Welcome to Monday Morning Church. Today we have two special guests that are joining us today from the Crossing Church, which is located across actually three or, you guys are in four states now. Is that correct?

That is correct. Four states.

 

So, a four-state church, joining us, we have two people kind of serving that executive pastor role. We have Ron Tallcott and Clayton Hentzel. Welcome to the show, guys.

Thank you. Thanks for having us.

 

Why don’t you guys start giving a little bit of background on…we have two people on the show. What are your different roles? How do you divide your responsibilities?

That’s a great question. We actually have four members on the executive team, and then we have our senior pastor. The role that I play, as the executive, really the operations side of the church, everything from the finance team to the HR team. We also look at the benevolence reporting up to me with six thrift stores that we use inside of benevolence program. And we had it risk management this past fall and projects, and currently I’m overseeing the online .tv side of the church on that site.

 

Wow, so it sounds like everything that just needs to get done ends up in your plate.

It does, and I forgot to add Information Services as well, computer site. I’m not a computer tech guy, but we get it done through some outside people as well.

[Clayton] And then my role is I oversee… we have 10 physical locations, and then we have Crossing inside locations that work inside of the prison system in Illinois. And we work hand in hand with them and oversee church, and the church functions that happen on a day to day basis and on weekend at all of our physical locations.

 

Wow, okay. So it’s a huge operations, it’s a huge network of things. Can you…it’s going to be hard, but can you briefly kind of walk us through the evolution of the Crossing, how it got to the stage it is now, but also keeping in mind for listeners as executive pastors, also as a staff, how did you kind of grow in those areas?

Well, in 1974, the Crossing was a church plant from another church in town in Quincy, Illinois, a city of 40,000. And that was back when you would put different churches in different parts of a town just to reach those areas. And fast forward 20 years, our senior pastor, Jerry Harris came to what at the time was Payson Road Christian Church, and they were running about 200 people. Over the next 10 years, that church grew from a church in 250 to a church of 2000. And we realized that in our small, what we call micropolitan communities, that we were going to reach that at some point in time where enough people have come through your church in that small area that you’re going to get all you’re going to get. And so we started to look for new opportunities. And this was right on the front end in 2007 when multisite was really starting to gain steam. And so we launched 60 miles away in Macomb, and we just kept launching churches for the last…well, this is the 10th year anniversary of the Crossing Macomb, which was our first multisite. And with the exception of the last year, we’ve been launching a campus every year, or two, sometimes during a calendar year.

 

Wow, okay. And then walk us through how your staff has grown and evolved during that time too. As you plant these churches, do you have an on site pastor? How do they connect, do you have some kind of shared service that’s there in Quincy, or how does it work?

Well, starting off with our first campus there at Macomb, we pick a team and we try to just duplicate what we had at Quincy and put it into the Macomb campus, and realize that that doesn’t always work. Every campus, every city, town in the tri-state area was going to be a little bit different. And so what we tried to do is have at least a campus pastor, someone to lead worship, someone to oversee the children’s ministry, and then depending on the size of the campus and the size of the community that that campus is serving will determine how many staff members we do put into that campus, really when we’re opening a new campus. And then as time goes along, we really look at that 100-120 members per full time staff member and try to keep it pretty balanced that way. Finding good people is not always easy. So we do a lot of internal growth from within, finding individuals that have a love for Christ, and have a love for others, and want to just be evangelistic towards others and try to grow them that way. We also do some outside interviewing being responsive to HR side of it. Sometimes someone sends in a resume and we sit down, and we talk with them and finding good applicants in that manner. It’s not always easy, but I think the biggest piece is what I’ve heard in my four years here at Crossing is you need to start duplicating yourself and replacing yourself in your current position so that you can go and do the next task that Christ has for you.

[Clayton] Let me add two things to that. As a campus, we’ve had about three different iterations of how we watch and start campuses, and that is always just going to be in flex because things change, people change and the last part that Ron was talking about, a good illustration of how we operate here at the Crossing, is we kind of view ourselves as high school coaches that we don’t get to go out and recruit D1 athletes. If we want to have a great program, we have to develop the kids and the people that live in our communities and that go to our church and help them become great leaders. We don’t get the ability to compete and hire a whole bunch from the outside because we’re in really small areas that are under-resourced. So our ability to pay for premium D1 or professional athletes is not existent, but what we can do, is we can become a great championship high school team where we develop a culture of raising up our kids and give them the ability to play at a high level. And so that’s what we really try to incorporate here at the Crossing.

 

Yeah, that’s a great analogy to think about in terms of building up people. I’m sure hiring and HR issues become an issue as you continue to grow. I’m really interested in how you service… a lot of your campuses are fairly close, but some of them get pretty far away. But then you’ve added this church in Paducah, Kentucky, which is quite far away from you guys. How does that work in terms of the services you provide, that church, how they’re incorporated into the larger network? What are some insights you have from that?

Well, first thing, taking a current campus pastor and him saying, God is calling me to move to this new church and taking this opportunity coming from the largest campus. And then now I’m going to what would be considered the smallest campus kicking off into this community that has no idea who we are and really just being evangelistic and seeing what the campus pastor, his name is Chris, what he does, they’re in Paducah, really going out and knocking on doors in the communities and the different neighborhoods around the church, and really just trying to implement, hey, we’re a church here. We’re here to help you come to know Christ, and we’re going to really create this church. And it hasn’t grown as quickly as we’d like to have grown, but we’re definitely making a presence in Paducah.

 

And when we launched in Paducah, for the first 6 weeks, we sent charter buses with 50 people from each of our locations to help them feel like they were a part of our church. And then we have regular meetings that we bring their team in for. So we get to spend time together and stay in a close relationship with them. And then there’s constantly people traveling from one of our churches or from one of our… from our multisite offices to actually (xxxx)09:17 . So I would probably say, on a weekly basis, on average, they are getting exposure to other people inside of our church, and that’s how we kind of grasp them into the family.

 

Yeah, I think that face to face element is very important, and so you’re obviously burning a lot of miles back and forth and making sure that people feel connected and have that sense of connecting this into that network. What are some of the shared services that you provide inside maybe your headquarters, so to speak, there that all the churches benefit from, that’s not necessarily replicated different in every way. What are the things that you offer from that central office?

The first piece is the financial side. If the team here, at the multisite office can serve those or serving others, really giving them the opportunity to not have to worry about the bi-weekly paychecks and not have to worry about the electric bill, making sure it got paid because they’re dealing with someone from their congregation, who’s maybe they’re having marital problems or their son or daughter, having social issues, whatever it might be, giving them really on the financial side, so that piece doesn’t have to worry about the risk management stuff. Making sure we’re compliant with the government continues to throw out new regulations, pieces that have to be covered. Did anyone pay for the license plate on the van this week? So really just being able to cover the financial side, the risk management side, the computer technology side. If there’s something new out there that someone on the multisite team can really drive and make work for them so they don’t have to worry about these things. We also have the tech team, we centralized it more under multisite recently in the last six months. So now we have a team that can really look at each campus, if there’s a tech for service or the worship side that needs to be taking care of, the tech team can take care of it as a group and make sure that that gets accomplished where they might not have had that technology before or that expertise before.

 

Yeah, let’s take a little spin and talk about technology a little bit. Obviously, it’s important to stay in touch and communication with everyone in such a disparate situation. What are some of the consistent tools that you guys use as a church that you go to for technology to stay connected with each other?

As far as connected with each other, I don’t know if there’s any…well, we use GroupMe, all of our locations, all of our staff, and then different teams all use GroupMe, which is a texting application. But as a church, we use CCB, which is Church Community Builder, and then to manage all of our volunteer systems and our programming ministries, we use Planning Center Online, and then we are in the process of stepping into using one of Life.Church’s systems, which is called Church Metrics. And so on the, how do we operate as a church? We kind of use those three databases and then how do we communicate? We’re typical text, phone call, email, and then an awful lot happens on GroupMe.

 

Excellent. And what do you find are some of the consistent challenges that are still, as you think of being an executive director, executive pastor, what are the things that are consistently coming to your desk to say, okay, this is a big problem, it needs to be solved. What are the things that are often in front of you?

I think one of the biggest challenges we’re running into weekly is just the communication side, making sure that follow up has happened after the communication has been requested and just had that happen to me last week where I put in a request with the tech team, we worked through it and then sitting here waiting and wondering, did that get taken care of? Well, it got taken care of on their side. They knew it was all completed, but that follow up communication to make sure that that happened, I’m using a ticketing system for communication. And it’s just that constant making sure that follow up has happened in some… we’ll share it. Hey, I sent an email, but didn’t hear anything. Well, did the email go through, did the person check their email? Just that constant follow up on communication is where I see the challenges.

Another challenge we definitely face as a church is trying to figure out how to balance being one church and at the same time being in multiple locations, where is autonomy at the local level of benefit and where is autonomy at the local level of hindrance and trying to figure out where are those dotted lines and where are those solid lines as we hire motivated people to work at our location. And sometimes they are more excited about doing their own thing as opposed to us doing the thing that we’re trying to do everywhere. And so we’re always in a constant state of trying to navigate what that looks like. We’ve recently gone to uniform worship services at all of our locations. We have individual people leading worship at all 10 of our locations, but the song selection, the arrangement, all of that is actually dialed in and is uniform. So no matter which location you go to, you’re getting the same experience. The challenge has been is it takes away a little autonomy for the worship leader, which nobody likes to do that, however it has allowed us to streamline our process. It’s allowed us to make what we put in front of our people more excellent, using less resources. And it also frees up our worship leaders to do more than lead worship. Many people are worship leaders, not worship pastors and in that paradigm, we need there to be room in the worship leader’s life to carry some pastoral load. And so we’re in a constant state of figuring out the ebb and flow of when do we need to be in lockstep and when do we get freedom, and I don’t know if that tension is ever going to go away. I just think ideally as a church, we’ll get better at managing it.

 

As I talk to a lot of executive pastors who have a multisite model, it seems like that’s a consistent thing of, like you said, it’s a tensoin they just have to manage. It’s not something that you’re ever going to solve, but to reach that level of knowing how much autonomy to give, how much control to maintain. It’s really a tough thing, and it’s nice to hear you guys talk about the ways you’ve been able to handle that. Speaking of sharing information insights, where do you guys go to get enriched, to learn more about the duties you have on the administration side, on the ministry side? What are some of the resources you go to as executive pastors to learn more?

I’m a heavy reader, I’m trying to read. It’s heavy reading to me whether or not it’s heavy reading it the real word. I read about 12 books a year, and I usually pick the best business book that I can find and try and get as deep of an understanding of that as possible, and then try to figure out what would that look like in our paradigm. Good to Great is a mantra around here. That book is our bread and butter outside the Bible. I just finished up a great book by Larry Osborne called Sticky tTeams. And then I also just finished up a book, The E-Myth Revisited. Most of these books are just a part of the language of business. But I think we can learn a lot as a church from the people, the world in what systems look like, and how to manage and understand people well, and just incorporate that holistically at our church.

And I’m the opposite. I’m not a big reader, but I’m a networker. I’m a firm believer in reaching out to other great leaders. Others who’ve done the work prior to me. Why recreate the wheel when someone else has already invented it and so what I’ll do is reach out to individuals rather, be it locally, or even nationally, I will find other great business people to ask questions of doing podcasts like this, expecting people to call and say, hey, how do you do this? And I’m a firm believer in doing that, making those connections. So I’m all about the networking side.

 

Excellent. Sounds like…it’s nice you guys are both on the same team. You can bring different perspectives in and different lessons from all those resources. That’s great. Let’s close off with a little bit of encouragement you guys could give to the other executive pastors who are listening in. What’s one thing that both of you guys could share, just as a means of encouragement to everyone else?

Okay, coming from the operations side, my biggest belief has always been just serving those who serve others. I’ve got a servant’s heart that I’m constantly looking, what can I do to help others make things better? And again, going back, you’re not alone. You don’t have to do it all on your own, you don’t have to be the expert in all areas. I surround myself with good people constantly using their gifts that God’s given them so that we can be successful as a church and grow the kingdom. And that’s probably the best advice. Reach out, don’t try to conquer it by yourself and use others in your day to day work.

What Ron said is completely true, he does have a servant’s heart and it’s evident to everybody in our organization that he has that, which buys them an unbelievable amount of credibility as a high level leader in our church, is because Ron is not a guy who has a lot of what the Bible would call selfish ambition or vain conceit, but he operates in humility considering other people better than himself. And so if I were to add anything to what Ron said, if I think as an executive pastor, having a Philippians 2 mentality is unbelievably advantageous to you, because it makes it easier for people to surrender to your leadership. The encouragement that I would add is in Romans 12. We always kind of get hung up on the first two verses in Romans 12. But later on, it says that if your gift is leadership, the Bible calls us to lead diligently. And I think one of the mistakes that people can sometimes make as leaders is they can spend too much time shooting from the hip. They can spend too much time pulling the e-brake and trying to go in a different direction. And people don’t like unstable leadership. They like someone who’s put the time in, who’s thought through things, who’s considered stuff from another person’s perspective. So that way when they’re asking people to go on the faith journey with them, which is leaders, that’s what we’re doing. We’re always casting a vision, and we’re always asking people to step out on face and then to surrender their life, their time, their talents, their abilities to that end. And as leaders, I feel like we have to try our very best to make sure that we’re doing that diligently, that we’re carrying that responsibility with the reference in all that it deserves. And so my encouragement to you guys would be don’t be afraid to put the honest work and to make sure that when you’re in front of a group of people or you’re getting ready to take a lead, that you are legitimately ready for that move. I was told back in college by a mentor of mine that in leadership, we are the example, not the exception. And so whatever we’re calling our people to, we need to be the first people to place that weight on our shoulders as well.

And I’d follow up what Clayton just shared about taking the responsibility and putting on his own shoulders. I’ve only been in this position with Crossing for four years versus his 10 years, and he’s a guy that I can walk behind and say, I’m going to allow Clayton to definitely lead me because he’s already walked that walk and seen where he needs to go. So I appreciate when that happens, each and every day.

As a leader, you’re never going to get it. As hard as you try, and no matter how much planning and thinking, that’s where God’s great comes in, but we don’t want to be relying on God’s grace first. We want to do our humble best, and then present it as an offering before God and let him take ownership of it.

 

Yeah, that’s really fantastic advice. I’m really happy to hear that from you guys. Happy about what you guys are doing there in your little part of the country, the world there. And it’s really exciting to hear this kind of encouragement from you guys, especially given what you’re doing and the experience you have. So thanks a lot for being on the show and for sharing your insights with us. 

Not a probem, thank’s for having us.