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TH E C E INTE RVIEW By Rez Gopez-Sindac

In 1999, Gunnar Johnson was a frustrated entrepreneur owing $88,000 in consumer debt and headed fast toward a financial cliff. Desperate for help, he joined a Bible study group led by stewardship organization Crown Financial Ministries. As the study progressed, Johnson says he realized his problem was spiritual, not just financial.





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Spotlight on the second chair In this issue, Pastor Sutton Turner — executive pastor and an executive elder at Seattle’s Mars Hill Church — talks about his new book, Invest Your Gifts for His Mission, in our “Bookshelf” department. Specifically, the nuances of the executive pastor (XP) role are on the table. I posed some key takeaways to three XPs: David Fletcher, executive pastor at EvFree Fullerton (Fullerton, CA) and founder of XPastor; John Mrazek, a seasoned XP who consults at churches in the XP area; and Eric Rojas, XP at Christ Community Church, with four locations in the Chicago area. Among these three experts, two of Turner’s insights resonated loudest. Many senior pastors don’t acknowledge need for an XP. According to Fletcher, the notion of the senior pastor as a “Superman who can do it all” runs rampant in American churches. “But, this doesn’t fit what the Bible says about giftedness,” he points out. “Churches need to enjoy and encourage the richness of diversity and giftedness of their people — and this applies to XPs.” Rojas agrees, and says many senior pastors wait too long to hire an XP. “They need to do what they’re best equipped and gifted to do, and [that means] letting an XP come alongside them to lighten the load.” And for Mrazek, this mind-set is a “soapbox issue” — possibly the biggest problem plaguing the modern church. Case in point: Many seminary professors and students he’s worked with have admitted that the business side of church leadership is woefully unaddressed in their curricula. “One of the students I mentored actually said he was going to need a basic business degree — after getting his MDiv — before taking his first church.” The XP and senior pastor must complement each other. At Turner’s own church, Pastor Mark Driscoll dislikes budgets, meetings, manpower planning, financing and so on. Turner, on the other hand, loves them. The two men complement each other. Fletcher says this dynamic is essential. At his own church, Senior Pastor Mike Erre is regarded as the direc-

tional leader; Fletcher is known as the organizational leader. “Mike casts huge vision for the entire church, brining catalytic preaching and setting the culture for us,” Fletcher explains. “My role is to lead the organization by implementing that vision, working with elders, staff and congregation.” Rojas agrees: “It really has to be a yinand-yang thing between the two people and roles.” Finally, for Mrazek, this dynamic is so critical that he once left a church because of it. After four years of sharing the XP role with a lead pastor, Mrazek requested the go-ahead to do the job by himself. “[The senior pastor] said he’d try,” he recalls. “I lasted nine more months before moving on to a place where the lead pastor understood the power of each of us serving in our gifted areas.” This column offers only a helicopter view of an interesting, enlightening conversation. A full-length roundtable discussion is available in our January/February 2014 digital issue at

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All the best to you and your ministry,

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EDITORIAL ADVISORY PANEL Stephen Briggs Associate Pastor of Administration First Baptist Church | Hendersonville, NC Denise Craig Chief Financial Officer Abba’s House | Hixson, TN David Kennedy CEO | San Marcos, CA Mike Klockenbrink Chief of Staff Lakeside Church | Folsom, CA Dan Mikes Executive Vice President Bank of the West | San Ramon, CA


Cancel, Create, Cultivate

Jordan Ashley Photography

2014 is upon us. In the tradition of making New Year’s resolutions, I asked some of our Church Executive readers what changes they would make to improve how they do church. Specifically, I asked them to name the programs or activities that they would create, cancel, or take to the next level starting this year. Our readers are proactive leaders and strategic thinkers. Many of them don’t wait for the New Year to roll in to evaluate their progress and effectiveness. One response summed it all: “We assess our ministry programs as often as necessary.” Still, they let me in on their plans for 2014 and beyond. Out and in. A multisite church in Illinois that provides ministry for a lot of different people groups will likely knock off its in-person training program and replace it with online classes. The church app will be discontinued to give way to a new website that will be more smartphone-friendly. Also, the half-day summer VBS will be no more. Instead, the church will create a new all-summer kids full-day camp to provide needed day care for the community, as well as opportunities for children and families to hear the Gospel. In California, two churches face big decisions. One church considers formally starting a collegeage/young adult ministry; the other one is in the throes of losing its ministry to the elderly. And, because of financial constraints, a Kansas church might discontinue some of its ministries, and has no plans to add any new programs in 2014. Beef it up. One Tennessee church that’s also home to two ethnic congregations is pursuing generational diversity more intentionally. Both congregations hold their own worship

John C. Mrazek III Executive Pastor Pathways Church | Denver, CO Sam S. Rainer III Senior Pastor First Baptist Church | Murray, KY

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Church Executive (Copyright 2014), Volume 12, Issue 9. Church Executive is published monthly by Power Trade Media LLC, a subsidiary of Friendship Publications Inc., 4742 N. 24th Street, Ste. 340, Phoenix, AZ 85016. Subscription Rates: United States and Mexico $39 (USD) one year, Canada $42 (USD) one year (GST) included, all other countries $75 one year, single issue United States $5 (USD), all other countries $6 (USD). Reprints: All articles in Church Executive are copyrighted and may not be reproduced in whole or in part without the express written permission of the publisher. For reprints of 100 or more, contact Valerie Valtierra at (602) 265-7600 ext. 203. ™

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Mark Simmons Business Manager Christ Community Church | Milpitas, CA Eric Spacek Senior Manager GuideOne Insurance | West Des Moines, IA

services in their native languages, as many of the adult members don’t speak English. One of the congregations has merged its children and youth, who can speak English, into the main church’s Sunday school and youth ministry. Generational diversity is not accomplished by merely having a place for every age group, according to its executive pastor who believes “until they are blending, we are not successful.” Also, this church will take its focus up a notch by becoming less departmental and more constituent and cause-oriented. This translates into having more ground-level troops and fewer high-altitude key leaders, according to the executive pastor. “Fewer generals and more sergeants — with the sergeants having more freedom to do what they’re really good at doing,” he adds. Back to the Illinois church I mentioned above, this multicampus congregation is embarking on a building campaign to raise its annual budget so that each of the campuses can “take their facilities to the next level” and allow the church to build seed money for a fifth campus. One California church will boost the discipleship focus of its small groups, and will bring in a children’s pastor “with the right experience and leadership to take the ministry to the next level.” Similarly, our Kansas church says it needs to fortify its children’s ministry. In addition, this 50-year-old church is bent to increase the impact of its ministry to college-age and 30-something groups as it prepares to hand the church over to the next generation. Bring it home. As for me and my church, we definitely need to work on our prayer life, both personally and corporately. Plans and ministries can go flat when there’s no strong spiritual power to back them up. How about you? What worked for you in 2013, and what didn’t? How do you plan to leverage your wins to build more strength in 2014 and beyond?

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GUNNAR JOHNSON Financial Stewardship Pastor | Gateway Church | Southlake, TX

In 1999, Gunnar Johnson was a frustrated entrepreneur owing $88,000 in consumer debt and headed fast toward a financial cliff. Desperate for help, he joined a Bible study group led by stewardship organization Crown Financial Ministries. As the study progressed, Johnson says he realized his problem was spiritual, not just financial.

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Johnson repented and made a commitment to become “the best steward of God’s money.” What followed, he explains, was a season of intense preparation that saw him selling one of his businesses and starting a small construction company debt-free, allowing him to pay off all his previous debts. He also committed himself to spiritual growth by reading the Bible daily and serving part-time at Crown Financial Ministries in Florida. Eventually, God opened doors for Johnson to move into full-time church stewardship ministry, beginning in 2004 at The Hills Church of Christ in North Richland Hills, TX, and at Gateway Church in Southlake, TX, in 2006. Johnson believes that God has prepared him for such a time as this to help churches build a comprehensive stewardship ministry for every person sitting in their pews. What is a comprehensive stewardship ministry, and how do you help build one for churches? A comprehensive stewardship ministry is one that reaches each socioeconomic group in the church. It is built to serve those who are struggling, stable, financially solid, and those with surplus. We teach the same timeless biblical financial principles in a way that relates to each specific group. Every church context is unique, so we developed a two-day collaborative training called “Art of Stewardship” to help customize a ministry model for each church. In what ways do Christian churches in America miss the mark when it comes to financial stewardship? I think any church that doesn’t exercise financial discipleship is missing a huge opportunity to move people closer to Christ. We need to give people a biblical answer to the “why” of giving and then teach them “how” to apply the wisdom of Scripture. Pastors don’t need to become experts at this overnight. Nowadays, there are great turnkey resources, including Gateway’s Blessed Life, Generous Life small group curriculum, and Financial Hope Workshop. Dave Ramsey has several great resources, as well as Howard Dayton (Compass), Ron Blue (Kingdom Advisors), and Crown Financial Ministries.

QUICK FACTS GATEWAY CHURCH Year established: 1999 Denomination: Non-denominational Senior Pastor: Robert Morris Number of full-time staff: 550 Yearly budget: Not shared publicly Number of locations: 5 Combined weekly attendance: 25,000

I also believe that in every church God has placed mature believers with financial skills to help lead a stewardship ministry. They simply need a vision to build a unique stewardship ministry to meet the discipleship needs of their church. What are tangible signs of an effective church stewardship strategy? To name a few: increase in volunteers, in giving, in the number of people living according to God’s purposes, in families paying off debts, in savings, as well as an increase in the number of stronger marriages. What financial strategies work for Gateway Church? We don’t have any financial strategies, per se; we do have some discipleship strategies. Our goal is not to raise money, but to raise disciples. Christ disciples give money to support the ministry, which includes feeding the poor and reaching the lost. Our church slogan is, “We are all about people.” How does Gateway’s stewardship ministry impact its people and community? We offer comprehensive stewardship/generosity training to all socioeconomic groups in the church and in the community. In 2013, we committed to training more than 3,500 people and 500 churches. These numbers represent changed lives — more Christ-like in their view of money, possessions and opportunities to spread the Gospel. This fall, we partnered with some church members who teach Continuing Professional Education (CPE) credits for 120 CPAs. Our team provided some biblical training during the lunch break, and our executive pastor, Randy Bell, over at the business office made a presentation describing his role in a large-church environment. The attendees gave great reviews of the training and thanked us for helping them see the connection between faith and finances. What common barriers keep church people from living a lifestyle of good stewardship? People suffer because of a lack of biblical knowledge. Most people have no idea what the Bible says about money and possessions. As church leaders, we must first let them know what we want for them before we tell them what we want from them. What do we want for our people at Gateway? Here are seven items: 1) To have a Christ-centered financial view 2) To be generous in their tithes and offerings 3) To have margin in their time, treasure and talent 4) To be debt-free 5) To be savers 6) To live on a spending plan 7) To be a life steward, operating in their strengths and giftedness >>

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Is Gateway Church debt-free? We are not debt-free yet; but, relative to our income, we carry a very conservative amount of debt, which is less than 70 percent of our annual budget. Our desire is to become debt-free as God blesses. We continue to need room for a growing congregation and yet balance a desire to pay off our building debt.


Since breaking free from his own money troubles, Gunnar Johnson has devoted much of his time and resources to helping people and churches all over the world walk in financial freedom and create their own stewardship ministries. He has counseled more than 1,000 families on biblical financial principles and raised millions of dollars in capital campaigns and planned gifts.

In September 2013, Gateway Create Publishing released Johnson’s first book, Generous Life Journey: The Road to Financial Freedom, described by Gateway as the culmination of Johnson’s “journey of faith, struggles and obedience in carrying out a very clear and precise vision God gave him on how to build a stewardship ministry.” Johnson likes to call it an “incredible adventure” during which time he learned biblical principles on financial management and their practical applications. The book, Gateway adds, is the story of Johnson’s encounter with God and how this encounter “forever changed his life and taught him how handling finances is an issue of the heart.”

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The Master of Divinity degree: past, present and future The author (left) leads an MDiv course. (Photo courtesy of Regent University)


The year was 1975. The Master of Divinity (MDiv) choices I had were onesize-fits-all, with only the “big three” main Christian education, preaching and evangelism options. All were offered on campus, and only during the day. Thirty-nine years later, it’s a whole new world. MDiv degrees are now much more accessible than when I pursued mine. For the past 15 years, Regent University — where I’ve taught in the MDiv program for 28 years — has been offering a fully accredited distancelearning program that enables one to earn an MDiv degree while balancing a busy schedule. Now, more universities (Liberty University, Dallas Theological Seminary, Fuller Theological Seminary, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Northwest Nazarene University, Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and George Fox University) are giving students these options, which are

critical to accommodating today’s pace of life. The key is accessibility. And, the future of the MDiv might rise or fall on this key factor.

MDivs are more variable, now Perusing the catalogs of today’s MDiv major and minor emphases reveals a wide spectrum of targeted concentrations, including Biblical Studies, Chaplain Ministry, Church & Ministry, Christian Theology, Intercultural Studies, Interdisciplinary Studies, History of Christianity, Worship & Renewal, Youth, Apologetics, Urban Ministry, Leadership Coaching, Management, Counseling, Spiritual >>

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Formation, Community Transformation, Intercultural Studies — and the list goes on. All will require a core competency for Pastoral Leadership, but envision a wide variety of interests to be explored. Some are recognizing the key roles of media, communications and executive management and systems development which are critical for growth

that can provide much assistance, even to those who have minimal language training.

More affordable? Yes and no When it comes to the cost of getting an MDiv, it might be a more affordable process today, but only in the short term. Many modern MDiv graduates have borrowed their way into the degree and living expenses that were so easy to pay for inside the student loan. Now, with student loan debt in excess of $50,000, these graduates are often unable to take on roles at rural churches or church plants, and are finding their way back to their former work — in bi-vocational roles — out of necessity. A Nov. 20, 2013 column in The Wall Street Journal — “A Federal Anti-Education Plan” — seems to confirm the need to make MDiv programs more affordable and less dependent on federal loan money. Co-authors Bob Kerry and Jeffery T. Leeds opine on a November 2013 regulation proposed by Secretary of Education Arne Duncan called “Gainful Employment.” Essentially, the regulation proposes to cut off federal student aid to certain colleges whose former students don’t enjoy “gainful employment,” as determined by the Department of Education and measured by factors such as loan repayment rate.

The key is accessibility. And, the future of the MDiv might rise or fall on this key factor.

and expansion in today’s large churches. Courses on supervision, management, strategic planning, budgeting and more are now part of this option — all of them focuses once reserved for the MBA folks alone. To make room for these necessary competencies, faculties are debating the role of language studies (up to 18 semester credits) in today’s leaders, which were once off-limits for discussion. Some faculties are opting for minimal courses that bring maximal use of today’s powerful language software programs — only a click away. The power of these programs has accelerated to a level

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The movement toward Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs) might enable concerned administrators and faculty to bring down the costs of getting a MDiv degree, as well as other degrees. These schools propose offering free online courses to a much larger global market, and then finding a way to offer credit to those who need it for their careers. The innovative idea here is that this would open the market to a much larger student body and enable the price of courses to drop significantly. Several schools have developed task forces to determine the needs of the 21st-century minister, and the kind of training that will be required. At the top of the list is the need for drastically decreasing the costs, and finding ways to partner with local churches — as well as denominations and national ministries — to make it possible. The very survival of some of our schools might be determined by how they collaborate with those who are innovating ways to make this happen. CE Joseph Umidi, DMin., is a professor of practical theology at Regent University in Virginia Beach, VA.

The state of theological education in leadership and business While church business management training has increasingly become part of MDiv curricula, the need isn’t entirely met — yet. BY SUSAN MICHAELSON

Theological education has undergone something of a renaissance during the last decade. In addition to the expected course offerings in the Old and New Testaments, biblical languages, systematic theology, apologetics, ordination preparation, and applied or practical theology, most of the nation’s larger seminaries now have robust programs that extend from these basics — and no more so than in practical theology. Practical theology began as preparation for pastoral ministry in a church setting, and it has expanded in many exciting directions. In addition to formal training in preaching and counseling, evangelization programs targeting

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specific cultural contexts are growing. Examples include multilevel coursework in urban church planting, ethnically oriented ministries, Islamic studies, contemporary culture, and marketplace, which brings the gospel into secular work settings. Typically, these can either be structured as standalone MA programs or as selections within a professional pastoral-track MDiv.

An increased focus on leadership skills Courses of study in leadership have also been in place in many seminaries over this period, although most lack the pizazz of the evangelization curricula. Here, the practical

content has tended to remain focused on strategic planning, vision-setting and leadership development. For example, Liberty University Baptist Theological Seminary offers the clearly named LEAD 620: Mission, Vision and Strategic Planning. Dallas Seminary’s PM301: Pastoral Theology and Leadership I and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary’s CL660: Leading and Managing the Christian Non-Profit Organization cover similar content. Other courses in this category are devoted to more interpretive topics, such as discussing leadership models, leading a congregation, developing skills in the laity, and building working teams. Biblical Seminary, Fuller Theological Seminary, Moody Theological Seminary, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, and Westminster Theological Seminary offer courses in this vein, where the main point is reflective thinking about leadership in light of biblical teaching and Christian calling. All leadership courses are helpful, but most tend to shy away from nuts-and-bolts instruction in important areas such as learning to read and interpret financial statements, developing and monitoring budgets, managing through congregational growth or decline, and coping with physical infrastructure challenges. Too often, the courses which do exist try to cover too much ground in a semester. Is it really possible to teach “relational skills, administration, financial stewardship, staff management, worship planning, wed-

dings, funerals, baptisms, and the Lord’s Supper” in one course, as one notable seminary describes in its catalog?

Not quite there yet In truth, the business side of gospel ministry — which might suffer from crowd-out as much as lack of appeal to theology students — is not an official part of most divinity curricula. The general expectation (if indeed there is one) seems to be that these subjects will be informally caught during pastoral internships, and later, on the job. Interestingly, the larger the university setting for a theological seminary, the less likely it seems to be that that seminary will directly offer any forum in their degree programs for the teaching of church business and management skills. For example, neither Princeton Theological Seminary, Duke Divinity School, nor Talbot (part of Biola University) provide anything that incorporates church management education. Vanderbilt Divinity School does have the Turner Center for Church Leadership and Congregational Development; however, it’s not part of the regular divinity curriculum. Rather, it’s a conference and consulting center. There are, however some notable exceptions in other institutions. Yale Divinity School’s (YDS) course offerings are similarly restricted to those above. But, YDS is different in that it encourages its students to consider dual >>

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degrees with Yale’s other graduate schools, including have — the Villanova University School of Business offers an MDiv/MBA combination for pastoral track students, an innovative program through the Center for Church and a Religion/Management combination for those more Management and Business Ethics. There, students may interested in church or nonprofit administration. enroll in a two-year, distance-learning graduate program Asbury Seminary offers a robust set of concentraleading to a Master’s degree in Church Management. The tions, including one in Christian Leadership, which includes 30-credit program begins with a one-week on-campus CL618: Church Management and Administration. This residency, and then continues with a combination of directed course instructs non-financial study and weekly live class managers in the basics of manmeetings conducted online. agement and finance, including The scope expansion budgeting, planning and execuof the practical side of In truth, the business side of gospel tion. It’s notable because it’s theological education over ministry — which might suffer from more focused on quantitative the last decade has indeed crowd-out as much as lack of appeal to skills than most courses, which been impressive, especially theology students — is not an official are able to do little more than in the areas of evangelizapart of most divinity curricula. touch on these topics as part tion and general leadership. of a more general approach to While it’s also encouraging leadership. to see growing efforts to Complementing its leadership curriculum, Asbury also include managing the business of the church, there’s a has a department devoted to Information Technology as it clear need for more. CE relates to ministry, including practical instruction in audio/ visual production, along with web design and management. Susan Michaelson holds both an MBA and an MDiv, and is on faculty at the Villanova School of Business, For pastors and other church and ministry leaders teaching Financial Reporting and Controls in the who have already completed their theological education Master of Science in Church Management program. — or for those who are employed by dioceses, churches and ministries, and have discovered that they need more leadership, business and management education than they

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Invest Your Gifts for His Mission BY SUTTON TURNER

Sutton Turner, executive pastor and an executive elder of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, spent his first 35 years accumulating everything a man could want: a successful business, a beautiful wife and kids, a golf swing, lots of money, and plenty of free time to enjoy the finer things. But, he couldn’t buy enough or earn enough to escape the haunting question: What’s the point? Somewhere between continents, cultures, commerce and Christ, the story took a turn for the better.

Today, Sutton Turner oversees Mars Hill’s central operations and business functions, including finance, property, media and communications and technology. He also trains and mentors the executive pastors and deacons across all Mars Hill Church locations. In his new book, Invest Your Gifts for His Mission, Turner shares his experience with others like him. “This book is for older men ready to give whatever they have left,” he writes. “This book is for young men anxious to give all they’ve got. It may be a year or it may be a lifetime, but it’s never too late to invest your gifts in the greatest mission the world has ever known.” I get the sense that business men — with a love of the Bible and of people — are a primary audience for this book. Is this accurate? Sutton Turner: Invest is focused around two groups. One group is mostly for Christian men, 35 to 55 years old, who are praying about how to invest the rest of their lives. If we’re in Christ, he has made us a new creation — 2 Corinthians 5:17 tells us that — and with that, comes new desires. Recognizing and accepting what he has done for us on the cross is motivation to serve him gladly with our whole lives. There is no greater earthly joy than “going to work with Dad,” as Pastor Mark [Driscoll] likes to say — in whatever way that might look. Jesus is at work all over the world, and he is constantly inviting us to join him. Many people today have spent the first part of their business careers working towards the corner office or a specific “title” in the company. Many of us reached those idols and realized that they weren’t fulfilling. The only mission that is fulfilling is the mission that Jesus Christ gave us to go into all the world making disciples and planting churches. I believe, though, that most men gifted in the business world feel as I did: Where do I fit? What’s my place? I want to serve God, but I’m not pastor material — I went to business school, not Bible school! I hope to answer their questions and concerns, and also give encouragement as to how they are a part of Christ’s body. I don’t, however, want to be too exclusive and particular on backgrounds for XPs. At Mars Hill Church, we have 15 churches and 15 XPs, but some of these men come from construction, real estate and ministry — one’s even a former worship director. So, it is certainly not what a person has done in the past, but what he wants to be used for by Jesus in the future. In the book, I’m simply asking the question: Has God gifted you in such a way and could God be calling you to serve him, his church and a lead pastor as an executive pastor? The second group [the book attempts to reach] is lead pastors at churches of any size, from the >> 01-02/2014 | CHURCH EXECUTIVE | 17

BOOKSHELF small 40-member church, to the 22,000-member multi-site mega church. Many lead pastors don’t fully see the need for an executive pastor, whether paid or as a volunteer on a smaller-sized church. I pray this book will help them better build a staff for the forward progress of their church to proclaim the gospel of Jesus. In your online interview with Pastor Mark Driscoll, the topic of “using business gifts in the heart of the church” is addressed. What types of business gifts have you seen translate most successfully from the secular business world to church leadership? Turner: It’s very important that an executive pastor complement the lead pastor. So, you can’t generalize what attributes an executive pastor needs until you tell me who the lead pastor is and what his weaknesses are. An example is that Pastor Mark [Driscoll] hates budgets, meetings, manpower planning, financing, et cetera. These things totally drain him — but I love them. We complement each other. In a small church, the executive pastor will be a volunteer who complements the lead pastor. But, not every executive pastor is like me, because not every lead pastor is like Pastor Mark. I’ve seen men succeed in this role who enjoy building systems, processes and organizations of volunteers. Leading leaders is an ability that’s caught, not taught. However, when I see an XP fail, it’s usually because these men are trying to do everything themselves and not building systems and teams of volunteers to share the load of leading the church. Is an executive pastor role the primary fit for a business-minded congregant/potential church leader? If not, what other roles lead well to their real-world management/leadership/business experience? Turner: Executive pastors come from many backgrounds, so there’s not just one type of XP. At Mars Hill, we adhere to the tri-perspectival model of church leadership — prophet, priest and king, believing that Jesus Christ was the only perfect Man, and no human being will be highly gifted in each of those offices. At Mars Hill, this is the way our executive eldership is formulated. As Jeff and Kim Booher describe in their book, The Emergence of Love Leadership: “In the prophet role, the leader sees the vision and is the seat of creativity. In the priest role, he communicates the vision and develops the people who must run with it. In the king role, the leader is the administrator who manages the organization.” So, we’re looking for a king to serve as an XP. That being said, I’ve seen kings serving in the executive pastor roles from all types of backgrounds. This is where I fully see the providence of God. I spent a few years in the Middle East and was highly criticized and attacked for my Christian beliefs, especially leading one of the largest and most influential companies in Qatar and Abu Dhabi. Now, I realize that this experience perfectly prepared me for

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handling the criticism and attacks that come from being a part of the leadership of Mars Hill. You get shot every day with arrows from the enemy. My good friend John Collins, who has been the XP of Harvest Christian Fellowship and served Pastor Greg Laurie for 30 years, has specific prior experience that aids in his role. John spent eight years in marketing and communications before joining Pastor Greg. Now, after 30 years, John will say that the eight years of training he got were critical for his role in starting the Harvest Crusades that have had more than 4 million people in attendance since 1985. So, I firmly believe that no matter what business career Jesus has a person in today, that experience can benefit and serve the church and a lead pastor. How might our magazine’s audience (largechurch pastors) mobilize this book to identify potential “investors” of their gifts to strengthen their own churches, or the Church as a whole? Turner: Most lead pastors are some combination of prophet and priest, and most fall into two different categories. One is that they have a second-in-command guy who’s their successor, not their complement. John C. Maxwell talks a lot about how leaders either compete with another leader or complete a leader. The successor is like the lead pastor, gifted very similarly. However, the things that these two men aren’t gifted to do, either don’t get done or become a huge source of frustration to them and the church. Most of the time, these are structure, system, policies and processes. The other category is that the lead pastor has a team of leaders around him with whom he planted the church from the very beginning, who now add very little to the strategic future of the church. The church has outgrown the original leadership team, but the structure doesn’t allow for the lead pastor to hire from the outside what he really needs: a good executive pastor. The lead pastor is stuck with a team that doesn’t complete his giftings and doesn’t bring in outside experience that’s vital to continued organizational development and learning. In both cases, the lead pastor suffers, the staff suffers, stewardship suffers, and the forward progress of the church suffers. I would love to see lead pastors read my book and then give it to men whom they have observed — business guys or not — in their churches who might be ready to respond to the call to serve God, his church and his lead pastor. Mostly though, I would say to lead pastors, “Get to know your people.” As a brand-new Christian, by the grace of God, my first mentor relationship was with my pastor. We played golf together, traveled together — we were simply friends. My friendship with Pastor Joe was the vehicle God used to put me in the exact position to receive his call on my life. — Reporting by RaeAnn Slaybaugh

Three experienced executive pastors discuss the traits and skills that make an effective XP — and why the need for one is so often overlooked by senior pastors.

For this issue of Church Executive, we had the unique opportunity to interview executive pastor and executive elder Sutton Turner of Mars Hill Church in Seattle for our brand-new Eric Rojas

“Bookshelf” department. (You might recognize Turner as the cover interviewee from our Aug/Sept 2013 issue. We caught up with him again because he has written a new book that’s right up our alley as a magazine: Invest Your Gifts for His Mission. In our Q&A, Sutton makes a lot of insightful points about the executive pastor (XP) role — what an effective XP looks

David Fletcher

like, in practice and in person. We posed some key takeaways from the conversation to three XPs: David Fletcher, executive pastor at EvFree Fullerton (Fullerton, CA) and founder of XPastor; John Mrazek, a seasoned XP who consults at churches in the XP area; and Eric Rojas, XP at Christ Community Church, with four locations in the Chicago area. >>

John Mrazek

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Church Executive: Based on his observations, Sutton Turner says many people find their way to the executive pastor (XP) role after spending the first part of their business careers working toward the corner office or a specific title — only to find they weren’t, ultimately, fulfilled. Was your path to the XP role similar? David Fletcher: It wasn’t; I’ve been a pastor for 30 years. When I entered Dallas Seminary, no one knew the term “executive pastor.” My entrance to the role was through serving in various ministries of our church in Dallas, developing strategy, honing ministry and empowering people. Eric Rojas: My path to the XP world has a similar story, but a different road. I remember an executive at a Fortune 500 company telling me he was leaving the business world to go to the non-profit parachurch world because he’d been climbing the ladder of success, only to realize that his ladder was “up against the wrong wall.” As a young college student, I was still debating between several career options. God used that conversation to steer me to ministry. From that point on, my background developed in


virtually every aspect of ministry, which prepared me perfectly for the ministry portion of the XP role. I did have business experience running my own painting company for several years in school, but my background from midcollege on has been virtually all ministry. John Mrazek: My path to the second chair was much the same as what Turner describes, but I didn’t climb the corporate ladder as high as he did. I had 20 years of corporate IT background at every level, finishing as the IT Director for a $500-million national retailer. I also started and ran my own business for three years, which gave me a totally different perspective — from being an employee, to being the boss and the person who’s totally responsible. A lot of my XP friends along the front range came up the same way — with a mix of business, military and higher education.

Church Executive: Turner contends that finding the right XP depends more on what that person wants to be used by for Jesus in the future than what he’s done in the past. Do you agree? Fletcher: Yes; Sutton hit the nail on the head. There are many different backgrounds of people who become XPs. While there’s no “one-size-fitsall,” I see that about half of all new XPs — and perhaps more — come from the business world. Rojas: My own background is quite diverse within the ministry world. I have a music degree and an MDiv seminary degree. I’ve been in churches of 50 to 5,500 and have served just about every role one can imagine in the church, including janitor. In my 10-plus years of XP’ing, I’ve found that it’s about a 50/50 split for XPs having either business or ministry backgrounds. There isn’t one right way or best way; it’s God’s way. I do think it’s important for the church to staff the XP’s weakness. I personally need to have a great administrative / financial staff working for me. Likewise, business-

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background XPs would need someone with a strong ministry management background on their staff. Jesus can (and does) use all kinds! Mrazek: I mostly agree that every situation requires a unique person to fit into the role. But, I’m reluctant to say that the XP can come from any role because of what we’re called to do. A former worship leader might be good in the creative side of being an XP, but I’d wonder about his abilities to lead the strategic finances, HR and operations aspects of the role without substantial training and experience. God does an incredible job of matching XPs to the requirements of each season in a church’s life. So, maybe for a given church, a softer-side, creative XP might be exactly what’s needed — and that’s something that only God would know. By definition, an XP runs the

business side of the church. I’ve seen a combination XP / worship leader attempt to be both and do a passable job at either. But, in my opinion — after watching him over a few years and talking with him about his unique struggles — his church would have been better served by splitting the roles and hiring an experienced, operational / business expert to fill the second chair. Sometimes, we don’t know what we don’t know. We end up believing that we’re doing great when we’re just doing OK. The more areas in which an XP has experience, the better he’s able to understand each ministry’s unique needs. But, I think the best XPs are servant leaders who are experts at leading experts instead of “jacks of all trades” who know a little about everything, and not enough about the really important XP-related roles.


Church Executive: It’s been Turner’s experience that many lead pastors don’t fully see the need for an executive pastor — either paid or volunteer. What do you think? Fletcher: Great point by Sutton. In America, we have the idea that the senior pastor / lead pastor is Superman and can do everything. This doesn’t fit what the Bible says about giftedness; no one person is able to do everything. Churches need to enjoy and encourage the richness of diversity and giftedness of their people — and this applies to volunteer or paid XPs. Rojas: Unfortunately, I think many senior or lead pastors wait too long to hire an XP. Senior and lead pastors need to do what they’re best equipped and gifted to do, and let an XP come alongside them to lighten the load. I’ve never heard a senior pastor or lead pastor say they hired an XP too soon. Mrazek: This is definitely a “soap-box” issue for me, and something I could write paragraphs about. I’ll attempt to be brief and say that this is one of the biggest (if not the biggest) issues plaguing the modern church today. Lead pastors are trained to study and present the word, and to pastor their members in between. I’ve met with professors who teach future pastors and seminary students, and they’ve admitted that the business side of the church is woefully unaddressed in their curricula. I’ve had seminary students ask me to mentor them in the operations of a church, and then, after a few months, tell me that their school isn’t teaching them near enough to feel prepared to lead a church after graduation. One of the students I mentored actually said that after getting his


MDiv degree, he was going to have to get a basic business degree before taking his first church, because he wasn’t prepared to properly lead a church. This is an excellent example of not knowing what you don’t know. My lead pastors thought they could run the church before I arrived. Finally, they were told by their elder boards that they couldn’t, and that an XP was needed. They read books, attended classes and seminars, and asked for volunteers to help; but, it didn’t work because either they had a full plate already — with teaching and pastoring — or they weren’t equipped with the type of business mind that valued projections, statistics or complex processes or systems. I haven’t researched this enough to feel comfortable that my thoughts are based in fact, yet. But, in my opinion, the thing that holds churches back from hiring an XP is mostly budget and size — not because they don’t value or need the skill set. By the time marketplace professionals begin to question their ultimate impact or legacy, they’ve already garnished a substantial income, and their lifestyles and financial needs (college-age children, older parents needing care, maintenance of assets and so on) have required that they make nearly a lead pastor-level salary. Some will work for slightly less to get in the door; but, life eventually catches up, or they decide to deal with less stress or grief and make a lot more by returning to the marketplace. The perfect team is a business / operational expert paired with a solid communicator who’s schooled in theology and has a pastor’s heart. I’ve seen this combo be incredibly healthy and very successful — when an elder board allows a lead pastor to operate in his strengths and not be required to try to do both roles completely.

Church Executive: At Turner’s own church, Pastor Mark Driscoll dislikes budgets, meetings, manpower planning, financing and so on — but, Turner loves them. So, the two men complement each other. Is this a pretty common dynamic? Fletcher: Yes; the SP and XP relationship is one of complementary gifts. If both of these key leaders in a church have the same gifts, then there’s going to be trouble! In my role at EvFree Fullerton, we see [senior pastor] Mike Erre as the “directional leader,” and I’m the “organizational leader.” Mike casts huge vision for the entire church, brining catalytic preaching and setting the culture for us. My role is to lead the organization by implementing that vision, working with elders, staff and congregation.

Rojas: Oh yeah, that dynamic is right on! It really has to be a complementary yin / yang thing between the two people and roles. This dynamic also plays out in staff management, team building, decision-making, process / system development and much, much more. Mrazek: In a previous life, my lead pastor really seemed to enjoy significant parts of the XP role, and we shared it for the first four years of my time with him. After four years, he asked me how he could serve me and make the role even better for me. I asked him to let >>

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me do the job by myself so that we could each concentrate on our strengths. He said he’d try and I lasted nine more months before moving on to a place where the lead pastor understood the power of each of us serving in our gifted areas. I say all that because there are a lot of lead pastors who do a decent job in a lot of the areas that a XP traditionally oversees. But, a decent job is good, but not good enough. HR is a tough area for an untrained leader, because there’s the machine-like portion of the job that requires constant vigilance and being tied in to the marketplace to ensure compliance with laws and new regulations. And, the strategic “people” side of the role can be very un-pastoral in its execution. It has always been my opinion that the lead pastor (and his family) should be kept as far away from the finances as possible because of the abuses of the past and the possibility for inaccurate perceptions to taint the giving environment. A lead pastor might have a financial background, but be unable to lead that area effectively


because of the natural cyclical nature of the general public and average church member. The day-to-day grind and repetitiveness of a majority of the processes in the operational area will drive a creative mind crazy, or bore it silly. Operations run at their best when the systems are created and left alone with a little bit of oversight. There are also areas in the operations that require technical and mechanical expertise which professional ministry leaders have never been exposed to or trained in. Some leads pastors come to their role through the trades, and that’s a blessing for a church. But, most lead pastors had a few part-time jobs during their season of education and never really learned how to use tools or interact with the trades, all of which would be problematic when selecting suppliers or leading their efforts. I think the roles are so different that a church is really best served by hiring experts to lead the experts in those areas, or bringing on lead volunteers who are experts in those areas.

Church Executive: Turner says that when he sees an XP fail, it’s usually because he’s are trying to do everything himself, and not building systems and teams of volunteers to share the load of. Is that your observation, as well? Fletcher: Sutton and I connect on so many issues! Yes, we need to empower God’s people to do ministry, not to do it all ourselves. The heart of 1 Peter is that God’s people are “believer priests.” There’s no special “priestly caste”; we all should own the ministry of the church and use our gifts in an enormous variety of places. Rojas: I agree, again, 100-percent. Our job as pastors is to equip the saints for the work of the ministry (Ephesians 4:11-13). We’re to do the “administry” so that the saints can do the ministry. From my perspective, the XP’s top three roles are: 1) to support the senior / lead pastor; 2) to hire and manage a great staff; and 3) to build systems that help equip, train and release God’s people for ministry. Mrazek: This is absolutely true! XPs can be generalists so that they understand where their expertise ends. And, they need a true expert to finish. But, the best way for an XP to insure the long-term success and health of the church is to lead the creation of systems and processes that don’t rely on them. Bill Hybels calls it “surrounding yourself with a constellation of stars,” and being the person who provides vision and care for these stars as they perform in the ways God created them to for the benefit of the body of Christ. This is the Eph. 4 model of the church — preparing and releasing the body to serve in their giftedness.

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Church staff should not do the work of ministry. Church staff should lead the doing of the work of ministry through the body of the church. And, the XP should model how this is done. A successful XP should work himself out of a job daily. In fact, one of my annual evaluation criteria is whether or not a staff member can leave for a vacation and their ministry area not notice that they’re gone. If a staff member is successful, his or her systems and processes should be able to run without their direct oversight and only require their input for improvement and evaluation so that they don’t compare themselves to themselves. The width and breath of XPs’ responsibilities make it nearly impossible for them to be involved, except at a caring and accountability level. I once heard this type of leadership described as someone whose ears are constantly popping because they’re changing altitudes continuously — from tactical, ground-level management to strategic, 10,000-feet-up perspectives. The only time I think I was doing the XP job at its maximum efficiency was when I was popping up and down continuously between the two levels, and gently coursecorrecting my team from both perspectives. That’s why we need to invest in creating systems and processes to free us up to be continuously changing altitudes. CE — Reporting by RaeAnn Slaybaugh

The case for maximizing your space Sometimes, renovation or expansion makes more sense than new construction.


In 2011, Sequoyah Hills Baptist Church in Tulsa, OK — a 55-year-old facility — received a complete renovation. This included transforming an outdated library and conference room to an inviting lobby and reception area. (Photos courtesy of Churches by Daniels Construction)

Right now, construction and design experts will tell you that among their church clients, renovation or expansion of existing spaces is very common. Experts like Rodney C. James, business manager / director of finance at Daniels & Daniels Construction in Broken Arrow, OK, say there’s a good reason for this: “A church that has established an identity in the community often is hindered by relocating rather than changing who they are, where they are.”

To this end, Craig Krawczyk, architect/principal at LIVE Design Group in Birmingham, AL, says the majority of his firm’s projects have a renovation component, now. “It’s typical that a church builds a new worship facility adjacent an existing facility and repurposes that existing space.” His colleague, Aubrey Garrison, AIA — founding principal of the firm — agrees. These days, he says, church clients often reimagine their outgrown space as a youth sanctuary and children’s space. >> 01-02/2014 | CHURCH EXECUTIVE | 23

Know the signs If you think it might be time to renovate or expand at your own church, it helps to know the signals. Capacity cues. Church construction and design experts acknowledge an oft-cited expansion benchmark: when seating reaches 80-percent capacity. While Daniels & Daniels’ Rodney C. James generally agrees, he says a church should begin planning for expansion at 60- or 70-percent capacity if it’s growing at a healthy pace. “You don’t want to reach the 80- or 90-percent mark and begin a decline before taking action,” he warns.

One of the fastest-growing churches in the country, First Hattiesburg (Hattiesburg, MS) renovated a multipurpose space — the original worship room — into a state-of-the-art, 350-seat annex sanctuary called the “North Venue.” (Photos courtesy of LIVE Design Group)

On the other hand, he asserts that renovation (versus expansion) is the best option for churches that are growing, have adequate parking to accommodate that growth, and whose facilities are in good mechanical and structural condition. “In these cases, there’s often no need to incur the expense of new land, new infrastructure (utilities,

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site work and so on), and often zoning and permitting challenges,” he explains. “The best use of funds can be to renovate existing facilities. Another “green light” indicator for renovation is declining capacity, according to James. “If the church isn’t reaching the community, perhaps it’s because their facilities need a facelift — a repurposing, or possibly even a dramatic change.” Small groups growth. Many churches built decades ago have classrooms built to accommodate 10 to 15 people. Today, however, many small groups welcome between 20 and 50 people at once. Scott M. Ladd, marketing manager at ModernFold in Greenfield, IN, witnesses this kind of space crunch all the time. “We find that church facilities look to make changes to their space maximization when things just aren’t working anymore — when they’ve started to outgrow what the space was originally designed for, or when new space demands arise,” he says. At these junctures, operable partitions warrant consideration, on a retrofit basis. “We really like to get ahead of this need on new church construction projects,” Ladd emphasizes. This means consulting with the architect and interior designer during the design phase to determine how various spaces within the church will be used. Doing so enables Ladd and his team to advise on the proper partition product and layout — for now and for the future. Shifting worship style. As more and more churches elect to offer contemporary worship services, wmany are finding that their sanctuaries don’t exactly scream “modern.” Beyond the structure itself, this style of service necessitates A/V elements that a church might not have prioritized before: video projection, theatrical lighting, moving lights, environmental projection, updated sound systems, and expanding stages to accommodate new band instruments, to name just a few. “Church has changed more in the last decade than it has in the last several decades,” Daniels & Daniels’ Rodney C. James explains. “The greatest shift has been in the worship facilities needing to accommodate the contemporary feel.” Changing worshipper demographics. These days, a healthy faction of church architecture and design experts assert that the ideal facility balances worship seating requirements with children’s space requirements. LIVE Design Group’s Aubrey Garrison is among them. “As a church grows, the demographics between these two can change and create an imbalance,” he shares. “Inadequacies in either worship seating or children’s space can limit a church’s growth.” Because each church and its facilities is unique, he recommends an informed space study to help guide future building or renovation decisions. Craig Krawczyk agrees that when children’s education space is maxed out, it’s time to consider an expansion project. “Full children’s spaces indicate good growth — but it also starts turning parents away,” he warns. >>

“For most churches, the size of children’s space drives the size of the rest of the facility.” A new fellowship feel. Beyond worship areas, architects suggest that a new generation of worshippers is looking for “gathering spaces.” As Rodney C. James points out, this is a group of individuals who meets up at

At Concord United Methodist Church in Knoxville, TN, acoustical partitions hide band equipment in a multi-use worship room. Custom cut-outs ensure the space’s stained glass windows are always visible. Photo courtesy of ModernFold.

Is your space expansion- or renovationready? Some facilities lend themselves to renovation or expansion better than others. So, what should you look for in your own spaces? According to LIVE Design Group’s Craig Krawczyk, steel construction is the most economical and flexible construction method to modify. Meanwhile, structural masonry is much less economical and more difficult to modify, and pre-engineered metal buildings can be renovated on the interior, but provide challenges when connecting them to newly constructed additions. Also, recent code changes make adding to existing facilities more difficult, as Krawczyk’s colleague, Aubrey Garrison, points out. For example, an existing church might not have a sprinkler system, but a new worship space would likely require one. “Careful planning can add the new worship space in a way that provides fire separation between the new construction and the existing building,” he explains. Even adding partitions comes with some architectural considerations. According to ModernFold’s Scott M. Ladd, overhead support is a key element, as partitions are hung using an overhead suspension system. Even so, the company offers a truss system to carry the weight of the partition if overhead support is missing. The system can be finished to match the partitions and the surroundings. It is brought into the facility in small pieces and assembled onsite, so there’s no need for large equipment.

Not your grandfather’s expansion project

St. Agnes Catholic Church in Concord, CA, features a full-height, custom mural made of glass partitions which divide the lobby and worship areas. Photo courtesy of ModernFold.

Starbucks and gathers at the mall, socially. “So, churches are stepping up and creating warm, welcoming places to hang out and experience fellowship before and between services,” he says. This trend has taken shape in the widespread addition of coffee shops, seating areas and informal gathering places in churches, all of which have led the way in renovations and space maximization efforts.

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Aside from bricks-and-mortar expansion, churches are also thinking outside the box when it comes to making the most of the space they have — or renovating an existing space. According to Daniels & Daniels’ Rodney C. James, one major trend is using “other” types of facilities to accommodate church growth. “When a church is growing, often the first building project isn’t a new facility, but the renovation of an old grocery store, an abandoned big box store, or a lumber yard/warehouse building.” In other facilities, divvying up existing space more creatively has proven to be the best expansion option. ModernFold’s Scott M. Ladd cites the example of St. Agnes Catholic Church in Concord, CA, which used glass partitions to divide a lobby area from a worship area. “The unique feature of this application is the full-height custom mural that was etched into the glass of each panel,” he says. “So, these partitions not only divide space effectively, they truly tell a story.” Another unique application — this one at Concord United Methodist Church in Knoxville, TN, — uses acoustical partitions to hide band equipment in their multi-use worship room. Uniquely, these panels feature large, custom window cut-outs so the stained glass windows are always visible in the background while the partitions are closed. CE

From disaster comes opportunity After 20,000 feet of space in an Oklahoma church was flooded, leaders embraced the chance to renovate for maximum ministry. In 2011 at Crossroads Church in Oklahoma City, OK, the main waterline to the fire sprinkler system failed inside the building. Nearly eight inches of water covered 20,000 square feet of educational space, offices and a nursery area. Everything was destroyed, and extensive measures had to be taken to avoid further complications, including mold. While the facility seemed devastated, the opportunity to repurpose this outdated space rose to the forefront. In particular, the church needed a space large enough to host multiple church-wide events throughout the year. First, the entire facility was gutted from wall to wall, including the founding pastor’s original office. (Much of the heritage from the original building was saved and incorporated into the renovated event center.) This entire space was repurposed into an open area with seating for more than 800, banquet-style, as well as a legacy conference room that displays ornate carvings from the original offices. Also added were a bookstore, expanded kitchen, and great gathering space.


Inside, the building was dismantled down to the structure and built back up into a state-of-the-art event center. Today, this 10,000-square-foot facility is equipped with 10 video screens, digital electronic hardware on all doors, lighting with independent controls to enhance every type of event, and top-of-the-line presentation electronics.

The new legacy conference room includes ornate carvings from the original church offices, as well as other salvaged items. (Photo courtesy of Daniels & Daniels Construction)

The nuts and bolts After demolition, the entire structure needed to be brought up to date. In the process, a water-runoff problem persisted, which was remedied by installing 200 feet of French drains to capture all the water runoff from the parking and surrounding areas. A pump was then installed

Crossroads Church in Oklahoma City, OK, before (left) and after. (Photos courtesy of Daniels & Daniels Construction)

to redirect the captured water to the storm drain system. The underground drainage was overhauled in the atrium area, and water runoff was directed to the storm drains. New sidewalks were installed, and prep work was done for a new xeriscape-style landscaping, which the church installed itself. All this was done to remove moisture from around the building.

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The bookstore is centrally located near the coffee shop, event center, sanctuary and reception hall. Here, members can socialize and shop before and after events and services. The original kitchen was demolished and rebuilt. Now, it’s a 1,100-square-foot setup featuring top-of-the-line, stainless steel, commercial-grade appliances, including a walk-in deep freezer. The remodel also includes a 480-square-foot conference room, which is ideal for smaller meetings. Executive Pastor Brandon Porter says the renovation speaks to the church’s ministry goals: to give honor to God by creating an attractive, welcoming place to worship. “It gave our church a place to have fellowships for our church body, as well as to have large community events,” he explains. “After opening the event center, we served more than 1,000 people from our community a Thanksgiving meal.” Now, the project is moving into phase two — a 30,000-square-foot remodel of existing educational space. When complete, this area will be a state-of-the-art children’s space, with extensive theming. As Crossroads Church proves, there’s always opportunity for growth — no matter what the circumstance. CE Rodney C. James is business manager / director of finance at Daniels & Daniels Construction in Broken Arrow, OK.

SECOND TO NONE A multipurpose room is transformed into a state-of-the-art video venue/worship room annex. “Fast and furious” doesn’t usually describe architectural projects. But, when a church experiences exponential growth, it becomes critical to make the impossible possible — quickly. Named one of the fastest-growing churches by Outreach Magazine, First Hattiesburg Church in Hattiesburg, MS, experienced a 42-percent increase in weekly attendance in 2012. With future plans for a second campus, the church wanted to explore options for an immediate solution to accommodate the growing congregation. The church had three primary goals: 1) get as many additional seats as possible in its current facility; 2) repurpose an existing space to meet constraints and continue to reach the unchurched; and 3) complete the project by Easter — a mere eight weeks after the initial meeting with our firm.


The next morning, as finishing touches to construction documents were being completed at our offices back in Birmingham, AL, demolition of the multipurpose space began in Hattiesburg. A high level of interaction was necessary between the contractor and the design team, given the project’s fast pace.

Laying the groundwork With these ambitious marching orders in hand, we engaged the First Hattiesburg staff in a full-day design session in late January 2013. The goal was to explore possible solutions for renovating an existing multipurpose space — the church’s original worship room. Southeastern Construction and Clair Brothers, the audio/video/lighting

Unique signage and entry elements lend the new venue a youthful identity that’s full of energy. (Photos courtesy of LIVE Design Group)

A vision, realized

First Hattiesburg’s “North Venue,” pre-renovation (Photo courtesy of LIVE Design Group)

consultant for the project, participated in the collaborative effort. The result would be a 350-seat video venue known to church members as the “North Venue.” Church leaders envisioned that the new worship space could become a preferred worship destination. Designed around the ideas of energy and intimacy, nearly every seat would be within 50 feet of the platform, which would be constructed with state-of-the art lighting and sound design in mind. Connecting the North Venue with the existing commons space, an existing corridor would be modified and expanded to house a new, inviting lobby. Unique signage and entry elements would provide a youthful, energetic identity for the new venue.

Today, the North Venue — a video venue worship room — is outfitted with a flat floor and stadium sitting. There’s no sacrifice to the worship experience compared to the main venue, as this annex houses a full control booth and worship platform to accommodate the worship leaders and band. Its entry invites congregants inside with its LED-lit wood paneling. Unique signage speaks to the exclusivity of the space. The North Venue is connected to the main lobby so that all members experience a sense of belonging. The North Venue proved so popular that reservations needed to be taken for Easter Sunday services. This project represents more than just the meeting of space constraints; it’s a place where leaders are trained to serve. Now, the church plans to renovate a vacant complex — which once housed a bowling alley, nightclub and deli — into a satellite campus, including plans for a second video venue. CE Craig Krawczyk is the lead architect at LIVE Design Group, specializing in worship center design. His 3D visualization skills and familiarity with Building Information Modeling (BIM) technology allows clients to explore real design solutions to match their vision.

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1) Mobile — In the past two years, the number of people accessing the internet via smartphones has increased by 60.3 percent, for a total of 818.4 million. 2) Adoption by older users — On Twitter, the 55- to 64-year-old age bracket is the fastest-growing demographic, with a 79-percent growth rate since 2012. On Facebook and Google+, the fastest-growing demographic is the 45- to 54-year-old age bracket, at 46 percent and 56 percent, respectively. (Don’t look now, but Grandma is following your Tweets!) Also worthy of note is the rise of mobile, which many churches disregard. We’ll soon reach the tipping point where most people access the Internet via a mobile device. Tablets will soon replace standard computers and laptops as the most purchased tool.

Go mobile, or get lost!

2 reasons your church must be mobile BY MARK BROOKS Faster than a speeding bullet! More powerful than a locomotive! Those two iconic phrases remind me of the rise of social media and mobile access. If you haven’t been paying attention, both continue to grow at a speed which — while not as fast as a bullet — is nonetheless very rapid. As I wrote my new book, The Digital Church, the rapidly rising profile of social media and mobile access was a constant challenge. Every time I thought I was finished, another statistic popped up and simply had to be included. I finally arrived at a realization: Social media is so fast, and so changing, that the minute my book was published, it would be out of date — as with any computer you buy! In a recent blog post, social media expert Jeff Bullas spotlighted two key factors driving the social web. Citing a Global Web Index study, these are:

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If your church wants to be relevant, it needs to have an online presence. You need to be where the audience is. While your church might not be on social media, millions of people are — many of them in your neighborhood. Next, not only should your church have an online platform, but it needs to be accessible to how people are viewing online material today. More individuals than ever are connecting to the Internet using tablets and smartphones. There are at least two major areas in which not being mobile can be costly to your church, starting with search optimization. If your sites aren’t mobile, search engines won’t rank them high on the list when people type in “churches in my zip code.” Even if browsers somehow find your church on their mobile devices — if they find the site unreadable — visitors will leave within seconds. The second area (often overlooked) is making sure online giving is set up for mobile access. Again, studies show that people quickly leave sites that aren’t mobile-friendly. So, let’s say you’ve included a QR code to your giving page in the Sunday bulletin. If that page isn’t set up for mobile, then mobile users can’t give easily. Non-mobile sites mean users must use their fingers to enlarge the screen, which makes it harder to read and type in information. They’ll leave without giving. Mobile setup isn’t difficult, and most online firms now offer this with little cost to your church. If you’re concerned about your lost community, then you’d better not get lost to that community. It’s time to get mobile. Mark Brooks is founder and president of The Charis Group and Charis Giving Solutions.


overreaction and misuse of precious church funds. If the reaction is denial, then the health and safety of the flock can be put at risk. So, it’s important to know: How common are violent incidents in churches?

Anecdotal evidence clearly indicates that where there’s no armed opposition, the number of deaths and injuries is substantially greater. The disparity in the number of situations in which the shooter was opposed, compared to the number of situations in which the shooter was unopposed, is fairly striking.

Severity versus frequency

Perspectives on violence in the sanctuary BY ROBERT ERVEN BROWN

Graphic images of violent situations are aired hundreds — if not thousands — of times, as major television stations repeatedly play the stories. Yet, as we begin an inquiry on the topic of violent incidents in churches, it’s important to put the magnitude of the problem in a logical, rational loss management perspective rather than frame it in an emotional, knee-jerk-reaction way. A reasoned, cautious approach is especially important as your church board and staff reacts to government initiatives, including the 38-page Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Emergency Operations Plan for Houses of Worship, which was released last summer and is available for download at If the reaction to all this press (and the 38 pages of “suggestions”) is emotional, there’s a danger of

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In this discussion, it’s important to first distinguish between severity and frequency. Violent incidents are so graphic and upsetting that — though statistically infrequent — they tend to have severe psychological impact. Because the press incessantly reports the graphic details of these incidents, with frequent updates over the course of weeks, an academic study would likely reveal that people overestimate their frequency. Even so, you might be surprised to learn that about 50 people per year died as a result of violent incidences in U.S. houses of worship between 2008 and 2011. In 2012, that number grew to 75. Additionally, church security expert Carl Chinn [] has determined that more than 450 people were killed in deadly force incidents at U.S. faith-based organizations between January 1999 and September 2013. That sounds like a lot — and of course, any death in this fashion is one too many.

But, statistics can be misleading For example, statistics dictate you’re 12 times more likely to die from a violent attack in a house of worship than from a poisonous snake bite. Every year in America, only five to seven deaths result from snake bites. However, between 4,000 and 6,000 venomous snakebites occur across the U.S. every year. About 70 percent of them require anti-venom therapy. So, the fact that there are so few deaths as a result is a testament

A STATISTICAL PERSPECTIVE Total deadly force incidents (DFIs). According to church security expert Carl Chinn, there were 709 DFIs involving faith-based organizations in the U.S. between January 1999 and September 2013. These included abductions, attacks, suspicious deaths, suicides and deadly force intervention/protection. Of these, 275 resulted in the death of others. Domestic violence, personal conflicts and robbery accounted for about 53 percent of these DFIs.

Trend by year. Chinn’s statistics indicate that after spiking at 22 deaths in 1999, the death rate resulting from DFIs at faith-based organizations fell between 2000 and 2004. In 2005, it rose to 19. The rate increased in 2006 to 30, and rose again in 2007 to 39 deaths. Between 2008 and 2011, the number stayed fairly steady — about 50 deaths per year. There was a significant spike (to 75 deaths) in 2012. As of Sept. 9, 2013, 28 deaths had occurred.

to effective medical care and a high level of awareness about how to avoid being bitten. The difference is this: While everyone acknowledges the danger of poisonous snakes, some ministry leaders refuse to take even the most basic precautions to prevent or deter a violent incident.

What can we do? Anecdotal evidence clearly indicates that where there’s no armed opposition, the number of deaths and injuries is substantially greater. The disparity in the number of situations in which the shooter was opposed, compared to the number of situations in which the shooter was unopposed, is fairly striking. While speaking to reluctant troops preparing for the battle for San Juan Hill, Teddy Roosevelt said, “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” The inspiration is consistent with sound risk management principles. Keep it simple — but get started. Probably the best single step to consider is using off-duty, uniformed police officers to create an official, armed appearance of deterrence. (Upcoming posts on my blog, “Risk Management Realities,” will discuss various approaches to developing an emergency operations plan.) In the meantime, feel free to download my e-book, Legal Realties: Silent Threats to Ministries at no cost:

Denominational affliction. According to Chinn, 22 percent of the attacks occurred at Baptist churches; about 20 percent occurred at nondenominational churches; 15 percent happened at Catholic churches; and 7 percent transpired at Methodist churches. Only 4.2 percent of DFIs occurred at parachurch organizations.

Pay special attention to part three, page 25, appendixes B, C and D. Robert Erven Brown is an attorney licensed to practice in Arizona. He and his nonprofit practice group work with nonprofits and churches, helping them manage key operations connected with their missions, visions and causes. As permitted by local Rules of Ethics, they collaborate with attorneys who are licensed in states other than Arizona. He is the author of Legal Realities: Silent Threats to Ministries, which describes his Campus Preservation Planning© initiative — a comprehensive program designed to manage the wide array of risks facing non-profit organizations. Footnotes were omitted. This publication is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered. It is provided with the understanding that the publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional service. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional person should be sought. “From a Declaration of Principles jointly adopted by a Committee of the American Bar Association and a Committee of Publishers and Associations.” Simply reading this material this does not create an attorney/client relationship with Brown, as this article is general legal information, not legal advice. A formal attorney/client relationship will not be established until a conflict check is completed and an engagement letter has been signed by both the attorney and the client. No “informal” legal advice will be provided by telephone. Simply sending an e-mail to Brown will not create an attorney/client relationship.

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Worship acoustics How to ramp up sermon intelligibility and minimize background noise Worship facilities are among the most common places you’ll see acoustical treatment. This is because the goal of a worship service is to spread the word and create fellowship. But, if the sermon is unintelligible, if musical detail is lost in reverberation, or if there’s distracting background noise, the congregation won’t be engaged — and might not even enjoy the service.


Consideration of the architectural acoustics in a sanctuary can ensure delivery of the message and result in delighted, inspired congregants who go out and encourage others to join them next time. The key to addressing the acoustical problems in your sanctuary is to identify the noise issue and its source. Not all acoustical problems manifest from the same

At Church of Christ at Mountain View (Winchester, VA), newly painted block walls created a long RT60, or reverberation time, resulting in less detailed sound quality. (Photo courtesy of Acoustical Solutions Inc.)

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architectural component, and solutions differ in product material and placement.

A challenging space Church of Christ at Mountain View (CCMV) in Winchester, VA, had an issue with background noise, sound intensity and intelligibility. Tom Stephenson, a congregant and mechanical engineer who runs sound for the church, knew that one treatment wouldn’t solve all the acoustical issues. After a recent remodel of the auditorium, the sanctuary’s newly painted block walls created a long RT60, or reverberation time — the number of seconds it takes for sound from a single source to “die,” or finish reverberating so that it can no longer be heard. The longer the reverberation time, the less detail can be distinguished in sounds. In addition, CCMV’s two projector rooms — located above either side of the stage — are cubeshaped, and open to the sanctuary seating area. The motor noise from the two projectors was reflected around the cubed-shaped enclosures, amplified, and then shot out the openings into the large >>

The projectors in two cube-shaped enclosures once amplified sound and shot it out into the worship hall. So, polyester acoustical panels were installed on the three walls, preventing the buildup of motor noise before it even reached the congregation. (Photo courtesy of Acoustical Solutions Inc.)

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worship hall. This made the projectors very audible to seated guests, creating a noticeable change in ambient noise when they were powered on and off. “When we had programs or weddings in the auditorium and people wanted to show something on

the projectors, we would have to keep them running throughout the service, even when we weren’t using them,” Stephenson explains. “If we turned them off, it would get suddenly silent in comparison, because you can hear the projector fans so loudly in the auditorium.”

Lastly, the cubic enclosures acted as amplifiers, not only for projector noise, but for any other sound that entered them. They reflected noise from the auditorium back out toward the audience as “slapback” echoes. First, fabric-wrapped acoustical panels were installed along the lower level, the balcony facing, and the second level to absorb sound and decrease reverberation from audio, sermons and congregational chatter. While this treatment increased intelligibility in the auditorium, it did not eliminate the distracting noise emitting form the projector rooms. To address this issue, treatment needed to be applied at the source. Environmentally friendly polyester acoustical panels were installed on the three walls inside each of the two large projection rooms, which prevented the buildup of motor noise before it even reached the congregation, and ended the persistent slapback echo. “Response to the treatment has been great,” Stephenson says. “We can now hold all kinds of musical performances in here, and it sounds really good. I wouldn’t allow it before because I knew it would be a disaster.” Also, the panels in the projection room have made it possible to power the projectors on and off during services with no sound change in the auditorium. The reverberation time was decreased by more than a full second. And, Stephenson says he’s thrilled that some congregation members who used to use the church’s hearing assistance systems, no longer require them. CE Aimee Sanford is communications specialist with Acoustical Solutions Inc., based in Richmond, VA.

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Pastor mic selection 101 The best mic choice “speaks” to communication style, first. Some pastors are teachers who like to stay in a stationary position, either behind a pulpit or in one specific spot on the stage. Some are roamers who walk all over the platform, and even out among the congregation. Some have a huge, dynamic range — from a whisper to a shout. Others will sing during sermon time. All this is to say that a pastor’s mic preference largely depends on his or her style of communication.

Lavaliere mics Not too long ago, the lavaliere microphone was the mic of choice for most pastors. One reason was because it’s nice and small; inconspicuous. However, a big challenge with a lavaliere mic is “gain before feedback.” In layman’s terms, that means it can be tough to turn up these mics

up as loud as needed without hearing a squeal through the speaker system. Lest you think we’re just picking on the poor little lavaliere mic, let me assure you we’re not. In fact, there’s nothing inherently “bad” about a lavaliere mic; the trouble really stems from how far away this small mic often is from the pastor’s mouth. A pastor can take the lavaliere mic and mount it anywhere — right up close to the mouth, down at the waistline, or anywhere in between. You can imagine the potential problems, then. If the mic is too close to the pastor’s mouth, it tends to work pretty well. But, if it’s positioned far away, that’s where you start to have trouble. For all these reasons, it’s easy to see why headset mics have become so popular.

Headset mics Essentially, headset mics take a tiny microphone (like the lavaliere), but position it in a way that keeps it close to the pastor’s mouth. This allows the user to turn his or her head while speaking, but still have good response from the mic, since it’s always following the mouth. In the early days of headset mics, some pastors


complained that they were too big. Having a fairly large mic element right in front of the pastor’s mouth looked too much like [insert the name of your favorite 1980’s singer, here]. Understandably, pastors didn’t want to draw attention to the mic itself. Those days are gone. Today, headset mics are very small. And, they’re widely accepted — even in the church community. Many different colors are available to match a variety of skin tones, so new headset mics really do perform great and blend in well, too. Even so, a headset mic definitely isn’t for everyone. Some pastors who are very dynamic — those who need very high volume, and who incorporate music into their teaching — are sometimes served best by a high-quality hand-held mic.

Hand-held mics In general, a hand-held mic will usually produce a more full sound, and is preferred by many pastors — assuming they don’t need both hands free for their style of teaching. Different than a headset mic (which is always a fixed distance from the mouth), a hand-held mic gives a skilled communicator the ability to “work the mic.” In other words, there are times for a whisper, speaking very close to the mic. Other times, when the volume or intensity will increase, the pastor can back off the mic. This versatility can be quite effective.

A clear message As you can see, it’s very important to identify the pastor’s communication style before just handing him or her any old microphone. A careful review of ministry style will ensure the message can be delivered with excellence — and that’s what every pastor wants. CE Doug Hood is president/owner of Fort Wayne, IN-based Custom Sound Designs Inc. (CSD). He provides design and integration solutions for churches throughout the U.S.

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Sanctuary Acoustics FAQs Just about every worship space has “acoustical culprits” — under-the-radar elements which rob this critical venue of its sound clarity. We asked Nick Colleran, vice president of Acoustics First Corporation in Richmond, VA, to navigate some of them for us.

What kind of havoc can a particularly noisy HVAC A reflective floor, combined with hard-surfaced walls system wreak on a worship space? (drywall, plaster, finished wood), isn’t a match made in Nick Colleran: An intermittent HVAC system can be heaven, except for the choir. worse than a constant drone — not unlike a truck or a train rumbling by outside the church. In some sanctuaries, speech is clear, but music There are several ways to abate the noise, most is dull and lifeless. Is there an acoustical basis of which are less costly to do for this? during the initial construction. Colleran: Most often, The lowest frequencies reverberation time (RT60) — (bass) will travel through the how long the sound “rings out” structure to appear elsewhere after its initial impact — is in the building. the reason. To prevent this, the The timing of the reverb can machinery should be floated on be estimated by popping a fully vibration mounts to decouple inflated balloon and clocking from the structure. Ducts the pop’s duration until it’s no should have flexible joints longer audible (60dB down). In to decouple them from the general, a reverb time of .9 to machinery, and they should 1.0 seconds is good for speech, be lined with sound-absorbing allowing clarity without sounding This acoustical fiberglass ceiling tile fabric facing material. There should be “dry” or “dead” and making the features a ribbed neoprene sheet for vibration isolation several bends to prevent speaker feel the need to shout. of machinery, walls and floors. (Photo courtesy of Acoustics First Corporation) sound passing in a straight line, At the other extreme, and ducts should be oversized — traditional music likes to hear a compared to “normal” — to slow the air and reduce noise. reverb time of 1.5 to 1.6 seconds in most traditional spaces. A compromise in between these numbers can How much of an effect can flooring and usually work for all involved. upholstery have on acoustical quality? With modern music, there are examples of reverb Colleran: Flooring can reduce or enhance (exacerbate) times as low as .6 seconds being great for the pastor, reverberation time, either improving or reducing speech while the high-energy praise and worship performers intelligibility. are free to have their sound man “dial in” the echo, delays Thick carpet will absorb significant sound, while thin and reverberation appropriate to studio-produced music industrial carpet does little to reduce sound, except in the and vocals. high-frequency range. Hardwood bounces more sound around the room, and What structural elements affect acoustics most? polished granite can make the room impossible for speech Colleran: Round or hexagonal structures focus sound. — although a traditional choir might sound more “heavenly.” Rooms that are wider than they are deep won’t allow the

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sound to develop, or to stretch out. Flat rear walls will as a bass trap, and thereby remove boom from the room cause sound to reflect back to the source (“slap back”), for little cost. often out of time with the music, causing the audience to be annoyed and the musicians to be confused trying to find the Any other insights? beat. Flat, parallel surfaces will create flutter echoes which Colleran: As an overall rule, don’t take what’s seen on garble the spoken word and influence the room’s musical TV as the room you’re actually hearing. By that, I mean sound response. Flat ceilings and hard — particularly music — is floors are another source of often recorded elsewhere. this problem. A vaulted ceiling If you observe closely, you An intermittent HVAC system can might reflect, but it usually can often see a performer be worse than a constant drone — not won’t cause flutter. singing into the wrong side unlike a truck or a train rumbling A sanctuary might have a of a microphone, and the by outside the church. flat, drop-tile ceiling in a lay-in horn section might be a grid. This is often seen in mall synthesizer with actors venues repurposed for worship. dancing and holding real If it’s a reasonably high ceiling and the tiles are acoustical instruments on camera. fiberglass, the sound can be very good and might not need A second rule is that it’s always cheaper to fix more than some strategically placed wall panels to control the acoustics first, before going through a series of sound the direct reflections. If a few tiles are replaced with an systems that can never overcome the physics of bad open grid (covered with a thin sheet of plastic to avoid room geometry. CE debris passing through), the entire ceiling might be used — Reporting by RaeAnn Slaybaugh

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FINANCIAL TRANSPA Christ Community Church (Milpitas, CA)

The brochure for Christ Community Church’s current capital campaign

In the area of Finance, Christ Community Church (CCC) in Milpitas, CA received one of the highest ratings ever recorded on the Transforming Church Index, or TCI, a national survey developed and administered by Fairfax, VA-based TAG Consulting to gauge congregants’ view of how well the church communicates and manages its finances. According to Business Manager Mark Simmons, Bank of the West and the accounting firms of LMGW and Seeba & Associates have also audited and expounded on the outstanding work of this church. Additionally, this church has done 11 consecutive capital campaigns, with each driving results between 93 percent and 103 percent of the pledge amounts, regardless of the state of the economy.


Can you tell us more about how CCC got involved with the Transforming Church Index (TCI)? Mark Simmons: We brought on a new senior pastor in 2012 and wanted to work together on a strategic plan for the church. Our new senior pastor had worked with TAG at a previous church. So, we decided to engage them. Kevin Ford (Billy Graham’s nephew) — who heads the church consulting division of TAG — was the first one to say we were the healthiest church they’d ever encountered or measured. TCI is a rather comprehensive, detailed measurement system of church’s health. The short answer is not just our church’s high scores, but its across-the-board high scores compared to other churches. Most churches — even healthy ones — will score well in one area, but not across the board.

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Also, the evaluation process with TAG included a number of focus groups (six, initially) to validate the data gathered using TCI. Last I heard, more than 10,000 churches had completed the TCI survey. In what ways does CCC go above and beyond to communicate and manage its finances? Simmons: It’s all about creating trust and an accountable culture. The Apostle Paul talked about entrusting the Gospel to those who are known to be “faithful.” The fact is, most people in a congregation have little aptitude in financial accounting; but, some have a great deal. So, how to effectively communicate to such a diverse audience can be a real challenge. Structurally, we have a staff that has three people who provide oversight to church finances, and we leverage that to provide a depth of knowledge beyond what you’d get with one person. We also designed in a lot of checks and balances. We have a finance committee made up of those folks in the congregation who have a great deal of aptitude in financial accounting and are known in the congregation for being knowledgeable, faithful and trustworthy. We’re blessed to have CFOs and executives on this


committee. We not only publish our financial data in our annual report, but we also publish a copy of the letter our CPAs give us on the result of our annual audit, and we take questions from the congregation — anything they want to ask — at our annual congregational meeting. Usually, a good number of those questions are in the area of finance. Finally, we update the congregation on our finances several times a year, and we let people know they’re welcome to ask questions at any time. When people consistently receive open, transparent and thorough communication from those whom they consider trustworthy and faithful, you can create a culture of trust that’s earned. Can you tell us more about Bank of the West and the accounting firms of LMGW and Seeba & Associates auditing the church’s work? Simmons: In 2008 and 2009, I led the effort to find a lender to work with us on the construction of our new Ministry Center. While I mentioned Bank of the West, we had five lenders that were finalists for our business, and they all described CCCM as their model client. Common themes they expounded on were our history of faithful follow-through on (then)

10 prior campaigns; our history of retiring debt on an accelerated schedule; our advanced budget, accounting and cash management capabilities; our written processes and procedures; and our thorough recordkeeping and responsiveness to their requests. We’ve worked with both Seeba & Associates and LMGW for a number of years. Both are non-profit specialists. In 2006 and 2007, we engaged Seeba & Associates to do a complete review of our entire financial processes with an eye on raising everything to best practices levels. We also did a thorough review of church accounting systems and used them to help us implement a new system. We then used LMGW to do a thorough audit of everything that was implemented, so we got a second opinion on everything we’d done with Seeba. One or the other of these firms has conducted an annual audit every year since then. We get kudos from them on three fronts: the foresight and commitment we’ve shown to best practices, our follow-through to every recommendation they’ve made (which, of course, is documented in the annual reports), and the multiple instances in which we have discovered potential deficiencies and proactively solved them. In a few cases, these have broken new ground and added to best practices.


Regarding your 11 consecutive capital campaigns, how far apart have they been? Simmons: Generally, these are three-year campaigns and have rolled from one right into the other. There have been two or three exceptions where we’ve extended a campaign or had a short break in between. But, generally, they run one after the other. It has become part of our culture. >>

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Christ Community Church (Milpitas, CA)


What’s the overarching goal of these 11 capital campaigns? Simmons: Our church has forever been committed to the Great Commission. And, while variously expressed over the years, it can be summed up in our current Vision Statement and Core Values. We’ve produced short videos for our current capital campaign, which are available online. We have more than 100 active ministries on campus. Most are community-focused, so we make ample use of the facilities God has given us each and every day. Also, most every campaign has a component that includes foreign or local missions. What do you think makes members give time and time again to these campaigns? Simmons: God has given us the greatest of opportunities: He has invited us to bring the kingdom of God to the whole world. Wherever we go and whoever we meet, we have the opportunity to bring Good News and make an incredible difference in people’s lives now and forever. People want to be a part of something bigger than themselves, and there’s nothing more significant than this. Jesus taught us to do this individually, and in community. We’re involved in an incredible adventure led by Christ. Our church is in one of the most diverse communities in the world. More than 100 nations are represented; there’s no “majority”

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— culturally, ethnically, or by nation. Fiftyseven percent of our residents were born in other countries. In this regard, it’s an incredible challenge to reach such a diverse community. But, with God’s help, we are — and we feel we’ve just begun. When people see all God is doing, and that they can be a part of it, it’s pretty hard not to give. We also have a few more fundamentals: • Capital campaign giving is in addition to tithes and offerings. • We give generously in response to God, who is generous to us beyond measure. • We challenge people to ask God what he would have them give, and then do what he asks. (No more, no less.) • We unabashedly inspire people to give. • We have a rich history to recount (great stories); an impactful present (which is what draws many people to our church); and a bright future — a future as bright as the promises of God. CE — Reporting by RaeAnn Slaybaugh



SAFETY & SECURITY / RISK MANAGEMENT Trinity Fellowship (Amarillo, TX)

Trinity Fellowship in Amarillo, TX, has 125 volunteers in its usher/ sentinel ministry that assist in services and events. It also has 12 armed Special Response Team members, four Emergency Response Team members, and two medics. To find out how such a robust security presence was established — and maintained — Church Executive reached out to Larry Miles, pastor of ministry administration, who oversees this area of operations.


To have 125 volunteers in your usher/sentinel ministry sounds like an exceptionally large amount — is it? Larry Miles: No, because the men are “on duty” for a month, and then off for a month to sit with their families. This helps to prevent burnout. Half work the even months, and the other half work the odd months. We’re told these usher/sentinel ministry volunteers “assist in services and events.” What does that look like, in practice? Miles: We cover one service on Saturday evening and two on Sunday morning, as well as many outreach events throughout the year. With about 12,000 members, all of these are large events. How do you identify, recruit and screen volunteers? Miles: All usher/sentinel volunteers come through our church’s “growth track,” which consists of four one-hour classes held on four Sundays every month. From there, the volunteer undergoes a background check and a sit-down interview with me. All SRT-ERT and medics are veteran ushers/sentinels that have proven their commitment and faithfulness to Trinity Fellowship Church. They then go through a one-year probation period, during which time they receive extensive training with weapons. At the end of this probation period, they must complete a weapons qualification course. They then qualify with their weapons twice a year, and train with them on a monthly basis. How do the Special Response Team’s (SRT) and Emergency Response Team’s (ERT) responsibilities differ? Miles: The SRT cover all church functions on the weekend. The ERT cover all church functions Monday through Friday. Both SRT and ERT train and qualify together. How often are medics onsite? Miles: Our medics are onsite at every weekend church function and at every special event during the week. What benefits has the church enjoyed for its above-andbeyond safety & security efforts? Miles: Our church hasn’t suffered any gun-related violence since our usher/sentinel ministry began in 1996. Many medically related issues have been successfully handled by our medics through the years — heart attacks, strokes, slip-and-falls, children’s broken bones, etc. — Reporting by RaeAnn Slaybaugh

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A SOLID FUNDRAISING FOUNDATION A capital campaign expert offers his best insights about timing, transparency and technology. BY MARK BROOKS Construction-focused capital campaigns are making a comeback. Since the crash of 2008, churches — like many small businesses — have had difficulty acquiring loans from banks. As such, the building of new facilities fell significantly. Most capital campaigns became more about debt reduction than anything else. In the past year, however, we’ve seen an uptick in constructionfocused campaigns. We think this trend will continue into 2014 as the economy continues its plodding recovery. The best starting point is always the same. I always tell clients to clearly state their need, and to never back up from that. For instance, let’s say I need a new building for my burgeoning student ministry. Maybe my church really needs it to continue reaching students. The need is present. The vision is: What will this facility mean for the future? Be transparent about the cost. Failing to effectively manage the project’s cost has its own price tag: church leaders’ credibility with the congregation. Never understate the cost to the congregation in an effort to win their support. You might lower the “sticker shock” element, only to have the project run over the originally stated estimate. Get the timing right. When the need for space becomes critical to continued growth, it’s time to pull the trigger on a capital campaign. Nearly every church misses the ideal window, mostly out of fear. Often, the decision is put off until after critical mass is reached. If you’re feeling pressed for space, you might have waited too long. On the other hand, moving forward with a campaign too early will make raising the needed funds extremely difficult. Most congregants have to “feel the pain” — and know that all other options have been exhausted — before they’ll vote to move forward. Make the most of technology. We’re in the midst of a technological and communications revolution. How people process information today is completely different than just 25 years ago. Now, effective capital campaigns must be digital, in all forms. We must use social media to communicate the campaign’s message and vision. We must use websites to tell the campaign’s story and to enable congregants to give to that commitment, online. Today, if your campaign doesn’t fit in the palm of my hand (a.k.a., in my smartphone), you might not get a commitment from me. Additionally, virtual tours have become so amazing and lifelike that, for many projects, they’re the biggest selling points of the capital campaigns. CE Mark Brooks is founder and president of The Charis Group and Charis Giving Solutions.

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The Assembly of Broken Arrow (Broken Arrow, OK) has mobilized a custom website to not only outline construction goals — a $5-million children’s ministry center and multi-activity facility — but also to enable online giving.

3 ways technology can drive facilities-focused capital campaigns BY CHERYLYN WILSON

Technology has changed how funds are collected for facilitiesfocused church capital campaigns. After all, one of the most critical components of any generosity campaign is making it easy to give. New-school giving tools are available from many different providers. They range in features and price, but each meets members’ giving needs in a new — and convenient — way. 1) An online giving page. Many churches websites only show service times, the address and phone number. Adding an online giving page lets congregants give whenever they’re online — which, for most people, is daily. For a facilities-focused capital campaign, start by looking for a solution that offers the flexibility to create unique giving pages for more than one purpose. (Some solutions charge extra for multiple giving pages and multiple categories for gifts.) Then, use your website to provide progress reports, pictures or blueprint plans for the new facility. This puts critical information at donors’ fingertips. And, they can see exactly where their money is going. Look for a solution that allows for sponsorships, dedications, recurring gifts and pledges. Using a variety of donation options entices people to give in ways that are meaningful to them. One easy way to drum up interest in your facilities-focused capital campaign is by allowing donors to dedicate their gifts in the names of loved ones. Set aside a wall in the new building to display donors’ names, as well as the names of those they choose to honor with their donations. >>

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MarketPlace ACO U S T I C S

2) Giving kiosks. Giving kiosks are increasingly popular in church foyers. Whereas passing the plate is still a viable option for immediate gifts, kiosks make it easy for congregants to pay by credit or debit card instead of by check or cash. No longer will a forgotten checkbook or lack of cash prevent giving. Set up dedicated kiosks in your foyer to highlight your facilitiesfocused capital campaign. Look for a provider that allows different options for earmarking each gift. Letting congregants give to a specific area of the new facility — the youth room, nursery, kitchen and so on — fosters a sense of ownership. 3) Mobile giving. It’s a good idea to spend some time making your church mobile-friendly. Get started by setting up your website and online giving page in this manner. When choosing an online giving page provider, make sure it offers mobile-friendly pages that let congregants to go online using their smartphones and donate via your website, without added cost to your church. If the time and resources are available, consider a mobile giving app with a dedicated icon for the homepage of a smartphone or tablet. Look for a provider that offers a web-based giving app that allows you to make changes and edit your app from a webpage. Since the web application is maintained by the provider, no coding knowledge is necessary to get it up and running. Technology makes it easier for people to do what they’re already doing: giving. Make sure it’s easy to give to your facilities-focused capital campaign — online, at a kiosk, or by smartphone. CE Cherylyn Wilson is a marketing communications specialist at The CashLINQ Group in Spokane, WA.

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Church Executive Digital Edition, Jan/Feb 2014  
Church Executive Digital Edition, Jan/Feb 2014  

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