3 questions

3 Questions with Holly Tate

Holly Tate is the Director of Business Development at Vanderbloemen Search Group, a boutique executive search firm that helps churches and ministries find their key staff. In her role at Vanderbloemen, Holly's focus is providing resources that help church leaders build, run, and keep great teams. She is also the host of the Vanderbloemen Leadership Podcast. Here are 3 questions I recently asked Holly:


Many people are curious what it's like working for Vanderbloemen Search Group, can you share a little bit about the unique culture and what it's like to lead a growing business that is serving the Church? 

I love this question because our workplace culture is one of my favorite things to talk about. Vanderbloemen Search Group is an executive search firm that helps churches and ministries find their key staff. The role we play in the Kingdom is an honor and an immense responsibility. 

We're passionate about helping leaders make sure they have the right people on their team, so of course we're intentional about our own hiring as well. Our President William Vanderbloemen has been intentional about hiring the right people and building a workplace culture where our people are valued and enjoy coming to work each day. 

A key decision William made in building a contagious culture is by bringing the team in-house to our office in Houston, TX. This was a crucial decision because it allows for vision-alignment and collaboration.

Our nine company values are at the heart of our aligned vision for helping churches build great teams. A couple of my favorites are Broadband Love and Constant Improvement. You can read about all nine of our values on our website here. We each have our values displayed on our desks, have a Values Spotlight in each team meeting, and even have someone on staff whose responsibility is to intentionally infuse our values into our day to day team rhythm so we stay focused on why we're doing what we're doing.

Having a team under the same roof has also been helpful for collaboration, which is one of the primary reasons our process is so effective. While virtual teams have their purpose, the fact that our team is under the same roof in an open office allows for both spontaneous and intentional collaboration to solve problems as we exercise our values of Ever-Increasing Agility and Solution-Side Living. Collaboration is invaluable in making sure that we help our clients find the right fit for their team. 

And if you keep an eye on our Instagram, you'll see that we have a ton of fun together. We celebrate our birthdays as a team, have an annual fitness competition, and most recently, we had our first ever #VanderCarving event where we picked 17 of our clients logos and carved them into pumpkins. It was so much fun! 

2015 has been an exciting year for our team. In September, we were voted the #6 Best Place to Work in Houston by Houston Business Journal, and in November, we were nationally recognized as one of Entrepreneur's Top Company Cultures in the Small Business Enterprise category.


VSG has grown tremendously over the past 5 years, what do you accredit that growth to and what can other small businesses learn from your progression?

When I joined the team about three and a half years ago, there were only about 8 of us on staff, and now we have over 30 full-time Vanderbloemen employees.

As I think about your question, many things things come to mind that have contributed to our growth. Here are a few:  

One is what I discussed above about our contagious culture. Having a great place to work helps us keep high-capacity people on our team who are committed to our mission and serve our clients well. 

Another reason is because our leadership team has been intentional about choosing systems that scale. William speaks about this topic to church leaders often, because choosing systems that scale is vital to any organization that desires sustained growth. Rapid growth is exciting, but it's not scalable. One thing leaders should ask themselves when finding a solution to a problem is, "Does this solution still work if we were to double overnight?" If not, rethink your system. 

Our value of Ever-Increasing Agility is another contribution to our growth. We recently had our Fall 2015 Executive Pastor Coaching Network. William told the group in a session, "The older you get, the less flexible (physically) you become. The same is true for your church--the older it gets, the less flexible it becomes." This is true for any organization. Our team is always trying to become more agile as we seek to serve our churches and ministries well. 


As you continue to "Staff the Church" what trends are you seeing and what shifts do you expect will take place over the next 5 years or so?

One trend we're seeing that we hope will continue into the future is church leaders being more intentional about pastoral succession. It's been a taboo topic for far too long. Pastoral succession sets up pastors and churches for long-term health, so our desire is to see church leaders start the conversation about what succession looks like in their church's context.  

Another trend we're seeing is church leaders focusing on reaching and engaging millennials. As the generation gap increases in churches, pastors and church leaders are understanding that reaching millennials is different from reaching boomers and are working to intentionally bridge the generation gap in their church.

We're also seeing the evolution of the Children's Pastor role. Traditionally, the Children's Pastor role has been undervalued. We're seeing this change as churches seek high-capacity Children and Family Ministry leaders who are passionate about discipleship and family development. The demand for Children's Pastors is extremely high right now, which we're excited about, because we believe that Children's Ministry is the growth engine of the church. 


You can follow Holly on Twitter for more great insights from her!

3 Questions with Christina Dodson

For more than a year friends have been encouraging me to hire an Executive Assistant for my growing consulting business.  I blew them off for 2 primary reasons: 1) this was a side business and not something I was even fully committed to and 2) I didn't think I could justify the cost. 

I was wrong on both.  While my business is not my primary focus (my role at Community Bible Church is), it is very important and something I'm very committed to.  By hiring an Executive Assistant I have been able to better serve my business clients while also better serving Community Bible Church as I'm less distracted managing the details of my business.  When it comes to justifying the cost, I couldn't be more wrong.  After just 3 months of having an Executive Assistant, I can very honestly say that I cannot afford not to have an Executive Assistant.  In just 3 months the business has already grown tremendously as I have been able to work out of my strengths and focus on the things I'm most passionate about and gifted in.  

I want to encourage you to consider hiring an Executive Assistant and I can't recommend eaHELP more.  It honestly is quite affordable and you can start with an EA for just 5 hours/week.  That's where I started and in week 2 we increased to 10 hours and in month 2 we increased to 15.  The value is through the roof and my only regret is not hiring an Executive Assistant sooner! 

Here are 3 questions I recently asked my Executive Assistant, Christina:

As a new mom and soon to be church planter's wife, how does a new job fit into a seemingly crazy schedule?

It actually works extremely well! Mostly because Nils is so flexible with me and recognizes that God and family comes first. Additionally, a lot of our team works odd hours so it ends up flowing great! On a typical work day for me I am able to get a couple hours of work done in the early morning while my little one naps or swings contently in her swing (Praise the Lord for technology/machines!). Then I check on a few things in the afternoon on my iPhone in between juggling other things. And then I typically work for another hour or so at night after my little one goes to bed at night. 

Technology truly is a blessing! Working virtually has worked so well for my family and I. 


How did you find eaHELP and what has been your experience in becoming a Virtual Executive Assistant through this growing company?

My husband was actually the one who found eaHELP while reading Michael Hyatt's blog. After reading up about Virtual Assistants, he thought I'd be awesome at it and that it would be a great fit for our family. It was a very rigorous application process. After several interviews and questionaries I had to complete a two week assessment period where they sent me numerous projects that I had complete with excellence in a timely manner in order to be hired. 

Now that I've been with the company for a few months, I fall more in love with it everyday. The staff at eaHELP are amazing and so attentive. And the tools and resources they provide are incredible. I feel like I have learned more about administration in the last few months through the VEA community than I have in my entire administrative career! 

And probably the most amazing thing about eaHELP is their client/VEA matching process. They take great care in placing clients with the right VEAs and vice versa. Nils could not have been a better fit of a client for me and I'm pretty sure he'd say the same about me! 


Having experienced my world for just a couple months, what advice would you give to church leaders who are considering hiring a Virtual Executive Assistant?

Just do it! As church leaders you need us and we need you! You need time back in your day to focus on big picture stuff and we have the time and skills to take care of the details so that you can. And you'd be amazed at what an admin can do. When Nils first hired me he had a vision of me taking care of 2 specific projects for him and only 2 short months later that list is more like 15-20 and ever growing! So fun! 

And we (VEAs) need you too- it is such a service to us to be hired. It is such a blessing to be able to work virtually so that I can be home and invest in my daughter and watch her grow. Not all VEAs are Moms, but regardless of a VEAs situation the flexibility to be able to work from anywhere is awesome!



3 Questions with Terrace Crawford

We are so excited to announce that the great Terrace Crawford is joining our team at Nils Smith Solutions!  He will be supporting our clients in the area of social media as well as helping create great resources for church leaders through the Church Technology Guide.  Terrace has been a leading voice to the Church in the area of social media for many years as a blogger, podcaster, conference speaker, etc.  Here are the 3 Questions I asked Terrace as we begin this new partnership:


A couple years ago you wrote the book, Going Social, what led to writing Going Social and what was the experience like?

I've been an enthusiast of Social Media for years, and really had a burden to see church leaders leverage media for kingdom growth. What I found was that a lot of church leaders were on social media but that they weren't using it in their ministries --- or for kingdom advancement.   This literary work was actually written for the pastor who may not know where to begin or how to get started. I found the experience of writing this book to be very enlightening.  My favorite part was probably interviewing dozens of people around the world who are using social media in unique ways in their ministries.  I ended up writing an entire chapter of the book devoted to telling their stories!


Since writing the book what have you seen change the most when it comes to social media and the church, and what do you see ahead for the future of the church and social media?

What struck me when writing the book was that companies around the world started to really use social media to engage with their customers, but the church seemed to resist.  Since my book has been published churches around the world have really made strides in building their online presence and tapping into the power of connecting with people online. As far as the future goes, I think we will continue to see growth online and media evolve in ways that will only help us expand our reach worldwide.  Ministries who were accustomed to having a reach limited to their cities will have a global impact ... and that is something to celebrate!


We are so excited to have you join the team at Nils Smith Solutions helping support our clients social media needs as well as creating resources through the Church Technology Guide. Can you share a little about what excites you about joining the team?

I'm happy to work with the Nils Smith team.  One of the things that I'm passionate about is helping resource leaders. I'm probably most excited about being able to collaborate with this team to help equip other leaders worldwide!


For more great thoughts about social media and more, you can check out Terrace's blog. You can also follow him Twitter and Facebook

3 Questions with Greg Atkinson

Greg Atkinson is the Campus Pastor at Transformational Church's Rock Hill Campus. He is an international speaker and author and a leadership guru. Greg is a good friend of mine and someone I truly respect. Here are 3 questions I recently I asked Greg: 

In the past year you transitioned into a new role at Transformation Church.  I have been following the church's growth for a couple of years and it's unbelievable!  Can you share what your experience has been and what makes Transformation Church different from other churches you have either served at or been around?

The past year has been a whirlwind. You've heard of the expression "drinking from a firehose." That's what it's been like. I stopped blogging because I had nothing to say. I've been unlearning 21 years of ministry experience and learning the Transformation Church way.

There are two things that stand out to me that are different about Transformation Church than other churches I've served at. First, the senior leadership and Pastor Derwin actually care about my health and heart. There is a weekly tremendous focus given to soul care. They want their staff to be healthy physically, spiritually and emotionally. We say Upward, Inward and Outward. Inward is loving yourself correctly. 

The second thing that stands out to me is the vision. We are a multiethnic, multigenerational, mission-shaped community. Everything we say and do is based out of the Great Commission and the Great Commandment. This is different because I'm not following a senior pastor's vision that may change from year to year. We follow Jesus' vision as laid out in the New Testament and it never changes. I would also add that Pastor Derwin is an amazing vision caster. He oozes vision and is laser-focused. That's been really refreshing as I've served other leaders that were vague about the vision. 


I loved having you in New York City recently!  It is always interesting hearing first impressions of the city, can you share yours?  

Crowded and iconic. Those are my impressions. I was in NYC and then Boston in back-to-back days. I could easily walk around Boston. It was 20 times more crowded in NYC. I couldn't get over how populated it was. Secondly, the iconic landmarks were awesome to take in. I had my son with me and we took in a bunch of tourist sites. You were a great tour guide and we really enjoyed walking around with you. Seeing TobyMac live in Times Square is something I'll never forget!


As a student of the church and a leader in a local church, what do you see developing in the future of the American church?  What do you get excited about and where do you have concerns?

I see three things on the rise and hear a lot of buzz about it. First, I think the most innovative and effective churches in the future will be multiethnic. Pastor Derwin has a new book called "The High-Definition Leader" that goes into great detail on this and I encourage you to read it for more on that. 

Second, I see a huge emphasis on leadership development. My favorite champion for this is my friend, Mac Lake. He is a genius when it comes to developing leaders. I encourage everyone to catch his daily Periscope updates. 

Third, as I mentioned earlier, I think soul care is huge now. Craig Groeschel once said we have too many full-time pastors that are part-time disciples. With all the scandals, moral failures and issues happening in the Church right now, soul care has never mattered more. John Ortberg wrote a book entitled "Soul Keeping." I've read it and recommend it. I'm currently reading Pete Scazzero's "The Emotionally Healthy Leader." We are going to read it all together as a staff at TC after we read Pastor Derwin's new book. I highly recommend "The Emotionally Healthy Leader" and "Emotionally Healthy Spirituality."


For more great insights by Greg, check out his website. Not only is Greg great at recommending books- he's also written quite a few! Check them out below and be sure to buy a copy- I highly recommend them! 

You can also follow Greg on Twitter and Instagram!

3 Questions With Dr. Kim

Dr. Kim is a good friend of mine and President and co-founder of I Want an Awesome Marriage, Family Christian Counseling, Christian Relationship Coaching, and A Cord of Three Strands. Dr. Kim has a passion for seeing people find their full potential in Christ-centered marriages and relationships. Here are 3 questions I recently asked Dr. Kim:


With the ministry of Awesome Marriage you have gone "all in" with an online strategy, what led to that direction and what have been the fruits of this investment?

From the beginning of Awesome Marriage in 2010, our goal has been to reach as many people as possible with God’s plan for marriage. In our world today, we felt the best place to find people was on social media and the internet. Honestly, when we look at divorce statistics, we don’t see a lot of difference between Christian couples and non- Christian couples. That troubles me. The church has not done a great job in helping couples prepare for marriage or helping them in their marriages. We wanted to help whether someone was single wanting to be married, dating in a serious relationship, engaged, married in a good marriage, or married and struggling. Through our online focus we are helping people close the gap between where their relationships/marriages are today and where God wants them to be. Reaching people around the world is no longer just a dream. It is now a reality!

When it comes to marriages many people encourage couples to stay away form social media.  As a counselor what is your recommendation to most couples as you discuss social media?

There are a lot of “horror” stories about how social media is wrecking marriages. From my experience as a counselor, I know many marriages that have been compromised by one or both spouses connecting with people of the opposite sex on social media. Yet, in reality, people who want to cheat are going to find a way. It’s not like cheating had its birth with social media. It just makes it a little easier. Social media has its plusses and minuses just like everything else. On the plus side, we have been able to produce content to help people build strong healthy marriages and relationships and have been about to deliver this content to them in ways that even ten years ago were unimaginable.

In talking with couples about social media, I ask them to lay down a few boundaries in their marriage. First, never have old boyfriends or girlfriends as friends on social media.  It is just not worth the risk. Second, your spouse should have access to all you do online and that includes your passwords. Finally, it is almost essential today for each spouse to have an accountability partner that will consistently ask the tough questions about social media activity. With those boundaries in place, a couple can have much more confidence in their ability to navigate social media.

You just released your first book, 7 Secrets to an Awesome Marriage; how has that experience been or writing and publishing the book and what is the hope for the book long term?

Writing a book for a major publisher was a very different experience. I wrote books in the past but they were self-published. Now, I had someone that was going to be pouring over every word I wrote. That was a little intimidating at first but something I had to get over and did. Actually, once I realized that my publisher was in this with me, and one hundred percent behind me, the process began to flow. It has been a great experience.

The “secrets” in the book are actually not new but are timeless. I think I was able to present them in a new light from my counseling experience and to give people a lot of practical, doable ways to improve their marriages. I would love the book to become one of the standards for marriage and to help people around the world for many years to come.

Dr. Kim’s new book, 7 Secrets to An Awesome Marriage, is available to order now. I highly recommend it! Order yours now here


Dr. Kim Kimberling's: Blog, YouTube Channel, Twitter