Welcome back to the Monday Morning Church Podcast. Today we’ve got Angela Pruitt on the show, coming to us from the Crossing Church in Costa Mesa, California. Angela, great to have you.
Thank you. Thank you for having me.
Angela, you are the business administrator there at the Crossing Church. How long have you been there? How did you come to the position? Give us a little of your background.
I began working here, I actually just had my 20-year anniversary on October 27th.
Thank you so much. Yeah, it’s crazy. I actually started attending the Crossing back in 1996, and at that time, I was employed by a sales manufacturers representative company, and I loved my job, I had a great job, and I had an extra neighbor that also attended the Crossing at the time. And she had told me that the business administrator at that time, Jill Moyne was moving and that the job was going to be available and that she thought it was a perfect fit for me. I was not interested in it at all. I’d never envisioned myself as a church employee, to tell you the truth. I just kind of dismissed it, but every time I saw her, she would mention it again. She kept bugging me and bugging me about it. So I basically applied for the job just so that she would kind of leave me alone about it. As soon as I applied, I got a phone call, I got interviewed by Jill and our lead pastor, Tim Celek, and you could say the rest is history.
Now 20 years in the business administration field means you’ve seen probably a whole lot of changes and even just changes specific to your church. What has that been like, seeing staff come and go, a church grow and everything in the last 20 years?
It has really…it’s been amazing. It’s difficult at times as well, but it really has been amazing. God has done some crazy things here and to be able to sit front row and watch Him work is just priceless, it’s wonderful. I always say this is my dream job. So I’m very, very grateful for it.
As you know, this podcast is mostly tuned in to by executive pastors, and you’ve got two executive pastors on staff there at the Crossing Church, one of ministry, and one of operations. So I would like for you to kind of go into a little more detail of how your job differs, especially from the executive pastor of operations and how you complement one another.
Well, the executive pastor of operations, I always say is just like, he’s definitely a gift from God. God put the perfect person for me to work with. I support him in some ways, but he also has an assistant that does a lot of that. Mainly out of my support for him comes with things that are financial as far as budgeting and researching, technology solutions and things that will make us more efficient and save money and benefits, things of that nature is how I come along beside him, as far as trying to support him in what he’s doing. So it’s really a very wide scope that I cover. We’re a pretty lean staff, and so it’s kind of like okay, whatever they ask me to do, I’m ready to do it.
So can you give a little more, unpack that wide scope of what you would be responsible, especially that Monday through Friday time period?
My responsibilities basically include payables, receivables, payroll, HR, like I said, reviewing of contracts and PCI compliance stuff. I administer all of our benefits, budgeting. We have numerous systems that I support our whole staff. I am involved in background checks for volunteers, the reporting of financials. We have a yearly audit and probably one of my bigger role is our team of volunteers. And they help me with some of the admin stuff, contributions and those kinds of things. We are a very volunteer-driven church, so leading them and encouraging them and things like that are also a big part of what I do.
I find that interesting because a lot of churches will hire someone for business administration, maybe get them an assistant to help them out, because I would assume that volunteers helping in your area have got to have some qualifications. So how do you go about finding those volunteers and training them properly?
Probably the biggest part of it is a lot of prayers, lots and lots of prayers. I usually will try to identify someone. I kind of go through a set of steps, finding out have they volunteered in other areas, that kind of thing, checking with those leaders, “Hey, how has that person done?” and making sure that they’re committed to the church and everything, their time, talent and treasures. Usually it takes me three to six months to just pray over the names, and then I check with the executive pastor and the lead pastor and get their input on it. And after that process, that’s when I will engage them. And typically, God has already been working there and they’ll usually say yes right on the spot. “Yes, absolutely.” And then we kind of have the model as far as training of “I do it, you watch, and then you do it and I watch”, you know, that kind of a thing, where I walk along beside them until they kind of get it, where they’ll see me doing it, and then I’ll watch them do it. And they usually have like obviously the counters, they don’t do things by themselves, and they’re usually here with me at the same time doing the task. So I’m available, but we have written policies for things and those kinds of stuff to help them be able to succeed.
I just can’t help it being really intrigued by this. A lot of times we talk with executive pastors, and it can be hard to match the business side of church and the ministry side of church. So I like that your area, which is definitely a business side of church, has that volunteer and ministry side to it, too.
You know what? It is really cool because people think that in order to serve, that they have to be with kids or all the other areas instead of being in a place that this is how God has wired you up. This is where you excel, this is where you have your passion. And when people find out, “Wow, I can serve in that way?” they’re usually so grateful and they haven’t served because no one asked, no one asked, that’s it. No one’s ever asked them. So I think it’s such a vital part of, you know, because they are the church, it’s not our staff people, we can’t do it all. It’s their church, it’s our church together. So, yeah, it’s really cool to see people when they really kind of discover that, “Hey, God has a place for me in something I’m passionate about.”
I love that. It’s like you said, gifts and talents aren’t just reserved for people who can sing or people who can work with children. There are all sorts of ranges of talents that are within the church pews. That’s great.
Angela, what would you say are some of your more significant administrative challenges?
I think we probably face some of the same challenges most ministries face. I think one of the things from an admin point is balancing the importance of ministry of people versus ministry of paper, I call it, because I think people in my area are very task-driven, generally speaking, and just to always keep that in the forefront of your mind. We do have to get the paper done, but without the people, the papers are pointless.
I also feel like another one of the big challenge is technology. Technology is changing all the time and people don’t really like change, I’ve kind of found. So getting them to come along with you is a very delicate thing. You have to help people transition during change and stuff like that. I think another one of the big things that’s kind of, two of them are intertwined, it’s getting systems to work the way we want them to at an affordable price, and then getting the information out of there and reporting for people that don’t deal with numbers all day long, to have it easy so that they can see what they’re spending or what they have, what their budget is, that it’s timely, that it’s accurate and it empowers the ministry leaders to make wise decisions regarding their ministries for the maximum impact. Those are some of the biggest challenges that we face.
Yeah, absolutely. So I want to go into a little more detail in about a couple of those things. You mentioned technology changes really rapidly these days, and it can be really hard to help people transition to those changes. And I’m sure a lot of people listening would be shaking their heads, “Yes, absolutely, that’s a really difficult thing”. So what are some of the things that maybe you or the Crossing has experimented with when it comes to maybe training employees or just helping people through that transition, specifically staff, I would say?
Well, I wish I had this great answer. Generally speaking, a lot of times it’s just sitting down one-on-one with people and walking through things, and even then it’s hard to get them to change. We’ve actually, in the last year, changed three of our major systems, and with one of the systems, there are also other like piggyback apps on top of it. So learning those along with the whole system, it’s been great in the end, but it can be painful obviously, because it does mean changing how you think about things and those kinds of things. So I think it’s just growing pains when you change anything, it’s just growing pains and just being willing to hang in there and, you know, everybody offers each other a lot of grace and it’s the learning process pretty much like anything else.
We have been able to automate a lot of things, that we had too much manual paper stuff going on and no way to track things and that kind of stuff, like knowing, “Hey, I’ve got this right here, I submitted it to you on this date, it hasn’t been approved, it’s been this long.” You know, that kind of thing…so that you can be accountable to what you’re doing. And I feel like it just really honors vendors and attendees and all that stuff when you do things with excellence in that way.
Absolutely. You mentioned in the last year you’ve had three major system changes, which is pretty significant. And again, a lot of people listening are going to want to know what are the systems you’re using now. So would you mind name dropping a little bit some of the apps you’re using?
Sure. For our financials, we were on Shelby and we moved to a non-church solution. Actually, it’s called Zero, and that’s the one that has the piggyback. So we have for just our normal regular stuff, we go to an app called ApprovalMax, and then for the tracking and processing of the church credit card, it goes to Expensify. So that was one big change. We also changed who we are doing payroll with. We switched to ADP payroll. I mean we’ve done a lot of smaller companies and they didn’t seem to be able to handle or understand churches, and plus they do have some things that are also automated as far as being able, you know, the time of request and stuff like that, and being able to prove those on your phone and whatnot. And then the other one is we were with Fellowship one for our contribution and member management type of stuff, and we moved to Rock. So those are the three major changes we’ve made.
Because that is a lot of changes in one year, where did those changes come from? Was that from a certain, like one of your executive pastors, from you or just from the staff as a whole, feeling like it was time to move forward in these new applications?
The financials was a joint decision with me and the executive pastor. We had been looking at that for a while, just because when I started here we were on Shelby DOS. And then we moved to Shelby V5, and I know they have an online solution, but it just wasn’t as robust as we were needing. So that’s how that kind of came about. It didn’t have the drill down and some different things like that, that we wanted. The payroll was definitely something that was initiated by me. That’s something that I needed to do. The member management, that was an accumulative decision. We do have a database manager who heads that area. But I think we do a lot of collaboration because it’s going to affect everyone. And when people are not being able to do their jobs as efficiently and effectively as they need to, then we have to look at “Is there something we can do?” You know, sometimes…there’s a saying that we have it right here, it’s like, “Is it a problem to solve or is it attention to manage?” And that’s kind of the lens that we look at things through. So if it’s a problem that can be solved, then we do move in that direction, but if it’s just something that’s, “hey, we’re not going to solve this, we just have to learn to live in it” and it kind of starts there identifying that.
That’s a really interesting distinction to make. You said that a lot of the balance is about balancing the ministry of people and the ministry of paper. And the irony is sometimes you need more ministry of paper or technology in order to fuel actually more ministry of people. It’s good to hear your church kind of going through that process. So I wonder, Angela, with all of these different, the technology, and even just the holistic spiritual side of your job at the church, where do you go for encouragement and for challenge in your role as a business admin in a church?
Probably the biggest, I would say my executive pastor, he’s probably my biggest encouragement, but also there’s other staff members that I’m in relationship with that kind of they get what being on a church staff is all about, also there’s other people that I network with that are doing the same position I’m doing at other churches. And of course, I think always having just a great family and the support system like that is vital.
You mentioned this network. Is this just kind of an informal group of people you’ve met over the years, or is just a formal network?
It’s a little bit of both. There are people that I have met at different events, like the NACBA has meetings on a regular basis in our area, so we get together with them. And in that I have met people that I stay in contact with, not just through those meetings, but we’ll go and have lunch and discuss what’s going on, or “What are you guys doing?” Right now I have several different people that are contacting me because they know that we switched some of our systems and they want to like, “Okay, what are you guys doing?” You know, that kind of stuff. So yeah, it’s both in.
Yeah, I was going to warn you that there’s a chance you might get some emails after this airs, people who are going to make some of the same switches that you guys have made. So you put yourself out there at the contact team.
You know what? I absolutely love it.
Good. Well, that’s good. What encouragement would you give to other business administrators, especially coming from 20 years of experience in the field and on church staff?
I think one of the biggest things that’s encouraging to me is obviously my relationship with God and the fact that you have to continually remind yourself as work as unto the Lord, you know, you have to work as unto the Lord, that’s all there is to it. And I think also the other thing is, which one of the things He’s constantly reminding me is like, if I called you to this, I’m going to equip you to do it. So when you feel like “I don’t know what I’m doing”, it’s okay. It’s alright, I’m going to give you the resources. You just have to do your due diligence. I just think that that’s the most important thing, obviously staying connected to Him, because life is just hard in general. So if you don’t have good people around you and a good stable relationship with God, even working in a church, it can be hard. It’s hard. It’s hard dealing with people, and people come here when they’re in crisis, and that’s something that even a business administrator has to deal with. It’s not just pastors that get people that are hurting or whatever, it’s they look at you, the people attending as you work at the church, so you have all the answers and you’re like, “Oh, okay. Hold on a minute.” So I think it’s just that whole mindset, it’s more of a mindset than anything else, is you have to keep your mind in the right space in order to be able to serve with the heart of joy.
“If I called you to this, I will equip you.” That is the perfect words to end on, probably. Angela, thanks so much for being a part of the podcast today.
Thank you for having me.