On Episode 105 of The Edge of Innovation, we’re talking with Jacob Young identifying and measuring success in a non-profit organization.

Sections

Why Did Jacob Move to Philadelphia?
Moving From Philadelphia to New England
Did Jacob Accomplish What He Hoped To?
Identifying & Measuring Success
How Jacob’s Church Community Seeks To Be Different
The Next Five Years For King’s Cross Church
The Next Five Years For SaviorLabs
The Hardest Part About Starting a Church
More Episodes
Show Notes

Identifying & Measuring Success in a Non-Profit Organization

Why Did Jacob Move to Philadelphia?

Paul: So, you’re in Philadelphia?

Jacob: Yes.

Paul: Now, how did you get to Philadelphia? You went to school there, right?

Jacob: No, I went to Auburn University down South.

Paul: So how did you get to Philadelphia? What was the impetus for that?

Jacob: So, the church that we wanted to really be a part of, Covenant Fellowship Church, was a part of a denomination that we wanted to be a part of, Sovereign Grace Churches, and so, we moved there to be a part of that, because we wanted to do ministry with Sovereign Graces Churches.

Paul: Okay, but people listening, they don’t understand the word “covenant, fellowship, ministry, church.”

Jacob: Yeah, exactly.

Paul: But you actually moved from one part of the country to another part?

Jacob: Yes.

Paul: Explain that.

Jacob: Yeah, so, we moved there – part of it was there was a seminary, so postgraduate work that I wanted to potentially attend in the Philadelphia area: Westminster Theological Seminary. But, for folks that are kind of thinking “What is this all about?” It’s really, there was a group of folks that understood Biblical truths in a way that we agreed with, that we wanted to do ministry alongside, and they happened to have a church in the Philadelphia area that was also next to the seminary that we wanted to attend.

Paul: Okay.

Jacob: And we were getting married. We knew we didn’t want to live down South. We had 5,000 bucks in our pocket. Like, well, let’s go try this out. So, yeah. We were twenty two and had nothing else to do so, “Let’s go do this!” So, that’s how we got up there, yeah.

Paul: And then what, what happened? I mean, you were there. How long were you there?

Jacob: We were there for six years, a little over six years.

Moving From Philadelphia to New England

Jacob: The church that we were a part of was evaluating, “Is Jacob called to the pastoral ministry or not?” I took a couple classes at the seminary that I mentioned. Well, along the way, my sister-in-law — my wife’s sister – she went to Middlebury College up in Vermont and so we would go up and visit her, and we thought, “Man, we love the area, and it would be really fun,” and I think we would frame it along the lines of feeling like a burden from God of wanting to be a part of what he’s doing here in New England.

Paul: Did you visit during the summer or the winter?

Jacob: I think we did the summer.

Paul: Okay.

Jacob: But my wife had visited her sister during the winter in Middlebury, Vermont, you know, three or four feet of snow. So, we knew what was going on.

And so, we would actually connect with another church within our denomination that was in the area – King of Grace Church with Paul Buckley. And there were some folks that lived in the city we’re in now that were attending that church. We thought, “We would enjoy these people. We enjoy the city.” I love Manchester. It’s not a sexy city. It’s just blue-collar people who are making a living and doing their best.

And so, it seemed to us that, “Hey, if we want to be a part of things in New England and New Hampshire, this is a great opportunity. It seems like God’s in it.” And so, we ultimately ended up being sent by that church to a school for a year, and then going from that school to where we are now, to Manchester, to take over that small group and lead it towards becoming a church.

Paul: Wow. And so that’s been five and a half years?

Jacob: Yes, that’s five and a half years ago that we moved here to Manchester.

Did Jacob Accomplish What He Hoped To?

Paul: And so, I’ll ask you a question. What would be your assessment of, do you think you’ve accomplished what you should have, would have, could have in five years? Did you underestimate and overestimate it?

Jacob: In five years we have accomplished what we came to help steward and build. It has taken a lot longer than maybe I would have hoped at the beginning, but it has taken the appropriate amount of time to get where we’re at. My understanding is that, generally, starting new churches in New England almost universally die out within a year of starting out, and so we’ve managed to survive for the last five years, so I figure that’s a general success.

But think in terms of moving a church plant from zero to becoming an established church, I think within the last phase of that, we have guys that we’re trying to train into becoming leaders in the church, and so it’s not just about me. It’s folks there who’ve got a regular presence within the community and people are aware of who we are and are exploring Jesus at the church. And we’re moving toward it. We’re a New Hampshire church plant, the financial viability’s always a question, but I think we’re heading in the right direction.

So, if the purpose of a church is to make new disciples and better disciples —is one way of framing it — and to be known in the community where you’re at, I think we’ve kind of accomplished that five years in.

Paul: That’s excellent.

Jacob: Yeah.

The Hardest Part About Starting a Church

Paul: What was the biggest surprise for you in this, that you hadn’t anticipated?

Jacob: With church planting?

Paul: Yeah. You have a specific sample set of one that you’ve been experienced with, but probably had some “Okay, this will be hard. This will be easy,” and if you were to offer advice to somebody saying, “Hey, I want to start a church,” or, “I want to do something,” what was the unanticipated, the outlier, that you hadn’t anticipated?

Jacob: I think pastoring a church is, it’s a weird setup. Right? I’m wanting to lead people with something that I can’t make them do. I’m wanting people to convert to Jesus, which I can’t make them do. And then I’m trying to help people out of incredibly painful situations, which I cannot do on my own. Right? I’m not the agent of functional change in somebody else’s life and yet the very nature of being a church planter and a pastor is to be present so that you can help those things happen whenever they decide to happen.

And so, I think that that awkward situation of “I’m trying to lead us towards becoming new or better disciples, and yet I can’t make that happen” is… I don’t think I had anticipated for myself how that would have played on my desire to be in control and played on my desire to prove myself to other people, and played on my own desire to save the people.

In terms of what’s the hardest part, frankly, the hardest part is learning that I am not Jesus. I’m not the savior of other people, and yet I’m leading something that is intended to display Him in such a way that people want to be a part of Him and what He’s doing. And, it’s hard to figure out how I’m going to pay the bills with that dynamic in play. And it’s hard to figure out how I am going to have legitimate success metrics with those dynamics in play. So, I think that, to whatever extent that is a thing, that I would counsel guys on that are thinking about doing this, taking very seriously from John 1, “I am not the Christ,” and trying to drill that into our thinking and feeling and how we are a disciple is critical to actually succeeding, whether the church plant gets off the ground or not.

Identifying & Measuring Success

Paul: Now, you had said legitimate success metrics is certainly a means to identify or to measure success. Or do you think that those success metrics have changed in your mind? Were they not defined? Were they defined? Are they differently defined now?

Jacob: Sure. Yeah, I think they’re differently defined now. I think, early on, I probably would’ve said, “You know what, we want to get as many people as possible in the doors.” You know, two hundred people on a Sunday morning sure looks like a lot of success. Certainly, that would be great. I think now I’m much more this kind of like, however many people show up, it’s more about creating the community where people can be cared for, that I’m concerned with, which is a much longer project than just getting people in the door on a Sunday morning.

So, the long-term dynamics of discipleship, of helping people follow Jesus – Those would be where I would hang the hook of what is success or not, and those are much more, like, two years out, three years, six years out. They’re not the immediate result of a metric from today. Does that, does that answer your question?

Paul: I think so. Was there something that has occurred that was unexpected, that it’s like, “I didn’t expect that,” so far?

Jacob: Well, there’s a lot of things that have happened that I didn’t expect. I think the things that have been most unexpected were — I mean, in the early days we had a financial crisis. My fundraising donor evaporated, and then I think more recently, things that have happen that are unexpected were certainly crises in people’s lives that were out of the blue or unexpected that we are trying to process together.

How Jacob’s Church Community Seeks To Be Different

Paul: So, it sounds like, for somebody that doesn’t necessarily understand what Christianity is or a Christian church is, it’s, you talk a lot about helping people, or being there for them, or providing an environment for them. I don’t know the exact words. I’m trying to think.

Jacob: Sure.

Paul: So, how have you seen that play itself out in your community, that your community has said, “Oh wow, this is different,” as opposed to going to a Starbucks and saying, “Yeah, they have good coffee, and I like the atmosphere”? There sounds like there’s something different when you’re shifting to what a church is.

Jacob: So, how do the people around us recognize that we are different than maybe what they would’ve expected of a church?

Paul: Exactly.

Jacob: Well, to begin with, one of the things that… The very nature of where we meet is a part of that. We meet on Sunday mornings in a location called “Hope for New Hampshire Recovery Center.” So, it’s a community center in our neighborhood that is devoted to one of these critical issues going on in our state — and primarily, our city — of the addiction crisis that’s going on. And so, the community center, in and of itself, is committed to being a resource location for people who are trying to either get out of addiction or continue their long-term recovery.

And we very much share a similar passion for our neighborhood that this community center has, and so, we meet there not only on Sunday mornings, but we contribute to their events, and so, we’re kind of recognized within the city as “Oh, that’s the church that works really closely with the addiction community.” That doesn’t mean that we are great at it or that we are overly… That’s not, like, our one issue that we deal with as a church, but they recognize within that very posture that most churches either have their own building and kind of sequester inside that. You don’t have to do this, because it’s not one to the other. You can have a building and still use it as a place to serve the community but they would recognize us because of our affiliation with Hope for New Hampshire Recovery Center. “Oh, that’s the church that really cares about people with this issue in our city.” So I have people comment, like, “Oh yeah, I’ve heard about you guys. You guys meet at the recovery center.” So, there’s a recognition that we work with them.

And then, within our orientation I think that, kind of, what you’re picking up on that relational orientation is we’re going to draw people into being friends with us before we’re going to try to lead them to a sort of religious affiliation.

Yeah, I think that we trust that God’s moving. Not laidback like we’re leaning in on this stuff but if my identity is not on the line of validating my Christian faith with other people and how they respond to me, and I’m just there to serve them and to be faithful to what Jesus told me to do, and being their friend, I can trust the rest to Jesus. And so, I think that creates a culture that’s not anxious and not heavy-handed, but more inviting and gracious, I hope.

Paul: Interesting.

Jacob: Does that make sense?

The Next Five Years For King’s Cross Church

Paul: Yeah, absolutely. So, what’s the next five years look like?

Jacob: Yeah, that’s certainly what I think about a lot. I think that we have some guys that are not only, I think, called to be elder, but maybe one or two guys that are probably church planters. We’ve kind of used the number from the beginning of the church plant that we’ll make it to one hundred people, the clock’s going to start ticking on when we would send out our church plant. And so, we kind of use the general idea of we want to see a thousand people in the King’s Cross Church, and we want to accomplish that by ten churches of a hundred people. We’re getting close to that number on a Sunday morning, and we’re actively working to, kind of, create more space for that.

So, the next five years is going to be getting more guys ordained, and, Lord willing, assessing some guys to get them ready to go for either church planting or supporting a church plant.

And, in the immediate future, we work really closely with a church up in Concord, New Hampshire, River of Grace, and we got a couple guys moving out here next year to plant a church in Henniker, New Hampshire, and we’re going to be working with them and trying to do our best to facilitate that church plant as a bit of a case study for when it comes time for us to plant, probably on the west-ish side of Manchester.

Paul: Cool.

Jacob: So, that’s in the immediate future for the church at least. I imagine, within that timeframe, Tom Brady will have gotten at least two more rings. So, that’s my anticipation.

Paul: Is it? Is it?

Jacob: Yeah.

Paul: Well, they’re only seven and O today as we date ourselves here. So, twenty years from now when the Tom Brady Invitational is going on in February, and —

Jacob: Yeah, I know. Yeah, the game last night was just so incredible. They just absolutely destroyed the Jets. It was so… Anyhow.

Paul: Yeah, well, you know, there’s a lot of Patriot people out there that don’t like the Patriots though, so —

Jacob: Well, they can be wrong. That’s fine.

Paul: Okay.

The Next Five Years For SaviorLabs

Jacob: So, the next five years. What about you? What’s the next five years of SaviorLabs look like for you?

Paul: Oh, who knows. Onward and upward. We’re spending a lot of time building our practices up, helping people with technology in all facets, and trying to do that through a group of people who’re really interested in solving technology problems.

So, we want to focus on that and make sure that, as the friction of technology increases because of, you know — just, things break. That’s one aspect of it, but also, as things get more complicated, we want to reduce that friction and help people apply technology in ways that they might not have thought about or might not have the technical skills to do on their own. It’s like, you can do certain things on your car. You can change the oil or make sure there’s air in the tires, but maybe you can’t take the engine apart or whatever it is.

And so, it’s a similar technology curve. It’s that you need to be able to be efficient in the ability to drive your car and use it, and we, sort of, use that same analogy. We give you and your business the ability to really execute well.

All right. Well, we’ve been talking with Jacob Young, a church-planting pastor in Manchester, New Hampshire, and we’ll have links to his website and some of his blogs.

Jacob: Yeah. Exciting times, and I’m enjoying it.

Paul: Cool. Thank you, sir.

Jacob: Yeah, Paul, thanks for your time.

More Episodes:

This is Part 2 of 3 of our conversation with Jacob Young! If you missed Part 1, you can listen to it here!

Show Notes:

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