Welcome back to the Monday Morning Church podcast. Kurt Schaer is joining us today from Life Church, which has two locations in Spring Hill and Wesley Chapel, Florida. Kurt, great to have you on today.
Thank you, the pleasure is mine.
Why don’t you tell us a little bit about your role there at Life Church and how you came into it?
Absolutely, I actually now currently hold the senior associate pastor position, which basically, I oversee both campuses at Wesley Chapel and on our Spring Hill location. I came into it kind of on staff as an intern student pastor when there was a need that needed to be filled. And then from there, I went to the family ministries, oversight. And from there, our senior associate pastor left, and so, our senior pastor advisor has asked me to step in that position. So I have been fulfilling that now.
Flesh out your position for us a little bit. Overseeing these two campuses, are you mostly overseeing staff, the ministries, HR side? What exactly is it?
Good question. Are senior pastor, his thing is to vision cast, teach, preach. So he lives in that world. So staff ministry, day to day, HR, finances, our international campuses, our team, any of that other stuff falls under my umbrella. And then I have an amazing supportive team around me that obviously helps with a lot of that.
Yeah, so tell me a little more about your support team ’cause that is a pretty hefty list of responsibilities. So tell me a little about by your support staff.
When I came I was senior pastor and then senior associate pastor, and then everyone under that on the orchard was pretty much on a straight line. And so real quickly I implemented a lead team. So I have a team, I now have a staff position over our finances, over our HR department has its own oversight. And then I have a family ministries pastor, I have a worship and creative department who oversees production and worship. And then I also have an outreach oversight who sees all of our compassion ministries, local missions, outreach, all of that kind of stuff. So every ministry now falls under an oversight. So it’s a team of 6 now doing what a team of 1 used to do.
So how long have you been in your position there?
I’ve been in this role since I came in February of 2017, and I worked side by side with the former senior associate pastor… and then he left in April and I’ve run April till now, this ward.
So you’re a senior pastor, you’ve got two campuses there, and you also have Spanish services, but is this a situation where the senior pastor preaches and it’s kind of like video cast to the other campuses? Are there other ministers on location that preach and teach?
Our senior pastor is amazing in the fact that we make every campus autonomous, so they each have their own campus lead guy, who preaches his own message. He has his own teams. He is basically running his campus, how the lord is leading him. Now, a lot of the support stuff comes from the main house, and then about four times a year pastor Ed will venture into those other rooms. And he will speak vision. He’ll speak a heart of the house message, ambitions message. He’ll go and actually be a live, he’ll swap places with that campus pastor. He will speak there, and they’ll come speak here or something like that. So he does get into our other rooms, but on a typical Sunday, they’re preaching to the congregation.
That’s interesting. So I wanna move a little bit now ’cause you got an interesting set up there and maybe even sometimes complicated with multiple campuses and campus pastors. What is a solution or a best practice that you’ve implemented there at Life Church that might be interesting to some other people?
One of the things that I can honestly say is that lord has allowed me to be a part of over the last, probably six months, is opening up true affectionate lines of communication amongst the whole team. Obviously, when you have this many parts that are doing different things and everyone has personal lives and everyone has their own things that they’re going through. Communication can sometimes be tough inside the walls of the church, unfortunately. And we have created some real avenues here through evaluations, through one on one meetings, through oversight meetings, through healthy monthly meetings and leadership development, that the lines of communication here have become… The awkward conversation is okay, when things aren’t going well hey let just come along, we truly, truly have a team that we hash it out. We talk about it, we hug it out and then we walk out, we just serve this community in the best way possible. So some of our communication lines and practices that we put in place for are probably some of the ones that I’ll be most champion of, because I worked in some of the churches and sometimes communication is a little bit difficult. Unfortunately.
This lead team you described before, it seems like that might be a critical component in being able to have open lines of communication.
I can tell you it’s really crazy. That one is probably the one that we hash out the most differences ’cause people are speaking for their ministry and calendar stops and finances, and things of that nature that all fall in the direction of lead pastor. But those of that team there has really the biggest challenge, but they’ve also have the tightest report. Honestly. It’s really a healthy, great, and I think it’s God honoring, when you can sit in the room and talk and discuss and not see eye to eye, but before you leave the room, bless, pray, hugging together, and then just go out and do what God told you to do. But yes, that with all the tile parts, that is probably that team, has probably come to close knit as quick as anyone, because we had to… they had to… they were thrust into positions. That was one challenge before the orchard was a straight line and you had 15 pastors all that had the same voice, and then, now we made a change to where four of them now are over all the other ones. And so, yeah, there were some growing pains there, but we constantly say that change brings growth and growth brings change. And so as we constantly grow, and this work constantly changing than we are growing together, and we’re gonna change together.
I just have one more question about these communication lines. Has most of your work in the last six months been very nitty-gritty of setting up specific scheduled times to chat with people? Or is it kind of more affecting the culture of the workplace there and making it a safer environment for these conversations?
I would 100% say… it’s been working on culture. We had the previous senior associate, he did a great job and created a great team, but we had got new people come on team who weren’t part of that culture. I brought a different type of leadership and some different suction processes to it. And so I would for sure, say, changing that culture and getting it to a place that everyone can have these conversations in a safe… there’s a safe ground to be able to be open and honest and talk about family issues and talk about, hey I am struggling at home. That’s why my work is a little bit down, but hey, how to rally around each other? That has been my number one goal because I feel like we can’t truly effectively do what God calls us to do if we’re not effectively healthy inside the house. We have gone after trying to get our scene as healthy and as unified is possible. So we go out there and attack the enemy and go to war. We at least know there’s an army behind us that no matter what we feel the gap with trust, and that’s constantly the motto that I spoke around there. You just fill the gap with trust.
That’s great. Alright, flipside. What is something, some kind of challenge that you got going on right now that you haven’t quite found a solution for?
Yeah, that’s a great question. We are working on having the campuses that we have and running autonomist and having their own campus pastor, but then creative and worship and kids ministry, and student ministry being housed out of the main campus and supporting them. We’re really having these campuses start up and doing them effectively. We’ve gone through some challenges, that’s been trying to make sure that everyone’s communicated with, make sure that let’s see in Wesley Chapel’s dialogue and in Spring Hill and the same thing translates to our Spanish population. It’s just that right now in all of our campus, and then you add our international ones into it as well. That communication piece is probably our biggest hurdle as we try to create the same open communication and the same effective work lines that we have at main campus. Getting that to all the other rooms of our house as well has been… that’s something we have to constantly talk about in our leadership meetings. Because it’s just a trouble, so many times a ball can get dropped here and a ball can be dropped here, where that for a campus that may not be running the same number that main is and you drop one or two of those balls, and it’s a major thing for them. And so just really great in a culture where every campus, no matter what number it is, it’s just as vital, just as important as the main campus. It just looks different.
Well, break down a little bit. You’re referring to campuses, exactly what are your campuses? You’ve got two campuses. They both have an English and a Spanish speaking service. Is that right?
That’s right. So our Wesley Chapel we do two English, and then the one Spanish service, and then our Spring Hill campus does… it just went to two English services and one Spanish service, and then the work missions pastors constantly traveling this far are all different as well. That communication back to me, whether it comes from Haiti, Guatemala, Cuba, is constant growth and God’s road of refining us. But that’s where our services role now.
Okay. So, Kurt where do you go to make sure you’re staying up to date on current trends or best practices and also just to kind of keep yourself healthy?
That’s a great, great question. I have been really fortunate to have been around some great men of God, whether it be in churches. I was part of a phenomenal large church here in the area that when God relocated me, those bridges were still there. I also worked in corporate world as well, and so I was able to meet some unbelievable, successful businessmen. And so I’ll tell you what I do when you get in these roles sometimes, you get kind of quiet because nobody sees or has to deal with a lot of things that we deal with in these roles. But other men who have done businesses and have done extremely well, I really surround myself with them, because what they’re doing in corporate America of leading people, leading teams, structures, processes, all of that kind of stuff is information that’s been valuable to me. So I use them as well as hosts out to my church brothers who run ministries far larger than mine, but just constantly breathe life into me. And I think that’s…what hurts my heart a lot of times, even for some working here, I think reaching out sometimes it’s hard for people ’cause we view it as a man, maybe I don’t want people think that I don’t know. View me as less than them… or maybe I’m just as smart as them. When in reality is, every conversation we have somebody is holding a nugget of gold. It’s just a matter of whether we have ears to hear and a heart to receive the nugget of gold God is giving us. I’ve really just made the declaration that from now till I breathe my last breath, I’ll just surround myself with men that are gonna challenge me, encourage me just to be all that God called me to do. That is kind of my sphere of influence.
Yeah, that’s great. So tell me, what was your… this previous life in the business world? What were you doing?
That’s a crazy story actually. I started off in construction, and so I did electrical and the land lines. I was leading big crews, at 21 years old I was running huge projects, and then I started my own. I went to do my own little home remodel business and started my own construction thing and in Florida, building went kind of south. And so I decided to start playing cards. So I traveled around and played poker for a while. Well in that, God just, one day on the way to one of my tournaments, I just broke my heart and I fell on my knees, began to bawl my eyes out and turned my life over to him. Got up, went to Bible College, graduated and started recreation ministry, and just started doing sports ministry and went to student ministry and went to family ministry. And now the journey’s been crazy, but it’s a crazy journey that is kind of unbelievable, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I’m not always proud of the past, but I can tell you this, God has done so much in me and my story in so many ways. I get to speak to so many different guys that I just wouldn’t change it. So yeah, that’s kind of Kurt’s little journey.
Hey, that’s great cause you have a journey like that as a minister, you’re never gonna put boundaries on where God can meet people.
And I am so glad you said that because that is truly my heart. I think in every individual, the glass is always half full. You have to realize it in one moment to me it was one moment, that my entire life changed. And I believe that could be for anyone, that can be everyone. That is absolutely true.
That’s great. Alright, so to finish out. Kurt, what encouragement would you give to others in church leadership?
I know that it is hard right now. The church is not the most popular thing in America, and I know that pastors are leaving every day, and it’s a grind. But I’m gonna tell you, I would encourage you to think about the things that God has used you for. And in your eyes and sometimes you may look at it, but those are menial compared to how he’s using other people. But the fact of the matter is he chose you for that path and hold onto that, because you should begin to look at the things and all those things that God lines you up for and there is no one else, but he chose to me, you. It should keep you passionate and fired up, even the littlest demands in God’s economy those are massive. And so I know in our world, in leadership, it goes quiet. We can’t talk a lot to people. We can’t feel like we can open up. And sometimes you just gotta look back and go look back at the things of what God’s done through you. And let that be a driving force, the fact God has called you and put you in ministry. And I firmly believe he is not done with anyone. So just stay on the course, stay strong and stay passionate ’cause everyone needs passion. So you stay passionate about what you do and I promise you God will keep pushing you forward. So, I don’t know…
That’s fantastic. That’s a pretty great note to end on. Kurt thanks so much for being a part of the podcast today.
Absolutely, thank you for having me.
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