Welcome back to the Monday Morning Church Podcast. I’ve got Jud Boies from Bayside Church with five campuses in the Sacramento, California area. Jud, great to have you on today.
Thank you. Nice to be here.
So Jud, tell us a little bit about your position there at Bayside and how you came into it.
Yeah, so I’m the Executive Pastor of Operations of Bayside. I think it’s the only Executive Pastor we have. We currently have five campuses and we’re moving to seven in the next 30 to 60 days. I’ve been at Bayside 21 years, and my pathway to the big Executive Pastor position was that I started as a lay member of the church working in the business world. That led to a position on the board of the church, the elder board, and I served on the board for 10 years and chaired that board for seven of the 10 years. And then when, at that point in time, our Executive Pastor left to go become the president of a local college, the Senior Pastor said that I knew probably more about the inner workings of the church than anybody, that I should leave what I was doing and come and join this staff at Bayside and that was seven years ago.
Was that an easy decision for you? Do you feel like you were led into it or was there a period of decision making?
It was a fairly easy decision. So, at that moment, I had about 25 years in the business world experience and had a seminary degree. So, our Senior Pastor said, “It’s just difficult to find people who have that much business experience and the seminary degree all in one.” And so I think God carefully crafted my previous business careers so that I could end up at Bayside at this time.
So, what was your previous background?
I had five different careers from a small start up company, to a 300 million dollar company, and every situation was running the company either as an owner or an operating manager of the company. But still even in every single one of those positions God was, I would say, at the core of what I was doing. And that turned into, at some point, a consulting firm where I was helping companies learn how to integrate their faith into their business. And also, because my role at Bayside was consulting with churches, that would come to either conferences that Bayside would hold, and help those churches go from wherever they were to increase in numbers of people that were attending and the driving.
It seems appropriate that you’ve had background in both very established companies and startups, considering you’re part of an established church right now, but you guys are seemingly and constantly adding startups. Tell us a little bit about these two coming up in the next two months.
Yeah, and just some background. When I started at Bayside 21 years ago, we were 500 people meeting in the cafeteria of a local high school. So, now 21 years later there are about 50,000 people that call Bayside home. On an average weekend, depending, between 18 and 19,000. And the two newest campuses, so we were based in the Sacramento region, but the mixed campus that we’re starting, we just had our third preview service yesterday in Davis, California, which is the home of UC, Davis. It’s entirely a college town. So, a new challenge in that people call themselves the Republic of Davis. And I would say they’re not very open to church and churches, but we’re taking a run at it, and I think I have the perfect guy there. And in the other church that we’re starting over in the Santa Rosa, California area. You might have heard that recently across the country because of the horrendous fire that came through there and literally wiped out a good percentage of the city. And there was a church that was in trouble, and we helped that church often over the last three or four years. And when they encountered a new round of trouble, they reached out to us. So, we came and helped and they finally said, “Why don’t we just become one of your campuses instead of having you just help us?”
Now, have your previous church plants been church plants, or has it been more of a merger with another church, or is this a new standard for you?
Yeah, we’ve done both. So, we have a couple of campuses that are ground -p starts. There was nothing there before, we knew we wanted to be in that part of the community, literally went there and went from nothing to something. Then about two years ago, one of the largest churches in our region called us and said, “We’re experiencing some troubles.” It was probably the last phone call that we ever thought we would get because, talking with them in the past, they’d considered themselves competitors to us, which is the craziest thing since we’re all churches with a big C. But at any rate, they called and said they were in trouble would we come beside them and help them. They had recently been taken over by the church that was actually in Texas and just learned that church in Texas is different from church in California. And that pastor called us and said, “Hey, I want you guys to take a look at this.” So, we spent a year just helping. We came and ran weekend services for them. And as they became more and more familiar with how we do church they rolled their congregation into a Bayside campus. And the last July we officially held the votes and took that campus over, and it’s a 3,000 seat auditorium. So, very large and can do services there on the weekend. So, we’ve done both. We’ve definitely done a couple now of takeovers where churches have called and said, “We’re in trouble, please come and help.” And then we’ve done three where they were ground up starts.
Now, when it comes to any kind of church planting, you lose some measure of control over your culture, and then especially when you’re merging with an existing church. How has that been for you all to ensure that you’re protecting and promoting your church culture?
Yeah, two things. So one of the things that we think is absolutely vital is that the DNA of the community or that local church remains impact. So, we don’t intend to come in and completely change every aspect of the culture. There’s a unique personality that every church has, and we want to retain as much of that uniqueness and that personality as possible, and then bring beside that the things that have made Bayside very successful and grown so rapidly. Part of that structure, part of it is our teaching of how we approach what we teach and how we rotate in and out different teaching pastors. And so, it literally is a melding between the current and their culture and their DNA and Bayside and its culture and DNA. And that’s why we like to walk beside a church for at least a year to make sure that they’re comfortable with our DNA, we’re comfortable with their DNA, and the two of them can actually meld together.
So, where does your role come into this whole process? You’re executive pastor over all these campuses, what exactly do you do day to day?
Yeah, so I would say I often answer my phone, “Engine room,” because I’m literally the logistics, the business side of the church. So, I call it behind the curtain, and literally our teams are here working to make sure that we operate as a successful business. And I don’t mean that to sound in anyway not religiously. We clearly are a church but we also have a large number of employees, a big budget, and the same things that any business would have. And so, my job is to ensure that, from a business point of view, that the ship operates smoothly, safely, I mean safely from a state governance point of view, and that employees are treated like employees and we have a great working environment and that things go well. So, my specific responsibilities: finance comes under my umbrella, HR, the facilities and the campuses themselves. We have our own print shop, we have cafes. So, everything from a logistics, and then each of those areas are what come under my umbrella.
What kind of a team do you have underneath you?
Yeah, we have about, one of the ways that Bayside is set up, it used to be that we had, like most churches, you start with one church and then somehow sometime down the road, you decide you’re going to plant one, and then you plant two and you plant three. But there’s still that main church, and least these smaller campuses are coming into that main church. And a problem that we saw was that it became taxing to the main campus that the people that were in that congregation were feeling like, “Hey, are we supporting this church that you planted over here or that one that you planted over there?” And our goal was to have each of these campuses stand on their own.
So, in the last 12 months, we really, as the train was rolling down the tracks, we did a complete rebuild. We moved to a completely different model where now we have what we’re calling ministry support, and that might be code for central services. So, we now have that main campus became just one of the five campuses instead of the lead campus, and we have about 60 of our employees who work in central services. So, that would be the finance team, HR team, our facilities teams, our communications department, our print shop, our worship teams. And each of those teams now sit at the top and provide services to each one of the five campuses. And then each campus pays in their fair share of what it cost to run ministry support or which is, again, central services.
So, what have you seen the last year since making this shift? Has it been received well?
It has, it took a little bit of an adjustment because you have campus pastors who were used to having their own budgets, which they still do, but they have that safety net so if anything went sideways they could rely on that mothership where the grant of that campus. Now, they all pay a percentage and they’re kind of more responsible for each of their campus. So, we make sure that every single campus can stand on its own financially. They’re somewhat siloed just from a P&L point of view. But we do that to make sure that the funds of that campus stay at that campus and can then further the efforts in that local community, without feeling like they’re supporting this bigger thing or vice versa. And then we create a second fund that we call ministry expansion, and every campus pays in a percentage of their total revenue to create or help that next campus. So, as we’re starting these two new campuses, the funds had been paid in from the previous five campuses are helping support those next new campuses.
Now, this might be related to this shift that you’ve done in the last 12 months, but what’s some best practice you have going on there at Bayside that you‘ve really found success with?
I would tell you that one of the things that has made Bayside successful is that we are absolutely intent on making sure that, from the top to bottom, every single employee here, as well as most of our congregation, knows the goals of Bayside. So, we have very clear and succinct goals. If you were to ask anybody that’s on our staff, “Hey, what’s the goal of Bayside?” And I liken it to the Superbowl. If you went and visited the NFL teams around the country today and said, if we do all 32 or however many there are, and said, “Hey, what’s the goal for next year?” Every one of them would say, “To win the Superbowl.” Similarly, we have an overarching goal like that, and it’s to reach wide, teach deep, and unleash compassion, as well as raise up the next generation of Christian leaders. So, if you were to ask anybody on our staff, they would tell you, “Yeah, we already know the goal of Bayside. It’s to reach wide. That means we’re going to cast the net as wide as we can over our community and maybe our region. We’re going to teach the right from the Bible. We’re going to unleash compassion, meaning that we’re going to do all we can to be compassionate to people outside the four walls of our church, wherever it’s necessary, like the fires over in Santa Rosa and help any way that we can, both financially and spiritually. And then we have a responsibility we feel to raise up this next generation. Who’s the next worship leader? Who’s the next senior pastor? Who’s the next children’s pastor?” And so we have a leadership school here that has a worship track and leadership track, and every year we bring 50 to 100 students into that, and it’s either a one or two year process where we’re trying to help them understand, “Do I want to go into a life of ministry? What might that look like?” And then for us, it’s our farm team. So, we’re putting people through that leadership program to tell help us staff our next campus, or our existing campuses.
Now, that takes a lot of intentionality to make sure that all staff is really clear on the goals at Bayside. So, how do you do that? Is it just repeating a lot? Or, you use those measures in your department reviews? How do you make it a part of your staff culture?
Yeah, you’re right, it’s extremely intentional. Probably the highlight of my week, and I think for most Bayside employees, is our staff meeting every single Wednesday at 10 am. We have a staff meeting with every single employee from every single campus, so they all descend onto one location. And it’s in that weekly staff meeting, week in week out, that it is ingrained in us that our goal is to reach wide, teach deep, and unleash compassion. And then the second tier is to go to our congregation. And so, we hold about four different leadership conferences throughout the year, but even if you’re just sitting in the pew, sitting in the congregation, you’re going to hear it throughout the year because we discussed our goals pretty regularly, that Bayside is about reaching wide, teaching deep, and unleashing compassion.
That’s fantastic. So, okay, I’m going to go on the flip side then. What is the current challenge that you haven’t yet found a solution for?
I would say my number one, and I can imagine what as many campus we have and the type of complexity and accounting, I have yet to find an accounting system that I’m really pleased with. We use Quickbooks Enterprise, and while they’ve made adjustments to help organizations with larger incomes, it doesn’t provide the reporting that I would really like it, nor the reporting that I would like to see for every single one of our department heads and our pastors. So, it’s been a challenge for us for three or four years. We’re always looking and I’ve yet to see an accounting system that really makes sense for a church like ours. And then we’re about to switch our database system from Fellowship One to something else. So, we’re looking at RockRMS. And we spend a lot of time, we’ve spent a year plus looking at different systems, and we’re about to make a decision probably to go to Rock. But anytime you migrate your entire database, which for us has over 100,000 people in it, it has to be done very carefully and cautiously so we don’t lose information or compromise the data.
Yeah, that’s hopefully a really good one, but a brave move to switch technology when you’re large like that.
So, what’s your game plan for that switch in terms of helping staff transition into it and utilize the new technology?
Yeah, we migrate slowly. So, for us, our processes take a year, we spend six months really thoroughly vetting out and investigating whatever we’re looking at moving to. We then run it in parallel, not fully deployed, for at least six months. And so, we’re kind of running two complete systems side by side that’s just done in our IT and finance departments. And so, they’re running it in the blind unbeknownst to anybody else. And once we have about six months under our belt, really have proven yup, it’s solid, that the platforms are what we expect, there’s no major problem, then we go through a process of taking our teams, usually one team at a time, we’ll start with one ministry, and that usually is vocal and is open to change. We’ll get them so that they’re completely understanding of it. And then we actually want them to use it for a little while and then become our champions. So, rather than push things from the top down, we like things to go from the bottom up. And so we’ll pick ministries and have them actually become champions of it where they’re out there promoting going, “Yeah, this is the coolest thing, we really like it,” and then you kinda get the momentum from everybody saying, “Oh, this is really cool. We like it,” as opposed to “Yeah, they’re making us move to this,” or something like that.
Yeah, that’s certainly a conscious decision because the knee jerk is just to say, “Here’s the new thing and everyone’s going to learn how to use it.” So, I can see how that would take longer to do it the way you’re describing, but be much more effective in the long run.
Yeah. Our senior pastor has a favorite saying that is, “People will support what they’ve helped develop,” and so we have a tendency to try and help people really coming on the development side ’cause if they help build it, we know they’ll support it. So, we try and really do that in everything that we do with intentionality.
There’s a lot of wisdom in that. So, Jud, tell me where do you go to make sure you’re staying sharp in your role as an executive pastor?
Super good question. So, we have four different conferences throughout the year that are leadership conferences that we put on. And I actually get there – we bring in such great speakers, there’s usually between 50 and 75 leaders from around the country that we bring in to lead breakout sessions or main stage – and I just get a ton when I get to meet and hang out with those guys, both in between sessions and listening to their session. So, I try and attend each one of our four leadership events throughout the year. And they’re a leadership conference that are able to bring huge 5,000 people to our campus. So, for the last as long as we’ve been doing them, clearly that’s where I get fed and energized, get new ideas, kind of in fresh vision. And then I would say that our senior pastor is a leadership junkie, he is a voracious reader, especially on leadership and management. So, I guess the privilege of meeting with him every single week, and he is always pouring into the staff and the people that are closest to him. And it’s been amazing.
So, tell me the name of this conference that you put on four times year.
Yeah, it’s the Thrive conference. So, we have Thrive southwest, which is in southern California. We have Thrive north, which is in the community that we’re in called Granda Bay or Roseville. We do Thrive Unleashed and we do Thrive Apologetics. So, Apologetics is for an Apologetics conference. The Unleashed conference is for youth. Yeah, they’re just great conferences such.
I want to end with what encouragement would you give to others in church leadership?
I would say that there’s probably two things. The first one is don’t react. People that are in ministry know that it’s messy, every single day we’re dealing with the crises that are taking place, and whether that’s from your staff that is making poor decisions or people in the congregation that are dying or going through bankruptcy for your divorce. And my experience has been, regardless of what comes at me throughout the day, if I can just what I call let the play develop. Don’t instantly react to bad information or something that seems alarming, take down the information and my experience is if I just let the play develop over a course of two or three days, things get very different than if I just react to it. And so, it’s probably the best advice that I’ve gotten. And then second one is, as difficult as it is to be an Executive Pastor, because you’re typically the person that is the one that’s saying, “No,” my experience in almost every church is that their vision is much wider and broader than their resources. And the definition of stress is that when demand outpaces resources, that stress, and so the executive pastors put in that position of managing resources, and inevitably having to say no to people on a pretty regular basis. And the challenge I think is to say “No,” or to do whatever you’re doing in an encouraging way. And so, I found that it’s so much better to lead by encouraging than anything else. So, I try and find in every single discussion, in every situation that I’m going into, I try and find a way to be encouraging to the people around me. So, if you’re going to have a difficult decision, what’s the way you can work through that and be encouraging? And my experience is when you bring people along and model for them encouragement, whether it’s the congregation, or your staff, or a vendor that you’re dealing with, and you’re leading by encouraging, the reaction from people is much different. Those have been been my two things.
Those are great. Jud, thanks so much for being on the podcast today.
Oh, my pleasure. Thank you.