Welcome to Monday Morning Church. We have a very special guest on our show today. We have Adrienne Rankin coming to us from Beaverton Foursquare Church. Hello Adrienne, how are you today?
I am well, thank you. Good morning Neil.
Good morning. It’s so great to have you on this show. I’m excited to hear about your experiences, how you’ve gotten to where you are. I think there’s going to be a lot that we’re going to learn from this. Why don’t you start us off with your journey to becoming an executive pastor at Beaverton Foursquare?
You know it’s so helpful Neil when we talked about potentially this question of that path that you took to becoming a executive pastor, I thought, is there a direct path to becoming an executive pastor? I think I’ve been very encouraged on how the Lord has used people from all different backgrounds and all different areas and walks of life in which to serve the church in this very strategic way. Ironically for me, I think I probably took one of the most clean paths and then I started in church ministry right out of college, continued with my Master’s and Doctorate degree to head me that direction. But most of that was because I was very grateful to have actually been prayed over and received a word at the ripe old age of 26 that indicated that that would be something in my life and kept that nestled down in my heart. I had no idea that the Lord would do that at Beaverton Foursquare Church which was my home, was where I would have probably dreamed of always wanting to have that become a reality.
You started off as a Children’s Pastor in the early days when you first joined.
Yeah, even before that … that’s what was probably my most solid position but I was working at a church in Southern California where I had gone to school called Water of Life Church. It’s an excellent, excellent church. I was in a leadership development position there, but got called by Beaverton Foursquare to come and join the staff in one of their camp positions, and then that turned into working in the Children’s Ministries department. Then from there, I went into being in pastoral ministry and then I went into connections. What’s wonderful about that is now in my current role, I have a perspective of having served in pretty much almost every department, save worship. That’s unfortunately not my area of expertise, but that has been a very helpful component so I would say, to not begrudge the day of small beginnings and wherever the Lord lands you, it really can prepare you for whatever is coming next.
As you transition from role to role at Beaverton, what was it that pushed you on in those things? Did other people recognize the gifts you had for administration or for leadership and ask you to do that, or did you see opportunities and you pursued those? How did that work out for you?
It’s really hand in hand. I love initiative. I’m a self-starter. Our culture is one that our senior pastor has this phrase and says, “Get what you need and get what you’ve got.” Those people who can do that work really well here, so it fit for me in terms of being able to feel like I had the freedom to get what I needed and then take that and give fully what I had to give. I was grateful for the chance to be able to do that at lots of different tables. We have a pretty inclusive environment that would provide space for lots of voices to be at the table, so when I was given the opportunity to sit at those different tables, I took them.
That’s great. Go ahead and describe a little bit about your role, because every church is a little bit different in how they the structure the executive pastor role. What comes under your purview? What do you oversee at the church?
Probably similar to a lot of executive pastors, the first and foremost thing that I like to remind myself is that my primary role is a support to our senior pastor. He, fortunately for me, is a very easy person to work for so it’s easier to remind myself of that. But in that vein, I try to keep as much off his desk as I can and any pastor will know that can change from day to day. I see that as my primary responsibility, but otherwise on a day to day basis it’s oversight and leadership of the church staff, any strategic planning processes that are happening, ongoing internal infrastructure and systems, the buildings and the policies, H.R.
A lot of things obviously are going to come under that. What tends to be the thing that you enjoy doing the most in your job? Which of those areas do you like the most?
I find it one of my most lovely places to work is if I can focus on systems and be Switzerland. What I mean by that is trying to take things where people have potentially been unable to come to solutions and feel now we’re hitting maybe some even personality conflicts, some challenges in working together, but be able to turn those conversations into how do we create systems that help us to avoid these in the future, limit frustration, cut red tape and put the focus there. We do a lot of that, and then my Switzerland role in that is to make sure everybody feels heard and that they feel valued. I feel very honored to serve in a role where I can be partial to everybody.
That’s such a great gift set to be able to focus on the systems, to be able to say “We need to create structures to make things run smoother, to prevent things from happening that don’t need to happen, but then also have that very soft heart, that ear that’s listening in for people at the same time.” To be able to do that is a great gift.
Well, it’s helpful when your husband is a therapist.
He’s much better at it than me, but I glean from him.
Nice. Your doctoral program is in Strategic Leadership and in Coaching. How has that helped you in your role right now?
Oh goodness. I would say in all sorts of ways but primarily that value of coaching. Specifically, and I would speak to this because Beaverton is a very unique leadership culture, I would hope that other people would find this experience, but I am the direct supervisor of those who were my boss. I’m the direct supervisor of people that were my Sunday school teacher when I was 6 years old. I just applaud Beaverton Foursquare for being able to be in a situation where they would recognize leaders within their own, and then release leadership that they are carrying in order to spur others forward. For me, to come into the role that I am in as a millennial and as a female, knowing that I can serve these people around me best by recognizing that they have a lot to give to me and a lot of wisdom, a lot of expertise, a lot of experience, so I find that taking the posture of a coach often serves them really well because they have the insights and the solutions. We just need to find a way to get there.
Yeah. Like you mentioned, you’re not only young, you’re also a woman in this role and you’re the first woman I’ve interviewed for this podcast, which I’m happy that we’re able to connect about this. I do want to ask you about that. Obviously everything is going to be different from church to church, but how has that been for you, both inside your church and then maybe as you network with other executive pastors in those situations. What is it like for a woman to be in this role?
Fortunately for me inside our denomination at least, Foursquare as you may know is a denomination that gives a lot of freedom and liberty for women to serve in a fashion that would be accepted and also applauded. I face very little challenge when it comes to being a female in the role internally. I think the benefit is if you look at even on our church staff – and this would probably be similar to a lot of church staffs, is that 30 of our staff are female; 40 of them are male. If you have that kind of a mathematical breakdown, for lack of a better term, but don’t have representation that might provide a balance of perspectives at your upper levels of leadership and management, there may be something that’s getting missed in how you might approach a problem. I like that we’re able to have a perspective of a female as well of those that I serve alongside. Not that I’m able to speak for all women in the kingdom, but that it’s a representation of such. When we do have situations even pastorally that would necessitate a female in a leadership position to be involved, I am there to do so.
Great. Have you felt the same in terms of when you’re interacting with people outside of your church? Do you face any resistance, even passively?
It was very interesting, because one time I was in a conversation with somebody in another city. We were sitting around kind of an XP Round Table and he indicated, “Can I ask you a question?” I said, “Sure.” He said, “Can you tell me what you really do?”
I don’t think that the question was necessarily of mal-intent. It was one that I answered, “Whether I’m actually qualified or not qualified for this role or whether I’m capable or not capable isn’t necessarily something that’s going to help you when you go back to your church, because that’s going to be more about me.” I asked him, I said “What is it about me and my gender that would be a culture clash for you?” So we talked about that and I explained as I did to you earlier just that we have a culture that provides a space, that there are seats at the table. Are there seats at the table that he could provide for other women to be able to hear what they might have in a perspective that would represent so many in their congregation?
That’s great. I’m really glad that you are in the position you’re in and that your church has given you that freedom to be the best version of yourself you can, so that’s really good. I do want to turn the conversation just a little bit to talking about some technology. That’s a theme on this podcast to talk through. What are some of the things you have used, you incorporate? You say you’re a systems person. What types of technology do you use at Beaverton Foursquare to keep you up to date?
Our facility requests and our reservations are all handled through eSpace if you’re familiar with that. We are on a Google platform so that handles all of our emails, file storage, sharing of docs, calendaring. We also integrate it with MindMeister, MeisterTask. I am myself experimenting a little bit with MeisterTask and with my executive assistant right now, which is a really a fun thing to do if you’re like me and you have 4 different task apps on your phone, to find the one that you feel like is the greatest tool for you and for others. Slack would be another one that we use with some frequency. In terms of our internal time off check and design requests, our incident reports, our review process, that all happens through KiSSFlow. Our CCB is our church database management system, so that obviously tracks our attendance, manages our group, sends our emails, tracks what we call our hiring, our pre-employee process, our on-boarding and our exiting of staff, and obviously also keeps our records of giving and giving statements for our congregation.
I think we all have that task management app that we’re excited to start using or start using more. [inaudible 14:01] “I’ve been using this for 5 years, wow.” Very cool. Why don’t you tell us a little bit more about what you do with KiSSFlow in terms of that? I think a lot of churches may not be familiar with that particular app in terms of how you handle interoffice communication and workflows.
I think that it’s pretty straightforward in how we handle our PTO, our check requests, our design requests, our incident reports. All of that run through that automated process. I think that probably the most unique thing that we do through there is 2 different processes, that because KiSSFlow is just working so well for us, we try to limit the amount of … provide clarity of where our staff need to go in which to get information. When we were doing an employee performance review process review –
Reviewing the review, right.
Yeah. I had a great conversation with a gentleman named John Cox who’s the XP at Watermark. If you haven’t talked with him yet, I would recommend you do so. John and I were talking about their employee performance review process and what I was finding is that people come to that with a varying spectrum of emotions, right? They maybe had bad ones in the past. Maybe they have never had one. At our organization, it was spotty. We had some people that routinely had one with great regularity, but yet we had people that had never had one. In addition to that, as even researching millennials, you look at the fact of an annual employee performance review. None of those words were really necessarily speaking to a younger generation where you see something annual. Where you’re going to serve your millennials best is if we’re having those conversations ongoing. The feeling of transitioning those who … we’re in a clan culture, a very family based culture. We very rarely would refer to people as employees, so then to start saying “We’re going to do this employee performance” which for us also feels like a culture shift, and a review which wasn’t necessarily future focused, the letters just seemed – although positive in their own right, seemed like a misfit for our culture.
We simply tried to rebrand that and take the questions that John had indicated that they asked, which are 3 simple questions: What do you need to keep doing, what you need to stop doing, what you need to start doing, and provided a platform for ongoing conversation. What I liked about that is it’s scalable. I want to ask those questions of my ministry. What do I need to keep doing there? What do we need to stop doing there? What do we need to start doing there? We want to ask that of our church. I’d love to ask that of our city, of our country. It’s perfectly scalable so it makes the conversation something that isn’t just focused on the employee, but could be an ongoing conversation and provide verbiage for that. We actually have started to do that through KiSSFlow. The questions are listed there. Our supervisors will all sit down with our team mates and we talk through those items, and then those go through that very automated chain of command if you will, to be able to get easily filed and keep track of.
Nice, very good. That’s really exciting to hear.
We just finished that for this current round. We tweak it every time, as probably any good review process should be tweaked.
Yeah, especially if you love systems, you’re always wanting to get your hands in there and make slight little changes.
Yeah, everything’s an experiment right?
Very good. Adrienne, we’ve been talking about a lot of the things you guys are doing that are going well. On a personal level, where do you find the most challenges when it comes to your role? What do you find to be the most difficult for you?
This probably is something that I’m really wanting to live right now and I’m wanting to figure out how to serve the organization in this. It’s this phrase that keeps rolling around in my head: “If you call the shots, you got to be willing to take the shots.” There’s this Navy SEALs maxim called Extreme Ownership. I hear that that’s something that they use. There’s actually a book out on it right now, but I was never a Navy SEAL. When I was 7, I was in a group called the Blue Berets but I was never anything close to a Navy SEAL. However, I appreciate the wisdom in always seeing where you can take ownership where you can. Right now, I’m walking through a few situations where there are just systems that have been created, and it’s very apparent that those systems are what have created the working environment that somebody is in, or the disgruntled kind of way that we are functioning in a certain area, or the way that these 2 departments are missing each other in how they’re communicating. It’s because it’s a long standing structure that we’ve lived in. I think for me it’s a matter of really taking the time to look at that and to say, how can I, although not being one that was a part of maybe creating some of those, how do I still take that extreme ownership in that and tell people we’re going to work together to change it … but that’s it’s nobody’s fault, and lead that through example.
That would be extremely tough, especially like you said if you’re inheriting systems that you didn’t create or you would have done differently. You don’t want to change them right away but you still have to deal with a lot of those things.
Right. I’m blessed to be in a congregation that is very well established but we’re over 50 years old, and I am not that. It’s a place where I need to come to taking extreme ownership for things that I did inherit, but recognize that there’s a wisdom in me not pointing the finger at anybody in that and really just saying “This is a part of how I am still protecting it right now. If I don’t do something different, then I’m going to continue to be contributing to that. Let’s work as a team to help change it.”
That’s great. You mentioned earlier about some mentors or other people that you’ve gone to for advice. Where do you go to learn more about being a great executive pastor? You’ve obviously been educated well. You seem to have a good network of people around you. Is there anything else that you rely on?
Is it terrible and a bit pedantic to say love and logic?
Do you have small children?
I have small children. I have a little 4 year old and he has taught me a great deal about … you read that and you realize how much it emphasizes that respect and dignity, while allowing freedom of choice for people. We have passionate people with visionary minds and humble hearts, so I think probably one of the best things that I can do is just like Jim Fay and Foster [Cline 22:43], find some choices that you’re in favor of and that won’t harm anybody in the universe and give those freely.
Wow, it’s such a great resource. If you’re parenting children especially at a young age, you’re trying to really shape the attitude, the mind, the character that’s all there, so a lot of those things that …
I think the point of it is that it’s great if you can go and do a doctorate, but you don’t have to. You can find mentorship and leadership anywhere because if your heart is submitted before the Lord Jesus Christ, he can use anything … he can use a donkey.
Use anything to really shape what the situations that you’re facing right now, and for me recently that was it.
Great. Why don’t you close us out here with a word of encouragement you can give to the other executive pastors listening in here? What would you want to tell them?
I was thinking about this Neil, what I would leave you with. It was unique. I was sitting yesterday in one of our sunniest rooms, one with the biggest windows. If you live in Portland, we’re like opposite of cockroaches. We all scurry to where the sun patch is. I’m standing there in this blade of sunshine and one of our custodians walked in, and I was thinking about this very conversation we were going to have today. He came in and he said “Thank you.” I asked him “For what?” He said “Earlier in the day, you were walking in the hallway with one of the other leaders on staff.” I had just paused and said, “Hey Wes” as I walked by, typically how I would, in one sense because I truly believe that if you love in Jesus, we want to see the innate importance of everyone. In another sense, everyone in an organization has impact and has purpose. Especially if you have keys to everything, you have a lot of power. It’s important for me to feel like our entire organization feels like I see them and I hear them. He’s just gushing on and on about how thankful he is to me for the way that I have done that, but the point of that was at the end of it, he said “It’s just like I tell people, that’s the way it is here because when I was at the burger joint the other day and Pastor Randy came over who’s our senior pastor, he bought my son a $10 gift card and asked him if he would take his dad out for a milkshake some time. It’s just like that around here.” It reminded me, the reason that I see Wes is because I get to operate in a culture that sees Wes. I get to follow a senior pastor that has modeled that for us. He sees himself as a shepherd of people, and that personal one-on-one love of Jesus conversation cannot be overestimated. I didn’t give him a gift card. I just said hi, but I think the point is that I would say especially for those who are serving where lots and lots of people are watching them, if you’re an XP and you’ve got lots in the congregation that are watching you, to never underestimate the power of speaking Jesus to the people that you pass in the hallway.
Fantastic, I think that’s a great thing to remember that we’re all in this together. The culture of the church shouldn’t change just because it’s a Wednesday morning and you’re trying to get things done, but that love of Jesus has to be there throughout everything. That’s great. Adrienne, it’s been fantastic to speak with you. I’ve learned a lot. I hope everyone else has too. I wish you the best as you continue to protect and shape the culture there at Beaverton Foursquare. Good luck.
Thank you, doing my best. Thank you for the time Neil.