Inviting people to church is easy; assimilating people into the church community is the challenging part. Most church leaders can’t help but ask, “How can we stop people from leaving our church?” The answer may surprise you, but it’s really possible to pull off.
We’ve invited no less than Robbey Smith, the Lead Pastor at the Redemption Church. He joins our conversation to discuss the power of ‘low-budget’ church technology, the assimilation process for new attendees, and the importance of intentional growth strategies. Pastor Robbey’s got plenty of these strategies in his playbook. We’re excited to share them with you.
So, if you're interested in learning more about how you can effectively assimilate people into your community, you won't want to miss this episode of Tech in Church in our brand-new season!
Specifically, this episode highlights the following themes:
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The Tech In Church Podcast is a Text In Church team production. For more information about this podcast, go to https://podcast.textinchurch.com. For more information on Text in Church, visit https://textinchurch.com.
Robbey Smith [00:00:00]:
The reason your church is not growing is not its music. It's not your preaching. There's a lot of truth that's been written over the last decade, but they never intended to put the weight on you. And when you own that, you start feeling like a failure. You start doubting your calling when in reality, you're doing what God called you to. And you're just in a season where it's time for you to start implementing some very low budget technology that works amazing. You just need a clear plan. You just have to develop.
Nina Hampton [00:00:36]:
All right. Hello, and welcome to the Tech in Church podcast, where we talk to everyday church communicators who use simple tech tools to go from frazzled to focused. My name is Nina Hampton, and I'm here with my co host, Jeanette Yates. And we believe that you should spend less time worrying about technology and more time doing what you love in your ministry and in your personal life.
Jeanette Yates [00:00:56]:
Okay. I am so excited. Hey, Nina. How are you?
Nina Hampton [00:01:00]:
Hey, I'm good.
Jeanette Yates [00:01:01]:
I'm really excited about our first episode of season three. We have invited Robbie Smith from Redemption Church here to talk about, you know, that may sound know. I don't even know what that means. Maybe you don't use that term at your church, but we all try to get people connected. They walk through the front door. Are they walking straight through and out the back door? We don't want that to happen. And so what Robbie Smith is going to talk about today is how he uses technology to stop that from happening and really get people assimilated into the community of his church. And Robbie works or serves at Redemption Church, which he founded in 2005. Hey, Robbie. How are you?
Robbey Smith [00:01:43]:
I'm well. Nina, what an intro like you talk about being frazzled to focus. That's pretty awesome.
Nina Hampton [00:01:49]:
Yes. That's what we're all trying to do.
Robbey Smith [00:01:51]:
Yeah, it is so true. When I heard the word focus, I was like, that's the home run right there. Because that is exactly what Texan church has allowed me to do, is be more focused on the things that I'm gifted at and put on autopilot the things that I'm not so gifted at. Or time doesn't allow for as much, but they're imperative. So, Jeanette, good to meet you. Glad to be on. And season one. Wow. Or season three, episode one. That means this podcast is going to be at the top of the playlist.
Jeanette Yates [00:02:22]:
Robbey Smith [00:02:23]:
Let's do it. I'm ready.
Jeanette Yates [00:02:25]:
So I did a brief introduction and just let people know that you are the pastor of the church you founded in 2005. Can you tell us a little bit more about your church? I know we don't have a long time to record, but I would like just a little tidbit of how that all happened.
Nina Hampton [00:02:40]:
Tell us about it.
Robbey Smith [00:02:42]:
You have interviewed pastors before because, you know, they can be long. My wife and I started Redemption Church back in five. As you mentioned, it's a little rural church. I say rural now it is rural because we are literally in the middle. We're not in town anywhere. So the very definition of rural is out in the country. So we're that we're on a major highway. But we didn't start there. We started on a main strip. I always say to people where we started we didn't know any better, right? So we started on a main drag in a very small town. I think the sign says 8000, but if it has more than five I would be excited. And it was a great town, is a great town, but economy is like declining. We went into this little 6000 square foot storefront building and that's where we started. And huge like started with 38 people. And week two we were at 80 some odd and then we got to about 120 and all of a sudden we were out of seats. But you know, in five the only people who were doing multiple services were over 1000 in attendance and nobody was even talking about that. And so it wasn't even on my radar. Plus it was the first church I'd ever started, just really green. Lots of great people were with me and a few of those, 18 years later, just a couple of those are still with us and some of them are on staff with us. So planted in this little town and in literally seven months we were outgrown that space and we were looking and we began to look for the next three years for a space. And the back door flew open one day and this gentleman walks in. Now we were right next door to a VFW and I don't know if you know what happens in a VFW, like during the daytime, but old men who are heroes, right, who they sometimes get drink a little too much and then they walk in the wrong door and they walk in our might. And so that happened on occasion. And this one day I saw this older gentleman, looked like he could be a vet. He walks in and he said, is Robbie Smith here? And I thought at first he was a vet going in the wrong door. And I said yeah. And so long story short, he tells me that he wants to have a cup of coffee with me. And I'm not a coffee drinker, but I'm thinking we're going to walk down the street to one of the stores and that little voice on your inside says, don't get in the car with a stranger, right? And I heard it screaming and I started to say, I'll follow you. And he said just get in with me. And then I heard myself say I'll go with you. And I got in his vehicle, my wife was so mad, right? I got in my vehicle, he took me three and a half miles down the road, about a mile before we arrived, he said to me, I'm a pastor and I'm transitioning out of the area. I've been watching your ministry for a while, and I've noticed that you have no building and you have a lot of people with no building. I have a lot of building and no people. God has woken me up twice to give you our property. He gave us this facility. It appraises at 50. Excuse me, it appraised the first year at $3 million. It's 52,000 total square feet. And I didn't know this guy. I mean, I didn't. But I'm telling you that because it matters. We were the outreach kings of churches, right? We did so many outreaches. Free gas, free full service at gas stations and washing windows, pumping gas, letting people know about Jesus and redemption. We'll get into the story a little bit later, but just know when I say we were a church of 180 ish for about a decade. And we spent a decade doing insane, crazy, amazing outreaches. We could have 1500 people on this site, but our church attendance wasn't any bigger the next day. 180 to 201,500 people on your place on Saturday. How do you not got more on Sunday. But we were there for a decade, so our church redemption, yeah, I'll tell you some more of that later. But we're a place where we just talk about Jesus a lot. We see life change, I think, this year. So this is May I don't know the date. May 10, something like that. I think we've baptized 50 and for the year so far. And that's getting ready to get ramped up again. We're getting ready to hit that hard again. So it'll be awesome.
Jeanette Yates [00:06:58]:
Well, so you started mentioning you're like, oh, I'm going to say that for later. Because when I was and I was like, oh, I know what he's getting ready to say. Because we talked a little bit before on the phone, robbie and this is how I knew we had to have you on this podcast, is because you got so passionate about this whole experience. Like you said, people were coming for these events. You were meeting people at these outreaches. You were doing all this A, you were known for that in your community, but yet worship on Sundays was a different experience. And so can you tell me a little bit about that problem and what you were facing and what you realized that you needed to solve for? So what did you discover was the problem?
Robbey Smith [00:07:40]:
Do you know in the Christian world, articles, podcasts, YouTube videos before 2020, for a whole decade there, when we were stuck at that 180 to 200 mark, everything for pastors and leadership was saying, preach better. Let me give you the seminar on preaching. They were trying to sell things. Preach better. Preach better, preach better. And I don't understand why we do that. Tim Keller. Great pastor, right? In New York. He wrote an article, and it's so true. It's about how pastors have to lead differently and delegate. So on one hand, you had lead differently, and on the other hand, you had preach. So you know my philosophy. I started coming to that crossroads of thinking, like, okay, well, if it's preach better, then why don't I do what's best for the church and hire a better preacher? You know what I mean? Why don't we just go that route? Because if that's the thing, then we've been here a decade at 100 and 8200. So I'm going through this stuff is running through my mind, and I'm like, Dude, I'm delegating people. We got a volunteer staff of, like, 1617 people, probably. And I'm like, I don't even know. Maybe it's 14, but it's like, I'm the only full time guy. We have a couple of part timers. And one day, I'm listening to a podcast, the podcast, so that if I'm outside, I'm working, or if I'm driving, I'm always listening to podcasts.
Jeanette Yates [00:09:03]:
We can relate.
Robbey Smith [00:09:03]:
And I'm listening to Rich Birch's podcast, and he has Greg Curtis on. And huge shout out to Greg Curtis Eastside Christian Church, second fastest growing church in America in 2017. That caught my attention. And what's so funny, though, is when I first heard it, I was listening to his podcast. And his podcast says, we need to focus on the new people that God is bringing to your building right now.
Jeanette Yates [00:09:27]:
Robbey Smith [00:09:27]:
Amen. And at first, I went, Wait a minute. I don't want to be inward focused. That's inward focused because remind me, I'm a decade of reach people. Let's go. And I got the gift of evangelism. So it's like, I got to reach people. But then as I listened to it more and more, I put that on Save on my Apple podcast. Hit it on save. I must have listened to it eight times. And after those eight times, I really started putting numbers on the board. And I said, I spent $170,000 on outreach over the last ten years. I called my ragtag, wonderful, amazing staff, and they're all volunteering in an evening. And we talked, and I said, here's all the things we've done. Here's the price tags that come along with them. Here's how much money we've spent over the last decade. Tell me who's in our building because of these things. And they couldn't name five families that were with us because of that. And I said, okay, who spends $170,000 on marketing and doesn't have five customers or five clients because of it? You're going to change. So we had to have a huge philosophy shift. And so went back to that podcast. We actually paid Greg Curtis to fly. He's in Anaheim, California. Paid him to come to Redemption, this little rural church. He taught our staff for two days and some of our leaders and key volunteers, and he taught us how to assimilate people. I give a shout out to the Greg. It's like if you want to know assimilation, greg Curtis's Guy I help people all the time, right. I mean, we had a conference here yesterday. We were talking to 20 different pastors about assimilation, texan church, different technology. We were talking about all that, trying to encourage them. Guys who are pastoring in churches under 101, pastor was here over he has over 1000 in his church. I'm passionate about those giving it away, but climbing the assimilations. If you can ever get Greg Curtis, he is the five star guest. But anyway, Greg came, taught us that we started implementing 2019. Hadn't found text in church yet. We started implementing that in 2019. So imagine you're implementing something that says you need to identify your guests, because that's the first piece. The best and easiest way to understand assimilation to anybody is this. If you've ever been to a water park and they have a lazy river, that is the greatest analogy, right? You got this one get on place where you know the lazy river, you just float around. You're with me. You know what I'm talking about? Yeah, I live in Florida.
Jeanette Yates [00:11:55]:
We have a lot of lazy river.
Robbey Smith [00:11:57]:
There you go. Yes. So you grab a raft and you get on one spot. That's the first time guest they're coming in your building. And you as a pastor and as a staff, you have the responsibility of as they navigate your church, where do you want them to get off at? And for ten years, our people were getting off at the back door because we didn't get them plugged in. And it wasn't for lack of effort. Every time somebody gets on the stage, we're going to tell you the 15 things we're doing and how you need to be involved in any of those. Just choose one. But we had no intentionality we didn't have an intentionality of identifying new people and we didn't have an intentionality of where we're going to place them. So assimilation for us started without any of the real technology and it was just trying to identify new people. Well, once we started identifying new people in 2019, it worked. And we went from 200 to 300. Well, probably in about seven months time. Get this, in the traditional hiring process at churches, you hire your leader, senior pastor, then you hire your worship guy. Then probably somebody over children and students. My second full time hire was my assimilation guy.
Jeanette Yates [00:13:03]:
Robbey Smith [00:13:03]:
That was my second full time hire. I left my worship guy, who is an amazing leader, I left him part time because I saw in seven months, I saw us gain 100 people and they were plugged in the number of, like we call them change makers. Volunteers started going up and up. And we're no longer that 80 20 where 20% do all the work and serve the 80 that just was starting to turn around. And then in June of 2020, I don't even know Tyler, the founder, I saw something somewhere, and I was like, I need to check into this. And I started looking into it. And then I went and I talked to a couple of my staff and one of my by then, we are now oh, so I should say this. So we hire our full time guy 2019. He's our full time assimilation guy. In 2020, we're able to hire our full time worship pastor, right? Because the assimilation made that difference. And then in 2020, we go to two services on Sunday for the first time in our entire existence, right? And that goes great, except for that's Sunday in March. I think it's like March something. And then the very next Monday, guess what happens? Our governor shuts the state down, and you got to be online only. And I'm like, what the world. I was going all this excitement to like, oh, my gosh. And I'm not going to get political, but you just don't know what to believe, so you believe. And so it's like, oh, I looked at my worship pastor, and every worship pastor is going to cringe and probably say, that's exactly my life. But I looked at my worship pastor and I said, we have to be online, and we're going to be online only in six more days, and we have to be online only in six days. And it can't suck. That's the reality. It can't be one camera angle 100ft away. I said, you can't do this. This is a church that we put 30 grand in that over the next month.
Nina Hampton [00:15:04]:
Robbey Smith [00:15:05]:
He built a great deal in six weeks, even though the governor hadn't opened up the state, we decided I had a couple of vets, different people who had different issues and isolation. Solitary wasn't good. And I was like, you know what? I don't know. We're going back. So we went back in a time. So get this. This is the part that's amazing. I think I found text in church in June of 2020. We'd been back a few times a few months then.
Jeanette Yates [00:15:35]:
Robbey Smith [00:15:35]:
And I found text in church. I took your default, like, guest follow up, six week follow up template. I took that. We implemented it, made one or two minor changes, like, just personalized stuff for us, like you would encourage everybody to and all of a sudden, now we're following up with guests that well, the difference it made is now I have three full time staff people. Our church has grown 300%. We led our state in baptisms last year with 135. We've baptized over 300 people in the last three year. Average attendance is now 609, 615. And I realized this is what Texan church did for us is before texting church. I'm standing at the back door after the service is over, after you preach. It's the worst place I don't like to stand there because this is what I'm going to hear. Hey, Pastor. Great sermon today. As they walk out, I know all of my sermons aren't great. I know that some of them bomb. I know that.
Jeanette Yates [00:16:38]:
Robbey Smith [00:16:38]:
And yet people are just kind and nice and are saying that. But here's my point, is, like, when I shake your hand and you walk out the door, I have zero influence on whether you return. And if you're a new family moving into this community, and let's just say you have a family of six and you move into this community and you come and you're like, man, I like the music. Preaching was okay, kids. Ministry was awesome, but I'm going to see what's out there in the community, and so we're going to go somewhere else. Well, guess what? On Friday, before they go to that other church, they're getting a text message from me. I'm out. I'm off on Fridays. I don't even work on Fridays, right? And yet texting church gives me the ability to reach out and touch them with a personalized automated follow up. And they look at their phone and say, oh, Pastor Robbie, just know that guy's not so bad, but we're still going to check out this other church. And so they go there, and then on Monday, guess what happens. Hey, I hope you're having a great week this week. And just a genuine we care about you. I hope you're having a great week, not an ass. And they're going to do that. You guys know this. I'm preaching to the choir, but they're going to do that and get that for six weeks. Whose church do you think they're going to go to at the end of that process? And again, I had a conference yesterday. I'm preaching text in church planning center. Different softwares that we use, use these things because I'm not in competition with them. I'm just saying, guys, you're really handicapped if you don't have this. And one pastor told me. He said, I won't mention his name. He's a friend of mine for over 20 years. I won't mention it. He'll know if he listens, and that's okay, too, but I won't mention him. I will say this. I tried to get him on board, and at first he told his staff, I can't afford to do this. And so it was three weeks ago. I preached at his church. A couple of months ago. We did like a pulpit swap thing, and I needed to preach one time. He's a church of about 200 because I was going on vacation with my wife and I wanted to preach one time on vacation, he could preach for me three times and it would work out. So we swapped pulpits and had a great time. Five people were baptized that day and saved spontaneous. It was awesome. But I said hi just like a week ago. No, two weeks ago, I said hi. We changed our verbiage to connection card guessing to just say hi. Long story short, I said hi at his church like every other guest would do. And then I got an email on that Monday that had a broken link to what they call starting point, which was something that we're trying to help them get started with assimilation and his broken link. And that was the only communication I got for him. So I called him and I said, hey, dude, did you not follow up with me because, you know, I'm a pastor or because I know we have volunteers? Did you tell them, or is your follow up process one email with a broken link? He goes, I got a broken link. I said, yeah, you got a broken link, but is that it? And he's like, yeah, that's kind of it. Long story short, it has made such a difference. I am really grateful because Easter hit us. Easter and Friend Day. So March 29 till last Sunday night, we have followed up with 128 guests in our church, and the six week follow up ended with 128 guests. And since March 29, our attendance went from 515 this year to now, we're around 615. And I attribute that so much to having a first impressions team that really is intentional at getting guest info. And then we do use some technology to help us get guest info as well, and then the follow up and then assimilation. God is good, and he's doing a lot of things through these processes and these technologies. When you think about it, 300% at a time when churches are on the decline. Average church, I read an article of 55. In a time when we faced political divide, we played an election plus all of the hot political hot topics that came at us. And then it was vaccine or no vaccine in church, no church mass, all of those times that really should have destroyed because we had great follow up and software that allowed us to connect with people and a great assimilation. We are now one of the fastest growing church in our state. You have to cut me off.
Jeanette Yates [00:21:04]:
No. Well, I have follow up questions, Robbie. I've been taking notes right in my brain. Well, and so I do want to do want to just take a step back. So you basically told us everything we want to know, but I want to break it down just so our listeners, our guests will kind of be able to take that, because what Robbie just said sounds like something you're reading out of the Bible. Where the sea is parting and it's a miracle, right?
Nina Hampton [00:21:34]:
An upper womb experience.
Jeanette Yates [00:21:35]:
Yes. We know that God moves in and through all things. Yes. However, what I really like about what you said is you were doing a similar all churches do, some form of assimilation. I joked at the beginning, you may not know what that is. You may call it something different, but we all try to get people connected, right? And so you can do that without technology. However, when you are well, first of all, now there is a difference between, like, you can have technology, but not an assimilation plan, and then it doesn't do anything either. So you have to have that plan. And so, like you said at the beginning, you were doing outreach but not gathering the information and then following up with these people to get them connected and then assimilate them into your church community. So that was the first step that happened, and then that was working to an extent. But then when text and church came along and you added that technology piece, that helped you be way more efficient and fewer people are slipping through the.
Robbey Smith [00:22:46]:
Cracks, would that be a safe you cannot follow up. You cannot follow up with 128 people for a six week period, two touches for 128 people for a six week, two touches a week. No way possible. You can't do it. Yeah, Texan church, you can do it.
Nina Hampton [00:23:05]:
And it sounds like in order to be able to sustain that kind of growth, you know what I mean, there has to be a system in place for it. And I think one thing about your story, Robbie, and just the story of your church is, like, you guys did an incredible job, like, telling people about the gospel and the truth of Jesus, right? But, like, something and this is even something that me and my husband and some of our friends have just talked about is the importance of Godly community, you know what I mean? And so that's great. Getting people in the door and just in the door of the kingdom, that's kind of like what we say, you know what I mean? They're just in the door of salvation. That's great. That's awesome. But there's a whole lot more in here, you know what I'm saying? There's a whole house with rooms and that you can explore and be a part of that you can make your home here. And it sounds like that's what you guys have worked on. That's why the growth in your church has happened, because it's like the house of Redemption church has become a home for so many that didn't have a community, that didn't have a home, you know what I mean? In that way, in order to partner so that they can tell others, you know what I mean, about the truth of Christ, you know what I mean? I think for us being on the text and church team, these are the stories. I have a lot of makeup on, and this is the first day of our video podcast, so I'm trying to keep it together. But if I would let myself, if this was just audio, I would be a mess. I would be a boohoo and mess, because this is our why. This is my why I'm on this team is because the emails that I get from our members asking me how do I send a message, how do I set up a workflow, the Zoom meetings that I have with it's, so that stories like yours, Pastor Robbie, of your church, so that that exists.
Jeanette Yates [00:24:48]:
Nina Hampton [00:24:48]:
You know what I mean? So that actually those stories are real because there's real people attached to them, you know what I mean? We just look at the list of our numbers, the amount of emails that come in a day, but there are stories behind each and every one of them. So taking the time to share this with us is just such a privilege, I just have to say, yes, well, I appreciate that.
Robbey Smith [00:25:05]:
And we did have to kill some things. Like, there's no we we stopped almost instantly doing all the outreaches, and we literally started focusing. You remember there's a guy that he's in heaven now, henry Blackabee. You remember what experiencing God? Henry Blackaby. This is one of the things he said in his teaching. He said, churches are so guilty of saying, God, come bless this. He said what churches ought to do is see what is God doing and then get behind that. And so our vision shifted from, let's go out and try to get people to let's focus on the very new people that God is bringing to our building and get them plugged into places. So we had to kill stage announcements. Like, two announcements are given in our church. And one of the beauties of the whole 2020 COVID thing is that everybody started using QR codes that Apple and Android devices.
Jeanette Yates [00:25:56]:
What a comeback to that technology system.
Robbey Smith [00:25:58]:
I know, yes, because nobody would use it. You had to download this little stupid app, right? But now when you walk into our doors, we have a team of, I think on Sunday mornings, probably a team of twelve, and they are looking for new people, and they bring them over to one place. This is part of our assimilation. You bring them over to one place and you ask them to say hi. You give them a gift. Our gift box is like $20 is what it cost us per family. So it's nothing big, but you get their info and what they're doing is they're signing them into text in church. In that moment, if we have a new family that comes in the door and they have kids, and they go over to our kids check in area and they're a new family and they're getting plugged in, they're getting plugged into planning center, because that's what we use for services, for programming and things. But one of the beautiful things is, like, we don't take them from the kids check in and say, oh, they're a new family, and then bring them over and put them in text in church and make a new. Family have to register all over again, right? All we do is we simply export. Every week, we export from planning center, and we import that into our say hi group in text and church. And all of a sudden, even though they didn't technically say hi, they are now getting six weeks worth of follow up. The parents, because you will capture the parents phone number and email, and that's all we care about. Phone number, email, name. It made it so simple. And then when you get in the building, in the worship center, if our team didn't catch you, we use Subsplash for our website, and Subsplash gives you a place to do sermon notes. And so I use that. There's like literally one graphic that goes up on the screen the entire time I'm preaching. I don't put Bible passages up there for them to follow along because I want them to aim. The service always begins with, hey, if you're new to Redemption, please say hi. That's getting them in text in church. Hey, if you've been here a minute and you want to get connected and you want to have fun, make friends. And we have a three weekend experience called Next Steps. That's our assimilation process. Scan this code. It'll take you to a website you can sign up for say hi. Sign up. And then at the very bottom, there's a sermon outline. And when they click sermon outline, guess what's in the top place for them to say hi? Little blue link in case they didn't do it right. And then our church is reading the text. Like, I'll bold some words, and I'll encourage them to read with us. So you may not do it the first time you get here, but if you want to be a part of the fun and the worship service, reading the word together, certain words, eventually you'll get there and you'll do it. And people will say hi. But we don't give 15 options. We're creating a lazy river. And the only option is next steps. Get them there.
Nina Hampton [00:28:33]:
That's a great analogy.
Jeanette Yates [00:28:34]:
So I've heard a couple of things that you've just said, and I just want to recap them. One of the things is you're very intentional about your you know, you have a plan like we talked about. You can have a tool, but if you don't have a plan, doesn't do any good. So you have a plan. It's very specific. And like you said, lazy river style, one way in. But you give them multiple options for the same entry point. It's okay. So some people sometimes get that confused. Like, am I supposed to have multiple options, or am I not supposed to have multiple? That can be confusing. So you want to have one entry point into getting into a follow up, getting started in that assimilation process for them. But you want to have multiple ways they can access. There are several different ways. If you go to Robbie's church that you can say hi and several different options. So you might have walked past the other ways, but there's going to be a few more points. So I really like that. And then the second thing I was thinking about is assimilate them into so you have an assimilation plan, but part of that is what are you inviting them into? And Nina touched on this a little bit with you're inviting them into that community, and you just gave that great illustration of, like, people start wanting to be like, I want to say the words, I want to do that. That sounds fun. And so they get into it. But also, you mentioned something when you were talking about this, how not only your guests follow up is increasing, but your serve team, what did you call them? You had a great name.
Robbey Smith [00:30:11]:
So we have change makers.
Nina Hampton [00:30:12]:
Change makers, yeah.
Jeanette Yates [00:30:13]:
And more people start serving, which is part of what you're asking people as they assimilate into the community. You invite them to serve. You invite them into a Bible study. You invite them to learn more about becoming a Christian, whatever that happens to be. That's part of what you're doing. That's what you're assimilating them into. So you also want to be strategic about, okay, once we get their information, what are we going to invite them to?
Robbey Smith [00:30:39]:
Otherwise, where do you want them to go? Where do you want them to go? So let me say one thing. We'll clarify one thing and maybe another analogy. The funnel can be big, I think is what you're saying, Jeanette, is the funnel can be big, but it brings them to that one place, which is what we call next steps, which is our assimilation. So when they come into the room for assimilation, this is the magic. It's 20 minutes of content, and it's 40 minutes of fun icebreakers. I mean, if there's not laughter coming from that room as people sit around round tables, because the whole goal of that process is to get them to make friends with one another. Because at a church of at 100, you'll know, I spoke with the pastor of the day. He had 100 people in his church. Oh, I know every guest that comes in. I got you. But at 200, you won't know. You will have no clue how many people that are new and are slipping through the cracks. So you have to get people connected with one another. And then what you're saying is so true assimilation's plan is so we do a three weekend experience. The first week, we're going to share the gospel. That's the 20 minutes of content. And we do that in the story of this is how I, at age 26, met Jesus, and this is how we started the church. This is God's story in the church. And then we say God's story in your life as well, and we share one or two Bible passages from Romans, share the gospel with them. And again, they're having fun. So they're going to come back the next week, sit at the same room, in the same table with the same people. There may be 1215 people, eight, six people, I don't know, depending on who signed up that week. But they're literally going to sit around the table and the goal is to have fun. We'll have gift cards that you give away for the games that we're playing because it's got to be fun, right? And they're building relationships. And week two they're going to hear about community, the importance of being in a small group and being on a daily reading plan, personal disciplines, community. But then week three, and that's what you're getting at, Jeanette, is week three when they'll take a tour. And this is so powerful if you can figure this out, like how to do this in your church. But we walk out one day, I was watching a tour happen and one of our volunteers and leaders in next steps was giving a great tour. She was in the foyer and she's talking about here's where you serve coffee, here's where you open doors, here's where guests comes in, here's where kids check in is. And I listened to her talk about that and I said, hey, you mind if I interrupt you for just a moment? She said, oh, sure, Pastor Robbie. And I said, let me tell you something, there are a lot of tasks in this foyer, a lot of tasks. But this job is not about the task. Anybody can make coffee, anybody can check it. We can teach you those things in 5 minutes or less. I said, there's nothing hard here. The thing I want you to realize is, and this is a very true story, is this morning in the 11:00 service, there's going to be a young lady walk into this room, into this building. And I know this because I'm her pastor, ten days ago, after a decade of marriage, her and her husband decided to call it quits. She's coming here and guess what? Three days ago she got diagnosed with breast cancer. But she's going to come here. It's not about giving her coffee. It's about making her feel welcome. And it's about loving on her. Let me give you a coffee, let me cheer you up, let me pray for you, let me just love on you a little bit. And by the way, do you mind saying hi? And take that person over to the hello desk, give them a gift. They're going to give us their info. We're going to follow up with them for six weeks. And that's what this is about. And so when they get done with that tour and they're going to every ministry and they're hearing the big picture that way of what every ministry, the power behind that. And then they walk back into a room, and there's a piece of paper sitting on a round table they've been sitting at the whole time. And it has four or five options, and it says, Where would you like to try serving one time? Because Jesus didn't come to be served. He came to serve. We are created in his likeness. We're born again regenerated. His spirit is in us. There's a need. We need to serve like our master. And so you need this. It's not that we need this from you have 200 and another six people serving, but you need this. So where would you like to try once? We're not locking you in for a year. Where do you like to try once? They will check the box. They will check the box, and then our ministry staff has one week to get them scheduled, like, within seven to ten days. They have to be on a schedule. And you're like, Wait a minute, I forgot my schedule is built out awesome. But you can have two people doing this. When that's over, then there's a follow up. Hey, what did you like in kids ministry? Or how did you like pointing a camera in the media team? Or how did you like with first impressions or whatever it is? And they say, yeah, I like that. Can I put you on a schedule? And what you've just done is you've taken somebody who may have walked in your door five weeks ago, and two weeks later, they got into your lazy river. And as the lazy river ends, there's one place to get out, and that one place right now for us is serving. And so that's where we want them to go. In the future, I will tell you there's going to be a couple of exits. One will be small groups and intentional. Here's a leader. You can go try that. It's always developing and always growing, but that's where we're at now. There's a reason that theme parks and any place where you can go and drop a ton of money right with your kids when they let you out of the park, do you know what's at the exit always? It happens in the grocery store. Yes. Churches have to be wise. Wise like servants, harmless like doves. It's like when you let somebody out of next steps. You've got to let them out in a place you want them to go through, and we want them to go through serving, because when they get in serving, they go from just checking this church out to now. I have a responsibility to be there, and I get to be a part of God's work.
Jeanette Yates [00:36:34]:
Yeah, okay. I'm blown away. Nina. I don't know about you.
Nina Hampton [00:36:38]:
I am now I'm more fired up, I think. I'm more like I'm trying real hard to keep myself from shouting, let's just.
Robbey Smith [00:36:45]:
Go to church right now.
Nina Hampton [00:36:46]:
Let's just have some church.
Robbey Smith [00:36:48]:
Let's break it down. Let's get some Bible going.
Jeanette Yates [00:36:50]:
I mean, Robbie, this has been such an inspiring but empowering talk, I think not just for our listeners. We hope that it inspires empowers them, but we are both I don't know. I'm going to let you speak for yourself, Nina, but I am reminded of why I do what I do at my church, right? And so this has just been a great conversation. Nina. Share your thoughts.
Nina Hampton [00:37:17]:
Share your thoughts on that. And I think that this is why I say that I'm fired up. A lot of the language that you use, Pastor Robbie, is like, the same language, you know what I mean? Maybe different wording. Right. We're probably in different areas of the country, but the same heart behind everything of why my husband and I serve at the church that we do. We've had those exact talks. One of the things that my pastor says, he's also a great friend of my husband and I, that he says is like that new person that you don't know that's coming in the door. Treat them like they're the person that you've been praying for to come to Christ for the last ten years. You know what I mean? And that's the why you can look at it. I also help lead our production team at our church on Sunday morning. So sometimes I'm running around like a chicken with my head cut off, and it's really easy to get caught up in the task.
Jeanette Yates [00:38:09]:
Frazzled to focus, Nina. Frazzled to focus.
Nina Hampton [00:38:12]:
Right, exactly. Caught up in all of the things. Okay, I need to make sure that the iPad is live streaming on YouTube, right, and is the audio.
Jeanette Yates [00:38:20]:
Nina Hampton [00:38:20]:
And you know what I mean? Like, does the worship team have everything that they need? And it's really easy to get caught up in all of that, and I forsake that why of why we're doing this. It kind of takes the heart out of it, you know what I mean? And thankfully, by the grace of God, jesus will still use that, you know what I'm saying? But I want to partner with what he's doing, you know what saying? Like, I want to partner with what God is doing in the so I think just hearing your story is a story of stewardship, of well, good stewardship.
Jeanette Yates [00:38:52]:
Speaking of stewardship, though, when you learned you were pouring out this money and there was not the fruit that you needed that you felt was necessary for your ministry, you switch that. And you mentioned that your gifts are $20 that you give people at some churches that's like the whole budget for.
Robbey Smith [00:39:16]:
The year for and it can be $2. It can be jar of jelly.
Jeanette Yates [00:39:21]:
Robbey Smith [00:39:21]:
Give them a reason to give you their info.
Jeanette Yates [00:39:25]:
But that is a good way to say, okay, let's reallocate some of those funds so we can pay for these $20 gift gifts that we can give people or whatever.
Nina Hampton [00:39:34]:
Juan I think even before that the fact that once you realized because half of the struggle I think of ministry a lot of the times my husband and I have been in ministry for a while, right? Probably not as long as you, but a while. And we've seen it's not just identifying the issue, but doing what's necessary to change it. And I think that seeing that, you're like, okay, I don't know what it is I'm doing wrong. Until you listen to this podcast, you heard this guy who had the answers, and not only did you implement whatever he was saying, you brought him out and had him teach your team. That's a big that's that's a big deal. And that's why I say that it's a story of good stewardship. You know what I mean?
Jeanette Yates [00:40:16]:
This reminds me to Nina of Mike Elliott, one of our other guests that we had on the podcast, where he was in transition between two different he didn't have a current assignment. We'll say it that way. And he did not let that stop him from sharing things that he had learned, just like you're doing. So I think that is a good example of not only stewarding your monetary, your financial resources, but also sharing what you've learned to help other people, to help other pastors stop spinning their wheels.
Robbey Smith [00:40:54]:
I'm going to tell you something, guys are wore out. Pastors are I saw something the other day where so many leaders and pastors are leaving the ministry and this is what technology will do for you. And this is the scare, right? I'm going to have to learn something new, and I don't have the time and energy to do that. But here's the reality. What text and Church Planning Center, what Subsplash has empowered us to do is we're able to get back to the thing, because, Nina, you talked about it a second ago. It gives us the ability to get back to what Jesus really called us to do, because here's the truth, which is people love on people, love God, love others and serve people. But what happens is, as we grow, if you don't allow technology to take over something. Because here's the deal. You don't know to actually try it out for the first time, but you are going to give technology like text in church, you're going to give them the ability to text people and communicate with them so that you can do other things. You're going to give Planning Center the ability to schedule people so that you can be with those folks again, right? And I'm not going to run around the room looking for new people because now I have a team of people. I can be there to preach the word and pray for our congregation. It's better stewardship of your time. And maybe last story, I don't know how much time we have, but last story, we did a podcast earlier on the Hope Ministry.
Jeanette Yates [00:42:24]:
Yeah, you did a video for us so that we could share that with our audience.
Robbey Smith [00:42:31]:
Yes. Let me give you a little that video that we shot at the end. I said, hey, if you have any questions about we talked about, reach out to me at Rsmith@redemptionow.com. I'll be glad that I had like ten or twelve pastors reach out starting that ministry, right, a ministry just like that. And then one church said, hey, so can we help get this set up? And we started talking about assimilation, next steps, and started talking to them about our strategy. I call it the Easter playbook. What we do five or six weeks before Easter to maximize the number of people are in your building. And this church is in Nebraska, prairie Lane Church in Nebraska, a little bit under 100 people. I've never been to Nebraska, but I did two zoom calls with them, me and the simulation pastor probably did three or four phone calls with them. We got them set up. I got a text the other day. It was the week after Easter, maybe that Monday after Easter. And he said, 26 new people showed up at our church. This is how he said it, 26 new people showed up and said hi, which is our verbiage, which means because they bought text in church. Because when he had them say hi, he did exactly what we did. Now they're in the system in a six week follow up, that template that you all had. And then he said to me, and these are guys in their sixty s and seventy s, and it's an older congregation. He said to me just yesterday in this conference, I'm teaching pastors about this, I got another text message, and he said, I had six people go through step one. I had another eight people join step two of next steps. At the end of this, we're going to have, I think he said somewhere around ten or twelve new people serving in the church. And he was asking questions about that third step because we've told him, make it your own, take a bit of peace, what we're doing, we just want to help you get started. So the reality is, technology doesn't care if you're contemporary or traditional, doesn't care if you're 1000 people or if you're 100 people. Technology like text and church planning center, these things, they're affordable. You don't have to have a year long subscription. Try it for a stinking month, see if it doesn't pay off. You know what I mean? It will pay for itself. I'm just telling you it'll pay for know. I attribute guest follow up and text in church our assimilation so guest follow up with text in church and our assimilation that we got from Greg Curtis climbing the assimilations. I think they're the reason why god works through process, and I think those things are the reason why we're one of the fastest growing church. We got to be one of the fastest growing probably might be the fastest growing church in this season in our area. It's why the baptisms. I've got more small group leaders than I've ever had and I've asked no one to do that. It's what happens when you get people plugged in. The point is, you just have to let technology trust. I will say this, it was a bit when I first started, like the first month, I was like, people were walking in the door and a church our size, I didn't know I knew their faces, but I didn't know their names. And they would say, hey, pastor, got your text. And I'm like, you don't even have my number. What are you talking about?
Jeanette Yates [00:45:42]:
It's a little bit of a shift.
Robbey Smith [00:45:44]:
It is. And then I'm like, oh, wait a minute. This is text insurance. This is what they're talking about. That happened a dozen times before I caught on. And at some point, I tell them, I did send that text. That is not my cell phone number. Don't text me back thinking that I'm going to get that. I can, but I've got somebody else that looks at those anyway. Got to let technology help you out.
Jeanette Yates [00:46:10]:
Yeah, that's Robbie.
Nina Hampton [00:46:11]:
This has been just the richest time and just hearing about your story, your church, everything, to wrap up our time together, if there was encouragement that you would give to an overwhelmed pastor, overwhelmed church communications, who's like, I don't even know where to start, what to do, what would you say? Just a little snippet of encouragement.
Robbey Smith [00:46:30]:
I would say that the reason your church is not growing is not its music. It's not your preaching. I don't think the articles and the podcasts and I don't think anybody's ever intention was to put that weight on you as a pastor or a leader. That it's your ability and you're the bottleneck. And there's a lot of truth that's been written over the last decade, but they never intended to put the weight on you. And when you own that, you start feeling like a failure. You start doubting your calling when in reality, you just need a clear plan. My preaching is not better than anybody else in this area, right? There are guys who have a lot smaller church that I believe bring the word better than I do. You just have to develop a process if you want our help. It's Rsmith@redemptionnow.com. I mean, it's free. I'm here to help the kingdom grow. So we'll figure it out. We'll help you. I've even offered to send our assimilation pastor on our dime to churches to help them get that started. So what I would say to you is quit wearing that and feeling like you're a failure when in reality you're doing what God called you to. And you're just in a season where it's time for you to start implementing some very low budget technology that works amazing. And I promise you, whether you're in Nebraska, Illinois, whether you're in a metropolitan area, you need this because it's going to give you we're following up with 128 guests. And guess what? I was out mowing my lawn when that was happening. You know what I mean? It's automated, it's personalized, and it's a home run.
Jeanette Yates [00:48:02]:
Well, Robbie, you are such a gift to our community and to your community, and we will make sure, since you just said it on the podcast, to have a way that can contact you in our description here of the podcast. But we are going to wrap up today's show. Thank you so much for your time. And like I said, we're going to have to process all this because it's been so wonderful. Thank you so much. And I'll be reaching out to you soon, and I'll make sure, like I said, that we'll allow people to reach out to you as well.
Robbey Smith [00:48:35]:
Jeanette and Nina, great to meet you guys. Thanks for the time today.
Jeanette Yates [00:48:38]:
Nina Hampton [00:48:38]:
Thanks so much. That's a wrap on today's show. We'd love to hear how your church gets new people integrated into your ministries. Head over to the comments of this video to share your assimilation tips or questions.
Jeanette Yates [00:48:51]:
And if you want to know how tech tools like text and church can help you spend less time worrying about technology and more time doing what you love in your ministry and in your personal life. Make sure to subscribe wherever you are listening to this episode so you won't miss out on future episodes. Thanks a lot and.