300 episodes

Are you looking for practical ministry help to drive your ministry further ... faster?

Have a sinking feeling that your ministry training didn't prepare you for the real world?

Hey ... you're not alone! Join thousands of others in pursuit of stuff they wish they taught in seminary.

Published every Thursday the goal of the unSeminary podcast is to be an encouragement to Pastors and Church Leaders with practical help you can apply to your ministry right away.

unSeminary Podcast Rich Birch

    • Religion & Spirituality
    • 4.7 • 103 Ratings

Are you looking for practical ministry help to drive your ministry further ... faster?

Have a sinking feeling that your ministry training didn't prepare you for the real world?

Hey ... you're not alone! Join thousands of others in pursuit of stuff they wish they taught in seminary.

Published every Thursday the goal of the unSeminary podcast is to be an encouragement to Pastors and Church Leaders with practical help you can apply to your ministry right away.

    Setting Roots, Spurring Growth: Thriving New Campus Location Growth with Aaron Stanski & Aaron Mora

    Setting Roots, Spurring Growth: Thriving New Campus Location Growth with Aaron Stanski & Aaron Mora

    Thanks for joining the unSeminary podcast. Today we’re talking with two Aarons—Aaron Stanski, CEO and Founder of Risepointe, and Aaron Mora, the Alma Campus Pastor of Community Church in north central Michigan.

    If your church is growing, chances are you’ve wrestled with questions about your location or building meeting your ministry needs. Tune in to hear the story of Community Church’s growth and how Risepointe walked alongside them as they tried to find a suitable location for their Alma campus.

    * The Needs Analysis. // Like Community Church, most of the churches that reach out to Risepointe go through The Needs Analysis process. This information helps Risepointe understand who they are as a church, problems they’re trying to solve, their unique ministry DNA, and who they’re trying to reach. For Community Church, not only did The Needs Analysis answer many of their questions, Aaron Mora recognizes it was critical to helping Risepointe get to know them and design what they wanted and needed.

    * Take the next step. // A building project is a step of faith. Anxiety and fear that might keep you from moving forward. Aaron Mora admits that while it’s tempting to stay comfortable, Community Church sensed God leading them in this direction. He recognizes that God provided Risepointe and their wealth of experience to offer the encouragement and expertise Community Church needed to move forward with confidence.

    * Set the guardrails. // As Aaron Stanski notes, buildings aren’t going to do ministry, people are. Risepointe is aware that they are handing over a tool to church leaders so they can further grow their ministry. As a result, Risepointe approaches a project with a church by measuring kingdom impact and how to unleash it in the area. Laying out a clear budget and cash flow positive plan that lines up with giving in the early phase is critical. Set guardrails in place regarding what is needed and what the budget is so you can drive the project toward success. 

    * Don’t let doubt creep in. // Expect that people will have opinions on what’s being done in a building project, but don’t receive it all as negative. Recognize that change will be hard for a lot of people; don’t let the comments cause you to doubt your decisions.

    * Renovating vs building new. // When considering a building project, it’s important to understand how you’re using your buildings. Be really intentional with the decisions you’re making and examine the pros and cons of building new versus renovating an existing space. Risepointe walks their clients through a decision making matrix to help them understand how they want to develop their sites. Aaron Stanski explains that, in general, you’ll spend about twice as much money building new as you would doing a renovation.

    * Follow God’s calling. // If you’re trying to decide whether to move forward with building or renovating a location versus portable church, ask yourself, is this what God is calling you to do? God leads us to different strategies in different seasons. Walking through The Needs Analysis with Risepointe doesn’t obligate you to a building project, but rather can help clarify the direction that’s best for your church in your current season of ministry.

    You can learn more about Community Church at www.communitymi.org. Visit Risepointe’s website at www.risepointe.com to schedule a free call, walk through The Needs Analysis, or explore recent projects.

    Thank You for Tuning In!

    The Discipleship Opportunity: Blueprint for a Post-Everything Church with Daniel Im

    The Discipleship Opportunity: Blueprint for a Post-Everything Church with Daniel Im

    Welcome back to the unSeminary podcast. We have Daniel Im joining us, the Lead Pastor of Beulah Alliance Church in Alberta, Canada. 

    The world is a very different place from what it was just a few years ago. While it’s tempting for churches to try to find a way back to how things used to be, is that actually the best way forward? Tune in as Daniel challenges churches to change their leadership strategies and approach making disciples, evangelism, and preaching in a different way.

    * Spiritual hunger. // Beulah Alliance Church has experienced significant growth while accommodating the expanding population of Edmonton, Alberta. The city is a microcosm of the global shifts we’re seeing, with its post-Christian culture and increasing diversity. Yet even in this context there’s a noticeable spiritual hunger and a quest for deeper meaning. People are more open to exploring the supernatural and are seeking purpose beyond the material world, including exploring Christianity.

    * Post-everything world. // Everything in today’s world is vying for our attention as church leaders. During the pandemic it was racial tensions and masking mandates. Now it’s everything happening politically. Jesus needs to be our North Star above everything else. Experience the move of the Holy Spirit and share the truth from scripture. Orient yourselves around King Jesus and hold to your convictions.

    * Church and growth. // Daniel began digging into the church growth movement asking what assumptions are we still believing? He looked back seventy years to the beginning of the movement and discovered we have assumptions about church and growth, which lead to a lot of shame. We need to lay aside assumptions that, of course, people will come to church and, of course, the church will grow today.

    * Focus on the interested. // Most churches focus either more on discipleship for believers or evangelism for unbelievers. Daniel challenges us to consider another axis. Rather than trying to attract and create interest, what if we shifted our focus to engaging those who are already interested? Shift your focus in preaching, discipleship, and evangelism to be focused on the interested, whether they are Christians or non-Christians.

    * Leaving room for the Holy Spirit. // Rather than trying to be better than the church next door, give people the truth and word of God in a way that peaks curiosity and holds attention. Be compelling in preaching and have excellence, but also leave room for the Holy Spirit to move.

    * The Great Commission. // Daniel wrote a book called “The Discipleship Opportunity: Leading a Great-Commission Church in a Post-Everything World” which digs more deeply into this framework. Here he explores the four quadrants of engagement which include: sleepers (uninterested non-Christians), consumers (uninterested Christians), seekers (interested non-Christians), and fully discipled individuals (interested Christians). The first half of Daniel’s book focuses on deconstructing our assumptions about the church growth movement. The second half explores strategies for reaching, discipling, and preaching to the sleepers, seekers, consumers, and disciples in our post-everything world.

    You can learn more about Daniel’s books at www.danielim.com and follow Beulah Alliance Church at www.beulah.ca.

    Thank You for Tuning In!

    There are a lot of podcasts you could be tuning into today, but you chose unSeminary, and I’m grateful for that. If you enjoyed today’s show,

    The Staff Health Puzzle: How Central Christian Operationalizes Alignment with Joe Platania

    The Staff Health Puzzle: How Central Christian Operationalizes Alignment with Joe Platania

    Thanks for joining in the unSeminary podcast. We’re talking with Joe Platania today, the Executive Pastor of Human Resources, Staff Development, and the Central Leadership Institute at Central Christian Church in Arizona.

    Maintaining a healthy staff culture at a growing church is no small feat, particularly when you have multiple campuses. How do you lay a healthy foundation and build upon it well? Tune in as Joe shares a wealth of wisdom about leadership modeling, staff development, deep dives into organizational health, and more.

    * Health starts at the top. // Functioning with a healthy staff culture all begins with the foundation being laid by the leadership. A church’s senior leadership needs to model healthy behaviors, being transparent, vulnerable, and accountable. These are the pillars that support a thriving organizational culture. At Central Christian they’ve also developed leadership promises, a set of commitments that guide their leaders in fostering this positive environment.

    * Build it and then sustain it. // With the leadership creating a healthy foundation, it’s important to continue to cultivate that health by keeping the church in certain rhythms. Create a church calendar, policies, processes, and practices that keep the church moving forward in ways that sustain health, and then drive it through the organization. Build trust with your staff by addressing the problems they see. Ask them for feedback and then focus on process improvement.

    * Be accountable with each other. // Some things that Joe and his team worked on to improve their team culture at Central Christian were leadership promises, model clarity, and role clarity. Every January the leadership go through a 360 review process based on the leadership promises, which allows staff to provide feedback and keeps leadership accountable.

    * Maintain alignment. // One of the most challenging aspects of a multisite church is maintaining alignment and role clarity across campuses. Like other churches, Central Christian has their mission and vision. However, they are also crystal clear about being a centralized model of ministry and ensuring decisions, staff roles and job descriptions across their campuses support that model.

    * Deep dive with your team. // Joe maintains organizational health by meeting with his ministry teams for “deep dives”. These data-gathering sessions are crucial for celebrating wins, measuring important metrics, evaluating systems and processes, assessing leadership effectiveness, and pinpointing areas for improvement. The data collected from these sessions is then used to develop actionable plans and measure the success of implemented solutions.

    Learn more about Central Christian Church at www.centralaz.com and click here to download a Team Reflection Deep Dive PDF which details the six deep dive questions that Joe discusses.

    Thank You for Tuning In!

    There are a lot of podcasts you could be tuning into today, but you chose unSeminary, and I’m grateful for that. If you enjoyed today’s show, please share it by using the social media buttons you see at the left hand side of this page. Also, kindly consider taking the 60-seconds it takes to leave an honest review and rating for the podcast on iTunes, they’re extremely helpful when it comes to the ranking of the show and you can bet ...

    From 1,000 to 2,000 in 1,000 Days: Most Churches’ First Steps

    From 1,000 to 2,000 in 1,000 Days: Most Churches’ First Steps

    This is part four of an ongoing series where we explore the “Goldilocks growth rate”—a concept aimed at helping churches grow at a pace that’s impactful yet sustainable.

    Understanding the Goldilocks Growth Rate

    The Goldilocks growth rate is all about balancing rapid growth with the ability to effectively integrate new members into your church community. The goal is to grow faster than the natural population increase in your community while avoiding burnout among your team. To maintain momentum, churches must address the inevitable 15% attrition rate caused by people moving away, disagreements, or life changes.

    Three Crucial Metrics

    * 15% Attrition Rate: This is a baseline assumption. Every church loses about 15% of its members annually due to various reasons.

    * 3% Documented New Guests Weekly: For a church of 1,000, this means capturing contact information for 30 new guests each week.

    * 26% Retention Rate: Retaining 26% of new guests to become regular attendees is essential. This helps achieve an overall growth rate of 26%.

    When these metrics are met consistently over 1,000 days, a church can effectively double its size.

    Focus on the Front Door

    Many churches concentrate on retention (the back door) but often overlook the importance of attracting new visitors (the front door). Most churches need to increase their efforts on inviting and documenting new guests to ensure sustainable growth. Simple yet effective strategies to enhance your church’s invite culture include:

    * Shareable Weekend Teaching: Make your weekend messages compelling and easily shareable to encourage congregants to invite their friends.

    * Eventful Big Days: Leverage special events like Christmas and Easter when people are more likely to invite their friends.

    * Captivating Online Conversations: Engage with your community online to spark discussions and keep people connected.

    * Magnetic Community Service: Organize community service events that attract both volunteers and attendees.

    * Appealing Volunteer Experience: Create volunteer opportunities that are enjoyable and fulfilling, encouraging participants to invite others.

    Resources to Boost Your Church’s Growth

    To support churches in these efforts, we offer two key resources:

    * “Unlocking Your Church’s Invite Culture“: This book provides a primer on the five gears of invite culture, offering practical examples and strategies.

    * Church Growth Incubator: A year-long program featuring bi-monthly calls, quarterly intensives, and two in-person retreats to equip church leaders with the latest research and proven tactics for growth.

    Success Stories and Proven Results

    Churches participating in the Church Growth Incubator have seen remarkable results, with an average of 4.22% documented new guests weekly, far surpassing the 3% target. This significant increase translates to over 2,000 new guests annually for a church of 1,000 members, showcasing the effectiveness of sustained, strategic efforts.

    Read the Book

    Unlock the potential of your church’s invite culture with our latest book, “Unlocking Your Church’s Invite Culture“. This book is designed to be a practical guide for you and your team,

    Beyond Accessibility: Gail Ewell’s Vision for Church Inclusivity

    Beyond Accessibility: Gail Ewell’s Vision for Church Inclusivity

    Welcome back to the unSeminary podcast. Today we’re talking with Gail Ewell a leader at Bay Area Christian Church and Hope Technology School.

    Gail’s story is one of personal struggle and triumph. As a mother of children with special needs, she faced significant challenges in attending church. Her experiences shed light on the isolation and strain that families with special needs often endure. It was through these personal trials that Gail’s passion for inclusivity within the church was ignited.

    Tune in as Gail shares how the simple step of a church extending friendship can transform a community.

    * Focus on the isolation and strain. // It’s estimated that about one in five children are neurodivergent and yet 85% of churches don’t have ministries that can support them. In California, 1 in 22 children are diagnosed with autism and other types of disabilities are on the rise. Bay Area Christian Church (BACC) is committed to inclusivity and working to address the isolation and strain of special needs families.

    * Spiritual Resource Ministry. // It’s not uncommon for parents and children to miss church because it can be difficult to attend with a child’s special needs. BACC has developed spiritual resource ministries which promote the inclusion of people and families with special needs so that they don’t feel isolated. It began with smaller classes that are more sensory-friendly and include both neurotypical and neurodivergent children. From there it grew to creating E-sports and E-life which offer inclusive programs for a variety of activities, from soccer and karate to gardening and photography.

    * Partner with others. // Because the goal is to include rather than segregate, Bay Area Christian partners with other youth ministries, professional sports teams, guest speakers and more. Identify the needs in your community and the gifting in your church and how you can pair the two together. Partner with organizations, schools, ministries, businesses and teams in your area to provide inclusive opportunities for children with special needs.

    * Start small. // Gail encourages churches that feel overwhelmed and don’t know where to begin to start small. Extend friendship to the special needs community in your area because there is often a friendship deficit here. Anyone can give the gift of listening or friendship. Not only are you building relationships among the children, but their families also benefit from being able to connect with others.

    * Provide training. // The success of inclusive programs is largely dependent on the volunteers who bring them to life. Gail emphasizes the importance of training these individuals, underscoring the biblical principles of friendship, encouragement and support for the vulnerable. Recognizing and appreciating these volunteers is crucial, as they are the ones who make a tangible difference in the lives of special needs individuals and their families.

    * Seek understanding. // If you’re facing challenges and concerns, open a dialogue with the family affected by special needs in order to know how to best interact with their child. Seek to understand what is needed and what you may not have considered in your program or outreach.

    * Meeting a critical need. // While it can feel intimidating to step onto the path of developing a spiritual resource ministry, Gail encourages churches to just begin. Remote areas may not have a lot of services for special needs children and families. There’s a big opportunity for churches to step in and offer purpose and occasions for inclusion. It begins with a heart to love people, extend friendship and meet a need.

    • 36 min
    Key Takeaways from XPS 2024: Navigating Organizational Doubt, Leadership Stages & Target Audiences

    Key Takeaways from XPS 2024: Navigating Organizational Doubt, Leadership Stages & Target Audiences

    This week, we delve into the highlights of the XP Summit 2024, or XPS, as it’s affectionately known within the executive pastor community. Held at the vibrant Flatirons Church in Denver, this year’s event was a powerhouse of insights, connections, and practical takeaways for church leaders. Here are some key points from my solo podcast episode recapping the event.

    The Essence of XPS

    The XP Summit is an annual gathering that brings together executive pastors from across the country to share, learn, and grow. While the content is always top-notch, what truly sets XPS apart is the emphasis on building lasting relationships. It’s not just about what you learn, but who you meet. These connections become invaluable when navigating the inevitable challenges of church leadership.

    Organizational Doubt: A Model for Understanding

    One of the standout sessions was led by Jesse DeYoung, the lead executive pastor at Flatirons Church. Jesse unpacked a fascinating model for understanding organizational doubt, breaking it down into five levels:

    * Suspended Doubt: Complete confidence in the organization.

    * Operational Doubt: Questions about the efficiency of processes.

    * Ideological Doubt: Concerns about the mission and relevance of the organization.

    * Ethical Doubt: Doubts about the integrity or capability of leadership.

    * Absolute Doubt: Pervasive doubt affecting all aspects of the organization.

    Jesse emphasized the importance of addressing doubts early, as unresolved doubts can escalate, ultimately leading to disengagement or departures. A key takeaway was that individuals often express doubt one level higher than they actually feel, making it crucial to dig deeper into their concerns.

    Check out Jesse’ past podcast: Rebuilding a Team Culture That Was Broken with Jesse DeYoung

    Leadership Stages: Seasons of Contribution

    Lee Coates from Las Vegas presented a compelling framework for understanding the different stages of leadership based on age and contribution:

    * Prince/Princess (18-25 years): Driven by passion and curiosity but prone to entitlement.

    * Warrior/Warrioress (25-40 years): Focused on energy and purpose, with burnout as a potential dark side.

    * King/Queen (40-60 years): Valued for experience and direction but must guard against disengagement.

    * Sage/Muse (60+ years): Offer wisdom and advisory support, yet must avoid pushing personal agendas.

    Lee highlighted the importance of recognizing and nurturing the unique contributions of leaders at each stage, ensuring a balanced and effective team.

    Check out Lee’s past episode: Reflecting on Seasons of Life, Leadership & Their Impact on Your Team with Lee Coate

    Target Audiences: Actual vs. Aspirational

    Kayra Montañez from Liquid Church shared insightful strategies on identifying and targeting different audience segments. Liquid Church focuses on both actual and aspirational target audiences to align their ministry efforts effectively. The key groups they are addressing include:

    • 16 min

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5
103 Ratings

103 Ratings

W. Warren ,


Rich Birch consistently provides very helpful tools for Kingdom growth through church growth. His podcasts are an outstanding resource!

Wtrmrk ,

Practical and helpful

Love the practical nature of this show. I went to seminary, and much of what I was taught revolved around seminary and high-level concepts. This show interviews practitioners who have learned from experience. Wish I knew about it earlier!

Clueless Leader ,

Growth and Help Resource

I’m very thankful for Rich and his team at UnSeminary. The content is regularly updated and always applicable to leaders in church and ministry. I’ve experienced significant growth through the application of wisdom shared in this podcast. So many tools and resources shared here to help answer questions and help our teams serve the community in greater ways for the Kingdom!

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