Welcome back to the Monday Morning Church podcast. We’ve got Mark Mateer on the show today, coming to us from Bayside Community Church, which has seven campuses in the Bradenton, Sarasota, Florida area. Great to have you on the show today, Mark.
Hey! Thanks, Courtney. I appreciate the offer and looking forward to our conversation today.
Yeah. Mark, you are the Executive Director of Central Support there at Bayside. How did you come into your position there?
Well, let’s see. I’ve been here on Bayside for 7 years, and I’ve been in this position for maybe 6, 7, and 8 months, something like that. And it basically came about, I guess, I had sort of having conversations with my boss and was sharing that I had more capacity to do more here at Bayside, I came from the business world and the corporate world, and just start having conversations and saying, hey, I’ve got more to offer. I think I can do more. I’ve got more capacity. Is there an opportunity for me here at Bayside to use more of my skills, talents, and abilities? And just start having those conversations and kind of set a deadline. I said, my birthday is July 23rd, and probably at the beginning of the year, we started these conversations and I said, hey, let’s give it 6 months. Let’s give it until my birthday and see if we can find something more for me to do. If we can, that’s awesome. If we can’t, I’m not saying I’m going to quit or anything like that, but let’s start this conversation. Let’s put a stake in the ground and say, by this day, we want to figure it out. This opportunity that I’m currently in came up. It was a new position that they made for me here at Bayside and I love it. I love what I do. If I were independently wealthy and didn’t need a paycheck, I would still do what I do. I would just volunteer everyday and it’s just I love what I do.
That’s a pretty great sign. What was the position you were in previously?
I did a couple things. One, we have a coaching network that we call Relate, and we still have it. Randy Bezet and his brother Rick Bezet have Relate. It’s a church coaching network, so I oversaw that. And then, in addition, I was in charge of launching campuses. So that’s the other thing I did here at Bayside. So I kind of moved out of that position into a Central Support Director role. But yeah, I did that for 6 years, something like that, I guess, before I moved into this role.
So break down a little bit then. What exactly do you do as the Executive Director of Central Support? What are your daily responsibilities?
Sure. So basically, here at Bayside, we have, with the 7 campuses, our goal is to launch a new campus every year. And so everyone at those campuses has a specialist here at central support. So if you are the kids’ director at a campus, for example, you’ve got a couple people here at central support that specialize in kids’ church, kids’ ministry, everything from how to check in kids, to what curriculum we use, to policies and procedures, all of that. And so our job at central support is basically to act as a consultant, as a peer, as a coach, to help the campuses do what they need to do. And so we come alongside them, then the campuses report to us. So we act as a consultant/coaching role to all the different ministries, helping them accomplish what God has called them to accomplish. In addition, we help ensure consistency, continuity that all of our experiences are alike. We have a saying here, we want to make sure all the French fries taste the same. So that’s a big part of what we do at central support. And in addition, we handle things like creative. We’ve got a creative department that we handle all the videos, the creative elements, and the weekend experience. And things like that that campuses would not do on their own, we take care of that as well.
So your team that you oversee are these coaches, these consultants at the central support.
Okay. And so I assume with a role like that, leading a group of people who are also in charge of leading and challenging others in their area, that there’s quite a bit of further learning that goes on in your department.
Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. We are constantly tweaking. That is our culture here. We are constantly asking the question, what can we do better? We just launched our 7th campus on Sunday and after we were all done, that was the first thing we did at central support is, okay, how could we have done this better? What can we do differently? We’ve been in a learning mode and questioning what we did and how could we make it better. So we are constantly trying to figure out how can we get better, how can we attract more people, how can we reach more people. And so learning is what we do all the time.
So building more into this, what is some kind of best practice that you have going on there at Bayside that you really found success with?
Best practice here at Bayside, I would say, I guess the first one that comes to mind would be we are constantly in a mode of a giving ministry away. That is finding somebody else that can do our job. We say we’re constantly trying to work ourselves out of the job. We are constantly raising up leaders. That is what we do. That is on everybody’s minds. Who are you training? Who are you coaching? Who are you mentoring? Who is on your bench? How are you raising the people on your bench up to the next level? We have one person on staff here, in fact, and his job is purely to ensure that we are coaching and raising people up and moving them into their next position. And basically what that does, Courtney, is that creates capacity. That is what it’s all about. That’s why we do that because we are trying to reach the loss. So in order for us to reach the loss, we have to have more pastors to take care of those people. And not just pastors in the title and professional sense, but people pastoring people, people leading small groups, people leading worship teams, people pouring in to others. And that’s our whole goal at Bayside, is to create capacity for others. And by doing that, it helps us to reach the loss. I would say, that’s probably the biggest thing, I think, we do at Bayside is to create capacity. You constantly be calling others up to a leadership position and giving ministry away.
Now, I want to hear more about this because it’s a common pitfall of fast growth that it’s much easier to hire people than it is to raise up lay volunteer. It’s easier in the short term at least. What is it about your staff culture? Do you hire people who are specifically gifted in giving authority away and training others up? Or do you have a pathway for volunteers that’s very clear? What exactly does this system look like to ensure that you are raising up leaders?
Yes. We do have a system. We do have a pathway. We call it the leadership pipeline. We are very, very intentional about moving people along the leadership pipeline. We track it. We have metrics that look at that and we hire, I’m going to guess, 95% of our hires are internal. 95% of our hires are people that are already a part of our church, people that have started as a volunteer, then they moved up to a leader, then they moved up to a coach, then they moved up to a lead coach, and then they come on, maybe, as part time and then full time. And so we are very, very intentional about that. And everybody is crystal clear on what their next leadership position is going to be, and it’s something we constantly talk about and whatever meeting you’re at — that question, I talk about it daily. There is not a day that goes by that I’m not having a conversation with one of my managers or somebody else on staff where I say, hey, tell me about this person, or I heard this person speak at all staff the other day. Do you think they would be interested in being a campus pastor? Or, what about this person? Could they lead worship maybe at our next campus launch? And so it’s just a culture of constantly raising up people internally.
Now, as I mentioned, it’s 95, maybe 90% of the time we do it that way, and 10%, we don’t. And so that’s hard for us when we go outside of Bayside, because DNA is very important to us. And so any time we go outside of Bayside, that always makes a nervous and say, okay, we want to launch this campus. We don’t have a campus pastor. So we’re going to have to go outside. And that is something that, honestly, those people that we hire outside are what I would call our first cousins. So they are people at other churches that we have known for years, that we’ve done ministry with. So maybe they’re not part of the Bayside family, but they’re a part of another church that’s very close to us. So we know them. They know us. We had a relationship with them for years. And so that is typically what we do. I won’t say we’ve never hired anybody outside of that. But I can’t think of one. We’ve got 222 employees on staff, I can’t think of — maybe we have. If we do, I wouldn’t know of it so we are all about culture and hiring from within, definitely.
Yeah. It sure sounds like it. So tell me a little more about this Bayside culture. You mentioned, obviously, it’s an extremely high priority to raise up leaders. But what are some other, I guess, signatures of your culture there at Bayside?
Sure, I would say, I guess the two that would come to the top of my mind, number one, is we have what we call a life giving culture. One where we’re going to assume the best out of people. We’re going to assume that their intentions are right. We have a saying around here, when somebody makes a mistake, or when somebody does something that’s questionable, we seek understanding. We seek to find out why they did what they did and we’re always going to air on the side of grace. We’re always going to go above and beyond for people and believe the best and give them the benefit of the doubt. And that comes from our lead pastor. He loves people. I always say he has a heart the size of Montana. He just loves people and always wants to get people a second, third, and fourth chance. And so that’s where that comes from and it is very important to who we are at Bayside.
Now, the other thing, the second thing I would say is our culture is all about excellence and having high standards. And one might think hearing me say that, that we’re all about being life giving, giving people second and third chances that, oh, they probably don’t have high standards. They let people get away with a lot of things, that they let a lot of things slide. And I would say to the contrary. The thing about our DNA and our culture is that we are all about excellence. We are all about raising the bar and having high standards and meeting those standards. And if you’re not meeting those standards, we’re going to address it. We’re going to speak to it. We’re going to have difficult conversations. We’re going to hold people accountable, and we’re going to do whatever we have to do to accomplish that. But we’re going to do it in a life giving manner. Somebody falls short, we’re not going to go off on somebody. We’re not going to get angry. We may be very disappointed, but we are in a life giving way, going to seek understanding, and we’re going to address it, and we’re going to hold people accountable. So there’s a tension between the two of those, but a tension that we manage and we don’t sacrifice one for the other.
So I want to flip this then on the other side, what is a current challenge that you haven’t yet found a solution for there at Bayside?
Oh, wow. Well, there are many, many challenges that we’re trying to find out. I would say one that comes to mind, as we look to grow and promote people and hire people from within, it seems like people have either a bent toward what I will call pastoring, loving people, meeting with people, being the hands and feet of Jesus. But they may be lacking that what I’ll call an administrative gene, the ability to think strategically or get things done, to move the ball down field, and to manage people. And so it seems rare. I know our lead pastor has this. He loves people intently. He is a pastor’s pastor, but also he thinks strategically. He thinks tactically. He knows how to get things done. That is very rare that somebody has both of those. It’s like they will either have one or the other extreme. Here at Bayside, we air on the pastoring side. We air on the — this person loves people. They are what we would call a gatherer. People are constantly around them. They are the life of the party people. They’re highly attractional. They might not be the best at getting their reports in on time or their staff may not be the best at addressing issues or thinking strategically about problems. If you were ever in the hospital, that’s somebody you would want to come and be by your side.
So our challenge, Courtney, is when you have somebody like that, and we typically air on people like that and put them in the leadership position, so how do you augment that skill? Do you put somebody that is gifted with administration under them? And we do that sometimes. The challenge is the person that’s highly compassion oriented is still leading and setting direction and leading staff meetings and things like that, and they are over the person that is more administrative. But if you put somebody more administrative over it, then it’s like, no, it’s not about getting things done. It’s not about checking off boxes. It’s about reaching the loss. So I don’t know. That’s our challenge. That’s something that we struggle with. And that would be one that we haven’t figured out.
And when you talk about that, it makes me think most Administrative Pastors obviously have an administrative bent, and often the administrative side can take over the pastoral side. And so when I hear you talk about that, I think, wow, how critical it would be for new hires, especially on the administrative side, to understand what they’re walking into so that there’s not a daily frustration with the vent being more towards that pastoral side and meeting as the spirit leads side.
Yeah. We want both. It’s not an either/or. We say around here a lot, we are spirit led but strategically focused. We want both, Courtney. It’s a struggle. We’re trying to figure it out. We’re definitely not there yet.
Mark, where do you go, what are some of your favorite resources or groups you go to just to make sure you’re staying fresh in your role?
Yeah. So we are a part of ARC (Association of Related Churches). So we connect a lot with the ARC conference and the different meetups that they have. We have a Relate Conference every year that we host here at Bayside. This year, we had over 1000 folks at that. But for me personally, what I try to do is find somebody that is a good match for Mark, but yet a few steps ahead of me. So what I mean by that is, let’s say, I like spicy food. So I like stew that has a lot of flavor. So if I was looking for a new way to do my Thanksgiving turkey, and somebody said, hey, I’ve got a Cajun recipe for you, I would be, oh, that’s what I’m interested in. Because I would love to find a way to spice that up. And so I’m looking for somebody that thinks like we do, that I’m in step with, but is a few steps ahead of me, and somebody that I can call. I do that all the time. I’m constantly calling my friends at other churches that are a couple steps ahead of me and asking them what they do. And culture and DNA is really big because there are a lot of sting with this analogy for a moment, a lot of different flavors out there in the church world and that’s awesome. But I’m looking for somebody that’s similar to me, but ahead of me so that I know how they think, how they operate, their church’s DNA is similar to mine so I can take their idea and implement it here.
Now that gets to be a little bit harder. You guys are growing at a faster rate, especially with a goal of planting a new church every year. That pool of people’s going to get smaller and smaller for you to find people who are ahead of you guys.
It certainly is, but these churches that I’m connected with, they too are growing. Again, I’m looking for a church or churches that are similar to us, that are growing quickly along the same path, so their growth too is progressing. So right now, that hasn’t been a problem. Maybe a couple of years from now, that will be and if it does, I guess, I’ll have to figure that out then. I don’t know.
So, Mark, what encouragement would you give to others in church leadership?
I guess one thing that comes to mind, Courtney, often think about Peter when he was walking on water. I think it was Matthew 14 where Jesus comes to the disciples. They’re in the boat and He’s walking on water and they are in the boat. They started freaking out. They say, Oh my goodness, it’s ghost. And they are frightened. And Jesus says, calm down. It’s alright. It’s just me. And Peter says to Him, basically, well, it’s you, then let us come out there and walk on the water with you. And Jesus was like, yeah, come on out. And so Peter starts walking on the water. And as you know, when the waves are kicking up, he looks at those, he starts to sink and he gets frightened. And he said, Jesus, save me. And Jesus grabs him by the arm and says, I don’t remember what the exact scripture is, but have faith, or why did you doubt or something like that. And so I think most people look at that story and think the lesson is we need to have more faith, not focus on the wind and the waves, and our troubles and all that, but keep our eyes on Jesus and focus Him. I guess I look at that and say, Peter, how about you? You got out of the boat. The other guys were just in the boat, but you had the courage to step out and try it. And I guess I would say to your listeners, my hunch is people listen to your podcast because they want to grow. People are listening to this because they want to reach more people. They want to do more for Christ.
And, I guess, I would just encourage them today and say, you know what, at least you’re in the game. At least you’re out there. Yeah. You might be listening to this podcast and thinking, oh, I got to better at this. I got to get better at that. Maybe taking notes. And I often listen to things like this, Courtney, and I get frustrated that the person that they got, wow, I got so much work to do. I have to do this. I got to do that. We need to focus on this. How am I going to get all this done? But, I guess, I would say to your listeners, you know what, at least you were like Peter, and you took a step out of the boat. You’re at least out there doing it. You’re in the fight. You’re reaching people for Christ. Just the very fact that you’ve tuned into this podcast tells me you have a heart for the lost, you have a heart for the kingdom of God, and you want to reach more people, and you want to do better. So I would just say to your listeners, be encouraged that at the end of the day, you made a difference. Yeah, maybe you started to sink a little bit. Maybe you tried that initiative and it wasn’t successful. Maybe you’ve had some setbacks. But at the end of the day, at least you’re out there. You’re in ministry. Whether you’re full time, part time, volunteering, whatever, you are a leader in the church and you’re making a difference, and that’s awesome. You’ll go to bed tonight — I encourage you to go to bed tonight and say, you know what, today I made a difference. Yes, maybe I fell short. Yes, maybe this didn’t work out. Maybe I was corrected about that. But when you go to bed tonight, you can say, at least I changed eternity. There are going to be more people in heaven now because of what I did, what Christ did through me, then if I would have just stayed in the boat. So I guess that’s what I would share.
Yeah, that’ll preach. What a great encouragement, Mark. Thanks so much for being on the podcast today.
Yeah, absolutely. Thanks for asking me.