Building High Trust Teams in Your Church with Rob Deveney

Welcome to this week’s unSeminary podcast. Today we are talking to Rob Deveney, executive pastor at Twin Rivers Church.

Twin Rivers Church is located in St. Louis, Missouri. It started as a small denominational church, but has grown over the last 90 years into three locations around St. Louis.

Rob is with us today to talk about what it takes to maintain high levels of trust among the staff as the church has grown.

  • Be responsible to each other. // A lot of responsibility comes with a large church and staff. The responsibility is not just to the congregation and ministry, but also for the staff to each other. When someone starts working for a church, that organization isn’t just their employer, but also their church family and pastoral support. Leaning too much in one of these directions or the other can cause either job performance or relationships to suffer.
  • Build trust. // The executive team has a strong responsibility to protect the church’s culture. At Twin Rivers, it’s very important to them to be a high-trust organization. This looks like staff trusting a supervisor to be honest, believing they aren’t trying to manipulate or just trying to get as much work out of an employee as possible, but also trying to pastor and develop church staff to be the best leaders they can be. Rob wants his staff to fulfill the callings that God has put on their lives as much as he wants to fulfill the calling he has on his own life.
  • Lead yourself first. // As a member of the executive team, Rob surrounds himself with people who lift him up and ground him in his weaknesses and strengths so he can do that in turn for his team. He is fairly opposite in personality with the lead pastor and so he can often bring a different perspective to the table. At the same time, the lead pastor makes it safe for Rob to bring his heart to the table and provides valuable insight into Rob’s blindspots.
  • Work to understand one another. // Another important piece to navigate is how to approach different people on staff. At Twin Rivers they use personality profiles, spiritual gift tests and other resources to understand each other better. Rob approaches people differently based on how they hear things, how they process information, as well as what motivates and drives them. The lead pastor does this with the executive team as well. When an issue does arise with a team member, talk to them privately about it. On the flip side, publicly celebrate a team member’s wins.
  • Listen to any problems faced. // When you face a crisis as a church, you learn what kind of environment you actually have. Is it an environment of trust? Do people feel safe being honest? During the pandemic, Rob’s highest stress was not about what the world was going through, but rather seeking to understand the things his staff was going through. In a crisis, begin encouraging honesty and talking with your staff early. Determine their needs and what problems they may encounter. Determine any changes that may need to be made. Really listen and ask the tough questions to understand what your staff is facing. Finally, focus on what your church’s purpose is if you feel things are getting sidelined.

You can learn more about Twin Rivers Church at

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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.