This is part three of a four part series where Church Marketing Sucks discusses marketing with successful church planters. For part 1 we talked to Pete Hixson of Vinings Lake Church and in part 2 we talked to Don Record of actionchurch. In part three, we will be talking with Joe Boyd of Aviator Church.
Church Marketing Sucks: Hey Joe, it’s great to have you join us for a little bit. Give us a quick, two-sentence intro of who you are and what you do.
Joe: Hi, I’m Joe Boyd, the founding pastor of Aviator Church, a church plant that reaches out to the people who live in the Air Capitol of the U.S., Derby, Kan. My wife and I parachuted into our community in January 2008, built a launch team of 50 people and launched September 2008 with 200 people. Within ten weeks we experienced 80 salvations and have have continued to grow every week since our start.
CMS: Wow, lots of growth fast. How did you get the word out about your church plant?
Joe: With a limited budget, we used sweat equity and creativity to create a buzz in our community. We volunteered to serve in every community event and festival we could over the summer, and we threw tons of block parties and car washes. We actually did 28 community events in 90 days. We also promoted our first preview service called “Heroes” by ordering super hero costumes off the web and dressing up volunteers as Superman, Spiderman, Batman, Flash and Wonder Woman. We then paired them up with unmasked volunteers in Aviator Church t–shirts and sent them out into the community. The went to Wal-Mart, the grocery stores, businesses and door-to-door in neighborhoods. The result was amazing! We had 164 people at our first preview service and 15 people accepted Christ!
Our second preview service was even more exciting. We decided to preach on David dancing before the Lord. We tracked down Phillip Chbeeb, a contestant on Fox’s show So You Think you Can Dance and convinced him to travel to our community and perform in our service. One week after he signed our contract, Fox picked him up for the season finale and 10 days after the season finale this year, we had Phillip on our stage. We had over 250 people in attendance for our second service and 18 people made professions of faith. I even battled with Phillip and dominated with the rub my belly and pat my head move!
CMS: I’m glad to hear you won the dance off. So if you didn’t plant a church, and you weren’t a superhero, what would you be doing?
Joe: I would do what I have been doing for years: Studying the fastest growing churches in America and trying to figure out how we can more effectively reach people with the message of Jesus.
CMS: Fair enough. As a student of ecclesiology, do you have any other church planters you really looked to as a model for what you did?
Joe: Tons. Bil Cornelius at Bay Area Fellowship taught me to leverage everything on outreach in the beginning. Clark Mitchell at Journey Church convinced me that churches that reach out to a younger generation will be blessed by God. Nelson Searcy helped me think about the systems we needed to sustain a large church plant. Hal Haller worked with us to help us plan to become a reproducing church. Gary Lamb at Revolution, Steven Furtick at Elevation Church and Perry Noble at Newspring are guys I resonate with, but have not met them yet. I look forward to meeting each of them in the future.
CMS: From here, how do you close the back door so you don’t just become a church of visitors, but your visitors stick for good?
Joe: From day one, we planned to make community a priority. We provided free food after our first six services to give people a chance to connect with others. We have a moon bounce for the kids to keep the kids happy and give parents a chance to make friends. We have continued this tradition on the first Sunday of each month, and it seems to be working. We took a slight dip in the first two weeks, and then we started growing very quickly. We follow up with visitors quickly and have new people over for dinner at the pastor’s house as often as we can. We want people to connect and catch the vision for seeing our city transformed.