This episode of Monday Morning Church is sponsored by KiSSFLOW, the church workflow solution.
Courtney: Welcome back to Monday Morning Church. Today’s guest is Rodney Navey of Calvary Church in Charlotte, North Carolina. Rodney, great to have you on today.
Rodney: Thank you Courtney, it’s good to be with you guys today.
Rodney, you are the executive pastor at Calvary Church. Would you give us a little insight into how Calvary is structured and how your role fits in to it all?
Well, our senior pastor, our lead, pastor sets the vision and the tone for our church, and then we’re more less divided into two categories, I guess one being ministry support, which is more the administrative side, IT, HR, those areas. And then the executive pastor, I’m on the other side of that, a more pastoral in what I do and the pastoral staff and the directors report to me in that particular framework.
So is most of your focus then being a pastor to the staff?
Okay and you have quite a large staff there at Calvary isn’t that right?
Well, we do have a good number of people total when you look at a few hundred people that are on payroll, as far as pastoral staff it’s not quite as large because we do have some directors and coordinators. But yeah, we probably have eight pastors and fourteen directors.
So how did you become the executive pastor there at Calvary?
When I was in high school, I realized that god was leading me into vocational ministry and really was preparing more for being a senior pastor or lead pastor and did that for about fifteen years, but came to a place where I felt I should focus more on families and move more into a staff role. After doing that for about nine years, I’ve had the opportunity to come on staff at Calvary to work with the pastors and my heart being for families, especially for pastor’s families. When the position opened up, it just seemed like a natural fit that that’s where god had been guiding me over the years to fill this particular role.
I’m curious then, we don’t interact with a lot of executive pastors who had been the main pastors for so many years, what was that transition like for you?
It wasn’t as difficult as I thought it might be, I’m really personality wise not an out front type person. It almost seemed for those years, that I was a little bit out of my skin. I think someone can have all kinds of different personalities and be a lead pastor. But for me, it was pretty exhausting in that sense, and to take a staff role really seemed to be more of a fit for me and the previous nine years before becoming an executive pastor, I really felt in my comfort zone. And even as I’m adjusting to this new role, it still seems that it’s more in line with how I’ve been created.
So how long have you been in this role at Calgary?
Almost a year.
Okay, now when you describe yourself as more of a pastoral role and you have a heart for encouraging families, especially pastors’ families, what does that look like in your day to day role at the church? How do you do that?
The men and leaders who report to me do so almost every week we have meetings, the first part of the meeting. I’m typically trying to encourage them and their walk with god, what that looks like for them. How are they doing in their own devotional time? And then we do talk about family, how that’s looking in their lives. Are they praying together with their families? Or are they having family devotionals? Just some very practical kinds of things, I’ve tried to encourage them. One of the first reads I asked the staff to do was ‘The Pastor’s Family’ by Brian Croft. I wanted them to get a good picture of what a pastor’s family could look like. We’re all different, but I wanted them to have some basic principles. I try to let them know one of the biggest gifts they give to Calvary is to have a strong family themselves. So we encourage them to build their families and shepherd them well. And I think maybe that is part of the unhealthiness of churches today is that sometimes we ask our leaders to do more away from their families than with their families, and just being able to encourage them to shepherd their families, we feel like that provides a more healthy church as leaders are modeling that for the rest of the church body.
That’s fantastic. Many of the pastors, executive pastors that we talk with, they have a pastoral role, but then they also oversee operational or a lot of building facilities. Are you able to focus exclusively on the pastoral side?
For the most part. I do a little bit with our office assistants, the admins, but for the most part, I’m focused on the pastors, how they’re growing in their relationship with god, what their call looks like, and then how that integrates with the whole church as far as calendaring goes, as far as our mission, our vision, is all of that integrating, as opposed to what can happen when we begin isolating and silo-ing.
I wonder after all of the years that you spent as a minister in your own family, having this passion for having strong families and ministry, and a common problem for ministers is that they’re working on the weekends and there’s not really time to be together as a family in church. How have you brought some of your own personal experiences, to pastoring these ministers that you’re now leading and speaking into?
That’s part of my passion, I think, I grew up in somewhat of a dysfunctional family myself and didn’t have some of that growing up. And so I think knowing that, and then even as a senior pastor of seeing families just take such large hits and dads who are very absent from their families, if not physically, at least spiritually, not leading them. And so as I began to really assess my own family, how are we doing this, just by god’s grace. Nothing good on my part, but just out of god’s grace, I feel like gave me that burden for my family and gave me a great wife who was a help meet in that whole process. And so as we began to practice some of those things in our own home, praying together, having family devotions, having a family night, those kinds of activities, those kinds of experiences that built our relationship up and gave us a better opportunity to bring our kids up in the right way. I am carrying that over and especially with a lot of the younger leaders on staff, I’m able to encourage them to block out time with their families, have that family night each week, make sure you’re having meals together. If you’re not, then you’re too busy. If you have, your weekend is being taken up, how do we look at your time through the week so that we can free up some time to make sure you’re having that with your family? So as we’re looking over their schedules and how they’re using their time, we’re trying to make sure that we help them set aside time for their families. And sometimes it seems a little bit odd to have to calendar date night in with your wife or calendar in family time. But if it’s important enough, it needs to be on the calendar, or the tyranny of the urgent will eat up our time and our family life.
That’s great. The tyranny of the urgent is a very real reality, especially in ministry.
Very much so, we could fill our calendars up twenty-four seven with meetings, appointments counseling, and in our calling in the ministry of the church is so important, the broad of Christ we’re giving a lot because Jesus gave everything. He purchased the church with his own blood, but our first calling isn’t to the church, it is to the family and god’s not calling us to do something in the church that negates the command we have to love our wives to bring up our children, and the training instruction of the lord. And so I think sometimes we have to go back and rethink where are my priorities? If I’m failing in that first calling of my wife and my kids, it’s going to affect my calling in the church body.
Absolutely now you mentioned you’ve been on staff for about a year now, again, an executive pastor role that’s able to focus so exclusively on the pastoral side is a bit rare. Is this a position that existed before you came? Did you create it? Were you a part of the congregation before you came on staff? What was the lead in to your role there?
The previous executive pastor been a little bit more administrative, although they did have a director of ministry support. I think when the church was considering filling this position, when it came available, they were looking for someone who would be more pastoral, who would be more of a coach to the pastors. And so they more or less knew what they were getting when I came, it wouldn’t be someone whose strengths were in the administrative side, and of course, they challenged me a little bit on that too, knowing that there would be some administration, was willing to make sure I wanted to tackle that part as well? So it was kind of a mutual understanding. And I think in part when we were talking about my coming, that was all discussed that it would be more of a pastoral role as far as executive pastor.
So, I’m curious, what are some of your favorite resources, strategies, networking for staying fresh and encouraged, and maybe for protecting your own family as an executive pastor?
The resources are growing; it’s amazing that is out right now to be helpful. A lot of stuff on family, life itself in general, marriage and parenting to some wonderful, wonderful stuff like Paul Tripp, he’s done some things as far as the pastor roles as far marriage and parenting he does a great job. I think “Family Life” with Dennis Raines, really good stuff comes out of that, “Practical Shepherding” with Brian Croft, I mentioned his book, “The Pastor’s Family” that he and his wife wrote, but then they also have a number of resources that help specific areas of leadership. One of their books is called prayer, and it just helps pastors to realize that what I’m doing, praying is just as important as any other thing I’m doing, if not more. And so it’s a challenge for pastors to build prayer time in their schedules because of its importance of “Practical Shepherding” has been real helpful. Some of the blogs I find real helpful, like Eric Geiger, Tom Rainer, Dan Rylands, a little bit more focused with executive pastors, and of course, a guy that’s done a lot with church leadership Larry Osbourne with sticky church and sticky teams and unity just some real helpful things to keep that big picture of leadership and building teams, building into leaders, helping build people who will take our place one day.
So now on a similar vein, what kind of encouragement would you give to other executive pastors?
I think one of the largest things is to just be reminded, and we all need some reminders, I think, built people and not programs, programs are needed, but they’re secondary to people. And it does start with our leaders. If our leaders are not growing and modeling what we want our congregation to be, then we have a problem. I think the focus on people, our leaders growing in their walk with god and their family life, that kind of character, those kinds of qualifications to even lead those things are much more important than competency, what abilities and gifts that that leader might have in the church and think if we can focus on building into the lives of our leaders in which I think a lot of executive pastors get to focus on that. Then not only are we touching those leaders, but we’re touching their families and we’re touching all the families that are under those leaders’ ministries, and really generations to come to church for the long haul.
Not to end I would like to, I guess just give you an opportunity speaking to the executive pastors that listen to this podcast. If you could encourage them with one action or one consideration to protect their own family, what would that be?
Nothing will ever replace that intentional daily quiet time, if I’m not listening to god on a daily basis through his word, then how can I possibly lead for god? And so that time every day that I’m in the word, not preparing a Bible study or preparing a leadership meeting, but just listening to god as I read his word and then meditating on that journaling what god’s saying to me, talking to him about that, I think that is the biggest key for us so that we stay fresh so that we are hearing god’s word’s living and active, and if we’re not building our ministries on the word, then we’re pretty much building it on sand.
That’s fantastic. Thanks so much for being on the podcast today.
Thank you for letting me Courtney.