do you deal with that? Know that no, actually the organization, your ministry, is looking for direction when you’re facing so much uncertainty. How do you deal with that?

Chad (10:47):

Yeah, I think a couple of things. There’s the personal side and then there’s the public side. And I think personally, I have legitimate real friends, which is really important if you’re a pastor, but I find not all pastors have that, but you need somebody you can cuss with, like it just really helps. And so I had guys that would, you know, commiserate with me and that was really helpful. And then I think up front, we just have to be strong and vulnerable at the same time and just manage that tension of being vulnerable and strong meaning, Hey guys, we’re in this. This is what I see at the moment. This is what we’re gonna do. And I love you. Thank you for your patience with me. If you’re frustrated with, I’m frustrated with me, but this is the decision that we need to make right now. And it’s just managing the tension of winning people over through vulnerability, but being strong enough to say, and here’s what we’re gonna do.

Amy (11:49):

Well, Paul, when I asked you about what you believed was driving the momentum at Sun Valley, you said this. You said, “I wish I knew or could share a silver bullet, but I really believe it’s just us consistently working the plan. It’s the flywheel concept. We’ve been practicing consistent, strategic obedience over time.” And Tony and I shared that on the podcast a month or so ago, but honestly, I feel like most pastors would prefer the silver bullet, but what do you mean by consistent, strategic obedience over time?

Paul (12:19):

Well, let me join them. I’d prefer the silver bullet too. It’d be a heck of a lot easier. Goodness. Yeah, I think when crisis happens and we find ourselves in the middle of a big disruption, the tendency or the temptation is to go try to find something different and do something different, do something new, because we feel like we need to respond to this disruption. And so we need to equally somehow match this disruption with something new and big. And I find the opposite’s actually true. While the disruption and crisis can create opportunity to try new things and can provide a lot of margin and runway to experiment, I think crisis has a tendency to expose what’s already there. So when the crisis hits, it’s too late to prepare. And I think one thing that Sun Valley, frankly, had going for it before COVID happened was we had clear strategy about who we were, where we were going and how we were gonna get there. We had clear vision, for instance, COVID hit and we were in the middle of an expansion project. We were starting a brand new campus, ground up and expanding another one. And we’re talking about, you know, $18 million projects here. And so COVID happened and we didn’t say, oh, no, we need to pivot because this crisis happened and now we need to adjust to the crisis. No God’s called to this. We’re gonna go do it. And we’ve we finished it. And we just grand opened that brand new location this summer, and people are meeting Jesus there. They’ve had baptisms there. There’s a sense of, I would not say stubbornness, but I would say strength and resolve to follow through on what, you know, the Lord’s called you to. So now over time that gets you somewhere. And so yeah, our strategic culture, we refresh our strategy every single year, make sure we’re on course, who’s doing what by when. I mean, my involvement with Unstuck is just interesting, I’m buying what I’m selling, so to speak. So this kind of how we functionally operate, but no, Amy, I know the temptation is when there’s crisis or disruption in our lives in people is to cling to something new, find something new and to match the level of crisis with something new. We’ve just chosen not to do that.

Tony (14:44):

Yeah, so, but how do you know? I love that that thought of kind of the stubborn resolve to really just push forward on the mission and the strategy that God has given your ministry, but also to balance that with, you know, sometimes we really do need to pivot. We do need to adjust those strategies. How do you know? How do you weigh that?

Paul (15:09):

Yeah. I’m sure Chad has some input on this. Here’s how I would answer that. And I’m sure he could give you some input as well. How I would answer that is if your church wasn’t successful before COVID, COVID made it worse, not better. And I define success, and your listeners are gonna feel differently about that. And that’s fine. They don’t need to agree with me. I define success as people meeting Jesus. If new people weren’t meeting Jesus in your church before COVID hit the fan, COVID didn’t make it better. It made it worse. And so, yeah, you know, when should the church change and pivot? The church should change and pivot when their approach and tactics are limiting new people meeting Jesus, cause that’s why Jesus put the church here.

Amy (15:52):

Chad, any comment you’d have on that?

Chad (15:53):

Yeah, probably lots of comments, but I’ll just give you one. Leadership is an art and a science. Both of those things are going on. So you have the science, meaning the strategy. This is what we do. This is how we do it, but then there’s the art of how you lead your people through it. Momentum is in the realm of art. Momentum is simply how people feel. That’s why you can have the same players on the same field. One team is winning. One team is losing. There’s an interception and everything shifts. Same talent on the field, same weather, same coach, same everything. It was just how each team felt. And so I think the art of leadership in difficult times is managing the motions of our people. And one thing that a clear strategy does is it provides direction. This is what we have done. This is what we will continue to do and this, so this is what we’re gonna do right now. We help people meet, know and follow Jesus. That’s our mission. Everything else submits to that. So we may need to have some midcourse correction on how we go about it, but this is who we are. You guys know this. Let’s let’s do it. So it’s the art of managing the emotions of people with that strategy running underneath of how we go about that.

Tony (17:13):

So Chad here we are now two years beyond when the pandemic launched and, gosh, a lot of our world has changed, and there’s no doubt ministry has changed as well. So I just want to get your perspective. When you’re looking at Sun Valley’s ministry going forward and maybe even more so the broader church going forward, what do you sense needs to change about how we engage our mission?

Chad (17:41):

Oh, there’s lots of things coming into my mind. But I’m just gonna speak directly to lead pastors right now. I think one of the things that I’ve learned, there there’s so many hot buttons over the past couple of years, whether it’s COVID, specifically masks or no masks, vaccine, no vaccine, will you give us an exemption? How come we’re not given exemptions? I mean, there’s all of that stuff. And then you have the riots and things that came about during this time, and then you have the election and everybody’s wanting to know, you know, do you agree with me, pastor Chad or pastor Tony or pastor Amy, right? I mean, everybody’s wanting to know that. And I think as leaders one of the big lessons that I’ve learned and moving forward that I’m hopefully will be more strategic and wise about in the future is we have to know when to be prophetic and when to be pastoral. And here’s what I mean by that. I think going forward, as tensions continue to arise in our society, when I get asked a hot button question, nobody in that moment that’s asking me in that question or that’s coming from that direction is really wanting to know what the Bible says. What they wanna know is, do I agree with them? And so you have to know when to be pastoral. I’ve seen a lot of pastors get really prophetic when there’s a time for that, but there’s a time to lead everybody forward, so that when things settle down, then you give the prophetic word and people can actually hear it. I’m talking about art in a big way, but I just feel like in the moment in our culture, things are so tense. And I think, if you are the one that stands on the stage, you’ve gotta ask yourself, in all of that tension, is now the time to be prophetic or is now the time to be pastoral? So we’ve got people in our church on both sides of the aisle, on any given issue, right? And everybody’s going pick a side. And so my response is, I have. It’s Jesus. He represents a different kingdom. And so let’s go this direction. And then if I need to get prophetic about something specific, I’m gonna wait til the right moment to do that. So it’s, you don’t shy away. You’re just wise in how you approach it. But I’ve seen a lot of pastors in modern time, and I think we’ve gotta become more and more wise with this moving forward, they blow things up because they chose being prophetic over being pastoral, when the moment required pastoring and shepherding.

Amy (20:14):

You know, Paul and Chad, it was probably six – eight months ago that we interviewed the Sun Valley team because you had launched a digital strategy and were investing in something new, something new that you were gonna try. I’m just wondering if you can share a little bit about how digital strategies are fitting into your suite of ministry strategies now and where seeing some traction.

Paul (20:35):

Amy, I think it’s not one or the other anymore. It’s both/and, right? And so we’re probably leaning into both/and more than ever. So I mentioned earlier how we’ve identified a lot of new people through a marriage course that we offered. Well, we didn’t offer that only physically on our campuses. We also offered that online. And so you could access that content anytime, anywhere with your spouse, or if your spouse didn’t want to participate with you, that’s fine. You can get better at your marriage just by watching it yourself and following Jesus. And so, providing people content in a way that they digest content, which now is on demand, I don’t think that’s going away. So what we’ve tried to do is whatever we offer on campus, we do our very best to offer it in an identical manner online. And so we’ve had to staff towards that. We’ve had to try some new things. We’ve got a few things that we’re working on right now that I think are gonna go somewhere as far as reaching new people. But I will say Amy, as much as some fantastic churches around the world are experimenting with online space and how to reach people digitally, I am not yet convinced that anybody’s cracked that nut on how do I actually reach the new person who’s unfamiliar with God and unfamiliar with church through an online method? I think right now there’s a lot of people who have been a part of Christian world in North America who are probably leaning more into the edu-tainment side of what is offered. So now they can get and listen to anybody they want, anytime they want, anywhere they want. And so a lot of people’s numbers are going up, and I’m not convinced that that’s us reaching new people, but we’re just feeding the same people in the same audience within the US lots of different channels. So, I’m probably more interested and intrigued in how can we get the gospel in front of that guy or that gal who doesn’t know Jesus and is unfamiliar with the church, but we can message them with the right message at the right time, in a way they’ll receive it and lean into it.

Amy (22:37):

Chad or Paul, given what we’ve been through the last couple of years, if you had to bottom line it, what’s the biggest lesson that you’ve learned related to your ministry strategy and or as a leader?

Chad (22:47):

I think one of the biggest lessons that I’ve learned, and I heard Rick Warren say this a long time ago, that tide goes out, but it always comes back in. And one of the most challenging and quite frankly, heart wrenching, things that’s happened in the season is people that are close to you, you thought they’re committed to the church, but because you make a certain decision about a mask or a whatever they leave you. And when they leave, their money goes with them, their commitment goes with them, you know, all of those things. And I’ve just had a few moments where I’m like, this is unbelievable. And it’s shocking. I think it has been for me at the immaturity of some people that I thought were beyond this. They were more committed to their varying opinions than they were to the mission of Jesus at least in our church. But here’s the other thing that I’m seen that’s been beautiful. You watch that go. I mean, to be really blunt, you know, I feel like I’ve…I don’t feel like it. I have ran off our two largest givers over the past two years. Cause they wanted me to do something different than I chose to do. And so you watch that go out the door, you know, and I know it was the right decision and all, but I’m kicking my own butt over the past year because I’m like, oh, you know, I should have cause you’re watching lines go different ways on different reports, but then God has brought that back like fivefold, my guess is by the end of the year, maybe tenfold. Plus.

Amy (24:23):

Wow.

Chad (24:24):

And so I tell other pastors, you know, I just rip off Rick Warren, cause we’re all doing that on some level anyway, right? The tide goes out, but it always comes back in, and I’ve just seen God affirm that. One of the things that’s striving me crazy right now is when I talk to pastors, they want to talk about their pre-COVID numbers. It’s totally irrelevant. We live right now. Life only moves in one direction, it’s forward. So our ego is not our amigo, right? We gotta get over that and live. I don’t know where that came from. That was pretty good. Your ego’s not your amigo. We gotta live right now in current reality so that we can move forward, and I have seen the tide go out and man, it hurt, but I’m also seeing it come back in, and I have a little hope for the future. And some days I have a lot of hope for the future. I actually think all boats will rise here over the next few years.

Sean (25:25):

Well, Amy, that was a great conversation with the team from Sun Valley. There was some real gold in there. What were some of the highlights for you?

Amy (25:31):

Sure. It was a great conversation. You know, we mentioned this on the podcast a few months ago, but when we asked them what’s driving the momentum at Sun Valley, I just love Paul’s response and Chad’s. It’s consistently working the plan. I think they used that term “consistent, strategic obedience over time,” that there’s no silver bullet, it’s just doing the hard work of planning and then executing that plan and then doing it again and doing it again. So that was one thing, again, that stood out. Second would be that Sun Valley’s kept momentum through the pandemic in large part because when COVID hit, they already had clarity around who they were, where they were going and how they were gonna get there. In other words, they didn’t just throw all that aside. You know, obviously the pandemic causes you to pause and to clarify and confirm, but you know, as I listened to them, what I heard, they had clarity. So they continued to work the plan and continued to move forward with what God had already laid on their hearts.

Sean (26:32):

Mmm hmm. That’s right.

Amy (26:33):

And third, when the crisis hit, this is a cousin to the last one I just said, but they were already clear about God’s call and where they were focused. I think Paul said something like they had a stubbornness or resolve for what God had called them to do, and that that’s their personality by the way. There’s a lot of distractions, I think, for us as we lead churches. Being married to a pastor and watching my home church team navigate all these waters, as Paul talked about it, they had such clarity that they didn’t have to look to the left and the right too much. Again, they just kept working towards what God had called them to.

Sean (27:04):

Yeah. And I love that idea of stubbornness that Paul mentioned, you know, just the stubbornness to stay committed to what God’s called us to no matter what’s happening in the world around us.

Amy (27:14):

Yeah. And it’s almost some resolve around reaching people who don’t know Jesus. They definitely want to, and they do disciple their believers. But they want the both/and. They want to both reach and disciple. And that stubbornness, I think, was probably related to a lot of the reaching aspects of their ministry strategies as I heard it. Next I’d say, you know, they said, if your church wasn’t reaching people before COVID, COVID likely didn’t make it better, but made it worse. And I just called that out again, because we aren’t going to stumble into effectiveness as church leaders. And so I think it’s worth a call out, and last, just that the church should pivot when new people aren’t meeting Jesus any longer. And again, that goes back to their true call around reaching new people, and they just hold loosely to their strategies, their methods, the way that they’re approaching ministry. I don’t think it’s a hard thing at Sun Valley to pivot when things aren’t happening. You know, I think that’s just what’s hardwired into Chad and Paul is if it’s not working, we’re not married to it. Let’s move on to the next idea.

Sean (28:19):

And you know, Amy, this isn’t true for every church, but there have been a lot of churches who’ve reached out to us that have said we’ve seen new people at our church on this side of the pandemic for one reason or another, but Sun Valley’s actually taken that a step further where they’ve been baptizing (baptizing!) hundreds of people during the pandemic, not just seeing new people connect to their church. And we’ve seen in the broader sort of Unstuck Church Report data that baptisms have been declining on average at churches through the pandemic. So this is another one of those uncommon results that Sun Valley has seen where, you know, not only are they seeing new people coming to their church, but they’re also seeing new people come to faith as well. Just a fascinating part of their story.

Amy (28:58):

It is. And I don’t think they mentioned this in the interview, but one of the things that Sun Valley did that was different from a lot of the other churches that we’ve been connected with is they took it seriously about the digital engagement side of ministry strategy, you know, far beyond just putting your weekend service online. They hired a leader to lead their digital engagement. Now they didn’t know what to do. So they hired someone who had experience in that area. And again, they just tried things and failed forward. And I think that’s a part of their story too.

Sean (29:29):

Yeah, for sure. So, Amy, what advice would you give to listeners if they’re leading a church and they’re just currently not reaching people, but they wanna get back to a focus on those who aren’t yet connected to the church and to the faith. What steps should they be considering right now?

Amy (29:43):

Well, as they heard in Sun Valley’s story, begin practicing that consistent strategic obedience. You know, sit down, gather your leaders, get off the treadmill of ministry for a few days, sit down with your leaders and determine your direction for this next season and decide what needs your time and focus today in order to get there. We often talk about where’s God leading you? What does success look like? Hammer that out first and then start to evaluate your ministry strategies against that direction.

Sean (30:13):

Yep. That’s good.

Amy (30:14):

The second thing that I heard is just, we have to embrace the both/and, like Paul mentioned. Churches who are reaching new people in the next seasons will be managing the tension between in-person environments and online connection. We can’t separate those anymore. We’ve got hybrid ministry that we have to figure out. And again, if you take a step off the treadmill for a few days and talk about it, it’s amazing what your leaders will come up with as you wrestle with this, you know, in a very focused way. And last, I would say, study your mission field, find some data, get to know the people in your community who are outside the church. Those stats you started with, Sean. Our communities have changed. Their perspectives on faith have changed. And often as leaders, we’re in our bubble in our church, and we can think we know what the community looks like, but I would say, you know, get a demographic report, start doing some study of the people in your area, and then begin adjusting your strategies, your methods, to reach those people. To reach new people, you really have to become a church that’s for them, not just a church that’s near them.

Sean (31:20):

Yeah. That’s good. Amy. It really has been a blast to kick off this new series with you. Do you have any final thoughts before we wrap up today?

Amy (31:27):

Yeah. You know, Sean, if a church hasn’t been reaching new people for some time, they aren’t going to begin seeing results by accident. So they’re going to need a plan, extraordinary focus and more likely an outside coach to help them develop and refine their strategies. We’ve actually helped about, what, 200 churches, Sean?

Sean (31:45):

Yep. That’s right.

Amy (31:46):

Just in the last couple of years to develop their plans and begin practicing that consistent, strategic obedience that leads the kind of results and momentum that Sun Valley’s experiencing. So if that’s something we can help your church with, you can start a conversation with us by visiting theunstuckgroup.com/start.

Sean (32:05):

Well, Amy and I want to say thanks to everybody who tuned in today. If today’s conversation was helpful for you in some way, if some of the past conversations have been helpful for you, we’d love your help in getting the content out. You can do that by subscribing on your favorite podcasting platform, giving us a review and telling somebody else about the podcast. Next week, we’re back with another brand new episode. Until then, we hope you have a great week.

Tony Morgan

Tony is the Founder and Lead Strategist of The Unstuck Group. Started in 2009, The Unstuck Group has served 500 churches throughout the United States and several countries around the world. Previously, Tony served on the senior leadership teams of three rapidly growing churches including NewSpring Church in South Carolina. He has five published books including, The Unstuck Church, and, with Amy Anderson, he hosts The Unstuck Church Podcast which has thousands of listeners each month.

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