James: All right. Here we are Joanna. Episode number one we're starting a podcast. I'm excited. Are you excited. I'm pumped. There's gonna be good. Absolutely. We've been talking about this for a long time. Yeah. And we're finally doing it. So why did you want to start this podcast.
Joanna: Yeah. I mean at the at the end of it it's about I want help people I want to help church communicators do what they do better. A lot of people need more resource. So I have another podcast that's like a long form podcast called Word made digital and that's conversations that are about an hour long which I was on by the way. Yeah that's true. You got to check out the episode with James from Season 1 and discovered that there's also a place for the short form thing that we're doing here. And so this is the short version of helping people. So that's me but for you James why do you want to start the podcast.
James: I'm such an avid listener podcast myself. I listen to about four or five hours a day. And what's really awesome about it is I find that I can be working on something and be listening to a podcast and I find that I learn so much by hearing tips and opinions from other other spaces that I'm not an expert in. And I just find that I I listen I learn and then I can experiment when I'm done working on the thing that I'm working on and you can transfer it from your work desk to the car to when you're on an airplane like it's just you can take it anywhere. It's so easy to consume that media and just really just dive deeper on things because you can burn an hour listening to something that's really in-depth where you don't have the time to watch a video about it.
James: And so for the past two years I've been working with a thousand plus churches on visual me a church and stock hub and I've learned a lot about what people are looking for because we have people and subscribers and users from all over the world we have yeah.
James: It's not just the U.S. It's not just Canada. We have Mexico we have Europe we have Africa we have United Arab Emirates there's two churches in the United Arab Emirates that are using visit me at church. It's interesting to hear those perspectives and I want to start sharing what I've learned from those people with everyone.
Joanna: Yeah it's the same for me. I feel like I'm having these great rich conversations with people from all over the place now. I've been doing this church communications thing for more than a decade. And so yeah I want to share this with our people there's stuff that I'm having conversations about. I just want other people to get in on it it's kind of like let's I wish I wish I could have a microphone and all those conversations that I'm having. We can't. So we're hoping to bring some of that wisdom knowledge experience that we're learning right here into this park.
James: And you just mentioned it a little bit but let's let's find out a little bit more about you. You just said you're in church so let's hear a bit about your history. Sure. Really quick. I want to under a minute give us the Coles Notes version of Joanna La Fleur.
Joanna: Yeah I started doing church communications as a youth group person in a huge youth group of hundreds and hundreds of students and went to university study communications and business was first in like high tech marketing PR then went into church work doing that same kinds of stuff marketing communications fell I better get some educate if I'm gonna stay in the church world I really want to be more educated so I went back to school did a master's in theology and focused on church communications digital media as I studied.
Joanna: And so now here we are today like 10 15 almost 20 years later since I started as a teenager. And James what's your background that leads you to this day. Like what's your experience.
James: Well first of all I'm a pastor's kid. That is means I'm a unique breed to begin with. And fast forwarding into my more adult life I am a college dropout proudly. If anyone who knows me and you will get to know me in this podcast I am very proud that I dropped out of college. I feel there is a lot of really successful people who dropped out of college. But the truth is I was just lazy and didn't get all my work done. Then I got offered a job in the summertime in between thinking about going back and finishing my college degree so I got a job working for a pro hockey team doing graphics and media and working with the players and doing all of that. I then transitioned to my next job which was working for a billionaire fashion designer and that was a wild and crazy job completely different than the sports world so I got a different perspective on marketing and and media and how they do things like run and gun filmmaking editing on the fly basically shooting all day editing all night how and ready to go for the next day seven days a week. I mean I wasn't married at the time because this would not be sustainable if you were married and had a family but it was it was so hard that it trained me to think that way to not allow yourself to have really long deadlines. But how do you turn around something that's quality but really fast and then having having a boss of the billionaire fashion designer also just means they're demanding and that is good to get that a perspective on how to like work fast and meet XP.
Joanna: Yeah like you went to school. It was just like I went to school at the billionaire fashion designers.
James: Oh absolutely. Like you know you can learn so much by doing rather than you know putting your nose in a book and doing Yeah college projects. And then from there I started a company with three friends where it was a lot of outdoor filmmaking. It was primarily like a northern Canada doing documentary films and doing a provincial EP and here in Canada that the travel films for for the province. And so we had a bunch of big campaigns which were played on international flights and a TV campaign. So we did this whole six month project and then I moved back to where we are now just outside of Toronto and I realized I had this wealth of knowledge and I really had the urge to be an entrepreneur. And so I launched my site about two and a half years ago called visual media church just providing affordable cinematic quality media for churches.
Joanna: And what I know about your story too is like as your face became a more significant and serious part of your life your heart for serving churches through business has only grown and grown which is I think really cool like to see what you're doing today and how you're able to serve churches with such excellence with what you're doing while building this business I think is really exciting and like you're serving Oh my goodness. Like as you've already said like people all over the world are now able to be impacted by the filmmaking you're doing.
James: Absolutely. And you're part of that story too. I mean some of the First Church films that I ever did was for our church. And you were the person that hired me and or got me to volunteer and do a little bit of both. Yeah. But that's how I kind of got an intro into taking what I learned in the business world applying it to my church life and realizing oh there's a great combo there. Yeah yeah. Now the people know a little bit more about us. Joanna what are we hoping to accomplish with this idea. What's the what's the goal of this thing.
Joanna: Now ultimately as I said the beginning I want to help people we want to help people who are doing this job every day. Every church no matter the size we're all under-resourced and we have huge dreams huge vision huge demands on us to do things but we have limited resource. And that's always going to be true. So we want to help resource people for free ultimately.
James: And like I mean media is only growing the amount of avenues the amount of platforms the amount of ways that people are interacting online and with the church is expanding. And it's just it's it's moving so fast that I can completely understand that sometimes we we have trouble keeping up with it like is this platform the next big thing is is someone using it should I use it. Is it ethical to use platform or platform B.
Joanna: Yeah. And especially for people who are listening and communications or media isn't even their full focus. There may be doing worship and production and media and communications maybe it's there an administrator in the church. I'm not sure what their role there may be a volunteer and so they don't have the capacity to be doing what we do every day which is we live and breathe this world.
Joanna: So we hope that we can kind of fast track people to some of the stuff that we're learning along the way.
James: And that's why we're going to do this podcast every day of the week five days a week. It's going to come to you every single day. Yeah check it out and make sure that you're giving us feedback on our site thefuture.church and give us kind of what you're thinking about if you've got some ideas of you're confused about something or you want us to talk about something reach out to us let us know. Joanna where's the best place for people to find you.
Joanna: Probably Instagram at Joanna La Fleur or you can check me out on my website you can find some articles some videos on all things church communication.
James: Joanna La Fleur.com and you and you can find me on Instagram at VisualMediaChurch and the next episode. Jo you're going to be sharing some tips for churches and their Instagram Stories. All right.