William Vanderbloemen

Thankful for Church Leaders Stepping Up

Last week I was catching up on old podcasts and listened to the Vanderbloemen Leadership Podcast recapping their first year of podcasting. In their discussion around technology and communications in the church William Vanderbloemen made a statement that from his perspective this is may be the one area where the church is not lagging behind the rest of culture.

While I might not fully agree with this statement, I do think it is worth celebrating how far church leaders have come when it comes to embracing new technologies and digital communication. Take a look at the App store and you will see the Bible app as one of the most downloaded apps along with countless church apps. There is even a Top Level Domain: .church that is becoming widely embraced by many churches!

5 years ago I felt like I had to beg pastors to pay attention to Facebook if they could get past laughing at me for even considering social media a legitimate ministry opportunity. Today, there is no selling the why of social media to church leaders as they are eager to dig into the how. We have come a long way and for that I’m grateful, optimistic and excited for the future!

What has led to this mass adoption and innovation in the church?

  • Strong Leaders Modeling the Way – Life.Church has no doubt led the way in both creating technology and modeling how to utilize it in the most effective and efficient ways
  • Efficient and Affordable Technologies – with Social Networks being free and website platforms like Wordpress and Squarespace coming along, churches have been able to access powerful and scalable technologies at a minimal cost
  • Pastors Willing to Adjust – I know this doesn’t sound like pastors historically, but when it comes to these new web technologies it seems that pastors are more and more willing to embrace and adjust.

As more leaders are stepping up to lead the way and more technologies are becoming readily available, I believe these opportunities will continue to grow exponentially as pastors are willing to adapt and adjust. In the coming years we will see Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality and Artificial Intelligence become a part of our everyday lives and it will be interesting to see how church leaders continue to embrace these developing technologies.

Let’s celebrate how far we have come together in embracing new technologies to further the mission of the church. Let’s not stop here though, we must press forward as our mission is great and the opportunities to accomplish this mission through emerging technologies is only growing!

7 Common Mistakes Pastor Search Committees Make By William Vanderbloemen

Pastor search committees are tasked with the weighty responsibility of finding a new leader for their church. But this holy endeavor is far from easy or simple. When you’re searching for your next pastor, watch out for these seven common missteps of pastor search committees.

                    

1. They have too many or too few people on the search committee.

If you have too many people on your search committee, you’re going to move slower and have trouble coming to consensus about decisions. If you have too few people, your committee may feel overwhelmed with the amount of work in the pastor search process and may burn out quickly.

I recommend that search committees have somewhere between seven and eleven people. You should have an odd number of people to prevent stalemates when taking votes. If you have more than eleven people, you might have “too many cooks in the kitchen” and lose your ability to be nimble as a team. The more differing opinions and voices that need to be heard on your search committee, the longer the pastor search process will take.

 

2. They don’t commit to prayer from the beginning.

A prayerful pastor search process is crucial to finding whom God is calling to your church. In my book SEARCH: The Pastoral Search Committee Handbook, I included a pastor search committee prayer guide to help center your committee on seeking the Lord about who He’s calling to be your next leader.

Share your prayer guide with your congregation and invite them to pray along with your committee. Pray for your new pastor and their family. Pray for wisdom and discernment for your committee and church staff. Pray for your church in this season of transition, as change isn’t easy for any organization. The pastor search process is sacred, so unite your congregation as you cover it in prayer.

 

3. They don’t establish how they’re going to make decisions.

Once you have the right people on the pastor search committee, you must decide how you’re going to make decisions. I often see committees stuck because they don’t establish guidelines up front for how decisions will be made. Will you require a majority vote or unanimity to move forward with a pastor candidate? What is your protocol if a committee member can’t make it to the next meeting?

Set a decision-making process on the front end of the search process to avoid frustration and confusion down the road. There is a Pastor Search Committee Member Agreement in SEARCH that can put your committee on the same page about how decisions will be made as a group.

 

4. They don’t establish roles on the committee.

In your first committee meeting, you should assign roles to each person on the committee. Search committees that complete this step cut down on their search process timeline because they are organized and focused on who is doing what.

Here are six ideas for roles to get you started:

  • The Coordinator is organizationally gifted to coordinate meetings and schedules.
  • The Communicator heads up the search committee’s communication with the elders, board, and congregation.
  • The Prayer Warrior coordinates prayer for the committee and congregation.
  • The Follow-Upper is the point person for incoming applications and communication with candidates.
  • The Recruiter researches and recruits candidates that the committee would like to consider.
  • The Host or Hostess has the gift of hospitality and plans for the candidate interviews.

 

5. They don’t communicate with the congregation.

If a committee doesn’t have The Communicator on the search team, I find that the search committee forgets to regularly communicate with the church. Keep your congregation updated on a monthly basis at minimum. I also recommend you have a website or landing page where people can visit to stay updated on the pastor search process. You might even consider recording video updates about your search that you can post on your church’s website, social media, and in email updates.

 

6. They don’t have a projected timeline and move too slow with candidates.

I see churches lose great pastor candidates far too often because they waited weeks or months to communicate with a candidate in between phone calls or interviews. One of the biggest complaints I hear from candidates is, “The pastor search committee flew me out for an interview, then I never from them again.” Take the time to keep your candidates updated on where they stand in the search process.

 

7. They have unrealistic expectations about the role.

The qualifications that many pastor search committees want for their pastoral candidates are so specific that even Jesus wouldn’t meet them (Jesus wasn’t married and didn’t preach every Sunday). While it’s vital for your pastor search committee to have specific qualities you’re looking for in your next pastor, take a moment to ask, “What are the qualities that we must have, and which ones are simply preferences?” Candidates are much more than just a resume, so spend intentional time as a committee determining the type of pastor you’re looking for and if your requirements are realistic to have in one person. Have a way to consistently and objectively evaluate candidates as a search committee, and you’ll be on the right path to a smooth search process.

 

I wrote SEARCH: The Pastoral Search Committee Handbook to provide a guide for pastor search committees navigating the daunting search process. I hope it’s a blessing to you and your church as you plan for healthy and effective pastoral transitions.

My Interview with William Vanderbloemen Discussing NEXT

"Succession all rises and falls on the outgoing pastor." - William Vanderbloemen

Thank You Vanderbloemen Search Group

In preparing for the Virtual Book Tour one of the first recommendations someone gave me was to partner with other organizations that you believe in and who believe in you to help get the word out.  Following this recommendation the first contact I made was to William Vanderbloemen of  Vanderbloemen Search Group.  It was less than 15 minutes later that William responded and the ball was rolling forward. William has become a good friend and I love the work that he and the team at Vanderbloemen Search Group are doing for the Kingdom.  In my short ministry career I have made several good and not so good hiring decisions.  I have also been a part of churches who have made some good, but far more poor hiring decisions.  Hiring is complicated in any organization and I believe it is even more complicated in the life of the church, especially in executive level roles.  Hiring is actually the easy part though, it's dealing with a bad hire that gets far more complicated.

Vanderbloemen Search Group has an incredible team of experts with a vast network that can come alongside your church and help you seamlessly make the best decision possible in filling critical leadership roles.  Take a look at this video:

Even if you are not looking to hire or looking for change, I highly recommend staying connected to Vanderbloemen Search Group online as they are always putting out great articles and resources for ministry leaders.  Here's where you can connect with them online:

Vanderbloemen.com

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One Last Thing:

I have heard William say many times that has stuck with me is this: churches often hire too fast and fire too slow.  As I look back on my experience this statement rings true many times over.  I'm grateful for his leadership and expertise!

 

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