Sharing a Story

Seth Hinz

About The Episode

Seth Hinz just joined the team at Lutheran Bible Translators as Director for Branding + Marketing!

For over 14 years, he has worked alongside churches, schools, universities, districts, and national ministries to develop messaging and marketing strategies. He is a founder of the resource Facebook group Lutheran Communicators, and he became a StoryBrand Certified Guide in 2019.


00:00
Seth Hinz
I think what we’re looking for is kind of a shared passion. Our job is to create that clear path. Our websites and other communication need to say what is the first step. 


00:21
Rich Rudowske
Welcome to the essentially translatable podcast brought to you by Lutheran by Bible translators. 


00:25
Rich Rudowske
I’m Richardsky. 


00:26
Emily Wilson
And I’m Emily Wilson. 


00:28
Rich Rudowske
And we are kicking off a series of episodes here where we’re going to talk to some of the new leadership here at Lutheran Bible translators. And our guest today is our new director for brand and marketing, Seth Hintz. 


00:38
Emily Wilson
It was an awesome interview to be able to catch a little bit of a vision of how we got started, how his background in communications has led to this point, and his passion for Lutheran Bible translators and having God’s word in every language, that people are able to have it in their hands and in their hearts. So want to encourage you. During the interview, you’ll hear Seth talk about the prayer calendar, and that is an excellent way to get involved in the ministry of Bible translation, to become a prayer partner with us. So if you’re interested in receiving that monthly to be a prayer supporter for our missionaries, our programs, our international partnerships, and our staff, we want to encourage you to sign up@lbt.org. 


01:25
Rich Rudowske
All right, we hope you enjoyed this interview with Seth Hintz. We are here in the studio today with Seth Hintz, brand and marketing director here at Lutheran Bible translators and newest member of our team. Glad to have you with us today. 


01:40
Emily Wilson
Welcome. 


01:40
Seth Hinz
Thank you. Good to be here. 


01:42
Emily Wilson
All right, so we’re going to dive right in. You are new to the team, but not new to marketing and communications by any stretch of the imagination. You are part of the Lutheran Communicators Network, actually one of the founding members, right? Correct. So can you share a little bit about your background and how you became involved in marketing? 


02:04
Seth Hinz
Wow. Yeah, I can. I went to Concordia University, Ann Arbor, actually started in the accounting program, and then I took a class as part of the business major in persuasive communication. And so that was with Professor Glenda Waterman, name drop. And she convinced me she was very persuasive that we should do this project. And we ended up doing a video project, and it was all about creating a commercial, and we just had to be persuasive. It’s still on YouTube. I could send you the link. 


02:36
Rich Rudowske
Nice. 


02:37
Seth Hinz
But after that class and after that project, I switched my focus and I said, you know what? I actually enjoy communication. I actually enjoy filmmaking and photography and all that. And so I kind of dove headfirst into that and then when I graduated, it was in 2006 from Concordia, and that was right around the time when social media was kind of coming of age. And it was at the time kind of the Wild west. There was no algorithms you were competing against. It was just if people followed your page, you could send them information. It was the golden age of social media. Now it’s changed, but that’s about when I got my start. And so it was an opportunity to just try new things, reach people in brand new ways. And I think I’ve graduated at just the right time. 


03:26
Seth Hinz
And so I got to dive headfirst into that. 


03:28
Emily Wilson
And so much of marketing and communications is about story, and you have had a huge impact of helping ministries share their story. So from nonprofits to churches, being able to cultivate that. So what is that like? 


03:44
Seth Hinz
Yeah, so about probably five to six years ago, I was working for the Michigan district of Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, and we had a ton of events. And I felt like every time I sat down to market something, I was needing to recreate the wheel. It was like, what are we going to say this time? Who are we talking to? And I felt like there must be an easier way to do this where we can continue to market. Well, but I had this giant question mark of what was it? And then I came across Donald Miller, and he was just launching, he had been working on something called storyline. It was a conference and program that he had, but. And then he was launching something called Story Brand. 


04:25
Seth Hinz
And it is a framework that just helps you tell your story in a brand new way. And so in 2019, I was finally able to pursue getting certified in that. And so that involved going down to Nashville and getting trained in that particular framework. And now, since then, I’ve been able to help organizations across the country figure out how to tell their story better, how to clarify their message so people can actually take action and take a next step with their organization, no matter what it. And so, yeah, we’ve been doing that for a few years now. 


04:55
Rich Rudowske
So a little bit about your background. What makes you passionate about using this skill to help churches and ministries? 


05:02
Seth Hinz
Yeah. Okay, so my background is, my father was a pastor, still is a pastor, grandfather’s a pastor, was a district president back in the day. Uncle’s pastor, great uncle’s pastor. So I came from a long line of people who were passionate about telling their communities about Jesus. And having been a part of church from being born, I was like, I see the need. I see how passionate my family is about it, and yet I just didn’t feel necessarily the call to be a pastor ministry or anything like that. But I see the people that do that, and I see that there was a gap between ministries that are looking to connect and a ramp up in the number of new ways that you can communicate. And I saw there’s a need there that we have probably the most important message to share. 


05:57
Seth Hinz
And with all these new ways of communication, we need to keep the training going. We need to support pastors, ministries, nonprofits, schools. So can I serve in that way? And so when were in the Michigan district, I started doing on the Facebook page, we started a social media office hour where Monday mornings at 11:00 a.m.. I would post a picture, and then we would have a chat in the comments on Facebook. And that went for, I don’t know, maybe a year and a half. And then groups became more of a thing, and we wanted to shift the page back to a little bit more about the Michigan district. And we shifted over to a group, and that group was called lutheran communicators. And so that started about eight to nine years ago. 


06:42
Seth Hinz
And so that’s a group on Facebook that has grown now to about 3000 of just Lutherans from across the country, around the world that want to communicate more effectively. 


06:52
Emily Wilson
I really appreciate the fact that you zeroed in on your interest and your calling and listening in of like that. You are passionate about ministry and getting the word out there. But as you had seen, a gap that being able to identify that and to come alongside churches, nonprofits, to be able to share how they might be able to bridge that. So what seems to be a common hurdle for churches and nonprofits when they’re. 


07:20
Seth Hinz
Communicating their messaging, everyone’s a little bit different. The main issue is that we want to say too much, and we want to say it all at the same time. So people will come to our websites and encounter our messaging, and we’ll just try to give them everything as quickly as possible because we know we have such a limited time with them. And so we often just deliver way too much information. We don’t really ever get to the point of what we actually do. Sometimes we’ll get in our own way and say, well, were founded in 1937, and now we’re located in such and such state, and we’ve been doing this for a while. We work with people from all over the world. You really haven’t even said yet what you do. 


08:05
Emily Wilson
I was zoning out as you were saying. 


08:07
Seth Hinz
I know. I was starting to get tired after 1937. 


08:12
Rich Rudowske
That’s not even right. 


08:13
Seth Hinz
Yeah, no, I won’t tell you the name of that one. 


08:16
Rich Rudowske
Okay. 


08:17
Rich Rudowske
Yeah. 


08:17
Seth Hinz
So we’ll start handing people. What we say in story brand is we’re handing people bowling balls. And so when you have a conversation with somebody, every piece of information you hand them is a new bowling ball for them to handle in their brains. And so if you ever have 30 seconds with somebody and you start handing them different pieces of information, they’re able to handle about maybe two or three bowling balls of information. And if you keep going and you never really get to the point, you’re eventually going to hand them that third or fourth bowling ball and they’re going to drop everything and then zone out. 


08:50
Seth Hinz
And so that seems to be the issue is we don’t have the clarity to just tell our message very quickly in a way that resonates and gets them to either express interest or take action that would get them involved in the ministry. So that seems to be the problem, is lack of clarity and then wanting to say everything. 


09:10
Rich Rudowske
So you work in that lutheran communicators group. Tell us a little bit about the group, how many folks are in there and what you’re excited about for it or what kind of growth you’ve seen in it. 


09:19
Seth Hinz
Originally, it was about, I don’t know, there were five of us really that started out in Michigan just kind of talking with each other back and forth. And then the group grew probably to about 500 early on, and then kept steadily growing. And then the pandemic hit and all of a sudden the value of digital communication and the value of being able to communicate across distances when we can’t be face to face in person was extremely valuable. It just became so important to so many ministries that the group doubled. It seemed like overnight people were asking questions across the Internet and people, and the answer was, usually we’ll ask people inside of lutheran communicators. And so very quickly we had to adapt and scale to that. But went from 1200 to 1500 to about 2800 real quick overnight. 


10:12
Seth Hinz
And so now the group is kind of settled in at that 3000 mark where people are continuing to have conversations. They’re free to ask any question they have, whether that’s how should we be doing our bulletin to what should our website look like? What should we be talking about on social media? Should we use TikTok? I mean, there’s just so many questions out there right now that people, you can start to feel really alone when you’re in church ministry. You’re working with people side by side, but not everybody understands what you’re doing, especially in church communication. 


10:44
Seth Hinz
So being able to have a group where people can find somebody just like them, whether you’re a church admin or you’re actually in a church communication role, being able to network with people who are going through exactly the same thing as you, that probably I would see that it’s the greatest value, not just answering questions, but knowing that you’re not alone is one of the biggest values of the group. 


11:05
Emily Wilson
So Lutheran Bible translators originally was networking with you of how we might be able to share our story succinctly and to streamline how there might be barriers currently, how do we make that a little bit smoother for our prayer partners, our donors, potential donors, to be able to get networked in with our message that God’s word is in the hands and hearts of people. So how did all of that kind of come about? Had you heard of Lutheran Bible translators before that date, and what is it that you’ve been encouraged by since joining the team, from that angle of going from consultant to down director? 


11:49
Seth Hinz
So we probably began talking about, what was it, 2021? Was that when we began talking? So in 2021, we started working together. I had started consulting, in addition to some of the other work that I was doing, and as a story brand guide, I was beginning to help more ministries. And I believe at the same time, Lutheran Bible translators was looking for a new way to get their message across to the different constituencies. So we teamed up at that time, the communication development team and myself, and we started working through the different types of stories that needed to be told. One of the big things was the new campaign messaging that you guys wanted. There were some issues with the website. You had several new projects starting, and there was just a lot going on. 


12:37
Seth Hinz
And when there’s a lot going on, it sometimes takes a fresh pair of eyes to look at it and say, well, and ask the right questions, and being willing to ask those questions that sometimes you get too close to. So were able to wrestle with a couple of early projects to figure out, okay, who is the person that we’re trying to talk to right now? Who is this project for? What issues are they facing in their life? And were able to sort that out over the course of a few weeks and months. It takes a while to get your story right because you really have to dig past the surface level and just say, we think this is what they want, and we’re building projects for what we think people want. But if that’s true, what’s the heart behind that desire? 


13:20
Seth Hinz
What gets them out of bed. Why are they trying to solve this issue that they have in their life? So were able to work through a couple of those things. What I discovered about Lutheran Bible translators and probably what excites me the most is just hearing the stories, I think, from the field, starting to hear from around the world people who are passionate about Bible translation and seeing the difference that it makes in people’s lives. The way that we domestically here, we probably take it for granted a lot just how easy it is to access the Bible in a language that we understand. And then encountering people that are not just struggling to access scripture, but almost being openly persecuted out of that desire to access scripture, it makes anyone really see how important this is. 


14:08
Seth Hinz
Getting the word of God into people’s hands is so important. And if people just take a chance to read some of the projects that are going on and read about some of the missionaries that are out there as well, I think they’ll just be inspired and see, like, this is something we can solve, this is something we can work towards, and it is doable. And just seeing the passion that people had on staff here, it just made sense. Like, I think I can be helpful here. I think we can explore new ways to get the word out. And I don’t know, I was kind of taken with the mission and then really inspired by the staff and the people that are already working here. 


14:45
Seth Hinz
So it made sense when there was an opportunity to come on staff, it was a quick yes for me that I wanted to come on board. 


14:54
Rich Rudowske
Yeah. And I think just the great opportunity that exists is in the church and the lutheran church particularly, there’s the opportunity to say, hey, this stuff that’s happening all over the world is part of your story. This is who we are as God’s people and as people who have been formed by the word of God and have a strong affinity towards the word of God as the foundation for how we live and move and have our being. When you think about folks listening or our listeners who are trying to learn to share their story about how they or what they’re doing in ministry, what are some key questions that you start to ask as a nonprofit or a church? If you’re evaluating your messaging, often you. 


15:32
Seth Hinz
Need to know who you’re talking to. And empathy is so important in communication, you have to put yourself in their shoes. We’ll often in ministry, want to say all the things that we’re doing because we think we’re so close to it and it’s so important and we know it’s important, but everybody that we talk to is living their own story. They’re in their own life, and they have their own issues, their own schedules that they’re trying to keep their own problems. And so we have to, in a way, ask, where do we overlap? I think what we’re looking for is kind of a shared passion in the framework and approach that we take to marketing. With story brand, there’s a seven part framework. And so story is used as a sense making device. It helps people understand kind of the ebbs and flows. 


16:21
Seth Hinz
In any traditional movie, there are about seven parts in a structure. And if you don’t want to know that structure, I would maybe not listen anymore. So the basic structure is there’s a hero that wants something. Deep down in their heart, they have a problem that they’re facing, something that keeps them from getting what they want. And then they meet a guide, somebody who can not only understand what they’re going through, but then also they’ve been through that, and they can express the authority. Like, not only do I understand, but I’ve gotten through it. And so that’s where our ministries fall into place, is we are talking to people who want something in their lives. 


16:59
Seth Hinz
They either want to see impact made in the world or they want to see a difference in their community, and then they have problems, something that’s keeping them from that. Maybe they don’t know what opportunities are available, maybe they’re incredibly busy, and then that makes them feel something inside. And so there’s a couple of different layers to the problem. And so our job as communicators is to figure out the people that we’re talking to. What is it that they want? They have probably a varied number of wants, but where does it potentially overlap with our ministry? What kind of change do you want to see in the world? And then what’s keeping you from that? Is it lack of time? Is it lack of resources? Is it you don’t know how to plug in? What is it that’s keeping them from that? 


17:42
Seth Hinz
So if we can identify at least those two things, the want and the problem that’s keeping them from it, we can start to walk alongside people in our communication and our interactions, and we can start guiding them towards a solution. And so we have to keep it very simple. And so once we express that, we understand what you’re going through as a guide, we have the authority, we’ve been there, we can solve it, then we have to give them the simple path forward. And so this is where we usually get into trouble, too. We don’t make the path forward easy. We don’t have a clear next step. And so if you go onto a website, any website out there, and all of a sudden you don’t have a clear button to click on. It’s just kind of like a bunch of information presented. 


18:26
Seth Hinz
And even on a church website, you’ll go to it and you’ll be like, I really don’t know what to do next as a guest. Like, am I supposed to just show up or is there anybody I can talk to? And so they’ll start clicking around but never really have answer. And so our job is to create that clear path. And so our websites and other communication need to say, what is the first step? And so as a communicator, what do you want them to do? And so for a church, it may be, hey, we want you to plan a visit. We want you to let us know who you are, and we can start talking to you. 


19:01
Seth Hinz
If you’re looking to get involved in Bible translation, really great way to learn about it is to join the prayer calendar and subscribe to those, and you can start praying and learning about, praying for and learning about the missionaries and the projects that are around the world going on right now, and just start learning about it and praying for it. And I think that’s a great first step to just discovering what’s out there. And then once they take that first step, there are other steps involved. Usually you want to keep it to three, and then any communication person needs to say, again and again, no, seriously, that’s the first step. So call them to action. And then in any story that can either result in success or failure, so either life will be so much better or there’s potential failure. 


19:48
Seth Hinz
And in any good story, if we’re not hinting at all of this could fail, then we’re starting to take away any sense of urgency. We take away any tension. And having those stakes in a story lets people know how important it is. And so if you can get those seven parts of your story kind of locked in, you’ll know what to say over and over to anybody you talk to. And then if you only have 30 seconds with people, really just go with one equation, and that’s problem, solution, success. And so if you have this problem in your life, you’re feeling hopeless, you’re feeling disconnected. We invite you to attend this getting started class. We invite you to attend this event at our church. We want you to get plugged in. 


20:36
Seth Hinz
And once you get plugged in, you’ll discover a community of people, and you can feel connected again. You can feel like you’re part of something and you’re growing. And so just what is the problem that somebody’s facing? What is your solution to it? And then what is life going to be like once they solve that problem? And if people can figure that out, it becomes clear. 


20:54
Rich Rudowske
Yeah, the power of story, that’s what I love about this model, is really capturing that idea of story throughout culture, throughout history, and even biblically, there’s a value on storytelling. How do you see storytelling and the tasks that you engage in through the lens of a church worker versus a professional marketer, maybe, who’s just marketing a particular product? What’s the same in that process? 


21:19
Seth Hinz
What’s different in the general sense? Story has the same framework. I think it is going to be important to sort of tell the difference. If you’re marketing just a product, you’re speaking directly to the customer, and that’s the story that you’re telling. You’re saying, like, that is important to you, and this is the problem that you’re facing. This is how we can help you. When you get into nonprofit ministry and church ministry, especially nonprofit, when you’re trying to get people to understand what your mission is, that’s a difference in the story that you want to tell. And so often, nonprofits, we’re going to need to tell a story that shares the mission. And so we call that a mission story instead of just your standard story brand story. 


22:03
Seth Hinz
In the mission story, we are talking about the people that we walk alongside, the people that we support in our ministry, the people that we serve. And so we will actually make the hero of the story, that person. And for Lutheran Bible translators, we’re talking about people around the world who are scripturally intrigued. They’re entrepreneurial. They’re wanting to raise up a translation project in their own area. And so we get to tell that story. And so it’s not about necessarily what somebody in a church pew over here wants, but we tell the story about what somebody around the world would want. They want to see change in their community. They want to see Jesus being shared with their community, and they want to see an impact and transformation where they live. 


22:52
Seth Hinz
They know that to get that, they have to get the scripture in a language they can understand and that their community can understand. And so we tell that story, say this is what they want. This is the problem that’s keeping them from that. A translation project can take up to 15 years, and so that’s a big barrier. How do we walk alongside somebody and help support them in that? How do we equip them with resources and just the training to understand? Like, this is how you run a project. So those external problems that are keeping them from that, we need to share that story. We need to let people know what they’re feeling around the world. We use somebody in particular for one of the projects. 


23:32
Seth Hinz
So Swari is one of those people that is halfway around the world who’s wanting to share the scripture know, not just have it for her, but for her community. And so the things that are keeping her from that are she just needs access and doesn’t necessarily. She’s never maybe done a Bible translation project before. She doesn’t know what it takes. So that’s keeping her from it internally. She’s probably feeling maybe disconnected from the global church, maybe saddened that she sees her neighbors and friends not having access to scripture. And then philosophically, that problem is, why is that just plain wrong? Like, we believe that everybody should have access to the scriptures, to God’s word, in not only their heart language, but the language they understand best. 


24:18
Seth Hinz
And so we tell that story, and then we introduce Lutheran Bible translators at that point as the guide. And so that’s how nonprofits make the change. We’re not selling a product directly to somebody sitting in the pew. We’re telling the mission story. This is why we exist as an organization, is to help this person who has a desire and a problem that’s keeping them from reaching that. 


24:42
Rich Rudowske
Okay. And so then instead of the problem being necessarily, like, I feel a personal need that needs to be met, it’s like somehow at a certain point, the story says, I hold a certain value that’s the same. We don’t think that’s right to kind of assume that, or, I don’t know if you assume it, but make it explicit. Is that a key difference? You’re not answering a person’s particular need here that may get involved by prayer or giving, but rather asking them to relate to these folks. 


25:14
Seth Hinz
No, yeah, I think you’re right on with that. We’re not selling a product directly to them. And so when we go character with a want who has a problem, and we introduce ourselves as a guide in that fourth part where we give them a plan, it’s not start up a scripture project or anything. It’s really the first step. If you want to get involved in this mission story of Swari or somebody across the world, the next step is to join the prayer calendar. The next step is to subscribe to our updates or join us on Facebook or whatever the next step is for your ministry. That’s where you make the pivot. Here’s how to get involved in Swari’s story through lutheran bible translators. 


25:57
Seth Hinz
So here’s how you can get plugged in and start helping and being a part of that story that’s happening around the world. 


26:03
Emily Wilson
So I know that you’re new to the team and a lot of strategy is being developed of how we can get our messaging out to more people throughout the country and even beyond that. But what are you hopeful of on the horizon with Lutheran Bible translators? What are you excited for and how can we be praying for you? 


26:26
Seth Hinz
That is a great question. I am excited. I’m mostly surprised because I knew there were a lot of languages out there that were still lacking access, and I don’t think people are truly aware of the gap. I don’t think people know that what is there, 7000 languages total and still 3550% don’t have access to scriptures in a language that they understand best. Wow. So just knowing the problem is the first thing is seeing that here I have easy access to scripture and I know the difference that it makes in my life and my family’s life. And seeing like there are people who are lacking that easy access, man, I think we along with other, when we walk alongside with not just ourselves but also some other ministries that are out there, I just think this is a problem we can solve. 


27:19
Seth Hinz
And I see the potential. I see that we can maybe solve this in the next decade. I think we can get this done. And so I’m excited and I want to move fast. I want to get the word out. I want to get more people understand the problem and the issue and then get this settled. I think it’s time to solve this issue and give people God’s word. And so I’m excited about it, and I’m excited about the difference it’s going to make. And then not only just having God’s word in their hands, but then also the scripture engagement that’s going to come alongside that. 


27:51
Seth Hinz
When we deliver God’s word, they’re going to be able to read it for themselves and all that, but then walking alongside them and saying like, hey, how do we take a next step and drive even deeper into God’s word and have deeper understanding? I think that’s an exciting opportunity for Lutheran Bible translators and so many different other ministries out there. How do we not only deliver the word, but then also walk alongside them as they’re understanding it, wrestling with it. And so I’m just excited about the opportunity. 


28:18
Emily Wilson
So we’ll be praying for you as you are starting this journey with us as Lutheran Bible translators, and as you are innovating, as you are thinking about how to get people more involved in this mission of putting God’s word in their hands. So thank you so much for joining us on the podcast. 


28:35
Seth Hinz
Yeah, thank you for having me. 


28:41
Rich Rudowske
It’s pretty interesting to dig into how story works and to sort of unpack that a little bit. And I really liked what Seth had to say about, okay, if you’re marketing for a particular product or something to meet a personally felt need, you’re going to do it one way. But then when you start talking about mission, you have a mission story. There’s a little difference in how you go about that. I found that really interesting. 


29:02
Emily Wilson
Yeah. Being able to see where there might be a hurdle that we have within ministry of how do we successfully get the messaging out when there are so many different voices out there competing for attention and instead being able to say, we have the best message in the world for people to be in community and to know that God loves them and to be able to hear it in their own language. So whether you are a church ministry, a single congregation, a multicampus, or if you have a nonprofit organization, want to encourage you to delve in deeper to get connected so that you can share your story. And the Lutheran Communicators group is a wonderful option for being able to be connected in real time. Either that or going to sethinds.com. 


29:53
Rich Rudowske
We’ll link both of those resources in the show notes for this podcast episode, and we’d encourage you to get connected with Seth and explore further how story can help you share your message in ministry. Thank you for listening to the essentially. 


30:07
Rich Rudowske
Translatable podcast brought to you by Lutheran Bible translators. You can find past episodes of the podcast@lbt.org Slash podcast or subscribe on audible, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts. Follow Lutheran Bible translators’social media channels on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. Or go to lbt.org to find out how you can get involved in the Bible translation movement and put God’s word in their hands. The essentially translatable podcast is produced and edited by Andrew Olson. Our executive producer is Emily Wilson. Podcast artwork was designed by Caleb Rodowald and Sarah Rodowski. Music written and performed by Rob Weit. I’m Rich Radowski. So long for now. 

Highlights:

  • Join us for a series exploring the new leadership at Lutheran Bible Translators
  • The marketing¬† team at Lutheran Bible translators wants to streamline their messaging and make it easier for people to understand and get involved
  • To get in touch with Seth for your story sharing needs, visit sethhinz.com.

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