CNLP 335: Scott Beck and David Kinnaman Take You Under the Hood on How Better Data Leads to Better Decisions, Crisis Leadership, and What Will Help You Emerge Stronger Into the New Normal

Scott Beck was the first franchise owner of Blockbuster video, scaling that company to 5,000 stores before moving on. He’s also scaled Boston Market, Einsten Bros. Bagels and, among others. More recently, he founded a new company called Gloo to help churches use data to do more effective ministry.

Scott joins David Kinnaman, President of Barna Group, to talk about how local pastors can use data to make better leadership decisions. Plus, they share how they’ve led through past crises, how each company has pivoted in light of the current crisis, and what they think the new normal will look like.

Welcome to Episode 335 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.

Plus, in this episode’s What I’m Thinking About segment, Carey gives his latest thoughts on the COVID-19 crisis and how to respond as leaders.

Guest Links

Barna on Instagram | Barna on Facebook | Barna on Twitter
Barna’s Website | Gloo’s Website | ChurchPulse Weekly

Episode Links

Ministry Boost

My friends over at Ministry Boost specialize in coaching and training family ministry leaders, and they’ve just released an exciting new resource for new family retention. It’s called The New Family Retention Plan, and you can grab the turnkey solution for just $25 and start working on your plan now.

Ministry Boost understands COVID-19 has changed everything, so they’re offering a free resource just for listeners of this podcast that will help you better engage and connect families during this season. It’s got some practical ideas on how your church can navigate our current reality with an eye toward the new normal after COVID-19.

Check out The New Family Retention Plan at


ChurchPulse Weekly Tool Kit

The ChurchPulse Weekly Podcast

Text CRISIS to 33777 to get access to Carey’s How to Lead Through Crisis online course

CNLP 288: David Kinnaman Busts Cultural Myths Too Many Leaders Still Believe, and Shares Surprisingly Good News About the Faith of Some Millennials and Gen Z

CNLP 082: David Kinnaman on How Christians are Increasingly Perceived by the Unchurched as Irrelevant and Extreme

CNLP 125: David Kinnaman on the Clergy Crisis and the State of Pastors Today

CNLP 024: Churchless: Why and How America is Learning to Live Without the Church—An Interview with David Kinnaman

CNLP 155: Matt Engel on the Rise of Big Data and How to Use it to Pastor Your Church and Reach Your Community

unChristian by David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons

The Top 7 Reasons Everyone Ignores the Online Content You Produce by Carey Nieuwhof


1.  Data-informed leaders become better leaders

As a leader, you trust your instincts. And trusting your instincts works out well for a while until things change, or you end up being wrong about something. Your lack of knowledge can become a roadblock if you never find out the truth. The problem is that, as leaders, we are hesitant to trust other people’s opinion and knowledge base over our own.

So, what will cause us to willingly change our mind? David has found that solid data is one of the most efficient ways for a leader to undergo a needed paradigm shift. That’s why he and his company have done everything they can to collect, analyze, and publicize critical data about the next generation in the Church.

2. Churches that thrive in Digital Babylon need to embrace technology

For years, David has been talking about this idea that we are all now living in “Digital Babylon.” He popularized this idea with his most recent book, Faith For Exiles. In the book, he outlines that we are no longer living in the Jerusalem-like culture or Christendom that used to exist in America. We are now all occupants of this foreign land called Digital Babylon.

Society in Digital Babylon has very little trust in the Church or interest in Jesus, and if the Church wants to continue to reach lost people in this new medium, we are going to have to change in some major ways. We need to understand how Digital Babylon works in order to reach people in it. We will also need to begin to use “big data” to meet the specific needs of specific people.

3. When crisis hits, look for ways to help people

David, Scott and Carey all made extremely fast pivots when the crisis hit, and those pivots are paying off. How did they know what pivot to make? Well, over the last four decades, Scott has led through many crises. From those experiences, he’s learned that you never waste a crisis. Whenever something shakes the world up, there is a way to better help people. The minute this crisis hit, he began to look for ways to help.

David has spent the last couple of years facing a personal crisis in his wife, Jill’s, battle with cancer. Through that process, he’s learned that it’s important to identify what you’ve lost in a crisis but to look for what’s been gained, as well. When the Coronavirus took over, he was looking for the positives in the sea of negative information.

Quotes from Episode 335

With every crisis comes peril, but there also comes great opportunity. - Scott Beck Click To Tweet

People don't gain out of consumption, they gain out of contribution. - Scott Beck Click To Tweet

In crisis, you're reminded you really don't control that much except for yourself, your posture, and your commitments. @davidkinnaman Click To Tweet

It's our job to wrestle with, 'How do we bring technology into alignment with God's purposes to be able to accelerate the work that we're trying to do?' - Scott Beck Click To Tweet

You can't have a good relationship with somebody if you don't really know them. @davidkinnaman Click To Tweet

You absolutely can't get up every morning now as a leader without being a data-informed leader. @davidkinnaman Click To Tweet

Relationship is the key catalyst in any kind of personal growth journey. - Scott Beck Click To Tweet

As a leader, you need to be able to make decisions with limited amounts of information. - Scott Beck Click To Tweet

Church leaders just don't seem to understand that you can't just minister to people an hour-and-a-half every couple of weeks. @davidkinnaman Click To Tweet

Some of us are horse-and-buggy makers in the age of the automobile. @cnieuwhof Click To Tweet

Read or Download the Transcript for Episode 335

Looking for a key quote? More of a reader?

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

Watch Back Episodes of The Podcast on YouTube

Select episodes of this podcast are now on YouTube. Our new YouTube Channel gives you a chance to watch some episodes, not just listen. We’ll add select episodes to YouTube as time goes on.


The world is experiencing a series of unprecedented challenges, and you’re leading in the midst of it all.

I’ve got a brand new online, on-demand course, called How to Lead Through Crisisthat can help you lead your team, your church and yourself through the massive disruption.

The course is the gift from me and my team to you and leaders everywhere. In light of everything that’s going on, we decided to make it available 100% free.

Inside How to Lead Through Crisis, you’ll learn how to:

  • Cultivate a non-anxious presence that inspires confidence and trust.
  • Care for yourself so the crisis doesn’t break you.
  • Master the art of fast-paced, clear decision making.
  • Gather and interpret the most reliable data that will advance your mission
  • Advance digitally to scale past physical barriers and grow your outreach.
  • Lead your team and congregation remotely

While no one has all the answers in a crisis this big, in the course, I share the mindsets, habits, tools and strategies that I believe will help you lead through crisis to get you and the people you lead to a new (and better) future.

You can enroll and get instant access for you and your team here.

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Spread the Word. Leave a Rating and Review

Hopefully, this episode has helped you lead like never before. That’s my goal. If you appreciated it, could you share the love?

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Your ratings and reviews help us place the podcast in front of new leaders and listeners. Your feedback also lets me know how I can better serve you.

Thank you for being so awesome.


In 2015, Mike Todd took over as a 20-something pastor of a church of 200. Five years later, he has almost a million followers on Instagram, his sermons are watched a quarter million times a week and Transformation Church just moved into a 4,000 seat arena at its new building, and is debt free after 7 months in their new location. Mike explains the meteoric rise, what it’s doing to his soul, how he’s navigating it, and the power of being 51% sure a decision is the right decision. Plus, we talk about his new book, Relationship Goals.

Subscribe for free now so you won’t miss Episode 336.

CNLP 335: Scott Beck and David Kinnaman Take You Under the Hood on How Better Data Leads to Better Decisions, Crisis Leadership, and What Will Help You Emerge Stronger Into the New Normal


  1. Jayne Hoare on April 25, 2020 at 11:38 am

    This podcast keeps me company every morning as I walk and later in the day as I clean in the kitchen and do dishes. I am a Children’s pastor at a mega-church. Kid min never had a strong social presence before this and it’s been hard to build that but we’re also finding that families are not checking email either. Where should my attention and focus go? I feel like it is both but that seems overwhelming right now. I know that we need to build our social presence because it will carry Us further so I feel like that’s where my attention and focus needs to go right away! Suggestions?

  2. Nathan Dyck on April 21, 2020 at 3:50 pm

    Hi Carey, really relevant content! I appreciate the discussion on where the Church is going now with online tools and research.

    I work for CHVN Radio in Winnipeg MB. We’re a Christian station serving Winnipeg and surrounding area. I’m currently doing a story on how church life is changing and will be changed post COVID-19. Would you be willing to give an interview on the subject? I would appreciate your perspective from a national leadership development standpoint.


    Nathan Dyck

    • Carey Nieuwhof on April 22, 2020 at 1:23 pm

      Hey Nathan,

      If you could, could you reach out to my team at They will be able to help you!

      I appreciate your request!

  3. Charles Pearson on April 21, 2020 at 8:16 am

    Ironic that your guest today is credited with “scaling”
    Boston Market when in fact that led to it going bankrupt in 1998.

    • JOHN THOMPSON on August 22, 2021 at 7:39 am

      Yes, the effort to expand internationally created debt that eventually led to bankruptcy and the sale of the business to McDonalds. However Beck did scale Boston Market from 217 stores in 1992 to over 1,100 stores in 1998. Sometimes decisions don’t work out, but Beck knows how to scale businesses and now devotes his time/resources to helping churches, recovery centers, nonprofits, etc. We could learn a lot from Scott Beck. He’s had far more successes than failures.

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