Adding More Structure While Staying Relational in a Growing Church with Mark Geissbauer

Welcome to the unSeminary podcast. Today we have with us Executive Pastor Mark Geissbauer from The Chapel which has three locations near Lake Erie.

As a church grows, adding more structure is necessary to keep everyone in the loop and enable systems to operate smoothly. But how do you maintain a personal touch while adding in a more ‘corporate’ framework? Listen in as Mark shares steps that The Chapel took to support its growth without sacrificing relationships.

  • Address the communication issue. // When Mark came on staff at The Chapel it was not uncommon for people not to know their job description or who they reported to in the organization. Oftentimes staff found out about announcements as they were being shared on a Sunday. It was clear that more structure was needed within the church, so communication was the first area they tackled. The Chapel now uses Slack as their main communication tool to keep staff informed and quickly respond to questions. As a church grows, be aware that you will have to communicate things three or four times in different ways and means until people realize what you’re sharing with them.
  • Communication in meetings. // The Chapel also put a process in place to make sure everyone was clear about the next steps coming out of meetings. To clarify responsibilities and expectations ask the following questions at the end of every meeting: What have we actually decided? When do we need to get this done? Who is responsible for driving this? Who else needs to know what we’ve decided? As a church grows it needs not only to communicate, but to do so clearly and effectively.
  • Maintain a personal touch. // The Chapel knew they had to add structure but didn’t want to lose that personal touch while making necessary “corporate” changes. It’s a constant tension to live in managing the structure with the relational aspects of ministry. Make it a priority to touch base with your staff weekly, not only about work but about other parts of their lives outside of the church.
  • Recognize each person’s giftedness. // Part of the way that The Chapel maintains relationships in their structure is by recognizing what each person brings to the table and valuing it. Within the senior leadership team, for example, they used their gifts to push each other to make better decisions while not losing the care aspect of ministry. They aren’t afraid to call each other out when someone is too strongly leaning on their giftings since a person’s biggest strengths are also their biggest weaknesses. This helps create a sort of balance between the organizational aspects of ministry and the relational aspects of ministry. Even if people have different approaches to something, they are unified because they want to see God’s kingdom being built.
  • Create guidelines. // Another aspect The Chapel focused on was developing more written documentation and making sure the church was protected. They didn’t want to just be a policy-driven church though, but rather create guidelines and focus on the core things that they needed to control. Creating these guidelines offers clarity and a space within which people can work so they feel empowered.
  • Learn from others. // Mark is also part of a network of executive pastors around Ohio. They share things like constitutions, policies and so on, which saved The Chapel from having to reinvent the wheel as they sought to add more structure and improve communication. Ministry can become focused only on what your church is doing, but opening up to other churches, learning from and helping them can bless both of your churches and help grow God’s Kingdom.
  • Partner with other churches. // The Chapel is in a rural area and there is a lot of need. Adding structure enabled Mark to connect with other churches to see how they could serve people in the area better. This led to hiring a part-time person to focus solely on the area of benevolence and coordinate with other churches. Not only did they become the expert in this area, they helped the process to be more effective and also found additional government resources to aid those in need. Don’t be afraid of taking the step to partner with other organizations. Without it you can really miss opportunities to serve the people in your community better.

You can learn more about The Chapel at www.thechapel.family or email Mark directly.

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Thank You to This Episode’s Sponsor: Chemistry Staffing

Great things happen when the right leadership is in place in a local church… lives are changed and churches thrive.

With all the craziness that has gone on in 2020, we know that many churches are beginning to ask hard questions about what their current team looks like and how ready they are to lead into our new reality. Download Chemistry Staffing’s Restructuring Playbook to develop clarity around where you need to be focusing your time, resources, and team.

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Rich Birch
Rich Birch is one of the early multi-site church pioneers in North America. He led the charge in helping The Meeting House in Toronto to become the leading multi-site church in Canada with over 5,000+ people in 18 locations. In addition, he served on the leadership team of Connexus Church in Ontario, a North Point Community Church Strategic Partner. He has also been a part of the lead team at Liquid Church - a 5 location multisite church serving the Manhattan facing suburbs of New Jersey. Liquid is known for it’s innovative approach to outreach and community impact. Rich is passionate about helping churches reach more people, more quickly through excellent execution.His latest book Church Growth Flywheel: 5 Practical Systems to Drive Growth at Your Church is an Amazon bestseller and is design to help your church reach more people in your community.