Best Practices in Onboarding New Staff with Ken McAnulty

Thanks for joining us for this week’s unSeminary podcast. We’re talking with Ken McAnulty, executive pastor at Arise Church in Florida.

The hiring process is tough, and ramping up new staff can be awkward and stressful if it isn’t done with a lot of intentionality. Ken is with us today to talk about how to onboard new hires well and set them up for success.

  • Create a great experience. // What do you want new hires to experience when they come to work at your church? What do you want people to understand? These are questions that Ken and his team began to ask as they created the onboarding process at Arise. Their goal was to set a healthy pace so that when a new staff completed their onboarding week, they would feel like they could run in their role without hindrances. The pace that a church sets during the first week of a new hire’s orientation is the pace that individual is going to live by for their first year.
  • What works for them. // The first thing that Ken and his team do is to make sure that they have things set up for the new staff member before their first day. They communicate with new staff about things like setting up their office in a way that works for them and providing a computer of their choice with software they need. They also add fun aspects to the welcome by doing a bit of research on new hires through social media, or by talking with a person’s spouse, to surprise them with things they enjoy, such as playing a favorite song upon their arrival.
  • Four things to impart. // There are four things Arise Church really wants to impart to their new staff members in their first week. They want them to walk away with a sense of the culture at Arise, a sense of care that they’re about more than what they do, a sense of competency or an understanding of how they can be successful, and finally the course or path in which way they should go.
  • Sense of culture comes first. // Culture is much more important than competency. So the pastor takes the new staff member to lunch and talks with them about the history and culture of the church, as well as the future vision. After spending time with the pastor, the new hire then sits with other staff members who they will work closely with and hears their stories. Plugging new hires into relationships not only communicates culture, it humanizes the staff and creates open doors so they can get to know each other faster. The onboarding week wraps up with a truth or dare lunch which provides opportunities for the staff team to be authentic with each other and build rapport.
  • Last Day at Arise. // The last culture component of the onboarding process is a document called Last Day at Arise. Working through the document helps new hires intentionally think about how they will be known at Arise and who they’re going to be. Finally they will review that document with their direct-up at the end of their first week. This creates accountability as well as future coaching opportunities to help the new staff member achieve their goals.
  • Take time to express care. // When we expect new staff to hit the ground running right away and we become all business about getting them plugged in to their role, the person is lost in the tasks. We’re in the people business, and that needs to start with our staff. Each person we bring on board has a gift and a calling that we’re being given by God to steward. Take intentional time to express care for them and communicate that they are more than what they do for you. Every day of the onboarding week at Arise, certain staff have lunch with the new hire. The onboarding process can feel like a firehose, so Ken checks in with them throughout the week to see how they are doing and what questions they may have.
  • Competency and course. // Competency is about how to do your job or role, and course is about knowing which way to go. When a new staff starts, they aren’t expected to solve any problems. Instead Arise follows the John Maxwell method of training where: I do and you watch, then we do together, then you do and I watch, and finally you can do alone.
  • Define success. // Along with the details of how to do their job, Ken gives new hires a binder that has a welcome letter, a calendar for the first week, the contact information for everyone they need, core values, their budget, and more. Rather than charting their own course, show new staff a clear path they can follow. Clearly define wins so new hires understand how they can be successful in your organization.

Ken has provided several documents for you to download including a sample of a day of onboarding, a sample job description, the table of contents of the binder provided to new hires, and the Last Day at Arise document. You can also learn more about Arise Church at www.myarisechurch.com.

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Episode Transcript

Rich — Hey, friends, welcome to the unSeminary podcast. Wow, so glad you’ve decided to tune in today. You know every week we try to bring you a leader from a church that will both inspire and equip you, and today is no exception. Super excited to have Ken McAnulty with us. He’s a fantastic leader – executive pastor – at a church called Arise Church. This is one of the fastest growing churches in the country currently the lead pastor’s a guy named Brent Simpson. They have – if I’m counting right – three campuses in Florida including one on a Native American ah one Native American, or an Indian congregation…

Ken — Yeah.

Rich — …and also translations into Portuguese, and Spanish, and Malay – is that the other language, I think?

Ken — Malayalam.

Rich — Malayalam – I knew I didn’t write that down right. Ken, welcome to the show. So glad you’re here.

Ken — Thank you, Rich. Honestly, it’s kind of a bucket list item for me. I’ve been listening to you guys since I started my journey as Executive Pastor and and man you’ve helped me so much, so it’s It’s been…

Rich — Come on ah come on. That’s so sweet of you to say, that’s so sweet of you to say. I’m I’m excited. We were joking ahead of time, I think so we – I’m letting you behind the curtain a little bit – we do a little prep before the show and Ken prepped enough for three conversations which is fantastic because I’m hoping to have him back on. Ah, so Ken I kind of gave I I butchered the bit of an introduction about Arise. Fill out the flavor – tell us a bit about the church. Give us a sense of your role. Talk, talk through, give us a kind of, fill in the the the map a little bit for people’s brains.

Ken — Yeah, no worries. Um, so Arise was started in 1959 in Brandon. In fact, right around the corner from where our current location is, just started as a little a-frame church and about 11 years ago pastor Brent Simpson came and we were at about 70 people at that time, and man he just, he just saw the church just begin to explode and grow. They immediately went to 2 services soon were in 3 services and began looking for another location because they were in a sanctuary that seated about 150 people.

Rich — Wow.

Ken —And so found a location just literally right behind the property and began building in 2017, 2016/2017. I joined the staff in 2018. I had the the blessing, luxury, and fun of jumping in right after they moved into the new building…

Rich — Oh fun! All the fun part about the building not the hard part.

Ken — Right, right! I didn’t, I didn’t have the stress and tension of building like they did, but I got to see that just the, just the immense growth so when we moved into that building we were – and I’m just going to toss numbers because it helps understanding…

Rich — Yeah.

Ken — …We were about 550 people in man, by 2019, by the end of 2019 we’re sitting 1100…

Rich — Wow.

Ken — …And so just had some dramatic growth of people giving their life to Jesus. We’ve seen God do just some crazy, crazy, awesome things. Just awesome stories of God changing people’s lives, and I get to serve as the executive pastor and so what does that mean? Well I have our Indian Campus pastor. He jokes that I’m the executor pastor. So I execute people and things not not not people. I get stuff done, take care of the finances, take care of the facility, and and help manage a staff. So.

Rich — I Love it. Love it. Why don’t we ah parallel this this staff team growth because you would have seen some interesting growth over the time you’ve been there because if you kind of came as you pivoted into the new building and then have seen that growth I’m assuming there was kind of ah a similar connection to the growth team, the growth of the staff team. Tell me about that. What’s that look like over the time you’ve been with the church?

Ken — Yeah, there was you know since since I’ve been here or or right around that time we’ve hired 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6… probably half a dozen to 10 full-time staff members. You know some of that’s been transition, some of that has been has been new growth and so it’s been a large growth of our team, not only in those full-time spots, but then also in administration. We’ve had had to hire quite a few administrative assistants and and things like that. So there’s been a lot of hiring going on the last couple of years.

Rich — Very cool. Love that. You know, onboarding staff, um, you know I think we as we hire staff, I think oftentimes – at least I know I do and and I think there’s a lot of friends who would be in a similar boat – we we identify a problem area that we’re looking for someone to solve and so we’re like, okay, we really need to maybe an area’s grown or like there’s a part of our church that just is not going well and so like we we really need to get some more time associated with this and so we hire some staff and we spend all this time, effort, and energy, money to get them, and then they arrive and we just want them to start solving problems, ah…

Ken — Right.

Rich – But getting those first couple days, weeks, months can be really tough to, kind of, what do we do? How do we onboard people? What does that look like for you? How have, you know…

Ken — That’s a great question.

Rich — …What would be some of the, or or why is that such a tension? Maybe we’ll start with the tension piece. Why is that such a tough time? Why is that such a tough place when we first have new staff arriving?

Ken — Well, Rich, I know that many of your listeners have been through that transition point and I’ve been through that transition point and man it can be such an awkward time. This moment where, you know like you said, all this time, and energy, and effort, and money even, is spent on bringing this person in and then so often those folks are just released to the wild and expected to do ministry without an understanding of really what’s going on. And and really we discovered that it creates this awkwardness, this weirdness. You know, one of my staff told me this: one of the weirdest feelings is to be brought into a place with an unspoken culture, an unspoken taboo, and unspoken jokes…

Rich — Mmm-hmm.

Ken — …And have no idea what things you’re going to step on.

Rich — Oh that’s so good.

Ken — And and we really felt that tension. We really felt that, that problem. And so our lead Pastor, Pastor Brent, looked at me and one of my counterparts, my coworker Tina Blunt, and said, “I would like for you guys to really kind of develop an onboarding. I don’t know what that looks like.” And so we just began to dream, and and we said, you know, what what would it look like if we got to come onto, you know, a great team? What would we want that to look like? What do we want people to understand? What do we want their first week experience to to look like? And so we really just begin to tailor this one-week experience that we call our onboarding week. That that really helps resolve those problems and and sets the pace for our staff.

Rich — Mmm-hmm.

Ken — Because what we really want to do is, we want to, we want to set a healthy pattern and pace so that when they get done with that one week they feel like they can run, and there are less hindrances for them. One of the things that we’ve just kind of discovered is the pace that you set the first week is the pace that they’re going to live by for the first year.

Rich — Oh that’s good.

Ken — And too often there are churches who don’t set a pace and so then they wonder why their staff are not doing what they want them to do. Well I think it’s our fault. We’ve got to take that responsibility.

Rich — Mmm, that’s so good – I love that. What a great word: hey, this pace if that we set at the beginning really is how they run, how they’ll, you know, how they’ll be a part of it.

Ken — Yeah.

Rich — So let’s pull that apart a little bit when you think about… I don’t know, well, the best way to do this… the first day. Maybe even pre-first day.

Ken — Yeah.

Rich — How how are you setting that pace? Well, how are we kind of setting up this conversation in the in the earliest moments? What’s that look like?

Ken — No, it’s a great question. You know some of the first things that we want to do is we want to make sure that before they get there their first day that we have things set up for them. We don’t wait for them to arrive to begin to set things up. So we want to make sure that we have a dedicated space. We want to make sure we communicate with them about office furniture. You know, we have a budget set aside for them to get office furniture and we talk to them about pieces that we may have already that could be adopted to their office. And so we set up a basic office setup for them. We make sure that we order their computer so that means we have to communicate: Hey do you want a Mac, a PC, what do you want on it?

Rich — Huh.

Ken — And then we put together a communication binder that’s ready for them on their desk. And one of the cool things that we do (and this has been communicated to us by the staff that just kind of came organically) is we kind of, we kind of do some research on them and so we find maybe their favorite song or favorite type of music and we make sure that’s playing on their computer the day that they come in, their first day of work…

Rich — Wow.

Ken — …Which is kind of one of those really cool things. Um, we try not to be too too stalkerish with it, but you know we want to make sure that that that it’s welcoming.

Rich — Yeah, how are you finding out their favorite song? What do you are you? You do like a forum ahead of time or like what’s that look like?

Ken — So it it really depends on the person. Sometimes we’ll reach out to the spouse who is…

Rich — Okay.

Ken — …And we, you know, we kind of dig into that because their spouse oftentimes loves to have, you know, they they want, they’re invested in their spouse being, having a great first day experience and so we we include them in on that. Ah, sometimes we’ll do a little research on social media. A little social media stalking, we can find out there because some of that stuff is listed on Facebook and other social apps.

Rich — I love it. That’s so good. A little bit of research goes ah a long way.

Ken — It really does.

Rich — That’s a great thing. It’s amazing how – we were joking earlier. We knew we were gonna head in this direction – I was talking with some friends recently about their first day experience and I was like, hey what was your worst first day experience?

Ken — Yeah.

Rich — It’s amazing how quickly those conversations come up. And simple stuff even just the computer – having, you know, so many people in that that circle were saying, Wow, like I showed up and there was, like no computer there. Or like they found a computer under a back desk somewhere and like threw it on my table. You know it’s like some terrible thing. It’s amazing how that’s that’s incredible. How how do we go maybe beyond so I love the physical setup stuff I think that’s fantastic.

Ken — Right.

Rich — What are we doing to kind of drive maybe a little bit deeper into what they can expect to be as a part of the team as a part of, you know, what it means to be in the part of the the church?

Ken — Yeah, absolutely. So you know it’s it’s funny – this this conversation that you and I’ve had have helped what we call put put clothes on the baby that we birthed, and so we really have been able to kind of narrow down some things that we really want to give to people in that first week that we really want to impart to our staff. And so we we discovered four things that we really want to impart and since I’m a preacher by nature I did four C’s, you know, because that’s how we work…

Rich — Yes.

Ken — …It wasn’t three so I didn’t get the whole preacher thing in there. So we really want people to walk away from that first week with a sense of culture…

Rich — Okay.

Ken — …A sense of what am I walking into – what’s okay, what’s taboo. We want them to walk away with a sense of care that they’re about more than what they do. We want them to walk away with a sense of competency of an understanding of how they can be successful, and a sense of course – which way do they go. So ideally after that first week they’re going to feel like they can run now. We’re not going to solve everything that first week but those four big areas are the things that we’re trying to solve and we did things intentionally, unknowing beforehand because you know we were just creating the baby but really intentionally to kind of resolve these four issues.

Rich — Yes, love it. So let’s… I love… so first of all preacher at heart. Love that. Let’s walk through those. Let’s talk about maybe each one of those, culture first.

Ken — Yeah, yeah.

Rich — Um, man this is such an important piece of the puzzle. I love that you’re saying like hey, what’s okay, what’s taboo. That’s an interesting way to think about it. What are you doing to ensure that people are kind of onboarding with the culture?

Ken — Yeah, no, it’s a great question. First of all, we think that culture is way more important than competency. In fact, if you look at great organizations, like Chick-Fil-A, and we’re associated with a great supermarket down here in Florida called Publix – they do a great job of the type of stuff.

Rich — Mmm-hmm.

Ken — Those kind of organizations say that culture trumps competency just every day of the week.

Rich — So true.

Ken — And so we want to make sure that we communicate that well. And so we give our pastor two hours to to take that staff member to lunch and to walk them through the history and the story of our church to walk them through the future vision. One of the really cool things that he does—and I don’t want to spoil us for any future employees but—

Rich — Ah, yes.

Ken — …One of the one of the cool things that he does is he takes them out to a local highway right by and really begins to talk about the percentage of people driving by that are not saved that don’t know Jesus.

Rich — Wow.

Ken — And that’s the mission of the church just to really kind of get their eyes in the right place. And then we take thirty minutes at a time and we set them down in front of the staff that they’re going to work with and allow them to hear the stories of those staff members, which is really cool. In fact, the the staff that we’ve onboarded have said that that is the most impactful thing that we do this week is to sit them down in front of those people.

Rich — Wow.

Ken — One of our staff members said it like this, He said it humanizes the staff and creates open doors for deep conversations later. Another staff and I’m giving you quotes because I did my research another staff said, “the intentional getting to know each other faster rather than hoping it occurs over time.” And and so it’s it’s this intentionality of saying hey listen, we’re going to plug you into relationships because those relationships will communicate culture. And as part of those thirty minute stories what we tell our staff is, tell them why you love working at Arise. Because oftentimes the “why” somebody loves working at Arise surrounds the culture, and it surrounds the mission success. That’s why people love working at it. So when we allow our staff to communicate that it just it just, man, it increases the the impact of our culture.

Rich — Wow.

Ken — And then we do simple things like reviewing core values and proverbs and things like that. And then we do a couple of really cool things. We do… and and this is gonna sound a little funny… but, we do a truth or dare lunch with our staff.

Rich — Okay, truth or dare lunch?! Things get spicy right off the top!

Ken — They do. They do. We do that the last day of that week, but um, we really do that to to allow some authenticity there. And to really open up the door. What we’ve done at the beginning of the week is our staff has been authentic with this with this new staff person. And then at the end of the week it’s really their opportunity to be authentic back. And, man, when when they walk out of that moment, they walk out of that moment not feeling like they’re an outsider, but now all of a sudden they’re an insider.

Rich — Okay, yeah.

Ken — Because now they’re inside jokes that we all have together. And and so it’s not just about while I’m trying to find my way to fit into this team. Now I fit because I have inside jokes with them. And and then the last thing in this culture component that we do is we have a document that’s called our last day at Arise document.

Rich — Hmm.

Ken — We asked them to fill that out and then their last day of that week they check in with their direct-up and they go through that document. And what that document does is it really helps them to intentionally think about how they will be known at Arise. What they’re going to be known for; who they’re going to be.

Rich — Oh Wow. Huh.

Ken — Ah, because when we when we start at the end and we build a culture, looking at the end, we can be intentional about that. So if I say I want to be somebody who’s kind, who that when the staff… when I leave the staff say I was always listening to them, that empowers me to now be a listener…

Rich — Oh gosh, this is so good.

Ken — …And so we want to be really intentional about allowing those folks to really kind of create their own path in our organization and really build those strengths.

Rich — Oh, I love this. Now you gave me a sneak peek at this document – would you… would it be okay with you if we and included this in the show notes for people?

Ken — Absolutely.

Rich — I think this ah, you know to be honest friends, this is one of those things you should just rip this thing off. It’s a Word doc and put your church name into it ah, if that’s okay, Ken.

Ken — Yep! Absolutely.

Rich — And ah this would be a great thing for even to kick off the new year as a staff team and say let’s actually think about this and then and then let’s build it into our onboarding. I I just love that. That’s so good. I can imagine that those docs – that’s a powerful moment for people as they think that through.

Ken — It is, and and if I can just encourage your listeners, don’t leave it there; don’t just let people fill it out, but talk about it. Because with the talking about it comes accountability.

Rich — Yes.

Ken — Because then that can bring back conversations of, hey man this I know this is how you said you want to be perceived and this is who you want to be to people – let me help you with that. Let me help you become that person. But it becomes really kind of this powerful moment and I know for me it becomes a powerful reminder of who I’m trying to be when now people have come back to me and they’ve said that I am those things…

Rich — Oh that’s so good.

Ken — …That that you know we’ve had some staff leave and they said, you know, I love Pastor Ken because this is who he is. And when I look back at that document it matches and man that just, that just lights my world because that means that the person that God put on my heart to become, that I’m becoming – shows me a big win. So.

Rich — I love that. The, um friends, that again and what a great resource. That’s that’s so fantastic. You want to get that in our show notes for sure. So you said culture – the second you said was care, talk talk to us about that. What, how are you showing care for your team as they arrive?

Ken — Yeah. Absolutely, the the first thing that we want to do is we want to make sure there are gifts there.

Rich — Okay.

Ken — We want to we want to be known as a generous staff, and we want them to understand that there’s a generosity that comes with working here – that we’re going to be generous to each other. So we we buy them a book to read, but it’s not a book we want them to read…

Rich — Hmm.

Ken — We once again do our research and find out who their author is their favorite author and we buy them a book that they would care about. We buy them their favorite cereal. Why? Because cereal – it sounds weird but there’s little mind intentionality – cereal’s what we eat to the beginning end of the day…

Rich — Okay.

Ken — …and so we buy them cereal because it’s the beginning of their journey with us and so…

Rich — Oh cool. Love it.

Ken — …Just kind of one of those things. Then we buy them a coffee gift card or a favorite restaurant gift card -something that’s going to light their fire because what we also want them to know is, you’re about more than what you just do here in the office. We want you to have moments of care outside of the office, moments where you can just take care of your family, where you can go and you can be apart from us. It’s not just about what you do here.

Rich — Ah.

Ken — We also we we schedule with this clear understanding, for us Fridays and Saturdays are a day off and so their first week we have a literal schedule of every thirty minutes or fifteen minutes that they spend with us for their first week that I create for every staff member that we on board…

Rich — Wow. Right. Wow.

Ken — …And on Friday and Saturday we clearly put: OFF – do not come into the office.

Rich — We do not want to hear from you.

Ken — Yeah, and and that’s really the goal because we want to create this habit of Sabbath for them.

Rich — Yeah, that’s good. Yeah, that’s good.

Ken — We want them to understand that they’re more, they’re about more than what they do for us. They’re a person and we want them to feel cared for. Every day we have lunch with them. One of the most awkward things I found, Rich, is when I’m going to a new place, what do I do for lunch, you know?

Rich — Um yes.

Ken — Do I bring my lunch? Am I am I supposed to have lunch? So I let them know up front, hey don’t bring your lunch all week we have lunch plans for you. Lunch is on the church. It’s on us and we’re going to strategically send them with different people so that they can build those relationships. Um, so it may be their direct reports. It may be their direct-ups. The first day I said it was the pastor and so we we send them with different folks each day and it really kind of builds culture around these lunch breaks these times off. Um, one of the cool things that one of my staff told me is he said: it helped me to understand the culture of lunch because nobody was looking at their watch trying to rush back. And we don’t have that kind of culture – for us we’re not demanding people be back at 1 and so it helped him to understand what was expected of him in that in that lunch hour…

Rich — Love it.

Ken — …and which was really cool and so some of that’s just caught. And then I do at least two check-in appointments – fifteen to thirty minutes – usually one is at the end of the first day and then usually one at the end of the week where I ask, Okay how you doing? You’re drinking from a fire hose. Are you okay? What do you have questions about?

Rich — Yes.

Ken — And just ah, just to check in with them.

Rich — I love it, Ken. I love being challenged by leaders like you. I thought we were doing a good job with our first day staff having the first day organized moment by moment. I love that that first week. And you know we’ve received – for friends that are listening, and I think that’s crazy, but I can tell you – we got I’ve got so much positive feedback from people say, listen I just love the fact that you’ve gone out of the way to ensure that might… because people don’t know what to do. They show up and…

Ken — Yep.

Rich — …they’re they’re excited. It’s overwhelming because you’ve been given them out a whole area – it’s like go solve the problems, and it it feels like you know, take on the world, change the world, because that’s what they’ve, you know, they’ve bought into the vision of the church…

Ken — Yeah.

Rich — …but they don’t know where to start and and the fact that you block that out for an entire week is is so good. So good.

Ken — Well and here’s one of the other things that does, and leading into this idea of competency, Rich, is we don’t let them solve problems that first week. I don’t want them solving any problems that first week.

Rich — Okay, tell me about that. Yeah, so let’s talk about that.

Ken — …because I want them to learn how to solve problems in our context.

Rich — Hmm. Good.

Ken — You know too often if they’re going to come in and try to solve problems in the way that they’ve always solved them. They’re going to run into cultural cultural issues and cultural conflicts and so I want them to to be prepared I want them to soak it all in. So we don’t necessarily give them any problems to solve that first week. In fact their first Sunday with us, we tell them come and observe. Come and shadow. We we tell you’re not gonna open the building. You’re not going to run a meeting. You’re gonna come and watch. We really follow this training – this John Maxwell of idea idea of: I do and you watch. Then we do together. Then you do and I watch. And then you can do. we want to ah, intentionally expose people to teamwork which is going to accelerate their culture.

Rich — So good.

Ken — So that’s one of the competency things that we do. And really what we found is while it may seem that it slows their competency process or their ability to input into the organization, that’s actually not true.

Rich — Hmm.

Ken — What it does is it accelerates their ability to input into the organization…

Rich — Right.

Ken — …because they’re almost like that horse in the gate that is just chomping at the bit ready to go…

Rich — Sure.

Ken — …and you’re keeping them in the gate and telling them hey listen this is all how all the horses run and so man when we let them go. They’re ready to go, but they’re also ready to go in the right direction…

Rich — Yeah, I can see that.

Ken — …and and they’re running really fast and so we found that it’s actually better to do it this way than just to try to release somebody because oftentimes when you just release somebody. They don’t even know which direction to go.

Rich — That’s so true. Yeah.

Ken — And I’ve been there before. You know you walk in and you’re like okay you want me to solve this problem but I don’t even know what caused the problem I don’t know anything. So it’s it’s just one of those things that we really want to be intentional about.

Rich — I Love it.

Ken — And then we also give them a ah, really clear job description…

Rich — Okay, yep.

Ken — …and and within that, and I’ve given you an example of this as well – actually my job description. Um, but we want to clearly define wins because we want them to be able to celebrate when they’re successful and and that way they know when they’re accomplishing what we’ve asked them to do and we tell them up front that that job description is always maneuverable. We’re going to add and subtract to it in our annual reviews and things like that. But…

Rich — Love it.

Ken — …Um, we want them to understand clearly how they can be successful at our organization.

Rich — Okay, so I want to ask you a bit of a meta question. So it’s like ah so you know you started with culture, then care, then competency, then course. I think a lot of us would have those in reverse order – we would start with, like and, I’ve I’ve done this, I’ve done this…

Ken — Yeah.

Rich — …like I’m I’m confessed. You’re my pastor, I’m confessing to you. It’s like here are the 48 buckets that are on fire. Can you just solve this now? Um, but you’ve taken ah an approach like, no no slow down, and let’s learn who we are first. Is that on purpose, is that…

Ken — It is.

Rich — Is that is and and because you’ve backend loaded the the kind of what I’ll call the job responsibilities piece. Talk to me a little bit about that.

Ken — The temptation that we have as pastors, because oftentimes when we have this gap that we want to hire for the temptation that we have is to plug that person in right away, and to get them to do it because we’re stressed and we’re overloaded. And what happens there when we become all business about bringing someone in, the person gets lost. And we have to go back to this core of we are in the people business. Not not even the ministry business; we’re in the people business. And so each person that we bring in is a person with a gift and a calling and a future that we are being ah handed by God as stewards to steward that forward.

Ken — And so we’re taking this really intentional, intentional time out to really kind of create these moments for people to to be people and define their future. You know it kind of goes back to this last day at Arise. I mean what, what organization really asks somebody… and the last question on there is: what are you leaving a rise to do?

Rich — Yes.

Ken — You know what organization asks somebody on their first day, hey what are you going to leave us to do? But but we realize that folks will leave us, and that’s okay, but the goal is that they not leave the kingdom.

Rich — Yes, So good. Yes, well, that’s totally fine. Yes.

Ken — We want them to keep going in the kingdom and man we want them to exceed us. We want them to do better than us. We want them to plant churches that grow bigger than us because we’re about the kingdom and so that means we’ve got to be about the people first and that starts with our staff. And here’s one of the things that the last thing I’ll say to this. Oftentimes when we forget our staff and we pursue the business in place of our staff, it is symbolic of what we’re going to be doing and what we are doing with our people – that we’re pursuing numbers and we’re pursuing digits as opposed to people.

Rich — Um, yeah, it’s so true. So true.

Ken — And and really, we’ve got to check our hearts and get back to the foundation of this. It says, I’m going to care about people and because I care about people, God will bless me with those numbers because God blesses us when we take care of the little things. And really those things right now are not things, they’re people and we’ve got to take care of them.

Rich — Yeah. Yeah, that’s so true. No, that’s so true. That is so true. Love it. Love it. Love it. Now the last, ah competency and course help us understand those two. What? what’s the nuance between between those two help me understand the difference there.

Ken — So sure. Competency is just kind of you know this this: how I do my job, my role. For for course, it’s this idea of: which which way do I go. One of my staff members that I talked to about this, he said, it’s like ah the church and and the staff, the pastors, putting our hands on the shoulders of a new employee and kind of telling them: This is the way. You know, to quote the mouse guy. You know this is the way.

Rich — Yes.

Ken — Um, and so the employee doesn’t really have to invent their own path. Rather the path is laid out for them. And so I create this binder that they receive on their first day. It’s got a welcome letter. It’s got that calendar of their first week. we give them important contact information. How many staff, how many jobs have you gone to where you don’t even know how to reach out to the other pastors, or you’re you’re running through your phone: hey what’s your phone number, you know?

Rich — Oh it’s so true. Yes, yes yeah.

Ken — That’s the last thing that we want to have to have happen. You know we we want to give them that information we want to pre-think about what they need. We give them core values and leadership proverbs. We give them their budget. How much money can I spend? You know, that’s the question. Employee handbook, that last day at Arise worksheet. And and one of the things that, you know, we’re we’re still growing, man. We haven’t perfected this process and we’re going to get better. In in my meetings with people getting ready for this, that’s one of the things that I asked, how can we do this better? And one of the one of the guys told me, he said, man provide some kind of FAQ…

Rich — That’s good.

Ken — …some kind of fact sheet, you know. He said there’s there’s little things that I just didn’t know. I didn’t know that we had free Cokes in the fridge. I didn’t know where the snacks were…

Rich — Who are those Cokes? Whose Cokes are those? You don’t want to take the senior Pastor’s Cokes! You know you don’t want to do that!

Ken — Yeah, right, right! I didn’t know where the bathrooms were, you know. And it’s just simple things like that. And so that’s even going to be one of those things that as we’re getting ready to onboard new staff, we’re going to be adding into there just some simple FAQs.

Rich — Um, love it. Love it.

Ken — Um, just to answer some simple questions that people would have. And then we make sure that those folks get to meet with our direct-ups.

Rich — Yeah, it’s so good. This is so good. Can you give us a sense of this is kind of related but ah, a sense ah of what your staff rhythms are? Once people start so are you doing like monthly one-on-ones. What is your kind of all staff meeting process look like? What do you do, annual goals, that kind of stuff? How does all that plug into this kind of onboarding process? What’s that look like?

Ken — Yeah. So weekly we have what we call an executive team meeting which is all of our location pastors and myself and our other executive. So weekly will have that and then we’ll break out from there into staff meetings with each location. And so weekly we have a staff meeting with each location and then no less than biweekly will have individual one-on-ones with our staff. And so you know we try to meet regularly and and I’m going to tell you you know this is a whole nother showing to itself, but man that that care piece does not stop at the onboarding because I’ll have an hour or one-on-one meeting and the first thirty minutes is about them. It’s not about me and it’s ah not about what I need from you. It’s about you. It’s about your wife. It’s about your kids. It’s about how you’re adjusting. It’s about whether or not you need to buy a house. It’s it’s about you and so that’s that’s kind of the rhythm that we have. And then annual reviews. Yeah.

Rich — Love it. Love it. Yeah and then annual reviews – that’s great. The I love that that’s a that’s a great insight. One of the things I’ve said in my one-on-ones is yeah that isn’t the place for me to assign work to you if if we’ll do that. And usually we do that in a team environment…

Ken — Right.

Rich — …or there’s other other areas where hey we’re talking about that. This is really a place where I’m here to be a coach to you. I’m here to help you what you know. What what are the areas that you feel stuck or blocked that we can help you get unstuck? It’s It’s not about me. If if you walk out of this meeting with a pile of to-dos, I’m not doing my job.

Ken — Right.

Rich — So yeah, that’s that’s fantastic. This is so great. Now you’ve provided a number of documents. Let’s kind of talk through those a little bit. So you’ve got ah a day 1 schedule example. Anything you want to kind of talk through that and give it a sense of what that look what that document’s about?

Ken — So literally like I said we schedule out every fifteen minutes, and and that doesn’t mean that there’s something in every block but you know they’re they’re blocked with spaces in between. And then and then we also make sure to schedule in breaks. We tell people up front that they’re going to be drinking through a firehose, but you know we want to schedule in breaks for them as well. But our staff have told us that literally that coming in on on a first day not knowing what to do and then having a book handed to you that tells you everything that you’re going to do for the first week is so relieving for them. And we give them moments where they can set up their office and do those normal first week things, but it’s so relieving not to have to try to figure out what you’re supposed to do that first week. And so it’s it’s a lot of work on my on my end up front and really kind of coordinating all that but man it’s worth it because they have ah a real good sense of what they’re doing.

Rich — No, yeah, that’s so good – I love that. And you know when you think about on the work side man, the church is investing a lot of lot of money, frankly in hiring these new staff, and and we all know that like that’s a, you know it’s a huge investment we want to make sure that we leverage it well.

Ken — Yeah.

Rich — You’ve provided a table of contents of ah of ah a binder that you give to them. Can you talk this through the binder a little bit? What is that tool? Um, you know how does it all fit into this as well.

Ken — Yeah, yeah, yeah, we talked about that in the little course section and it’s it’s that binder that really kind of guides them the first week. And so it you know I wanted to give that to you for your listeners so that they can have some ideas of of things that they can put in there. You know you guys are gonna have to create your own stuff. You know I can’t give you your employees cell phone numbers or anything like that. But those those are the things that we try to provide for them and man…

Rich — Yes, yes, yeah, love it.

Ken — …We’re always looking to grow that thing and so if anybody has any creative ideas of things that we can put in there, we’d love to hear it because we’re always trying to make sure that we provide better for our staff.

Rich — Love it. This is so good I really appreciate your help here. This is really I think a gold standard on you know, onboarding new staff. So you’ve just done us a huge favor by providing some great coaching here. Is there anything else, you’d like to share with us just as we wrap up today’s episode?

Ken — There is. We’ve done something twice that we just kind of stumbled on where where we actually paid for our last two full-time staff members to come on, to have a week off. So so we brought them on payroll…

Rich — Oh in between their their last job and yeah, yeah, yes.

Ken — …And we started their payroll in between their last job and this job and what we found is that that really gives our employees just this really moment to to have a fresh start, to turn their head. And yes it costs, but we’re we’re looking at. You know our staff are our most valuable resource, not our building, our staff. And we want longevity. Man, I’ve heard horror stories of churches who don’t allow a staff to take a vacation for a year when they get on and things like that and staff leaving one church on Sunday and starting their next church on Monday or on Wednesday and man this is so unhealthy. It’s not healthy. They can’t they can’t shift their mind or turn their mind to to what you’re asking them to do. They’re still recovering and reeling from the the trauma of leaving a place, and the grief sometimes of being pulled away from a place and missing people, different things like that. And we’ve got we’ve got to steward people better than that. We need to give them some time. And yeah I think this is something that we’re gonna continue going forward because both those staff members have really said that that that gives them that opportunity to reset, and it’s just one of the healthiest things that they were able to do, so yeah.

Rich — Yeah, that’s so great. Ken, this has been so helpful. I am just so honored that you took some time out, to not only pull this together, but then help us think through these issues. I want to make sure people track with Arise and and plug in with the church and and follow along with you guys.

Ken — It’s my pleasure. Yeah.

Rich — Ah, where do we want to send them online to connect with either you or the church?

Ken — So I am not big on social media. Our church is, so that you can find us at myarisechurch at Brandon online. You can also email me [email protected]. Pretty easy to find the website’s myarisechurch.com. I’d love to hear from any of them and love to hear more ideas on what we can do better.

Rich — Love it. Thanks so much, Ken. Appreciate you being here today.

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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.