In 2010, two fresh-faced students, Jackson Garrell and Brandon Swain, stepped onto the Davis College campus and became fast friends when they “nerded out” over their Mac computers at freshmen orientation. Neither would have anticipated that a few years later they would be managing operations at For Ministry Resources (FMR), a ministry-centric media firm providing resources, coaching, and events to tens of thousands of pastors across the globe.
The mission of For Ministry Resources is wildly ambitious, yet simply stated: to help get one million people in church. At the forefront of this effort, two Davis College alumni are leading the charge while growing the impact of FMR exponentially over the last several years. At first, only Garrell was working on the project, but his tangible and infectious passion was well known by Swain, who was then compelled to get involved. When the project allowed the opportunity to bring in another staff member, it was a no-brainer: Garrell knew Swain was the right choice. When asked, he couldn’t say “yes” fast enough.
The origin of FMR is about as humble as one could imagine. Garrell and Swain developed FMR out while living in Davis College student housing, and they utilized conference rooms across campus to conduct meetings and strategy sessions. They tapped into connections they established during their time at Davis College to build the foundation of what would eventually expand into an international network. “We just thought of everyone we met at Davis and started calling up people. We spent months just doing cold calls and coffee meetings before we started to develop some traction. These relationships acted as an intricate web that spread throughout the nation,” according to Garrell.
FROM DAVIS CONFERENCE ROOMS TO THE WORLD
In addition to connecting with fellow alumni, both Garrell and Swain had traveled for Davis, recruiting students and building solid relationships with pastors throughout the region–these relationships were the only foothold needed to start a global movement. Since the days of Davis College conference rooms, the FMR network has flourished, with over 18,000 leaders accessing FMR resources over the last 10 months. The brilliance of their success can be found in the purity of their approach: FMR assesses the needs of ministries and provides timely solutions paired with exceptional customer service and personal contact. As Garrell says, “We pray for our partner churches, we check up on them, and we celebrate them online. We focus on coaching, creating, celebrating, and community. We don’t just build content, we cultivate community events that help leaders find friendship along the way.”
FMR provides a massive, constantly-growing library of free graphics and monthly resource newsletters that provide cutting-edge strategies and marketing solutions as well as free custom design work for special events and campaigns. These resources are provided across three tracks: church communications, youth ministry, and strategic church resources. Best of all, barriers are minimized; the interface is accessible and easy-to-use, and the FMR team openly provides their personal contact information should clients have questions.
MINISTRY IS NO LONGER LIMITED TO A FEW DAYS A WEEK
When questioned separately about technology’s place in planting and growing churches, the FMR team gave an unsurprisingly consistent answer: “vital.” Just as every business sector has shifted marketing and communications efforts toward digital platforms, properly embracing social media and web outreach are more critical than ever for ministries. “Technology is not just a tool to reach new people; it also allows you to retain people,” says Garrell. “You can grow your crowd numerically and grow your people spiritually. Social media can be used to produce daily devotionals, content that helps put your message into motion, and shared identity around your church’s mission–all by producing it once and letting it spread.” Swain added, “With the rise of social media, you can use it as a tool to interact and disciple your people every day of the week. Ministry is no longer limited to a few days a week.”This rationale is at the very core of FMR operations: providing access, knowledge, and support to ensure that church leaders have both the strategy and the tools they need to communicate across digital platforms and reach their audience around the clock. Even ministries actively engaged in social platforms find great benefit to partnering with FMR. The team works daily to help churches evolve from the informative, “bulletin board” approach to social media posting, a message-based strategy designed to inspire and engage. Ultimately, the goal is not only to grow ministries but also to actively communicate to encourage retention.
Along with the explosive growth in ministries using FMR’s services, the organization has grown outward in geographical reach, spanning oceans and continents. “We have helped make content in Portuguese and Spanish. We have helped evangelists in Pakistan and India,” says Garrell. “It’s mind-blowing that we can help spread God’s glory and Jesus’ story while sitting in Starbucks.” Contributing to the capacity for continued growth is account manager Chelsea Babcock, who Garrell describes as a “detail-oriented, multi-tasking ninja.” With their core group in place, this team of three intelligently leverages the efficiencies of the digital realm to build out the reach of their operation.
A BRIGHT FUTURE
The success of For Ministry Resources has served to deepen their resolve and vision for the future. As Garrell explains, “First, we are going to put a much larger emphasis on trainings and deep-dive courses next year. We strive to keep ahead of trends, so we are striving to get better at helping ministry leaders get ahead with us. Second, we are really focusing on Leaders Following Christ, our parent nonprofit. This is going to help change the atmosphere of cities around the country. We desire to see inter-connected ministries, businesses, nonprofits, and counseling centers all working together toward the common goal of giving life to struggling communities. We will train entrepreneurs, provide community for dreamers, and partner with start-up ministries.”
When asked about how their goal will evolve when one million new people come to church, both Garrell and Swain are quick to recognize that all credit and glory belongs to God and that much weight rests on the shoulders of the pastors in the field. But without boundless optimism, and a sense of humor, they wouldn’t be FMR. With a smile, Swain adds, “then we go to two million.”