Welcome back to the Monday Morning Church podcast. Today we’ve got Rod Cadenhead of Pinelake Church at Brandon, Mississippi, which is a suburb of Jackson. Great to have you on today Rod.
Thank you so much.
Rod, tell me a little bit about your position there at pine lake and how you came into it.
Yeah, my Pinelake executive pastor of operations have five primary areas of responsibility, the financial management, facilities management, information technology, church security, and then our benefits. And I came to… I’ve been here almost 14 years, I will be 14 years in August this year. I think my journey was like a lot of people in my role. I was in the business world for a number of years and just really heard God calling me to use the experience I gained in the business world to further the kingdom. And I really didn’t know what that was gonna look like at the time, but over the course of actually several years, probably about five years, God just started to show me how I could use the experiences I had in the church world and build in the kingdom. And so I made that transition to a church in Texas where I was living at the time and served as controller there for about five years and then came to Pinelake, and as our church begin to grow, my role grew with it and we got where we are today.
So tell me a little… where are you today? You have multiple campuses. How many do you have?
Yes well, we have five campuses, we have about 10000 folks with us on weekend across all of our campuses together. And so when I came in august of 2004, we were one location about 3000 people had a budget 5.4 million dollars. And since then we’ve grown to five campuses and average about 10000.
That is a lot. So tell me a little bit about that coming on. Did you come on immediately into this role as an executive pastor of operations, or is that a newer role?
Well, the title changed, I was the business administrator when we started. The church has relocated in November of 2003 from a property about three or four miles where we’re located today. And it was after that relocation, that tremendous growth just started to happen. And we almost immediately went to two services, our campus, that office, that was the original campus. We moved to another three, reached about 2200 with the two services, eventually, the three services. And we started looking at where people were driving from to come to church here and found out there was about 1000 people coming from the Madison Mississippi area, which is about a 30 minute drive away. And so we really started exploring, how can we meet people’s needs where they are in their own community and minister there opposed to asking everybody to drive here. And so we started exploring multi-site. And as we did that, and we’re just saying it work well for us, and we repeated the model.
Now you came on and 2004 as the controller pastor of operations, whatever the title was, but now you’ve got multiple buildings and a lot more staff. So how has your job… obviously, it’s grown, but has your team also grown with it and who was on your team?
Absolutely. Originally, it was just me for the most part, and we had a bookkeeper and administrative assistant. Since then we’ve been able to really build out our structure. As it relates to me, particularly, I have a director of financial management, he has two people that report to her, a staff accountant and an accounts payable clerk and facilities. I have facilities, people at every campus and a director of facilities that leads those teams. Information technology, we have two people in that role. We have about 125 employees roughly. So you take that times five facilities plus all the computers, iPads, other technology. It’s a lot to keep up with. The most recent thing that we are addressing is church security and just brought on a new director of security a few months ago less than a year ago. And we’re looking at building out of security plans across all of our campuses it life. That’s one of our biggest needs and challenges right now.
Yeah, it seems like a lot of churches, especially the large multi-site campuses. This is kind of the year of security for them trying to figure out how to do that in the best way.
Yeah, agree. It’s been a challenge, but just trying to figure out how to do that with some paid people, some people that are volunteering, getting people the expertise in that area is challenging just because every candidate is at the different site and different stages of life. We don’t have a lot of necessarily counted people in that area to help.
Yeah, definitely. Most of our listeners are fellow executive pastors, and often people are kind of looking for the magic formula. When you hit 1000 people, you should do this or hire this person, 2000, 3000, this many campuses, looking back over adding your five campuses. What are some of your reflections on when you added an IT director, when you added a director of financial management, would you do it sooner than you did it or is there this kind of number where when you hit a certain amount, suddenly you had need for all these positions?
Yeah, there’s certainly no magic formula for that alone. Lot of it is budget driven, what you can afford. And so that obviously plays a key role in it, but we have been blessed to be able to add people as we’ve needed within reason with the growth that we’ve experienced. And so looking back that the IT is certainly a huge portion of what we do. And part of that is because of the way that we do multi-site, we record our service on Sunday morning at 8 o’clock at what we call the reservoir campus in Brandon, and then that is pulled to a video server on other campus and shown it 9:15 and 11 o’clock. So there’s a lot of IT and technology that has to work properly for that to happen each week. And so those are crucial for us, yeah.
I can see how it would be pretty critical for you to have really strong communication amongst your campuses, especially on Sunday mornings.
That’s correct, cause if that breaks down and the campus pastor is preaching, and they’re normally not expecting to do that. So that could be a little challenge.
Yeah, either a major moment of panic or let the Holy Spirit come through.
That’s exactly right. That’s exactly right.
So tell me a little more. What’s something that you guys have implemented there at Pinelake that has been a success for you that might be interesting to others listening?
Well, there’s something recently we’ve just started using a new tool called a Asana, it is a project management tool, and I’m really just now getting into it, and I don’t know all of the ins and outs of it, but early on, it’s really allowed us to collaborate a lot better amongst our campuses. One thing we’ve tried to do as well is using video as opposed to driving to our campuses for meetings or asking people to drive to various campuses for meetings. It’s just so hard to do quickly when we are spread out several hundred miles and a waste of time. So we’re really trying to take better advantage of a video. We are using a service called Zoom for that, just looking out pretty well. So I would say between Zoom and Asana, those two things are really starting to be game changers for us.
So since you’re just now implementing this Asana, a lot of times what keeps churches from bringing in new IT solutions is the transition time or convincing staff to use something. How have you guys gone about that process to introduce new technology and to help staff, to really utilize it fully?
Yes. One thing that’s a blessing that so much of the technology is just getting pretty simple to use. It’s not a complicated thing, quickly with something like zoom and doing the videos. It’s pretty much point and click. With Asana we’re rolling that out slowly. It started with just a senior leadership team. We’re trying to get our arms around it and feel comfortable with using it. And then I think we will start pushing that down further in the organization, but like… so that’s really the new tool. We’ve only been using it for less than a month now.
But that is interesting, to start at that top tier level, get the kings out, make sure everyone is comfortable with it. And then introducing it a staff wide.
We’ve not done it that way before necessarily a lot of times I will experiment with things just within the operations team that I’m responsible for. But that was actually a resource brought to us from our senior executive pastor. We went through some demos and trial and error with it in meetings one afternoon, and just really figured it out and it is working great for us.
And you mentioned your senior executive pastor, you actually have quite a few executive pastors on staff. So how do you all work together?
Yeah, well, we have a lot of meetings to coordinate what we do. The senior leadership team is made up of Chip Henderson our senior pastor, Tim Smith our senior executive pastor, and then we have an executive pastor of communications, a director of staff, executive pastor of ministry, executive pastor of worship, and then a lead pastor for our missions, which also serves on the senior leadership team. And we’ll meet generally once a week and just to stay on the same page. We’ll also do some leadership of things to keep our skills strong, and that’s how it generally rolls out. It’s just a once a week meeting. And then once a month we bring everyone in for a meeting, we call on whole staff meeting is the first Tuesday of every month where all people from all campuses come together for time of worship and learning, and then we’ll break out at various sessions. It could be continuing education type stuff or just the student ministry meeting together across all campuses for children’s ministry, things of that nature. So it’s a good day for us. So we all stay on track with being one church on multiple locations.
Yeah, and especially with the number of staff that you have.
Yes, it’s critical for us to get together one. It’s getting to the point where we have enough people. We are spread out as far as we are. That’s hard to know everyone on the first name basis any longer, I hate that. But then again, it’s just a testimony to just God’s provision for us, our church growing and getting to the point where we are today.
Yeah, definitely. Alright, so flipside of all this, what is a current administrative challenge that you have that you haven’t yet found a solution for?
I don’t know that there’s any one thing. We’re always looking for technology to help our jobs be easier and more effective. And so that’s one thing I wish I had more time to devote to… I’m trying to devote more time to it. Just going on exploring things, like Zoom or Asana, to see what might be available to us either as an app or something on that line that would just work well for our church. So that one general question and a general answer to your question. I don’t have anything things specifically, but I’d love to figure out how to better utilize technology just across the board.
Yeah, so what do you do currently to stay up to date, even though you feel like it’s not maybe as effective as it could be? What do you do right now?
Yeah, well, just trying to read a lot, listen to podcast for various topics. Stay on Xpastor or Leadership Network. They have some great resources that’s available, and again, just go to some conferences from time to time and just try to see what’s going on.
So. This kind of is leading more and deeper into that question, but where do you go to be better at your role and to stay encouraged yourself, to keep perspective and keep yourself sharp?
Yeah, well, I enjoy visiting with other people that are in similar roles. That’s always beneficial to me. I like to go to other churches and see how they’re doing things, how they’re structured, and I just try to learn from them. I found that to be one of the most effective things I can do. Conferences can be a hit and miss as far as the content. But if you can identify some people that have similar roles or are a step or two ahead of where you are and spend time with them and see how they’re doing it. That’s one of the best ways I found to learn.
It’s gotta be hard to be able to separate from Sunday morning at your church and take the time to actually go to other churches.
It is, and I don’t do it a lot, but if a couple of times a year, I can get away and go to a church in another city and connect with some folks. I found that to be extremely encouraging and just keep up with those people throughout the year by telephone, or an email and that kind of thing.
So what kind of encouragement would you give to others in church leadership?
Well, one thing I’ve experienced and seen is that a lot of people would view the role of executive pastor of operations with business administrator as more of a professional role in the church, as opposed to a ministry role and for us, and for me personally, it’s definitely a ministry. So it’s important to me. And I think for anyone in this role just to follow our heart after Jesus and see what God is up to and walk humbly with him. Ministry is what we leave behind when we follow Jesus. And so that’s really our main thing and what we try to accomplish. So I just encourage people to stay in the word, pray. See where God’s leading you and just follow after him.
I wanna ask one more question since you are the executive pastor of operations. A lot of IT people we speak with, it can be a real challenge with them and the executive pastor in understanding each other, but you’re in unique position that you are an executive pastor in this world. And so if you could say anything to the XPs (executive pastors) listening who are trying to understand technology, trying to understand its significance, trying to work with an IT person. What kind of encouragement or wisdom would you pass along to someone like that, trying to figure out this world?
Yeah, well it just takes time, you have to devote time to it and you have to… for me personally, what I do when they start talking over my head and using terms I don’t understand, it’s just slow it down and say, explain to me what you mean by that and then try to learn from it. I have a little bit of a natural bent towards that, so I enjoy it and enjoy reading about it. So it’s not totally foreign to me, but I would say it’s one of those things, it changes quickly too. So you just have to stay up breast of it and then make sure you got people working around you those that have expertise that can carry it out. You don’t have to know everything about it, you certainly have to understand enough to make the decisions when it becomes time.
Absolutely Rod, thanks so much for being on the podcast today.
Well I enjoyed it. Thank you for having me.
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