Welcome back to the Monday Morning Church podcast. We’ve got Scott Leggett on the show today, from Santa Cruz Bible Church in Santa Cruz, California. Great to have you on the show today, Scott.
It’s great to be with you.
So Scott, tell us a little bit, what is your position there at Santa Cruz and how did you come into it?
Yeah. Well, thanks for having me today. I’m pretty new to the position. I have been here at Santa Cruz Bible for the last year and a half. I came in July 2016 and served as the Executive Pastor here.
So where did you come from before that? Are you coming from a church background or from the marketplace?
No, from the church background. Actually, I’ve had 25 years more in worship arts arena. And so that’s really been my background and have paved my way in with a lot of the details, and just working with people to solve a lot of overlap. And so that’s really what brought me to this place. So I’m just maybe just having a little bit more influence as a leader and still helping people on their journey of finding out what they do and helping them have tools to do that.
So you are one and a half years there at the church, or just in that position?
Okay. What is your position exactly? What do you do?
So really, came on board in just as a church that really redefining what our vision was as a church, and really how do we live that out. So really, my role has been to come alongside Richard, our lead pastor who has been a longtime friend. And so that definitely helped to just come on board and really understand how each other worked and to really come alongside him, and help him live out the vision for our church. And so a lot of that have just kind of strategy from taking us from A to Z as a church. And that’s really meant for us, kind of backing that up and laying out a lot of things as it relates to new systems, and even organizational structure, and a lot of those things. So that would be kind of the back end of it. I would say that the biggest part, that would be my heart, would be just to come alongside our staff, and again, just help them understand what’s their unique calling, what’s their role here on the staff, and then how to help them just really succeed in that. So in a sense, be their cheerleader.
Now you had 25 years in the worship arts side of all of this. During that time, were you aware that you had this other part of your personality, kind of the more organizational part, more leadership oriented? Were you prepared for this transition, I guess?
It’s so funny. Looking back in life, I remember my first summer in full time ministry. I got there, things were kind of slow. It wasn’t lazy, but definitely took advantage of the summer time. But I remember coming around Christmas time when it’s game on, and there was a lot of prayers of like, “Dear Jesus, if you will save me, I’ll serve you forever.” And so, yeah, it’s kind of funny to think the guy that was the most unorganized is actually the guy that’s running operations for our organization now. So I think a lot of those were learned along the way. And really, I just look back in larger church settings I’ve been in, everything from megachurch to church plants, and just seeing that neither one is good or bad. They’re just different. And so I love that God’s really given me different people that I’ve been able to be around, be mentored with tons of grace in my life. And then also just seeing organizations and what’s needed in different seasons, whether it’s how many people, or how many staff, or just where you’re at in your vision. And so I feel like, in a lot of ways, I’m still a learner with that. But it’s been — I definitely can look back and go to that kind of mind of connecting all the dots, whether it’s people or systems, has definitely been a way that God has gifted my brain. In fact, I really look at the worship arts or even stuff that I did in secular arts. It was really looking at the end in mind. If you think of Sunday morning services, or weekend services that you’re thinking about the end in mind, and then you’re backing up and putting all the things in place that help you get there. And so I think all those things have really played into how I lead today and rallying people together around a common cause and celebrating, and just learning along the way.
So tell us a little more about Santa Cruz Bible Church. Are you one location, multiple locations? What’s the general personality of the church?
Yeah. The church is a church that’s been in existence for over a 100 years. And so it’s been here in community. Santa Cruz community is this amazing place on the Monterey Bay. Just an amazing place to live. But when you think of just out of body experience with people, it has been that. I grew up in San Diego. Take me back to California, I get it. People are really different and in a good way, that it’s just challenged my mind. But it’s really for us, as a church, just taking an organization that’s been around for a long time. Richard, our lead pastor, has been in this role now for several years, and so just really living out that new vision over the last five years and just really leaning into that. That’s been something that’s really redefined us as an organization. Our vision would be to see people welcomed in, to be fully transformed, and then ultimately poured out on our community and world. And so really, I would say, we’re living in that space right now of a beginning to really understand what that means and to actually do that. And so it’s a fun season, and it’s a hard season too because, as you know, that change also means pain too.
Yeah, definitely. How large is your congregation right now? Kind of keeping in perspective the size of group that you’re seeking to lead through this kind of change.
Yeah, that’s a great question. We would typically have a little under 500 on our weekends that we’d have in our morning services. And then we also have an additional service in the evening, it’s called Veritas, that will be more geared to young adults. But that would be probably in the 75 to 100 range.
And having a church that’s been around for over 100 years, I assume that there’s quite a few people there who are significant stakeholders in the church.
That definitely adds another component on to any kind of change in vision or anything.
Yeah. It’s interesting, I was with a group of other executive leaders from around the country, and we were just talking about that. And someone just even pointed out just kind of this circle of — really, as they had gone through just significant change of just leaning into their vision as a church and said, it was really that if you think of concentric circles of three years out, you talk about your vision and here’s what we’re going to do. That’s really a group of people that are open to that, but they’re not real stakeholders in that church. And so that’s great, but then you get two years in and it’s a little bit more committed people, here’s what that means. And then that third year is the people that have their fingers desperately grasped on. And I think that’s where we’re as a church, honestly, right now is just in that season of we’re clear as we can be that this is what God’s called us to be as a church and leaning in that, but it’s hard to break old habits, whether it’s from a staff or congregation. So it’s a fun season. But I would just say, it’s a hard season too.
Yeah. Like you said, it’s fun and it’s hard, which means that it’s an interesting season to decide to shift into a leadership Executive Pastor role at a church.
It’s a lot of responsibility. So what is, with this change going on right now and the kind of refining of your vision, what’s something that’s a part of you guys, a regular practice that you do or some kind of solution you found that has really worked for you?
That’s a great question. I would say, for us, we just have different things going on. And probably the last couple of decades, the church has a pretty dynamic leader that had been here previously and had left about a decade ago. And really, I call it the wandering years. When I first got here, we just took a couple of days with our staff and elders, and just did a StratOps process. So just really looking back, I wanted to understand where we’ve been as a church. But I think that was super helpful for us to be able to identify and really begin to see like, wow, we’ve been wandering in the wilderness for the last 10 years and so from that is we begin to lean into the things that God was calling us to do. It was super helpful to really look at that and see. So I think that’s the biggest thing that I still feel like I’ve got to have a poster up in my office or something to remind me every day that it’s the long game, that everything doesn’t need to change. My personality would be, hey, we figured it out. Let’s go, let’s do it. Which I would say for most people that are leading in an executive level, that’s probably more of a personality. But just recognizing that there is a process to lead people, to bring them along and understanding the why and not just how we’re doing that. And so I think that would be the thing that we really tried to focus on as a team. And honestly, I think that’s one of those that we continue to refine and go, we did it good there, we didn’t do it so good there, let’s keep working on this.
Now, is that something, as you mentioned, you’re in the middle of the season right now, kind of that third year, a little bit of white-knuckling going on. Is this something that you’re kind of seeking with people in the congregation as just one on one meetings, or you just take the opportunity when you can to kind of explain the why, or you’ve had certain Sunday schools or Wednesday nights to explain it? How have you guys handled that?
Yeah, I think everything we’re trying to point back to that vision. So looking and going, and honestly just realizing that people are hearing in different ways. And so it may be in social media. It’s in everything that we do, from the big things to the small things, that probably most people would go, oh, that’s why. But if you really got into it, it’s the minutiae of just making sure — I hesitate to use this word, but just the messaging of the things we’re doing. Everything, from Sunday announcements. How does that tie back to what we’re about as a church, to be more intentional and the messages to pointing out wins? I think a lot of times we make things more complex and go, I couldn’t do that. I don’t know what that looks like. But to go like, no, that’s what it looks like or here’s a person that’s done that. So from the big things, from print material and constant communication, to even the little things. We’ve been in a great season for a standpoint of a lot of the things that we have come out of really wanting to live in this vision has been — even a campus redevelopment. Even as we speak right now, there’s massive construction going on in our campus, which has really required us to have a lot of sit down with leaders to have lots of communication, not just around our buildings or a building campaign, but really to answer that question, why. So I feel like some of those things have really solicited input and given us opportunities just to be able to speak to those things.
Right. On the other side of this, then what’s something that you haven’t quite figured out yet, that’s still something you’re working through? Maybe it’s the same thing.
Even as I was saying that there’s talk about communication. We’re definitely not the pros in that. Honestly, it feels like talking to my wife some days that I walk away and go like, wow! Yeah. I said that perfectly, only to find out a couple days later, I blew it miserably. And so I think we’re in that spot too, that we’re just being learners and just recognizing. We really have, like I said earlier, not just an age, but we have folks that have been in the church for a long time and know how to do the church thing. But we also have tons of people — I’m meeting people every single week that, for some reason, they feel like this is a safe spot. I had someone recently that said they were pretty upfront like, oh, I’m not a Christian. But I like what that guy says out of that book. And I’m like, right on. I’m glad that you feel like this is a safe spot. So that, in itself, has just challenges for us to figure out how do you really communicate to multiple congregations in a sense that are all coming in the same spot. So I would say that would be one of those. The other is just we’re all people that don’t like change. And so I just say, even for us landing as we’ve done a reorg about a year ago on our staff and just kind of around our vision, I think we’re still finding our way in that area too, if I’m completely honest.
So Scott, a year and a half in to this position, what are some of the resources or places or people that have kind of kept you on your game in this new role?
Yeah, that’s a great question. There’s so many. I feel like that’s definitely one that I’d be like, oh, we jumped on a lot of things. One of the people that work with me on my team, kind of right hand, that we jumped in and we both laughed in that first year because it seemed like every door we opened, there was five other doors after it. And so I’m just like, oh, man. Again, things that no one’s fault necessarily. Just things that set aside kind of system-wise. What we were seeing was we really had a desire to not make systems and processes the main thing, but to really go, how are these helping us ultimately live out our vision? And that’s just something that I’m seeing more and more of organizations. That really, they forgotten their vision and it’s easy to move into the systems and processes in this role. And so we’re honestly trying to go, where’s the balance in that, that the vision, and the system, and processes, that all of those things are really working well hand in hand. But we’ve seen that things that we’re taking a bunch of time, or we’re inventing the wheel every week. So we really kind of went after those things adamantly and to even switch over our database to CCB. We moved over just our accounting system to Aplos, which actually worked in conjunction with CCB. We moved to a new payroll service and calendars that again, all those things began to work hand in hand. And so I think those have been some of the things that we’ve looked to and helped in that way.
I know for me personally, just I’m a huge — I’m in ministry today because somebody had a belief in me and took time to mentor me, to walk alongside. And so I just have a huge passion in my life to go, who are the people that God’s put in my life that I’m challenging, that I’m walking alongside? But then also, who are the people in my life that I’m seeking out, that I’ve had more experience doing it and to be able to help me? So I’m just so fortunate to have people around me that have helped. There’s different things that, even what you have going on here, that are helpful to me. Most recently, just been invited to be part of this Leadership Cohort with CDL. And so that’s about a group of 20 of us that have just committed for the year to go together and just be exposed to pretty amazing leaders, in just a very organic and yet purposeful way, and to have just monthly chats around that. But then just to make a commitment to get together three times a year. I just returned from a trip over in Las Vegas to just spend time with Jud Wilhite over at CCB there, and just to hear what they’re doing at Central Christian. And so a lot of these things that fills my reservoir, as I just endeavor to lead others, that I think for me, and I think a lot of leaders that were on output mode. And so I really want to have people, and God, in both spiritually and practically day to day, and the things that are pouring into my life to refill me.
So Scott, what encouragement would you give to others in church leadership?
Wow, so many things. Just thinking about that. I think, at least for me, it’s easy to jump into, even though I know that this is God’s church, I don’t know that I always lead from that place and just go into my day with a kind of recognition that this is God’s church and I’ve been invited to manage it. And so I guess, I would say to people listening today, just to be very clear on what’s your part and then to know who’s got and just be reminded, even though we know it, that we’re not God, and we have a place in this, but it’s ultimately God that’s leading this church, and what a huge privilege for us to be invited to be part of that.
Yeah, it seems obvious, but a very important thing to constantly remind ourselves.
Scott, thanks so much for being on the podcast today.
It was awesome being with you.