Welcome back to the Monday Morning Church podcast. We’ve got Errol Coner on the show today from Concord Church in Dallas, Texas. Great to have you on the show today, Errol.
Thank you for having me.
So Errol, tell us a little bit about how you came into your position as Executive Pastor there at Concord Church.
Well, actually, it’s been kind of a lengthy journey, taking back to my time in the United States Air Force, as an Air Force officer. And then, moving from there, spending time in Corporate America. Having a technology background, I’ve worked quite a bit with technology and always was asking the question, well, what is it that I will do with all of this insight? From there, I moved to Dallas to go to attend Dallas Theological Seminary. And upon coming to Dallas, I volunteered at one of the local mega churches, in their prison ministry, then left there to assist one of the church planters to plant the church in Arlington, Texas, and spent eight years working as a volunteer, and then eventually going on staff with the church plant there. From there, went to work for a software company that sold to churches and spent several years working with mega churches around the US and internationally, as well, looking at the tools that we use in those church settings. Spent some time there and actually was hired by one of my potential clients. And that was my first opportunity to serve as an Executive Pastor, for one of the potential clients that we sold software to eventually.
And that’s where you are currently, is this potential client there Concord?
Well, actually, Concord was never on my radar to actually work for. I ended up circling back, and this is actually my second stint in the Executive Pastor role. I started out at a church in South Florida and moved back to the Dallas area in 2013 and came on staff here at Concord in 2014.
So you are pretty unique from an Executive Pastor standpoint, in a sense that you actually have a technology background, and most Executive Pastors are fighting to keep up with the technology side of things. Do you find that a lot of your interests still rests in that area, technology in the church?
I think so. And if you spoke to different team members, they probably would echo that and say that I’m highly interested in our technology. But I think it benefits me because I’m always looking for ways to bring the best of technology into the life of the local church so that ministries can really use that technology well.
So if I can ask, since you have a tech background, what are some of the favorite programs or apps you guys use there at Concord?
Well, in terms of favorites, I would say early on, when I came aboard, we adopted a philosophy of cloud-based mobile access. And with that, over the past four years, we’ve worked to move in that direction. So we’re using Intacct as our financial package. And we also use Paycom as our Human Resources system. We make use of Basecamp for project management. We’re using FellowshipOne as our main people care system. We’re using all the tools for things like for Planning Center’s use, for scripting out our services and connecting different ministries there. Of course, with F-One, we make use of ServiceU to keep up with projects and all of our resources to make sure there’s no conflict or conflicts there. Those are some of the key tools. We also use a tool called Guard Tour. Guard Tour is used by our security team to make sure that when a security team making their rounds, they’re checking all of the doors and they’re following their checklist to make sure that the property is secured. We use FacilityDude for PM maintenance on the actual facility, across the life of the church. So those are some of the key ones. There’s some other personal tools that I use in my role. Of course, Evernote is one. The other is OmniFocus. So I use OmniFocus to keep up with action items. And of course, Evernote to keep up with the tools. That pretty much rounds out most of the key tools that we’re using throughout the life of the church.
That’s a great list. Outside of the technology side, which is obviously is an interest to you, what else falls under your regular responsibility and what’s the general personality of Concord church?
In my role, I have responsibility for most of the staff. So I serve as a chief of staff. And with that, most of my direct reports are family life. So that’s the pastor who has birth to senior adults, have connections. That Pastor has responsibility for growth and assimilation, outreach and missions, pastoral care, congregational care, and our core database. Our CFO and our finance team, that’s a direct report. Operations and events management, worship and fine arts, communications and technology, human resources, all those are direct reports. And then I serve on one of the boards for one of three partnerships we have. So our Learning Center for kids, birth to five years old, our Community Development Corporation, and our senior center are the three main partnerships that we have within the life of the church. And I work on the board. I serve on the board for our learning center.
So what is a solution or a best practice that you all have implemented there at Concord that you’ve really found success with?
Well, having a software background, one of the things that we’ve adopted is, in some of our ministries or department areas that have a lot of events or a long list of action items, we try to get away from staff getting stopped in the hall, receiving text messages, voice messages, emails, all around activities and events, and also making sure things continue to move forward. So we adopted the, I don’t know if you’re familiar with Agile and the whole Scrum process. So several of our ministries have adopted the use of Scrum and are making use of Agile methodology so that when they come together, they are scrumming around a list of action items that they’re moving all the way through a process of completion, which is unique for churches. I don’t know a lot of churches that make use of that, but for us, we found it to be a good fit, and that’s being adopted throughout many of our ministry within the life of the church.
Now, what has been the general staff response to that process?
It’s been great because it helps them to see where things are within the life of the church. And in fact, we had just a meeting early today and listened to one of our staff members talk about how now they know where things are within their ministry, who’s responsible for them, how they’re moving about. And I think it’s just created a better communication overall within the life of the staff in our ministries.
Well, that’s definitely a great tip for other Executive Pastors because, often, what they say is, communication is a big hurdle among staff.
Yes. And that’s still a hurdle that we are continuing to cross. Communication just seems to be the Achilles heel that you never really get rid of, because there’s so many components and so many dependencies for communication throughout the life of the church, especially as I continue to grow.
Yeah, absolutely. You bring any two people together in a relationship and communication is going to be an issue. So when you bring a big staff together, it’ll certainly be a challenge to continually be addressed.
So on the other side of this, then, what is something you guys have got going on right now that you have found a solution for?
I think it continues to be a challenge and we’re working through it, but the building out a volunteer pipeline that has a clear succession defined in it is something that we are working through. I wouldn’t say that we found a total solution to it. I think we found some things that are helping us in developing that, but one of the challenges within the life of the church is certainly, as you grow, are there enough volunteers to build out schedules that have backups, that have primary and a secondary person, and really helps to develop that leadership pipeline that we all look to have within the life of our church. So, I think, we’ve made some good advances in that area. But I would say that we are continuing to work through what does that look like as we continue to grow and thrive as a church. And here’s the unique thing. Concord is a church that is a true four generation church. Our median age is only 34 years old, but we will turn 43 years old, as a church, this coming June. So when you have that kind of breadth of generations, you’re always struggling with and living with the tension of how to decide for each generation and make sure they’re getting what they need to continue to grow and be an integral part of the church. So building up that styles to model of older instructing younger is a constant tension that we live with as we can see to grow younger as a church.
Yeah. And this is a question I probably should’ve asked the beginning, but you guys are a large church in terms of membership. Are you all on one location or multiple locations?
We’re one location. And certainly we’re looking at some additional options, but at this time, we’re all sitting under one roof.
Errol, where do you go to — what are you favorite resources or places to go to get encouragement, to make sure you’re staying sharp in your role?
A couple of places. One, certainly, I collaborate with my peers across the country. Some of them are just a personal relationships with other mega church Executive Pastors I go to. I attend the ExP seminar that David Fletcher hosts here in the Dallas area each February. Also, I have attended the 400 Gathering that Church of the Highlands has hosted in the Birmingham area. Also IC3, which is hosted by A Church Without Walls in Houston. Those are the three that I’ve attended on a pretty frequent basis. And of course, I’m always collaborating with my peers across the country. So I’ve been out to Saddleback to collaborate with some of my peers on the west coast. And what I try to do is, at least once a quarter, visit with one of my peers here, locally, just to get away from our campus and visit with them and see what things are going on in the life of their congregation.
Do you have a pretty strong network there locally amongst Executive Pastors and pastor?
Yes, I do. And the other thing I failed to mention is Leadership Network has been another great resource that I’ve leant to. But yes, so here locally, I have some great peers that are at some great churches that I get to collaborate with. And we’ve even been talking here recently about doing something quarterly so that we have an even greater collaboration.
So, Errol, what encouragement would you give to others in church leadership?
I would say two things. One, continue to learn and grow because things are changing. Certainly, you want to always look to bring the best of the best of what any organization has to offer, whether it’s military or a corporate environment. How can the local church benefit from it? Always look for ways to grow and improve. And then secondly, I would say, never start taking a risk on people. We’re in the people business. People disappoint you. But that is not a license to stop taking chances on people because we know that with good people, there’s a typically good ministry.
That’s great. Errol, thanks so much for being on the podcast today.