Case Study: Allen Hendrix,
Communications Specialist for Churches
If the word “church” conjures stereotypes in your mind, stop right there – let us tell you about Allen.
You’ll soon realize that if anyone is up to the daunting job of attracting Gen Y to a dwindling Churchgoership, it’s Allen Hendrix.
Now in his 40s with a wife and two sons, Allen is a Communications Specialist for Churches. (Baptist in case you were wondering.)
But rewind 20 years and Allen’s life was a bit different. Think private jets to Europe and sound-mixing for Eddie Van Halen (who according to All Music was “undoubtedly one of the most influential, original, and talented rock guitarists of the 20th century—second to only Jimi Hendrix”).
At one point, he was even handed the keys to the Tennessee Performing Arts Center (TPAC), managing one of the most complex audio system installations in the world.
Not your typical Church worker, right?
With an impressive professional history under his belt ranging from Lead Marketing Manager for the Media Matrix Product Line, to President of Five Rock Studios (which produced “ Adventure Bound Outdoors” during its award-winning seasons on the Outdoor Channel), Allen came to the Pendulum course with a high level of specialized communications knowledge.
As you can imagine, breathing new life into traditional Church messaging in an era where Gen Y are more interested in chatting on Facebook and RTing Ashton Kutcher’s latest tweets than paying attention to bible verse, is no easy feat.
With increasing frustration, Allen continued to search for ways to keep the content fresh and grow an active Church membership across different age groups. While an expert in his field, there still seemed to be something missing between the generations that he couldn’t quite place—Allen realized he needed to tap into this missing intergenerational link in order to boost the effectiveness of his efforts and jump to a higher level of success.
Allen turned to Michael Drew and the Pendulum course, which he credits with not only changing his own perspective but also bringing real, tangible results to the organization.
“We are growing—a rare thing in the local Church these days. The Pendulum will certainly help us to increase our reach in the very near future, which we feel will expedite our growth rate.”
But let’s start at the beginning and explain how it worked for Allen.
First, the concepts taught in Pendulum allowed Allen to understand why their current strategies weren’t working.
“It revealed the reason for past missteps and was immediately helpful to our strategic planning”
By getting to the bottom of the cause of falling low growth rates and by identifying the key trigger points to turn that around, Allen was able to effectively plan for the future. You see, it’s easy to see when a plan hasn’t worked. What’s tricky is understanding why it didn’t work. Without that knowledge, your mistake is hidden from your view. You will keep making the same mistakes over and over without realizing they are mistakes. Once Allen was able to nail that one and get to the root of these reasons, it became clear on how to move forwards.
Second, Pendulum helped Allen get inside the heads of the members of the Church, figuratively speaking, and understand their true needs.
“As soon as I got home I acquired the birth dates of our entire active membership. I placed them on the pendulum timeline. It was apparent right away that we were going to have to change some key methods of communication in order to maintain engagement with all three groups.
“Knowing and understanding the polarities of the ‘Me’ and the ‘We’ caused me to see the felt and unfelt needs of the crowds differently than I had before.”
Armed with fresh insights, Allen was able to see through the ambiguity that normally comes with a people-centered profession. You know the phrase “knowledge is power”? Well, that applies right here. Really, truly knowing your customer is your greatest strength. Without understanding your customers, you may never know what their wants and needs truly are—and if that’s the case, how can you effectively cater to them? By using the Pendulum framework, Allen was able to empathize with each generation individually and get a clear understanding of what they needed.
Third, the Pendulum taught Allen the most effective communication styles to meet these needs and appeal to a wider age group
“Because of this new insight, I have been able to fine tune the delivery methods we use. We have also changed some of the language we use to engage the ‘We’ [younger generation] more effectively.”
“Our goals and plans to reach those goals, are being adjusted to more closely be identified with the swing of the pendulum. Our message will not change. However, how we say it and deliver will.”
Allen could see that they had a great message—but they weren’t delivering it effectively. They needed a unique and fresh approach, something that would resonate with different generations. A common trap many people fall into is focusing solely on the message rather than the medium. Your message is critically important (and never forget that!) but it’s the delivery of it that will have the greatest impact. Allen learned how to effectively adjust the Church’s wording and use different communication mediums to attract a younger audience whilst still connecting with the older generations.
Fourth, the Pendulum provided inspiration for new, effective projects.
“We have a major Capital Stewardship Campaign in the design cycle at this very moment. The committee that oversees this effort is seeing our new connection methods first hand. Many have commented on how different this effort ‘feels’ compared to those we have embarked on in the past. They like the path we are taking. It’s connecting across all ages.”
Allen turned his new found insights into real, applicable projects that get results. Theory can only get you so far—in fact, theory is useless unless you do something with it! But that’s why the Pendulum course isn’t about theory—it’s a hands-on practical workshop that makes sure you apply key concepts to your own situation each step along the way. Allen has developed new methods which he has successfully implemented across his team. This is where the big results will begin.
Fifth, the Pendulum concepts have created cost effective, proven changes within Allen’s organization.
“The positive comments I have received have proven the point of the Pendulum.
[Members from each generation] have commented that they are thankful we are focusing on them specifically…even though we aren’t!
“We only have the time, energy and money to send ONE message. We have crafted it though to speak to everyone using the knowledge we gained from the Pendulum”.
Allen’s target audience—members of the Church—are already feeling the difference from the communications shift and are becoming more involved. Have you ever noticed your own reaction to the way people speak to you? Something as innocent as a misused word or slightly off-tone of voice can have a big impact on the way you feel about them. Now imagine crafting this for an entire population of people. Allen has mentioned that not only have results been showing already (“specifically applicable to our new found knowledge”) but Allen and his organization anticipate much, much more as they move forward with their new approach.
So there you have it,
the story behind Allen’s success with using the Pendulum for more effective communications on behalf of the Church. He’s an awesome guy and if you want to keep an eye on his adventures experimenting with new digital communication channels + Gen Y, you can check out his blog.