Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Open Letter to the Growthinistas, Pt. 1.9375

Yes, it's "Part 1.9375."  I'm still working on "Part 2."

About a year ago, at the recommendation of a brother-in-arms who I love, like, and respect...and very, very rarely agree with, I signed up for a newsletter for "Church Leaders" to glean insight to lead the church.

Over the course of the intervening year, I've grown increasingly saddened by what I've read.

The dude whose newsletter this happens to be is very highly regarded in Growthinista circles - entirely because his church exploded from just a few families to well over a thousand in a short period of time in New York City - which, as the story goes, is an extremely difficult place to plant churches, I'm told.

And since the be-all-end-all for Growthinistas is results...the gentleman in question is regarded as being nigh unto a demigod in those circles.

The content of the newsletter (which I had initially hoped would have contained insightful, helpful nuggets for this whole "pastoring a church" thing) turned out to be a semi-regular infomercial-in-print hawking his materials...and that's pretty much it.

Correction: that is it.  The "newsletters" contain absolutely nothing else.

And when it comes to the work of shaking down the pastors who fawn over this gentleman's results and shell out some pretty decent coin to buy his materials which are "guaranteed to grow your church (TM)!!!", the newsletters are, by all indications, very effective tools.

I received the latest "newsletter" yesterday...and it just blew my mind.

Dear Pastor,

I'm writing to invite you to be part of my new Tele-Coaching Network for Senior Pastors that starts August 28.  This is the only Tele-Coaching Network I plan to lead until 2010.  I hope you'll consider applying.

As you may have guessed, this new Tele-Coaching Network is based on the same principles I have used to successfully coach 300+ other pastors through in person networks here in New York City or in Phoenix, Southern California, Atlanta or Tampa. 

In fact, the primary reason I'm offering this new Tele-coaching network is because of the long waiting list for my in person networks. 

And don't forget, with this Tele-Coaching Network, you will save thousands of dollars in airfare, hotel, rental car and time away from the office costs.

I'll admit that this network is not for everyone and the truth is, I cannot accept everyone who applies. 

But this is the perfect coaching network for those pastors with a desire to see their church grow and who are willing to invest the time and energy to cooperate with God in seeing it happen.

I can guarantee that if you apply and are accepted, this network will be more than worth your time and investment (in fact, I'm offering a complete money back guarantee - something I've never done for any regular coaching network).

** Please keep reading for even more info, but if you are ready to apply now, just click here:

{{url to the signup for the "tele-coaching"}}

I hope you'll be part of this one of a kind opportunity.

N.  {{dude signed his name here}}


Take out the scant, seemingly after-thoughtish reference to God, and this sure does sound like one of the slickest, hard-sell marketing letters one would expect from one of those awfully-full-of-himself "personal life coach motivational speaker types that were real popular in the '90's.

Oh, but it gets worse... Just in case the veiled threat of not being able to get to cash into this incredibly awesome opportunity to Grow Your Church!!! didn't motivate you to pour out your oblation at the altar of Church Growth buy in and sign up, he goes on with a mini-FAQ:

Here's a powerful question for you: What could you do over the next year that would more dramatically impact the growth of your church and your personal growth as a leader better than this network? 

Imagine for a moment, what if you church could double over the next year and so could your personal effectiveness?  What if you could consistently get everything done at the office, manage your staff well, see consistent growth and still get home on time for dinner and family fun each night?  What would your life and church look like one year from now if your church grew by 25% and your effectiveness increased by 50%?    I can't promise these results but I can say that they are typical of results I've seen in hundreds of pastors over the last five years.

I would venture to say that there is no conference or set of conferences in the world, nor is there a process offered by any other organization or denomination that is as proven as this coaching process.

I'm not teaching you theory or stuff that I've only read about.  I'm coaching you as a fellow practitioner who is in the trenches day after day leading a growing church in one of the most difficult cities in the world.  In addition, the coaching process that I will lead you through is a proven process that has been effective with over 300 churches from 17 denominations from all over the nation.

** Please keep reading for even more info, but if you are ready to apply now, just click here:

{{again with the url to the signup for the "tele-coaching"}} fact, that ** Please keep reading for even more info, but if you are ready to apply now, just click here: link was liberally sprinkled throughout the "newsletter".  Very effective fleecing technique marketing.

Oh, but wait...there's more...

Instead of you flying to my office in New York City or any other location where I'm doing an in person coaching network, you will participate in this coaching network via your telephone and your computer.

Think about it, you will experience the same network experience that others have experienced while SAVING THOUSANDS of dollars in travel costs and SAVING DOZENS OF HOURS on cross-country flights.

The short answer... I will share every church growth and personal development principle I know and give you every resource I've developed to help you implement each principle.  Don't worry, it will not be overwhelming... everything will be delivered in a mangeable bits over the course of the year.

All that said, here's the official list of all that you receive:

* Monthly hands-on coaching from {{Growthinista über-guru put his name here}}.

* A proven coaching process that leads to growth and health.

* Over $1400.00 in FREE resources from {{dude's church growth consulting business}} PLUS special discounts on any new resources.

* Unlimited email access to {{again with the dude's name}} and the {{church growth consulting business}} team.

* A monthly coaching environment where everyone is focused on a Kingdom agenda.

* MP3s of each session for your review.  NOTE: Even if you miss the exact date, you can listen to the network at your leisure.

* FREE attendance at all live or web {{church growth consulting business}} training events during your network (up to $1750.00 value).

* Private 'call-in' times with {{dude's name}} to have your specific questions answered in more detail.

* A private day-long meeting with {{dude's name}}, exclusively for tele-coaching participants (location to be determined, a $2100 value).

* The chance to grow and take your church to the next level

* Plus much, much more

As you can see, just the tangible benefits you will receive as part of this network will far out weigh you monthly financial investment.

** Please keep reading for even more info, but if you are ready to apply now, just click here:

{{again with the url to the signup for the "tele-coaching"}}

Dude! I'm so ready to sign up right no-----ow!  ...thanks, Matt, for slapping me upside the head, thereby breaking the trance. I was just about to drink the saved me, bro...

But in case you thought we had thankfully come to the end of this marketing pitch, it unbelievably goes on:

Each phone call is two hours long and we will meet monthly for one year.  This is a big commitment but I want to make sure that we fully cover all 8 Church Systems and each of the 9 Growth Barriers I've outlined in my resources. 

You will complete the network with a library worth of church growth materials and personal development insights.  Dare I say that this network is the equivalent of a doctorate in church leadership but I'll teach you the practical, will work tomorrow stuff they don't teach in seminary!

We will cover each of my eight systems of a healthy church plus issues related to personal development, time management and growth barriers.  As a reminder, the eight systems are:

Worship Planning - 'How we plan, execute and evaluate the weekend service(s) at our church'

Evangelism - 'How we attract unchurched people to our church and mobilize our people for evangelism'

Assimilation - 'How we move people from first time guests to fully engaged members at our church'

Small Groups - 'How we fill and reproduce small groups at our church."

Stewardship - 'How we develop extravagant givers at our church.'

Ministry/Volunteers - 'How we mobilize people for significant ministry at our church.'

Leadership - 'How we develop leaders at all levels at our church.'

Strategy - 'How we constantly evaluate and improve our church'

{{gives the dates & times}}

I strongly encourage you to make every date a priority but I also know that ministry is messy and uncertain so I will record every session and you will receive the complete MP3's of each session within a day or two of meeting.  If you attend, the MP3 is for your library and for your review.  If you are unable to attend, you will still be able to gain the full experience.

As I mentioned earlier, this network is not for everyone but if you choose to apply and you are accepted, I would like to offer you a no-hassle, no questions asked guarantee.  Here it is:  I'm so confident that you will find this Network beneficial that any time prior to the fourth monthly meeting (November 13) you can call my office and tell me that this network isn't benefiting your church or your leadership ability and I will refund everything you have invested, including any long distance costs you might have incurred.  Plus, you can keep any of the resources, MP3s or seminar materials that you have received to date.

In other words, I want to remove any fear you might have in joining this network.  You can try it for three months with absolutely NO RISK!

I have tried to keep the monthly investment in this network as low as possible.  But remember, you are receiving thousands of dollars of resources, free passes to my seminars, email support and private consulting.  At the same time, you are saving thousands of dollars in hotel, flight costs, rental car expenses, gas, etc.  That said, the monthly investment is $195 per month.  Once you are accepted, your credit card will be charged for the first two months.

** Please keep reading for even more info, but if you are ready to apply now, just click here:

{{again with the url to the signup for the "tele-coaching"}}

Wow! Only $195/month, two months in advance! Such a deal!

I get the impression that dude takes himself more than a bit too seriously, eh...?

And yes, if you've been paying attention to the pattern, you know by now that this ain't over quite yet...:

In addition to the monthly call, you will be assigned to read or listen to one of my resources plus another book (generally, a business book with clear application to ministry).  While the network will stretch you to grow, study and read, it will not be overwhelming.  I'll help you prioritize so you can get the most from the network.

At the same time, there will be opportunities for you to share your ideas and learning's from the network plus you'll be able to submit prayer requests and ask questions to me and everyone else in the network.

While I certainly can't guarantee that our network will in any way produce the same fruit as previous networks, I can share what I've seen God do in the past!  I've seen:

*Churches that have been declining for years to start growing *Churches double in a year *Churches set baptism or evangelism records *Pastors become so effective that they never miss a day off again *Pastors wives write me letters and emails thanking me for helping their husband

I could keep going but let me allow some of my coaching alumni pastors to share their results:

I began this network two and a half months after launching a new church, with great uncertainty about taking the time away and spending the money.  Six months later, I would do it again every time.  I have grown as a leader and my church has grown as a direct result of being in this network. - {{"coaching alumni pastor" name here}} 

'Before I decided to attend the coaching network with {{Growthinista über-guru}}, I thought, I'm pastoring a church that runs under 200 and I live in San Diego, CA.  I can't afford to travel across the country.  Let me tell you, the network has been well worth all the time and money I spent!  It has changed me as a leader and it has changed our church.' -   {{"coaching alumni pastor" name here}}

'Our church has survived!  We were a church in 'crisis-mode'- now we are a church with momentum.  We have grown numerically, financially AND evangelistically and spiritually.' -  {{"coaching alumni pastor" name here}}

'I almost didn't do the network because of finances.  It is worth TEN TIMES the cost and I'm coming back again.  The network turned our church attendance around from declining by 5% a quarter to increasing by 5% a quarter.' -  {{"coaching alumni pastor" name here}}

'Listening to the podcasts and seminars on CD is great, but as a pastor I learned through the coaching network what I needed to do to implement and lead these systems.' -  {{"coaching alumni pastor" name here}}

'Really gave me a structure to organize priorities for leading growth. I have seen the principles I learned in this network have a direct, positive impact on my church. Coaching Community gave me more confidence, competency, inspiration. Do it! It is worth exponentially more than the fees! This is church-growing, kingdom-building, powerful, powerful stuff!'  - New pastor at a 25+ year old church

'Better than any leadership conference - and allows you to debrief everything you are learning.  I learned more in this network than any other ministry experience or church conference I've attended.' -  {{"coaching alumni pastor" name here}}

As you've probably heard me say, I believe that God has called me to help 100 church leaders reach 1000 people over the next 10 years.  This is one of the ways I believe God wants to accomplish this vision.  Can you imagine what it would look like for you to grow by 20%, 30% or even 100% or more over the next few years?  This network is not about me, I've struggled long and hard about whether or not I should invest the time in doing it, but I believe God is up to something so I *have* to do it.  I hope you'll join me in what God is doing.

{{Growthinista über-guru}} is the Founding and Lead Pastor of {{dude's church}} in New York City.  In its' first 5 years, {{again with the church name}} has grown from one family to over 1100 in weekend attendance, over 500 baptisms and 1300 in small groups!  This groundbreaking church sees the majority of its growth coming from new believers and currently meets in multiple venues across metro NYC, including Manhattan, Jersey City and Brooklyn.  He is the author of 3 books and over 60 church growth resources.  An in demand church growth coach, he has coached almost 200 pastors since 2004, many of which have seen their church double in size and several that have grown from a few hundred to over 1000+ in attendance.  His coaching networks fill up fast and often have long waiting lists.  Prior to coming to NYC, he was the founding director of {{another organization which it turns out is pretty controversial in its own right at the moment - though I admit unnecessarily so}}.

Please complete the application and return it to my office ASAP.  I am reviewing applications right now and will try to review your application and let you know within two weeks but please bear with me.  We are receiving greater response to this network than any other network I've offered. 

** Apply now by following this link:

{{and, one final time, the url to the signup for the "tele-coaching"}}

Oooooooookaaaaaaaaaaaayyyyyyyy... So much - so very much to comment on...

I'll just zero in on this - which to me, strikes right at the heart of why this dude concerns me so very, very greatly.

He states:

As you've probably heard me say, I believe that God has called me to help 100 church leaders reach 1000 people over the next 10 years.

My response: Then help them. What's with the massive pricetag?

I could understand this kind of thinking with Word-Faithers like Ken Copeland & crew - the idea that God's blessings are available in purchasable quantities and all that, and that ministry is a means of great gain. But this guy's not part of the Word-Faith Movement; he's (I believe) a theologically orthodox Baptist.

But this really does illustrate the subtle connection between Growthinista philosophy and an almost Tetzelish focus on funds - all in the name of growing the Kingdom, of course.  Unsurprising: the raison d'être of the church, in Growthinista philosophy, ultimately boils down to two indispensable absolutes:

  1. Nickels
  2. Noses

...and the two are tightly bound together in a strongly symbiotic relationship.


As I ponder this more, my heart sinks more...but at least there's this: whether in pretense or in truth, there are people getting saved through this guy's highly effective and fabulously profitable marketing empire church.

But it still absolutely blows my mind that even some Calvary guys eat this dude's stuff up and still clamor for more.


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