Welcome back to the Monday Morning Church podcast. Today, we have Dave Teixeira on the show coming to us from Cedar Mill Bible Church in Portland, Oregon. Great to have you on the show today, Dave.
Yeah. Great to be here, Courtney. Thanks for having me.
So, Dave, tells a little bit about how you came into your position there at Cedar Mill.
Yeah. It’s kind of, I guess, a unique story, or maybe it’s typical of how God works, but heading off to college, I’m kind of in a place where I was doubting my faith a little bit. And went to get my degree in Physics and Math at a small college in Nebraska, of all places, Hastings College. And through my freshman and even into my sophomore year of college, just started working in my life through campus ministry. I kind of recommitted my faith to Him. But I just continued on with my plans to get my degree in Physics and Math, and go be an engineer, and make lots of money, and do great things in the industry world. Anyway, my senior year, about halfway through my senior year, it just became really clear that God was kind of leading me a different direction. And all my friends said, yeah, we’ve known this for a long time. It’s just you’re a little slow on the uptake. So anyway, I obviously just finished out my degree. I have my undergrad in Physics and Math, which is God’s painful way of putting me through difficult studies, I guess. And I had it off to be a youth pastor. I got a little bit of training and pretty much I went, uh, to be a Youth Pastor. I had some great advice from some pastor friends who said, hey, why don’t you go hang out in the church for a couple of years before you invest four years in seminary and figure out if you really like this. So I did, a couple years in the church as Youth Pastor, and it really was where I was supposed to be, and I loved it. And so I started going to seminary at night. Eventually graduated from seminary, became a family pastor, associate guy, started preaching a little bit more. And then in my early 30s, got the Lead Pastor position that the church I was serving in Ventura, California at the time. When the head pastor step down and moved on to other things, they asked me to step in. From there, I got a call up here to Portland, Oregon. My wife and I felt like the Lord was really moving us up here. And so I landed at Cedar Mill almost five years ago now. It’s been a great church. And I really love Portland and Oregon, and what God’s doing here in the City.
Now, I have to go back a little bit to your story. It made me laugh to think of a youth pastor with the Physics and Math background. You may be one of the few.
Totally. And all my students would come to me for Physics and Math. It helps with their homework. I was like, let me tell you about Jesus, and I can also help you with these equations. And what’s funny about it now is that at Cedar Mill Bible, we have a lot of people who work at Intel. Intel is right up the road. So we have a lot of Intel employees here who are very sort of Math, analytical minded folks. And I think God helped me to think about a way a little bit in that degree. So it’s playing out in the ministry somehow, even though, I don’t even think I could help my daughter with her Physics homework these days. It’s been so long.
Well, that’s interesting though, because with your Math background, you’re the Senior Pastor there at Cedar Mill, and a lot of Senior Pastors tend to look into Executive Pastors mostly because they don’t want to do the financial part, the Math part, the more technical organizational part. Do you find that you’re wired a little more towards that than probably most Senior Pastors?
Absolutely, I am. And it’s something I’ve had to learn to embrace. In fact, we don’t have an Executive Pastor. We do have an Operations Director who does all the nuts and bolts stuff of that, but I do like to look at the spreadsheets, see the budget numbers and talk through some of the more technical aspects of church. I actually enjoy that part and I think I do pretty good at it. Yeah, maybe I’m a little different in that way but —
So tell us a little bit about Cedar Mill. What’s the personality of the church? What kind of demographic do you guys typically have respond to you the best?
Yeah. I know. That’s a great question. Cedar Mill is a church here in Portland that has been around for a long time, has a really rich history. We’re just outside of the city limits. We’re still a Portland address, but it’s kind of unincorporated Portland, just over the hill from the main city. And so it started off as this church way out in the boonies, and now the city is grown into in way past us. So I think we’re an inner ring suburb kind of church that has a connection to the city, but also to the suburbs. We are a church that has just been solid and faithful over the years. This goes way back from before me. A great pastor named Al Wollen kind of really took Cedar Mill and put it on the map. He served here for, I think, almost 30 years. The guy who served before me was here 26 years. It is just a solid Bible teaching community, just kind of faithful church is the history of Cedar Mill. We’ve traditionally been, I think, just kind of a middle class white church, if I can be really honest about that. But these days, God seems to be doing something different. We certainly still have a lot of folks who sit into that demographic, but now it’s like we’re that and more. We have a Spanish speaking congregation to the part of our church. And so that really has opened our sort of perspective and it just feels like we’re very multi-generational. So at one point, the church had got a bit older. Now we’ve seen the influx of young families, and so we’re diverse in terms of socio-economics. We’re diverse in terms of the age. We’re even getting some sort of ethnicity diversity going on. So, yeah, God’s is just always worked change into moving and that brings some really great opportunities and also some challenges to us.
Yeah, certainly. Is a Spanish speaking congregation a part of Cedar Mill, or is this another church that kind of uses your facility?
Yeah. And there’s definitely both models out there. We consider it a part of Cedar Mills. So we say, Cedar Mill Bible Church, we have three services on Sunday. Two in English, in the Worship Center, and one in Spanish in our chapel. And so they have their own pastor that’s on our staff and they have their own service in Spanish. I don’t speak Spanish but we consider them to be part of our church. And so throughout the year, a few times a year, they’ll come over and join us. Sometimes I go over and preach in Spanish with a translator, and there’s a real great relationship between the two congregations. And we try and really just treat the whole thing as one church, even though there’s sometimes a language barrier, obviously.
Yeah. That’s great. So a little more into this, what is something you’ve got going on there at Cedar Mill that you’ve really found success with? Some kind of solution or best practice.
Yeah, no. well, I think there’s a few ways to answer that question. One of the things that we’re seeing here is with the influx of young families, there’s so many young families in our area that are kind of moving into the area, that are starting to come to Cedar Mill again. Our Children’s Ministry is doubled in the last number of years. I think that’s just an area where God’s working and moving. And so we are really putting a lot of energy and resources towards what we call the next generation; children, youth, young adults; saying, hey, we want to be a place where those kids find community, meet Jesus, are raised up to be world changers for Christ, and where families feel like, yeah, this church is partnering with us to raise our kids, to know and follow Jesus. That’s huge for us. But maybe on a more personal leadership level, for me, I really just believe in the power of collaboration and community. And so I think in terms of best practices, for me, what I’m finding is just involving people, involving staff people, working together and creating a culture where we work together to accomplish things, everyone’s ideas matter, everyone can have a say, or at least the right people can have a say for the right things and trying to move more and more towards that, that to me is never a loss. And when you do that, you always get the best product and the best ideas.
What are some practical ways that you are making this happen? Are there certain scheduled meetings you have every week? Have you created specific teams or leadership teams to kind of encourage that collaboration?
Yeah. Absolutely. You have read my mind there. That’s a great question. We do. Actually, our staff is divided into seven different teams. First of all, we have an Elder Team. That’s one of our staff teams. Our Elder Team leads our church and gives direction. We have three things. They give direction, and protection, and connection to our congregation. So from as 30,000 foot level, they make sure we’re on the right track and that we’re still the church that God’s calling us to be. And then on our staff, we have a lead team that sets the tone for the staff. And then we have a Sunday team, and the Next Gen team, and an Operations team. And there’s seven teams there. And so they all work together to accomplish specific things in the life of our church. So that’s been a really big structural room for us, I think, in the last number of years.
Now, who do all these teams report to then? Is that to you? Is that to some kind of leadership team or directly to the elders?
Yeah. It kind of fans out a little bit. We like to think of it less pop down and more like left to right, because it’s a bit more of a collaborative kind of thing instead of a hierarchy, just sort of a way that we organize ourselves. But our elders, obviously, oversee everything. And then the lead team, I lead. And then there are team leaders for each of the other six teams. I actually don’t even lead any of those. I’m on the Sunday team, but I don’t lead that team. So there are different team leaders and then the people on those teams report to those team leaders for guidance and supervision. That’s how we weigh it out.
Now, I want to go back to what you mentioned at the beginning of this question, which is focusing a little more of your energy on this next generation. How have you done that? Is that a matter of hiring more staff, just making programming centered around this next generation? What’s that look like for you guys?
Yeah. I think at the end of the day, every church has to decide where their time, energy and resources are going to go, because that’s really what you’re focused on. Being a diverse congregation, we have time, energy, and resources going to a lot of different places and a lot of areas. But one of the places that we really make sure that we kind of carve out a significant, a chunk of energy for is the next gen. And so that does mean we do invest in staff there. We do invest in the space we created. We didn’t have a youth center when I came and we just found some space in the building and did some renovations and some redecorating and birth the youth center out of nowhere. It’s been a wonderful space for our students. Just the way of saying, this is a group that matters to us, and they even have a place for them. So little things like that go a long way. And I could go on and on. But I think really it just comes down to just making sure that we have the right resources there to have the impact that we want to have.
Yeah. I mean, your heart follows your resources. So wherever those are being spent, that’s where your heart’s going to be.
Yeah. You know, Courtney, part of that is that I came into ministry as a Youth Pastor, and I say all the time, I’m really just still a Youth Pastor disguised as a Lead Pastor. And most of the church knows that about me and they wish I was a little bit more mature. But the reality is that there’s still a Youth Pastor party of me. Once a Youth Pastor, always a Youth Pastor, at least a little bit.
Well, I guess we’re all supposed be children of the faith, so maybe that’s appropriate for the adults too.
Yeah. I think so.
So we’re going to go on the flip side of this then. What is a current challenge that you guys have that you haven’t quite found a solution for?
That’s a great question. I would have to say for us, and it’s almost an obvious answer, and I’ll be honest, I’m a little bit embarrassed to share it. This feels like a no brainer and we should have this one solved for sure, but it’s probably communication for us. We have a lot going on in our church and communication has really changed over the years. I don’t know if you know this about the church, but sometimes we’re slow to adapt to things.
That’s no secret. I don’t think.
Yeah. I don’t think so, either. But we want to be great at communicating because there’s a lot of good things to communicate along with the Gospel, which is huge, obviously. But then all the stuff, God is doing in through our congregation. But we sometimes struggle to communicate it. Some of that is just the sheer volume. But the breadth of all the things that are happening, some of it has to do with the fact that we’re a multi-generational congregation and some of the modes of communication that work for the younger generations don’t work for the older. And so we tend to be spread a little thin. But at the end of the day, we’re really working hard right now to try and fix that and be a church that communicates a lot better. But it’s a struggle for us still, if I’m honest.
Do you find that the biggest struggle is communicating internally within those who are in your congregation or outside to the community, or it just kind of all of it?
Yeah, you know what? That’s really — here’s the thing with that is if you’re not good at communicating with the community, they won’t give you any feedback. They don’t complain, they aren’t frustrated. So I’m not sure we’re great at communicating with the community. I think we do okay. But we don’t get a lot of negative feedback from them. It’s just is what it is. But when you don’t communicate well with your church family, they will tell you. And so I think for me, the answer to that is both. But we hear it more regularly from our church members. And the good news there is that they want to be in the know. They want to be included. They want to have the information. And so that’s where I’m feeling the urgency of things. And we have people that want us to communicate well. We just got to do a better job.
That’s a nice perspective that if people are talking to you about it and even complaining, it’s because they want to be connected.
Yeah. Church is like a blessing and a curse. People have such high ownership of their church family. They are the church so they have a high ownership and that’s what you want from them. And that also comes with a lot of expectations and struggles and sometimes conflict too. So it’s good and hard.
Yeah. Absolutely. So Dave, what are some of your favorite resources or places to go just to make sure you’re staying sharp in your role?
Yeah. That’s a great question. I think I can answer that in two ways. The first would be just in a training way. How do I stay sharp in terms of skills and things? And I use a lot of the resources that a lot of pastors use, leadership stuff from other pastors like Andy Stanley, or Bill Hybels, or Craig Groeschel. Those guys are just such great leaders and they offer such wonderful resources and tips. But probably more importantly for me, honestly, is at a personal side of being a pastor and making sure that my own heart and soul are in a good place and connected to Jesus and posture the right way. And for that, I tend to go to my good friends who are in the ministry. One of the things that we do here is we consider our staff to be a family. And so some of my very best friends are actually other pastors and staff members that work right here at Cedar Mill. So this kind of creating a place where we can do life together has been a big blessing. And then I would say, maybe the most unique thing about Cedar Mill is that the man who was the head pastor here for 26 years, right before I came, he still goes here, and he and I have become really good friends. In fact, I just had coffee with him this morning. We do coffee every few weeks together and stay connected, and he preaches here occasionally. And that’s a unique thing when old pastor stays around new pastor comes. But he has become just a place of comfort and support and encouragement, kind of a refuge for me. He can relate to some of the things I’m feeling and facing and struggling with. And just having him and be a part of my life has been a huge blessing. And the church has, I think, also really enjoyed knowing and watching the two of us develop this really close friendship.
Yeah. I would think so. That’s not very common, as you mentioned. So I’m curious, is he on staff in any capacity at all or he just preaches here there and comes to church and enjoys.
He’s not on staff. He does do missions work now. So he travels around and trains pastors all over the world. And so there are Sundays when he’s not here because he’s in Nepal. And he just loves to come and preach still and encourage me. He even told me this morning, hey, if you need me to do anything for you, just let me know. Which is such a gift. And he’s going to preach here for us probably after Easter at some point, and then again in the summer.
Well, that is rare and also really great to hear. So that’s exciting. So Dave, I want to end on this. What encouragement would you give to others in church leadership?
I would say, maybe, the most important thing is be honest and authentic. I think, work to create a culture where you can be honest and authentic with your church, and they can be honest and authentic with you. I think that’s so important in our world today where leadership isn’t trusted. It feels like everyone’s suspicious of leaders and even specifically religious leaders. It’s like, hmm, we’re not sure. And I think the more you lean in to community in connection with the people in your congregation and those around you, and don’t feel like, I’ll have to play this pastor role or be this person, and then maybe go be the real version of myself with folks outside my congregation. I think that’s what’s almost been the model for pastors over the years, hey, we want to provide a safe place for you to be yourself away from your church. And I want to say, I don’t know, create the kind of culture where you can be the real version of you, good, bad, and ugly, with the people in your church. Not everyone in your church needs to know everything about you, but some people in your church do. And I have found that the more honest and real I am with people personally, and then also even from upfront, people have been gracious and they connect and they relate to that and it creates an environment of safety. So I think I would just encourage pastors that way. I think it also just builds this connection that people are longing for. And if they know you love them, then they will give you a lot of space to be yourself. Because it says in the scriptures, love covers over a multitude of sins. And I got tons of stuff. I got tons of baggage. I am far from perfect. But I think my people know that I love them, and so they give me a lot of grace.
That’s beautiful. Dave, thanks so much for being on the podcast today.
Yeah. Thanks for having me. I appreciate it.