Jim Johnson (00:00):
We knew one family in Frisco, at that point in time. And we just started with an email list, kind of put our heads together and said, "We need 40 people to launch the church." After our third vision night, we had 40 people signed up. We asked our launch team, "Would you give us 12 weeks to help us launch this church?" We launched on September 8th of '02 and had about 186 people, next week, we had 110 people. That was really our baseline that we started with.
Welcome to the Modern Church Leader, where you'll hear executive 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 (00:51):
Hey guys, Frank Barry here with another episode of Modern Church Leader. Great to be with you. Thanks for watching or listening on all the many channels that we publish this on. I'm really excited about today's episode. I'm actually here with two senior pastors that planted a great church, and we're going to jump off and talk with them. So, Jim and Paul, you guys can pick who can go first, but why don't you introduce yourselves to the audience and maybe even give a little backstory about how you even got into ministry. And then we can fast forward into planting the church.
Jim Johnson (01:23):
Hey, Paul, you got us into this, so why don't you start?
Paul Basden (01:31):
All right. So, Frank, you said how we got into ministry, you don't mean what we currently are, you mean just accepting God's calling-
Frank Barry (01:32):
Yeah, just go to the beginning. How'd you get into ministry? And give us a little bit of that story.
Paul Basden (01:36):
How about this? I'll do that part, I'll let Jim do that part, and he can bring it back to me whenever he wants to. I'm Paul Basden, married to Denise for coming up on 44 years this December. She is clearly the best human I've ever known, and I love my mom and Dad.
Frank Barry (01:51):
Amen to that.
Paul Basden (01:53):
Got two girls, Carrie and Kristen. Kristen is not married, Carrie is, and she's produced four boys, 12, 10, eight, and two. They play soccer all the time and beat each other up all, and we call them the lost boys because they like the lost boys on Peter Pan in Neverland. I was born in Dallas, came back to Baylor, went to Virginia, came back to Baylor as fast as I could. Did not, Frank, ever feel a call to pastor even though my dad was a pastor. I was wanted to be a lawyer or Dallas cowboy and it's fairly clear that one of those options [inaudible 00:02:24]. So I ended up thinking of always being a lawyer or something. And in 1972, I know you weren't born, Frank.
Frank Barry (02:35):
I was close. I'm '78 so I almost here.
Paul Basden (02:37):
I was right. I read you the right way. Well, in 1972, the Jesus movement, I should say the wind of the holy spirit of Jesus movement had kicked off a year or two earlier out at Calvary chapel in Costa, California. Traveled across the U.S., and Jim could talk about it dropping in Midland, Texas, cause it hit Richmond, Virginia, where I was living and truly, I mean, I was just a average kid that loved churching out. I didn't love Christianity, I didn't love Jesus, but I love churching, and I love going to church and seeing my friends, especially two girls. And at some point in there, some people started talking about Jesus and as they talk to them, I thought, well, I do not know what they're talking about because Jesus is a guy in a book that I have nothing to do with that guy. I'm just trying to be a good guy on Sundays.
Paul Basden (03:22):
And then if I'm constantly skipping school Monday through Friday, which I did some during middle school, then in that case, it doesn't matter as long as on Sundays I'm a good guy. And they start talking about and all of a sudden I begin to hear people crying out loud, that's what mom and dad been talking about their whole lives. And I wouldn't ask, and indeed that was their point. So I made a significant commitment of life to Christ at 16, who knows it was salvation or recommitment, doesn't matter, Jesus took it for what it was, and it's been with me ever since. But at that moment I began wanting to help others find for that. And so I know I'm telescoping looking back, but truly within six months we had the Bible study going at school, and the Bible study going church and they just grew and grew. And I had guest speakers coming in because I didn't think I had much to say, but in time others began saying, why don't you say something?
Paul Basden (04:15):
So by my junior year I was teaching a Bible study every Friday night and reciting that different ones and just loved it. And one night I was lying on the bed and I said, dear Lord, if this is what pastor means, I want to do it. And the gift was a woman in our church was little godly said to me once in church and said, Paul, I'm praying for you and the rest of the youth department. I see some of the kids coming to deep faith, how can I pray for you? I said, well, you can pray that God will call me the ministry, that's what he wants to do. She said, well, what does that mean? I said, well, I'm thinking about it, but I don't know, how would I know it? She goes, well, what are you looking for? I said, bright light in heaven or to hear the heavenly voice from Damascus.
Paul Basden (04:56):
And she said, no, she goes, God doesn't work that way. I think what she meant, Frank, was truly Paul, if you're as important to salvation history as Moses was and it's Paul is, you get that, but you're not. And then she said, I just want you to listen from unassuming conviction, a voice, and I didn't know a still small voice. But she said just an unassuming conviction that keeps coming. And I said, well, I think I had that. She goes, take your call. I said, it's not that easy. She goes, do not make it hard. And that's how I felt called in to minister. And been a youth pastor and a country church pastor and a startup church pastor and a traditional church pastor and a university minister. And then let Jim come in here
Frank Barry (05:38):
Well, Jim, yeah jump in. Tell us a little bit about your background.
Jim Johnson (05:40):
Yeah. Well, I actually grew up out in West Texas, a town called Midland. It's kind of the heart of Friday Night Lights. Our big rival was Odessa Permian. If you've ever read the novel, Lee and Permian were huge rivals. And so growing up in Midland, there's about one thing to do that's exciting and that is play football. And there's nothing but Mesquite trees and oil wells there. So that was kind of the culture I grew up in and really enjoyed that. Really, my story was shaped primarily by something that happened to my father. When mom was five months pregnant with me, my dad was almost fatally injured in an oil field accident and it really maimed him. He lost a leg, he was in the hospital for almost nine months.
Jim Johnson (06:31):
But through it all, even though doctors didn't get my father a chance to live for about the first two, three months, he did. And my mom's dad was the pastor, my grandfather on my mother's side. And they just had this incredible faith experience that God said, my father's going to survive, he's going to be okay, and of course he was. And so after some rehab in Lubbock, Texas, where he was from, then they moved to Midland when I was 18 months of age, and that's where I grew up. And my dad was able to go back to work eventually, he became a deacon in our church. And so I just had this incredible experience early on just knowing that God's grace and God's healing power is still at work today. And so that really shaped my faith a great deal. So I tell people at the age of seven, I became a Christian.
Jim Johnson (07:25):
I think I really did at that point in time. I crossed the river at a very narrow point. Because you don't really have a chance to do a lot of damage when you're seven. But from that time forward, I had the opportunity to say yes to Jesus at different moments. In high school, I did have that experience where I thought Christ was maybe calling me to be a pastor and to preach the gospel, and I had to reup on that. When I was in college, I went to Baylor kind of fighting that a little bit. And so I went to Baylor as pre-engineering major. Baylor, didn't even have an engineering department then, so I was going to go to Baylor for three years and then transfer to Texas A and M or Texas Tech.
Jim Johnson (08:08):
And in my mind now those are not good options, right? If you're a Baylor guy. So anyway, I recommitted to the calling ministry and had a great experience at Baylor. I got married while I was there. I married a young lady who was from West Texas as well, actually, we had grown up in the same church together until her family moved away. And we've been married now for 45 years.
Frank Barry (08:33):
Oh, come on.
Jim Johnson (08:34):
She was really gifted in some way. She was actually a news anchor for about almost 20 years of our married life. And so much of our married life, I was Robin Johnson's husband. And so I was happy to play that role. We have three sons. Our oldest is a law professor in State College, Pennsylvania at Penn State. My middle son is an actor out in LA. And if you've seen the Dos Equis commercial with the guy in the blue jersey answering the door, and picking up a case of Dos Equis and says, better luck next year, and then tells the girl, Hey, it's poison ivy. That's my son. It's run about a hundred times.
Frank Barry (09:14):
Jim Johnson (09:16):
On ESPN and ABC. And so he's a struggling actor.
Frank Barry (09:18):
The Dos Equis commercials are great though. So that's a good one.
Jim Johnson (09:21):
Yeah, they are. So that's my middle son. And my youngest son is a writer in Austin, Texas doing a day job so he can spend his time writing. So just as I kind of developed as a pastor, I went to Southwestern seminary, did a PhD at Baylor while Paul was doing his at Southwestern. Paul has a degree in historical theology and mine is in Christian ethics. So we kind of work together. He looks back in history and reminds me of what our foundations are. And I'm a Christian ethicist, and I'm looking forward telling him where I think things are going. And so we have great conversations about that.
Frank Barry (09:59):
That's a good combo right there.
Jim Johnson (10:02):
My first church I pastored was a Sunday morning only Sunday school enrollment at 15. And I pastored that church for three years and learned a whole lot about people and pastoring. Pastored an inner city church in Wako, a county city church in Sarasota, Florida, and then a suburban church in Atlanta, Georgia that I helped to transform and transition to being more outwardly focused. It was a fairly inwardly focused traditional Baptist church and learned a ton about leadership in those 10 years, and I got a lot of scars to show for leading a church through transition. And then in 2001 and 2002, we made the decision to move to Frisco, Texas and plant a brand new church.
Frank Barry (10:50):
And then that's where you guys met, at Frisco?
Paul Basden (10:54):
That's where we came to start the church. We met at seminary.
Frank Barry (10:55):
Wow. I had, no idea. I didn't connect those dots even while we were chatting before, but you guys met at Frisco, that's awesome.
Paul Basden (11:02):
You know Frisco?
Frank Barry (11:03):
I mean, I don't know it well, I know it by way of having worked with churches out there that use tightly and whatnot. So I don't personally know it, but I know it kind of by way of customers and things like that.
Paul Basden (11:16):
Well, I was one of your accidental customers yesterday. I was working on a sermon on giving and I just Googled how to help donors get over the hurdles of giving. Why do donors not give what you want to? What would motivate them more? And there it was public, and I thought, Hey, that's Frankie.
Frank Barry (11:35):
That's the marketing department doing a great job right there. Yeah. Well, man, I mean, I love the fact that we get to kind of do this interview with both of you guys and you guys obviously gave us the short versions of the story, having lived a ton of life and done a ton of ministry all over the place.
Jim Johnson (11:58):
That was the nicest way I've ever been told that I'm old.
Frank Barry (12:02):
Jim Johnson (12:03):
That was very polite.
Frank Barry (12:05):
Hey, I got some of the gray coming in, though. You see that? It's working itself out. So you guys planted a church in Frisco, but you did it together. So you're co-senior pastors or co-founding pastors. I mean, I'd love to jump into that. How do you get to the decision to plan a church together and kind of do it in this manner? I mean, I'm sure there's plenty of people that have done this, but in my experience, I haven't taught to a lot of people that have co-planted a church. It's more like there's usually a founding pastor or a planting pastor or a couple, they plant a church and there's a team, but it's usually just one kind of leadership couple. So yeah, I'd love to hear that story.
Paul Basden (12:48):
Jim, why I don't I tell how we kicked it off, and then why don't you tell the three or four things that make it work for us?
Jim Johnson (12:53):
Okay. Sounds good.
Paul Basden (12:55):
So Frank, I had planted one church when I was 30, and man, I was so excited to be a part of that church plant. It was sponsored by a very wealthy congregation. I found out loud, man, there's no reason for this [inaudible 00:13:09]. There an awful lot of other factors that made it the difficult plan. We did grow, we were had a lot of things going on, but during the course of that four and a half years, I ended up getting unhealthy emotion. What I mean by that is I did not know what the word co-dependent mean yet. Imagine if I looked it up in a dictionary, my picture would have been there, I just didn't know it.
Paul Basden (13:32):
So I was outgoing, friendly guy. Jim and I have some similar characteristics difference. Loved to visit people, love to preach, love to counsel people on the run, loved small groups, all that stuff. But I had this essential theory of life that I never articulated, it was this, I'm happy as long as you're happy with me, if you're not happy with me, I don't really know what I would do. And since I generally figured out, I had to do enough song and dance to get people happy with me again, a friend mine said, seems like you're priming yourself all the time to meet people's needs. I said, yeah, Hey, sure is fun. Well, at some point it wasn't fun. And in the church, it's never enough time, people, money. And yet we were doing so many things well, and I just got into this pump of the fact that people were irritated with me.
Paul Basden (14:25):
If they want to disagree with me, if they want to have a conversation, instead of being receptive and calm and learning, as I learned much through Jim's friendship with me to let them deselect if they want, didn't care about where I was going. I couldn't do it, I just didn't feel confident about that even my vision was right. And so if they were challenging me, it was like, well, what now? So after four and a half years, I told my wife, I said, I'm done. I'm done the pastor church. There's some good churches right now, if this is not the right one, there are good churches, I'm telling you. On the phone, I wanted to meet with them, I said, I'm not doing that, I'm not a pastor. Okay so I kind of manipulated my way into a position at the university, I manipulated. It's the only time in my life I've not been to something by another group. I had to go find out if there was a calling.
Paul Basden (15:10):
It's not that [inaudible 00:15:10] I use that, but it just shows that I was definitely as much as possible taking this in my hands. By the grace of God, he used it all, of course because he's a master. But man, I feel like I was way ahead of him and not digging his involvement. So I left, I went 600 miles away with my family. And over the next four or five years, I actually became a dozen years weaker. I often thought if I could just try to plant the church again, if God will just let me one more time. So in any rate, over a series of global leadership conferences that Habbos were speaking at, one year, the summer of 2001, August, 2nd weekend in August, back when it was Thursday, Friday and Saturday morning, I was listening to a Saturday morning panel that Bill was interviewing and it was a guy that was a personal service master.
Paul Basden (16:00):
It was at that time, Rick Sterns, who was just leaving limits behind China to go into being a CEO of World Vision and some other big names. And he simply was interviewing someone in this interview who were retired or starting something new, et cetera, tell us about it. And one, one man said, I left the ministry for a while now coming back in, because I want to see if God would let me take one more mountain. I just started crying. And I just started crying. I made a note on my notes that Saturday morning in the service. Called Jim Johnson, asked him if he would be interested in pastoring a church. So now you got to know Tony, I mean, Frank, but Jim and I have been vacationing together as families, his wife, three kids, my wife, our two daughters. We started vacation together the summer of 1991.
Paul Basden (16:48):
And we did that throughout the nineties. So we did all sorts of stuff together. Never talked about church planning. We just stayed our lives together like that. Bottom line is when I called him and said, buddy, we're both in good churches with good salaries and the people love us, but I just have this urge to go plant. Would you pray with me? I've never co-pastored, but I know my weaknesses from that last church on it. I can have somebody that's not easily ruffled when there's disagreement. So you willing to consider it. We prayed, four, six months later, we were down here starting from scratch. And it was real good. Remember Jim, all the people that would say to us, Hey, y'all must have read John Ortberg's book. If you want to walk on water, you got to get out of the boat. I said, I've never heard of it, but I'm living it. We got down here and I'll let Jim pick about what made it work when we got here because we learned a lot over these.
Frank Barry (17:39):
But real quick, you're kind of been family friends for a long time.
Paul Basden (17:45):
Frank Barry (17:45):
And then you bring it up, you guys, you pray about it. I'm sure talk to the families. You make this kind of big decision and then you moved, right? Neither one of you lived in Frisco.
Paul Basden (17:56):
Atlanta and Birmingham.
Frank Barry (17:57):
Yeah. So what brought you to Frisco? Why'd you guys decide Frisco?
Jim Johnson (18:02):
Well, we actually did some research on that and just consulted sources, leadership network, others as well. And we considered the research triangle, North Carolina, South Nashville. We even looked at Austin as well. But I'd like to say we had great faith, we had little faith, but we said, if we're going to plan a church and we have no sponsor and we have nobody with us, if we go back to North Texas, at least there's some people who know us there. So if we totally flame out, someone might pick us up. But at that time, Frisco was 33,000 people, but it was growing. It was kind of on everybody's radar. And 19 years later, there since 300,000 people here. There was one high school when we moved here, now they're about to open their 13th. So I mean, it's just been this massive growth of a city.
Frank Barry (19:00):
Yeah. That is amazing. You know who I talked to recently? Is Andy and Summer Sipes from Frisco Bible Church, I think it's called.
Jim Johnson (19:11):
Andy. Oh yeah. Andy Sipes?
Frank Barry (19:15):
Yeah. Do you know those guys?
Jim Johnson (19:16):
Frank Barry (19:18):
Yeah. They asked of you over there. So anyways, random connection, but I just talked to them recently.
Jim Johnson (19:24):
Yeah. We know them and do things with them together. So we did a lot of research, but when we got here, we were astounded by one particular statistic and it was this, there were more children birth through four years of age, they were currently enrolled in the Frisco Independent School District grades K through 12, don't you think about that? More kids birth through four than K through 12. And we said, oh man, if we're going to reach people, we have to design ourselves to reach young families. And my church in Atlanta, we had hosted North Point when Andy was building his church and they were doing the construction. So they met in our facilities on Sunday for about 18 months. And during that time I watched Reggie join her and their children's team launch kid stuff. And so I just, oh my gosh, they are really reaching young families through that. So when we moved out here and we saw the demographics, we said we've got to do something like that. So we connected North Point and with them. And so we actually launched with texanized version of kid stuff.
Frank Barry (20:40):
How they do it, yeah. Because I mean, I've not seen it firsthand, but I've definitely heard plenty of stories about how good North Point is at serving young families and kids and all that.
Jim Johnson (20:52):
Well, it was amazing. So when we launched in September of '02, we did it with our version of that called Dude Ranch. We had hired a young graduate from Stanford University in Birmingham. She was an incredible actress. We hired a videographer and for the first four months, Paul and I, we were just ministers of announcements.
Frank Barry (21:12):
Jim Johnson (21:13):
And there was this creative presentation with original videos and original drama and stuff. And when they did that for the first four months, and it was amazing, that's how we started the church.
Frank Barry (21:28):
Yeah. Sorry, Jim, but when you got there, did you put together... Did you two and your family just move in and then start going to coffee shops to meet people? Or did you bring any kind of launch team with you?
Jim Johnson (21:42):
We were the launch team. We knew one family in Frisco at that point in time. And it wasn't coffee shops, it was... What's the name of the Mexican food place, Paul? It was ranch.
Paul Basden (21:58):
Jim Johnson (21:58):
Frank Barry (21:58):
La Hacienda. There you go.
Jim Johnson (22:00):
We ate a lot of fajitas meeting with people.
Frank Barry (22:03):
Jim Johnson (22:04):
And we just started with an email list and we just built it up, and we created obviously the vision for our church. In the summer, we hosted three vision nights and we had kind of put our heads together and said, we need 40 people to launch the church. And so we prayed for 40 people. And after our third vision night, we had 40 people signed up. And these people.
Paul Basden (22:29):
We had to count our two teenage kids.
Jim Johnson (22:30):
Yeah, we did.
Frank Barry (22:31):
And they count.
Jim Johnson (22:32):
I remember, they worked hard too. And so the deal is we ask our launch team, would you give us 12 weeks to help us launch this church? And after those 12 weeks, if you want to go back to perhaps an old church or you don't exactly love what's going on, you're free to go, but just give us 12 weeks. And so all 40 of those people had a job and a role. And we did the marketing. We launched on September 8th of '02 and had about 186 people that showed up for what we call Dude Ranch. And there were a lot of well wishers, and the next week we had a 110 people, and that was really our baseline that we started with. And at Christmas, we had 150 regularly coming and then we launched our first worship service in January of '03. So Paul and I finally got to preach and we took our first offering. We've been providing all this for free.
Jim Johnson (23:29):
And Frank, I got to tell you this, what's amazing. It's tough being a midlife church planter because like we had students in college and all this kind of stuff. But in that first year, $480,000 essentially came to us through the mail. We had two large gifts, one from North Point and one from the BGCT in Texas. But $370,000 came from people who knew us, loved us and believed in us.
Frank Barry (23:55):
Jim Johnson (23:56):
And it was amazing, but the deal was we had no idea when it was coming in.
Frank Barry (24:00):
Jim Johnson (24:01):
So the way we made decisions, Paul, and look at each other and go, do we need this for the mission? And if we both agreed, we either bought it, ordered it or hired it. And that's the way we made decisions.
Paul Basden (24:15):
Frank, one of the, well, for instance, one of the things that's helpful to understand that when Jim says stuck in midlife church planner, the flip side of that is that this is what's he's getting at, I think, is the benefit is people know you. You baptized people, you married people, you buried people, you discipled people or you've led groups of people. And so all of a sudden you leave and you just say, Hey, here's what we're doing, and we just send up this email this to people.
Paul Basden (24:39):
And all of a sudden we get a hundred dollar check, a thousand dollar check. Many times I say to someone, let's meet for lunch and they give us $2000 check. Who does this? But there was a connection, we administered to them. And that's at 25 and 30 for church planner, they've got all the energy, all the vision in the world. But in addition to minimal experience, they also have minimal context. So in terms of a broader base, I think that's what he's getting at, that's what I love. God's gift to us because we didn't even ever guess, we never talked about it or accept.
Frank Barry (25:13):
Yeah, that's amazing. I mean, there's so many things that I want to talk about, but let's talk about the fact that you guys are co-leading this church. I think that's fairly unique. You guys might know better than I do, but I don't see a lot of it. How did you guys, how did you sort out the roles? Just because you spent whatever, 10 years, 15 years going on family vacations, that you were like, it just worked, and you already had it figured out or did you have to do some hard work there?
Jim Johnson (25:46):
It wasn't really all that hard. In fact, there's a saying that if you're a typical on the pastor track, you say, never take a church unless it's desperate, because then they'll really welcome you as a new leader.
Frank Barry (25:59):
Jim Johnson (26:00):
We were desperate, that is, we have been transitioning churches for Paul, about eight years, me for 10. And we had contemporary services, traditional services, whenever you're leading a blended church, it's like driving a car with one foot on the accelerator and one foot on the brake and there's a lot of friction and sometimes smoke and heat. And we've done that for a long time, and I think both of us were ready and realize that we could never fully accomplished the mission we felt called to do in a transitional setting. And I look back now and go, if I hadn't done this, I think I would've scribbled up and died spiritually because it was so hard to do both of those things over and over again.
Frank Barry (26:47):
Jim Johnson (26:47):
So we were literally desperate and people look at us and go, oh, you had so much faith and I can't believe you did that. And we go, no, we were so desperate to be in a situation to be able to flesh out our vision in our sense of mission and do that. And then when God provided for us, so generously through the lives of people, it was really easy. When we got here, we just kind of laid out all the different responsibilities that needed to be done. And so we chose up sides, we flipped the coin and chose sides. And so here's another reason why this really works. Paul and I are very complimentary in our gifts, in our interests and in our wiring. And so even though the first choice was we both wanted to be over worship, we kind of worked that one out.
Jim Johnson (27:40):
All the others fell very naturally because of gifts that we have and our interests that we have. And so we say that this partnership works primarily because of four things. The first one is because we have implicit trust in one another, and that was built through all those years vacation together. We had no, what's the phrase? Dog in the fight. We were just trying to get along and lead our own churches. Right. And so we just built a lot of trust, and so that has remained to this day. The second thing that made it work is this, we have different teaching styles, but equal competence. And Paul is a great theologian, yeah, he could be a professor at any seminary in the United States. He has an uncanny ability to synthesize difficult doctrines and teachings and make those really accessible.
Jim Johnson (28:36):
My great passion was really as a communicator, making the gospel accessible to people who had never heard it before or had said goodbye to church a long time ago. And so through all this time period, there's never been a movement going, oh no, it's Jim preaching again. I'm Paul's guy or vice versa.
Frank Barry (28:56):
Jim Johnson (28:56):
Our church has truly, I think, been blessed by both of us bringing our personalities and our perspectives to our preaching gift. And then just this complimentary nature of our giftedness. And we joke about this, but it's true. Between the both of us, we make one pretty good senior pastor. Because we have all the gifts covered, while I might be more extroverted in times, Paul can do the introvert thing. He has a pastoral heart. He can walk in a room and feel the emotional tender in that room, just like that. I walk in a room and I sense that there are emotions there and people have them, I just don't care as much.
Paul Basden (29:38):
Which has it's strengths by the way.
Frank Barry (29:42):
Yeah. Absolutely. Sometimes our greatest strengths are our biggest weaknesses too, right? It's like you get them both.
Jim Johnson (29:47):
That's right. And the other thing is we have a similar background. We read the same authors. We have a very similar doctrinal background and stuff. And so it's been a real blessing and it's worked out beautifully. And I think the church has really benefited from it.
Paul Basden (30:05):
Hey Frank, can I add something else on that?
Frank Barry (30:07):
Please jump in Paul.
Paul Basden (30:10):
You just made the statement that every strength has it weaknesses. So if you're dealing with church leadership or church planters, if you're coaching them, you see their strengths, you can help them identify their strength. Of course, strength finders tells us, whatever you do, maximize your strengths and don't spend too much time on your weakness.
Frank Barry (30:27):
Paul Basden (30:28):
Manage your weaknesses, can trick you up and kick you in the butt and bury you.
Frank Barry (30:33):
Paul Basden (30:33):
Let's say you have zero pastoral counseling skills. I mean, you don't even know how to listen to a person when they're pouring their heart out. If you have the money, you can go rent that out, you can go get somebody to come do that for you. But if that's how you are` every time you see someone and that's just the people that actually come to appointment. If that's the way you are, you just treat people that way, that's going to be a real weakness, right? You might be the greatest preacher around, the greatest strategist, and of course you can that with anything you want in terms of strength and weaknesses. So it's almost impossible, I think, to so maximize your strengths, right? That your weaknesses are just kind minimized and say oh, but their strengths are so good. Because in a church your weaknesses really do shine unfortunately. And people can be forgiving, but never [inaudible 00:31:21] what you can do, obviously is maximize your strengths and then try to hire around you and help the people understand it as well.
Paul Basden (31:29):
Even so, Jim's got incredible strengths and vision and credible strengths strategy communicating, especially on believers. But he's admitted that one of his weaknesses is he gets so many ideas is often hard for him to go, well, this is the best, this is the best, this is the best. Because he just thinks abstractly often and he can go in any number of directions very quickly. So I've got strengths in relation to the things he's mentioned, but my weaknesses have to do with not really seeing down the road that far, and then with the sensitivity towards people, it becomes over sensitivity but then it's no longer God led, it's purely demo. So here's the thing I want to tell you that for every two people who decide to co-pastor, I would say, if they can meet the criteria that Jim strive, because I'm nervous about guys or girls or mixed, but we can say, Hey, we met three months ago and we talked a few times, why don't we go co-pastor.
Paul Basden (32:25):
Oh my gosh. I just think that's almost like saying, we don't have any elders in our church, but there's a guy or a girl that's been coming for a few weeks, let's have lunch with them and if they're good, let's have dinner. Well that'll kill. So my experience is this, my weaknesses almost never make it to the light because we could do that. Jim's weaknesses almost never make it to the light because of that. My phrase is, our strengths shine and our weaknesses literally get canceled out. It may not work that way all the time, but buddy, I can't tell you anything that has given me more joy than to know that when my weaknesses would screw something up in the church, I sit down and talk with Jim. It's like, crying out loud. Okay, I was worried about that person leaving. Jim says, Hey nobody.
Frank Barry (33:13):
Paul Basden (33:14):
Jim, how do you say it? Life is too short to be unhappy in the church.
Jim Johnson (33:20):
Yeah. We don't think anybody should be unhappy in their church.
Frank Barry (33:22):
Paul Basden (33:23):
How can you let them go? What if they don't like me or talk bad about me? It's like, you can't control it. Again, you see what I'm saying, Frank?
Frank Barry (33:29):
Yeah, absolutely. And I mean, it sparked a thought that I just would love you guys to maybe tease out a little bit. I think the way that plays out is because you're not just you on an island being the leader, right? Yeah. You might have a team, somebody who's leading church may have a team, but when you're the kind of soul senior pastor, it sort of the buck stops with you and all of the weight of all of the decisions and all of the things going on, kind of fallen your shoulders, where in your guys situation, you both share that together. So you can then go have some fajitas and you can sit down and talk about the real stuff, but you both feel the responsibility of it and carry the weight of it, but you get to do it together, right?
Frank Barry (34:15):
So it's not stuck in your head, you get to kind of talk it out, figure it out. And then your strengths kind of can come out of it. I'm throwing it out there, is that part of why it really helps you guys do this well? Because you get to shoulder it together.
Jim Johnson (34:31):
Yeah, Absolutely. I was going to say, in 19 years we've only had one period of turbulence and it happened in 2009.
Paul Basden (34:42):
In the church, not between us.
Jim Johnson (34:44):
In the church, not between us. And so the deal is, what I've learned is when there are two of us, most people go, Hey, listen, we don't have a single pastor who's going to run off and run the church off the rails and mess everything up. And so they know that everything that we do has to be passed through both of us, and so I think that just kind of gives an inherent confidence in our people. I think we've observed that, that every decision that we make has passed two pretty sharp people, and so we haven't had a lot of people who have kind of risen up and really challenged us. The other thing is when there's two of us, it takes someone with some really big kohonis to come in and try to attack or approach both of us and tell us we're full up and all this kind of stuff.
Jim Johnson (35:39):
And so I do think having both of us there, it really keeps people from really rising up and thinking, oh, I can go in and I can push them around or whatever. And so I think it kind of has worked both ways. Good decisions have been made, and as a matter, the thin, I look back and I appreciate a lot is like, as Paul said, I have a lot of ideas and I can put a bunch of stuff up on the board, but Paul has a gift of refining and asking really good analytical questions.
Jim Johnson (36:11):
And for us to grow from six people through all of the stages of growth in a church and of the growth barriers, I know that you're aware of like. 400 and 800 and 1012, for a church like us to grow through all of those, I think one of the reasons is because along the way, we didn't make a crucial or a critical error that derailed the church. If it had been me when I was 28 or when I was 32, I would've run the thing in the ditch at least a couple of times, but cause we're doing this together, we haven't made that kind of fatal error that really damaged the church. So we've really benefited from doing this together.
Frank Barry (36:56):
How do you work through thing when you disagree?
Paul Basden (37:01):
I tell you Frank, well, first off we had to learn. I mean, there's no magic, right? We've been friends and I thought about that the other day. And a decade of vacations plus other times that we see each other during the year and share meals together, and five years of sitting beside each other in classes or going on to preach together, and we had a lot of shared history and I never remember ever being triggered by Jim or being irritated or anything. I mean, we just had just a good, solid friendship. I don't think we were each other best friends, but on a short list of three or four people, we were on that list.
Frank Barry (37:36):
Paul Basden (37:37):
Well then you come here and now of all of a sudden, it's like, this is my space, this is your space. And every time we could find lanes, we rotate as long as we could stay in our lane. The first thing we did was divide up everything into 10 departments and then each other of us to five. I remember one time we were in a meeting and I was in charge of groups and I met four or five guys together on something, and Jim was in that meeting. And it felt like he was undermining what I was doing, and he wasn't, he was trying to show some things I wasn't seeing. There was just four or five guys were sitting outside in the restaurant and on the table outside. So it was low-key man inside, I was thinking, I'm going this direction, it's clear to me, he's going this direction, and I didn't know what to do. I didn't want to say in front of those guys, Hey, I'm in charge of establishment, I'm trying to read this, please keep your thoughts to yourself.
Frank Barry (38:25):
Paul Basden (38:27):
It wasn't I didn't care about his thoughts, I didn't understand that, they didn't make sense and we hadn't talked. So anyway, so after that I went by, it was probably the next day. I probably should have gone weekly, but on me, I know it was the next day. And I said, Hey, let me just tell you what that was like for me. I went through it. He goes, oh, he used a great phrase that we've now used a dozen times. He goes, well, he said, just pretend that there was a three door and you're fly on one side and I'm a fly on other side. You just told me your perspective, let me tell you what this fly on the other side of the door experienced. I saw this, this, this and this, and I know [inaudible 00:39:01]. I'm sorry if I hurt you, I wasn't trying to, I was just trying to guide the conversation in different ways.
Paul Basden (39:12):
And again, that just comes inevitably, Frank, when you co-pastor. We are two different humans. There's not a day that wakes up that he's Paul, and not a day I wake up and I'm Jim. I have my life, he has his. But I would say that's not happened more than a few times since then, and when it does, we just say it.
Jim Johnson (39:29):
Yeah. We learn to give each other signals and one thing we do a lot is this, that whatever we do have disagreements, there are different degrees of disagreement or how important something is to us. So what we'll do is if we're disagreeing, then I'll say, Hey, listen, this is not that important to me, but if it's more important to you, I'm happy to defer that to you. So there have been very few decisions where we are both incredibly passionate about it and opposite sides of it. And so sometimes things are really important to Paul and not so much to me. And so he goes, Hey, I'll do that. I said, please do. And then sometimes it's really important to me and he'll defer to me on that.
Jim Johnson (40:11):
So we kind of know how to communicate to each other our levels of passion about that particular decision.
Frank Barry (40:18):
Yeah. That's good.
Jim Johnson (40:19):
Because a lot of times we're talking about a song or something that's fairly inconsequential. So our preferences are different. And so we recognize that preferences are not principles, and so we'll differ on that.
Frank Barry (40:34):
Yeah, that's good. Really good.
Paul Basden (40:37):
Frank, can I comment on something?
Frank Barry (40:38):
Please jump in.
Paul Basden (40:39):
I don't want to jump in and steal your question time, but it's just every thought either of us have, obviously we say something else. Early in our first four or five years here, Frank, there was a huge church in North Texas that had the conference on elder. How do you choose elders? How do you lead elders? Man, we were quiet listening to whole day, taking notes, but thinking, please don't tell me this is the only choice. Because we never had elders in our whole lives, we were a deacon church. So the way they did it was high confrontation. If you're having a problem, boom, you talk about it immediately. You're having a problem, boom, you talk about it immediately. And I mean, they would say we have talk every time. How times have you been mentally, sexually unfaithful with your wife this week?
Paul Basden (41:21):
How did you spend your dollars this week? Show us your checkbook right now? Show us your debit. And it's not that either of us wanted excuses to sexually sin or financially sin. we were and we aren't, but that's how they did it. And I would just call it Marine bootcamp, right? Everything was Marine bootcamp, and that was their one model. And so on our way out, we just talked about how difficult that will be and that just wasn't the way we did life. And Jim had such a great line, had the first parent because there's something in first Corinthians about love suffers long. And so we began to talk, what's the difference between love suffering long and the need to speak the truth and love? And so often the question is, if I need to speak the truth and love, let's go do that. If that's just a small thing that I can let pass, love just suffers long. So that in their opinion, it was love confronts fast. That was the biblical.
Frank Barry (42:16):
They would just speak the truth always. Hard, get after it, right?
Paul Basden (42:19):
We would say it was in love, but let me tell you, it felt they don't let anything slip and they're proud of it. It's like, that's one of the things on their mic or on the big church signage is we don't let anything slip. No sin too small to name. So we couldn't do that.
Frank Barry (42:36):
Paul Basden (42:37):
We've kept the skis greased for 19 years.
Frank Barry (42:42):
Yeah. I mean, it's just cool while hearing you guys talk and you guys are obviously amazing friends, so let's fast forward, Pre-COVID, give or take, what was like Sunday service size for you guys? How many people were in the building or on a weekend, or I don't know. Every church measures things differently. So just give the folks a sense of in that 19 years, how things grow?
Jim Johnson (43:08):
Yeah. Pre-COVID, we are hitting about 4400 on average. We have a small multisite in McKinney. But we were hitting about 4500 and we actually opened a brand new 20,000 square foot children's building two weeks-
Paul Basden (43:27):
Jim Johnson (43:29):
Two weeks before COVID hit. Man, we had this three story indoor play area for kids. I mean.
Frank Barry (43:36):
Jim Johnson (43:37):
There's so many kids around here. I mean, it was pulling people in and we got to do that two weeks and we had to shut it all down.
Paul Basden (43:45):
All you dirty kids with your COVID germs? It was terrible.
Frank Barry (43:50):
Oh that's that is brutal. Okay. So you're around 4500 or so give or take. Yeah. I just wanted people to have a sense of kind of over that 19 years gap.
Paul Basden (44:02):
We've got 3000 adults, 1500 kids.
Frank Barry (44:04):
Yeah. And then you build this new thing and then COVID hits and then now we're 18 months or 20 months, it's hard to keep.
Jim Johnson (44:13):
Yeah. We're about 70% back in person.
Frank Barry (44:16):
Jim Johnson (44:16):
That's not where a lot of churches are about 70%.
Frank Barry (44:19):
I mean, 70 is actually good. I hear a lot of churches in the 40, 50% too. So I feel like there's this 40 to 70, I don't think I've heard anybody say over 70, which it's very anecdotal just in conversation, but some churches are having a tough go getting people back depending on kind of area and all that. But how long were you guys closed? Just not meeting in the building, fully virtual.
Jim Johnson (44:50):
Paul Basden (44:51):
Yeah. So we closed down the second weekend of March of 2020, and we were closed through May. We opened up one weekend in May and two in June, I believe. Is that right, Jim? Three in a row.
Jim Johnson (45:05):
Paul Basden (45:06):
Just to see. And after that, I mean, it got worse. Not in our church, but it just got worse in America, and in North Dallas where we are, I mean, you have to go by your region.
Frank Barry (45:16):
Paul Basden (45:17):
We close it down because we thought it was only safe with mask and everybody hated wearing mask and everything.
Frank Barry (45:21):
Jim Johnson (45:23):
Yeah. People clearly told us they weren't ready to come back.
Frank Barry (45:26):
Yeah. You checked it out and you're like, okay, we got-
Paul Basden (45:30):
So we closed again mid June and we were closed from mid June through... Jim, did we open up in November or January?
Jim Johnson (45:37):
No. First week in October.
Paul Basden (45:40):
But we had outdoor services, remember?
Jim Johnson (45:46):
Yeah. That was for everybody. Remember I think we opened up in October, and then we had some outdoor services so everybody would come back. And we had multiple thousands of people come back.
Paul Basden (46:00):
Once a month for three months.
Jim Johnson (46:01):
Yeah. Once a month. That's right. That was our plan. Once a month for three months, we had these outdoor services.
Paul Basden (46:07):
Once in September, once in October. Plus we did start in October with a smaller number.
Jim Johnson (46:11):
Frank Barry (46:11):
Paul Basden (46:14):
And in January, the vaccines came out January, so we kind started picking back up and we're probably 80% not wearing masks, 20% wearing masks Jim.
Frank Barry (46:23):
But you're back open, kind of church, normal and following the safety protocols, things like that.
Paul Basden (46:29):
And the third service we didn't need just to get people's face.
Frank Barry (46:33):
Right. Yeah. And is the new facility back in action?
Jim Johnson (46:37):
Frank Barry (46:37):
Okay. How's that going?
Jim Johnson (46:39):
Bring your kids, man. They can play on our indoor play space.
Frank Barry (46:42):
And that's cool, what is it? Why did you build it? What's in it? How is it serving the community?
Jim Johnson (46:51):
Well, I mean, it's just this huge indoor tunnels and all this kind of stuff. And in actuality it was meant obviously to bring kids. And here's one of the things, when we did Dude Ranch back in the beginning, one of the reasons why we did that is because it was so engaging. Kids would go and wake their parents up on Sunday morning and go, okay, when are we going to church? So literally, the kids brought their parents to church. So this is kind of another thing that it is such an incredible experience and it's fun. And so kids want to come, but it's also, man, so many hundreds of people are around this huge thing and they're spending time getting to know one another and they're visiting together. And during the week we'll have a dozen families there every day for playtime. So we open it to the community and we have people out there to make sure that they're introducing themselves and making connections.
Frank Barry (47:51):
Yeah, That's really cool. I mean, it sounds like it's a great just a community place.
Paul Basden (47:57):
Frank Barry (47:58):
A great way to serve the community and it's the church serving the community, building something and making it about kids and all that, which it's just cool for families and for growing and all that.
Jim Johnson (48:09):
Yeah. There are a lot of kids around here.
Frank Barry (48:12):
Yeah. So maybe as we kind of wrap up, how are you guys thinking about the future and we're kind of not through COVID, but on the other side a little bit, and you're 70% back in the building. As you guys are working together, like how's church different, how do you see it functioning different into the future? Or do you think it's going to kind of eventually all come back to what it used to be and kind of move on? How are you guys talking about that?
Jim Johnson (48:46):
You want me to go PB or you want to start?
Paul Basden (48:49):
You want to split up, grow and go, how you want to do it?
Jim Johnson (48:53):
Yeah. Let me kick off kind of what led us to that. So obviously what was happening is now we start this whole digital approach. We were already streaming, but we didn't have an online campus. In fact, we had an online streaming thing reluctantly, because we felt like it was keeping people away, right? So we had not really embraced that fully. So then when COVID hits and now all of a sudden people are stuck in their homes and we're doing groups and homes now, and we are realizing, okay, really COVID is making us really leave the building and spend more time in our community. So then we actually tried to start organizing people in their neighborhoods to really begin to serve their neighbors and to really take the church into the neighborhoods again.
Jim Johnson (49:41):
So here we found ourselves saying, okay, now we have a larger digital presence, now people are no longer coming to the building and we put so much stock in the one hour on Sunday, right? And yet now all these people are used to being online where they are, and so we started some things to try to help during COVID. And while we were doing that, we're going, it just feels like we're doing a bunch of random stuff. Can we connect the dots? That is, is God calling us to a new vision because we're doing hybrid church, digitally, and in person, we now see the need to really be present in neighborhoods and communities. So we were what we would call an attractional church, almost every church was planted in the tens and the nineties are attractional. And we really said, you know what?
Jim Johnson (50:31):
We believe that we need to maybe alter the way that we carry out this mission of our church and change our strategy. And so it's come and see. So now we have kind of re-swizzled it. And we are now say that our strategy is grow and go. And so now we're putting equal time and energy into really equipping and helping believers grow on the weekends, as opposed to just doing felt need messages to try to get people to come on the weekend. And now we are redesigning our outreach so that we are actually facilitating people to go into the community. So we have a grow and go strategy. And so we've put together like some milestones along the way.
Jim Johnson (51:16):
So in order to help people grow, we're leading people to say yes to Jesus, to worship daily, to connect with the group, to serve the body, to learn God's story or to learn the word, and then finally, to invest in the mission. Those aren't new, those are a part of the grow pathway that we've had for a while. They also line up with rooted and we do rooted, it's been an incredible eye opening experience for our church. And those are some of the rhythms we consolidated them to from seven down to five. And so that's our grow pathway, but now we're focusing on our go pathway. And Paul can tell you what that is.
Paul Basden (52:00):
Obviously, Frank, one of the most important things as Jim said, we're moving from being attractional only to, we're not getting rid of attractional cause we still want people to come in and hear God's word.
Frank Barry (52:09):
Paul Basden (52:13):
Attractional and missional. And I think it was a challenge for Jim and me to accept missional, maybe just cause of our age. Dunk on it, we loved the gathered church a lot. And a lot of missional church conversations over the last 20 years have been such a focus on the scattered church, church out. We fail to talk about the church in. I realize now that there's a judgment that the appropriate made on us for not talking about the church outwardly. So I get it. But for the go piece, for describing it in really in these terms, it involves making a friend, inviting a friend.
Paul Basden (52:49):
So make a friend being hospitable, inviting a friend into your life, into your group, into your church, meet a need, which is all about caring for people beyond the laws of the church that are in trouble. Whether it's a neighborhood, a neighbor that lives close to you, had lost their house in a fire or something. Are you going to go give on their GoFundMe page? Yes. They'll help them. So it's all of that. As long as serving somebody, et cetera in the neighborhood. Fourth is right or wrong. We want to get the justice from somewhere because we both care deeply about that, but that never has fit well in the traditional evangelical church. As you know, there's virtually no pathway that says, we share in the injustice.
Paul Basden (53:29):
So some churches say well, we're going to do justice only. So we got it right now, and when I say we, I mean the others in church. We got it right now, right or wrong with compassion and courage and share God's story and your own story and finally start new churches. Because the food with everything is a new church that preach. So Jim and I preach through that 12 weeks right now, we just came to you from a meeting we were in on writing curriculum for 12 weeks for the whole church. All small groups of both of those. We're about 50 to 70% of people in small groups. So they will all jump into this 12 weeks curriculum based on six weeks on grow and six weeks on go, and we're super excited about that.
Frank Barry (54:11):
Man, sounds like y'all are running right now. It's awesome.
Paul Basden (54:15):
Frank Barry (54:17):
Coming through a pretty crazy time and adapting and figuring it out. I mean, it sounds like you also learned a lot about church online through it, which I think is a fantastic lesson that hopefully most churches kind of take out of that time, right? It was hard for everybody or at least for most, right? But coming through it and going, okay, we got some new tools that we're going to put the work. Well, man-
Jim Johnson (54:41):
Tony Morgan has a has saying, I think it's Tony. But he says this, before COVID, home group or home based churches made disciples but weren't very organized. And then there are a lot of large churches who were organized but weren't really making disciples. And he's saying that post-COVID now, they were actually going to have large churches that are organized, who were also going to make disciples. And that's what we're going for, we're happy to be a large church, we have the resources, that's wonderful. We have a lot of people to reach, but we really are more determined to truly make disciples rather than just kind of let that happen, if you know? And so that's the change in us, that's how we've described it. We're going to be highly organized and very intentional, but really make disciples in a way that we have never done before.
Frank Barry (55:32):
Yeah. I love that.
Paul Basden (55:34):
Frank, is it possible if you let me say this one thing before we get off?
Frank Barry (55:37):
Please do. And before we end, I want you to let everyone know how to go check you guys out. But yes, jump in Paul.
Paul Basden (55:44):
Okay. Well you can find this on 365discipleship.com. That's the discipleship website that Jim and I man. And so I just want to tell you that one of the things we've learned is that people's knowledge of the Bible is so far less what it was even when we were growing up. Know this, people bible literacy is just off the charts including kids that grew up in Christian health. And I got that in some of my extended family members, I've got that really. Got your parents, got your grandparents, and you've never heard of the apostle Paul, you don't know any of that story. So Jim and I had put out the first of two books in a series and there it is, bro, it's called finding your place in God's great story for kids.
Frank Barry (56:24):
Paul Basden (56:26):
It's for tweeners really. And then there's another one that's coming out next year, finding your place in God story for little ones. And it's just eight two page sections, multicolor of the same story, the same eight chapters here. And this is for tweeners. And the last one's coming out about a year from that, it's for adults. But just so you know, here are the titles of the eight. This is how we see the whole story of God that God creates, which is obviously Genesis. God blesses, which is God calling Abraham. God rescues, which is Moses. God chooses, starting in Israel with David.
Paul Basden (57:02):
God warns us, it's the prophets calling them the justice and the love. God saves, and Jesus, the comment of the all. God sins through Paul all looks like the world's going to hell in a hand basket. One day God wins. And that's John. So it's very good amd let me tell you, man, the best thing about is, but many kids just know a story here, a story there, a story here, story there. And it's not integrated. Man, this book right here is integrated, it helps him succeed from the beginning to the end, the whole story art or for intellectuals like you, the meta America.
Frank Barry (57:33):
Paul Basden (57:34):
For two years old, the whole story art of the scriptures. And it helps him know God's love. He made him, he saved them, he's going to remake them, and it's all about God.
Frank Barry (57:45):
Yeah. That's beautiful. So is it on Amazon? Where can people get it?
Paul Basden (57:48):
Jim Johnson (57:48):
Yeah, it is on Amazon. And it's actually with their top release in children's Bible studies. So it's doing really well and a lot of people are benefiting from it.
Paul Basden (57:59):
Yeah, it's also at christianbooks.com and it is on the Barnes and Noble or any other bookstore you go to.
Frank Barry (58:05):
So good. I mean, y'all went on family vacations together, you planted a church together, you're writing books together. I mean, this is amazing. I love it.
Paul Basden (58:14):
We're going to grow old together, but we're not marrying.
Frank Barry (58:16):
That's good. Okay. So you said disciples36.com.
Paul Basden (58:24):
Jim Johnson (58:26):
Frank Barry (58:27):
365discipleship.com. And then what about the church? Where can folks go to check out your guys church online?
Jim Johnson (58:35):
Go to prestontrail.org. And you can find out more about us, you can look into all our message here that have been very helpful with a lot of folks. And we'd love for you to check us out online. We're there every weekend.
Frank Barry (58:54):
Love it. Well, Jim, Paul, this has been awesome. I appreciate you guys coming on.
Paul Basden (59:00):
Frank, thank you for your work. Thank you for helping train leaders and church planters and everybody that's trying to give their life to kingdom work. Somebody like you being a coach on a regular podcast, that's going to mean a lot to them. We're honored to be a part of your show today.
Frank Barry (59:13):
Man, that's fantastic. Well, thank you guys and thanks for everyone for tuning in and we'll be back next week with another episode of Modern Church Leader. Thanks guys.
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