Aligning Mission & Organization to Achieve Creative Outcomes with Heath Bottomly

Thanks for joining the unSeminary podcast. We are talking with Heath Bottomly, the Lead Pastor of Creative Teams at Pure Heart Church in Arizona.

Does your church’s organizational structure match the vision that you believe you have been called to? Listen in as Heath shares how to get clarity about what is true, realign your structure, and build margin into your systems in order to achieve your God-given mission.

  • Be intentional and plan. // It’s become more difficult to strategically plan and navigate our quickly changing world. We have to be intentionally planning what our strategies are for where we want to go, and intentionally streamlining processes. Does your church have the ability to pivot in a day’s notice, or take advantage of new opportunities when they arise?
  • Begin with the end in mind. // What is your church’s mission statement and where are you headed? Does your church have the capacity needed to achieve your mission? As Heath has conversations with churches, many times he discovers that how they want to go about fulfilling their mission doesn’t match how they are staffed, or where they’re putting the bulk of their energy and resources.
  • Say no to the good for the best. // It can be difficult to redirect energy within our churches so that we are focusing on the right things to achieve our missions. But everything we say yes to means we are saying no to something else. The hardest things to say no to are good things, but we have to sacrifice the good things for the best things.  
  • Have the hard talks. // When a church is focused on things that are out of alignment with its mission, the senior pastor feels the weight of that, and how it affects the people attached to these areas. No matter how much you try to care for them, some people may still feel devalued in the process. However, we can’t let that restrict our decisions. The best way to broach hard conversations is showing what the reallocation of that time, energy and resources could look like. Demonstrate what could be accomplished in pursuing the mission and vision or the church and ask the people involved which they think is the better stewardship decision.
  • The importance of margin. // Many church leaders struggle to introduce margin into their lives and church systems, but Heath says margin is the only way that we fight for the future. How many people on our teams are actually and adequately creating margin in their personal lives in order to take advantage of opportunities when they come? Margin also creates space to dream about the future. Take time to dream with your team. Pay attention to what percentage of time you are allotting toward margin vs the tyranny of the urgent.
  • Plan for the right people. // Margin also allows us to hire the right people when they pop up instead of waiting until the need is a pain point. Great people are not available long. The right fit is hard to find, and when a position opens up the people that apply may not be the ones that are actually right for the job.
  • Experience Conference. // Heath is also the creative strategist for Experience Conference, an opportunity for worship leaders, creative leaders, production, and more to come together. Rather than being a concert or green room environment, it’s more about bringing peers together to hang out, jump into workshops, and learn from each other.

You can register for the conference at www.experienceconference.com and reach Heath at www.mavenmediaproductions.com or www.heathmichaelbottomly.com. Learn more about Pure Heart Church at www.pureheart.org.

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Thank You to This Episode’s Sponsor: Chemistry Staffing

One of the things that they never teach you in seminary is when to move on from your current church. Over the last couple of years, we have been having a TON of conversations about this with pastors all over the United States. Of all the ministry decisions you make, leaving your position will be the toughest.

Download this two-in-one resource that walks you through the decision-making process.

Episode Transcript

Rich Birch — Well hey, friends, welcome to the unSeminary podcast. So glad that you have decided to tune in. Super excited for today’s conversation. You know every week we try to bring you a leader who will both inspire and equip you and today is no exception. Excited to have Heath Bottomly with us. He is he’s got lots of hats.

Rich Birch — But if I can keep a couple of the hats straight. He’s at Pure Heart Church which is a two campus multisite church in Arizona. This church has strong values of transparency, vulnerability, relationships. He’s the lead pastor of creative teams – you know we love creative people here at unSeminary. Excited to to lean in on that. He’s also ah, runs, owns an organization called Maven Media. Plus he’s the creative strategist for a great conference called The Experience Conference. Heath, welcome to the show. So glad you’re here.

Heath Bottomly — I appreciate the opportunity. Excited to be a part of it, and looking forward to chatting today.

Rich Birch — Love it. And our mutual friend Scott Longyear said, you got to talk and so anytime Scott says I got to talk to somebody, there it is. So I’m super excited to to get a chance to connect. Why don’t you…

Heath Bottomly — You know I love love Scott, love Scott. He’s a great guy, good friend, and always always a pleasure to connect with more people. So.

Rich Birch — Love it. So why don’t you kind of fill out the picture a little bit. Tell us a little bit more about yourself. Give us a sense of the church. Talk through those things.

Heath Bottomly — No absolutely. Pure Heart is ah a church about you know about thirty years old in the Phoenix area. It’s ah it’s a growing church um. We’re probably we actually um, we technically list ourselves as having three campuses. Um.

Rich Birch — Oh nice.

Heath Bottomly — And because we intentionally created an online campus ah that has its own campus pastor and everything like that. Um, and so in-person we’re probably, you know, I know people always go so how big is it? You know because that’s just the question…

Rich Birch — Yes, ah yes.

Heath Bottomly — …as if that makes it, okay I’ll listen to you.

Rich Birch — Yes. With post Covid is it is an even more difficult question…

Heath Bottomly — Yeah.

Rich Birch — …because it’s really what does that number mean? I don’t know.

Heath Bottomly — Really nothing. It’s just how many people want to want to hang out on…

Rich Birch — Yes, yes.

Heath Bottomly — …ah you know, ah around you on campus. And it helps that our our Glendale campus has a has a restaurant actually on the campus.

Rich Birch — Oh that’s cool.

Heath Bottomly — So um, so it may be that they’re just hanging out for tacos. Um…

Rich Birch — I love it. Which is a good reason.

Heath Bottomly — Which would always draw me.

Rich Birch — Exactly, exactly.

Heath Bottomly — But but but we run probably about 2 to 3,000 people on a weekend on campus, and then um, we also have a good number of people probably another 1500 to 2000 online um each week.

Rich Birch — Love it. Love it.

Heath Bottomly — So it’s a great great church. We do a lot of some people would say a lot of crazy thing we have um we have an intake center on campus for people dealing with um addiction…

Rich Birch — Oh wow. Love it.

Heath Bottomly — …and also mental health um issues. We have an entire Life Bridge um Ministry which deals with resources. Helping people get prepped, even prep for job interviews, finding ah things they need and this is actually… they do drop-ins for food in neighborhoods. Um, but they’re all across the Phoenix area. It’s got ah it’s got a ah a workout area on campus and everything…

Rich Birch — That’s cool.

Heath Bottomly — because you know it’s going We want people to take care of all elements of ah that of their created body, mind, spirit, everything. So.

Rich Birch — Love it.

Heath Bottomly — Yeah.

Rich Birch — That’s so cool. And then you also have the you know hats where you’re connecting with a lot of leaders across the country…

Heath Bottomly — Yes.

Rich Birch — …whether it’s through Maven Media, through the conference – which is fantastic. I’d love to actually start there. You know you interact with a lot of church leaders. You connect with, you know, them. I’m sure they’re reaching out to you looking for help, advice, consulting – that kind of thing -coaching. What would be one of those things, particularly in this season, that you know you find yourself bumping into, or kind of tensions that church leaders seem to be having consistently that that you see that you end up, you know, talking them through or or or at least engaging with them on?

Heath Bottomly — Well yeah, and um I would say that probably in years past there’s been a lot more of a buffer zone for this. So um, but lately I’ve seen that it’s become a point of of, not conflict, but struggle is being able to strategically plan, um and intentionally ah navigate situations. in years past we had kind of a there wasn’t as much of ah, an urgency in it because you could always kind of figure things out because we always know well the weekend’s coming…

Rich Birch — Yes.

Heath Bottomly — …so we’ll just figure it out then…

Rich Birch — Right.

Heath Bottomly — …um, we live in a new world now where it’s actually ah, you can’t take those things for granted anymore.

Rich Birch — Right.

Heath Bottomly — You have to be intentionally planning out um, what your strategies are for where you want to go. And you’re going to have to really streamline things because you have to think about things, like how much margin do you have um in order to pull the trigger on opportunities, or if something catches you off guard, do you have the ability to pivot in a day’s notice? And a lot of churches I think it it highlighted the fact that they did not have the ability to pivot that quickly.

Rich Birch — Right right. So true.

Heath Bottomly — Um and and didn’t have built into their system both margin for not only financial resources, but personnel resources, connection, networking resources. Um, they didn’t know where to go when things go sideways. And so that’s kind of this new world that we’re kind of navigating and those are some of the things that um, what I’ve been brought in a lot more recently is looking at, does your organizational structure match the vision that you say your organization has been called to?

Rich Birch — Yes, love it.

Heath Bottomly — Um and that just hasn’t matched up. So.

Rich Birch — Yeah I would love to dive into that. You know it has been it’s been quite a few years here. You know it’s been the last couple of years I was talking to a leader recently and and they were reflecting on exactly this issue to say you know when you think about the last couple years. Any one of the kind of crises that have come come by, whether it is covid, whether it’s you know, racial unrest, whether it’s um, you know the war in Ukraine, whether it’s the economy. Any of those in and of themselves lots of churches would have a hard time dealing with. On their own. But what we’ve had is just this kind of repeated, you know, it’s kind of one thing after another. It’s like we’re always waiting for the next – it seems like we’re always waiting for the next shoe to drop, and it can make it very difficult. Ah so talk to me about how so how do we ensure that our organizational structure is aligning to our mission – that those two things are, they’re not disconnected. We don’t just have this kind of interesting mission statement on our wall but that doesn’t actually impact what we’re doing day to day.

Heath Bottomly — Right. I think it’s a lot of it is is really diving into clarity. Um, because yeah, like you said, and you know it’s interesting to me how many mission statements I come across and they basically all say the same thing.

Rich Birch — Yes.

Heath Bottomly — I mean it’s it’s hey we want to make Jesus known to the you know to the world, or we want to grow to become more like Jesus. Um, and those are very truthful statements. But what does that mean in your organization’s capacity? What does that look like? Um how are you guys doing that? Um, when I dive deeper into these conversations with churches, um I find out that the heartbeat of how they want to go about doing that oftentimes doesn’t match how they’re even staffed, or where they’re putting a bulk of their energy in resources.

Rich Birch — Mmm-hmm.

Heath Bottomly — I talked to people are going, man, we really want to we really want to connect in ah in a digital world. And I’m looking at their staffing and it’s almost entirely based on very ah, ah, organic or in-person meetings. And I’m going, so how are you planning on making that move?

Rich Birch — Mmm-hmm.

Heath Bottomly — Um which then brings about or we want to make an impact in the culture around us, but everything is internally focused staffing wise…

Rich Birch — Right.

Heath Bottomly — …and structurally within their church. You walk into their service and you’re going, this doesn’t say anything to the culture around. It’s all about drawing people who have already have institutional knowledge of this organization. And so then we have to go through and revamp, and build margin into their structure so that they can then take a step into the opportunities that present to get them to their vision.

Rich Birch — Yeah. I love that. Can we dive into that a little deeper because I do think that’s a real common problem, particularly when we think about the creative programming what we do on the weekends, the language we use the music we use. There’s lots of times where it can feel like a pretty significant disconnect. How do we ensure that ah, that we can add how how can we ensure that our organizational structure actually does allow us to kind of operationalize actually try to connect with the culture around us? What does that look like?

Heath Bottomly — I mean it all kind of depends on your specific ministry. Um, the last thing you want to do is try to become something that you’re not. Um because that actually does more damage I think to to um organizations, to ministries, is when people are trying to…people are trying to become the cool thing. And and honestly—it sounds horrible because I’m not expressing it well but—the coolest thing is being the most real thing. And so I remember in high school the coolest teacher that I had was was one of the like he loved English. You know of at… the taught… the subject. I’m like I’m sorry but there’s nothing cool about about verbs and and like diagramming sentences…

Rich Birch — Shakespeare…

Heath Bottomly — …but he in literature, I mean he would just get so intense on it I’m like the guy’s a nerd, you know?

Rich Birch — Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

Heath Bottomly — But he was so cool because he was so real.

Rich Birch — Right, it was genuine.

Heath Bottomly — Now the guy who, the PE teacher, who was trying to be hip and cool and relatable or whatever, everyone’s like the guy’s a dork, you know?

Rich Birch — Yes.

Heath Bottomly — Yeah he he looked the part…

Rich Birch — Right.

Heath Bottomly — …but he wasn’t so back to churches and organizations. It’s knowing who you are. And that’s why that clarity element is so important. Once you can do that um, then it’s a matter of we all know the phrase “begin with the end in mind.” Um, and for most of my life I have I have been able to ah, once we start with what the end is almost, I I tell people I can almost see the red line that connects the dots, steps. And I’ve always assumed for most of my life I’m like everyone sees that.

Rich Birch — Yes.

Heath Bottomly — It wasn’t until well into it that I started learning going, oh okay, this isn’t common. Um, but what then I can do is help clarify. There’s a class that is offered in a lot of colleges called logic. And what it does is it says, if you say this, this is where that ends at the nth degree. Um and using that same mindset, looking at our organizations and going, if we really want to accomplish this… say we want to um, be influential in the arts. Um you will not magically wake up one day and be influential in the arts.

Rich Birch — Right.

Heath Bottomly — You’re going to have to create space and show what that looks like by investing in it, because what you are actually doing draws the people who are attracted to doing that. It doesn’t work the other way around.

Rich Birch — Right.

Heath Bottomly — You can’t go, when we get the people we’ll become an artist environment.

Rich Birch — Right, right.

Heath Bottomly — You have to actually go, we’re going to embed artists in this. We’re going to create space where artists want to come to – an environment where they want to be a part of it, and then it grows so.

Rich Birch — Right. Yeah, that’s interesting. That’s ah, that’s an interesting application. I think it’s so true, particularly um, that is one of those areas where I think people often maybe are super aspirational. They want to as exactly use they want to become the kind of church that is creative but but they think that that’s like a disconnected, kind of like you just have to wear skinny jeans and then that’ll do it. No, it’s so much more than that, right?

Heath Bottomly — Yep.

Rich Birch — You’ve got to build a culture and a climate around that. Love that. That’s ah, that’s a perfect example. Now, when you think about that particular this whole idea of misalignment, this whole idea of, hey we’re not heading in the right direction. How do you go about realigning your structure internally? Let’s let’s say we do have a sense of, okay we need to make some changes. We need to maybe shut down some programs that that we weren’t doing, or kind of redirect some energy. What does that look like? What what should we be thinking through when it comes, particularly on the um, you know on the misalignment side on kind of realigning people and resources?

Heath Bottomly — I think ah, there’s that phrase “everything that you say yes to means that you’re saying no to something else.” Um, once you start holding that grid up against your organization, you start going point by point – almost like you know the TV show where they go, does this bring me joy?

Rich Birch — Mmm-hmm.

Heath Bottomly — Um, you know and and you go, do I let it go or not? Um, there is always an argument to be made for the things that you are doing.

Rich Birch — Yes.

Heath Bottomly — It… very rarely is it a clear, almost never is it a clear right and wrong of whether or not you should be doing something. There’s always a good reason to be there’s always a good reason to have um, a quilting ministry in your church. There’s always there’s and there’s a case to be made for it.

Rich Birch — Yep.

Heath Bottomly — Um, what’s important is going, will it help us get where we feel God is calling us?

Rich Birch — Yes.

Heath Bottomly — Because and also in our attempt to be everything, ah we oftentimes are nothing.

Rich Birch — Right, right.

Heath Bottomly — And and what I try to do with organizations is go, I want you to have the sharpest edge to your ministry, which means that you’re going to have to pare down some of these things that are… the hardest things to say no to are good things. But you have to sacrifice the good things for the best things and when you do that, you will always have people who go, you’ve missed the mark. You know you don’t care ah, you don’t care about people.

Rich Birch — You don’t care about this anymore. Yeah.

Heath Bottomly — Yeah, and and you have to that’s just you have to live with that. I mean Jesus dealed with that. People are going why aren’t… you know they would give him a hard time for saying the hard things.

Rich Birch — Yes, yeah, yeah, yeah.

Heath Bottomly — Like you know what. Why are you calling us to this? That’s way too difficult.

Rich Birch — Yeah. Right. All the time.

Heath Bottomly — Um, but he needed the edge in order to accomplish what he needed the church to become um by doing that.

Rich Birch — Right. Okay, yeah, let’s get a practical example of that. So I um, you know is there’s this church who – this is probably it’s hypothetical but not not really, it’s based on what you hear happening. So let’s say I’m a staff pastor. So I’m not the lead pastor, or maybe executive pastor, associate pastor – and we have a pet project that our lead pastor just loves like it and the rest of our staff kind of snicker about it. We know this is not aligned with our mission. This is not aligned with where we’re going, but for whatever reason that individual just loves this thing. How do we start that conversation. What does that look like? How how could I lead up in this dialogue around, hey you know there’s this area that’s a little bit out of alignment with what we’re doing. Or or maybe widely out of line. It literally like you’re saying is the quilting ministry. It’s the you know think we all churches have these kind of like just random programs that aren’t really pushing us forward. How do we lead that conversation?

Heath Bottomly — I think there’s a few different ways – the one that I’ve found um, especially for senior pastors tends to be um… I mean these guys they know that they are stewards of what God has entrusted them with resources, and to the point where that actually I I feel the weight from people. They really connect with that.

Heath Bottomly — Um, that’s where a lot of the stress comes from. I was a a creative arts and worships pastor for years. Um, and then stepped into a senior pastor role for about 3-1/2 years. Um as a worship pastor, I knew the things that we needed to be doing. I knew them, I mean inside and out.

Rich Birch — Right.

Heath Bottomly — Yeah I say that satirically.

Rich Birch — Yes.

Heath Bottomly — Um and I’m like it’s an easy decision.

Rich Birch — Yes.

Heath Bottomly — When I stepped into the senior role I suddenly went I felt the weight of those decisions…

Rich Birch — Yes, yes.

Heath Bottomly — …because it’s not just cutting a ministry. It’s It’s potentially making people feel devalued in the process.

Rich Birch — Yes, yeah.

Heath Bottomly — No matter how well you how well you try to take care of them.

Rich Birch — True.

Heath Bottomly — …you can’t you can’t make sure that they don’t feel that. Um so but that doesn’t mean that should restrict your your decisions. So all that to say understanding that senior pastors feel the weight of the people that are attached to these things.

Rich Birch — Yes, yeah.

Heath Bottomly — The best way that I’m broaching conversations is going is reattributing, showing what the reattribution of these resources could look like. And going if you keep utilizing these resources in this direction…

Rich Birch — Yeah.

Heath Bottomly — …what, ask the question, what what’s the what’s the win?

Rich Birch — Yes. Yeah, yeah. Absolutely.

Heath Bottomly — And then going, the reallocation of these resources, time, energy and really clarifying that resources go beyond finances. It’s bandwidth. It’s um because I’m a big proponent for margin. And I can dive into that more but most churches and most ministries do not ah work well with the idea of margin. But, margin is the only way that we actually tackle and fight for the future. Um, we just expend all the everything that comes in and feel like that’s good stewardship, if it all goes right back out.

Rich Birch — Yes, yeah, yeah, yeah.

Heath Bottomly — Um, which isn’t isn’t good planning.

Rich Birch — No.

Heath Bottomly — Um, but if we can then go, okay, the reallocation of these resources could, we project, could accomplish this toward the vision and ministry of the church. And then go ask the question going, what do you feel is is a better stewardship for that?

Rich Birch — Yeah, love it.

Heath Bottomly — You know?

Rich Birch — Yeah, that’s good. That’s good. I think there’s a lot of wisdom there too, leading with questions I think is is a good thing, right? Help helping senior leaders wrestle with as opposed to coming accusatory. That never works, you know?

Heath Bottomly — Yeah.

Rich Birch — I think the idea too of of trying to understand—and this is for any, you know, leading up in any scenario—is to understand what their priorities are, and to cast the change that we’re talking about in as a step towards their priorities. You know they ultimately yeah, it’s not ah, it’s not a judgmental statement, but ultimately everyone’s selfish at some level and we’re concerned about our stuff. And so what is it that your senior leader is excited about? How do we recast this change in light of what they’re, you know, fired up about?

Rich Birch — Talk to me about margin. I’m sure there’s I’m sure there’s church leaders that are listening in that are like, margin? What are you talking about? I’m just trying to get ready for this fall, and like I’ve got twelve things to do and only you know three days to do it before kids get back from school. Man margin is the farthest thing for my reality. How can I find margin? What should we be thinking about margin? What does that look like?

Heath Bottomly — Well, it all comes back to, I know that some of the things that you address on this podcast and everything are going, so what is it about that you’re not picking up in seminary that is useful, and actually you should be learning if you’re going to be jumping into into ministry. Especially organizational ministry because people will go, man, it’s not about the systems. It’s not about the process. As soon as you actually want to take advantage of resources and like things like insurance, 401K – as soon as you want to add staff, you’re an organization whether you like it or not.

Rich Birch — So true.

Heath Bottomly — Um and so you need to be trained in what how to effectively lead an organization. Ah, financially, um, strategically, all of these things. Otherwise you can you can do church anywhere. I mean the body of Christ you can meet in your living room and you don’t have to worry about all these things. But if you want to engage in those things, and benefit from them, then you should understand the best way to utilize them and structure yourself accordingly.

Heath Bottomly — Um, and so when it comes to margin, first off, there’s the there’s the personal. How many people are actually adequately creating margin in their life to take advantage of opportunities when they arise? What we do is we feel… there’s that weird ah work ethic element responsibility thing that goes, if I… the busier I am, the more important and the more responsible I am.

Rich Birch — It’s so true.

Heath Bottomly — And and it’s and it’s it’s so… I don’t want to say it’s backward because I’ve also seen the other side of the coin where people are like I’m going, they’re like oh I’m I’m so I’m so busy. I’m like you did nothing, but these 2 things this week.

Rich Birch — Yes, right. No no production. Yeah exactly.

Heath Bottomly — Yeah I’m like you spent you spent all day working on one song you know…

Rich Birch — Yeah, yes, yes.

Heath Bottomly — …like going you you can be more efficient. Um, but margin is going, am I creating space to—for some so start simple—am I taking time each week to dream about the future? Am I taking a certain amount of hours to do… am I doing that with my team? How much of a percentage am I allotting towards things that could be, compared to Sunday’s coming and the the tyranny of the urgent, of the immediate? Um, every organization that is, outside of ministry, that’s ah, that’s affecting change and impacting culture has a research and development, has ah lots funds for opportunity. Um, they do that so they can actually try things out, fail at them, and learn how to do it better.

Rich Birch — Yeah. Right.

Heath Bottomly — And from there they can find the way that changes the future.

Rich Birch — Right.

Heath Bottomly — Um, ministries need to start then um, people who are leading ministries, need to get a lot more efficient and learning clever ways of how to, first off, how to run a budget? Most guys who are pastors in churches or leaders in in churches have no idea how to budget.

Rich Birch — It’s true.

Heath Bottomly — You know they’ve never been trained in it. They’re they’re making it up as they go. And then they find themselves going I think I did it right.

Rich Birch — Right.

Heath Bottomly — And then going why why why are we not growing?

Rich Birch — Right.

Heath Bottomly — Or why are we not doing things? Um but creating margin within your budget by creating even zero-based budgeting, which irons out going, what do you want to accomplish this next year and what will that cost? Don’t go, this is what I had last year…

Rich Birch — Add 5%. Yeah exactly

Heath Bottomly — …and now this is what I have this year and I want to add…

Rich Birch — Yeah.

Heath Bottomly — Yeah, what do you want to accomplish and why? Um and then creating space, then in opportunity and margin, even with staffing. And this is where this is going to get a really a little touchy. Um, great people are not available long.

Rich Birch — Right.

Heath Bottomly — And so usually by the time we’re looking for a position, um, we end up finding people who are either, often they off chance they happen to come available right then in that window…

Rich Birch — Yes.

Heath Bottomly — …and it’s like oh what a steal. What a God moment…

Rich Birch — Yes.

Heath Bottomly — You know?

Rich Birch — Yes, yes.

Heath Bottomly — Um, or there are people who’ve just been available because they’re not exactly the best fit…

Rich Birch — Yes.

Heath Bottomly — …but they’re the best of what’s available…

Rich Birch — Yes.

Heath Bottomly — And then ah that which then turns into frustrations down the road if we have.

Rich Birch — Yeah.

Heath Bottomly — Ah, CCV Christ Church of the valley is a great church here in Phoenix…

Rich Birch — Fantastic church.

Heath Bottomly — Um, and I love how they wind themselves up to get key campus pastors. They will hire a campus pastor even if they’re not launching a campus…

Rich Birch — Right.

Heath Bottomly — …because they’ve created margin to do so.

Rich Birch — Yes.

Heath Bottomly — Because they know that those at the right fit is hard to find so when one comes available they will go and they’ll have them do something else in the meantime.

Rich Birch — Right. Yeah.

Heath Bottomly — You can’t you can’t get there unless you have strategically planned for that.

Rich Birch — Yeah. I love that. Yeah, that’s that’s such truism in hiring. I’ve seen that in my own ministry over years. I’ve hired a lot of people and there is that the people who are available are not necessarily the people you want to hire. Um, you know the people who have um, who are going to apply aren’t necessarily the people you know you want to find someone—I’ve said this so many times. My best hires when I first started talking to them, they were completely happy in their existing role. They weren’t you know they were loving what they were doing and so then you kind of always have to be recruiting, talking to people, leaning in. Hey like what’s God’s plan for your life; where you headed next? That sort of thing. Love that. That’s that’s good. Love it.

Rich Birch — Now… so talk to me about the Experience Conference. It’s coming up here. Ah tell me about it. Give me a sense of the conference. Who’s who’s who would benefit from it, besides everyone. Um, you know, tell me more about it.

Heath Bottomly — Yeah. Well Experience Conference is is really a unique opportunity of worship worship leaders, creative leaders, production, everything, to kind of come together. What I what really drew at me to it as an attendee years ago was this element that we hadn’t really defined but then we put words to a couple years down the road was this idea of lowering the stage. And what that was is going, I had been to so many different events and conferences that um—and this isn’t a bad thing but—it it was more of a ah, bunch of concerts all mashed together. And and then I’m looking around the room going, these actually we’re all peers, you know. So you get a Brandon Lake you know on stage and he is doing the same thing that everyone else in this room does week in and week out. And actually there’s more people who will hear Brandon’s songs from the people in the community than from Brandon himself.

Rich Birch — Sure.

Heath Bottomly — And so we started going, once I came on staff, we really started having intentional conversations with the with the artists and speakers and going just reminding them, hey you’re talking to peers in the room. This isn’t a ah…

Rich Birch — Right, right.

Heath Bottomly — …a a worship concert event that you’re used to doing.

Rich Birch — Right.

Heath Bottomly — Um and that changed the tone tremendously.

Rich Birch — That’s cool.

Heath Bottomly — And it became less of a green room environment and much more of a of people hanging out with each other.

Rich Birch — That’s cool.

Heath Bottomly — Um jumping into workshops. And and it changes the heartbeat of it. You know?

Rich Birch — Yeah, I love that. Yeah I totally get what you’re saying I remember years ago—this is probably twenty years ago—when Matt Redmond was Matt Redmond. And um and it was him in Pilavachi, and Mike Pilavachi, they were at this conference and I just happened to be there. And that was very much the vibe of it. They were they very much were there just to try to help, and like, hey what can we do? And like here’s happy to share some stuff we learned at Soul Survivor and all that. And it felt very like, hey like you’re they’re not trying to present themselves as rock stars. It’s just like we’re here. We’re just another kind of worship leader. And we’re all trying to do the same thing. And it might look a little different in your context than my context. But how do we how do we lead together?

Rich Birch — I love that that idea of how do we network together. What do you guys do at the what do you do at the conference try to encourage that cross communication engagement with each other? What does what does that look like at Experience?

Heath Bottomly — Well we try to create a lot of intentional space. Even how… and I mean and it all comes down to how the the people who are part of it respond. I mean ah—I’m just going to brag on him a bit because he’s awesome—but Andy Rosier from Vertical, he um he is now at New Life in ah Colorado. And actually we have him, John Egan, um Natalie Runnion, like ah Eddie Hoagland, and everything – all as part of the speaking team this year, which is really cool.

Rich Birch — Yeah, that’s fantastic.

Heath Bottomly — Um, but Scott Longyear, who’s the pastor of the conference, um was meeting with the teaching team. And Andy says, he’s like how long do we do I have do we have to speak in this one session? And Scott was like oh you have about thirty thirty five minutes. And he surprised us he he was like, can we use less time to speak, and then open it up so that we can we can interact, and and spend some time praying for individuals in the community here?

Rich Birch — Yeah, that’s so good.

Heath Bottomly — And I was the first time I had ever heard someone say can I, a speaker, go, can I speak less?

Rich Birch — Yes, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

Heath Bottomly — And spend more time with people? Um, it’s that kind of mentality. Meredith Andrews a few years back, we had our event the day before we were supposed to launch. Um a hurricane blew through…

Rich Birch — Oh God.

Heath Bottomly — …or actually was was going to blow through and so they shut down…

Rich Birch — That’s that’s Orlando in the fall. Orlando in the fall. Yeah

Heath Bottomly — …the airport. Yeah, but it’s the first time they had shut down the airport in advance…

Rich Birch — Oh wow.

Heath Bottomly — …of the potential because it was in order to get funds, federal funds, they had to take proactive measures.

Rich Birch — Oh okay.

Heath Bottomly — Um, but it killed our conference. But we already had about 600 people on the ground um in advance of the conference. Um, so we showed up and we’re going to do like going, for anyone who was there you know a makeshift you know boot camp basically like version of this thing. And Meredith called up and she was scheduled to perform one of the sessions. She’s like God’s just laid it on my heart um, do you need me? And we’re like ah to do I mean yeah to do what? And she’s like, whatever.

Rich Birch — Aw, so sweet.

Heath Bottomly — And she came in and she led, or was a part of leading, worship for every session that we had.

Rich Birch — Oh wow.

Heath Bottomly — She she helped out with the prayer ministry aspect. She was interact… she was leading workshops. That’s the type of environment and heartbeat that uh is what we feel God is called Experience Conference to…

Rich Birch — Love it.

Heath Bottomly — …on um, even a broader level moving forward.

Rich Birch — Love it. Well, friends that are listening in, you know, I know we have a lot of executive pastor types who are listening in who are not necessarily the folks that are going to be on stage leading worship. However, we all know that our creative people over the last couple years, we’ll call it they’ve been stretched.

Heath Bottomly — Yeah.

Rich Birch — It’s been a tough couple years here, friends.

Heath Bottomly — Absolutely.

Rich Birch — And this could be a great thing when I when I was going through all of this and looking at your material, the thing that struck me was like, wow like this could be a great thing, frankly to give to a couple of your worship people, or maybe a small team of them as a hey, thanks so much – a shot in the arm injection in the arm, as we kick off the fall here. Um I think it could be, if they’re if they haven’t gone you know in the past, this could be a great thing to go to that. So where do we want to send people if they want more information about Experience Conference. Where do we send them online?

Heath Bottomly — You can go to experienceconference.com…

Rich Birch — Yeah, great.

Heath Bottomly —…and it’s all one word – all lowercase. And it it’ll take you right there and it’ll give you all the information you need to know. What I love is like even you know Pastor Scott um shared this with our team a couple years back, he’s like ah it’s a huge thing for him. He he loves the fact that he gets to come and he brings his his team, his worship leaders. And he gets to stand next to him and worship together…

Rich Birch — Huge deal.

Heath Bottomly —…which usually don’t have that opportunity on a staff team to do that…

Rich Birch — Yep yep.

Heath Bottomly —…and build camaraderie because that tension and we know that it exists. There is a lot of tension between, um or can be between, the lead pastor/senior pastor and the worship pastor, or worship leader. And so anything that we can do to kind of ah create common ground and really sync that up and strengthen that is a win.

Rich Birch — Yeah I love that – love it. Yeah, and even just that—we all know this friends but—you know getting in a car and driving if you can or flying you know, even just that alone to do that with your worship people, that is such a great accelerant relationally. Um, and it’s like the conference is a bonus, in this case, the conference is a huge bonus on top of that.

Heath Bottomly — Yeah.

Rich Birch — Listen I would strongly encourage you to ah to check out the conference if if you haven’t checked it out, I would you know, check it out and it could be great. Scott’s great guy obviously he’s a great guy. It’s been so good to have you here today.

Heath Bottomly — Thanks.

Rich Birch — I know we’re coming in to land the plane here, but is there anything else you want to share as we wrap up today?

Heath Bottomly — You know I do just, I know we just touched on it. Um, but I would be remiss if I didn’t kind of zero in on this for just a second is…

Rich Birch — Yeah.

Heath Bottomly — …I’m seeing a lot more because of the craziness of the last couple years some of these tensions between senior pastors and worship pastors have come to the surface a lot more, and I want to I would love to encourage um, both parties in that conversation um with this is that so much of our frustrations in ministry and life come from unmet expectations. But so so often those expectations have never been communicated.

Heath Bottomly — And what I’ve been having the opportunity to do is work with senior pastors and worship pastors to really encourage them to get clarity on, do you actually know each other? Um and one of the main things that I mean by that is a lot of times senior pastors think that they’re hiring a shepherd to lead their worship ministry. And and when I say shepherd I mean someone who is is interested in discipling and guiding and teaching the theology, the richness of the faith, um spending one on one time.

Heath Bottomly — And the reality, and what I found time and time again, is that there are often, and these are like 3 of the top ideas um that I found more common in in those who lead a worship ministry. You do have the shepherds, but you also have worship artists. Um, and you also have what I found is the rallier. Um, and all 3 of these are hugely valuable and vital can be vital to your organization. But if you think you have one, and yet you had you’ve hired another personality of this, your expectation for them is going to be constantly butting heads, and the frustrations will grow because you actually don’t know the person that is on your team as well as you thought you did.

Rich Birch — Oh that’s good.

Heath Bottomly — And sometimes we put so much value on the shepherd part, which is a huge value…

Rich Birch — Yep.

Heath Bottomly — …that we minimize the value of of a worship artist, the creative, who who wants to to minister to people through inspiration and showing them a reflection of God that they haven’t seen before. or the rallier who can connect in that moment on the weekend in a way that maybe a shepherd can’t. Um, if you have unmet expectations for any of them. You’re going to be constantly frustrated…

Rich Birch — No that’s good. Yeah.

Heath Bottomly — …by what you see as weakness and it’s on a weakness.

Rich Birch — That’s really good. I love that distinction there, man. That feels like that could be a whole conversation right there. That’s that’s really good bit of coaching there, particularly again I think for for friends who are listening in who are like senior leaders trying, but maybe feeling a little bit of frustration…

Heath Bottomly — Yes.

Rich Birch — …or maybe feeling like, hey how is this thing working out I’m not sure what do they? You know how do those people fit on our team? I don’t get it. They’re weird and they have funny hair. Um, you know how does they you know how does that work out. So I appreciate that – that’s that’s really good. Well Heath, I appreciate you being here today. Where do we want to send people online ah if they want to connect with you, if they want to kind of track with your story – where do we want to send them?

Heath Bottomly — Um, you can send them to mavenmediaproductions.com. You can also reach me through the Experience Conference page as well. Or it it sounds funny that I’m actually um, but you can go to heathmichaelbottomly.com…

Rich Birch — Love it. Love it. Love it.

Heath Bottomly — …for my personal page. And interestingly enough you can go to heathmichaelbottomly.ninja

Rich Birch — Funny! Love it.

Heath Bottomly — …um because as soon as I knew ninja was available I’m like yeah I need that…

Rich Birch — Scoop that up.

Heath Bottomly — Um I’m going to need that. Yeah.

Rich Birch — That’s fantastic. This has been great. Thanks so much for being here. I appreciate you. Excited for the conference. Hopefully goes well. I know it’ll go well this year. I know these all of these events it does seem like this is like fall that all this stuff is returning. So it’s great. Didn’t even mention for listeners, it is at the Disney Resort, which for no for longtime listeners people know that’s a bonus point for me, so you know that’s a good thing. So appreciate that.

Heath Bottomly — Yeah, yeah, Coronado is beautiful…

Rich Birch — It’s killer.

Heath Bottomly — …and it’s it’s gonna be a great time.

Rich Birch — Yeah, yeah, that’ll be great. Thanks so much, man – you have a great day.

Heath Bottomly — Yeah, thanks – you as well. Thanks for having me.

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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.