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PODCAST 035: Brandon Catoe & Pop-Up Church


I’ve been hearing whispers of this new concept in church. Jeff, you got to talk to these guys. They’re doing Pop-Up Church. Honestly, I had no idea what Pop-Up Church was? My best imagination was something involving Ego Waffles. So, I called a friend of a friend of a friend, and eventually got in touch with Brandon Catoe, Pop-Up Pastor at Christ Fellowship West Palm Beach.

To my disappointment, Ego Waffles were not involved. What I did discover, though, is a new way to effectively launch and mature multisite campuses effectively… a new strategy utilizing Church Online to birth new physical locations while extending the reach of your physical location. How effective? Try being ready to launch four new locations in one year…

Looking for a fresh, innovative idea for church? Look no further than Brandon Catoe here on Episode 35 of The Church Digital Podcast

If you're enjoying this episode, subscribe for free using your favorite podcast app below:

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Guest: Brandon Catoe
Christ Fellowship
, Pop-Up Church Pastor

Host: Jeff Reed
Twitter // Facebook // Instagram // LinkedIn



We know these conversations are out there are hard. Even the best of churches haven't figured out... If this podcast is helping you and your church work through what Church Online is, then help us impact other churches! Take a moment and leave us a brief review!
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Feedback on the podcast is vital as well. Leave comments on the podcast, or comment on this post! I'd love to know your thoughts and how we can serve your church better.
Love you all! Praying for your Churches and your Ministry Online.
Jeff Reed


Jeff Reed: 00:00 So Episode 35 here of The Church Digital Podcast. You ever have one of those conversations where you're like, I don't think anyone else in the country is doing this. Or even a step further and say, you know what? I think we're the only people in the world who are doing something like this. In 2019 where there's quite literally nothing new under the sun. Thank you very much, Ecclesiastes 1. It's hard to realize. It's hard to imagine that there's something knew that there's a new concept and nobody's ever done before. Ironically, we stumbled into something like that here at The Church Digital and in a side conversation about popup church. So I picked up the phone called a friend of a friend and eventually got connected with Brandon Catoe who is the, get this, He is the Pop Up Pastor for Christ Fellowship Church in West Palm Beach.

Jeff Reed: 00:51 So let me pause and I want to work through a couple of things here. First off, this is Christ Fellowship West Palm Beach, which is completely separate from the Christ Fellowship Miami that I was formally on staff at and Rey DeArmas, who is a guest host here, is currently the Online Pastor at. So this is a completely separate organization, which yes, they're about 90 miles apart and they always get confused on a regular basis. So plenty of side stories that we both can share about that. But this idea of pop-up church has almost been something that's been a whisper. It's been an echo. Well, what if we did pop up? What does even pop up mean? And so like I went into this conversation and we talked about it off air with Brandon. I didn't know what to expect. All I knew was someone told me, Hey, they're doing some incredible stuff with pop up and to be honest, I really didn't, I didn't even know a pop up was. And so I get on the zoom with Brandon, who's this pop up pastor. And basically I start off the question with, dude, tell me about Papa. And what followed was an incredible conversation. Centering around innovation. A church that's willing to do incredible things for an incredible growth opportunity to impact people with the gospel. So I love this conversation. I'm sure you will too. I'm going to present to you in this conversation. Brandon Catoe, who is the Pop Up Church Pastor for Christ Fellowship West Palm Beach and myself, Jeff with The Church Digital in a conversation surrounding pop up church. Here you go.

Brandon Catoe: 02:20 So we started off a year ago kind of just dreaming up with this, how does this look? What are we gonna do? What does it, how do we even build a team for this? And so we really, that's what, that's what June looked like of last year. And then we finally got team put together and figured out a, a process somewhere to start. And then we're like, well, what are some of the things that have been successful in the locations? Cause typically the way the way we launch campuses here at Christ Fellowship is we would just take a team of probably let's say four to six people. We would plant them at most a high school and just leave them there until church built. And so we thought, what if we, our number 10 location was Jupiter, Florida, which is just not too far, probably like 15 miles away from here.

Brandon Catoe: 03:13 The school was, they weren't as friendly when it came to storing our near and keeping our stuff there, the things we needed to keep on site to do church. So they made us put it in containers and trucks and all of this different portable stuff. And so we're like, well what if we took, we do so many things as a church in the community. We thought, what if we took this stuff and put it in a truck and made it portable? And we just popped up somewhere and did church. And so that's kind of where it started. And June of last year we thought, well, let's get into some communities and you know, we ask people to, we have people that drive sometimes three hours to get to one of our locations. And so we said, well, why don't we just start, pick a few communities and just go in their backyard in a park or something, pop up, do a big barbecue, have a family fun day, invite people out, tell them what we're thinking about, what we're going to try and if they'd be interested in.

Brandon Catoe: 04:03 So that was really what we started with. The other thing here, at this Christ Fellowship, we take June and July, kind of kind of our slower months of the year. We kind of vacation a little bit. Our senior leadership is usually traveling, speaking. And so during those months it was a lot of let's get plans together, let's start dreaming about what we could do when they get back and hit the ground running. August 1st we will come up with all of the the plans and get the budgets approved and let's roll with it. So that's what happened. We kind of dreamed out a whole season. I did have my whole team for June and July. We just didn't tell anybody. We were kind of meeting in secret rooms. And then, so August 1st leadership gets back and we lay out all of our big ideas and plans and they're like, okay, go for it.

Brandon Catoe: 04:52 Try it. So, so in September we did these huge, what we called them backyard barbecues and we went to the communities and we did these big barbecues and we had, we had about 350 people come out to the first one, we had about 400 people come out to the second one. And we were like, man, we could, we could build church. So, the thought was if we could, if we could get this thing rolling and we could take this gear, make it roadworthy portable, we could go to a different city each week. And so in a year's time we would build, we would plant and get a church to where hopefully, it would start to be able to self sustain and then then by the end of year to contribute back to the mission and all the things we're doing as a church.

Brandon Catoe: 05:39 Well, what if we, what if we did that through pop up, but we were doing four at the same time. We could do one. And so that's kind of where it all birthed out of and what we've been doing. And so we didn't have our first church service until January of this year. So August of last year we laid out all of our plans. September, we did the backyard barbecues. October we did, we did something called relationship 101, which, really, we learned but we wouldn't do it again. And then, and then November we did something called a serve days. We, there's a lot of churches here. We're part of churching knighted. And so we, we partner with them to do something called love South Florida. And so we did a bunch of serve projects in November and both of these cities. And then, December we invited them, we messaged, we went to the mall in one location and did like a Christmas concert in the mall. And did the same thing for Halloween. We went to the mall up there, they call Mall-o-ween.

Jeff Reed: 06:47 That's horrible. I'm sorry. Mall-o-ween. What mall does that, let's just call him out publicly. That's the worst thing I've ever heard.

Brandon Catoe: 06:58 That's Vero Beach. That's the Vero Beach mall.

Jeff Reed: 07:02 Yeah. Vero Beach Mall. I expect more out of you. You've got Disney Vacation Club right there within your city. You got to come up with something better than Mall-o-ween. I'm sorry. I'm sorry to interrupt. Please go ahead.

Brandon Catoe: 07:14 No, that's good. We, I'll tell you what though. It was, we were so under, prepared for that. We had over 5,000 people come through our booth at that.

Jeff Reed: 07:25 At Mall-o-ween?

Brandon Catoe: 07:27 At mall-o-ween. It blew us away. We took 500 little, like our Christ Fellowship. We call, CF kids, so we took 500 CF kids, little giveaways, just, Hey, connect with us. Here we are. We're going to come build church here. We gave those fifth in the first 15 minutes. We were out of those and it was 45 minutes before the event even started. So we were in trouble. Wow. That we were, you were, we were calling in resources and getting supplies delivered to us and it was a crazy night.

Jeff Reed: 07:58 So let's back up a little bit. Cause you're Christ fellowship West Palm beach. Yeah. Yup. I use it used to be on Christ Fellowship at the Miami. It's two completely separate churches. I want to make sure we're very clear on saying that cause otherwise, like people get confused. Yeah. Side note, every Easter, Christ fellowship Miami gets a bill from vendors that rent you guys AV gear and it's happened for over a decade. Like I can go that far back and tell you, they always send a bill down south that we're always like, Nope, wrong Christ Fellowship, that's up North. So, but, let's unpack this. You guys are eight campuses right?

Brandon Catoe: 08:38 Now. We are 11.

Jeff Reed: 08:40 Just kidding. You're 11 campuses so that's within, what an hour, hour and a half from, from the, from the main campus, kind of that surrounding area?

Brandon Catoe: 08:51 Our original campus is Palm Beach Gardens. And so from Palm Beach Gardens, we have campuses and our West, which is our Okeechobee location. We have a Boynton South, which is about 35 minutes South. And then we have port Saint Lucie North, which is about 50 minutes North. And then right now we are working at Boca Raton, Vero beach, Westlake, our Western communities and Revere beach downtown.

Jeff Reed: 09:20 Okay. And those are not including any of the pop up locations. So those are, those locations are solid fully existing campuses right now.

Brandon Catoe: 09:28 Yeah. So 10 physical locations and 11 is our online campus.

Jeff Reed: 09:32 And so now in addition to that, you're doing, you said you're rolling like four pop-up locations at the same time. Just kind of like utilizing this up model to kind of nurture, create community, get DNA in the area. Like that's, that's the goal of what you're trying to do.

Brandon Catoe: 09:50 Build church. Yeah. So we, we're now nine months in, we're in a position we could, we could launch four campuses in 2020, with what we've done with pop up in just nine months.

Jeff Reed: 10:01 So what, just walk as nine months is a really interesting number. You're going from completely cold to, Hey, we're ready to launch a campus like that. That's a, that's a, I mean, it's relatively quick turnaround, especially if it's really a cold, a experience. Like what, what's that timeline look like? How many services are you doing? Like what's, what's that flow?

Brandon Catoe: 10:23 Well, and if I'm honest, we would w we would, we're proposing right now to move the timeline up even quicker to try to do this in six months. some things we've learned along the way. we launched the very first two. We launched them at the same time, which was, which we wouldn't do again because what happened is those two competed against each other all along the way. So through social media and different avenues that we're using to connect and drive attendance and connect with people. they're also watching one kind of outpace the other one a little bit, which isn't fair because they're in two completely. There are a hundred and 150 miles apart, so completely different areas, completely different opportunities. but so to back up, we spent a lot of time in 2018 building this ramp up. We spent almost seven months building this ramp up to get to launch services in January and January.

Brandon Catoe: 11:17 We launched in our first two locations, which was Boca and Vero and we, we've had a lot of success. What we saw though is because we were only going once a month and we were doing on Sunday night, so not a prime time and only giving them one service a month. So everything we did up until January, we're different connect events, barbecues, things like that, engagement events. In January we gave them full on church services. So what you would experience at one of our locations with a little extra connect times. So we provided like 45 minutes hang time, Hey meet, meet me, meet our team, we want to get to know you. We want to find out more about, the area and what you guys love here and how we can be a part of it and all that kind of stuff. So really what we did is we put those two first two campuses kind of on, on a, on a competition with each other, which wasn't fair.

Brandon Catoe: 12:12 So one of the things moving forward is we'll stagger them like we'll do one, let it get rolling and then do another one, let it get rolling and kind of kind of use that as a, as a model to see if it's a place. The first four locations. So these were a little bit unique because we kind of knew, we kind of knew we already had people there from online church. We knew that people were watching. We knew that we had people engaged with Christ fellowship in these four locations. One of them, which is our third one, was actually a home run from the get go. We intentionally didn't go there first or second because it would have really messed us up with any other location because it was a home run right out of the gate. These Western communities are perfectly located between our two largest locations. We have a church there. We know that that will be a location, but let's let it, let's let it start to organically grow that people hear about it. People get excited, but then kind of almost demand, Hey, we want bring pop up here. We want pop up. So in our first night out there we had 700 people. So we knew we knew that, but that's kind of what we expected. We were kind of thinking that was going to happen.

Jeff Reed: 13:18 Like walk me through six months, nine months, what's the timeline? How many, how many trips are you going out to these areas? How are people connecting? Are there things other than just the pop-up church experience that you're using to create community? Like walk me through a six to nine month time period from a campus is going to nothing to Hey, we're ready all this, the X, Y, Z campus.

Brandon Catoe: 13:43 So in the second half of 2018 those were connected events that we're starting to get the things in the water. Same were coming once we launched church in January. We only went once a month, two the first two locations and then we added the third location in there. Along the way in, in between there we have something we call the journey. So that's an opportunity for people to find out more about the church. It's a four week class, one hour. So we started doing hosting journeys in those locations. So people had another touch point with us. we after each service we created a like a 45 50 minute connect window. So, so each month we'd have the service, worship, everything we dismissed and then we dismissed the basically after party. The after party was building and pointing people towards the next time we were coming back.

Brandon Catoe: 14:32 Also an opportunity for us to connect with them. Our team was all out there, highly engaged. We had all of our ministries that we were offering in that location. So like our groups were groups based church. So we had all of our groups, teams out there saying, Hey, we're, we have groups already being built. So we were, getting people in groups right from day one, trying to build groups down in those two communities right off the bat. And then also starting up students and young adults and all of those things that we offer. We don't offer every single ministry that like for instance, the garden, the Royal Palm, because we just can't, we number one, we don't have a building, we don't have a location. We can't be there seven days a week. So we had to pick and choose the best things to offer to build community in those locations.

Brandon Catoe: 15:16 And that seemed to be journey so they could find out who we even are. Like, is this a church I even want to be a part of? So journey was a huge resource. Groups were probably our biggest resource to be able to get people connected and start to match people up and say, Hey man, there's a whole bunch of young adults here hanging out with, these are your people. They've got a couple of groups going, go check it out. We're not making you sign up for anything. We just want you to see what's available and if you want to be a part of it. So kind of, driving those from the beginning. Then we added. So after, we didn't really have a timeline, we were like, let's figure this thing out. We don't know what it's gonna look like or how fast it's going to build.

Brandon Catoe: 15:52 We knew about the fourth month that we, they were getting anxious already. People want it faster, quicker. Now we want to church, now we've, we've seen the website we've been on, we've seen everything that you guys offer. We want you like give it to us. So that kinda changed our conversations around what do we do next? Where do we take him? So we said, let's go twice a month. So we have a couple expressions and all out of all of our locations, we have two evening expressions. One's called a city Knights and one's called a Okie nights. And these are kind of more creative, a little more worship life teaching. And so that was kind of what we modeled pop up after for the first six months than we were then we had to reevaluate, see what do we do? So in that six months we're like, okay, they want more, let's give them two services a month and let's go ahead and bring in video teaching that we use on the weekend and see how that, how that worked.

Brandon Catoe: 16:42 Our Northern most, the furthest North Vero location went crazy. People just, they loved it. They were all in. So we said, let's identify the campus pastor. Let's start look for a building. We found a building fairly quickly. And so we told them, we said, Hey, here's your campus pastor. This is your location, this is a building. And that place just took off. People are engaged, they're hungry, they're excited. And then we as a church, we started something brand new called freedom. And it's a freedom study that our pastors wrote. And right now as a church, we're taking almost 14,000 people through freedom. And so we offered freedom and Bureau and the people went crazy that were overflowed with freedom on Wednesday nights. So now in Vero they have a campus pastor, they have a building, they have freedom every single week that they're a part of, which is, which are study groups that we will launch into groups. We have about probably 200 people in groups. And so that's been our, that'll be our first launch. That one's already in launch sequence right now. We're launching that in the beginning of 2020 as soon as we can get the done. And that's kinda how that one ramped up.

Jeff Reed: 17:52 You said you are utilizing church online. Yup. It's kind of give you a heat map of some areas to go and some are stronger than others. You mentioned the West seems to be working better for you, just because of proximity of cities. But like do you guys, when you go into the area, like are you just looking at that heat map? Are you digging in and investigating leadership or is leadership kind of arising out of it? What, what's your process to really get to the core team? Who's going to be in any given area?

Brandon Catoe: 18:21 That's a little bit different. Those two conversations really aren't connected. The first conversation was as a leadership team, which is a, which is a group of like five to seven of our senior leadership, start praying about looking at heat maps. There is interest in there, so we're, we're looking at, okay, we've got people watching online, let's pray about it is this scenario that we feel like we're supposed to go into. And then as God starts to open doors and stir the waters up, we're like, okay, we're going now. We've been working with something for multiple years called leadership college here at Christ fellowship. We have people in the pipeline that have been part of leadership college. They're on team and other roles, but they've been identified and we'd been watching this say, okay, this person could go here, this person could go there. They seem like a better fit for one location versus the other.

Brandon Catoe: 19:05 So we start having those conversations with them. Just kind of getting in the water to see how they're feeling. And then our senior pastor did something really cool if you months ago, and they took a staff meeting. So every Wednesday our entire staff comes together for a staff meeting and a pastor, Julie said, Hey God, just kind of put it on my heart and I want to throw it out there. If you, if you are feeling stirred for one of these regions or one of these locations, or maybe you're at one and you feel like God's saying, Hey, I want you to be a part of this one. I just want you to raise your hand and let's start the conversation. And so we just threw it out there to see who was, who was interested, who was praying about what, what was God's during people's heart and how could we, how could we help them, you know, realize that sweet spot.

Brandon Catoe: 19:46 And, it was pretty cool. We had, we had multiple people raise their hand and say, Hey, I'm really, really feeling stirred to be a part of this location, really filled stair to be a part of that location. and then the position that's probably the hardest to fill is that campus pastor because there's so much, wait, there's so much trust. There's so much culture. All the things that we really do, we we pray about so hard and we look for, we look for these different opportunities in different leaders and to see if men, do they look like a campus pastor? Are they starting to do things? Are they pastoring people without having the title? All of these different things that we look for is leadership. And so we have a secret list, I guess you can say of 15 to 20 people that are on this list that we're like, man, this is, they could be campus pastors.

Brandon Catoe: 20:33 And so there is a myself, I sit on the multisite team, so we start to look at it first and say, Hey, yeah, we're all in agreement. These could be these, these would be great candidates for campus pastor, let's pray about it. So, and then we, we toss out there to our directional leadership team, which is our senior pastors and executive pastors and say, Hey, this is who we're praying about. Tell us, what do you, what do you see? What don't you see? What do you like? What don't you like? Is there hangups? Is there things that we need to process and look into? And then it takes a little while. So for instance, the Viro a campus pastor, he was, he was on the list for probably a year and a half and it took probably about seven months of stacking hands, praying, really just everyone flipping over every leaf rock that we could to make sure. And ultimately we all stacked hands and said, yeah, that's the, and what's cool is when we got to that point, God had already stirred their hearts. And even though they never raised their hand and said, Hey, we want to be a part of Bureau, as soon as we, as soon as we asked, they were like, we're in. And so since then we've seen God already move that before we ever even launched her chair. They're building church like crazy and it's really cool to watch.

Jeff Reed: 21:45 Very cool. So at this point, how many pop-up church services are you running a week? You're juggling the four locations like eh, I'm just doing math in my head and like you're your road kids probably hitting like it's more than one road kit. Right?

Brandon Catoe: 22:04 Well, so what we've, what we had to do with two of them is kind of do a little, so one of them is a, is a location where we're doing, we're hosting freedom right now. So freedom is being hosted there and mid week we're not doing a weekend experience there in another location we're doing off night expressions of service there. So we can have Sunday nights specifically for Boca and Bureau. So right now I'm the first in the third week are we're in Viro and the second in the fourth week we're in Boca and we communicated ahead of time to the other two like, Hey, once we put these in launch sequence, we're going to have to pull back. But don't, don't worry, we're not going anywhere. We're coming back stronger than ever before. As soon as we launch one of them, you're up next for two, two week rotation until we can get you launched. And really we, we did that ourselves by launching them at the same time. It put us in a different, it put us in a weird spot. So we just have to get through this, these first couple launches and then we'll be, we'll be okay.

Jeff Reed: 23:02 Can you guys sustain like this, this amount of four campuses a year? Like does, does your multi-site process allow for launching four?

Brandon Catoe: 23:13 Well, I would say

Jeff Reed: 23:16 You don't ask that question.

Brandon Catoe: 23:18 No, no. We, we've asked the bad tireless meetings about this. we are going to have to pause at some point because we are, we've never launched two in one year before. The most we've done is like we had, we had to go within nine months of each other in two separate years. but we've never, we've never launched two in one year. We've certainly never launched three in one year. And we're in position, we could launch four 2020 if we, if we wanted to. So, all everybody has been put on, cause I think a lot of people were like, is this even going to work? Like, should we really get riled up about this or should we really get put on notice and start building teams and people before we even know if this is a real deal. So I think after the first quarter of 2019 people were like, okay, we need to have some meetings.

Brandon Catoe: 24:10 So we've been meeting with all of our core directors and just saying, Hey, who, who do you have up next? And as a leadership team we've said, okay, we probably need a pause on some things so we can start to fill our ventures back up. Because right now we're depleting. We're depleting all of our, all of our roster spots. so we're okay right now in peripherally leadership college and some of the other things we're doing, we'll back fill these spots quicker than, but we feel, we feel like this is what God's put us on this. He's continuing to open doors that just blow our mind. So we're like, we can't say, we can't say no. We have to, we have to go if he's opening doors and providing this and he, we just trusted him that he's gonna have the right people step up at the right time. And, but we, we are very cautious about what we're doing to our teams that the amount of pressure this is, but like our worst of in live production teams are stretched to the max right now. but they're, they've got some plans in place. They just shared them with us this morning as, Hey, this is what we're doing. This is where we're headed. This is how we're trying to fill all the gaps so that we can, we can be ready to cover. And it's pretty cool.

Jeff Reed: 25:21 Yeah. Here in an image, just put it in the context. cause obviously podcast audience may not be familiar with Christ's fellowship, West Palm, the production values at the Christ fellowship, West Palm campuses arguably are some of the highest in South Florida. You know what I mean? I can, I can probably rattle off three or four that are in the same sentence. And you guys, forgive me for even like uttering the sentence. You guys just, you put on a great show. There's lots of, of products and I'm a production guy, so I don't mean that insulting, it's just there's a lot of effort and energy that goes into creating that worship experience. now does that, does that port to like all these other places, like you're talking about putting together this road pack and traveling it around? Like are you doing movers, are you doing, you know, jump backs, cameras, like all the, the high energy stuff? So like the, the, the pop-up churches like are getting that same experience or is it like, what, what does it feel like?

Brandon Catoe: 26:20 Yeah. so if you went to our location that have like all the roving cameras, Ruben Rover and cameras and all of that, stuff like that at our garden's location and I'm one of those, we're not doing the camera portion of it, but they still get all the movers. They get an led wall. I mean, it's top top, not, our team. I was just bragging on our team this morning because man, the production team has blown us away. All of our gears roadworthy they have built a system that is absolutely incredible. everything stays in Rhode cases, in the platform is so clean. W it's amazing. I wish I had some pictures I could share with you of, of what it looks like. I'm, I'll get some this weekend in case you want me to send them to you. But, they, they have a full, you know, we'll have four frontline vocals. We have a full band. We have everything on platform that you would see at any of other locations. The lights are incredible. we have, a massive led wall that assembles in like an hour. It's crazy how it all goes together. We have six trucks on the road that hold all the gear.

Jeff Reed: 27:35 Six, Oh my goodness.

Brandon Catoe: 27:38 Yeah. This is like a wheel six trucks. So, two of the locations we go to and potentially the third location we go to, they don't have the power. So first we have to take a massive generator with us. that, that powers the whole deal. We have two 26 foot trucks that are just production gear. So the led wall, all of our RPA, everything that we need lights. fortunately we're not putting up a platform anywhere. We, we, we've got venues that allow us to have a platform so we don't have to set up a stage or anything. all the words that appeared, keys, drums, you name it, it's all in road cases, rolls out. And then we have a, a third 26 foot truck is all of our kids gear. So if you came to, Palm beach gardens or any of our permanent locations, you would see pop-up walls. You'd see full setups with kids' environments, all of the awesome stuff on the walls and all the pictures and all of the environments that are appropriate for those age groups. And we have made pop up walls that have all that same stuff on there. So these pop up walls come in cases and we pop them up. They're 10 foot by 10 foot and those wall off all of the kids' rooms. And so there's, there's five environments of those. And then we have our last truck is, full of like all of our environment, common areas, like our next steps, area, journey tables, groups, tables, all the ministries students, young adults that we set up areas for them to connect. And then our environmental pieces. So, high tops and stuff in the four year lights and banners and all of our core values and leadership principles and things, we put up all over the place.

Jeff Reed: 29:25 You guys have invested a lot in into this model.

Brandon Catoe: 29:28 We have.

Jeff Reed: 29:29 Wow. Yeah. And that's, and that's, that's generating you results of, of like up to potentially four campuses a year, assuming they mature and grow as planned.

Brandon Catoe: 29:40 Yup. We could, we, we don't see any reason why, why we couldn't launch four camps as a year. And honestly, you nailed it. It's the people. We just have to be careful that we don't burn our people out and that we, we are caring for our people and our teams first. Cause we can only go so far. They're only, we're only gonna be able to go as far as they, they allow us to go. So, those are some of the things that we're working on right now because we could, we could literally build another rig and be doing four more locations. now that we built it and we know what we know what it is. so yeah, we've, we've, worked really hard to make things super portable and easy to get in and out, up and down. So we set, we set a whole campus up in about two to two and a half hours. Everything from live reductions, kids, rooms, environments, everything.

Jeff Reed: 30:33 You guys process six trucks into two and a half hours. Yes. Wow. That, that, that's impressive. And that's, yeah, I'm just going back to like my other experience in live production and I just can tell you how much I respect that. Yeah. Cause that, that's, that's a lot of work in a, in a really short amount of time. and so having the, having the manpower to pull that off is, is really impressive.

Brandon Catoe: 31:00 And honestly, it's mostly volunteers. So we'll have, we'll have probably a, so last night we popped up, we had, 28 volunteers and probably probably about 18 staff.

Jeff Reed: 31:14 Okay. To do that. How do you, like when you pick location five or, or one of these that you already have, like did you just pull up to the corner, unload and say, you know, here we are. Are you guys doing marketing or promotions in, in the area? Yeah,

Brandon Catoe: 31:31 if I was picking a number five right now, I've already picked it. it was, it actually came to us. Another God story. We had a, we had a coach reach out to us. we tried to get into the community first. So what we can, what can we do to serve the community? How can we serve the schools? How can we serve what's already going on there? What can we, is there another church doing something that we can just come support and be a part of it? because we know, in South Florida, in our region, there's 1.5 million people who don't know who Jesus is, never met him, never heard about him, don't, don't care to because they don't know. and so we know there can, there, there's not enough churches we can, we can put them up on all over the place, pop up all over and have two, 300 person churches and never reached a 1.5 million.

Brandon Catoe: 32:17 So we look for opportunities to, to serve a school, to serve in ministry, to serve something in community government. Get with the mayor, the one that number five right now, if this is what ends up being number five was a, was a coach that reached out, had a need for, it's a low income area in the school. Didn't have enough food to feed the football team for their games. And so we got word that, Hey, you could, you guys could serve and help feed the football team. And so we're like, let's, let's go. What are we gonna do? which just opened up to another conversation and found out the principal's a believer. The coach is a believer and they're like, we don't ha, we don't have no church that wants to support us. We don't have a church that a, that loves on us.

Brandon Catoe: 33:01 We don't have a church that sits in our school taking. And we're like, okay, well here we go. So, the, the third location was kind of that same way. There was a smaller church meeting there and just sat and hadn't found their rhythm and they just, through conversations with them, they were like, man, we would love for you guys to just come in this community and blow it up. Like, tell us what we gotta do to help. And the met with the assistant principal turns out he's a believer and he's like, man, whatever I gotta do to open the doors to get you guys in here, let us know. So honestly, those have been the opportunities we've had right out of the gate. We'll probably get a little more strategic as we get further away. you know, we're praying about going to Orlando.

Brandon Catoe: 33:41 Should we, should we take the Papa trucks to Lando and go to Wayne that we're, we're praying. We, we originally were praying about our little region and we felt like God was like, why are you, why are you just worried about that little spot? Like, I have so much more. And so we're like, okay, well if fits inside Florida now we feel like, let's go. So we don't know what God's gonna do. We don't, we don't know what doors he's going to continue to open. But right now he's been, he's been amazing supplying us with opportunities and people have been so nice. There was, we've had mayors reaching out some of the disaster relief that we've been able to be a part of too. We saw open doors, so like hurricane Dorian just came through Bahamas and getting local government people involved in that and really supporting The Bahamas is opened up even more doors.

Brandon Catoe: 34:29 So the fourth location, that we're working on right now, which will be a campus for sure, was a lot of the, the mayor and the vice mayor just coming to us saying, Hey, can, can you guys come help? And we're like, absolutely. How can, what can we do? You tell us what to do, we're doing it. And so, it was so cool. Another God thing they just said, we need, we need water in preparation for when the storm passes because we know we'll be the last ones to get water. And so within five minutes someone called and said, I have a semi truck load of water. I got nowhere to take it working you, where can we take it? And we're like, take a year, take it to the city. And so we, they rolled up with a semi truck full of water and the layers like whatever you guys need. So, so just cool. God keeps just giving us those awesome opportunities and we're excited. just to be, to be able to be a part of it.

Jeff Reed: 35:22 That is so awesome. Who over over the, I mean this you're new on this road, right? You started, you were saying in 2018 earlier who, who's been your, your inspiration? Who have you looked at and said, Hey, like we want to maybe borrow a little bit from this, what other churches have been looking at that have been doing something similar?

Brandon Catoe: 35:41 Um, actually, no, we, this was really the heart of our lead pastors, Todd and Julie, they just, they are so burdened for the loss, the broken, the hopeless and they're like, what, what are we going to do? How can we get to more wheat? When we looked at what we had done as a church and we launched, so when I stepped on in, in 2013 and we had, we were getting ready to launch our number eight, we launched eight, nine, 10 campuses. And when I was stepping in there, the number was 1.3 million in our region who didn't know Jesus was. And after those three campuses, which had been amazing success stories there, they're just so much life is happening there. God has done so much at those three locations, the number goes to 1.5 million. So we're not gaining any ground.

Brandon Catoe: 36:30 So how do we gain some ground? And so really the heart behind it was our pastors was let's build something we can give away. What if we could build this? What if we could give it away to all of the other churches that are ready to go after this? And if, I don't know if you've been to our conferences or or any of that, but they really opened the cupboards at our conference and say take what you need. Here's the resources. If you can help, if he can help you build church, we want you to have it. And so that was really the heart behind pop up is let's build it, lets, lets be okay to fail or let's be okay to spend a few extra dollars to figure out how to do it right so that we can give it away. And then what if, what if 15 churches across the state of Florida said let's go pop up.

Brandon Catoe: 37:11 And then we had, you know, all of these churches and then the whole 3.3 million in our state that don't know who Jesus is would be, have an opportunity to hear about it. So, we don't know anybody who's doing it. We've heard some, some opportunities where people are doing their version of it. It doesn't look like what we're doing. they're, they're doing it more. there's some of them that are doing it more of like an event style and we've, Oh, we've helped some of them there. There's three or four churches across the country that have tried it and they've launched locations, or in the process of launching locations out of it, which is really cool. that we were able to just lock arms and say, Hey, let's, we'll share what we got. Use it if it don't work. Right. Yeah.

Jeff Reed: 37:54 And I know of a couple, maybe not at the, at the size of what you're doing, some a smaller to medium sized churches that'll like do several, you know, like an Easter, a couple of Easter services or Christmas service kinda in that seasonal time. And try to use it as a, as a public forward facing easy to access church and then funnel them into a physical campus or funnel them into a like an online digital discipleship pathway to get them connected to the online campus or something like that. But I've, I've to the level and the success that you guys have had of, of launching campuses or, or, incubating is the word that I've been trying to come up with for the past hour. Incubating these, these communities to the point where they can grow to become a campus. Like I don't know anybody that's had the, the success that sounds like you guys have had. And so, man, what an incredible idea. Well done.

Brandon Catoe: 38:47 Yeah, and I, and I'll be honest, we're there are our furthest South region. It's not, it's not at the level of the other ones, but we feel like that's kind of our fault because we took too long to, one of the things we've seen in that, let's just society today, people want it faster, quicker, sooner. They don't want to wait. So we've taken a little bit too long on the Southern location. So we're actually having some meetings all this week of what, where do we go next with like, we have to move that campus forward or that location forward if it's going to be a campus. The Northern one was just an opportunity where God opens so many doors so fast. We were like, we have to go, like, we have to take these chances, which, which again, this is where those two are competing with each other and it, it's kind of a, it's kind of put the Southern campus off.

Brandon Catoe: 39:36 Like they're like, you know what, we're watching all of this excitement up there and we're trying to explain Maine. We haven't had those kinds of doors open here. And we're like, we're, it's harder to grab. We're fighting harder. Like we're not giving up. Like we're, we're going after it with everything we got, but it's just not, it hasn't been. And then, um, it's close enough to another location where we know that people are going to that other location. So we're just trying to figure that out in the Southern one. But we, we fully believe we have over 500 people connected there. So we fully believe it's a, it's a campus that's gonna grow and could be a huge one down the road. but it's just been some delays that have been unfortunate, but we're going to figure it out and we won't want to at the same time.

Jeff Reed: 40:24 Yeah. Hey, so we normally talk a lot about church line in the podcast. This has been an exception, but I do know like this has been from an innovative idea like, I was really looking forward to this, this conversation and it went phenomenal. But let me ask this. What's the role? How do you guys at Christ fellowship West Palm beach? What's the role of church online in this? I know you're looking at it up front for that, for the heat map, for potential areas for what's next. What other role does a church online, online campus play at Christ fellowship?

Brandon Catoe: 40:58 So it actually plays a huge role. And so what we use in our earlier, the first, like the very first time we pop up, we don't have anything really to connect them to except church online, which is a huge tool, huge resource in a huge way for us to, just to continue that connection. So we, we start messaging church online right out of the gate day one, just like, Hey, the three weeks were not here. We want you to go on live and go Christ log on and check us out. We got services every single week. We've got pastors on there. And then we do something called made for Monday. every single Monday we go in church online and we do a live prayer. just this opportunity to where they see my face or one of the pastors that they might recognize. We do live 10 may the longest, it'd be 15 minutes, but we pray over people that are from the different areas.

Brandon Catoe: 41:51 So we're like, Hey, send in your prayer requests live. And it just gives us another opportunity to connect. So if we didn't have that, we didn't have church online or we didn't have that opportunity, it would have made pop up a whole lot harder because we wouldn't have that extra opportunity to connect. And now we're doing, we got groups online, we've got the online chat hosts that are in there, having conversations with them where I can't have all these conversations, my team can't have all these conversations, but we've got this massive resource of church online where they can get on there and say, man, I'm in, you know, I'm from Boca and I'm just, I'm really going through something with my family right now. I could use some prayer and, and they're getting prayed for it. They're getting loved on, they're getting connected, they're having that opportunity.

Brandon Catoe: 42:32 And then we tell them, Hey, get together. one of the things we learned from elevation is how they do, they launched church through, like watch parties where they just have people come over to a house, three or four couples get together. Maybe they're having coffee or whatever and they, they turn church online on and they watch and they have a, you know, a house party and, a watch party. And so we started messaging that we're like, Hey, some of our churches that our friends are doing this, we want to encourage you guys the three weeks, we're not here. Get some of the friends that you'd brought tonight, have them over for coffee and bagels, put shirts online at church together. And you know what, we might just show up. So me and my wife and some of our team, we would just find out we'd go pop in their house and watch church on my way, just having a lot of fun with it and letting it build church, but not forcing anything but really, online church has been, you know, priceless as far as the tool goes for us to be able to keep people connected.

Brandon Catoe: 43:31 And then using our pastors. We've got a dozen pastors that pop on and do made for Mondays and, and we try to shout out anybody or, if I know somebody's going through something, I'll this, I'll use their first name only and pray for them and say, Hey, I know John's down in Boca and he's, he's had a rough week. He's trying to find a job. So John, I just want you to know I'm praying for you. I'm believing God's got something for you. I can't wait to see you in a couple of weeks back down there. our team's praying for you. Be blessed, you know, maybe share a scripture, some kind of scriptural thought that he could just take. And then I'll, and then I'll tell him, I was like, man, did you see me on screen for you online? And so it's, it's a huge resource and our basket is amazing. Helping have those conversations and sending me feedback, let me know, Hey, I just talked to this person. You might want to reach out to him. So, very cool.

Jeff Reed: 44:32 It's such a, it's such a powerful tool to help connect the DNA of who you are, even when you, when you're not there doing the long distance and, and a lot of that. And, we actually had Danny on, from elevation a while back. We did a podcast, you're talking about the, the watch parties and a lot of that. So if you didn't hear that episode, listen to the audience, go back in and catch that. It's, it's a really, really good episode. And one of the things that I loved about Danny in that conversation she had the entire time, she said, yeah, we're doing that now. We'll probably change it in two months. Yeah, we're just experimenting. We don't know what we're doing. And so no, what, what, what a great challenge for all of us out there that, you know, may be afraid to experiment or may be overly cautious, but getting out there and trying and, and seeing what God can do with it, which, which gets me to this, and we can, we can wrap on this. Okay. So there's a church out there that's interested in doing this. what's the first thing? So obviously it's a very rich idea, getting from idea creation all the way to where you are. What's kind of the first thing that you would advise somebody, a church and organization interesting and doing this. What do they need to do?

Brandon Catoe: 45:38 Well, first I would just get with leadership and make sure that they're stacked hands on what it's going to cost in the kind of effort it's gonna take and know that your leadership's behind you 100% because it's a, it's a front loaded experience. There's a lot of expense on the front end. There's a lot of effort, labor, man hours, equipment, all that stuff that comes out front if you're going to try, if you're going to do it the way we're doing it now. I would also say if you want to try some of the things like elevation church and some of those where you're doing watch parties and things like that, very, very, very inexpensive and also really cool to be a part of cause you get to go and just be right from the ground up. So I would just start with a conversation and say, Hey we're, what model do you really want to go after?

Brandon Catoe: 46:25 Because there's a, there's a few different ways you can, you can approach it. And I'm not saying that we're going to do this one every single time. We may go in and do some watch parties in some areas. Like if we decided to go to Orlando, I could see us around in the city with watch parties and let's see what happens and go up there and really go at elevations in there right now. Then what we've been watching closely and having a close conversation with them, like, Hey, how's Orlando going? What's it looking like? Because we know they're, there cannot be enough churches in Orlando. Like you could put all you want there and there's plenty of, so that's the first thing. I would just pray about it and really figure out what, which way God's leading you or what you guys really want to go after because, some of the people we've talked to and just shared some of the expenses and what it's been like, they're like, Oh, I had no idea. Like we had no idea it took that much effort in like our pop-up days or 15 to 17 hour Sundays. Yeah.

Jeff Reed: 47:21 Well that's six trailers worth of gear though. Right? And so that, that's like the, the one thing that I've always loved about, about you guys, you're, you're over the top. Like you don't, you go whole hog in everything that, that you do, which, which coming from a per live production guy, I totally respect. Yeah. but to your point, there are certainly ways to throttle to adjust there. And there's different ways to, you know, get, get to the finish line.

Brandon Catoe: 47:48 Yeah. I would also just say be okay to fail. Like this is, you gotta be okay to fail. Like you can't, you can't look at this and go into it and say everything's going to be a home run. Everything's going to be at Wayne because it, you're going to be solely disappointed when you, when you have one that's struggling or you have one you've got to figure out. But that's the cool thing about that is lean on friends. I emailed a friend today who, who's launched a lot more campuses that I have and I just said, Hey, I kind of hit a little bit of a roadblock in this one city. What do you recommend? How do we, how do we, how do we get it over the hump where it's at? And so I'm waiting for them to respond back now and just give me some ideas, maybe something I haven't seen, to add some tunnel vision that I'm not, that I'm not seeing something that I should see.

Brandon Catoe: 48:29 So, I would just, I would just say, do you be okay, to fail? No. The cost and know what it's going to take. And then, I mean, I love having conversations with people and just tell them what we learned. We are what we learned. Our OnRamp was way too long. We took way too long to get to church and then we've, we've given them church, not fast enough for too long. So we've, we've had, we've, we have the on ramp that, you know, I'm requesting six weeks, six months launch that that's what I'm proposing as we move forward to six weeks to get in there and do a backyard barbecue and do a serve project. getting the community, give them a service and six months later we have to decide if we're gonna launch or if we're gonna move on to a new location.

Brandon Catoe: 49:13 So, and see what model works for you. We, we live in a super, populated fast paced area. So there's a lot of opportunity where we are. we've, we've helped some churches out West that, they can only concentrate on one location at a time and that's cool. Do that. Like do what? And it was cool to watch God open doors for them and then report back and say, man, you won't believe what happened. I'm like, no, I'm going to believe it. Tell me. So I would say that that's probably the two biggest things that just makes sure leadership is all on board and know no, exactly what they're in for, what they're up against and, and then, you okay to not have a home run everywhere you go.

Jeff Reed: 49:52 Awesome. Well, Brandon, man, listen, I do appreciate the time. Thanks for jumping on. I know life at Christ fellowship, West Palm beaches is hectic and, I do appreciate this a, this time and this, this conversation. Any, any last thoughts while we're landing the plane?

Brandon Catoe: 50:09 Um, I would just say go after it man. If anybody has any questions, they can reach out to me. I can, I can, you got my information, you can share it if they want to get with you. And, I'd love to have a conversation. If anybody's interested in doing it. We're still learning. We do not have this thing figured out. We are, we're growing, we're learning, we're building, we're working hard. but we hope that we really hope to give something, be able to put something in churches hand and say, Hey, this is what we've learned. This is where we're at. Here's a playbook. Use it if you can and run with it. And because, I mean, our goal is to go, go after it. Great Commission.

Jeff Reed: 50:43 Love this. It's church. It's rare when you come up with an idea that's like, I don't know anybody else that's not, you're doing like a, a flavor, even, even something similar. And this is a completely, innovative idea where I don't think anybody is doing it at this level. And so Brandon, man, thanks for, for being brave. I don't know if that's the right word. Thanks for taking initiative. And running with this and thank your leadership who, who backed in and ran with it. And we will be watching from afar and seeing how God's God's blessing the ministry up there for me down there for pretty much everybody else.

Brandon Catoe: 51:20 Well, and I also, I'd also invite anybody who wants to know more about it to come to Conference 2020, because we are, we're going to be having a ton of breakouts where you can have one on one conversations with me, with our multisite, a director, people that have been hands on the whole way through this and ask different questions from everything from finance to logistics to team to staffing to structure, all of that. Worship gear, you know, we can show you the gear list of what we bought, but we're going to be offering all that at breakouts at conference too. So I would highly encourage you come there. A lot of fun people ask questions in the room that opened up great conversations and I can't wait for conference to be here to share more of what we've learned.

Jeff Reed: 52:02 Yeah. So I did that conference 2018, I believe. Yeah. And a phenomenal, really, really good stuff. I thoroughly enjoyed it. And, you know, a lot in the church, online and production, which were the two circles I was involved in at the time. So, but definitely will, I, over the next week I'll try to find some, link or something for the show notes or if you've got something, for the conference, we'll, we'll link to it, and get it so at least you can Mark it down in your calendars. but it's, it's well worth it. Well, Brandon, man, thanks for the time. Listening audience, man, thanks for being here and listening and once again, hope it was worthwhile for you. We'll see you next time here on The Church Digital Podcast. Y'all have a good day.


PODCAST 034: Jim Tomberlin - Trends of Multisite & Church Online
PODCAST 036: Evan Connelly - Redefining Chat Hosts & Community

About Author

Jeff Reed
Jeff Reed

With about 20 years experience serving the church in the digital/technological realm, Jeff loves working with churches. As passionate about Discipleship as he is Technology, Jeff uses his passion to help Churches develop technology systems to bring people far from God closer to him. Oh, and he loves Digital Church & Church Online.

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