Richard Wisely – 24toDouble Review
Hi, my name's Rich Wisely, and I am the new senior pastor of Community Baptist Church in Waterford, California. I've been a pastor about seven years prior to coming here, mostly in a smaller church, a church plant in Mesa, Arizona. So coming to rural, agricultural California was a little bit of a change for my wife and I, but we're grateful to be in this church. CBC has 120 year history here in our community, and it's a church with a lot of tradition. There's a lot of community pride and the church has always been in kind of a leadership position within our community.
I came here in June of last year, June 2016, and I inherited a church that had really kind of lost its way, lost its vision, lost its drive, and we were just doing the same thing over and over again. It was a new paradigm for me because the church was about 350 folks, so a little bit bigger than the church plant I was used to. Immediately, I thought that I would have a pretty easy go of it because I had lots of resources; had an old church that knew what it was doing, had lots of good will as a new pastor.
We were pretty well established with facilities, but I soon realized that even though the folks, they were …. It's like the old story where you're cutting the end off the ham, if you're familiar with that one. They did the same things over and over again without ever asking why, and they never really examined why they never retained guests, why they weren't attracting new people.
It was just sort of rolling along and declining over the years and as I looked through the data, I realized that this church had steadily been declining over the last 5 to 10 years and all they were doing was switching active members to the inactive line on the annual report, so the last 8 years, we had 488 members, but in reality we were losing folks at a pretty alarming rate.
The 24toDouble Difference
I knew I quickly needed to address that problem, and I responded to a 24toDouble review ad. We shared the 24toDouble introductory module with our leadership in November of last year, and immediately people sensed that there was something different about this program. The 5-fold Leadership structure was a new paradigm. I don't think they've fully embraced what that means yet, but the one thing they've taken away that is important is they realized that their focus always needs to be outside. They need to be looking outdoors, in their community, and the church really needs to be aligned to serve the needs and enfold people who don't know Jesus Christ.
While they always said they believed that, every church says they're friendly, every church says they're missional, but few really have a volunteer structure or a leadership structure, or even think critically about their environment, their systems, their worship, to create an inviting environment for guests and beyond that even, how do we retain guests once they come through the door?
We're only on module three. We shared module three last month about the Pastor's Breakfast, and that sparked a conversation immediately on the need to expand one of our facilities. We have two campuses here in town. One's a 70 year old facility right in the heart of downtown built on the grounds of the church; it was put up in 1893 or something, but we have a brand new facility east of town that's more of a gym and a rec center. The congregation immediately began to realize, “You know, that's where we need to move our church. We need to expand our facilities to allow for room for the Pastor's Breakfast and more meeting room and fellowship time at the front end of services.”
So, that was a win by the third module. Next month, we're showing module four where we talk about ushers and greeters and the guys are already excited. The gals that run our First Impressions Team and the fellows who hand out the bulletins, they know something's coming and they know they're going to have to change, but by the third or fourth module, people are already starting to tell stories back that they hear from Jerry.
They're telling me that, “Hey, this isn't very guest friendly.” And: “Pastor, when are we going to get together, when are we going to do that spiritual gifts assessment; when are you going to tell me where I need to get plugged in?” So if I have any frustration, it's, “Man, they want to hit the accelerator and go,” but these principles take time for people to really understand and embrace.
There's a lot of content each month in the videos, it's a big download for your people. You've got to have time to chew on it; as much as I want to see change and the fellows I'm talking to this morning want to see change instantly, I really honestly have heard it a hundred times so far in this process and believe it in my heart that you will see change, but it's incremental change.
It's like Lance said on, I think it was module two, “You've got to move the piano off the stage one inch at a time,” and I know that, but studied how to bring about change. This is so exciting, and you'll see heart change, and that's where any change begins. You can get people to commit to anything for a certain period of time, or comply with things a certain period of time, but what you want's commitment, and that comes from heart change.
It's easy for me to sit here in California with a well-established church and generous members, and say, “Hey, this is just no big deal. You can do this.” But two years ago, I was in a church plant that was struggling for every guest, every volunteer, and every dollar that came through. I have to tell you, I would've taken it [the 24toDouble membership fees] out of my own personal account if my leadership would not have supported me.
Transformational Church Training
I believe that this program is that transformational; that the investment that you will reap back significantly from this investment, and you will see a heart change that can only come from people that have been where you're going, and can speak a language, can speak conviction in a way that you can't sometimes.
Jerry tells some stories that really just cut right through it and get to the heart of the matter, and people need to hear that because some of those tough messages, and they're delivered with a lot of humor, and a lot of grace, but since those messages aren't coming from you, people don't feel like you're taking a swipe at them.
I would just say let Daystar's experience, let their years of working with their consultants, and the time they've spent putting these videos together do the heavy lifting. This is truly plug and play each month; the modules are self contained, you pull your leaders together, you feed them a little breakfast, you dump off the handouts.
How We Do Church Growth
I usually give a 5 or 10 minute recap at the end of it, ask people what they took away to make sure that they were taking the notes. Ask them what really touched their heart; I ask them to put names to the principles that they were hearing, and so each month, we do the video, have a little debrief, and then kind of run a little teaser for the module to come.
My staff and I preview each module a couple weeks before the congregation gets it, and there've been times when we had to stop the video, and we've had some emotional responses even amongst my staff members; a couple gals really welled up when Pastor Jerry was talking about why we need to be so sensitive to the environment when a guest comes through the door, because behind that guest is a mother, a father, grandparent that's been praying for that individual for 20 years.
You don't want that one time when they get up in the morning and the Spirit's brought them through your door, maybe because the wheels have come off the bus in their life, you don't want that one time to be a negative experience. You want them to find grace. You want them to hear the Gospel message loud and clear. You want people ready to receive them, and extend the love of Christ.
I've got to tell you, you can preach years of sermons from the pulpit and not get that level of conviction through to your people. And the principles are biblical. You can't argue with how Jesus set up His church, and you see it, not just in the 5-Fold Leadership structure that they talk about from Ephesians 4, but throughout scripture you see how Jesus distributed and handed off leadership to others in pairs, and in teams, multiplied his disciples and empowered them.
We're just deploying these same principles that we've seen our Master do, in a way that is easy to understand, and again, designed to reach people where they are, and create a great guest experience.