Welcome back to Monday Morning Church. Today’s guest is Mark Gillming, who is joining us from Bethlehem Church in North Carolina. Really happy to have you Mark.
Thank you very much, it’s good to be on.
Mark, you are the executive pastor at Bethlehem Church. Would you share with us the journey you took to get to your current position?
Sure, I’d be happy to. Born in Canada, raised in Missouri, and went to college there, graduated, and for a number of years, I was in a singing group, travelling around the country, did that kind of thing. I got off the road and we moved to south Florida where I worked in a couple of churches where I was involved in music and also in leadership team, was worship pastor, and also on the leadership team. First church was First Baptist of West Hollywood, and then I was at a church called Flamingo Road. The church was transitioning to Potential Church, which is the name of that church. Then, I was called to move up to North Carolina, where I started a church in the downtown area of Charlotte, church is called Next Level Church, started with some group of friends of mine. And at that time, moved into the role of kind of still doing a little bit of worship, but mostly being executive pastor and…or pastor of everything in a church. And did that for a number of years, left it, and it was just time about four years ago. So God, calling us to hand that church off to some other leadership. And that’s when I found a great friend of mine, a pastor who I worked with, named Dickie Spargo (sounds like an action character). He’s awesome.
He’s a great guy. And I came on here in that role as executive pastor. I still do a lot of things. I worked with the music, still help with the music, that kind thing. But really…so that’s been my role and how I got here for the past 30 years. So it’s been, let’s see, one, two, three, four churches over the past 30 years.
That’s a lot of experience to be able to bring into your current role.
I love it, and I feel like….you’ve done something else in church and you work kind of up to the structure. It always has you mindful of the people you serve with, how they’re seeing you, how they’re seeing ministry and their frustration they have, or very similar frustrations you used to have when maybe you were doing that job.
So how would you describe how your church is structured and what things fall under your responsibility?
Our church is structured, we have elders that provide the oversight for the church, being from five, seven elders and I’ll sit on that team, kind of an ad-hoc position. I set the agenda and report to them, but they’re the 30,000ft view people. They’re the ones that oversee the direction and where the church is going. But the church day to day is run by the pastors of the church. So it’s kind of set up where our pastor, pastor Dickie, sets the vision and direction, and then I help flesh out that dream and that vision to our staff. So I meet with our pastors and our campus pastors, I meet with them every week, we meet for one hour. And basically the first question always is just kind of how is, the rhythm of your day and you rhythm of your week and your ministry, how are you doing. I’m more of a people person-executive pastor, love to hear about the lives and care and know what’s going on in the pastors and the people that work there. So that kind of structure, the pastors do the day to day and knock it out, and then if they ever see something they’re concerned with, or one of the progress over vision or overseer approved the budgets, they can certainly do that. And they do that very (xxxx)04:58 . But the day to day is (xxxx)05:01 by the pastor in the church.
How have you incorporated technology into how you administrate?
We have a lot of conversations about that a lot right now, just trying to figure out the best way without slowing down the ministry to stop and re-tool everybody in all the new things that come out. But we try to be wise in what we do. So of course, all over mystery levels, we try to get everybody to…their teams that need to respond, the weekend ministry, our weekend position. We try to send them through planning center. It just seems so, so easy to get people sign up, they get (xxxx)05:47 what’s going on. So we really try to do that. We store all of our working files in a dropbox that is set up just for our church that we try to get people to collaborate early and often, so we can get people up to speed quickly. A lot of times we do, all of our word artwork print staff, graphics, we collaborate in a program called Basecamp where we can see the progress of work and you can make changes quickly. It just seems print material and advertising, all that. We spent a lot of time reviewing copy and all that. So we use Basecamp, it works for us nice, make quick changes and on the church side and the worship side, our pastor (xxxx)06:48 uses Facebook Live quite a bit through the week. He’s really good. He’s one of those people that is just about as good on tape, and he is in person. Really, he’s a person who got…loves people, and that comes across very well. So he does Facebook Live two or three times a week, and it’s usually just encouraging (xxxx)07:14 point about, say, if you’re going through a struggle. I don’t know if you’ve ever been up against us at that, but he makes it very practical. (Kind of same people can forward that?)07:23 , not just to the church as we can. We’re doing serious, and in fact, he rarely mentions that, it’s more encouraging wise help that people people need to. And then we send out a weekly email to our people through one of the many email servers and things you could use, and we send out three or four a week. Again, I just encourage people if they don’t want to open it, they don’t have to, but we want him to know we’re thinking of him, we care for him, and then on Sunday, of course, we do live stream, Facebook Live and Youtube, get our services out to out people, and out to, get as much as we can. So, we try to stay on top of the technology thing without getting too far out there or too far behind. I’m sure there’s a lot that we’re not doing. I can learn a lot just listening to you guys every week and as people are learning kind of the seminary we are recording.
Yeah, it’s hard to balance the right amount of time to spend on the right amount of technology.
It’s all great, but they send out new little programs all the time.This is going to eb the greatest, and you go on and it never catches. So we want to be early adopters, but we don’t want to be so early that we’re…. dance when the band is not even there yet.
Yeah, you don’t want to be the experiment.
No, no, not at all.
No, that makes a lot of sense. With being a multisite church and having your staff spread out, have you guys experimented with any kind of automation?
Yeah, yeah. What we do…our campuses are setup unique, and yes Courtney, we have a campus that is a 8:30 on Sunday morning and it’s set on campus, but it is primarily service for retired folk and people that, (we have a band there?)09:38 and we worship, but it’s a different… it’s a different feel. It’s a service for that generation, they love it. And our other campus, we will do a live teaching once a month, we’ll send over a video once a month, and then the campus pastor will speak, talks about (xxxx)10:03 kind of experimenting that we started doing just video and that was fine. So we get sense, the role of the campus pastor, probably needs to have a little more way for more authority, maybe a little more chance to speak in to the needs of the campus and plus, our campus pastor out there (Ricky Colins?)10:25 he’s a great speaker. And so when he does speak, it gives him a little bit more credibility and platform speak about (xxxx)10:36 or serving opportunities. That’s a big part of the DNA of our church, is serving and caring for the community. So is it campus pastor and have a little more platform to do that? It makes it easier to motivate people for the campus.
Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. What are some of the administrative challenges you face? Specifically related to leading a staff of a multisite church?
Keep everybody on the same page. We’re not quite large enough to have a level of support for our campus pastor. So I still do a lot of that on the campus pastor side. The other pastors at those campuses like the (xxxx)11:22 , student pastor worship, they’ll directly report to somebody at the south campus or our home campus for more direction and instruction, where they get their stuff back. Alignment, making sure that we’re aligned, we’re saying the same thing. We’re doing the same thing. We’re not reinventing the wheel all the time. And kind of the other thing is we’ve had a bit of a trip trying to find really good people manage the software because we’re trying to be administer and control the flow, the people who come through our classes and people that are new to (xxxx)12:14 ,so we can stay in touch with them, follow their progress. So we’ve done a number of, we’re kind of ta this juncture right now, we’re looking at a program which youhad a number of comments on backup that we heard one on your podcast, that CCB… that has been done really well. And none of the, we found, none of them do it all. You kind of have to spend the time deciding what it is you really need, data management system, only important things, then find the one that best does that. So those have kind of administrative challenges. I think just up keeping everything aligned, (xxxx)12:57 , three campuses, and you need your (xxxx)13:01 people on multiple campuses, but you got to learn and grow, and learn one of your plan.
Yeah, absolutely. Sounds like you are eager to really find out what other people are doing and learning. Where do you go to learn more about being a great executive pastor?
Well, we got….I really do enjoy the Monday Morning Church podcast. It’s nice to hear guys be open and honest about their struggles and their (xxxx)13:36 . I always love to hear that and very different guys get do different ways. I like that, I like that everybody is cut out of the same cloth, so I love yours. Church of the Highlands has Grow network, we’re a part of that. (xxxx)13:53 , lot of resources that we use, teaching a leadership stuff that they do. I like the Village Church, just stuff (xxxx)14:05 Andy Stanley, a friend of mine out of Kansas City, Dan (xxxx)14:09 I’m always trying to read and listen. So I just went to a conference the other day, and I get to sit with the executive pastors from (East Spring?)14:23 and those guys, just really open transparent and it was just a blessing. Yeah, I think to have people that are… we’re all on the same team,we want to help, it just makes life better. And I think, it’s like you’re saying, when I used to travel when there was a cord laying on the ground, the people would trip over. Eventually you got to take the board down. Well, for me, I think some of it, some of the things we learned from you guys, somebody has taken the cord down so we don’t have to trip over it, over and over and over. And that just saves us time, allows us to be more effective.
Yeah, at the end of the day, everyone’s all in it together, anyway. The same goal is there.
What encouragement would you give to other executive pastors?
I love that question you have in podcast. For me, I think it’s… I will (xxxx)15:20 journey. There’s times (xxxx)15:23 work and to (xxxx)15:27 step in and run our… our churches. They’re going to take responsibility for doing, just stress of trying to run a perfect organization and taking stress out of, or volunteers doing, or not doing, or staff doing or not doing. I think, for me about 10-12 years ago, I remember, if I enjoyed the journey and I just really believe God’s in control. It just makes the job easier, makes my life more enjoyable. And so I would say to guys out there that are trying to figure it out, enjoy the journey, just at the end of the day, count the things that where joyful to you. Joy makes a lot of (xxxx)16:12 and easy to bear and be focused on the things that brought you joy throughout the day rather than the things that brought you hardships. So, enjoy, have fun, isall we have. so we got to make most of it, but enjoyed.
That’s great encouragement for our life, not just for employment.
Yeah, I think so. I think so. It’s made sense in my life, which is, we’re off to do what we have to do, to get through life, and for me, that’s just let’s just step back sometimes, sit down, read a book in the middle of the day, and maybe if you can take a power nap, enjoy the people you get to hang with.
Absolutely. Mark, thanks for just sharing your experience and where you guys are currently at. Thanks so much for being on the podcast.
Thank you, thank you for what you guys are doing. Keep it up. I’ll be listening.