Church staffing trends

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!

Interview in Church Executive Magazine

I'm honored and excited to share with you this article from Church Executive Magazine.  The article, titled Six Trends in Staffing, was written by my friend William Vanderbloemen of Vanderbloemen Search Group.  Below is a portion of the article that includes his interview with me, but I hope you will take the time to click here to read the entire article in this month's edition of Church Executive.

Nils Smith: Church hires social media pastor

Last year Community Bible Church in San Antonio, TX, with weekly attendance of 21,000, hired a pastor of social media, Nils Smith, and credit some of their growth to leveraging these forms of communication and building relationships. William Vanderbloemen had a brief interview with Smith, who previously served as a youth pastor for eight years, and six months as a college and community online pastor before transitioning to Community Bible Church.

What are your primary responsibilities? Launching CBC online which is our online church campus, as well as oversight of our multiple Facebook pages and Twitter account.

What is the average CBC online attendance look like? We launched the online campus about a year ago with about 200 to 300 weekly attendees and today we average about 6,000 to 7,000 people logging in each week. We have an average of more than 100 countries represented every week and to date we have had attendance from every country in the world except for 12.

What exactly is CBC online? It is our online church service where we broadcast one or two worship songs along with the weekly message. We also have live chat that people can log into through their Facebook account and interact with each other around the online service. We currently have four channels or sites that we have launched and we recently launched a Spanish channel that has allowed us to become much more effective in reaching people in South and Central America.

We also broadcast our music online 24-7, in a coffee shop style space that allows people to log on and chat as well as listen to the great CBC music. Our most recent addition to CBC Online is the launch of our Online Lifegroups where people can login at the same time and watch a video teaching, have a time of discussion and prayer, and simply experience community online just like they might in a living room setting.

What does your typical day look like? I don’t know if there is such a thing as a typical day, but generally I log in and check the prior day’s stats, make sure that our volunteer teams are checking up with new online believers, check in with the folks who are managing our Facebook and twitter accounts, and I also meet with our media team to see what updates to our online content we are going to be making. Our process with our online ministry has been to create, recruit, train, empower and support. As we’re constantly launching new areas of ministry online we are in different phases of this process, but my daily focus has quickly changed from primarily creating to now doing a lot more supporting as we have built an incredible team of volunteer leaders.

How have you implemented FB and Twitter with the Online Experience? For the most part we centralize everything that we are doing online with our Facebook Fan Page, which acts as our central hub for communication. We use an incredible platform called Media Social [ mediasocial.tv ] that has been our primary resource in our online ministry that integrates video content closely with Facebook.  Generally people connect with us through finding a link that someone posted on Facebook, attend an online service, and then “Like” our Facebook page.

We make unique videos and various online content specifically for Facebook and try and maximize our page as a place for community.We have found that simply asking questions of the community has been the most effective use of the page in building community. Currently we have more than 45K fans on Facebook, and interestingly enough, we actually have more fans in the Philippines now than we do in the U.S.

What is the best piece of advice that you can give churches that are looking to create a social media or online presence? Take the step and start somewhere, start with a building and regularly updating a Facebook page or try broadcasting on Ustream.com. Initially utilize the free online resources available. Once we started our Facebook page, our fellow staff members got on and promoted it and it really grew and took off. It isn’t perfect and continues to be a work in progress.

You don’t want to put out a poor product, but sometimes you can refine and polish things so much that they never get released. There is the need for some experimenting initially and you will begin to figure out what works and does not work for your ministry.  — WV