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Building a More Connected Church - An Interview with Matthew Warner on the Petrus Development Show

In this episode, Andrew visits with Matthew Warner, founder and president of Flocknote, a technology company with a mission to build a more connected Church. As part of this mission, Matthew is driven to understand and educate priests and ministry leaders on how to connect specifically with the middle 82 percent of Catholics. Those Catholics that are neither dynamic nor absent Catholics but, rather, somewhere in the middle in terms of involvement. Andrew and Matthew discuss communication, leadership, fundraising, ministry and even touch on a few favorite television shows of theirs. 


Show Notes:

Background

Matthew Warner is a fellow Aggie Catholic. Born and raised Catholic, was always good about going to Mass but wasn't sure that he always realized the gift that it was. 

After college, he began working and figuring out what his faith really meant to him. 

As he went deeper with his faith life, he was becoming more involved in the church and discovering the lack of conversation/communication that the church had with it's parishioners. 

This led to him working to fix the problem. Through trial and error, the idea of Flocknote was born. "Sending notes to your flock."

 

Flocknote

Primarily in the United States and Canada, approximately in 9,000 churches. Started primarily in communication - how do you reach the people you want to do something with and the people you want to lead?

Flocknote wanted to solve the communication piece first and has now expanded into people management and smarter communication. 

The mission of Flocknote is to build a more connected church. Wanting to build stronger relationships between our leaders and all of their members so that we can do something meaningful together. 

What does work and business look like when we put our faith and family first?

 

Case Study

Highlighted last year during covid. Reaching the 82 percent, people who are still showing up but relatively un-engaged, wasn't possible when they weren't showing up physically for mass anymore. Church leaders realized that they didn't have anyway to reach those 82 percenters. 

How do you reach people? You reach them where they are. 

Flocknote is starting to provide more resources and guides on how to communicate.

"How do you communicate" is a question that is equally important as "are you communicating."

 

The 82 Percent

Every church leader should know who the 82 percent are. The 7 percent are dynamic Catholics, they do 90% of the giving and volunteering. They aren't leaving. 11 percent who identify as Catholic but never show up. 

What is left after you take out the 7% and 11% you're left with 82 percent. They are the people who show up on Sunday but they aren't giving, aren't volunteering and, in general, are drifting further away from the Church. 

Of the 39% of Catholics, on average, who show up for Mass, half are those that are coming every Sunday and the other half are a rotating group of the remainder of the 82 percent who come every other Sunday, once a month, once a year, etc. 

When you look at communication of a church, it's done by the 7 percent, for the 7 percent, supported by they 7 percent. They aren't engaging the huge 82 percent of their flock.

In parishes, there is a skewed feedback loop because it's the 7 percent that complain when you try something new, and it's the 7 percent that will tell you when something goes well. So, all of your feedback is from the 7 percent. 

 

Strategies to engage the 82 Percent

The little things and the big things. 

Big thing: the big vision of what we are doing here. When your people can't tell you what it means to be a member, that is a failure of leadership. And it leads to a lack of connection.

Little thing: in the absence of the big thing, the little things become big. We begin to hear complaints about the parking or how the pews are arranged or how many Eucharistic ministers there are. Which are important but they aren't the big vision of your mission and won't support your efforts. They aren't the main things that will make or break you. 

 

Points of Intersection

What are you communicating and are people even hearing it?

Are you being bold and courageous to reach the hard to reach?

 

Lightening Round

  1. If you could fund-raise for any organization or cause at any time in history, what would it be?
    • The Apostles of the early Church
  2. If you could get a donor meeting with anyone living or dead, who would it be?
    • G.K. Chesterton
  3. Is there enough money out there for every organization that's doing good work?
    • Most definitely
  4. What is one piece of advice that you would give your past self?
    • Don't be in such a rush to get to the future.
  5. Who are 3 people who have most influenced you, professionally?
    • His parents, Seth Godin, G.K. Chesterton, Pope Leo XIII
  6. What is one fact about Matthew that most people don’t know?
    • Uses as little technology as possible!

If you would like to connect with Matthew, you can reach out to him by email at [email protected] or check out the website at www.flocknote.com. You can also check out his podcast at findinguno.com

 

Andrew's Take-Aways:

  • First, Matthew made a very quick comment early on that stayed with me. When he was telling the story about Flocknote, he said that he was working on it for months and realized one day that it was all wrong. They scrapped everything and went in a totally different direction. How often do we as fundraisers, ministry leaders or entrepreneurs get so stuck on an idea and invest so much time in something that we believe its totally impossible to start over even when we realize its not right. What a great example Matthew shared from his own life and as a tech company now serving over 9,000 parishes and nonprofits, he proved that starting over when that's the right course of action can ultimately pay off big time. 

 

  • Second, reaching the 82 percent takes a lot of courage and requires that leaders are willing to think outside the box and stick to their guns when they know its the right thing. The example that I shared of the diocese who attempted a new video and got their hand slapped to the point of not trying anymore is too often the situation. But is that the best thing for those we serve, not usually. Leaders have to understand what the Big Thing is, as Matthew put it, and be willing to burn the ships and chart a course even when there is serious risk involved. As fundraisers, sometimes we have to be willing to stand behind our ideas and strategies even when others on staff or even some of our key donors push back. But the payoff can be so much greater when we make those tough decisions. 

 

  • And third, what makes a good leader? Someone who can tell you where they are going and make you believe that they can take you there with them. This is a powerful concept and yet, can be really challenging for some leaders. And I'm not just saying that leaders need to be so charismatic and charming that they can make their followers believe something but rather that their faith, passion and resolve is so authentic that people can see it even without words. If you are a pastor, founder or leader of any sort, remember this concept and it can take you far. 

 

If you have any questions, email us at [email protected]. Please reach out and I would love to connect. God bless you and your work and I will continue to pray for your success.

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