Welcome back to the Monday Morning Church Podcast. Today our guest is Tim Jordan who is joining us from Transformation Church on the North Carolina, South Carolina border. Hi Tim, how are you today?
I am doing well, Neil. Thank you for the opportunity. Good to talk to you.
Yeah, I am very excited to hear from you. You are the executive elder pastor of operations, correct?
So yeah, it’s a great role. I also read about you in your lead pastor’s book; Derwin Gray – his book on high definition leader. So I’d really like to – maybe even you can lead us through that journey of how you came to transformation church, what that journey was like and how you got in the role you are now.
Yeah, it’s an interesting beginning. I’ve been with Transformation since we began seven and a half years ago. I knew pastor Derwin and his wife, Vicki from previous church relationships at a church in Charlotte, but we are not friends or anything – just acquaintance passing in the foyer. And when I heard he and another pastor were starting a church up in South Charlotte many years ago with them, how we just went over and congratulated and that Sunday on their first Sunday and said, hope all goes well and everything. And then after so many years, they needed to grow to a different place. And he and the other pastor decided that they had different visions for the church of how they wanted to lead going forward. And pastor Derwin had the vision that he has now at Transformation Church, so I just went up to him that Sunday and said “You know a little bit of my background. If you need any help, I’ll be glad to help you to get started and whatever you need.” So time went on, and he called me one day and said, “Let’s get together and talk.” But part of the background before that even was I spent 20 years with the same company in probably 10 different roles. So that prepared me across the gamut of things related to operations – everything from HR to engineering to mechanical engineering to finances which really prepared me for this. But one thing that prepared me, even before that, that I don’t realize you get into a role like this, is you need to really have a heart to service and humility for everything that you actually deal with. But anyway, as we began the church over in Indian land, we started out with a very small staff with a big vision. Actually the staff was pastor Derwin and his wife, and Angela Lear was the other person on the launch team. And I had a job and a role then at that time where I could really work from anywhere as long as I had my laptop with my headphone. So I would go over to the building released and pay the bills for Transformation and keep their books, and then I’d do my other work there at the same time. So I would meet with them regularly through the week and we just continue to grow. So I did that for about a year, and he came to me one day and said, “Look, you keep the finances. You know how much we can afford and you’ve been doing this long enough.” He said, “I think it’s time for you and your wife to think about coming on staff. So tell me how much you need to make to live and tell me if we can pay that and let’s go from there.” So that’s really how I came on staff just serving initially. And one thing about us – most of the folks on staff have served in some kind of role before they actually joined staff. So I think that’s pretty unique about us as well.
Yeah, I’ve heard that from a few other churches. That’s a lot of the leadership development – it comes from within the people who have attended the church, they find people that know the DNA of the church, then it just works out best for them.
I think that’s valuable.
So Tim, give us a little bit of scope about what your role is now? Well, several years after the launch of Transformation Church, you’ve grown to incredible size. What’s different about your role now than when you start it off?
Well, we just established a cultural change, for sure. And we actually change our organizational structure from time to time as we grow, you know as any growing church knows, as you grow you need to change structure to facilitate what’s coming, not what you actually have. So we are always looking ahead to see what we need, so I haven’t said that. Currently we just made a change in our structure to focus and streamline a little more with us and under my role is operations – we have the facilities, we have the business office which is finances in supply management. They have database management; we have HR as well and we have communications. Previously before that production was also under my role just because of the magnitude of the capital expenditures and things like that as well. But we just moved that out from under me to under someone else to streamline music production and hospitality under one on one role just for better synergy on the weekends.
Yeah yeah, it’s great that you had that back on that you did where you had so many different roles in the same organization to have that kind of exposure and experience. One thing we always talk about here on the show is technology – walk us through a little bit about what Transformation Church uses and what you rely on when it comes to technology.
The last two years have been major changes for us in technology. As you grow, you want to make sure you make frugal purchases and be good stewards of your time – talent and treasures as we call it around here. So you don’t want to spend money on technology that you don’t need quite yet. So you balance out the cost and return on the investment in technology with staff that you have in the load on the labor as well. So this past 18 months actually we just initiated and purchased a new financial package to software package as well. And just recently, we purchased a new payroll package that blends together and integrates with our financial packages. So the last 18 months our business office, our folks have been pretty busy doing that transition on those two modules and two software packages. Before that, we had a lot of labor with our packages that we had, but we just weren’t ready for that. So our average attendance now – counting children’s average of around 28 to 3200 a weekend, so we’ve got a lot to keep up with. So when we look at our software, we see the advantages of what that does in saving time through the week. So we focus on other things.
Yeah, that’s a big thing I am hearing from other people in terms of one, the integration part. If you are going to have a payroll and you are going to have a finance software that don’t talk to each other, there’s really no point. It’s just too much work. And then the other piece is trying to just reduce that amount of manual labor time that we spend with software especially, and there’s so much to do. And if you can automate that, if you can find a way to streamline that so that you are able to do more and with the same staff that you could handle 800 people, you can handle 3000-4000. That’s a really big benefit for churches.
That’s so true and it’s important to pick the right partnership as well with experience companies and people that really want to form a relationship with you.
You also mentioned to me earlier that you all use Office 365, which is Microsoft’s new platform that they have for productivity apps. Talk about that transition – how it’s going, what you are finding from that?
Yes, in addition to the two I just mentioned, we have a mixture as most churches do of Mac users and PC users, and there is always that struggle of saving documents in one format versus another, not being able to bloom the email challenge that the Mac users have with iMac and the PC users without looking so forth. So Outlook Office 365 gave us the advantage of going to the cloud and really integrating Microsoft products so that everyone sees the same thing. There are some minor differences in what Mac user might see as far as Outlook goes, but overall and integrate everything. So everyone is using it the same way. We are still in the process of training our staff across the board, major pieces of Office 365, such as SharePoint and OneDrive, but in general we are up and running with the Help software, office products that Microsoft does so that the stream lines team work as well – sharing files and sharing documents as you actually work on them is a huge advantage for us.
Yeah, so I am going to speak to you a little bit about some of the ongoing administrative challenges that you face in your position. What are the things that keep you up that you have to encounter on a daily or weekly basis?
Well, the challenge is – other than transitioning, the software and all really revolves around the day to day aspects of things. No matter where you are, you have different levels of problems, different types of problems. We have a saying around here that if you have a problem with something, you first look at your systems and processes before you look at the people. So when there is something going only the relationally or technology based, no matter what it is, we want to look at our systems and processes first to see that that’s in line, and everyone has the tools they need to be able to perform the roles that we’ve asked them to perform. If that’s all through, then we have to look at the folks that are involved in the issue or the problem and see what we need to do with that. Is it a training issue or is it a specific training that’s needed or something to correct it before we look into personnel issues as well? So when you get into that, we begin everything with relationships, we simply we say we think the best of people, and then if there is issues you dig down into the root of it and find out what’s going on so that you can care for whoever it is you are working with. That may be a little bit outside of the scope of what you are asking but when you talk about organizations, especially in ministry, a lot of people have the mindset that ministry and churches just float on the clouds and everything is just fine. But you really have a lot of the same problems that corporate companies have. It’s the way we handle it differently.
Yeah absolutely. That piece that you said about looking first at the processes and systems is a really big one that I’ve heard before too – just whenever there is some kind of conflict. So many times it’s just not necessary, it’s not needed to be to have that frustration or that friction focused on each other. But usually it’s a systemic thing, it’s a process thing that can be changed, that can be altered, so that we don’t have those kinds of altercations and things that come into.
It’s true and administrative folks in the church like the business office administrative people generally are soon to fit within a certain mold like IT people are labeled in a certain way. But we want to make sure here, especially in the office and administrative functions, that we don’t lose the relational aspect. We don’t want people dreading having to come to the business office to ask questions because of how they might be received. Now I think our staff is a very relational and team oriented in that aspect.
Yeah, it’s really encouraging to hear what you guys are doing there. So when it comes to your experience, where you go to learn new things? You are a guy who’s been at this for a fairly long time and seen so many different things, yet you are also pushing the boundaries of technology – what’s new, what’s there. How do you stay fresh? How do you stay encouraged and educated about the new and emerging roles of that executive pastor role?
Yeah well, you read a lot. You are not a reader, you are not going to function in a capacity that you need to for sure. And you really need to be relational as well. And be engaged with your staff and listen; if you are not a good listener, you really have a lot of challenges that you wouldn’t have if you just listen to people. But once you have a relationship with your staff and your congregation and your server leaders – we call our volunteers server leaders as well. So on Sundays along the weekends and into different teams, you really just talk a lot and listen a lot to the people. That may sound strange to say, how do you stay on top of being an executive pastor? But it goes back to the relational aspect of it, knowing where the issues are so that you can get out ahead of them before you actually have them and have a lot of fourth hour and what you are facing or may be facing. But you read a lot, you subscribe to newsletters, you listen to things like this podcast that you provide as well; but you read a gamut of different books too on leadership – a thing, you know, there is millions probably of different leadership books. So you really do this – simply need to read the ones that you connect with because there are so many out there that you can just get lost in everything. So you really start with the scripture and read the Bible and don’t ignore that, and use that primarily over the corporate leadership books as well.
It’s really fantastic to hear how you guys are growing, what you are doing there, and especially that thing that you keep bringing up about relationship. It all comes back to how you interact with people and treating them respectfully and coming through. I really appreciate that message. As we close out our time here, is there anything else you’d like to share in a way of encouragement to other executive pastors out there?
I would say, like I said, just the whole church free – this is about stand on your knees and stand humble is key, and no matter how young or how old you are, but never get in a position where you feel like you know it all. And you have to create rules and policies to get things done. If you have to create a rule and a policy to make sure things are happening correctly – that’s a red flag for sure that the relationships aren’t there and people aren’t doing things for the right reason. We tell people that if I have to create a rule to make staff abide by a certain trait or a character trait that we need to have happen, then let’s not make the room deal with the issue that we have in front of us for sure. So a lot of people – first things we do is create policies and rules to make sure we are in line. To me, policies are to keep you legal, and guidelines and all of our things to give people the room they need to do the roles you’ve called them to be. So if there is young executive pastors or someone is driving to be executive pastor for sure – I just stay humble and stay in the scripture.
Absolutely, it’s fantastic advice. Good things to think about – transformationchurche.tc is the website. Please check it out. Tim Jordan thanks a lot for joining us and for giving your insights.
Well, thank you Neil.