Kadi Cole (00:00):
A lot of what we discovered in our research is that it's not like there are two camps, one camp is for women and one camp is against women. We all want the body to be healthy and strong, and everybody loves and values women. We just have to be clear on how we're leading our cultures to make sure we're inviting women to the tables we want them to be at, that we're helping everyone, men and women, discover their gifts and live out their calling, and that we as church leaders are stewarding those callings and their impact in the kingdom through our local church to the best that we can and to get the most out of who God has brought us.
Welcome to the Modern Church Leader, where you'll hear executive pastors share practical tactics and strategies that churches are using right now to thrive in our digital world and advance the kingdom of God. Here's your host, Frank Barry.
Frank Barry (00:53):
Hey, guys. Frank here with another episode of Modern Church Leader. Excited to talk to an amazing guest who actually is back for her second time. You're one of very few people who have come around twice, so.
Kadi Cole (01:05):
Well, thank you. I'm very honored.
Frank Barry (01:07):
Kadi Cole, it's great to have you in the house.
Kadi Cole (01:10):
Thank you so much for having me. I loved our last conversation, and I'm really looking forward to today as well.
Frank Barry (01:14):
I know. Last time, we had Dean here too, which... It turned into a one-man thing just because it's a bit easier, I think, but it was definitely fun, and I'm excited to just talk a little bit about what you're into in this... I don't know if it's post-COVID. I literally don't know what to call it. Someone is going to come up with a term that works. I haven't found it yet, but we're in this... You know?
Kadi Cole (01:37):
We'll call it 2022. How's that? Everyone will get that.
Frank Barry (01:40):
We're in 2022. Like we were talking about before this, the world paused, it felt like, for a couple years, but here we are. You've been trucking. So I love just for new folks or folks that maybe didn't see the first episode... Who are you? What do you do exactly? How are you helping church leaders and churches from your position?
Kadi Cole (02:02):
Thank you. Well, I have served in full-time ministry for over 20 years. I originally was a nurse, but got recruited by my fast-growing church to join the team, spent a wonderful ride. Our church grew really fast, and I got to experience different parts of church elements just trying to solve problems as we were growing and scaling. Then, a few years ago, I transitioned off my full staff role to work with leadership network and some other crew to do more consulting work, and in the process, came across this topic about female leadership, which you think I would've thought of this beforehand because I was actually a female leader in church spaces for a long time, but we were running into this challenge/opportunity as we figured out growth plans and leadership development pipelines that we were just missing out on a lot of our leadership capacity in churches across the world, but mostly North America, and we didn't really know why.
Kadi Cole (02:54):
Women wanted to lead more. Churches wanted them to do that, and so I did a big research project, and wrote a book, and now speak a lot about how to develop female leaders in our churches, what we can do as individual leaders, as organizations, and most recently, started working with a lot more women on how to step into those roles with confidence and enjoy the gift of leadership in local church. Sometimes it doesn't always feel like a gift, so we're working on that.
Frank Barry (03:20):
Has anything with respect to all that... COVID and all of the social things, political things. Lots has happened in the last couple of years. Have you seen the climate change as it relates to women in leadership? Is it getting easier? Is there more acceptance? Is it harder? I don't know. What's it like now?
Kadi Cole (03:43):
It's been interesting. Yeah. There was a lot of momentum around this topic going into COVID, like pre-COVID because we had the Me Too Movement. We had the Church Too movement. There was a lot of talk around it, and then of course, in the middle of the pandemic, America went through a huge racial reconciliation space, which brings topics of diversity and bias to the forefront. I was really excited about those conversations, and then I think people started to move into long-term crisis mode where we really had the capacity to only deal with the challenge right in front of us.
Kadi Cole (04:15):
The great thing for the topic of female leadership though and more equity in our leadership circles is that a lot of women did amazing jobs leading through the pandemic. They were in key essential roles, communications, worship, programming, hospitality, or membership classes, small groups. Those tend to be places that women have a lot of invitations to serve in local churches, and those became key issues to reinvent and keep bodies together during a time when we couldn't meet on the weekend anymore.
Frank Barry (04:49):
Kadi Cole (04:49):
So even though a lot of times, women are not invited to be on the platform on Sunday morning, a lot of the core ministries of body-life have a lot of female leadership in them, and I just saw women step up in incredible ways, be very dedicated. Even now during the Great Resignation and the Great Reshuffle, I find that in the churches I'm working with, women are much...
Frank Barry (05:11):
The Great Resignation. I just want to... I hadn't heard that, so maybe we can...
Kadi Cole (05:15):
Frank Barry (05:16):
I'm going to store that away, and we can talk about that.
Kadi Cole (05:18):
We can talk about that more. Yeah. Everyone took COVID and re-evaluated their life in multiple ways. For the most part, I found most women are staying put and leading at even higher levels, and a lot of that is because we haven't come into leadership in traditional ways. We started serving at the church we loved, and we're a member, and our family was a part of, and we're there because we love the mission, and the people, and the community, and we're called to that place. So that doesn't really change when everyone else changes their jobs and moves around. Your home is your home, and so it's been fun for me to watch that women stand strong and be the steady in the midst of a lot of dynamic change in most churches.
Frank Barry (05:58):
Mm-hmm, mm-hmm. Yeah, yeah. I don't want this to come across the wrong way, but I've been married for almost 20 years. We have three boys. I don't know what we'd do without mom. Right? It's not leadership in the sense like we're talking about, but I mean, I just see we have some amazing women leaders at Tithe.ly, and I see it in my wife. I'm like, "God made women absolutely amazing," and I actually think if we didn't have some of the women leaders at Tithe.ly, if I didn't have my wife, things would fall apart, absolutely fall apart, and so it's just... I don't know. It's shocking that women in leadership is even a thing because it should... I don't know.
Kadi Cole (06:43):
Frank Barry (06:43):
It should just be more natural and easy. Guys should see often women are.
Kadi Cole (06:48):
I'd like to clarify early in the podcast here for anyone who's about to turn this off. I think my position on this. I come from leadership, and training, and development background, and so I'm not taking on a theological position on this.
Frank Barry (07:01):
Kadi Cole (07:01):
What I really am interested in is helping people live out their theology to the fullest, and a lot of what we discovered in our research is that it's not like there are two camps, one camp is for women and one camp is against women. We all want the body to be healthy and strong, and everybody loves and values women. We just have to be clear on how we're leading our cultures to make sure we're inviting women to the tables we want them to be at, that we're helping everyone, men and women, discover their gifts and live out their calling, and that we as church leaders are stewarding those callings and their impact in the kingdom through our local church to the best that we can and to get the most out of who God has brought us.
Kadi Cole (07:39):
These are people in... are form of resource, and a lot of times, we just leave money sitting on the back porch, and we don't actually utilize it and multiply it for the kingdom, and so I'm really on a... I'm on a mission to try and help churches think differently about how they live out their theology and make sure they're not missing accidentally a lot of who God has brought them to really advance their church and fulfill the mission God's given them.
Frank Barry (08:05):
Right. Yeah, and I love that, absolutely love that. You mentioned a little bit ago and even as we were talking before like... So there's these roles or women are getting into these roles. We've gone through some crazy times, but there's new challenges that they might be facing, like stepping into those bigger leadership roles or continuing on in that leadership role once they figure out what that actually means in their context, so like what... I don't know. What are some of the challenges that you've seen, and how are you seeing churches work through those?
Kadi Cole (08:38):
Right. So when I wrote my first published book called Developing Female Leaders in 2019, we were seeing just amazing movement. I thought I was going to get lambasted on social media and not invited anywhere to speak. The exact opposite happened. I was so thrilled and proud of the body for wanting to embrace this conversation and sort of... In fact, the tagline of the book is Navigate the Minefield. Right? It's a huge, hot topic. It's difficult to talk about. It's personal. It's emotional. We all have different views on it, and we all know women who are passionate about it, which makes it sometimes harder to deal with. So I was just so thrilled with how many churches embraced the best practices in the book who wanted to move this conversation forward, who wanted to maximize the women God had brought them, who wanted the women in their own life. Great, amazing pastoral leaders who wanted the women in their own life to have stronger places in ministry.
Kadi Cole (09:36):
So that was really fun for a couple years till we all shut down and got sidetracked, but it was really well-received, and we had a lot of women get raises, be licensed for ministry, be acknowledged for the work and the leadership they had been giving for sometimes years that was underrecognized. But as we started seeing doors open for women as male teams were making room for women at some of the highest levels of leadership, women were taking those steps forward. What I'm really seeing now is the reality of what it's like when you're the first woman or the only woman in some of these leadership spaces.
Kadi Cole (10:14):
It's hard sometimes to recognize, if you haven't been the only or the first of something, just the emotional energy it requires and the amount of unaware bias, or resistance, or feeling left out, or being left out, or just not being a part of the team. We've all, I'm sure, been a part of a team, like the new person on the team. It's that times a hundred, and so I'm working a lot with women now because they're in these leadership roles, and they're asking the question, which I completely understand, which is like, "I'm not really sure this is worth it. I thought it was going to be fun. I thought it was going to be great and beyond the normal hardship of ministry because ministry isn't always easy. Teamwork isn't always fun."
Frank Barry (10:58):
It's hard. Yeah.
Kadi Cole (10:58):
There's conflict. It's hard work. We're in a very difficult time now, but it should be satisfying. It should feel safe. We should be able to show up and express our ideas. We should be able to leave work at the end of the day and not spend hours questioning what we did, or what we said, or what we didn't say. I just find that because most women who are ready to be leaders right now didn't grow up in a ministry system that was supportive in nurturing of their gifts and talents, they grew up in a professional leadership space, or they're new to leadership now, they don't always have the same kind of skillsets or tools in their toolbox that let them navigate those pieces that we experience on high level leadership teams.
Kadi Cole (11:38):
So I'm working a lot more with women on how to step into those roles with confidence, how to use your leadership voice, how to figure out what your leadership voice is, how to know when you should stand up and really fight and advocate for something, and when is the time that you should hold back and not do that. It's very confusing, and women in today's world have a lot of pressure to let your voice be heard. I want women's voices to be heard if God is calling you to use your voice. But as Christians, we know there were many times Jesus was quiet, or silent, or didn't defend himself, or didn't speak up, or didn't advocate, advocate for someone as much as there were times where he was called to do that. So we want to make sure we're not just going from one extreme, which is, "My voice is not welcome," to the other extreme, which is, "My voice must be heard everywhere I go all day long." Neither one of those are helpful nor godly and good in leadership. So we're all learning how to do that.
Frank Barry (12:32):
Yeah. I love connecting... Yeah. I love just connecting it to Jesus. All of us, men and women, right, we're as Christians called to follow him, and in whatever context, that should be our ultimate goal and reminding... Men and women, right? That's the point, not to be the strong person in the room or whatever it may be. Yeah. That's super cool. I mean, it's a...
Kadi Cole (12:55):
Yet, we want to have strength. That's the hard part, right? It's like we want to be this and not be this. These double binds, and navigating that is step something you have to grow into, and it's not unique to leadership, but it definitely is consistent in your daily leadership role.
Frank Barry (13:12):
Yeah, yeah. What are some of the biggest breakthroughs that you've seen, like either church staffs or male leaders welcoming in female leaders or female leaders coming in? I don't know. What are some of the cool things that you've just seen happen? Give us some good stories.
Kadi Cole (13:27):
Well, I got to say, I know this sounds materialistic, but I actually think one of the biggest breakthroughs we're seeing in lots of churches all across the country is just pay equity.
Frank Barry (13:37):
Kadi Cole (13:37):
It sounds like that should be a no-brainer, and to most people, they're like, "Oh, good. She got a raise." But for a female leader to know she's earning the same amount as her male counterparts when traditionally, in the church world, we earned 72 cents to the dollar to men who are in same roles as us, it is huge. If you think that's almost a 30% raise that your female counterparts have gotten, if you got a 30% raise this year, what that would do to change your life, to change your lifestyle?
Kadi Cole (14:06):
We aren't even talking boats and designer shoes. We're doing things like, "I can hire a housekeeper now to come in two times a month. So I'm not spending my one day off a week cleaning toilets in my own house." Right? Women carry this double load. We can actually eat dinner out on a Friday night after a big, long work week. I don't have to also go home and figure out how to make a great meal for all of us for cheap. I'm not clipping coupons on Sunday afternoon after work. I get to actually sit, and hang out with my kids, and enjoy time with them. So there's this double shift that women, especially female leaders, tend to do where they work a full shift at work, and then they get off work, and they go home, and they work a double shift, a second shift housekeeping, family care, kids care. In COVID, it was also online education. So having equal pay and being...
Frank Barry (14:50):
Yeah. That was hard.
Kadi Cole (14:51):
Yeah. I keep saying like, "I would love nothing more than to have a pastor's wife myself at home who was doing all those things for me. That sounds like an amazing life." Well, when you pay women equitably to have leadership roles, they get to actually outsource and buy what a lot of the guys have experienced their entire leadership career, and that is a major game-changer. You get a good night's sleep. You wake up refreshed. You have time to think about work when you're not working and come up with a creative idea. So that is a huge game-changer, and a lot of times, it costs the church, and the team, and the culture very little for the payoff. So I just think it's one of those things we have to really... I encourage leaders to, if you do nothing else, just pop the hood on your HR spreadsheet and make sure you're paying everybody equitably.
Frank Barry (15:39):
Yeah, and then that one...
Kadi Cole (15:40):
I would say the second thing... Oh, sorry.
Frank Barry (15:42):
Oh, no. Keep going. Keep going. I asked the question, so you got another story. I love it.
Kadi Cole (15:46):
Well, I was just going to say the second thing I see is churches really working hard to put women on their executive team. There is something about putting a female on your leadership team that just changes the dynamics. The diversity ratio we're looking for actually that I want to encourage churches to work for. You don't need to feel pressure that 50% of your team needs to be women, and 50% need to be ethnic minority, and 50% need to be over 60 years old. You can't do all that, but the race you we're looking for is 30% to 40% is not the majority.
Frank Barry (16:18):
Yeah. That's hard.
Kadi Cole (16:18):
So if your leadership team is like most churches in America, it's like 40-year-old White guys with the beard and dark glasses and probably wearing a hat. So, like those. No. I'm just joking, Frank, but you are the classic guy. You got some like...
Frank Barry (16:32):
Kadi Cole (16:33):
You have a tattoo hidden beneath that sleeve somewhere [inaudible 00:16:35].
Frank Barry (16:35):
I don't. I have no tattoos. I have no tattoos. I couldn't. I never got there. You know?
Kadi Cole (16:40):
One day, you'll be a cool pastor. But if you can just get 30% of your leadership team to be not that, right, filled with women, a different race, a different age, then you're really beginning to create diversity and giving people permission that they can see themselves at leadership in your church. So I've just seen churches work really hard to put some great women into key roles like that, and simply sitting at the table, and showing up today, and we work, and giving your opinion, and being in charge of a big part of the church changes the dynamic around this topic for everyone else who's watching.
Frank Barry (17:17):
Yeah, yeah. I love that. What are some of the common resistance points that you get when you share that kind of information? To me, it just is logical. You pay people for the job, not based on who they are, or what they look like, or anything like that. Right? That's standard, but I get that that's not always how it's been. So whether it's pay, or position, or title, what are some of the big obstacles that you run into, things that maybe people don't even realize are there? Right? I'm not saying I think everyone is maliciously doing things, but it feels like almost helping them see that where they're missing so that they can work on it.
Kadi Cole (18:03):
Mm-hmm. Well, I think a lot of times... Well, two probably factors. First is we look at the women on our team, and because they haven't had as many opportunities as some of the guys, it's easy to assume they can't do the job, or they aren't as experienced enough, or we don't have a woman that we could put on our leadership team. Right? They don't have the capacity. They don't the experience. That is true a lot of times. I would just challenge that I wouldn't let the product of your culture keep you from changing your culture.
Kadi Cole (18:34):
Even if you wanted to put women on tasks force or have them lead something that's not a permanent position that if you say yes to it, you're locked in for 20 years, and you have someone on your team you wish would go away, I don't want that to happen, but you can elevate women to leadership, or test them out, or give them opportunity. Even if you said, "One year from now, we will have someone ready to be on our leadership team," that is 100% possible. It may not be that the person that you would go do a search committee through all of the United States ministers and find the perfect person, but having someone grown from within, having someone who knows your culture, having someone you know and trust, having someone who carries the heartbeat of your church who knows people and has relational equity, that is worth 10 times as much as someone with more degrees, or more experience, or more input and baggage from another place.
Kadi Cole (19:24):
So I just encourage churches. If you feel like you're afraid of making a mistake, or looking bad, or having something go wrong, I would just encourage you. You're not doing it all that great right now either. So it's not like you're going from perfection to risk. You're in a risky situation now also. So which risk do you want to take, risk on the person that's in your church or take a risk that you're avoiding and missing out an opportunity to really move your church forward in this topic?
Frank Barry (19:49):
Kadi Cole (19:50):
So that's probably the number one thing. I think the second thing is we tend to have some leftover mentalities from the '50s and '60s in our hiring practices in ministry, and we see this a lot in younger churches and church plants that don't have a lot of money or not a lot of resources, and you're just paying people the minimum you have to to get them to come on board. People are making big sacrifices, and we tend to pay people based on their life situation, not based on their value or professional credibility.
Kadi Cole (20:22):
So when we have that mindset and we look at hiring women, a lot of times, people will look at a woman and be like, "Well, she's got a husband who works full time who's a doctor. So she probably doesn't need that much money. We'll just pay her 20 grand instead of 60 grand, which is really what this role is worth because she doesn't really need it," or, "She's just going to tithe it back anyway," or whatever excuse we look at. I would just encourage that mentality, first of all, will get you sued, and secondly, just isn't healthy way to value leadership.
Kadi Cole (20:53):
I feel exactly the same way when you hire a pastor who has seven children and you pay him more than the pastor who has no children because this guy is married, he's supporting a family, and our heart goes out to him, and we're like, "We want to help him be able to afford hopefully birth control or whatever." But instead, we just say, "He has a lot of expenses. This single guy, new seminary grad has very little expenses, so we're going to pay them what they need rather than pay them what they're worth."
Frank Barry (21:21):
Kadi Cole (21:22):
That's really what equity comes to is like we want to pay people for their impact, for their value, for their worth, not based on these circumstances that they either decided or didn't decide for themselves.
Frank Barry (21:34):
Right. Yeah. No. It makes sense. I mean, it just has me even thinking about just... It's like churches and businesses are, on one hand, very different. But when it comes to HR, and taking care of your people, and how you pay, and the compensation packages and benefits, and all that stuff, they're very similar, right, just in terms of making sure that you've got good policy and structure, and it's not just based on who you're talking to. Right? Like you have that within...
Kadi Cole (22:05):
Right. I mean, it's a... Yeah. It's a stewardship issue. It's an integrity issue. I mean, I think churches have played the card of like, "What can we get away with?" and I would just really challenge as Christians and especially as church leaders, we should be the best bosses in the world. We should honor and value people better than the business world. If we are trying to find our standards of morality and integrity based on what the law demands of us, that is a very low bar of how we treat our employees.
Frank Barry (22:34):
Right. Yeah. Yeah, that's good. Okay. I know you do other stuff. It's not all just about women in leadership and all that. Although you have tons of great experience and have done amazing work, but you also just... You help churches with things like succession planning and multi-site, and you do consulting on a lot of different things at the leadership level. I'd love to talk about your work in any of those areas, but just as it relates to coming out of COVID and churches... Every church on the planet was impacted. Most of the churches I talked to are saying, "Oh, maybe we're about 60% of the people that are back in the building," however they define that, and it's different, and we're in a different kind of world. I just would love your take on what you're hearing, what you're seeing, and how you're helping churches get through that or come out of the COVID situation.
Kadi Cole (23:31):
Yeah. So the way I got into female leadership is I work with organizational development, I work with leadership development pipelines, and we stumbled into this issue of just not maximizing the potential of female leaders, and that became a really key strategy to move churches forward in their mission. So on the bigger umbrella of that topic, I do think COVID, the quarantine, and the reshuffling of people's priorities, and pace of life, and how they think about community has really challenged our modern church mindset.
Kadi Cole (24:07):
I'm someone who lives a little bit in the future. I'm thrilled about this. I know most people are scared about it, but in my mind, I had felt like the Lord was trying to get our attention around things like spiritual formation, or the celebrity status of pastors, or the way we've centered everything around Sunday mornings. I feel like God has been trying to get our attention to rethink those things for about 20 years, and we were slow to do it and oftentimes resistant, and he just took us by the face mask and COVID, and said, "Wake up. I'm going to demand that you look at body-life differently than who shows up on Sunday and how many people give money."
Frank Barry (24:47):
Kadi Cole (24:47):
So I think the churches that are doing the best work now and the ones... usually, the ones that I end up working with are trying to figure that out. They're trying to reinvent. They're trying to see where the hockey puck is going, and anticipate what God is doing, and move their ministries, and their leadership, and their vision towards what God is recalibrating in our day. So I'm excited about that. I don't think we know what the new model is going to be. Sunday service centricity has been around for 400 or 500 years, and I think we have yet to see what the new church trend will be, but I believe the people who are going to do it are in our churches right now. I think the young people that we see coming up, the digital natives, people who think of community differently, I think they're going to be a part of re-establishing what that looks like.
Frank Barry (25:36):
Yeah, yeah. Absolutely. Are there any common themes like conversations that you seem to be having repeatedly with people?
Kadi Cole (25:46):
Yeah. I think the online church thing I know has a lot of debate around it. I don't think online church is a future, but I think digital connection and global perspective are two of the things that we have to have a mindset around. Churches were already going global before COVID. Our multi-site strategies. Most of the progressive churches and multi-site were launching campuses internationally. Our ability to morph our missions work with our church planting and multi-site work, and have that overlap and learn from each other has been really critical.
Kadi Cole (26:17):
Some of the most innovative discipleship experiences in spiritual formation, programmatic elements I'm seeing in churches right now are inspired by work from campuses in Africa or Latin America because they just do community and relationships differently than we do in America. These are places who aren't lonely at epidemic levels, and so that life-on-life discipleship just has a completely different connotation for them. A lot of us churches are learning from that and being schooled by that.
Kadi Cole (26:43):
So I think that global perspective is one of the biggest things. I think one of the things around attendance and giving is that I don't know that these numbers are accurately portraying the reality of what's happening in our churches. In my experience, even though giving tends to be static right now in most churches, that is not something I think we can count on. For the most part, giving is the last activity of a disciple to pull out from church. Attendance, engagement, serving, friendships, and then giving. So even though we see those numbers sticking, a lot of times, we find a lot of confidence. If our giving is up, we think everybody is in. I don't think that's a good indicator for the future.
Frank Barry (27:27):
Yeah. I think it's held, but I actually... and this is anecdotal just based on here and there conversations, but it seems like some of the financial impact is only just now starting to creep in there. Right?
Kadi Cole (27:44):
Right. Well, I think people have been propped up by PPP, businesses, and churches. As that starts to go away and as our economy starts to have some cracks in it, we're going to see some downward decline. Even though a lot of people are working to try and slow that down, it's inevitable, and so it's going to be interesting to see where that really shakes out over the next five years or so.
Frank Barry (28:09):
Yeah, yeah. Most churches I talk to are in that, like 60% are back. What do you...
Kadi Cole (28:17):
Frank Barry (28:17):
Yeah, like weekend attendance, you know?
Kadi Cole (28:19):
Yeah. Yeah. I would say it varies. I know some churches that have actually grown during COVID. They either combined campuses and got new momentum or they were in a state that had very lax mask mandates, and so they had congregations that continued to grow. So some churches are back or growing. Most churches though I think are around that 60%. Somewhere between 50% and 60% is the most common. I always wonder about the 60% because pastors are really great at rounding up.
Frank Barry (28:46):
Yeah. Absolutely. Yeah.
Kadi Cole (28:47):
So I'm not really sure where that's landing, but I do think the piece that makes it complicated is we do have a lot of folks that are engaging online. We don't have great ways of measuring that. Everyone's got a different viewpoint of it. Yeah. I just think it's going to be interesting to see how our definitions change over the next few years, and how our strategies develop, and what we consider engaged and a part of the body, how we really define that moving forward.
Frank Barry (29:16):
I mean, the whole hybrid church, and church online, and all of that stuff being part of the mix in whatever... however it takes shape, but it's there, and it's a thing, and it's something all churches are... Do you do a lot of work or get in those conversations with churches to help them figure some of that out or execute on a strategy that is new to them?
Kadi Cole (29:41):
Yeah. One of the challenging things is that it's very generationally-based. You can see people's engagement based on their age, which there's very few things in our culture that are really dictated by age anymore. It's usually culture, or experience, or where you live in the country. So one of the biggest lessons that I talk a lot about with churches is that people who are my age, I'm a full on Gen Xer, so people from maybe your late 40s and older, we tend to... If we're embracing technology, we usually use technology as a way to support the relationships we already have.
Kadi Cole (30:17):
My family lives across the country. I know them well. Obviously, we get together on holidays. All that. But in the meantime, like during COVID and even now, we do Zoom game nights. I talk to my dad through FaceTime. All those things happen, and it supports a relationship that already exist. I'm connected through Facebook and Instagram to my high school friends and my college friends. If we didn't have social media, I probably wouldn't be connected to most of those people, and that is a huge add to my life. I love that I can connect with almost anyone from my past within a couple of minutes as long as I can remember their name.
Frank Barry (30:50):
Kadi Cole (30:51):
Right? It supports that. Now, my son is 18 years old, and I would say really young millennials and younger, they actually initiate relationships online and then move to physical relationships. So when my son started high school, he was the only person he knew at the high school. He'd been in a small private school. He went to a big honors high school in our county. He drives 45 minutes, so he doesn't really live near anyone. No one from his school went there. He didn't know anybody. He watched people log in on Snapchat and on Instagram, and he followed people online without talking to a soul at that high school for probably three months.
Frank Barry (31:28):
Kadi Cole (31:28):
He was vetting. Who did he want to be friends with? Who was posting things that didn't align with his values? Who was friends with who, and what was he observing in class, but what were they doing online? What games were they playing? What were they into? What were their hobbies? He narrowed a field of 2,000 kids down to six people he wanted to become friends with, and they are very amazing friends.
Frank Barry (31:50):
That is crazy.
Kadi Cole (31:51):
I'm having all these concerns about a mom. He's my only kid, so of course, I'm a helicopter mom, and I've got all these concerns about digital things.
Frank Barry (31:58):
Yeah, yeah, yeah. New school.
Kadi Cole (31:58):
I'm like, "Why aren't you talking to people? Who are you sitting with at lunch?" because I'm like, "It's Breakfast Club. You don't have any friends," and he's like, "Mom, just slow down. I'm finding my friends." These are the best quality kids. They're just amazing kids. None of them look like him. They're from totally different races, totally different parts of the county. They have different economic levels from us, both higher and lower. He chose them based on who they actually are and what they revealed about themselves online. It was such a lesson for me because I was completely backwards, but I'll tell you what, he's better at finding friends than I am. I become friends really quick with people, and it takes me six months to realize they're crazy, or a racist, or something dumb.
Frank Barry (32:38):
Kadi Cole (32:38):
He weeded them out in the first week.
Frank Barry (32:40):
Kadi Cole (32:40):
I'm like, "I need to probably learn a bit from this strategy."
Frank Barry (32:43):
That's some skill right there. I'm impressed.
Kadi Cole (32:45):
Right? So I think when I talk with churches about digital, that's what I'm talking about. I'm not talking that you have to have virtual church, or we'll never see each other, or how do you provide the sacraments over a screen? I'm talking about how you discover your people, how you weed out community, how you find your tribe. If we can teach people how to find that, how to even talk about their faith online so other Christians can find them, it's just a different way of navigating relationships. It's a different way of building community, and it's a different way of experiencing the body of Christ from a different doorway. That's all it is. All heading to the same place, but a different doorway to get there. Now, I believe Jesus is the only way, just to clarify that.
Frank Barry (33:27):
Yeah, yeah, yeah. There's only one door. Yeah.
Kadi Cole (33:27):
It's a different kind of door to Jesus.
Frank Barry (33:29):
Kadi Cole (33:29):
That's what I'm saying. No one freak out and email me.
Frank Barry (33:31):
Yeah. Too good. One last quick question. Somewhat related to all that. This is way, way out on the edge, but you said you like to live in the future. Church in the metaverse, any thoughts?
Kadi Cole (33:49):
Oh, yeah. I mean, I think we have yet to even imagine what church is going to be like, and I take it back even just a hundred years where we didn't really even have telephones in every house. There was no TV. How would we explain to someone who was only alive up until like 1900, like an adult in 1900? How would we explain to them what church was going to be like in these multi-site things, and with big bands, and like... I think they would look at them and be like, "Where's the organ? How can you possibly have church without..." Whatever it was that was sacred to them there. So part of it, I think, is we just have to realize the story of church is really big and very historical, and it has gone through so many metamorphosis. We are just a part of this blip in God's story right now, and we are limited by what we know, by what's in the past, and we can't see into the future, but we have to hold it open-handedly.
Frank Barry (34:43):
Kadi Cole (34:43):
So I think the metaverse is worth exploring. I think engaging it, I think experimenting with it, I think trying some things out is how we innovate. We're in the messy middle right now. We're in the cloudy, foggy time, and we don't yet see what it's going to be, but we know what it's not going to be anymore, and the best way to steward the messy middle is to experiment. Within the boundaries of sin and righteousness, anything is possible, and so the more...
Frank Barry (35:11):
Kadi Cole (35:11):
Especially those of us in leadership who are a little older, the more we can experiment, the more we can encourage younger people to take steps, and we can fund them, and hire them, and pay them to spend a year trying to do something in ministry we've never thought of before. Just the trial, just the experimentation, just the idea that gets out there in other people's minds is what's going to help innovate the church and move it forward faster.
Frank Barry (35:33):
Love that. Love that. Okay. I got three quick questions. Well, two, really. This is rapid fire. What's a book that you read that everybody needs to read? Just one that's really had a big...
Kadi Cole (35:43):
Frank Barry (35:44):
It can't be the Bible or a book you wrote.
Kadi Cole (35:47):
Oh, I would never say a book I wrote. Hands down, overall, Necessary Endings by Henry Cloud is the best leadership book. It talks about when it's time to leave someplace, but it also talks about when it's time to stay someplace. I've read it through seven times. Six of the seven times, it convinced me I need to stay longer than I want to, and only one of the seven times could I see clearly it was time for me to move on, and that, to me, feels like the right book.
Frank Barry (36:18):
It's called Necessary?
Kadi Cole (36:19):
Frank Barry (36:19):
It's necessary or unnecessary?
Kadi Cole (36:19):
Yeah. It's called Necessary Endings.
Frank Barry (36:19):
Kadi Cole (36:20):
Frank Barry (36:20):
Okay. Got it.
Kadi Cole (36:22):
When is an ending necessary?
Frank Barry (36:24):
Yeah. Love it. Okay. What's a podcast you're listening to right now?
Kadi Cole (36:28):
I really like the podcast Readers are... or Leaders are Readers. Sorry, Leaders are Readers. He interviews authors of books, and you get the main idea of their book. I love it because I feel like I read a book every time I go through the interview, and it helps me know which books I want to buy and actually really dive into, and which ones I just want the big concept, and then I'm good.
Frank Barry (36:48):
Yeah. That's awesome. Well, Kadi, this has been great. Thank you so much for your time today.
Kadi Cole (36:52):
Thank you, Frank. I appreciate it. Great to see you again.
Frank Barry (36:54):
Yeah, yeah. Just real quick before we end. Where can folks go to learn more about you? What's the easiest path?
Kadi Cole (36:59):
Sure. Two places, my website, kadicole.com, K-A-D-I-C-O-L-E.com, and then on socials, @@kadicole.
Frank Barry (37:06):
Love it. Easy. You got them all, huh?
Kadi Cole (37:10):
Yes, that's right. I know. I started to see future. I did that like 25 years ago.
Frank Barry (37:14):
That's amazing. So good. Well, appreciate it, and thanks guys for tuning in. Appreciate you guys, and we'll see you next week on another episode of Modern Church Leader. Bye-bye.
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