Welcome back to the Monday Morning Church Podcast. Marc Davis is joining us today from New Hope Church in Manvel, Texas. Great to have you on the show today. Marc.
Well it’s good to be here and thanks for the opportunity.
Marc, you are the operations director there at New Hope. What was your journey to coming on staff?
That’s a good question. I was kind of what ministry is all about. I came to our church about 17 years ago. I came as a police officer, believe it or not, to direct traffic at this church. It was growing and had these traffic congestion issues. So, I was one of the first officers to come to our church and help kind of facilitate traffic and coming-and-going from our property so that we could run our services on time. Because at the time they were running three services a weekend, which was really a big deal. So, I came kind of a broken person. A police officer who had some hard times, obviously, typically, divorced and just struggling with faith and everything else. And I came to the church and met some amazing people. Was able to get plugged in and accepted Christ at New Hope Church. And it was a catalyst between, you know, for a relationship between…a personal relationship with Christ. That was in 2001. So I went through our sign posts as far as I got involved, started volunteering. I went on mission trips. And then in 2010, we had a need for a security director, and I was offered the opportunity to come on board. So I resigned full-time as a police officer and came on board of New Hope Church.
So, did you ever in your wildest dreams think you would end up working for a church?
Oh gosh, never. As a matter of fact, this is a part of my testimony. The day before I got the phone call to go work at this crazy church – as the way it was explained to me, I had actually contemplated suicide.
Now I was literally sitting on the edge of my bed, had everything wrapped in plastic and had written a note, put it on the door, and was about to take my life, before the phone rang. So I’m not even supposed to be alive. And so I could not see past that moment. So the blessings that I have today and being a part of a ministry and in able to reach other men, and police officers. But to reach other men for Jesus, it just blows my mind when I think about it.
We hear a lot about and at the end, we talk more about what kind of encouragement you give to others in church leadership. And what people often say is remembering that God has called you to this place, and it’s a little hard about that, considering your story.
Amen, amen. It’s such a blessing and not just life-changing but it’s been life-giving.
So tell me a little more about your position there at New Hope.
When I came on board at New Hope, we had moved into a building, we bought 100 acres out in the middle of nowhere. We didn’t know what we were going to do with it, but we knew that God was calling us to make the table bigger, so to speak. And so we built this huge building, started church services with about 1500 people, it was a 1500 person auditorium. So, way more than what we needed. And things began to happen. We began to grow, and 1500 people turned into 2000 people, then it turned into 6000 people. And then any given holiday weekend, which is kind of the high attendance time for all churches, we’ve seen as many as 15,000 people come through our doors. So as we begin to grow, the need came to put some things in place to protect our people. And the reason why, is because we’re all very clear about the Bible, what it says is us being shepherds and protecting our people. God calls us to protect the flock. People are his most valuable asset, so they should be ours. And so we needed someone just to be a facilities leader, and oversee other officers. We went from me being the first officer in 2001, to in 2010 we had probably almost 18 officers working at our church campus and directing traffic, and we’re in a very busy area now, where traffic control is important. And so I came on board and did it grew. We began out normal-sized, and before you knew it, we had four campuses, and so there was other needs. In ministry, you just kind of say: okay, yes God, what’s next? Well, when you do that, then things are put your direction that you’re blessed with an opportunity to overtake. So I took over our officers and our security on restoring insurance, our housekeeping. I moved all of our facilities, and also was blessed with the opportunity to do campus development, which is what I’m a part of now. Where we go out, we find these old ugly buildings and tear down walls and we turn them into these life-changing places and communities. We’re not building these massive cathedrals anymore. We’re building small churches in the community that is making an impact on the community. And so we’re going to the people instead of them coming to us. So all the logistics involved with that is what I’m responsible for. And I got a team of people. I’m not trying to say, I do it all. I have an amazing team of people that we’ve been able to build up, who help us be successful in that vision.
Yeah, tell me more about your team. What is the mix of full time staff, part time staff volunteers, and what are their roles?
We are a very volunteer-rich church. That’s actually one of the ‘signposts of full devotion’ that we look at. Part of it is aiding volunteers to get involved in helping them do its course. But as far as our staff, we’re a staff-light church, for a church of our size. We have approximately a hundred full time employees, which is not a lot for church of our size. And so we have basically ‘central’ leaders. So the way our church is designed is we have our lead pastor, who is the founder of New Hope Church. Started it basically in his living room, and then under him, there is a leadership team, and that’s an external leadership team, and that’s a group of trusted people in our community who are not…who may just attend New Hope Church. They’re not paid members, they’re not paid to be on this team. And then we have our internal leadership team. Our internal leadership team is comprised of ministry leaders in our church. You’ll say, we have our welcome ministry. We have our student ministry, our children’s ministry. Those ministry leaders are part of our internal leadership team. And then under that, it just spreads out to campuses. For example, I have a project manager who supervises our maintenance guys. We have five maintenance guys. And then under the maintenance guys, they are each responsible for developing a volunteer ministry. So when volunteers come be on the maintenance team, they are nurtured through those individual five maintenance guys at their respective campuses and really, that trickle-down is how all of our campuses are run from cafe to pastoral care, prayer partners and to our children’s ministry.
Now, that’s extremely important in hiring, because you’re not only finding people who are good at the actual position, but people who also are very good at developing others.
Yeah, and one of the things, one of the pastors, Tim Liston, is the lead pastor of our church, and I’m gonna give him all the credit for the actual structure of our church and how it works. Of course, we always give God the credit and how he has used pastor Tim. But we’ve learned some things along the way and one of the things we’ve learned is: hire slow, fire quick. And that’s kind of a testing saying the church ministry, but mediocracy is not an option. And really their walk is more important than their job that they do. Because if their walk is right, and you have the right person, then you can give them pretty much any job and they can be successful at it if their walk is right. So, coaching – we do a lot of coaching. We spent a lot of time. I try to spend a lot of time with my guys developing them into people who others want to follow, and there’s a mentoring involved in that and some other things. So yeah, that is really important: that you find the right people.
So, tell me a little more about this mentoring side and just the connection you have with your team. How do you stay…you know, with different campuses especially, how do you communicate throughout the week? Do you have regular meeting times or one on one? How do you break that up?
Well, you know, I think in ministry, we can get “meeting-ed to death,” so to speak. We can have a meeting every five minutes for every five subjects. And so I try not to do that. Actually, my goal is: we do have a weekly meeting, and our church staff has a weekly meeting. So our entire team, we meet and we have praise and worship, and then we have a leadership message every Monday morning. And that has been so important with getting everyone together in one room at one time and understanding what God’s plan is for our ministry and what our leadership’s vision is for the direction that we’re going. In addition to that, I meet with my team members once a week and I do it in a meeting-type environment. But let me tell you, the most important thing that I found is meeting each individual person where they’re working. So if I can go to our Alvin campus and have a face to face conversation with the main instructor on Alvin campus, or at Friendswood campus, or maybe Manvel campus or Webster campus, and actually look that person in the eye and talk to that person. Conversation leads to prayer quests, leads to praises, leads to a lot of different things. So communication, we have the best platforms in the world. We’ve got social media, and we have computers, and fancy iPhones and have all that stuff, but there’s a lot to be said about looking at someone and have an intentional conversation with them. So that’s kind of the mentoring that I like to do.
I’m going to go into more these positives here. What’s something you guys have going on there at New Hope, that you’ve really found success with?
Well, I think that some of our best practices, I think that we’ve implemented would be: reminding our team members – and I have to start with our team, because anyone listening to this podcast knows that the focus has to be on the team because you’re no good for anyone else until you’re good for yourself. And the only way you can be good for yourself is when you’re in God’s, when you’re in His will, and you’re doing what He has called you to do. So we spend a lot of time with my team. I spend a lot of time with my team, making sure that they understand it. Your first ministry is your relationship with Christ, first and foremost. It’s not a maintenance guy at a church. It’s not a project manager at a church. It’s not a receptionist at a church. Your relationship with God is the first and foremost thing in your life; it has to be important. And then second to that is a relationship at home. Your marriage; that’s your first ministry. Most of our team members are married. So you need to make sure that God is first and your family is second. And then, once you do that, then we can start talking about church. And so, that’s probably it, believe it or not, is making sure people understand that you can actually dishonor God by not spending time at home with your family when they need you to be there. And so that’s something that a lot of pastors and a lot of ministry people are learning that kind of the hard way. Divorce rates even in ministry I’m sure are a staggering number. One is too many, right? I think that that’s probably the biggest thing we’ve implemented is: family first. And then if we can do that and we can model that, then we can have our people who come to our church model that, and send them back into the world knowing where their priorities are.
Now, that’s great. So on the other side of that, then what is something you got going on currently that you haven’t yet found a solution for?
Well, I’ll tell you probably one of the biggest…I would have to say one of our biggest challenges is volunteers. And that’s something that we have to get that right. We’re in full time ministry, most of us. We do ministry, I’d say 40 hours a week, but some people do it 24 hours a day and we’ve got to understand that we have people coming through our doors who are maybe there for an hour or two hours or volunteering for an hour. So actually drawing a volunteer in and connecting with the volunteer has been our biggest challenge. You can have all the fancy balloons and all the motivational high fives you want. But at the end of the day, it’s getting people in and getting them to take ownership of the church, in a way that’s going to make it possible for you to continue to share the gospel in your community. So volunteers is kind of a tough area. We don’t have the perfect answer. You know, I wish we had 10,000 volunteers. But we love the ones we have, don’t get me wrong. They’re hard workers. Just to reach that net out, cast that net out, and pull in more volunteers. That has always kind of been a challenge for us.
So Marc, where do you go to make sure you’re staying sharp in your role as an operations director?
Well, I love to read, but I don’t read a lot of books. At first and foremost, I read the Bible, and I believe this is kind of an all-encompassing handbook on life and any different situation that we experience is going to be found in the Bible and the resolution to that. Secondly, as a man, I ask outside ministries for their advice, and that’s probably one of the biggest challenges we have in ministry is not asking other people what’s working for them. Don’t recreate the ‘well, if something works for them, it works for us.’ I’m talking about there’s all the larger churches in the area that we network with. It’s asking them, how did you approach this situation? Probably the biggest thing I can tell you is: mentorship. I’ve found two mentors who have committed to spending quality time, even if it’s a five minute or an hour with me where we can talk about challenges in our walk, we can talk about challenges in our business, so to speak. And that one person and mentor is a pretty successful regional purchase manager for a large dealership. He’s an amazing Christian guy and just a really good friend, and so he is the iron that sharpens me. He’s the one who keeps me accountable and checks up on me and give me his two cents, whether I want to hear it or not. Another person who’s really close to, he used to be the operator of a local Chick-fil-A, again, an amazing Christian man, family man. And he is someone that we can bounce ideas off of, he can share some of his leadership challenges and I can give him advice, and he can give me advice as well. So truly, first and foremost, the word of God has the answer to everything. And then second, I go to people who are getting it right and find out what they’re doing.
So Marc, what encouragement would you give to others in church leadership?
Man, that’s probably one of the hardest things that we find when we join ministry, is that there’s a lot of discouraging moments. The encouraging thing I would tell you is that: ministry is messy, believe or not, especially church staff on the administration side. If we look back and read through most of the New Testament, the apostle Paul is writing about two churches that had its own challenges in administration of leadership. And if it wasn’t perfect then, it won’t be perfect for us. My word of encouragement would be: the right size of expectations. The only way to avoid burnout is to put your priorities in line, and have grace and patience for others shortcomings. Sometimes we hold people to such high standards they can’t meet, and then we end up being discouraged. Of course, I always say, don’t settle for mediocracy. Mediocre performance is not acceptable in ministry. It’s not acceptable anywhere, but in God’s ministry, it’s even more important. I would say that if I have to encourage anyone and I would say: lead by example, you have to know your team members outside the church, know their wife’s name, their children’s names, look them in the eye, talk to them. And if people think you care, they’re gonna follow you. They’re gonna care what you had to say if they think you care. So if you remember to put relationships first, then things are not always perfect, but they’re gonna be easier. And then finally: don’t quit on a bad day. You’re gonna have days where everything is mounted top of you. You have members of the church complaining. You have team members or staff members complaining, or there’s a challenge or there’s been a moral failure on your team…don’t give up on the bad day. God chose you to do this job and remember that we were built for this. And if you’re in God’s will, if you prayed about it, and you feel like God has you in ministry for a reason, then you were built to do it and don’t quit. Keep your eyes on God.
That’s fantastic. Marc, thanks so much for being on the podcast today.
No problem and God bless what you’re doing for area churches.