CNLP 322: James Emery White on Why He Shut Down Multisite, the Future of Digital Outreach and How to Grow Your Church Younger As the Leader Grows Older

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In an age where many churches and businesses are opening locations, James Emery White decided to close all of his…and experienced the biggest growth they’ve had in years.

Jim explains why they did it, how it happened, why he’s investing so much in digital outreach and how to grow your church younger when you grow older as a leader.

Welcome to Episode 322 of the podcastListen and access the show notes below or search for the Carey Nieuwhof Leadership Podcast on Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts and listen for free.

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Mecklenburg Community Church

3 Insights from Jim

1. We need to be married to the mission not the methodology

So many churches fall in love with how they are doing church that it begins to take priority over the mission. James Emery White does his best to keep the opposite mindset at all levels of their organization. For them, the mission is sacred and nothing else. If something doesn’t help more people come to Jesus, they don’t do it.

One way that he does this is by casting the vision to the church often and heavy. He attacks the mindsets that put people’s preference over reaching the lost, and he challenges his people to “die to themselves” a disproportionately high amount. He believes that this is one of their biggest success factors.

2. We have to give people the option of staying anonymous as long as possible

Jim has taken their church in the direction of having more and more evangelism and outreach happen online. When they get people into these processes, they are very intentional about letting people stay anonymous as long as they would like. Once people come out into the public, then they engage them in community.

This is the modern example of someone sitting in the back by the exit for months and finally stepping forward to volunteer, become baptized, or some other form of engagement. Those people had the option to stay anonymous if they would like, and our online audiences need that option as well.

3. If you want to be relevant to the next generation, be yourself

So many pastors think that the key to staying relevant with the next generation is to wear hipster glasses, tight jeans, and talk as though you are super young and hip. Jim argues that this is actually weird to the next generation. They would much prefer that you be yourself and be a mentor for them however you can be.

The next generation has endless access to information and almost no access to wisdom. They’ve never been parented and they’ve never had a functional family. So, if you can be that father figure and a wisdom figure who is culturally literate and who is relevant, but who’s bringing wisdom to bear, and get to a place where you’re almost fathering them in a way they never were fathered, the attraction is just palpable.

Quotes from Episode 322

'Multisite is a physical approach in a digital world. @JamesEmeryWhite Click To Tweet When you've started something, it takes a certain degree of humility and courage to end it. @cnieuwhof Click To Tweet Most databases these days are completely outdated. @JamesEmeryWhite Click To Tweet I'm very cold-hearted toward methodology. @JamesEmeryWhite Click To Tweet We really did have a culture where everybody realized it's all about the mission. @JamesEmeryWhite Click To Tweet I've often said that, when you're dealing with the depraved church and every church is depraved, you have to spend a disproportionate amount of energy on those things that involve death of self. @JamesEmeryWhite Click To Tweet We really want the online experience to be wide open and then they can let us know when they're ready, because otherwise we could scare them off. @JamesEmeryWhite Click To Tweet Today’s young people have endless access to information and almost no access to wisdom. @JamesEmeryWhite Click To Tweet I want to bring on people who intuitively know what to do, and they only come to you when they need coaching or help pass something over to think through something. @JamesEmeryWhite Click To Tweet

Read or Download the Transcript for Episode 322

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Read or download a free PDF transcript of this episode here.

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Next Episode: Josh Gagnon

Having dreams is easy. Keeping dreams alive is difficult, especially in the face of rejection and disappointment. What do you do when your book proposal gets rejected, your church isn’t growing as fast as you think it should and your life, though good, isn’t happening the way you hoped? Pastor and author, Josh Gagnon, talks about his experience of rejection and disappointment, what’s he’s learned and how to keep your dream alive when you’re facing setbacks.

Subscribe for free now and you won’t miss Episode 323.

Lead With Confidence and Clarity. Grow Your Church.

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  • You need to refresh your vision for the future but know that change will be an issue for that person.
  • You're overstaffed (or missing a key role) and can't find the right person to fill the role.
  • You aren't reaching enough new people even though you've tried everything that's working for other churches.
  • You can see the issue but aren't confident in what to do about it.

And with another Sunday morning coming up, it'll just have to wait until next week when you have a few minutes to figure it out.

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What would it feel like to have those answers at your fingertips 24/7?

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Carey Nieuwhof
Carey Nieuwhof

Carey Nieuwhof is a best-selling leadership author, speaker, podcaster, former attorney, and church planter. He hosts one of today’s most influential leadership podcasts, and his online content is accessed by leaders over 1.5 million times a month. He speaks to leaders around the world about leadership, change, and personal growth.