Have you struggled to pay yourself a salary as a non-profit?
As a non-profit, you get so focused on helping the cause you are concentrated on that your needs become the least of your problems. Add on top of that any guilt you might feel paying yourself through the organization.
Our guest today, John Stange, was in a similar boat with the church and was close to having to close up his church. Until he found a path in podcasting that helped him generate revenue and remove the pressure of having a salary come from the church, it let the church focus on immediate payables and get through any hard times it was going through.
The story today will inspire, make you think differently, and open up some news doors you might not have considered.
For help, resources, and community support, please join the Causepods Facebook Group if you are already producing podcasts for a cause or are thinking about launching one.
And if you would like to be a guest on Causepods, please fill out this form and schedule your chat here.
Speaker 1 (00:02)
Hi and welcome to Cosbas. I’m your host, Matthew Passy here at Cosbas. We have one simple mission to highlight the amazing folks who are using podcasts as a way to raise awareness for good causes and make the world a better or place, whether it’s in their own local community or they’re taking on global issues. Please visit us at Causepods. Org, where you can learn about our guests show their favorite charitable causepods. Join our Facebook group with resources for Causebased Podcast me anything a link where you yourself could be a guest here on Causepods again.
Speaker 1 (00:34)
That’s all at Causepods. Org.
Speaker 2 (00:40)
Well, we’re going just across the river for where I am for today’s Cause Pods. We are chatting with John Stange. He is the host of Dwell On These Things, as well as a host of other faith based podcasts that you can find at desirejesus. Com and platformlaunchers. Com. John, thanks so much for joining us here in Causepods.
Speaker 3 (00:59)
It’s great to be with you today. Thanks for the invite.
Speaker 2 (01:01)
So, John, you are a pastor at a Church, and that is obviously where a lot of your cause based referendums and your initiatives stem from just quickly tell us a little bit about your Church. And then what took you from being a pastor working at the Church to wanting to have podcasts and produce other media?
Speaker 3 (01:24)
Yeah, our Ministry at the Church started in 2008, where our family moved to Langhorn, Pennsylvania, to basically replant a Church that had died. This is an area that is healthy growing area, plenty of people. And I remember looking at that and thinking there’s no reason why this should be a dead Church. And so we moved here, and by God’s Grace, we were able to plant a new Church and the Church has been growing. But you asked me how I got into media and podcasting, and it’s very correlated to my role as the pastor of the Church.
Speaker 3 (02:00)
A lot of times when you’re planting a Church, you start off with outside funding and mission agencies to help support it and things like that. And we had that initially. But a lot of times people don’t think about the season that you’ll be in just a few years into the process of starting a Church. And that’s when all your outside funding dries up and hopefully you have enough inside funding to kind of keep things going. And we certainly had some inside funding, but it wasn’t really enough to meet the budget and be able to pay me a salary.
Speaker 3 (02:31)
And so I remember at that point having a conversation with the Church and realizing the Church couldn’t actually pay me for a season. I remember sitting in my car. I was actually in the parking lot of an HH Greg, and I was just sitting there and I was feeling a bit discouraged that the Church wasn’t strong enough financially to run its Ministry and actually take care of my obligations as someone who worked there, and I would say, even to a degree, feeling like a little bit of a failure like this had something to do with my leadership or whatever it may be.
Speaker 3 (03:03)
And a song came on the radio that just reminded me about the nature of God’s will and how God’s will works. And so I just asked that he would show me the direction that I should go in. And the initial gut feeling that I got was just right and see what happens. And so I started writing books, and thankfully, those caught on rather early. And a friend of mine who runs a videography company also reached out to me right around the same time and said, Any chance you’d be interested in doing some voice work for us?
Speaker 3 (03:35)
The people we’ve been using are very inconsistent, and I’d love to start paying you to do some of those things. It was book publishing, independent publishing, just self publishing, mainly through Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing that I started doing and voiceover work that basically was funding my household for a little while. And then soon after that, I started listening to podcasts quite regularly, especially when Apple updated their iOS to have podcasting as a native app. And once I did that for a while, it dawned on me that I should be creating content and that’s kind of where everything really got ramped up.
Speaker 3 (04:15)
Once I started creating podcasting content, it was just kind of off to the races, and I realized that this was a very important medium and a way in which I could share the messages I feel most passionate about with the most people at one time.
Speaker 2 (04:29)
So other than consuming podcasts, and like I said, getting that new, shiny new podcasting app from Apple, the standalone app that they made. Why did you think that this medium in particular would be so effective for your mission and your message?
Speaker 3 (04:46)
Well, I noticed how much I was using it and how much encouragement I was taking from it. And one of the things that I was using podcasts for was just dealing with general anxiety in the sense that I noticed that during that season where I felt like my faith was being stretched. I was also having a little bit of a difficult time falling asleep at night. And so I would listen to biographical podcasts at night just to help me get my mind off my own problems and to be able to think about somebody else’s life and somebody else’s experience.
Speaker 3 (05:19)
And I realized this is the type of thing that when I’m taking a drive, I can’t wait to listen to a podcast. I didn’t mind long drives anymore. I didn’t have a hard time going to sleep at night. I was just using it so much, and I was finding so much personal benefit from it that I thought if Apple sees value in this to add this to their iOS, and if I’m experiencing so much personal value from this. Obviously, there’s something here, and I didn’t know all the details of how many people it would connect with in the future.
Speaker 3 (05:49)
I just knew that I was using it, and I knew that there must be other people using it, and I thought I wanted to experiment with it and see if it could be helpful to other people because it was certainly helping me.
Speaker 2 (06:00)
So you mentioned that you had a friend who was a videographer, and was he instrumental in helping you launch the podcast, or what were some of the early lessons that you took away from creating content or things you had to overcome in creating content?
Speaker 3 (06:13)
He wasn’t involved in me launching the podcast, but the way in which I could connect him to what I’m doing now, doing the videography that I was doing for him. Initially, I was recording in his studio, but he started sending so much work my way that it made sense for me to go out and buy a microphone and kind of set up a space at home where I could record. And that made it very easy for me to transition into podcasting when I had all of that set up and had grown really adept at using a lot of that through that.
Speaker 3 (06:45)
And also years earlier, I had worked at a radio station and really had learned a lot about editing audio through that. But I had fresh equipment. I had a space set up, and that was all directly related to the voiceover work that I was doing. And so transitioning into podcasting felt very natural.
Speaker 2 (07:03)
So you launched your first podcast, right? I guess the first one was the well, that’s okay.
Speaker 3 (07:12)
The first one doesn’t exist anymore, actually. Yeah. I started with a leadership podcast and just thought I would help other leaders through my experiences and start talking about that with them, and that’s why it’s hard to find it doesn’t exist. Now. I did that for about 20 episodes, but then realized that I wanted to transition into doing more faith based content. And I have a habit of reading a chapter of the Bible every day as part of my daily routine. I thought instead of just reading that to myself, why don’t I read that out loud?
Speaker 3 (07:49)
And so I created the chapter A Day audio Bible, where I would just read a chapter of the Bible each day and have a time of prayer related to whatever that Scripture was talking about immediately afterward. And then I would make that as a podcast episode. That was easy for people to access, and that really got a good response.
Speaker 2 (08:10)
So you got a good response there when you say good response.
Speaker 1 (08:14)
What does that look like?
Speaker 2 (08:15)
How are you finding your audience and then because you are focused on your specific Church and podcasting such a national audience, how are you targeting your local community?
Speaker 3 (08:29)
I think the first part of your question there was how was it growing? And where did I find an audience? Initially, it didn’t explode with growth. I think in my first month I had 14 downloads, and I think most of them were me because I was checking the feed to make sure that it was working okay. And then I think the next month, once I felt like it was in a good rhythm and I felt like I had kind of figured out how I wanted it to sound.
Speaker 3 (08:57)
I started sharing about it on my personal social media and just asking people that I was friends with to share about it, and I shared about it with people at Church. I also asked people who are listening to it that might not know me personally if they would also share it. And so people were finding it valuable, and people followed along with that and started sharing it. And that really helped me connect with a new audience early. And as far as its connection to my Church, there are many people in my Church that have the same aspiration that.
Speaker 3 (09:31)
I have to be regularly reading scripture. And several people in the Church that started using it early said that it was making it very easy for them to be able to do that because while they were getting ready in the morning or while they were driving to work, they could just listen to it being read and found it very enjoyable. And because people were finding it helpful, I found that word of mouth helped increase the audience size relatively quickly, although it took a few years for it to really gain momentum.
Speaker 3 (10:00)
But once I got to year three, that was the tipping point for the podcast. And then its growth really just exploded from there.
Speaker 2 (10:08)
What happened in year three?
Speaker 3 (10:10)
Year three? It took me the first three years to hit 1 million downloads. But then once I hit my first million downloads, then it took three years to hit 1 million. And now each year it gets just about 3 million downloads a year, and that keeps increasing. So it’s at about 3 million a year now, maybe probably next year it’s going to be four or 5 million. And so it’s been exciting to see how that really has exploded.
Speaker 2 (10:43)
So bringing it back to your congregation, your local community, what did that do?
Speaker 2 (10:49)
You are at a point where they were not going to be able to fulfill their financial obligations to you. And then you start doing this. How did that help, or how did that change the situation there?
Speaker 3 (11:00)
It had a major impact in a variety of ways. Doing the podcast and having the books allowed me to kind of connect something that people could look at and say, hey, if I want to support his Ministry, I could maybe buy something that he’s written. And so people started buying the books. And it dawned on me right around 2017 that I really needed to develop more of an online platform because these things were feeling a little disconnected. And so I started the website desiredges dot com, and added a blog to it.
Speaker 3 (11:34)
And then people started asking if they could advertise on that website, and people started utilizing other content I was producing there, and people started asking me questions about, how can I develop my own online platform? And that’s when I developed platformlaunchers. Com to help people develop their own platforms. And then others started asking me if I would do webinars for them. And eventually it got to the point where the Church was able to pay me again, which was nice, but I also had other sources of income, and the arrangement we were able to make with the Church was paying me was optional.
Speaker 3 (12:09)
It wasn’t something that they needed to feel obligated to still do. We wanted to make sure that the Ministry was funded, and so the arrangement I set up with them was that everything gets paid first before I get paid anything. So that means any obligation, any missionary, we’re supporting, any bill, any insurance, any utility, whatever that all gets paid first. Other staff, everybody else gets paid first, and then at the end, if they still feel led to do so, they’re welcome to pay me, but they’re not obligated to pay me because thankfully, these other resources helped with the finances.
Speaker 2 (12:46)
That’s incredible and incredibly generous of you. But given the nature of your work, also not necessarily surprising.
Speaker 1 (12:54)
So with platform launchers.
Speaker 2 (12:56)
With everything that you’ve learned over the past few years of doing this, the kind of information that you share with people on a regular basis, what would be your lesson to folks hearing this? They have a cause. They want to grow awareness for that cause. Whether it’s podcasting, webinars, writing a book like platform building, but what are some of the big lessons? What are some of the most important takeaways that you would share with folks who are just getting started and want to find success with spreading the word of their positive message.
Speaker 3 (13:32)
I would say the most effective ways I have been able to reach new people have been podcasting, blogging and YouTube. I’m starting to value YouTube more than I was before, and I think YouTube is starting to value podcasting more than they were before, which is kind of interesting to see.
Speaker 2 (13:49)
Speaker 3 (13:50)
But if you produce helpful content that either encourages people or it inspires people, or it helps them figure out something that they’re having a problem that they’re looking for a solution for. So if you produce helpful content and then make it available to people, that really does help you to connect with more and more people, just be generous and be helpful. And the combination of those two seems to be a great recipe for building an audience, because if you’re generous with your knowledge, generous with your content and you’re actually solving problems for people.
Speaker 3 (14:26)
That’s what gets word of mouth going. And I think word of mouth is just about the most effective way for news of what you’re doing and what you’re trying to build to actually spread well.
Speaker 2 (14:37)
And that is quite the message that we’re always trying to share on Cosplay. So thank you for such a perfect summary of our mission and for what you do. So you told us about the Church and everybody who we invite on. We want to encourage people to help support and donate to their favorite calls. And yours is the Corcrete Community Church. The website. There is corcrete. Com. Anything else you want to tell us about the Church that might inspire some folks to want to get a little bit more involved other than everything you’ve told us thus far.
Speaker 3 (15:05)
There’S two things that we as a Church tend to be pretty active about supporting. One is children’s programs. We have a lot of children’s programs that we do at our Church. One is called Kids Own and others called Epicenter, and we really highly invest in those and want to make sure that we have as much for children as we possibly can. And so different companies and different people through the years have been trying to help us fund those. And so if anybody wants to help contribute to our children’s ministries or camp scholarships for kids or anything like that, they could just make a note on that if they feel led to donate in that regard.
Speaker 3 (15:41)
And another thing that we try and do is we try and help other churches that are struggling. So I help by leading a mission agency that’s connected with our Church that helps other churches either get started or churches that were struggling because we know what it’s like to go through those seasons. It was 2008 when we were started up, and it was right around 2014 and 2015 when our Church was really struggling, and I started to get concerned that we might not make it through that particular season.
Speaker 3 (16:08)
Those are two things that we certainly encourage others to help us with, and we try and be faithful to try and contribute to those things as best as we can.
Speaker 2 (16:18)
Beautiful. Well, listen, if you want to learn more again, it’s Corcreek. Com is the Cork Creek Community Church where you can donate and contribute to those worthy programs. Or you can check out some of John’s programming at desirejesus.
Speaker 1 (16:31)
Speaker 2 (16:31)
And of course, if you are looking for help in launching your own platform for your good cause, I would encourage you to check out platformlaunchers. Com. Of course, we love links to all of those in the show notes here where you’re listening to your podcast or atlaspods. Org. John Stongy from dwell on these things as well as the corporate community Church and platform launchers. Thank you so much for joining us here on Causepods Today.
Speaker 3 (16:54)
Thanks for having me. It was a pleasure.
Speaker 1 (19:01)
Thanks for listening to this episode of Causepods. If you’ve been inspired by the work of our guests, please check out the show notes of this episode in your podcasting app or at Causepods. Org. There you will find links to their show, their website, their podcast links on Apple, Google Spotify, as well as a link to support the charity that they highlighted here in this episode. You will also find a Causepods. Org a way to subscribe to this show on your favorite podcasting app. How to sign up to be a guest on the show and a link to our Facebook group, which is going to have special resources just for the folks who are podcasting for a good Cause.
Speaker 1 (19:37)
And I can tell you right now we’ve got one great deal from our friends at Pod page, but you’re only going to learn about it and get that special deal. If you are a member of the Facebook group for Cause Pods and before I go, I should say thank you. In particular, this show is edited and produced by Ben Killoy of the Military Veteran Dad’s Podcast. And what a great job he has done and all this is made possible because of the great support that I receive from Shannon Rojas here at the podcastconsultant.
Speaker 1 (20:02)
Com. Once again, if you want to learn more, go to Causepodsorg thank you so much, so much and we will see you next time on Cause pods.