Welcome back to the Monday Morning Church podcast. Brian Dunaway is joining us today from Cross Church with four locations in northwest Arkansas. Great to have you, Brian.
Thanks for having me, Courtney.
So Brian, tell us a little bit about your position there at Cross Church and how you came into it.
Sure, I am the director of communications and technology for Cross Church, and I’ve been in this position for about four years, been across church for six years. I actually grew up at the church when it was just one location, and I went to college in the area, left for a while, and worked at another church and did some secular production for lack of a better term. And then about six years ago, they called me back and I just came back as the technology director, and that’s what I wanted to do. I’d spent a lot of time in production, but as things come and go, we had our guy that was over at communications. He actually had left and that’s my background. And so they approached me about coming on and taking over a communications in the media department and expanding our staff a little bit. And so I pushed it away. I really didn’t wanna do that anymore. I thought that I was out of that seasonal life, and God has different plans a lot of times. And so I decided that I wanted to do it. And my boss at the time who is a great friend and mentor said, well, if you wanna paycheck, you might wanna consider doing this. And I said, well, I’d love to. I think God’s saying yes. And so I did it. And four years later, I’ve been the communications director for Cross Church for about four years now.
So when he first came on, you mentioned programming, were you mostly there for Sunday morning production?
When I first started out of college, I was a media director what we title media director, which handled most of the in-room, audio, video, lighting. And then I went away for a few years and when I came back, I was the technology director, which was more the IT, internet, computers, anything… cell phones, copiers, that kind of deal, then the network, the internal network. But I was still involved in some of the production, the in-room production, and then expand it into the external communication, web print, that kind of thing.
Yeah, so tell me a little bit… you said you ended up building a team. So tell me a little bit about who your team is and what roles they felt.
I had an excellent opportunity when they approached me with the job to build what I wanted or what I had over my years, which had been about 10 years of work in production, how I would like to see it set up. It was kind of a clean, slight idea, and you have these different tiers, but a lot of them play together. And so you have the media, which is audio video, lighting and more the in-room experience for a Sunday or the production side of things. And then you have the communication switches, create a video, external print, web, internal print, that kind of side of it. And then, you have the technology or the IT departments, which are the computers and the internet and the networks, internal networks, which must function, but it all kind of plays in the same playground a little bit. And so, what I presented with the leadership team at Cross Church was to have this sort of umbrella, where we have these tiers. And so we have a communications tier. We have an AVL or media tier, and then we have a technology tier and my job at Cross Church is to oversee that over all of our campuses, but each campus has a director of media. Our communications team is global because we felt like as far as branding and look and feel of everything we needed to have what we call a global team. And so we have the centralized team, they actually work out of our Springdale location, and they manage all of our communications, print, web, all of that stuff, video from one location. But they work outward, media is a little different because you have people, events at campuses all the time and so you might have a women’s bible study and a Wednesday night activity. And obviously Sunday morning is the big day. And so we have directors of media that handle day to day operations of production, AVL inside the big rooms and outside for different events. And then we have our technology which also functions a lot. We call it globally, like our communications department, we house in Springdale. We have all of our hub here. We’re very intricate with our servers and email and all that. And so we work in Springdale, but we manage locations throughout northwest Arkansas depending on what those are. And so that’s what I had presented to them. We tweaked it a little bit. And so we have these three tiers and we have an opportunity to all work together globally and externally in different campuses. And then I just manage that because without each one of those heads of those departments, I really am nothing because there’s no way that I could handle any of that stuff by myself, let alone it all of it combined.
So when you first came on then, I assume that the job has grown quite a bit or that the church is grown quite a bit with this kind of a team introduced. Did you have the four campuses when you joined six years ago?
There were four campuses that the structure was just a little bit different, and cyclically organizations go through times of change. And when my predecessor had left, several people left at the same time, so you know how things just cycle. And so it was just the right time to reorganize and restructure how things worked, and we weren’t new in the multi-site world, newbies to that. But at the same time, you’re still growing pains, multi campus, a multi-site is a little bit, we call it a little bit messy. It can be a little bit painful at times because you have to maintain the DNA and the culture of the church at the same time. When you take a church and the culture and the DNA, and you move it into another area of the town, of the state, you have to adapt to how those people and how those cultures work while still maintaining the mother DNA, if you will. And so we’re just constantly evolving and growing into that. We have three campuses in northwest Arkansas that run 2000+ on Sunday morning. So they each alone standalone or are counted as mega churches, which is very odd and without a doubt, just a God thing. So you have… but they’re autonomous, but they’re also connected. And so you just have to cultivate that culture. And obviously Ronnie Floyd does a fantastic job of that. It’s the vision that God gave him to expand and multi-site is a big deal now in churches. So he’s gone with that flow. I guess, to answer your question, it was more of a time and the organization where we could restructure not necessarily that we were doing it wrong or we were new to it. We just said, hey, now is a good time, people are leaving, it’s time to bring new people on. Brian, you’re here, you do what you wanna do with it.
So is Cross Church a primarily a senior pastor vision led church?
Yes. Ronnie Floyd has a leadership team that sits with him every Monday and that consists of the campus pastors, myself, the worship pastors and several others. And we sit in a room on Monday, and that’s kind of where the game plan comes from how to operate Cross Church, but ultimately Ronnie Floyd is the senior pastor and he makes the final decisions.
Yeah, I was thinking if you’re in charge of communications, which is a pretty big deal. That’s the face of the church. Then it would be pretty important for you to have a strong connection to the senior pastor in the vision then?
Yeah, I’m with Ronnie quite a bit and he’s a fantastic leader, mentor, boss. He’s obviously, it’s near to me this whole church is because I grew up here, I was saved out of this church. I remember the message Ronnie Floyd preached when I went down and except Christ as savior. So there’s a lot there that draws me here. It’s kind of what I would say, a unique story where a lot of people don’t have an opportunity to grow up somewhere and stay. I left for a while. I needed to spread my wings a little bit, but God gave me the opportunity to come back, which has been really a privilege and a blessing for me.
That’s great. So tell me a little more, let’s go into some details here? What’s a solution or best practice that you have implemented there at Cross Church that you’ve seen success with?
Sure, I think that for me and for our culture, it has helped to design in my departments, more of a flat organization where we feel like we all work together rather than one working for one another. I have an assistant, she’s phenomenal. And I always tell her, she’ll say, Brian I work for you, what do you need me to do? And I said, no, you don’t work for me. We work together. And so whenever I hear that you work for me, I’m above you mentality, I’ve just really tried to flat line the organization to where obviously decisions have to be made, and I’ll make those decisions. And people look to me at times to make those decisions, but I want everybody’s opinions at the table to matter just as much as anyone else’s. And the good thing about our team is we don’t have… a lot of times, there’s not a lot of people around the table that say, well, I’ve been here for so many years now. We do have that. But we have folks that all feel comfortable putting an idea on the table, but at the same time, if that idea isn’t used, nobody’s upset and maybe we take that idea and we cultivate it and we switch it up and we change it. We may… we say that’s not gonna work now, but just a flat line on the organization. And then in day to day, it helps where no one’s talking down to anyone and feels like they may or may not super see the other. So that’s been valuable to us.
Yeah, so how many are on your team then?
Total, if you look at the three pillars, the three pillars we have about 16 people.
That’s a large team, especially spread out in different locations at times.
It can be, yes. And the more people you add, the more personnel problems that adds, no one’s a problem child on the team and other area that’s been very effective and it kind has been a privilege. And not everybody has this opportunity is to be able to hire light-minded people. The way that I operate is more of an in the trenches mentality, I wanna get out there and I wanna do, and I wanna create a search customer service mentality. We’re a service agency of the church, and so we service many ministries and many people at times. And so I try to train our team to pretend like their, not pretend, but just to act and represent themselves as if we have clients and those clients, may be the student ministry, it may be the children’s ministry, the senior adult ministry, but we work for them. And when you have that kind of mentality, it’s not like this… it just lets things fall to the floor, egos, arrogance, that kind of thing. And so we really look for people on this team, myself or whoever I bring people in when we’re hiring, and I let multiple people interview. We want people with very little ego very little pride, especially in communications, where you’re doing with video, audio, or video and print, and graphic designers and that kind of thing. They contain creative, I’ve learned ’cause I’m not ultra-creative, can carry this my way or the highway. My idea is the best idea. And so that’s really the first thing I ask. I feel like I want people to drink in the culture of Cross Church. I want them to understand what we expect of them, but I also want them to know that they’re not gonna walk around with this, hey, look what I can show you. It’s just, yeah, we wanna be good. We want very excellent people. But at the same time, if excellence is accompanied with arrogance and pride than they can find somewhere else to be.
Yeah, so have you found most of your people within the church, or have you found many outside?
I would say that the last four years I’ve hired a lot outside, but we offer jobs internally, if somebody’s in the church and they feel like they wanna make that jump and ministries in their mind, they can. But as of how it’s been right now, it’s been mostly external.
So do you use a certain, sometimes, just the practicality of knowing where to find these people. How do you find them?
For me, I like to use just people light minded, like position people in the churches. I’ll call them up, say, hey, I’m looking for this. You know anybody that you’re either training. I love to get young folks in and I’m 37. So I feel like now I can say young people, but I have a lot to learn. I have a ton to learn. I’m constantly learning, but I like to get fresh out of college. Just not a whole lot of experience, not a lot of time to build bad habits and not habits in their craft, but habits in their person. And how they respond in the business world, in the church world and just their professionalism, because it helps when I can create in them a culture rather than trying to say, have this mentality of what we used to do it this way where I came from. And that’s fine, I love that and I welcome it, but I don’t want that to be the driving force.
Yeah, that makes sense. Alright, flip side to this. What is something going on right now, some current challenge that you haven’t quite found a solution for it?
I think the biggest challenge that I face is attention to each area that I’m over, in a way that everybody feels a part, because there’s a lot of things going on. You’re constantly running from one thing to the next thing to the next thing, right? And so you can get really caught up in the events and the programmatic issues that come and you’re constantly pushing out orders, but you’re not really investing in the team. And so I’m balancing that, I wanna invest in the team individually, individual people on the team, but I also want to invest in them as a team because if you get to a team in an organization and you say it’s running real well, it may be a well-oiled machine. The problem is with anything that you have to oil, well, you have to continue to apply oil because friction happens. And as that friction happens, the oil will disappear. And so it can be a well-oiled machine for a season. But if you’re not constantly oiling that machine, then it can grind to a halt. And so for me, it’s trying to balance the day to day activity constantly go and constantly moving, and then how do I oil the machine so that we can go on to the next thing and take ourselves up. We always wanna be going up, we always wanna be doing what’s current. And so that is probably my biggest challenge right now.
So when you say oiling the machine, what does it look like for you to be doing that for your team? Is this one on one meetings? Is it in further education?
Sure. It’s really just making sure it can be one on one meetings. It can be quality brainstorming sessions, just listening and trying to pour back in whether on a personal level or a team level. Any time you have more than two people on a team, there’s gonna be some problems. Somebody’s not gonna be great with somebody, somebody’s gonna upset somebody. And so what I try to do is offer time where it’s, hey, let’s just talk about what’s going on. And those are really few and far between, a lot of times ’cause again, you’re get in a meeting, you may have an hour and you have an hour and a half worth of stuff to talk about. And so you’re just rapid fire. But there’s times where we might go to lunch once a month and just sit around the table. Not even talk about work and just become friends. That’s a valuable thing. It doesn’t mean you have to hang out every Friday night with the people you work with, in fact, is probably unhealthy, but if you long to… if you had a desire to rather… yeah, I could see that my wife and that person’s husband. We could do a couple’s day together. It’s not that you’re going to do that, but would you be willing to do that? I don’t want the team to be like, okay, I gotta be with this person from 8 am to 5 pm, and then I’m out. You know what I’m saying? Because it just helps you understand. It helps you to be more of a team when you like the people you work with and not everybody’s gonna like everybody all the time. And so that’s what I’m talking about with the oiling machine. And then there’s a part of it too. You wanna create margin in people’s lives where they can be better at what they do. They have time to… guys come to me on the team and they’ll say, hey, I’d really like to go to this conference right in the middle of a big… you might be right in the middle of a big program. A big push or I lost the word, but you may be in some kind of campaign rather, where you need their attention, but they say, this is important to me to help me be better for the church and for myself. And so we work those things in and I want them to want to be better. So we figure that kind of stuff out. So it’s just stuff like that. But a lot of it is the personal level, going to lunch, making sure we are praying for each other. What’s going on in your life outside of work? Are you having issues at home with your wife, with your kids? What can I do for you? And those things take effort, because you can really get lost in the day to day if you’re not careful.
Yeah, definitely. You got a lot of roles, really. You’ve got things you need to keep up on. You’ve got the technology side, communications, plus just management. Where do you go to make sure you’re staying sharp in your role?
That’s a good question. And I actually thought about that as you sent me the questions I was trying to figure out. I spend a lot of time in podcast. I’ll listen to podcasts, just things. And I spend a lot of time with leadership podcast because I’m only as good as the team is. Past that as far as… if you’re looking at the communication side and you say, what’s relevant in communications today, I want our team to be hungry to do that ’cause they don’t have to worry so much about the management of the organization so they can make me better. So I put out to them that I expect them to spend time in their day to day, becoming better at what they do. So a videographer, I don’t mind if he is in his office for times looking at Youtube. Why is he looking at Youtube? Is he just looking at the funniest video of the day, that might bother me. But if he’s looking at how to shoot something, how to edit, how these effects work, then that’s what I really think betters the team. So as long as the team in their craft is looking at what’s new, what can make them better, and also not just in their craft, but as a person spiritually, mentally, I want them to be studying leadership books and whatever spiritual development books, that kind of thing. But for me personally, I’m constantly trying to become better at leading a growing team so that they can lead a growing church in the communication.
That makes sense. If you have a healthy professional team that you don’t have to know everything.
Absolutely. And then the flip side to that, I think for me, not that you ask this, but on the flip side of that, I still have to be sharp in the things that got me here ’cause the next job may not afford a 15+ person team. And so I’m constantly… I just at least try to always be in the day to day a little bit so that if somebody says, if I’ve got a web manager that goes out sick, I wanna know how to do the basics of the web, designing the web, managing. And so if I read a blog here or there, what’s going on in web, then I can at least contribute to the conversation, but at the same time, I’m thinking in the future, God may not have me here forever. I hope that the season lasts for a while, but if I leave and I go to another church with two people and there’s not budget to build a team and they have the needs and the desires to go further, and that’s the only place I’d wanna work with somebody that wants to go ahead. Then I have to be able for a season to handle most of those things, so it’s a give and take there.
Yeah, so Brian to finish with what encouragement would you give to others in church leadership, and I would like to add specifically those in church leadership that deals with the technology and communication side?
I think… the advice that I would give is to love your team, to build your team, and that’s not always paid people. And in fact, in a lot of churches, if we’re talking to churches, it’s a lot of laypeople. But if you will invest in people and you will love on people and you will understand how they think, it’s not just about how the leader thinks. You have to get into them, everybody’s different, personalities are different and you have to get into what makes them tick. What is it that really drives them? Because they may have a desire to do x, but after a while, that will only go so far. Whether you… especially if you’re talking about laypeople and if you have laypeople on your team and you really can’t build a church without having volunteers. That’s a whole other area that we work on in our teams, is building volunteers up, because that offers so many more avenues, but really get in the minds and the lives and the hearts of your people. Because people will go a lot further and a lot longer and be a lot more loyal, if you understand who they are, understand what makes them tick, and they know that you care the adage that I don’t care how much you know, I only know how much you care. That is so true. You need to care more about them than almost anybody in their mind, and they will do almost more than anybody for you.
Oh, that’s great. Brian thanks so much for being on the podcast today.
Thanks for having me.
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