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Scale!

...with Predictable Success

This Episode's Guest: Jason Mitchell

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Jason Mitchell

In today's Episode of   'Scale! with Predictable Success' our guest is

Jason Mitchell

Strategic Leadership Team and Teaching PastorLCBC Church

Jason serves on the Strategic Leadership Team and gives directional oversight for LCBC (Lives Changed By Christ) Church. LCBC has seen exponential growth over the years and has 15 locations throughout the state of Pennsylvania. In his free time you'll find him with his family, drinking coffee, and cheering on the Alabama Crimson Tide!

In our interview today you'll hear Jason share about:

  • his own leadership path
  • how his organization achieved remarkable scale through both organic growth and mergers
  • their path to Predictable Success
  • the impact of the COVID Crisis on both his personal leadership challenges and style, and the day-to-day management of his organization
  • What he sees next in leading our way out of this current crisis.

On the impact of COVID in March: Suddenly what was a six month project became a two week project - Jason Mitchell, Teaching Pastor, LCBC Church.

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On What Management Is

...Part of the misnomer about management is that we think that all management is micromanagement  - what management really is, is aligning the organization.

Jason Mitchell

Read The Transcript

Les McKeown: Hi, everybody. Welcome back to Scale! with Predictable Success. This is Les McKeown here, Founder and CEO of Predictable Success. And today I'm absolutely delighted to be with Jason Mitchell, who's and not just been a client over some years, but has become a really good friend and part of our Mastermind Group here at Predictable Success. Jason, you're very welcome.

Jason Mitchell: Well, it's a privilege Les to be joining you and, to be a part of this.

Les McKeown: Thanks for making your time available, Jason. Just for our listeners, tell them a little bit about your own background, and your organization, which is a wonderful church, LCBC, tell us a little bit about it and your role there.

Jason Mitchell: Yeah, absolutely. So I'm a, I'm a part of a church called LCBC church and it's, it's a, it's an acronym. And so not a lot of churches are named with acronyms, but the acronym stands for Lives Changed by Christ, that's LCBC. And, and I always tell people it's kind of the weirdest name you could possibly think of for a church because most churches are are nouns. You know, it's a place you go to. So and so community church, ours happens to be an adjective. It's describing a group of people. And yet I actually love that because I think it's a perfect description of who we are. We're just, we're a bunch of people in process. none of us have it figured out, but we're discovering what it means to, to have a richer life in Christ. And so, so live changed by Christ.

Jason Mitchell: We are, we have 15 different locations across the state of Pennsylvania. we've got a pretty significant online audience and influence as well. And we've got other work and projects going on all over the world, across different continents. We just try to be involved in communities and seeing transformation happening in communities, economic stability, health and wellness, nutrition, all of that. And so a lot of incredible work happening here. Now I've been a part of the church for 18 years. And so my wife, Jenny and I, we were living down South and we, we moved 800 miles away from anyone we had ever known, up in up to Pennsylvania, which, you know, we thought it was just the rust belt. We didn't know how beautiful it was up here. but we have a, it's been a wild ride for us.

Jason Mitchell: And, and so currently I serve on the strategic leadership team, the strategic leadership team here at the church and I'm in a teaching pastor. And so, communicating to the church, just continuing to, you know, part of what I do is keep our staff aligned. We have 250 staff, just over 250 staff. And so part of what I do is just keep us aligned on the mission and what we're supposed to be about and how we're supposed to keep, and how we can continue to move forward with what we believe is kind of our mission as a church. And, and to keep our church focused on that as well. So, it's, it's an incredible, just incredible opportunity. I just, I love every day that we get to do what we get to do here. So,

Les McKeown: And we're going to talk mostly about what the impact of the coronavirus has been on the church, not so much spiritually, but from an organizational point of view and just the mechanics of, of delivering what you, what you do. But before we get there, just for our listeners to give them a sort of a sense of relative comparable size before coronavirus, you remember 53 years ago - in March! - what would you have been getting across those 15 locations in terms of weekly attendance?

Jason Mitchell: Yeah, so we would have been averaging anywhere between 16 and 17,000 people on a weekend in physical attendance and then an additional, at that point, probably about a thousand to 2000 online, for any particular weekend. And so, so just under the 20,000, probably around 18,000 in March, pre COVID, who were engaged. And so our locations, you know, I mentioned a moment ago that we have 15 locations, our locations, are kind of wide ranging and, and what they look like. So we have some locations that are pretty small and might have 150 people. Part of them, we've got our largest location, has 5,500 people who are typically a part of that on weekends. And so we kind of, we kind of look at it as our model is, from a franchising perspective, we would probably say we're like a company owned store, model.

Jason Mitchell: And, and so when you think about like a Starbucks, for instance, you've got some that are airport kiosks, and then you've got others that are in Barnes and Noble, and then you've got other freestanding stores. And so we've, we've in the same way, we've got some locations that are more like a kiosk and smaller in nature. and then we've got some that are free standing stores. And the bottom line is that they all offer the same core products and, and the same offerings. And so that's our hope. It doesn't have to look all the same, but we want someone who comes to any one of our locations to be able to have the same experience at the end of the day,

Les McKeown: Right. A recognizable template, if you want to call it that. and this might sound like a really dumb question, but I've known you long enough to know that you actually do think this way running one of your locations, it's got to be more complicated, then running a single Starbucks location, I would imagine, you know, and so it's not like the equivalent of having 15 Starbucks stores. You know, if you were to think of a business in terms of scale, size wise, you know, what, what would be your read across what would be at a level of complexity that LCBC is compared to, you know, for-profit organizations

Jason Mitchell: Well, what's interesting is, you know, when you think about what industry a church's in, what industry we're in, I would say we're not in any one particular industry. I feel like we're a, sort of a conglomeration of several, I would say there's a part of our church and organization. That's the hospitality, it's a service industry. You've got a whole separate part of our organization. That's an event I'm completely dedicated to almost an events, in the event space. So that's our weekends and our production, and it's what we do. And then you've got a component of what we do. I would say there's probably in the education sector because we're producing content, continually producing content that we're having to deliver. And so from a complexity standpoint, you have all of these different, deliverables in every one of those quote unquote industries that we're trying to deliver on. And, and so it is, so as far as a marketplace analogy, I don't know. I mean, those three industries are probably the ones that come to mind quickest. but those are, those are the sort of the cross pollination between all those is really what we're dealing with.

Les McKeown: I got it. So, you know, although it's not a read across in terms of deliverability in terms of services, but it's closer to the complexity of having like a 15-school complex, a network or a 15 nursing home complex network than a straight retail outlet. I get that. And share with the listeners a little bit of your own role, Jason and highlight how it's maybe evolved since you made that trek. And by the way, I totally agree. I've been down to visit you, as you know, and it's just such a beautiful part of the world. And that was a little bit of a surprise to me, I'm afraid - no insult to our friends who of course live there, it's a wonderful place. But from when you arrived there, just tell us a little bit about your leadership path.

Jason Mitchell: Yeah, absolutely. Well, when I came up here 18 years ago, I was at that point, we were obviously nothing like we are now as a church. So we had one, one church once. I mean, having multiple locations couldn't have even been that wasn't even in our thinking. and we were probably a church about 1800 people at that point. So maybe, you know, 1800 on a weekend and probably a staff of around 15, 20 people maybe. And so I came in as the middle school pastor. I came in to work with students. And so in particular middle school students, and, I was probably 23, 23 years old, maybe just turning 24 or something like that. And, didn't know anything and felt like, it felt like at that point they just took a huge risk on me. And I was so grateful to get it.

Jason Mitchell: I still am today. and you know, as our organization has grown, it's always interesting to me because I always feel like if I were trying to get a job here today, there's no way I probably, I probably would, you know, how sometimes when your organizations you grow with it, and that's definitely how it's happened for all of us. And we find ourselves sitting there going, yeah. we're, we've just kind of grown with this thing. And, and so as I've grown with it, those, you know, that my influence, and opportunities continue to expand. And so then I moved from just middle school to overseeing a middle school and high school, kind of all of our students. and then when we went multisite, so when we, when we added locations, then it was middle school and high school and not just for one location, but really for multiple locations at that point. And then, and, and then I moved into a role that was, what we would call kind of our next gen. And so that would be anywhere from fifth grade, all the way to 29 years old. And then we had a little bit of an, a about face as a church we had at this point, we had had five, five locations that we had kind of launched off of existing location.

Les McKeown: And so what, where are we to, chronologically at this point,

Jason Mitchell: As far as time so we're right around 2012 at this point. So I had been here, right at 10 years at this point. And so we had at this point, grown to five locations and things were humming along pretty good. And we had a church outside of the Philadelphia area, approach us and say, Hey, this is kind of random. And this is a flyer. We're not even, we're sure it probably wouldn't even work, but what if we actually merged with you guys and became an LCBC location. And so what we felt, so it was our first merger opportunity with another church, and this was a large church, pretty significant, what they, what they had to offer me. They had 45 acres of incredible property building and incredible, most importantly, incredible people, outside of Philadelphia and Philadelphia was a market that we wanted to be in.

Jason Mitchell: But if we were just going to keep growing off of each existing location, it was going to take us years to kind of bridge that 85 mile gap, whatever. So, so we felt it was an incredible opportunity. And I say all that, because that was really where I shifted my attention next. And so I moved out to the Philadelphia area to, to basically merge that church and bring, bring them on board as LCBC and turn the culture and turn the church there to make it LCBC, which anybody who's gone through merger and acquisitions knows, there are significant challenges with that. Yeah. And the payoff and the reward is, is on the other side of that. But, Oh boy, it's a, but that you're jumping into the deep end when you do that since then, we've, we've actually had two further mergers. So we've got, out of our 15 locations, three have been been mergers at this point. So, so it has, it has been part of our, our growth

Les McKeown: And the key focus of your role now?

Jason Mitchell: Yeah. So the key focus of my role is, and two years ago, we, we had what I would probably call our most significant restructure at the executive team level that we had had probably in about 10 years. And so what we were feeling at that point is we had one executive team that was providing directional oversight for the entire church, which included just the day to day operations of the church, but then also expansion opportunities and getting into new markets and mergers, everything that I was just talking about. And as we looked at, it felt like those are probably two different functions that if we can almost create two executive teams so to speak, they work, we work together, but have two, very, very high functioning teams dedicated, separately to those. And so we kind of split the executive team into those two functions. one being expansion, the other being basically the church, what, what anybody who comes to LCBC would understand as the church. and so I moved back at that point to lead the team that oversees that church side. and so working with that, that executive team got it. Yep.

Les McKeown: So one of the things that's always struck me about Jason is the degree to which you are really committed to developing as a leader, and just a degree of intellectual curiosity, but not just for the sake of being intellectually curious in order to implementing a very wide read. When did that start with, have you always been like that or did you feel challenged that you needed to get better as a leader

Jason Mitchell: Well, I think I've always had, you know, I remember Les, I don't think I've ever told you this, but I remember being as a kid, nine, 10, 11 years old. And, we had a world book encyclopedia set and I, I mean, honestly I, for hours and hours on end would flip through those encyclopedias and I would just learn things about cities and learn things about animals and learn things. I just loved. I've always loved learning. I've always, I've always been naturally curious and, I've always been, I think, extraordinarily pragmatic. And so I, okay. I'll tell you what, I don't like reading. I struggle with reading fiction because I feel like I can't, what's the use, I need it to be useful. And so those two, those two things, I think a natural sort of curiosity, and then a passion to see it well implemented. And how does it help and how does it move things forward I think those two things combined have always just led me to, to, to continually want to grow and then apply that to what we're doing into our best, our best effort and our best work.

Les McKeown: That's great. And so let's come to, the thing that, you know, it's not even an elephant in the room, it's the elephant, but standing on our head, the last, what has it been at the time of recording - it's coming up to four months of this COVID emergency and then yeah, other things that have just happened around all of that, including the black lives matter movement, that, that has just turned things upside down. What's the biggest single change for LCBC?

Jason Mitchell: Well, I would say what it's done Les is it's, it's fast tracked, things that we had just been thinking about things that maybe we'd have to pivot to this at some point, Hey, maybe this would be something a year from now when all of that became. and so, I'll give you practical examples in a second, but all of that, the things that maybe we had thought about for future development or maybe opportunities suddenly it became, Oh, tomorrow we need to be this, we need to, we need to pivot. So some good examples of that I think would be, you know, we had been exploring how to continue to be a church that meets people in an online space, how to be an organization that meets our, our constituents and our people, through online ways, you know, in Omni channel ways and so that they can interact with our church in whatever ways they deem are most valuable to them, whether that's onsite, brick and mortar, or whether that's through online experiences.

Jason Mitchell: So we had been, these are things we had been talking about, but suddenly we realized we don't have a lot of our core products available. And some of those omni-channel formats and available through online experiences and suddenly that what was a six month project became a two week project. And we were able to get content and get able, enabled to get environments, online very, very quickly. so I would say that that's probably been one of the biggest shifts for us. I'm not sure it was, it was the speed of pivoting. We sensed that we needed to pivot on a long, but boy just fast, tracked it, fast, tracked everything. And I would say less than the gift and all of this has been, we had our, I had asked our, our team to read, Cy Wakeman's book, 'No Ego' back in January.

Jason Mitchell: And one of the things that she talks about in the book is there's a difference between she kind of says that change management is a little bit overrated and, because it takes egos into account. So it's kind of like, how do we help someone get over these things as opposed to just creating a change ready organization, which is there's always going to be changed. And so, so my point is simply this, I would, would've said we were a change ready organization before this, but this has absolutely forced our hand because you just don't, you literally don't know what's coming two weeks from now. And so you can, not, everything we do is planning in pencil so that you can erase it pretty quickly. And so that has been a gift. and right now, what we're talking about as an executive team is just how do we, are there blank slates in front of us, that we need to leverage as we begin to come back, as we begin to are, they're basically things that we were doing that were normal before that we shouldn't go back to, because what was normal then was crazy.

Jason Mitchell: We have an opportunity in front of us to change things, and let's not, let's not wait on that.

Les McKeown: Right. I love that reference to, Cy Wakeman's book. I remember you recommending it at one of our Mastermind getaways. And it, it, it feels to me very much like what she's essentially a flashing light on great detail is what we know as The Enterprise Commitment. But if you've got people who are genuinely expressing The Enterprise Commitment that overrides the personal fear, ego and, coping with the result of change management, doesn't get rid of it completely, but it helps a lot.

Jason Mitchell: And let me just say Les with that. I mean, so, so, and, and I don't think we should pretend that, and, and it, you know, whether you're in the C suite or whether you're in a management position, whatever those don't affect us either. I mean, we ought to be setting the pace. We'll hopefully are setting the pace for The Enterprise Commitment. but part of what this season has done for, for me, I mean, it's a challenge. I mean, I don't like the way we're having to work in some way I've, I've had to communicate differently. I've had to the whole way that I'm, you know, that we're, we're, we're communicating now is different than probably what I would prefer. And so if we're not, I mean, I feel like one of the challenges for us has been, if we're not willing to embrace this, it's certainly not going to make its way down to, the rest of the staff who are on the front lines of, you know, doing some of the work that we're doing right now.

Les McKeown: Right. one of the things I'd love to hear your view on, that I've been talking about a lot recently, is that, part of what I think we're finding difficult as leaders is that a concept that I'm calling leading from five thousand feet that, you know, we're used to being at 30,000 feet, that's, that's our natural environment, long horizon, long overview, you know, planning ahead, you know, making a planning, the chess moves. And then when this all hit in March, we had to get done to runway level where most of us, many of us as leaders are good at that too. We can get done when we have to triage and do the dirty fingernail work. But this point that we're at right now, we've got as leader, some elevation, but it's only some we're 5,003. We can't see next year. You know, we, what we can for the first time, maybe see a quarter, two quarters, is that resonating, is that sort of where you're feeling yourself?

Jason Mitchell: Absolutely. Absolutely. And, yeah, I feel a little bit air sick because I feel like we're constantly just bobbing and weaving from 5,000 to 20, 30,000 to five to 30 to five, depending on the day. And depending on the, the situation. And, you know, I, I feel like part of, part of the misnomer about management is that we think that all management is micromanagement and we can tend to think that sometimes. And what management really is, is aligning the organization like, and so, so that's the 5,000 foot level that I feel like we need to provide. That's probably most value to the organization is to make sure that the tactical decisions that are being made are aligned as long as they're aligned and heading in the right direction, we do need to be involved. And we have had to insert ourselves, I would say more frequently in the last several months than maybe we have had to in the past, because, and the fact that we don't have some of our natural communication lines available to us anymore because we're not meeting, we haven't been in the offices. We haven't been now, we replaced those with other mechanisms, but it still disrupted our natural communication lines. So you kind of put that all together and it's a recipe for potential misalignment. And so, I think the way that we have tried to, and I think the thing we have to do is continue to try to make up for the communication disruption by inserting ourself a little bit more, and probably giving a little bit more direction and clarity around directives than we, than we maybe have in the past.

Les McKeown: One of the things that I think I'm seeing, quite a bit is that, and this shift, just to be bluntly tactical about it, where were all of us spending forever on this thing that you and I are on - Zoom Just so the listeners are aware, Jason and I have got line of sight of each other, just so we can, we can converse naturally. But one of the things that's happening as a result of that is I believe I'm seeing that what we call vertical alignment, vertical management teams in their silos, that's working out well, you know, we made that change and Jean can get on to zoom with our team and can get the punch list on and work things out, more things through. But what's harder is lateral management at a senior level, because quite a bit of that is serendipitous, quite a bit of that as being able to walk in and out, so to speak, whether it's virtually or physically, and just getting the, you know, where you would stand up and walk on to somebody else's office and say, how do you do 20 minutes to knock something around that doesn't feel like it's, you know, it's just as natural or as easy. Hi, how are you and your, your T one team, you know, compensating for that

Jason Mitchell: Yeah, I think you're dead on Les. And I think we have found that to be very true. The, I think, I actually think we've been more efficient at the tactical levels over these last several weeks because it's, it's just been very open, boom, you know, get it done and here's the directives and we can move forward. I, we have what you lose is nuance and what you lose is the healthy debate at times. And, and so how have we made up for that I mean, honestly, there have been, there have been some moments where we just have said, this is a decision. We just are, this is a conversation we just all need to meet, and we're going to have to figure out the social distancing thing, but we gotta be face to face for this. And I think what we found, and this is probably just restating what you said is that the strategic decisions just weren't working for us on zoom. And we needed to find ways to be face to face, even if we were sitting outside to just have the space, to be able to nuance the conversation. so I very much agree and we were, we have, we have very much, face that as well.

Les McKeown: I, you know, this is really dumb, dumb (I like to say brilliance is built on the mundane), you know, one of the things I've been playing with is, I can switch the frame of my, what I'm looking at here (Zoom screen), from dark to light, you know, it's a dark block frame or gray frame. I'd love to be able to pull in some different colors, but what I'm doing is I'm switching the background frame color as to whether it's a tactical meeting or a strategic meeting, just to give me visible reminder, this is a strategic meeting. Don't get tactical. Cause it feels to me like the virtual tools, the way we are using them at the moment, have a gravitational pull to tactical. Don't ask me why that exactly is, but there's a whole bunch of I'm sure. Heuristic and other reasons why it just proves as towards the tactical. And I love your idea of if you can fix it from a social distancing point of view and that's of course getting a little easier, not, you know, sometimes you just got to get together. I think that's absolutely right. You were on a very specific conscious thought through path to Predictable Success. right before this thing had, I mean, you were working the model, you were making substantial progress. Where do you feel you'd got just, you know, late February, early March

Jason Mitchell: Before this really took effect and what's been the impact on where you're at in the life cycle. Yeah, that's a great question. I, you know, so we, as an organization over the last 18 months have been really, really working hard to identify where there's complexity within the organization and to tame that complexity and to put the right processes in place in order to help us get to Predictable Success. That has been a value it's been a, a calling. It almost feels like for us. I mean, it's been, it's everybody on our staff can tell you about whitewater and, and what that means. So, so it's interesting last because we, we definitely had, and have had a lot of momentum going into the spring. In fact, I would say probably two or three, maybe three or four weeks before we shut down from a covert standpoint, we had had our, an all staff meeting.

Jason Mitchell: And so four times, four times a year, we bring all of our staff, I mean, like from janitors to pastors, I mean, everybody, and we had just had them in and had actually kind of said, here's kind of where we're starting to land. Here's the model as we've worked through all of these projects to identify where there's Whitewater and where there's complexity and, and it was just making sense, then COVID hit. And obviously that's not the most at that point. That's not the most pressing thing in mind. There's a lot more thing, a more pressing trio thanks to triage, right. Issues to issues to answer. I think, you know, some of the implications probably would be that, we probably have, we probably fell back to a degree towards, some of our whitewater are fun, communication lines and, you know, and sort of your, your stages, that you've talked about.

Jason Mitchell: And we probably went back to what's most natural. And as far as efficiency, when I say most natural, what's gonna deliver the most efficiency. And I actually think there was a period where there's a season for that. Honestly. I mean, we were trying to manage a disruption, unlike, you know, none of us have had experience leading through a pandemic, at least here in our organization. So, and, and nowhere, and, and so there's, I think that there's something I think we needed to, in some ways, bypass a few systems, bypass a few processes, and just in order to get speed of speed of, you know, speed to market with decisions. Right So, so that was, that was a time for that. I think what we're coming to now though Les, is now we're actually just, even these last 10 days, two weeks, we're having much more concrete conversations now about, okay, it's time.

Jason Mitchell: We cannot let that be a pattern. Now it's time now to go back. And, even this coming, you know, at the time that were, were doing this right now, even this coming week, I've got plans to review, basically bring back all that work back out for our executive team to again, and to go, okay, it's, let's not forget where we've been. It's time now to begin to, to put our heels in, dig our heels in. Right. and to move forward. So, right. So I would say definitely we felt that back and forth that tension of staying true to the work that we've done and yet responding in the moment to just saying, Hey, we've, we've got to make some quick decisions and that's okay. Giving ourselves the grace in some ways to, to manage this.

Les McKeown: I know, - you know, not only don't feel guilty about it, feel good about it, cause it's the right thing to do. You know, I've been telling people quite a lot. If you have, you were on the last growth side of the life cycle before this headwind, you're going to be pushed backwards. And the best thing, you know, to, to where you were before. And the best thing to do is roll with it and be like bamboo, you know, move with the wind and do the triage work, you know, go back for a while to the, you know, ready fire, ready fire mode. But what's really important is that as the, as you get to that 5,000 feet level, as we begin to get some elevation, you know, push back forward again, and don't, don't revert back permanently to those decision-making, an execution mode because it will stunt your growth.

Les McKeown: So as you begin to get a bit of a, of a, you know, we're not talking longterm yet by any stretch of the imagination, but we don't have our nose pressed to just next week anymore. And we're starting to think, you know, medium term the impact of all of this. one of the distinctions I've been making is between pivoting, which was important to do on its own, right, but which doesn't produce a longterm solution. All it does is give you short term relief. Some of the pivots will become part of the longterm innovation that will shape us permanently. And I like to use that analogy or the quote by Bobby Orr the ice hockey player genius, and, you know, most credited ice hockey player ever, I believe. And he was asked about the secrets of his success. And he said, well, I just, I skate to where the puck is going to be. Right. And that's what we, as leaders are trying to do. We're trying to get our organization to where it needs to be. What are that long preamble to a question What are the, the pivots and changes on Maybe even some stuff you haven't done yet that you think are going to solidify as permanent innovative changes for LCPC moving forward.

Jason Mitchell: Yeah. So, one of the ways that we've been talking about it and starting to feel good, and so this will sound probably just like some it'll sound, just like it's semantics. It's not though, and it's a bit of a hyperbolic statement, but it's meant to kind of shift our thinking. And so what we've been saying is we used to be a church of 15 locations just happened to have online offerings. Now we're an online church. It just happens to have 15 locations. Right. And yeah, again, it might sound like semantics, but it's actually an incredibly, it's a completely different posture when you begin to think about the things that we do, we have to create ways for people to engage those in whatever way they deem as most valuable to them. And so in the past it would be, it was just kind of by the product offerings that we made or, or maybe even buy the things that we promoted, all of that prior promotions and marketing, it was obvious that the brick and mortar was the, the end goal.

Jason Mitchell: And now we're saying, Hey, the end all is you engaging with our church, right. And we're going to provide multiple platforms and multiple ways for you to be able to do that. And so I would say that that's a, you know, that's a longterm that that's the future for us. And, so then when you begin to play that out practically, that means that all of our ministry environments are all the offerings, the product offerings we have, they all have to have, a skew that's available online. They all have to be deliverable in, in those ways. and so that's a pretty significant shift. I would say. The other shift that we're making is, is how we communicate. And, so even just down to very practical, I told you a moment ago that we're kind of in the event business as well.

Jason Mitchell: And our primary thing is, is weekends. And in the past, for delivering an online experience, we basically just taped what was going on in the room, or just broadcast, I should say, what was going on in the room that is very much shifted. And so now we're talking very, very specifically to an online audience that's shapes, reshapes the way that we do it, that shapes the way that we're, who, we're, where we're looking. I mean, it comes down to small little tactical things like that. It shapes the things that we're promoting. and so, that's a pretty significant shift that we don't see changing in fact, to be, you know, a very, very real example, a very practical example of that is, we're actually now we're going to continue to film one of our gatherings as a strictly online gathering. And so that means that we'll be talking right to the camera.

Jason Mitchell: That means the way our musicians do some things and all that mean, like, it's just, it's different than if people were in the room and we're actually now gonna open that up to a studio audience. And so if someone wants to make that their church experience great, you can do that, but we're just, no, we're not going to be looking at you. We're going to be looking at the camera. And so we're just playing, we're experimenting. The one thing we know we're not going to go back to though it's just filming what was happening in the room and just hope that it makes sense for an online audience. We're going to film for an online audience, and deliver and deliver that.

Les McKeown: And when you think about it, of course, it makes so much sense. And if in fact there'd be no COVID and we all sat down and tried to think through the impact of online, we would have gotten there anyway, it would have just taken a lot longer. I know you've always been a hot on metrics. Are you having to come up with some new metrics to, you know, gauge engagement from, from your, your members

Jason Mitchell: Yeah, absolutely. you know, I mean, we've we've, and we still haven't landed the plane on this one, but we've really, especially early on through the covert season, just said, how do we tell that our people are still engaged with our church How do we know people are still, so how do we measure this And so we've, we've, we've actually had three different models that are in formulas that are running. And so we've been evaluating each of the three side-by-side to kind of just tell which one really does tell the most accurate story on this. And, or what we feel is the most, valuable, I guess, story. And when I say valuable, I don't mean it paints a narrative that we just want people to know it more valuable for RN to be able to follow up on and to deliver on the things that we say as a church we want to deliver on it.

Jason Mitchell: So, so yeah, it's changed. It's changed the way that we're, we're trying to, to measure, you know, is it just views or is it 30 minute views Part of our approach has been, we want to actually take probably, so our philosophy is the most absolute, most conservative approach to viewership that we can possibly take, because then we kind of know with integrity, we can say those numbers, and if anything, it's more than that as opposed to inflating. And if anything gets a lot lower than that. And so there's a lot of different approaches, a lot of different ways people can go about it, but the other thing less is is we, we are shifting, at least for churches. I don't know how it is, you know, I mean, every organization has their kind of their, their metrics that rise to the top for churches.

Jason Mitchell: it tends to be attendance as in butts in seats, right Like that tends to be the thing at the end of the day, just how many people were there. And that is a good metric. And it tells you something, but in the new world where people can engage with your brand, engage your church in whatever way they deem most valuable, that cannot be the only way of telling any more that someone's engaged. Tar target could care less. Whether someone buys their product in the store or online at the end of the day, it's a sell, sell, sell, sell. So for us, we're sitting there going what's engagement look like no matter how they do it. And so we've kind of said, look, we want people engaged in our weekend gathering, which can happen in brick and mortar or online, doesn't matter how they choose to do it.

Jason Mitchell: That's engagement. We want people engaged in a, in a connection to relationship connection to someone in our church. Again, that can be through a digital or online group or in person group at the end of the day. We're okay with either one. We want people serving. We can measure that in different ways. We want people, investing in their community in their communities and we want people living generous lives. And so all of those we have now said, Hey, we want specific metrics to be able to determine. And then let's say someone who's doing all five of those or someone who's doing two of those five or someone who's doing one of those five. What does that say And how do we help someone move from one to of those five from two to three of those five. And so that's where really where our, where our head space is right now. And thinking about how to move engagement, not just attendance, that's a really important distinction for us. How do we drive engagement Not attendance. yeah, one of the two great things just came out of what you said. One of them is that point that you just made. And I see

Les McKeown: A lot of churches, you're going to have to work really hard, not to fall into, an error that those of us who were in internet marketing way back fell into a long time ago, which was, you know, going to build my list, got to build my list. I've got a hundred thousand people on my mailing list, got a million people on my mailing list. We've got a great list. All on me, it's just numbers, right So I had sand and yeah, this weekend 40,000 people will hear that podcasts is available. That there's no relevance to the actual engagement at the other end, the number of people who AE even see it because it goes into their spam folder, see it in care, see it and open it, open it and act on it, open, listen to the podcast and learn something from it.

Les McKeown: It's a long way from that big metric of, you know, 40,000 people on my mailing list to really be making a change in, you know, that came across the concept many years ago, a thousand raving fans. And I'd rather have a thousand raving fans done a mailing list of a hundred thousand. You know, I mean, there's a guy, I follow his stuff. He released a course yesterday on a topic. I was 197 bucks. I didn't even read a sales page. I just, I just hit the button, bought it because I know everything that he does is world-class and, you know, I want a thousand raving fans like that. The other thing that you just mentioned on the way through, which I think is, is a very appropriate to every organization and issue a precise at the moment for profit or not for profit. You talked about if I heard you, right, that you're testing at the same time, three different ways of measuring stuff.

Les McKeown: This is the time for sequential testing. This is not the time for testing. It's time for testing in parallel testing and series. You know, don't try this and then suck up the results and analyze it, then try the next thing and then do all of that. Then try the next thing. This is not quite throwing spaghetti against the wall, but, one way I'm phrasing it as scrappy is the current normal, get out there and test it with the minimal action steps between you and actually getting it there on life. On test. A lot of stuff. I have seven things, nine things going and find two to three that are really going to make a difference. But the old method of, you know, research I'm alive, it isn't going to work because all available data is irrelevant. Right Right. There's no current data to help you. There's no historic data to help you. There's only current data. That's all it will help you. So it's great to hear that you're doing those sequential testing, final aspect on all of this, Jason, what's still, you just really gotcha. Greg, that you have, you know, LCPC, you haven't got it yet. You still really need to respond in some way to something that's happened over the past period of time. Where would, where would you still be gathering your resources from taking another charge

Jason Mitchell: Oh man. Well, I mean, are you talking coat Dyke kind of cultural moments Or are you talking about just everything that's happened or are you talking about organizationally at this point

Les McKeown: It comes to mind whenever, you know, when, where at the moment do you still get all a bit of a heart sank and think we really got to, we've got to up our game there.

Jason Mitchell: Yeah. Well, you know, these are, these are incredibly challenging times culturally for us. people are, people are living with a lot of anxiety, the people that are living with a lot of frustration, fear. And, and so of COVID wasn't enough. obviously then you throw on some of the stuff that's on the racial stuff. That's been again, in our nation's history, brought back to the surface and new and fresh ways that old wound and the church, you know, for us in our particular context, that's exactly the kinds of things we want to be able to add value into people's vibes about to answer questions and, you know, less, I mean, it's, it's as far as us not getting it, or maybe the challenge right now, it's actually more just the tone of the culture, which is, which is so divided and the cancel culture stuff is the, the, the bad part about cancel culture is that there's no room anymore.

Jason Mitchell: There's no room to be wrong on anything. There's no room for conversation. There's no room to just, I F I flubbed it. I just said the wrong thing by accident. Right. And without, without, without it being Mmm. You know, yeah, pretty blown up into an incredibly significant issue, the church and, and what we're trying to do right now, we've got to be w we've we've got a model, what it means to speak with grace and with truth. And, I think both of those things together are a powerful force in our culture, you know, for anyone listening right now, the people in your life that have probably most influenced you in a positive direction. I promise you if you think about them long enough, at some point they have had a conversation that was full of grace, and they've probably had a conversation that's full of truth at some point, too. And that's why they influenced you. And that's why you probably love them. And right now, we are positioned as a church. We have to position ourselves to be able to speak with grace and truth in a world that is increasingly what feels like more hostile. And so I know that's not organizational lesson,

Les McKeown: That's right on the button, man,

Jason Mitchell: But that's, that's where our hearts and heads are

Les McKeown: Right now. God bless you for doing it. And it's been a pleasure watching you, develop and, cope with all of the complexities of, what really is. I know you believe it to be a privilege of a role, and it truly is a privilege to watch you do it. I'm pretty sure that, sometime hopefully about this time next year, we'll be doing a series on, okay, you know, what, where are we not gone I'd come back in again now watch. So I hope you'll come back and tell us how things have been going with LCPC, but in the meantime, thank you for your time today,
Jason, thank you.

Jason Mitchell: Les, I'm very grateful for you and the work that you're doing.

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