Courtney: Welcome back to Monday Morning Church. Today we’ve got Allan Mink on the show from Halfway Church in Burleson, Texas. Great to have you Allan.
Allan: Great to be here Courtney, thanks.
Allan, you are the executive pastor at Pathway Church, which is a member of the Cumberland Presbyterian denomination, though you’ve recently undergone some significant changes. Would you unpack some of those shifts for us?
Sure. Well, we used to be known as Saint Matthew Cumberland Presbyterian Church, and we found that the name was getting in the way of our ability to invite people to church and tell them why they would wanna come visit us to great things that we were doing. And our session, the lay leaders of our church really felt that it was time for us to really lean into re-branding the church and really renaming it in such a way that we would spend less time talking about the name of the church and who we were affiliated with and more about the great things the church had to offer. We entered into a project to re-brand, rename. It was about an 18-month process, the church at the time was over thirty-five years old, and there was a lot of emotion attached to the name. And we just felt like it really to be a very careful, slow process. So we formed a team of people from across the church to really start to work the process and try and get us to a place where we had a new name that really reflected who we are as a church, what we value. Initially, there was a lot of resistance, a lot of discussion. We went at it very slowly, reassuring people that the church was not going to change, but in fact, we would be more effective at reaching out to people and boy it was a great process. We did a soft launch that was in September, it was two years ago now, we did a soft launch, told people, here’s the new name, we introduced it. And then over the course of about three months, we started to change things like all the signage started to change, we told people very clearly that on January first, we’re going to start answering the phones as Pathway church, and that’s when it becomes official. It’s just amazing how smooth that that transition was. Once we announced the name and then rolled in out, it was very well received, very well received. And in fact, I think it has made a significant impact on our continued growth as a church. And along with that, at the same time, we were in a construction project, that ended up being about a $5.2million dollar project to remodel the existing facility. And then build a new community space, and it just… again, we kind of step back and we opened that space and just saw what a great impact it had, creating community for people and welcoming people in. We saw in the course of about six months, we saw about a twenty percent growth spurt. We also worked with the company in California, Plain Joe Studios, to help us with branding. I would say more than his brand, it’s like an environmental brand. How does the building, the grounds, all the signage, how does that reflect your brand and what are the values that go into your brand and an amazing process for us as we gained clarity about who we are and how we project who we are as church to those who may be coming for the first time? And in retrospect as we look back, it was just a great process for us.
Now you just said this, and I think most people listening would say, you’ve been really busy the last couple of years.
Oh yeah, for sure.
So what does that been like for you in your role as executive pastor, helping to lead the staff, helping to lead the church through these kinds of transitions? Did your role change it all in this re-branding?
Yeah it sure has, I was just talking last night as a matter of fact with our staff resource team, about how I’ve been here as executive pastor here, exactly for about ten years. And I’m going into what I would say is the fourth iteration of my position. I think one of the things I love about my job is that it continues to change and evolve as the needs of the church evolved and changed. So my position again, is in a place of flux, we’re very clear about the five things that I do that take about 80% of my time. So when we think about the structure of my job, the five things that take 80% of my time, are: campus operations, ministry operations, financial health, being a staff advocate and overseeing our staff team, and then being a project manager for those special projects that come along. We did engage with a consultant about a year ago, the unstuck group, Tim Morgan really helped us come in and work on strategies that are going to help us maintain our momentum and help us grow to become a church about two thousand in weekly attendance. We’re averaging about fourteen hundred right now and that process with a consultant, having an unbiased party come in and really help identify issues, identify what we’re doing well, and then talk about vision and values and where we’re going, where we wanna go, and then helping us really come up with a plan to do that has been very beneficial. And out of that, I have some projects then that I’m responsible for getting done.
So going back then to before the re-branding and the decision making time, what was it that made you, made others in the church, realize that it was time to bring some people in from the outside there’s Plain Joe Studios, the Unstuck Group, and maybe you’ve worked with some others. What was it that kind of pushed you to bring some consultants in?
I think involves taking a hard look at where are we and are we clear about where we’re going and how we’re going to get there? And there’s a lot of elements that go in that from understanding who your target audience is, to being clear about vision and values, mission statement, how that all interacts, and I think, honestly, as we were reflecting, processing, reading and researching current thinking about church work and church growth, I think just a realization that you know, we need more expertise here because we could do this and we can do that and we could go here, we could go there, but we really need someone to come in and really help us get laser focused on where we’re going and how we’re going to get there. Boy, again, an amazing process that helped bring clarity, I think as well, accountability for doing what we said we were going to do as we developed that strategy. That makes sense?
That’s really interesting. Yeah, it really does. So I’m sure this answer would have been different two, three, four years ago to what it is today, now that the executive pastor of Pathway Church, which is a new church in some ways, what are some of the administrative challenges you face right now?
I would say the biggest administrative challenge for me right now is being able to bring the church out of the paper world into the electronic world that we’re creating simplifying systems without losing process and structure, making it easy for staff and easy for our church body to get things done at church using technology to do that. So we’re in a place where we are rethinking our information technology or all of our systems. The structure needed to support that and learning that one IT person these days can’t really do it all. When you think about the IT world, what I’m learning is that really four distinct positions, you have a person who oversees your information technology that would be your network and your hardware, your servers, how that’s all connected your wireless system, and then you have website management, you have a church management software, your database, and somebody that takes care of that and trains that and makes sure the data is updated and current, and then you have your social networking, your Facebook, and that social media, overseeing all that. I’m about a 12-month project really revamping and updating and our payment platform is going to change here in the next two weeks. It’s a big project, much more complicated than I thought it was.
Yeah, it seems to be a common thing that people say is between that one thousand and two thousand mark, you go from operating a small church to operating a large church.
Sure. Yes, very much so. In fact, when I started here ten years ago, I actually started here ten years ago this month, the church was probably around eight hundred and fifty, and realizing that they were starting to become a big church, and they really needed someone to come in and help reorganize it and put more structure and process to things. And here we are ten years down the road and we’re once again, looking at structure and process and realizing there’s another step here to moving towards two thousand of breaking through the two thousand ceiling.
So what are the specific types of technology incorporated? You mentioned the payment platform.
I don’t know if I can talk about companies, but we’re working with.
You can, go ahead.
Okay, e-Church push pay, really excited about a partnership with them. They offer a payment platform, but more than that, they’re about the integration of our church app with online giving and making a really streamlined process for people to be able to tie to give to the church very simply through the church app, and then again through the website and creating a connection with the church. So if you say, for example, you write a check to the church on Sunday, you drop it in the basket that gets processed and you get an email on Monday that acknowledges the donation and then says, have you seen the church app? Here’s a link that allows you to download the church app, put it on your phone. And when we think about our target audience, our target audience is young people, young families, young parents between the age of twenty-five and forty, when you think about how that generation is moving, more and more of their transactions are done over their phones. And when you look at young people over age of thirty, the amount of transactions they’re doing on their phones is pretty amazing. And we really like that number one, the acknowledgement of giving and then driving people to the app, we just felt really good about the app and what this has to offer from not just giving, but the ability to download message notes to see what events are going on at the church to communicate with the church to put in prayer requests, and then to actually view the message through live streaming over your phone. It’s pretty incredible. We’re really excited about that.
You mentioned the e-Church push pay, Unstuck group, the Plain Joe studios. Where do you go to discover these resources and stay fresh as an executive pastor?
Boy, there’s any number of great places, and I know on the podcast we’ve talked about executivepastor.org, David Fletcher, that has just been a great resource. I love, I’ve been a fan for a long, long time of David fletcher and use that website quite a bit. Also I’m a follower of Tony Morgan, the Unstuck Group, followed Tony for a lot of years, and he’s great at passing along resources. And I would say those are the two principal ones that I use. Yeah. Those are the two main ones I would say at this point, I do a lot of reading, also attend a leadership summit, the Will Create Leadership Summit every year and come away from that with a lot of good resources as well. But, I kind of carry this through the year.
You have obviously been through lot of transition with the church and specifically when talking to other executive pastors who are considering re-branding or maybe proposing re-branding for the church, what kind of encouragement would you give to them?
The first thing that I would say is the bigger the plane is the longer the runway that you need to get the plane off the ground, right? And when you think about re-branding and you think about renaming a church, there is so much emotion attached to that, that you have to take it slowly, you have to allow for discussion, you have to acknowledge the feelings that people have and to the degree that questions come up, you need to be able to respond to those questions and not move too quickly. I think the other part is we have to be real clear about why we wanna change the name, why we don’t wanna stay where we are. And we think about leading people, Bill Hiball talks about leading people from here to there, from point A to point B, it isn’t necessarily about starting the discussion about talking about, why do we wanna be there? Why do we want a be at point A? It starts with, why don’t we want to stay at point A, why do we want to move away from this point A, why do we wanna change the name of our church? Why are we discontented with the name of our church so that when you start to talking about the vision and where you’re going, that people go, “yeah, I understand that I get it, I buy it, I’m ready to go there.” You just can’t rush that, that’s not something you can do in thirty days. You really have to make sure that you’re giving it the time you need, and that if you’re feeling that leading, you really gotta follow that. Because I think that’s god really leading us, the Holy Spirit leading as saying, “hey, this name isn’t working for us right now. There’s better way.”
What an important distinction to answer that, why are we leaving before, why are we going? So that’s great. So in general, outside of the transitions, just being an executive pastor for the last ten years. I’d like to close, if you could just be able to give some general encouragement, executive pastor out there from ten years’ experience?
Sure. I’ve actually been an executive pastor for fourteen years now. My second church as an executive pastor. The encouragement I would give is that we have the opportunity to have a great impact in the life of our churches; to put our fingerprints, if you will, on the life of the church. I like being part of a team. I also know that it’s important to be in a network with other executive pastors, and not be an island and to have a place where you can go to be able to process with people who really understand what your life is like and the challenges they have as an EXP. I don’t know that, I look around our church, there’s nobody really doing what I’m doing, so it can be a challenge for me to be able to process and talk about the unique things I do with people who really understand that. And that network is really important, whether that’s through executivepastor.org, or just seeking out other ex-pastors in your area, now being in a metropolitan area, FW here, we have a lot of larger churches and it’s pretty easy to connect, most xps are willing to sit down and talk, connect, and have to have coffee or whatever that is, and I really would encourage, encourage other ex-pastors out there, if you’re not connected to a network, you don’t have other executive pastors, you can talk to, then really seek that out, that can really be beneficial for you from an encouragement standpoint, from the ability to learn and grow in your position. Every guy that I’ve ever talked to, every ex pastor that I’ve ever engaged with has been open to that as I am as well. So do that, right?
Yeah, that’s fantastic. Allan thanks so much for being on the podcast.
My pleasure, thanks Courtney.