Warning: This post is l-e-n-g-t-h-y!
If there is one thing Justin loves it’s a start up. The beginning stages of a movement, organization, entity- whatever word floats your boat. He’s got a crazy passion for strategy. Its his favorite type of video game to play. Give him a lemonade stand- he will beast up a plan on how to sell maximum lemonade cups at the peak hours of the best days in the most crowded neighborhoods with the most profit. You get the idea right?
He loves creating new things. Starting new things. Launching new things. Designing an action plan. Finding the right people to lead a movement. Developing a team. It’s his candy. Or my brownies. Chocolate. Cake. Now I’m hungry.
So he’s currently working on a new start-up! A church start-up. In church lingo, they call it planting. Because who doesn’t like farmer stuff?!
Just kidding. Its a cute word, “church planting”, and boy is it getting used a lot in NYC these days. Brooklyn has become this crazy hot spot for new business, churches, schools, real estate- you name it. Which is sort of odd for us since we were born and raised here. But its also crazy cool to see new cultures submerge as more and more out of staters stroll in.
As we talked at our tea date, Justin explained there are so many questions to answer in the beginning stages of a church plant: what will a service look like, who will his core team be, what denomination will he consider. Some of it was way too technical for my mom brain, but it was cute watching his face get all excited thinking about it.
Whats extra exciting is HOW SOON ITS ALL GOING DOWN. He’s looking to start June 2016. A month before baby Mattera number 2 makes his debut. Which by the way, we totally have a name picked out. But of course we won’t tell. We are those kind of parents. Ugh, I know, sorry. Just kidding- we’ll spill eventually.
Do you meet many people that tell you that they are aspiring to be a pastor? Probably not. It’s kind of rare, at least in Brooklyn. But in the Mattera family, it runs in their blood. Justin’s parents are pastors, they started a church about 30 years ago in Sunset Park (Resurrection Church), and ever since he was a little boy it was something he dreamed of doing. Which I can totally attest, this man loves people. He has a heart to see people come to know Jesus. Like he GENUINELY cares. He will go out of his way to meet with someone, talk with someone, pray with someone. Not because he wants to all the time, but because he chooses to love them. And that, my friends, is quite rare. (That was my tidbit, he said none of those words, of course)
So let’s start this interview.
What does it mean to be a pastor in 2016?
Simply put, Justin explained pastoring is all about the people. Being a part of their life and what God is doing in their life. “It’s exciting to be the conduit that God uses to transform peoples lives. God works with people and I’ll be one of those people he works with on a larger scale and on a daily basis” he explained.
“I was always that listener too when I was little. The first person people would tell their problems to and counseled. They knew I wouldn’t go gossip about them” he laughed.
“2016 is a complicated year. It’s the year of Donald Trump, millennials, questions around sexuality, race, all these complicated issues that when people aren’t looking to politics to answer they are looking to spiritual leaders to answer a lot of the time. It would be nice if I knew all the answers to them myself. I think I would try to guide people to come to Godly understanding not necessarily answer those questions for them. And I think thats what a lot of 2016 pastoring looks like. Not telling people who to vote for or what to believe, but helping them figure out how God would view these things.”
Guys, I’m super excited to see how this church plant unravels. I’ll definitely be updating the blog with whats going on, possibly video blogs so you can laugh or cry with us on this journey. Also, I’ll let you in on a little secret. Justin may or may not have a personal blog coming out in the near future WINK WINK WINK WINK.
“This is a hard one. I think it depends on what age you’re looking at or what genre you are thinking of.” (Clearly he is a huge book nerd, I love it)
Anywho, the first book he mentioned was Think & Grow Rich by Napolean Hill. Why did it change his life? Because it led him to consider atheism. It’s a bit of a long story and you can sit and sip tea with him if you’re interested, but basically, the book pissed him off and sent him on this spiritual journey to no longer just rely on his parent’s faith, but his own faith. This sent him to a Bible school in Ohio for a year where he found his answers. We all tend to have that moment in life where we really question our faith. And this book helped Justin consider that question.
“But wait, I can’t not talk about some of my favorite leadership books”. So we continued of course :). Heroic Leadership by Chris Lowney. “I think this one is my all time favorite. It’s half a history book and half a leadership book, and I love history. He talks about the Jesuits and their guiding principles for the last 450 years. And there’s just something incredibly inspiring about it.”
If you couldn’t tell, Justin is really big on leadership books, they are one of his favorite topics!
“The pillars of leadership I think I subscribe to are heroism, self awareness, love and servanthood. When I think of leadership I think of these principles and try to live by them” he explained.
Oh my heart melts just hearing him talk about it!
Ok, enough of this deep stuff -eh?
On top of church planting, Justin is celebrating his 5th year as a business owner. Mattera Management is a digital marketing business creating brands, websites and managing social media. You know, basically all that nerdy tech stuff. So if you own a small business, church or non profit and need a website, logo, business card, brand development, social media management, SEO crack (lol thats not what they call it, but its basically a strategy to beast your number of clicks on a search engine)- follow this link.
“I think there are three things that make a successful entrepreneur. This is my kind of, ‘secret formula’.”
Ready for the no longer secret formula? DUN DUN DUN!
“Networking, customer service & delivering on your promise. And at the end of the day I’ve seen people sell crappy products but they do those three things and they have successful businesses. Of course the added benefit is having incredibly good products which means you’re going to grow. But those are the three things I think that you need to be a successful entrepreneur.”
Worst advice given about running a business?
“Always put yourself first” (Like placing yourself on the top priority of payroll) Several people have said this to me. What I’ve realized is that having a business isn’t that much different than pastoring. A lot of times pastors can never take credit for success because they believe God did everything. And I realized it’s a lot like that in business. I always thought it was different until recently. If you follow these principles that God lays out of being a servant, taking care of others, loving them- you’re good. That principle “always put yourself first” is so counter intuitive because I would’ve lost all my best employees, I would’ve lost their trust and respect as their employer. And one thing I pride myself on is that my first employee is still with me. And there are many times I paid him and wasn’t able to pay myself. Especially in the beginning. And that’s OK. He did the work, he deserved it. I would’ve been robbing him. I don’t think I would’ve been able to have the respect I have with my employees today if I did that.”
Honestly, Justin totally opened up my eyes to the world of entrepreneurship. If you’re interested in this topic as well, definitely shoot him an email. He’s opened to helping out fellow entrepreneurs in whatever way he can!
If you could give little Justin advice about the future, what would it be?
“Would I give myself a stock tip? he laughed. “Or would I help prepare myself for the painful moments of life? Or a piece of wisdom I can hold on to? I don’t know, because I think the failures and the things that I have chosen to do really make me who I am today. I would’ve talked to my younger self and tried to help myself understand to not take on so much pain when it comes to shame. I carried a lot of shame and guilt as a young kid and that really hindered me growing up, especially with my spiritual walk with God. Something that has really helped me over the years is understanding God and his love for me and other people’s love for me and that takes the burden of shame away from me. That I don’t have to be perfect…I’d probably throw in a stock tip too.”
Who inspires you today?
“Can they be dead?” he asked. Sure!
“The person that has always most inspired me is George Whitefield. He’s dead. He was responsible for the first Great Awakening in American history, before America was a country yet we were just 13 colonies. He was reformed. He was the most humble man I know. What I love most about him is that him and John Wesley started the Methodist Church together. Wesley was an Arminian, Whitefield was Calvinist (so they had different beliefs in certain areas of the Bible). The Methodist church exploded, they were preaching to thousands and thousands of people on a daily basis. Whitefield, without a mic, was preaching to crowds of like 30,000. I believe it was Benjamin Franklin who calculated sometimes his crowd sizes. They were friends. And then Wesley and Whitefield finally came to a breaking point where they realized their theological understandings had to lead them in separate ways (their disagreements on some beliefs). BUT they both built this movement that was the greatest revival the world was seeing at the moment in the UK and America. They were best friends. Started the movement in college together. So they came to this breaking point and Whitefield did the unthinkable. When you think of church splits or corporations- how they split – this was different. Whitefield told Wesley that he decided to leave the movement, that he loved him, and that nothing should cause a break in God’s work. He willingly walked away. And Whitefield’s line was, “I pray that the name of George Whitefield would die so that the name of Christ be glorified.” (As said originally by John the Baptist) And I’ve heard that said many times by other people, but I heard it loudest in the actions of George Whitefield. It’s his humility, his passion for people to believe in God, his leadership, and his history of building orphanages all over America- He’s definitely the most inspiring leader I ever read about it. If I could learn from one person it would be him.”
Boy that was a mouthful! But aren’t you interested in this guy now?! Look him up, read a book on him, listen to some of his sermons- George Whitefield is definitely one of a kind.
Lastly! Possibly the most important question of all, what would your last meal on Earth be?
Drum roll please.
Peanut butter & jelly sandwich.
And that my friends, is 100% Justin Mattera in a nutshell.
Props for reading this far through! Follow the links below to connect with Justin. Or dont!
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Until next time,