Bobby Minor and I met like you’ve maybe met lots of people: in cyberspace. So far, we’ve not had the chance to shake hands but I hope to fix that on my next trip to the Dallas/Fort Worth area.
Currently, Bobby is leading a new church plant in DFW called Courageous Church. It is a great name with a great meaning. He has a fascinating background having served in the corporate world. I think you will be encouraged by the interview I recently held with Bobby.
PN: You are planting Courageous Church. Why did you choose that name?
By definition the word “courageous” means to be bold, daring, unafraid, adventurous, and risk-taking and that’s what I feel should describe not only Courageous Church, but the church in general. I believe it’s impossible to call myself a “Christian” yet play it safe and only take calculated risks. The main problem with playing it safe is it isn’t biblical. We need to be courageous.
PN: You worked in powerful business positions before the move into full-time church work. What did you bring with you? And, what did you leave behind?
Wow, great question. I’m very thankful for my 20+ years in Corporate America and as an entrepreneur. One thing I bring into this is a definite mentality of not being afraid to try new things or do things differently if it will allow us to reach more people far from God. Now this may be a touchy subject for some people, but because my background is in Corporate America, and I didn’t grow up in church, one thing I don’t bring into this is a bunch of mental models of “how to do church” or “this is how we do it”, but rather how to lead people. Because of my background in sales I’m not afraid to make the “big ask”. Whether it’s asking someone to follow Christ, or asking them to come check out what God is doing at Courageous, I’ve learned the worst thing anyone can say is no and I’m okay with that, meaning I don’t take it personally. I simply look for the next person to tell my story to. I also don’t look at what most people consider full-time ministry the same way many others do. The way many people look at it is I feel called to full-time ministry so I’m going to go to seminary, get a job at church as a Youth Pastor, work my way up to Associate Pastor, and then maybe one day I’ll become a Senior Pastor. In other words, full-time ministry = paid staff position at a church. I think we all should be in full-time ministry regardless of where we get our paychecks from. Because I came from Corporate America I see the need to have people that make that their mission field because they will spend more time with those people (40+ hours a week) than they will with even their own families. Because of that we actually have a Work & Life Pastor whose role is to equip people to live out their faith wherever their 9-to-5 is.
PN: What have been your first steps in launching the church? Why these steps?
After the obvious first steps of listening to God’s voice and seeking His direction, my first point of focus was on building a strong leadership team. My philosophy is you can only build a skyscraper as high as the foundation will allow. In anticipation of what I know God is going to do (already doing) I wanted my foundation to be deep enough to not only handle the people that came initially, but also allow us to be prepared for the people that will come, long before they are there. I don’t want to find us in a reactive situation because there wasn’t enough leadership depth to handle the growth. God has brought together a team that I never could have on my own and is continuing to add to it. After that I looked at when we wanted to officially launch and worked backwards from there to create a timeline. Our strategy is to have monthly gatherings the second Sunday in January, February and March to connect with as many people as possible and then to go weekly on Easter. In between gatherings we’ve done several big community events from feeding the homeless, taking over two laundry mats for four hours and paying for people’s laundry, to buying school uniforms for an inner-city fourth grade class. We did this intentionally to create a DNA of serving outside the church from the beginning but also to show people that we just aren’t talking about it, we’re doing it. Ultimately everything we do is designed to point people to and lead people, closer to Christ. Our first two monthly gatherings had well over 200+ people at each one with lots of diversity (70% 3rd generation Hispanic, 25% Anglo, 5% African-American) so we are super excited about what God’s doing. A big part of the diversity is because of something else I’ve done intentionally which is represent diversity at every level. We have a very diverse leadership team, worship team, and teaching team.
PN: What are some of the ways you are using technology to launch the church? How are you using it to connect people?
We have used technology almost exclusively to tell our story and connect with people with the two primary vehicles being our website and social media. Our website is designed to break down any barriers and answer any questions anyone might have. The two biggest things on our website we use to accomplish that are our “Welcome to Courageous” video (https://vimeo.com/58186320) and our “You Belong” interactive script (http://www.courageouschurchdfw.com/portfolio/you-belong/). Our site is designed primarily for people on the outside, not inside. We use Facebook more than Twitter and use Facebook on several different levels. We have our individual pages, our Courageous Church page, and then use groups (both open and private) to communicate with each other. Our primary strategy is to tell the Courageous story as often as we can, in as many ways that we can, to as many people as we can, through social media. We also use tools like Hootsuite and Pointburst to help keep the voice consistent and to help maximize our efforts. It also helps when your Lead Pastor is a social media consultant. Because I personally have a decent size social media following (over 4,500 friends on Facebook; 14,000 followers on Twitter; 700+ connections on Linkedin) it has allowed me to interact with people I most likely would not have been able to. On our Courageous Facebook page we were quickly able to get over 2,300 fans and on Twitter over 10,000 followers. A big part of that has been through listening to the conversations that are already taking place and joining them rather than trying to create new conversations. I’ve been able to connect with people on every level, and several people on our leadership team started off as online connections. As a matter of fact our first connection came via Twitter.
PN: Courageous Church calls its values “buoys.” One of them is: “In light of global lostness, excellence must be balanced by “good enough.” Expand on the idea a bit.
Just in Tarrant County alone (where Arlington is located) there are over 1.1 million unchurched people. Throw in Dallas County and that number is much higher. Some churches are attractional and some are missional, but Courageous is both. We definitely value our corporate gathering time and creating environments that make it easy for people to get connected, but we also value living on mission, not just once a year or two weeks in the Summer, but 24/7/365. Because of the fact we have limited resources we have to maintain a balance that allows us to do the best we can with the resources available, but also make sure that we have plenty to give away. What that means is we will never purchase a $45,000 sound board at the expense of being able to reach the people in the community when a $10,000 one still does a great job or spend $100,000 on a parking lot at the expense of sending a team to Africa, when people can still park on the street even if they have to walk a block or two.
PN: Another value is: “Love is the most essential element of leadership.” I like that because I’ve written a book on the subject of love and did my doctoral studies in leadership. Talk about the intersection of love for others and strategy for the mission.
When Jesus says the greatest of all commands is to love God more than anything, and next to that is loving people the way God does, and Paul says we can be spiritual all-stars but if we don’t have love it’s nothing, as leaders it has to start and end with love. We have to love the people we are leading and we have to love the people we are trying to reach. Everything I do as a leader is an outflow of love- God’s love for me, God’s love for people, my love for Him, and my love for people. When God says I need to love others and He also says that the way I show my love for Him is by doing what He tells me, then that’s what I’m going to do and that’s what drives our mission. The key is I do what God tells me because I love Him, not to prove that I do. I know that we can do a lot of good in the world world without loving people and that’s why as a leader at Courageous I’m always reminding people that what drives our mission is our love for God and others. If not we’re just another social services organization.