case study

Helping Courageous Parenting build a safe space for Christian families to connect

SECTOR

Key Market

SECTOR

Key Market

Courageous Parenting, a community that supports Christian families to thrive, needed to build a safe home for their people to gather and access their content, away from Facebook’s toxic brand and limitations.

Courageous Parenting, a community that supports Christian families to thrive, needed to build a safe home for their people to gather and access their content, away from Facebook’s toxic brand and limitations.

THE CHALLENGE

Courageous Parenting founders Isaac and Angie Tolpin heard their community loud and clear: they wanted to leave Facebook. They were facing the challenges that we hear so often from faith-based communities:

‘Ministeries cannot survive if they rely on big tech platforms like Facebook. We get shadowbanned, our members don’t feel safe and there’s no control. There was a push from our people to find a new solution. Members of our community were staying on Facebook purely to stay part of our programme, but they didn’t want to be there.’

– Isaac Tolpin, Courageous Parenting

THE SOLUTION

With Disciple, Isaac and Angie have created their own fully-independent and secure app, called Be Courageous, where their community feels safe and free. Their app is a home for their content, services and people: podcasts, courses, live streaming, social networking, tailored groups, and now a store selling clothing and subscription coffee!

‘The app is part of becoming a sustainable organisation into the future. I have more time to focus on our mission, it’s profitable and it’s solved our big problem with Facebook. Ultimately, our members are making more meaningful connections, engagement is up and overall joy is up.’ 

– Isaac Tolpin, Courageous Parenting

GROWTH

<1

month to break even

700+

premium subscribers

80%

opt in to push notifications

IMPACT

The Be Courageous app not only provides a safe place where the Courageous Parenting community can gather, but is helping the ministry to become sustainable in the long term through subscriptions, in-app purchases and community insights.

‘The app is an integral part of the health and sustainability of the organisation. Disciple has built a platform that makes people want to come back. The fact that we can control it ourselves, without being at the whims of Zuckerberg and the like, is really powerful.’’

Isaac Tolpin, Courageous Parenting

Building Be Courageous

Isaac has a background in tech, so when he first started his research he knew exactly what he wanted from a platform: 

‘Disciple was clearly in the lead for the functionality I wanted. The ability to livestream; to have private groups; to have a customisable community newsfeed; to send push notifications; to have our shop there; to have our podcast there; for members to strike up social relationships. Disciple has it all and so the decision was made.’ – Isaac Tolpin

From there, the set up was a breeze:

‘I love that I have the freedom to build the look and feel exactly to the ministry’s brand. I found it super easy to populate with our content. I was able to do a lot quickly because it’s intuitive to use. The set up tutorials were wonderful and the Disciple team was on hand to answer all of my questions. Disciple’s customer support has been amazing.’ – Isaac Tolpin

Next came the most exciting part, when Isaac and Angie saw their new app come to life:

‘The most exciting moment for me was seeing the Be Courageous app in the App Store. I thought, “Wow, we have something special for people here – it’s pretty awesome!” And then I saw the incredible power of people as soon as they started to use the app, you see it light up as it populates and connections start forming.’ – Isaac Tolpin

Courageous Parenting had already built up a loyal and engaged following on Facebook. They knew that there was demand to move on to an independent platform and so they developed a launch strategy that started with their most committed followers:

‘We invited members who’d joined our mentoring programme to join first, offering them a special ‘originator’ badge and giving them the opportunity to preview the app for free. A few days later, on Black Friday, we opened the app up to new members. Having amazing people already there, sparking conversations and getting stuck in, helped a lot. It totally worked!’ – Isaac Tolpin

Isaac and Angie took the decision to create a premium-only app, as the best solution for their business. Within the first month they were breaking even, and now the app is profitable. Members of the community are happy to pay the £7.99/month subscription fee to access content and connections that are truly valuable to them.

‘The paywall is part of the reason that members of the community feel free and comfortable – it ensures that the app is full of like-minded people I’ve hardly had to moderate the app. Monetizing this aspect of the business acts as a filter, charging helps to make it a safe community. The benefit is threefold: the community feels safe, the business is profitable and I have more time to focus on the mission.’ – Isaac Tolpin

Community response

The App Store reviews for Be Courageous say it all:

  • “The app is phenomenal! It runs smoothly, the interface is super aesthetically pleasing, as well as easy to use and navigate.” 
  • “Best social media app ever!!”

The community is really running with the app and taking it further. The functionality of enabling people to share their home town is enabling members to arrange in-person meet ups. The community has also requested new groups, such as a book club and a group for discussing homestead, which they will self-manage. Courageous Parenting ran a poll and 98% of members want these groups, and so now they’ll get them!

A sustainable business into the future

The Tolpins are motivated by growing their community to keep it thriving and financially support the becourageousministry.org to have greater impact. Their goal is to reach 3,000 premium members, and then 10,000! As the community grows, so does the value of the app.

‘Our community is reaching the point now where it is becoming self-sustaining. My wife and I are in there a lot, but the real value is coming from social connections between community members who are supporting one another.’ – Isaac Tolpin

Courageous Parenting stopped spending money on advertising around the time that they launched their app, because of no longer wanting to feed the Meta machine. Their community has continued to grow and they’ve seen no decrease in course subscriptions, because they are providing the content their community wants to see, in the formats they want to access it. Their growth is purely organic and content-driven, they don’t spend a dollar on advertising.