Welcome back to Monday Morning Church. Today’s guest Emily Ver Steeg from Crossroads Fellowship in Raleigh, North Carolina. Great to have you today, Emily.
Emily you have been a church administrator for over twenty years. Eleven of those have been spent at Crossroads Fellowship, would you share with us the path you to get to your current position?
Yes, it’s really kind of interesting. I went to school and studied accounting and when I graduated I went to work for an electric utility here in North Carolina, and I never had really at that point in my life thought about church work. I looked at churches, where pastors worked and where music leaders worked, and that was my whole concept of it. So at that point in time, while I was in actual in a large town here in North Carolina, in Charlotte are one of our largest cities, and was working for the electric utility I met my husband and got married, and we joined a large church there, in Charlotte, which was my first experience with a big church coming from a very small eastern town in North Carolina.
And we had two beautiful girls, and I was working my way up through the accounting area with the electric utility and just got burned out along long hours as well as being a young mother and a husband that traveled and two small kids and decided to take a couple years off and rethink my career path. After a couple years, my youngest daughter started to school and I was thinking about going back to work at that point in time, when our church ran an ad in the bulletin that they needed an accounting manager. Now, I should be able to do that, not really knowing or having a full appreciation for all that goes on behind the scenes, especially with a large church. But that opened a door for me and for the first time I felt my gifting and my passion and ministry all come together when I interviewed and then was accepted as the accounting manager there at that church, the beautiful thing about it too was the church administrator there at that time was just a great mentor. And really took the time to help me learn to transition into not for profit accounting and taught me so much.
There was just such a great amount of opportunity because in addition to the church, they had a licensed counseling center. They had a large preschool and day care with almost eight hundred children. There was a bookstore as well as a cemetery. So for ten years, I was there at that church and was exposed to an awful lot, and as time went on and I was very happy there, but my parents were aging and I realized that my sister needed some help, and our family decided we would move closer and got up at the door at Crossroads Fellowship where I have been for the last eleven years.
You have an executive pastor on staff at crossroads, how do your roles work together and where do they diverge?
Well, our roles come together in the fact that we serve on the executive management team together reporting to the senior pastor, along with our minister of life development, our roles, they work together extremely close it’s imperative, our executive pastor really works with and mentors, the pastors and the ministry teams, but then we come together in how operations and administration and ministry support can make their job easier as well as help the church move forward and its mission and vision. It takes both and a strong partnership to keep the church moving forward.
Emily you’ve been at this for twenty years, and so I imagine that this answer would have been different over all those years, but how have you utilized technology in how you administrate?
Technology has made life a lot easier in many ways, and in some ways is also made it hard to turn off work to some degree. You’re connected now in so many different ways, and I have access to people twenty-four seven, as well as they have access to me twenty-four seven, which has its pros and its cons. But I think one of the great things is the way that you can do so much through technology, for example, we monitor and control all of our heating and cooling through technology, I can access all that from anywhere that I’m at because the system is cloud based. So we’re able to control our costs, as well as making sure that the rooms are set and ready and comfortable for people as they come in.
We also control the buildings’ access through cloud based technology which is once again, if you forget to unlock a door, it’s easy to wherever you’re at, get right onto your system and either secure or unsecure the building, which is fantastic. We also use it in many ways to handle the accounting and finance through apps and online access, employees no matter where they work and which campus they’re at, or if they happen to be traveling, they can access the payroll and time and attendance system and get information that they need as well as send us information. So in many ways, it’s made life a lot easier, but it’s also made it a little bit more difficult to control the boundaries so that when you need to be away and concentrated on your family, you have to know how to say, “Yes, this is important for me right now” and make sure you have a backup or saying, “This is a season of life when I need to be a little bit more available because of something that’s happening at the church.”
Crossroads Fellowship is a multi-site church. What are some of the administrative challenges that you face?
A lot of it is communication with the staff at the multi-site, making sure that they get information and that we get information back from them. Also making sure that when we’re looking at a solution that works well for one campus, that it’s the right solution also for the multi-site campus, you have a different demographic and our campuses look very different, at each location and the needs of those congregations will vary. And so making sure that you have the right ministry resources for each congregation is just extremely important. And then just basic things about how do you get your deposits, little things that you didn’t think about when you were in one building, but making sure that you have thought about it carefully and that you have the right internal controls that you need in handling the day to day finances.
Do you stay located at one of the campuses or do you go back and forth between them?
I am mainly at the Millbrook campus in Raleigh, but I do go back and forth between the two campuses and will generally be at the second campus two or three times a month, either during the week or during ministry programming on weekends, or in the evenings.
Emily where do you go to learn more about being a great administrator?
I have two main resources that I use for that first is through the church network. They have just a fantastic set of resources and webinars and information, as well as there’s a local chapter of the church network here in Raleigh that I belong to, and there’s a Metro Group through the church network that I belong to, and that has been like a primary source of information. The second is through the ECFA, they have a fantastic set of information and a knowledge resource area that it’s just fantastic and it has actually gotten even better. I’ve had the opportunity to serve with the ECFA on a grant advisory committee as we have developed resources that are specifically for churches. A lot of people in the past have looked at the ECFA is being for not for profits, but not necessarily really targeted for churches. We now they have a whole new set of resources and webinars and e books that are specifically written for churches. Most of the information is free, and I just highly recommend it as a resource for church administrators as well as executive pastors and pastors on staff.
How does your access to resources now compare to when you first became a church administrator twenty years ago?
Oh, the amount and number of resources have just grown tremendously. At first, it was very difficult to find resources that really applied to larger churches, but groups like the church network and groups like the ECFA have come to understand and know that larger churches have many of same problems just on the different scale as a small church, they do face new challenges because a lot of times we’re breaking new ground and new ways of doing ministry and the availability of resources and people that you can connect with that can provide you with advice and council as well as the churches that you can connect with, who may have already tried something and can tell you what they learned and maybe keep you from making some of the same mistakes or finding a quicker and easier way to do something that you’re currently doing. And it’s just grown tremendously and it’s just invaluable. I can’t say enough about how important it is as a church administrator to connect with other church administrators. And I think that’s one of the strongest parts of the church network, how it brings church administrators from all over the US together.
What encouragement would you give to other church administrators, aside from making sure they connect with other church administrators?
I think it’s important to have someone in your life and your professional life that you can talk to. I have a couple of people that I use as sounding boards. One, like I said, is a mentor that I had back when I first started in church administration, he’s someone I can call and say, “we’re thinking about trying something new. Here’s some of the ideas I was looking at, the questions that I have. Can you give me some input?” And it’s a great time for him to challenge me with questions that give me a new perspective on things. And I think that’s just so important. The second person I have is another female, a friend who’s also in church administration that I can talk to as a female professional as well as a mother and a wife who’s got a career and can speak to me both from a spiritual perspective as well as professional perspective because she understands the work that we’re both involved in. So I think that’s just extremely important to have a mentor, an accountability person in your life. The second thing is it’s just so important to keep the mission and vision of your church at the front of what you do, so many times, it can be easier when someone comes to you with a new idea or a new thought to just see, oh my gosh, this is going to be so much trouble, and I’ve got this legality to worry about, or you’ve got this issue to make sure that you’re concerned about, and we get kind of caught up in the day to day grind and can’t see the forest for the trees, so to speak. So it’s so important to keep time to step back and look at the big picture and keep in front of you the reason why you’re here, the mission, the vision of your church, and how you can help the ministries of your church accomplish that. And it may be that when they come to you with the new idea, at first, it may be the fact that, okay, there are some issues here, but stop and ask the question, what are we really trying to accomplish? What is the fault and the dream behind what you’re asking me to do and if we can find a way to make it work?
That’s great. Emily, thank you so much for being on the podcast today.
Thank you, I’ve appreciated the opportunity to share. I’ve enjoyed listening to the podcast and have learned a lot from others who you have interviewed, and I appreciate the opportunity to have a chance to share my heart with you today too.