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PODCAST 049: Aaron McClung & The Why of Personal Mission




The hardest lesson I've learned in my technology-based ministry life can be boiled down into five simple words: it's not about the tech. What is it about, you ask?

Enter Aaron McClung, President & CEO of AM, a Creative Agency that works with churches, non-profits, and corporations doing, well, creative things. The company pivoted several years ago because it discovered something: its clients didn't understand their why. Through a process of discovering AM's own why, it's developed a process of helping organizations find out their why.

It's not just businesses who need to ask the question why. And not just churches. Individuals need to as well. And that's the core of this podcast... two techy guys who have discovered their personal mission talking about how we can help others find their personal mission in Christ.

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Guest: Aaron McClung
AM -
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Host: Jeff Reed
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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):
Episode 49 of The Church Digital Podcast. Jeff Reed here once again. And I'm excited for this podcast at least as excited as I can be considering I am very, very sick. Yeah, it's been a rough, feels like it's been a rough 2020, just the entire house seems to be individually getting sick one after another after another. But I've had my stretch a little bit this week and I've been coughing a little bit actually a lot bit. I may have lost a lung somewhere around this week, so if you, in fact, if you do have a spare lung, feel free to hit me up on social media, deerffej, I'm on all the platforms and let me know that you have a spare long and we're going to figure out how I can get it cause I'm probably going to need it at the rate that I'm going.

Jeff Reed (00:43):
But we have an awesome podcast for you. So here's where we are. We're a positive from technology. We're pausing from a church online talk with this podcast in particular because, well technology is the means to the end. It's not the end, the end in our situation, is gospel and in a lot of the gospel is getting people to understand who they are in Christ. And so to have this conversation, we're going to a technology guy, who's kind of being pastoral because Hey, technology guys can be pastoral too, right? Like that. That's a thing. We talk about that all the time. It's okay for a technology guy to be pastoral. So here on the podcast we're bringing in a good friend of mine and a guy that I've enjoyed working with in the past. His name is Aaron McClung. He runs a company literally called AM and they are a digital company.

Jeff Reed (01:36):
They do a lot of a website design, graphic design, branding, marketing, like the whole gamut. And this particular company, like I've worked with a number of church staffing, multiple projects over the years. I consider them friends, I treat them like family. And when I work with them I treat them like a staff member. They are that closely integrated into my life and my projects. I could not imagine doing church ministry without them, I honestly don't know that I can give a better testimony to them than that, as this podcast is not about the tech. it is all, it is all, it is all about the individual. You see there's a thing here with the discipleship. And really this is the core that I believe will help church on mine be effective. It's not the new church platform. It's not the new tool.

Jeff Reed (02:30):
It's not the new toy, it's not another feature. It's understanding that our job is to help people understand personal mission. And what's interesting is Aaron has really kind of figured out that even more than just church online or even church attenders, churches, organizations, businesses, like there's a lot of people out there that don't understand the why for themselves on an individual level or even the for themselves as a business. And so Aaron, you know, who has guy who has been starting to, well, you know what, I'm not even gonna tell the story cause I want Aaron to, so here's what I want you to do. Listen to this podcast, we're not talking tech, we don't need to talk tech. The podcast you need to hear is the one you're about to hear right now. So you got Aaron McClung, president and CEO of AM and myself, Jeff, in the church and digital in a podcast episode that I am calling The Why of Personal Mission.

Aaron McClung (03:30):
Okay. Everybody, here you go. Yeah. So my name's Aaron McClung. I live in, Hurst, Texas currently. I grew up in Oklahoma. I grew up going to Baptist churches and spent a lot of time in that world and God called me and saved me from age of five at VBS. And so ever since then I've been, just trying to follow him and the ways that a child can all the way up through growing up and just, always felt a sense that God has just called me to serve him. And I didn't always know what that looked like. I didn't have the typical pastoral personality as you'll probably find out shortly. but, it wasn't always the guy lighten up the room if I could say it that way, but I always felt like really strongly that I wanted to serve the Lord.

Aaron McClung (04:18):
And so, growing through college I decided to, there was an ability in design and graphic design and creativity. And so I felt like that was something I needed to do. And I started to, look into that and realize that I was gifted in that and that had ability to help people understand concepts visually that are easier said in pictures than in words sometimes. And so, as I explore that, I realized that that was exactly what I supposed to be doing and got through college and went to immediately started working at a church as a graphic designer. And so, not in that long after that, I opened up my own business doing that, helping, ministries and churches and businesses as well, just, you know, get the message out with clarity and creatively as possible. And so that's what we've done for now over 20 years.

Jeff Reed (05:08):
Yeah. So what year, what year did you launch your, the, the agency or what year were you on staff? Kind of like put that in context.

Aaron McClung (05:14):
Yeah, so in 1998, I started doing any eight, freelance work in college for some ministries, worship leaders, things like mostly like CD covers, things like that. It was a lot of that like disciple now curriculum. And so, yeah. And then I worked at First Baptist Uless from 1999 to 2001 here in the DFW area. So, and then started.

Jeff Reed (05:40):
Awesome. Yeah, I was doing, actually 2000. I graduated from college and right out of college I started a web design company called a believer. And I was actually in Fort worth. You were on the Dallas side. So we were like literally contemporaries in the same territory and obviously AM you guys have been far more successful than my little business was. but I, it's just like those, those days of, of web design and graphic design. I mean, those, those were rough days. I don't know if you've ever gone back like 20 years ago and kind of looked back at the old work and it was, I mean, I can remember, talking to a pastor and, I was, my company believer was doing web design for churches and I decided distinctly remember this, I was talking with a pastor in Arlington, Texas.

Jeff Reed (06:24):
And the pastor looked at me, the year was 2000 and he's like, why would I pay you money to build me a website when my 10 year old son can do it for free in Microsoft front page? And I was like, well, if you're happy with what your 10 year old son can generate Microsoft front page, then you and I really don't need to talk. And but that was like, you remember when like flash was cool like that. We started to have like that flash opening and then you'd have to have the flash navigation and like that was like the best thing ever. We've come a long way since then, man.

Aaron McClung (06:59):
Yeah, things have changed quite a bit, but the, it was always fun to do the flash websites. There's just like, as a creative, it was like this open canvas that you can do all this amazing things with and you had no accountability to whether it had to work on a mobile phone or any of that kind of stuff. So things have definitely changed.

Jeff Reed (07:15):
It was just the only thing you had to worry about was the desktop experience. There was no mobile phones, there was nothing. It was just, just give me the desktop. That was, that was easy. I guess I've gotten a little more complicated since responsive and, you know, Apple decided to boycott, you know, flash and all that fun stuff. One of the things, and, and I love AM and we were always talking about this with, with Aaron, off air. Like I've just, I've managed to really utilize this, this company a lot and I've seen them come into very bad situations where, websites were failing and code was crashing left and right. I've really kind of depended on this company to get us out of, bad situations. And so as much as I can, like endorse a company without endorsing, actually it's my podcast so I can do whatever I want.

Jeff Reed (08:07):
You know, I just, I've really love, working with these guys and seeing the heart for ministry that they have, beyond even just the website. It's, it's more of they really have a heart for doing what's best for the ministry, the church, the experience that, at least in the context of me that I've ever worked with a moment. And it's really, it's this heart that I wanted to bring Aaron in to really dive into it because their company has pivoted a little bit, I guess would be the word. I don't know if pivots the right word, but there, there was a, there was a change in philosophy that at least that I've seen from the outside over the past year or so when I really, when an air, and just to kind of talk about this, cause I'm excited about how this impacts individuals. And how it can organizations and churches, achieve much higher clarity. And so, Aaron, why don't you just talk a little bit and tell us a little bit about this overflow kind of what it is and then how you as an organization, how you got to this place where you realized you needed to pivot.

Aaron McClung (09:10):
So we have a new, what we call a signature process. So we call it Ovrflo. And so the idea is that your brand or your culture, or your organization should communicate your story basically out of the overflow of your heart. Like Jesus talking about, for people it's like the overflow of your heart your mouth will speak. What we believe your brand will speak from that. And if you can speak from the core of why you exist, what's your call to, what's your unique story that that's going to be the meaningful connection point that people are looking for. And that's how they make decisions on what they buy or buy into. And so that's, that's the general idea of it, of the backstory and the name. But what it is, it's basically a branding process starts with discovery sessions up at the front of it and really digs into the core existence and why the organization is there, whether it's a business or a church.

Aaron McClung (09:57):
There's an origin story and there's leaders there that chose to be there. They're leading the organization and they typically have a vision that God has called them to. And so it's uncovering that. It's clarifying it. It's using our agency skills but also trying to, to get to the place where it's articulated clearly and well and all the story that you're having as an organization. All channels, you know, every opportunity that you can communicate is going through the filter of what that core purpose is. And it's smarter. It's trying to be smarter than just talking about what's in house, but really the why. And so that, cause there's science behind that. There's, the millennial generations changing, everything's changing about the way people buy into everything. And so they want meaning and they want impact. They want to know that they're buying into a story that they can put their time and their dollars into and it's going to making lives better.

Aaron McClung (10:49):
And so that's the story. We've got to go in and find out what is unique about that company, that organization, and then build a story around it. And so I had to go through the same thing. So, doing this agency life for over 20 years where it's like the 22nd year and now I think, depending on how I do the math, but that's the first decade, two decades of that was just doing good work. Like that was the bar for what success was. It's like, I didn't have a vision. I didn't know having a great business model plan in place. I was just trying to do good work with what brought us and be fair to our employees. To me that was enough. That was enough to make me want to do it and do a good job. And, however, about a couple of years ago, God began to change the conversation with me to something else.

Aaron McClung (11:34):
And so it was like, where are we going with this? I started to see that the industry is changing. It wasn't, you know, like you said, it's always, you know, there's always some cheaper, faster way to do websites or whatever. And so it was, that may have grown us, but that wasn't clearly, it wasn't going to, you know, give me the thing to take us to the next round of the next 20 years. And so I started to wonder what the answer was. And so for the first time ever I was like, where is this going and what do I need to do? And I really didn't even think about asking God about it to be honest with you my whole life. But I didn't really know to take my business to him in that way. And so I always knew he was kind of watching out for me and trying to take care of me cause He cares about me, but never had the kind of relationship to where I was asking specific questions and expecting him to leave me.

Aaron McClung (12:19):
And so that had to happen through those couple of years. And so as I, as I dug more into that, I started to realize he does have a purpose for me. He has gifted me for very specific things. He does want the business to be his and I'm just a steward of it and that I can reach people through it and that there's way more meaning to be shared and to be tracking our team too and digging it. Like I said, I wasn't, I never saw myself as pastoral, so I didn't really even try honestly but the more I dug into that, the more I realized that now that God wants me to help impact our staff and in meaningful ways, but there was, they needed a story to connect to for that to be meaningful. And so went through a whole bunch of that. But like I said, I had to start with me and then once I did that and I started, God give me a specific vision on how to do this agency thing differently. I had to dig into how to do that. You know, months later, there's now a literal process for it. It's got a name, it's got steps and we're doing that every day and it's made a world of difference.

Jeff Reed (13:19):
So let me pick in and I don't want to get overly personal, but I'm just curious because you know, I get asked all the time, you know, are Jeff Reed, are you pastoral? Do you consider yourself a pastor? And I kind of kind of just put my arms up in the air and it's, I don't know, do you consider me pastoral? Like, but you're a tech guy. Like, how do you leverage tech with being pestered? I'm like, cause I work with tech to be pastoral with people who are in community. So I'm just curious because you're, you're asking and you're in saying things about helping people realize, and we'll unpack more about this, but there's this tension of you're not, you don't consider yourself pastoral. Why is it interest in your personal journey? What's been the thing that you're like, I don't consider myself pastoral because of this?

Aaron McClung (14:05):
Well, I'm highly introverted, so it's like I'm always the quietest person in the room. I'm not usually the one that can lighten up the room and making everybody feel comfortable. It's like I'm usually just trying to hide and not be noticed. And so, but here I am running a business with 20 plus employees and they're all looking to me for vision and, they want to be inspired to work and so, and they should be, and they should show up to work every day with something where they know that something a life is being changed and they need to know how they're doing that. Cause that's what we're designed to do. We're designed to, you know, connect with others because that's what the image and the imprint of God in us is. You know, his, that's what he does. And so that meaning that we're all looking for, they are looking for it from their workplace. And that's, that's something that's I think, and so, I didn't, I didn't recognize, that I, I guess, you know, you go through spiritual gifts tests, you do things like that.

Aaron McClung (14:59):
Try to figure out, you know, God, I know you've got a ministry purpose for me and, I know the general callings of making disciples and helping other people applies to me, but you know, how do I do it? And so, how do I do it at work? How do I shepherd this team? And I never realized that I could do that. And so, and the more I've gotten to understand myself and do self-assessments, do things like that, the more, try new things, the more confident I get in there. And now I do realize I can impact people. And it's just like a different world here in our company. Even just starting in our, in our company, it's just like everybody's, we now have processes where everyone in the company understands how to, what their purpose is, like literal processes. And so that's changed everything for us, helping people, you know, feel valued.

Jeff Reed (15:49):
I think the defining the why, it was funny you made an off comment about blaming the millennials or maybe you just said because of millennials, I would kind of blame them a little bit, but honestly, like for me, and I'm 42 and I've had this conversation in context of the podcast as well, like it almost feel like I went through a midlife crisis a couple of years ago where it was all right, so I've been doing this thing, you know, to, to your point, you were using the language, you're doing the work. And a couple of years ago I really just came to this place of why am I doing this? Like, what's the, what's the overall purpose behind this and is the way that I'm doing it? Is it the most effective? Now for me, my end game, my goal was, was discipling people and helping people understand God's purpose.

Jeff Reed (16:38):
And for whatever reason, I really feel like my calling has been in that, in that digital scope. And so this midlife crisis that I was on made me pause and kind of evaluate, okay, do I am I, am I called to do it this way? Is this the best way what I'm doing it? Are there other ways to make that happen? And that really started wrestling with my, my overall purpose. And as a result of that honestly, and my track record over the past couple of years to show God took me down a road that I didn't necessarily want to go down. And all of a sudden I'm being connected because he's in control. It's not me in my wishes that I'm getting being connected into relationships and in purposes and connections that I've never dreamed that would be a part of doing things for the kingdom that I never imagined even six months ago. How things have pivoted and changed so quickly. But it's amazing when, when God's in control of that. And so it's exciting to me because through your organization, through AM, you're literally helping people. You're helping organizations, you're helping churches like wrestle with some of this stuff. What, what stories are you, are you hearing, what stories are you seeing as you're helping churches wrestle with their purpose, with their why?

Aaron McClung (17:57):
Well, it's, it's, it's funny cause we talk about the why of a church and almost all people who think, well, aren't, don't all churches have the same? Why? Like aren't we all on the great commission and doing those kinds of things? And so it's a great question. I think I typically where I'm like, well, do you have, I mean, why are you at that church? Like, right, what does God, what's the vision and what's the calling he's called you to? And if we, if there's not a unique calling in a local body, and, why don't we just shut the doors and go to the one down the street? So obviously we know there's a unique thing there, but the church hasn't necessarily done a lot of work and trying to figure out what's unique about it or what, and on top of that what do people, why do they make decisions today and how, how has that changed? And so, what are, like you said, the millennial generation, the ones after that, what are they looking for? And now they're making decisions and the church has to wrestle with that, and make sure that their branding and marketing is telling that story well. So we are seeing that and we do dig into these processes and what we're finding is that they get really excited when we get into helping them uncover what that's going, what that is. Like. It's really fuzzy for churches. It's that to begin with, it's like, you know, they're skeptical maybe that there is something unique to say about them. But man, there is. And so you start to help them uncover that. It's just like, I've seen so much joy and just like clarity, it's like. Because a lot of times they will work with consultants that, you know, you might hire a consultant to help you, figure out what your value statements are, your purpose statements, those kind of things.

Aaron McClung (19:31):
But they're typically not creative agencies. And so the, I actually don't know of any other ones that are doing what we're doing, but there's not, there's not one that's can do both at the same time. And so that, that means it makes it hard for like a typical consultant. It's hard for them to visualize it and bring it to life and show it a church or any organization what it looks like if they can, we can get to what it is, what, how do you word it? Maybe what's important, but having a creative agency come in and just like do all of that with all the skills that we have at the same time and visualize it and they see all of it at the same moment. It's just like eyeopening for them and encouraging, exciting, and just infuse this energy into the whole organization. Yeah.

Jeff Reed (20:13):
You know, I can tell you if being a guy that's worked with creative agencies, being a guy that has run a creative department a couple of times in a church, like I understand the joy of working with an organization that has clarity. I understand it. I don't know that I've experienced it a lot because a lot of times you don't have that clarity. One of the things that I love about this story is you're taking the time not just to create the graphics, to create the ad campaign to create the movement that, whether it works or not. I don't care, man. I'm just, you know, cash in the invoice to check when it comes in. You're helping the organization get its ducks in a row by discovering its messaging by discovering how to be clear, by helping it understand its why and its purpose.

Jeff Reed (21:06):
And from there, breaking it down. A lot of times, honestly, especially in dealing with consultants and, I am one that's cool. I can say this a lot of times it's, it's we need to solve, we need to solve the problem. But the big picture, like that's not in my scope. You're not paying me for that. the holistic view of coming in, of, of what you're doing through overflow of helping people understand their why, helping the organization with clarity, understand what its purpose is. Now, that's so much easier to market and so much more effective because you're able to do that with clarity instead of promising X and really delivering Y, which makes for, you know, unhappiness on the backside. Why is clarity and we, you and I have both experienced this honestly, there are people with church staffs out there that have experienced this.

Jeff Reed (22:00):
So this isn't a hard question. We all know this. Churches often struggle with clarity. The finish line is constantly moving. The target is, is constantly shifting. organizations are trying its best to reach people. The goal is high reaching people for Christ, but as a result of that, it shifts. It moves on a regular basis, as we're trying to be more effective. Why do we struggle with that clarity piece in a church environment? What's, what's the overarching issue may be culturally that we need to address? Is there a common thread as you're working with churches? What are you exploring? What are you seeing?

Aaron McClung (22:40):
Well, there's the obvious kind of the busy-ness of the church cycle and the focus on keeping the machine running. And does anybody actually have time to stop and breathe and think about, is this actually working? That's rare, and so I think a lot of times when we go into a church and start asking these questions, it's like we all get to pause at least for a day or two and sit in these questions with each other and decide if, you know, what is the answer to the questions? What are we focused on? Because there's not usually scheduled time to stop the machine for enough time to get on the same page together and remember, you know, what we're called to? And it's, that's just the pace of it. The just the grind of it. And so, for us it's amazing what a few simple questions can do to bring clarity for an entire organization.

Aaron McClung (23:31):
And so it has to start at the top. So, the leadership has to be on board, but I can't push this, this rock upstream. I don't think that's really how this is designed. So that's why it's critical that we get buy in from the top of the organization cause we them to, we don't know how long we're going to be involved, right? We have to know, we have to give tools and give clarity and ability to articulate. But it has to be from the pulpit to the email to everything and in between every channel, it's gotta be lined up if it's gonna work the way we want in that, the clarity is all about focus. Like if you can get your purpose figured out and you can get your why cleaned up, then it's all, it's like providing you a filter for staying, you know, keeping from getting distracted all the time with all this stuff.

Aaron McClung (24:16):
And so if you, if you can define that and say, okay, this is why we're here. This is what this church is called to. This is maybe our three year plan or one year point, whatever. and this is how we're going to get there, then it should bring like the ability to say no to a lot of things. I've seen a lot of people struggle with that. Like they don't, I don't have anything to say no to this and cause it's scary to say no in a place where everybody's kind of looking to you to be like, you know, to serve them. And so, that's a lot of tension in that statement. But, we've seen those conversations, the processes, just getting everybody in the room together at this right time, God can show up and, get some things off their chest that they just haven't had the ability to do.

Jeff Reed (25:01):
Yeah, it is, it is hard organizationally to say no, you know, especially the cause is great, to the Romans. I'm a Roman. To the Jew, I'm a Jew. To a Greek, I'm a Greek and so we have that but the larger purpose is that if we're everything to everyone, then from a messaging standpoint, we're really nothing to no one, you know? And, and we, we lose the overarching purpose of the organization. And somehow by simplifying it down, we find that we're more organizationally structured. There's clearer purpose behind it. We're more structured towards achieving that goal. But what's interesting is when we play, when an individual church plays its part, what it really does, I believe is it opens up for other churches to play their part rather than, Hey, you know, I live in Miami, arguably Miami has 98% lostness, like their stats or even if you were to assume the best stat, it's still like 85% lostness.

Jeff Reed (26:06):
Like it's, it's crazy. how, how little church has a purpose here and for any one organization to say, I want to be a part of reaching the millions of people, like I'm going to tackle it all. It's ridiculous. There's no way to, we have to organizationally work together towards doing that. And churches often struggle with that because of, for whatever reason they want to own the larger piece instead of realizing that maybe it's more effective for us to own a smaller piece of that. One of the things that you stated on your website and I really to unpack this because you are, a self-diagnosed introvert. I am a self-diagnosed introvert as well. People are like, well Jeff, you're so extroverted. No, no, my extrovertedness is my defense mechanism that covers up how actually introverted I am. And even having conversations like this on the, on zoom are just exploding my brain right now. So, but you said something on the website that I wanna get your take on this cause this is good. His business, his relationships, his being God, God's business is relationships, God is after a relationship. How does that imply and fit into like what you're doing through Ovrflo? How does that relationship component come into play in 2020?

Aaron McClung (27:28):
That's typically a conversation I'm having with business owners. They tend to think of their business as a separate thing from their faith. And so my desire to tell that to them, and this would apply to church leaders as well, but the idea is that it's not your business, right? It's guides and just like, just like you have to get saved, your business sometimes kind of have to get saved too. And so give it to him. Let him run it. Just like your life. All the stuff we hear in sermons about transferring ownership of who we are and what our dreams are applies to business leaders too, and applies to their business. And so if you let God run your business, then he, it's about him. It's his vision and his vision we know is going to be about other people. And so his business is relationships.

Aaron McClung (28:13):
That's like, that's the, you know, the business he's building is the kingdom. And so, to use your business, if it's gonna, if you're gonna give it to him and then your business then becomes all about relationships too. And so, most business owners are trying to survive. They're trying to get the bottom line built up. I guess you could argue that the churches maybe here are focused on outcomes as well. But, basically if you're going to give your business to him and let him run it, then it's gonna, you're going to have to remember that, the thing you're growing is other people. And so how do you do that through your business? So that's, that's the idea there.

Jeff Reed (28:52):
So, you know, I'm listening to the guys EO fire, Gary Vaynerchuk, I'm listening to some of these business guys and they, from a digital standpoint, they challenge me and sometimes, honestly, I look outside of the church world to be challenged, to find some digital guidance and direction of what the future is. And it's interesting me to kind of filter that, through, through a spiritual lens, but you're asking secular businesses, you're asking business owners to really like release the business to God. And so like, let's just be very practical at that point because somebody out there is like, wait, what you want me to do? What with my business? That's separate from my one hour on Sunday when I attend church over here. So explain me what it is and why I should give up my business, my workplace. Why that's God's business? What does that even look like?

Aaron McClung (29:50):
I couldn't tell you practically what it looks like for me and how we talk about it with our business owners. So like I said earlier, like I ran the business for 20 years separately in my head trying to be obedient to general things, the general callings of God through some mentoring and some discipleship in this area. But other Christian business leaders, they kind of enlightened me of what that the Bible has much to say about business as much as say about running a business. Where does vision come from? What does God want for my life? Well, if my life is mostly spent at work timewise, math-wise, then that's got a lineup too, right? Then this idea of that he can run it better than I can cause I again, I spent 20 years, I'm doing well and she's probably too comfortable staying where I was and then trying to figure out what's next.

Aaron McClung (30:35):
I needed, I needed, I don't have this entrepreneurial thing that I see in a lot of business owners. And so I need like God to say what's next. And so if I start, if I believe that he cares about me in this business, is just a vehicle for our relationship. That's what changed my perspective. It's like he wants to guide me and he knows my heart is in the business and my time and He says, you know, where our treasure is, is where our heart. And so if he wants to reach me, it's probably going to likely be through the business. And so why not? Why not trust him with it and to let him lead it. And then I start to do that and I started asking specific questions that I never asked before. I practically like, okay God, what is the vision for my business?

Aaron McClung (31:16):
Is it, A, is it yours? If we made that clear, are we good? You know, if we, if I turn this over to you and you start to pray through that and you know, God begins to speak because God is always speaking. You look for confirmations through scripture, through others, through Holy spirit. You're asking God specific questions like, God, what's the vision? Okay, I'm waiting and then I'm getting answers. And so, and you get more confident the more you do that. And before, you know, you're asking God, should I hire this person? Should I take this step? Is this what you want the business to do? Is this how you want to use this money? If it's your business, I'm stewarding it than I must hear from you. And so before I know it, my dependence on God and my relationship with him is so different and so improved.

Aaron McClung (31:58):
And it's like night and day from the first 20 years. And so it's just like, and it's working because apparently God knows what's going on. And so that's the crazy practical side of it. There's a spiritual side, there's a tactical side, but they are both a chase to the father. That is what they are. As much as I can, well give him leadership and ownership of the business, then I haven't, I've just been blown away by it. And my relationship with him is truly that walking in the cool of the day kind of thing that he was after the whole time.

Jeff Reed (32:28):
I pulled up a stat as you were talking, and this is something, this is Lifeway research. This is 2019. This is last year. They ran in a research, we'll link to it in the show notes. So you guys have it. 51% of people who are Christians. Spiritual matters do not tend to come up as a normal part of my daily conversations with other Christians. So the majority of people, it's 51%. it's not existing one out of two and it's not even like, you know, to the point of I'm willing to give up my business. It's almost a level of, yeah, like I'm not even talking about God outside of the one hour on Sunday. And so like what you're describing is really going to be a foreign concept to people where, you know, there's this, I'm presenting, you know, people define worship as the literal 20 minute block of musical noise that comes off of the stage for that one hour on Sunday.

Jeff Reed (33:25):
Scripture tells us that we're presenting our bodies as a living sacrifice, Holy and cleansing to God. This is our spiritual act of, of worship. And it's, and it's more than just, you know, the, the low rumblings of that bass guitar coming through the subs, which is so glorious to hear. But it's really more of who we are as a Christian, and what our life entails entirely. And so you're dropping this knowledge on some people and it's probably, you know, exploding some brains a little bit, which is awesome. I, you know, I loved the little emoji of the exploding head guy. What are people's responses when you, when you talk through this, are they appreciative? Are they pushing away? Like, what's the range of emotions people are hearing as, as you're kind of coaching them through this idea of giving, of their business of all day are to God and letting God be central of, of their work, their home, their family, everything.

Aaron McClung (34:21):
Uh, well, obviously Christian business leaders are the ones that are mostly being challenged with this. Like if you're, if you're on that, if you're not on, you know, for no in a relationship with Christ, you're just going to be like bouncing that off. But the ones that are Christian and they're hearing it, they're bringing like, they're kind of blown away cause they've never heard anybody put that together like that. Like, cause I'm a teacher. I'm a learner, right? And so I don't come with just fuzzy stuff. I've got a framework and I put it in an order and I show it to them and then say, yes, here's your relationship with God. And I walk it through vision to, your why, your purpose and your, your mission statement and your execution and how you're going to get there. And how you're going to achieve that vision and then how you're going to engage and empower your team to get there.

Aaron McClung (35:02):
So it's a framework that I'm putting in front of them, very technical and, built off of similar business thinking models, right? Business operational models. But just putting God at the beginning of and saying, this is actually all about him. And so when I walk them through it makes total sense to them and they've never seen it laid out that way. And then we start talking about overflow specifically. It's just a little piece of that, right? And so we're actually trying to create an entire culture around this purpose. It's in you. And when you do that, you're actually building a purpose around God because he's the one that put the purpose there. And so to what degree they want to share or lead that story from a gospel standpoint or it's kind of up to them, they're usually, their reaction is, wow, I never knew that there was a logical linear flow to understand this. And so it kind of makes sense to them because business owners want actionable tactical steps to follow. And so, you know, make it easy for me. And so having those conversations a lot, that's where my gifting comes. Clarity and creativity combining, it's kind of coming up with this kind of unique flavor to it. It's just stuff I've done myself. It's just I've gone, God gives me what I need and then I'm sharing it with other people. So the response has been great.

Jeff Reed (36:15):
I'm literally sitting here trying to think of the next question and my question was going to be, okay, so I own a Shake Shack. What is giving God my Shake Shack? What is that actually gonna gonna look like? What? How is that going to affect my business? And as I'm sitting here waiting for you to finish and I was going to ask the question, the first thing that pops in my head is Chick-fil-A and how that, that as a business like how is, how does, you know, giving God my business, how does that affect my messaging? How does that affect who I am? How does that affect my culture? And arguably there's others. And I'd love to hear some other examples, but you know, Chick-Fil-A as an organization, has been very vocal in standing up for you know, who they are and who they are not. And as diversive as they are, man, it's good chicken, man, that places is always busy and they've managed to stay in good favor, still holding to their, to the morals and ethics of, of what you know that, that family has instilled years ago. What are some other examples? Shake Shack's a bad example what else you got?

Aaron McClung (37:20):
Okay, well I'll give you a quick summary of our client examples. So there's one client that's an egg roll manufacturer, faith based company. They've at the second generation, 30 year old plus egg roll manufacturer here in DFW. We have these conversations like, okay, let's figure out why, why you do this. And so we dig into that. And at the end of it, it's basically we've got to come up with the taglines and the stuff you're talking about messaging them that drives a story home. And so, we dug into it and said, okay, what is meaningful? It's happening. Well, it's an immigrant family that came over from Vietnam with nothing back in the 60s, running from all kinds of terrible things. And that country, they come to the US with nothing chasing the American dream. The mom of the couple is basically trying to figure out how to run the company with, and she's basically got $40 in her pocket and she got this crazy story of how she's landed here and how to get, her family and going and surviving in this country.

Aaron McClung (38:13):
And so these are the people that started this and they're Christians. And so now it's 30 years later this, the daughter is now the CEO of the company and we basically have a minority owned, faith-based women led company. And so you can see, I'm already got things that are starting to pop up, what I can drive a meaningful story around. From there, long story short, the tagline has gone from things like, you know, I'll just, you know, just more generic things around, you know, honest food and things like that. Making, you know, quality products to our new tagline is made to love. And so I'm in, you know, the people that we care about, our people, we care about our customers and we feel like they are made. Those are, those are words that are Christians can identify with those words that someone is made to love and that the food is made to love.

Aaron McClung (39:04):
And so we now have this conversation changing, starting piece for all of the communications and they can tell, you know, ten second, you know, simple surfacey level story about their quality of air girls and how our people are made to love. And, we want our food to be as well. And, or you can go really deep into the culture of, you know, how they hire people and how they attract people and, how they honor people and in that same tagline. And so it's like, that's the kind of thing I want. Like I want to give everybody a meaningful conversation starter and then we build a beautiful brand around it visually, all the creative assets. And so the entire organization now has these conversations the same way now. And they're all, the starting points are the same. It's super consistent. It's just like the ownership. They have exactly what they need to tell their story in any context. And it's working. It's attracting people to the organization in every way.

Jeff Reed (39:57):
How do people and organizations, how do they work with you? What's the process to get started?

Aaron McClung (40:03):
Well the beginning conversation would be making sure there's a fit there. Like where are you at? What do you, what do you, do you have a conversation that you're trying to change? Typically people come in with a pain point, right? And so, you know, are we willing to go to this brand story and revamp it and then reply it to all the channels? And so you to get started, it's having an honest conversation about where you are, what your, what can we affect, what can we impact? And then deciding if overflow is the right choice for you. Sometimes we need to go deeper and so it might be, well, I don't know. My purpose is I don't know where I start and I'm the leader. We might have to have some conversations around a purpose discovery process where we help you figure that out and then when you start applying it to the company and help you, you know, build from there. And so it's, there's a couple of different starting places, typical starting places, Ovrflo, and we work on that and that scope and then decide once we've built it, how far do we want to take it right now and keep going from there.

Jeff Reed (40:55):
What's the, and so we've talked about businesses, we've, we've talked about churches. I mean, I really feel like even if you take the business out of this, if you, even if you take like the, the, the, the church out of this, I feel like there's a challenge for the individual where there's an opportunity. I mean, baked in a little bit of this and, and I don't want to like overstate, but there's like a, there's like a discipleship, there's like a personal mission kind of challenge in this where where we as individuals really need to as individual Christians today, we need to wrestle with some of the why on this and maybe recognizing, some of what the personal mission of our life is and why God's has us, where we are in our workplace. Maybe not as the boss, but maybe as a just a general worker. Why God has us in our community, in the home that we live or why God has us with our kids involved in this stuff that they're involved in. Like how can you make, do you ever wrestle with this? Like how does this overflow maybe apply down to an individual level?

Aaron McClung (41:57):
We start with that conversation a lot. So we, like I said, we have a, we have a purpose discovery process that all of our team goes through and you dig into your spiritual gifts, your personality profile, your strengths in general areas. Like what, what, you know, why do you, you know, what do people say you're great at? And because we're trying to show them that God is putting in exactly in them what he wants them to do with their lives. And so most people, most people don't even know what their purpose is. There's a stat that says only 10% of people know what their purpose is, which is. It's way too valuable to be sitting there dormant. And it's way too much focus and clarity to know what your lane is like. God, you created me to do this thing. And so when Jeff needs something and it's, and I'm up, you know, do I recognize the skills and gifts he's called me to and am I operating in that when I see your need, cause that's going to show me that what God is asking me to do and I'm going to see the biggest fruit.

Aaron McClung (42:47):
And you and I do that instead of trying to be somebody. I'm not. If I can be aware of myself more than it's gonna change, it can change lives. And it's, it's putting confidence in people that they never, they never had. And so when people know themselves and they know what God's calling them to, it's just like, it resonates so much stronger and deeply when you operate in it. And sadly, most people just have no awareness of any of that. That's what we're about with individuals. For sure.

Jeff Reed (43:15):
It's so important. And, and I, I literally had coffee this week, with someone who's wrestling with this. This is a person who's been on staff for a number of years at church staff. And, I literally brought up the calling piece and they were like, you know, I'm not, I'm not sure what I'm called to. And it's this, this gross reality of, and it's, gross isn't even the right word, but it's, it's the stark reality of, of people that are living lives without realizing what God has some for and maybe they haven't understood it at a personal level to achieve their own clarity or they're so busy, you know, to your point, organizations are often so busy, they don't have time to ask the why's. Maybe it's that they're so busy living out the lives and the identities that they've kind of stumbled into on their own to put money on the table, food on the table, and things like that without stopping and realizing, wait, what does God have for me in that situation?

Jeff Reed (44:11):
And oftentimes it to do that, to have, you know, God, be head of your, your organization and have that be the wire to have God be head of, of yourself like there's a humility in that. Where do you have to release control? When we look at the beatitudes, bless it are the meek or the poor in spirit or they that mourn. You know, Matthew 4-5, it's not a overly controlling, demanding power type a person that that's, that's blessed in those situations. It is blessed are the people who are humble, arguably who are teachable by God and shapeable by the path of the spirit who are in tuned to where he's leading. And that's dripping all over this. The ability to stop and to ask the organization why do you exist allows God the opportunity to drive instead of you forcing will upon that situation.

Jeff Reed (45:05):
And whether, you know, I said this once in a blog, if you are responsible for your victories in life, then you're responsible for the losses. And so every, when you get, Hey, good for you, but the failures are all over you. If you're not responsible for the victories, if you allow God to own the victory, then God owns the failure because he's driving through that and allowing you to grow through that process. I would much rather give God the victories and allow God the cover, my failures then for me to be solely responsible for that giving God control is, is so much clearer. And, and Aaron, I love your path. And even just the courage to organizationally pivot 20 years into developing an agency and realizing, Hey, we're asking the wrong question and they're not ready to answer the question what's best for themselves.

Jeff Reed (46:03):
We need to change the organization away from just a creative agency to an agency that's helping organizations answer the questions they really should answer. And then once it's answered, then yeah, we can definitely be the creative aspect, but there's so much value in what you're doing beyond just that ad campaign or that website or that social media look. So man, thank you for your diligence and your patience with that, cause I'm sure that's a hard thing to get a 20 year organization to kind of turn like that, but it's awesome to see how God is using you in this process. So man, as we're landing the plane, any last thoughts?

Aaron McClung (46:44):
No, I appreciate your time. It's, you're definitely hitting on some of the high points. And, it's reminded me of some of the, just the challenges it's been to get there and it's, it takes a lot of faith and vulnerability and courage and just willingness to, do things that I'm not like I've done so many things in the last two years that I'm was never comfortable or never thought I was capable of but it's been completely praying through it, asking God to, you know, I'm going to trust you that I know you're bringing these opportunities. and I think this is gonna work and then you start to build on it and it keeps working and then it's like, yes, this is God and it is working and it's changing lives and I'm just excited to be part of it at this point.

Jeff Reed (47:25):
The thing I love about this entirely is that you have literally yourself through the same test and you've redefined yourself through this why that you are asking other people to go through and you, yourselves, are living testimony of how you've gone through this process. So, man, thank you for being just diligent and faithful in that. And, we're going to be looking excitedly to see how God continues to do things through AM Agency. So, Hey, we're going to wrap right here. This has been a great podcast. Looking forward to what's next. For Aaron, this is Jeff with The Church Digital. We'll see you next time here on the podcast. You all have a good day.

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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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