Doing the Right Things for the Right Reasons with the Right People at Your Church with Scot Longyear & Heath Bottomly

Thanks for tuning in to the unSeminary podcast. We’re with returning guests Scot Longyear and Heath Bottomly today. Heath is the Lead Pastor of the Creative Teams at Pure Heart Church in Arizona and Scot is the Senior Pastor of Maryland Community Church in Indiana.

Scot and Heath talk with us about their book Fight For The Future: Creating The Right Blueprint For Building God-Sized Dreams.

  • From dreaming to doing. // Individuals, ministries and churches often talk about things that they should do, things that are a good vision or a good dream, but we don’t take action. In Fight For The Future, Scot and Heath talk about moving from the dreaming stage to the doing stage. This process consists of three key elements: the right things, the right reasons, and the right people.
  • Right things. // One of the hardest things churches wrestle with is believing that the right things are simply good things. Because we all want to do good things, churches can have an avalanche of good things thrown in our laps. Before we know it, we’re giving a small amount of energy to a large number of good things and aren’t accomplishing significant milestones in any of them. Fight For The Future asks what is that thing you are called to; what is that dream in your mind and heart, and how can you intentionally pursue it?
  • Discovering the right things. // To find what your church is called to do, ask what are your church’s passions? Where has the Lord placed you in your city or in certain relationships that you have? What are your resources, and what is the Lord stirring up in your heart?
  • Right reasons. // We are all creative beings and we’re all building something. The question is why we are building what we’re building. Is what you’re building largely about yourself and your empire or legacy, or is it about God’s kingdom?
  • Right people. // We all struggle with finding the right people in ministry. At Maryland Community Church, the team filters potential hires through a long process to see if they are the right culture fit. During this process Scot asks the potential hire just two questions: What am I going to learn about you in six months that will surprise or embarrass me? If I have to stand in front of our congregation and read a resignation letter from you because of a moral failure, what would that moral failure be?
  • Missional unity. // In some cases we need to hire people who are really specialized at what they do. But if someone is super-talented and not aligned with the mission of your church, they are not the right person. The mission needs to be more important than the talent, and the work can’t be about perfection, but rather excellence – knowing you did your best.
  • Hand off leadership to the next generation. // If we’re not in the process of working to figure out how to hand off leadership and responsibilities to the next generation, it goes back to the mindset that we’re building an empire around ourselves. A kingdom-focused mindset goes out and multiplies.

You can learn more about the book at www.scotlongyear.com and pick it up online.

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Episode Transcript

Rich Birch — Well hey everybody welcome to the unSeminary podcast. So glad that you have decided to tune in. It is a great day today. We have got, in fact I think this is the first time on in the history, you know, 600 episodes in that this has happened. We have previous guests who have both done solo episodes that now are coming on a combined episode. Super exciting. What does that mean? That means you’re in for a real treat today. We’ve got Scot Longyear and Heath Bottomly with us. Heath is the Lead Pastor of Creative Teams at Pure Heart Church which has two campuses in Arizona if I can count correct. Ah, he’s also the ah the co-owner of Media Maven Publications and he’s a creative strategist beyond incredible experience called the Experience Conference. Scot Longyear is the senior pastor of Maryland Community Church which is one of the fastest growing churches in the country, not in Maryland though, in Indiana just to throw curve balls because he’s so creative. Um, and he is also the Pastor of Experience Conference and is is a co-host of the really popular and incredible Worship Leader Problems or Probs podcast because they’re so cool. Ah Scot ah, Heath, so glad you’re here. Welcome to the podcast. So so thanks for being on the show today.

Heath Bottomly — Thanks for having us.

Scot Longyear — Hey, thanks for having us. Yeah, yeah.

Rich Birch — Now this is going to be good. I’m excited about this. I saw recently that you guys released a book and today, again, we’re breaking with tradition. Normally, friends, I like to talk with our guests, and then if they got a book, talk about it at the end. But actually I want you to check this book out so much I want to get it right up front. So the name of this book is Fight for the Future: Creating the Right Blueprint for Building God-sized Dreams. Um Scot, why don’t you tell us why did you guys collaborate on this book? Why this book? Why take the time, effort, and energy to put this thing together?

Scot Longyear — Well I think, Rich, we’ve we’ve just found you know there are a lot of people that talk about like, man, we should… and we should do this, and man, if our church did this and did this. And and’ll I’ll couch it in a story. Um, ah just ah, probably one of the one of the biggest lessons I learned when I had lunch with John Maxwell, which sounds really awesome, doesn’t it? To say like ah um…

Rich Birch — It’s a nice name drop. That’s a great name drop right there. Just right you should have rolled right past it. That would have been great. Well, you know me and John, so I sometimes call him Johnny ah, love it.

Heath Bottomly — Yeah, yeah.

Scot Longyear — Right, it’ll seem less impressive when I tell you how we did it. So…

Rich Birch — Yes.

Scot Longyear — Years ago we’re at a we’re at a conference. There’s about 2000 people that are there. I’m attending a conference with some of our staff. And John Maxwell is teaching on stage, doing his thing. And in one of the sessions he says, Hey I was teaching you know last year and there you there were three guys in the front row while I was teaching, they just flipped up this sign that said: Lunch – we will buy. And so John just tells the story. And so I look at some of the guys that are with me, and we’re younger and we’ve probably got more ambition than brains. And we’re just like, Whoa.

Rich Birch — Let’s do it.

Scot Longyear — So we break we break from that session. We go back and we’re we’re finding the church staff. We like we need some cardboard and a Sharpie. So we we get a cardboard in this Sharpie. They start the second session. Again, this is there’s about 2000 people. It’s this this new, but very traditional church so they have this giant choir loft. So John starts teaching from stage and as he’s teaching we go up behind him in the choir loft the three of us walk up sit down and then we just flip this sign up that we made says this says: Lunch – we will buy.

Rich Birch — Love it. Love it.

Scot Longyear — So John’s teaching and some people just start they start laughing. And so he stops; he doesn’t know what what to do. And then he turns around. And and I don’t know ah, Rich, if you’ve ever had one of those occasions in your life where time kind of stops. And then you think…

Heath Bottomly — You’re questioning everything.

Scot Longyear — So it was kind of this slow mo thing he turns around and and he looks at the three of us. And I had two thoughts going through my head. I thought this was a terrible idea.

Rich Birch — Love it.

Scot Longyear — And I think I think we’re going to get kicked out of a John Maxwell seminar, right?

Rich Birch — Yes, yes, yes.

Scot Longyear — So he looks at us and he’s quiet for like 2 seconds, which seems like three days. And then he starts laughing. And he says, hey Charlie—which is an assistant or something—he says, make room for three more guys for lunch.

Rich Birch — Love it. Love it.

Scot Longyear — And I’m like so takes us in a back room. We have lunch with John Maxwell, and like a few other guys. And we’re like that we’re just we’re just the peasants that came like to the king’s table, right?

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

Scot Longyear — But I didn’t care. We’re in the room do the thing. But the most surprising thing to me, Rich, was after that we’re walking the hallways a little bit as the hero, to be honest with you.

Rich Birch — Yes, yes.

Scot Longyear — And people were like, whoa man, how was lunch with John Maxwell? And I’m like well how was your lunch you know? Like um, but what surprised me is that is that several people in different conversations said this: man, me and my me, my guys, we talked about doing that.

Rich Birch — Oh that’s so good.

Scot Longyear — Man, when we heard John when we heard John say that, we thought about that. And the only the only reason I had lunch with John Maxwell that day is because I acted on the dream, right?

Rich Birch — Right. Bias for action. Love it.

Scot Longyear — And so many times we’re just like here’s a good dream, here’s a good vision, but we get locked up in that, and we don’t do anything. And so we took a real hard look at the book of Nehemiah, put our heads together, and said how is it the Lord teaches in in the book of Nehemiah, which are principles for today. How do we move from just this dreaming stage to this actual doing stage?

Rich Birch — Oh love it. Yeah, and I love this book I think this could be a real gift. Here we are, you know, at the beginning of the year where all this is the natural time of year where we’re all thinking like, hmm I wonder what’s this year going to be. This would be a great thing I think to process with your team together friends. Now um, Heath, I wonder if you could… So this that you’ve broken it up. I love this book because you’ve broken it up into just three really big ideas. Stuff I can get my head around. I’m a simple guy. Right things, right reasons, right people. Talk me through right things. Maybe I’m the guy maybe I’m the person who’s like the bias for action dude. I’m willing to do anything. How do I know if I’m heading in the right direction? I’m doing the right things. Help me unpack that.

Heath Bottomly — Well I mean I think we even jump into a few different myths in the book um, confronting them and and a lot because a lot of times we think the right things are simply good things. And and that’s probably one of the hardest things that churches wrestle with because we all want to do good things. Ah, and so because of that though we end up getting this this avalanche of good things thrown in our laps, and if we don’t come up with them someone else in the community is coming up with and you know what you should do. You know, and and before you know it um, you are giving 2% of energy to each individual thing.

Rich Birch — So true.

Heath Bottomly — And not really accomplishing… I mean I don’t want to say you’re not accomplishing anything but you’re not accomplishing significant milestones in any of these areas, because you’re not actually giving them the energy that they’re due.

Heath Bottomly — And so ah the right things in the context of this book is going, what is the thing that you know that you can do, and that you’re called to? What is that what is that idea that dream in your mind and your heart and focus in on that and then intentionally take the steps in order to pour the the most amount of energy towards accomplishing those things.

Heath Bottomly — Ah and because otherwise the the thing that will derail the the biggest dreams of God for your life are good things. Because they aren’t bad things, because it’s easy to say no to bad; you can just go, no we ain’t doing that. Good things, man, it’s it’s hard to talk yourself out of doing some of these good things.

Rich Birch — Absolutely.

Heath Bottomly — And that’s probably the biggest derailment that I see happening, in in my life and in churches that I work with.

Rich Birch — Scott, unpack that a little bit more I can see that that issue really clearly like so many churches. It’s not that they’re lacking of doing things; they’re doing a lot of different things. The question is how do we pick the right things. What is…

Scot Longyear — Right.

Rich Birch — What does that look like how what how should we be straining that out. Maybe we’re we’re looking around in all the different things that are happening in our church and we’re trying to figure out what are the right things for us to do – not not give we don’t want to give 2%; we want to provide more energy, narrow the focus, all that. What’s that look like?

Scot Longyear — Yeah, well for sure you know you got to lean into the Father and like what are you calling us to and that, and he speaks in a ton of different ways. He’s going to speak to us through our quiet time and and that. But I think you’ve also got to you know, not really read the tea leaves; we got to read the days, right? Like you’ve got to look at what are your passions, you know? Because he’s not going to… I guarantee he’s not going to call me into be in a CPA somewhere, like that’s not that’s not the right thing for me…

Rich Birch — Right.

Scot Longyear — Nor for any organization, right? So what is it your passion or the or a lot of the passions in your church are doing? And what are some of the resources, and we talk about resources. I think one thing that we don’t talk about is the resource of proximity. You know where has the Lord placed you in proximity – whether that’s certain location in your city, whether it’s ah certain relationships that you have. When you when you look at the book of Nehemiah, he was like I was cupbearer to the King, right? And so like like there’s a proximity that’s in the middle of that.

Scot Longyear — And then it’s the whole Blackaby thing of find out where the Lord is moving and get there.

Rich Birch — Right, right.

Scot Longyear — You know some of the best things that we’ve done in our church have been because the Lord has started to stir some stuff up, and I’m and I’m like I sense the Lord’s moving here. Maybe we should put some resources here. And ah, you know it’d be easy to go like hey man that’s [inaudible] great leadership and the Lord’s like um, or maybe you’re just doing what I’m already doing…

Rich Birch — Yes, yeah.

Scot Longyear — …and moving that way and you start seeing the traction on that. You know what but one thing that we um ah, we kind of explored in the book—which was real helpful to me that Heath came and brought with—was he talked just a little bit about this whole idea of empires versus kingdoms. And that’s really this that was really eye opening to me.

Heath Bottomly — Yeah, and it really ties it really ties into this whole element of focus is on creatives no matter or in leaders whoever they are. Everyone has a natural bent toward building. We’re all taking items and creating something because we’re all creative beings. I work with my with creative teams and everything I tell them the fifth word in the bible tells us the first characteristic we know about God. in the beginning god created…

Rich Birch — Created, yep.

Heath Bottomly — …and and we are given that same tendency, and and and talent um embedded and it looks different for everyone. But we’re all creative beings. We’re all building. It’s a matter of what it is that we are building.

Heath Bottomly — Now ah we can we can build things that are personal ministry elements and everything um or we can build personal ah companies and things like that. At the end of the day their intention, your mindset towards those things will determine whether or not that’s an empire or is it are you building the kingdom. I know great guys who build incredible companies but they’re kingdom-focused; they go this is for the intention of doing ministry and for taking… A good friend of mine Kevin Rowe he owns a body shop. But his whole thing is I own this body shop and I employ these employees because I am providing for these employees’ families and providing a space where they can hear about God.

Scot Longyear — Awesome.

Rich Birch — Love it. Yeah. Love it.

Heath Bottomly — And so that even though he’s building something he’s building a company, he’s doing it with a kingdom focus. Um but I think a lot of people, even I’ve caught myself doing this, we can lean in toward empirical thinking in ministry. And we start building and putting blocks upon blocks and creating things that are actually more about creating our establishment, and creating our programs, creating our our legacy—you hear legacy a lot as a buzzword around—more than their long lasting impact on the kingdom. So when you start focusing, again the right reasons is when you start taking a look at that, if you’re doing the right things you have to then take a look and go are I doing them for the right reasons.

Rich Birch — Right, right. What’s the drive behind it. Yeah.

Heath Bottomly — Is it kingdom focused or is it empire focused? And ah, and we even talk about a couple things of ways that we can kind of check ourselves and check our teammates too on going, hey if you have a tendency toward this if you react this way towards things, It’s a good litmus test to determining ah the the empire focus or the kingdom focus, even within ourselves.

Rich Birch — Yeah, I love it. Heath, sticking with that idea. Um, so let’s assume you know maybe I’m a pastor of a church of 1000, 1500 people; I look around and I’m like man I feel like we’re doing too much. And I’m you know we’re we’re spread thin. You know one of the things we see on the church growth side is larger church churches actually do less things. They do them with more energy than than smaller churches. Like I’m always surprised you know, talk to a church of 150 people and they have like 25 committees, and like all this stuff. I’m like I don’t know how do you do that like it’s crazy. But um, what is the difference… I know you’re a great strategy you’re a great strategic leader. What’s the difference between discernment and strategy? How do I how do those two kind of interact with each other? How do we how do we bring the Lord to bear in our decision making process while at the same time use the brain that he’s given us? How does that fit together in your brain and what’s that look like?

Heath Bottomly — Yeah, well I think there’s some other one of the biblical examples that I’m always drawn to in this because what you’re talking about I get asked a lot. They’re like ah you’re just thinking business strategy. Um, there are things where you have heard the voice of God an angel of the Lord appeared – you know you you see these stories in in scripture all the time of or the Lord spoke or spoke through something… that is you know and discerning which of these voices are true um, which of these are from God. Um, that’s ah, that’s a Holy Spirit connection then there’s also things that are just um decisions that you make based on what you know to be true about God.

Heath Bottomly — And so and it’s going I know this is right; I know these these elements are true because the principles are right. And a great example of that is is um Jonathan ah with his armor bearer. And ah once again, Israel’s fighting you know the Philistines, and so Jonathan and his armor bearer kind of go off to the side or whatever and they go and Jonathan makes this this profound move. He said you know what? Let’s call up to these Philistines that we see at this camp. If they ask us to come up, we’re going to take that as a sign that God’s giving us this army.

Heath Bottomly — Now this wasn’t based on, at least in scripture, it wasn’t based on anything where he had in his devotional time, you know, or a good friend had come to him and said, hey thus sayeth the Lord. This was a moment where he said based on what I’m feeling, and based on what I know about God, I’m going to take a risk. And I’m going to take – this is a gut feeling.

Heath Bottomly — And he went up and the consequences of that were not like if he’s wrong, it’s not like hey, you know, reset you know and better we’ll try again tomorrow. This was I I die. Um, but I love at the end of this little story, ah they end up winning and then it says that the earth shook.

Heath Bottomly — And what hit me so hard is that so many times we are looking for something we need the earth to shake around us. We we just think in our ministry and our lives or whatever and why isn’t something powerful happening? And a lot of times it’s because we’re actually not taking the steps to do the things based on that gut instinct, and also what we know about God to be true. And because here’s the thing with the earth of shook if Jonathan hadn’t taken that step, that wasn’t a thus sayeth the Lord’s step. He took the step and it resulted in the earth shaking.

Rich Birch — Love it.

Heath Bottomly — And so that that that’s how I see those two things working together.

Rich Birch — Yeah I love that That’s so good. Again I love the the framework right things, right reasons, right people. Um, Scott one of the things I appreciated about you I’m a very casual observer of you, ah your ministry. It seems like you’re one of these people who actually believes in team leadership. Like even in this conversation it’s like you guys wrote a book together. Like you know, um, my impression of you as a lead pastor is like you’re always like talking about other people around you and like you’re gathering team around you.

Rich Birch — You’re you know at the Experience Conference like even in the earlier this before our call today you did this. I was like, oh it looks like the Experience Conference went great. And you were like oh the team did such a good job. Like you’re constantly pushing and that so that’s a compliment to you. Right people is we all struggle with how do we find the right people. To attach to, to draw in, to find, to get plugged in – talk us through that. How does the book of Nehemiah… what is it how is that you know story from thousands of years ago relate to us today as we’re trying to build teams here?

Scot Longyear — Yeah, well he’s [inaudible] realize he’s got he has a vision that that he can’t accomplish himself, you know…

Rich Birch — Yep.

Scot Longyear — …which I think God often does, you know. And people like I can’t do this on my own. Are like well yeah, duh. Right? So you’re going to need to you go need some help.

Rich Birch — That’s the point.

Scot Longyear — Yeah. And and I think you know maturity you know realizes that like I don’t want to be the smartest guy in the room. Um, and so you want to you know you want to create a team of just like like go-getters. Let’s go. But having I mean it’s the whole Jim Collins thing, right? The right people on the bus. You know it’s the who, then the what, um and that’s been a hard leadership lesson. Ah, for me probably for a lot of leaders over time because you’re just like I think you’re a nice guy and we’ll get along. Let’s do this. Next thing you know you got to fire your best friend.

Rich Birch — Yes, yes.

Scot Longyear — You know you go through a couple releasing people into some other ministries. We’ll say it like that right help you to find another ministry…

Rich Birch — Yes, yes.

Scot Longyear — …outside of our ministry, like there you go.

Rich Birch — Finds you better place, position you better in the kingdom.

Scot Longyear — And that is and I’m an enneagram six so it’s like that’s death to me, right? So like that gives you motivation to like you have to have the right people. And so how that’s translated for us is you know on our team at at our local church, we have worked really hard at ah, sustaining attributes and we’ve got the same thing. We call them permission to play. So if you’re interviewing at our church here’s what it means that you have to have to play on our team. We’re looking for that culture fit, right? And we want to go slow in hiring because we’ll be slow because I don’t want to I don’t want to release people. I don’t want to go through that as I don’t want the sideways energy. I mean I need the right people on the team that’s motivating other people, and you’re taking your lane, and you’re even coming out of your lane to help other people, and like we’re going and we’re not fighting about it.

Scot Longyear — But um, here’s ah, here’s and I don’t know it works for everybody but but here’s in our context, we’ll run everybody through ah a, really long hiring process. There’s a battery of tests because again we’re looking for a culture fit. And you might be amazing, but you’re just not in nothing wrong with you. You know nothing immoral…

Rich Birch — Right.

Scot Longyear — …just not a cultural fit. So um I usually by this, unless it’s a really, really high level position, um, by the time the team um, have have done their due diligence and they’re like here’s the person that we want to hire, um, I’ll come in with the person if it’s midlevel or above, and I’ll do ah only a 30 minute interview with them and I’m asking them two questions. And these are my favorite questions and I say to them these may be…

Rich Birch — Love it. Oh lean in, friends, this gonna be good. This is gonna be good. Love it.

Scot Longyear — …these may be the hardest questions that you get all weekend. Um, but they’re going to tell me…

Heath Bottomly — Where’s my coffee? Oh sorry.

Rich Birch — Love it.

Scot Longyear — So the first question I ask ’em is this. What am I going to learn about you in six months that’s going to surprise or embarrass me?

Rich Birch — Oh that’s good.

Scot Longyear — And and I just shut up. And um, it has been super helpful and and I’ve gotten gotten comments all the way from, gosh man, I don’t really don’t know if there’s anything at all. You know, ah to when I was younger I attempted suicide. Um, there’s a bankruptcy in my past. Here’s something… Again, um ah and I’m asking very intentionally. I’m asking for culture fit. How honest can this person be; where are you going to fit on the team? I’m not looking for anything that’s going to disqualify them, right? I mean there may be something that comes up like, hey we need to talk about that…

Rich Birch — Yeah.

Scot Longyear — …that guys be like I’ve got pornography in my past. Okay I need to know that because I’m going to help put some fences around you. The second question is sometimes tied to that, sometimes it’s the same answer but sometimes it’s different. And I say to them this I just asked this question last week with the hire that we were doing. I said if if I’m going to have to stand in front of our congregation and read a resignation letter from you because of a moral failure, what is that moral failure going to be?

Rich Birch — Wow.

Scot Longyear — Again then I just this shut up and you know there’s a lot you know people like well I don’t think it’s going to be anything. I’m like okay, no need to talk, brother. Like come on.

Rich Birch — Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Scot Longyear — All of us has something. But again I I want to know when are you going to be a fit, and then two what is how can I help you in that. Because I don’t want us to get to that. And so that kind of helps me determine like is this a right fit, is it not the right person or not. And if not like will and we’ve had to make this hard decision. We’ve had to say no when there’s nobody on the bench.

Rich Birch — Right. Yeah, those are hard. Yeah.

Scot Longyear — Especially right now. It’s really hard to hire people um for a myriad of reasons and in the church world and so we’ve had to say we’re going to say we would rather hire the right person than than make a ah bad hire and and hope. So yeah, that’s kind of where we are.

Rich Birch — Interesting.

Heath Bottomly — Um I I think a lot of times I think a lot of times too we we get blinded by really talented people.

Scot Longyear — Oh gosh.

Heath Bottomly — Ah and and we we lose sight of this thing called missional unity. Um I’ve had I’ve been on teams where it’s like, okay everyone knows what what they’re doing, but they’re all slightly off…

Rich Birch — Yes.

Heath Bottomly — …target of what we’re doing missionally. Now you know everyone goes, oh well hey you know we got a love on them. We got, you know, yeah, you got to love on them and and encourage it. But at the end of the day you have to make a decision based on is missional is the mission that we’re called to more important, or strong enough ah, to be willing to make some hard calls on this even though they’re really talented at what they do? Is the mission more important than the talent that we’re experiencing? And and that’s a hard thing to do because man there’s some really talented people out there that are not in missional alignment.

Rich Birch — Yeah, that’s good. That’s good. And I you know I think there’s ah when a church gets to a certain size, you can end up hiring professionals. And some of that you have to do you have to find people who are really specialized in things. But that’s a particular risk in that area. It’s like just because this person has done this amazing thing at this other church does not mean that they’re aligned with your particular mission. That’s a very good insight, Heath.

Rich Birch — Sticking with you around this whole idea of the right people, and you know one of the things so one of the things you’re known for is crafting great experiences, and crafting really creative experiences and things that are compelling and people want to be a part of them. There’s an interesting tension there particularly on the creative side between kind of getting the pros—people who are already fully baked ready to do the best thing ever—and they’re like you know, slot them in and they’ll nail it. And then the other side is like developing people; people who are, you knowy or maybe not quite there yet and how do we safely do that. Talk us through what that looks like. How do we wrestle through getting the right people you know the development versus the fully baked situation. What’s that look like for you, Heath?

Heath Bottomly — Well, it’s really tough because a lot of times we see creative elements and we think um, well creativity is is really only happens the stronger the collaborative process is. And that’s actually just not always actually most of times not always true. The collaborative process usually dulls down the creative level to the to a common denominator that is shared by the amount of people in the room. So you could have a really sharp creative idea that those usually stem from 1 or 2 people.

Rich Birch — Right.

Heath Bottomly — Ah collaboration usually so how many people get that creative element. And so that principle that’s in place is happens on the on the talent and development route as well. So you get some really talented people; you can get some really cool traction. You can get some really cool movement. You may not have as much buy-in on it because not everyone gets it. But if everyone gets it. It’s not always the most creative thing.

Rich Birch — Right, right.

Heath Bottomly — And so what we tend to do is try to go, okay, let’s you know it’s not a magic formula. But let’s take ah a let’s take your your music team, for example. Um what we tend to do is go, hey, on any given weekend, you only have you have one project on the stage. And so what that what it means by that is someone who you are leaning into and developing who’s not there yet, um, but the rest of team can shore them up and work on them…

Rich Birch — Right.

Heath Bottomly — …and so and then that rotates around. Now every team is going to be different. You got to figure out what that percentage and what that is, but it’s an intentional Lego fit that you’re doing going how many pronged Lego are we going to be. Are we a two-pronged Lego, are we a six-prong Lego – what can fit to it without taking down um, what we have said this is our level of excellence. And this is the other thing I tell my team, we are not in the business of perfection. Perfection will always point out where you fell short. It will because none of us are perfect.

Rich Birch — Right.

Heath Bottomly — But excellence, at the end of the day you can go I brought my best, and I did my best for the guy standing next to me the girl standing next to me over here. We can all look each other in the eye and say yeah we brought it to the very best that we could. So there’s a there’s a book called—what is it—Canoeing the Mountains. And there’s a line in there it says, it’s it’s okay to fail; it’s not okay to suck. And I’m like and I’m going, dude I want I want t-shirts that’s say that.

Rich Birch — Right. Yes, yes.

Heath Bottomly — Because that is our mantra going…

Rich Birch — Yep.

Heath Bottomly — …we can fail all day and that’s part of the development process. We want people to know if you’re you’re not failing, you’re not trying.

Rich Birch — Yes, yeah, yeah.

Heath Bottomly — If you’re you’re not experimenting enough. You know you need to be able to do that. In the process of failing. It’s not okay to suck it.

Rich Birch — Right, right.

Heath Bottomly — Don’t let the failure be because you didn’t do it well. You know, and so…

Rich Birch — Yeah, you didn’t put in your part of it. You didn’t develop.

Heath Bottomly — Exactly.

Rich Birch — You didn’t yeah you didn’t practice your craft – all that stuff. Yeah.

Heath Bottomly — But if we are not in the constant business of working to find out how to hand off things and responsibilities and and real leadership to the people around us, the next generation, if we’re hoarding it, again it comes back to that mindset of Imperialistic mindset. It is an empire that we are building around us instead of a kingdom mindset that goes out and multiplies. If I’m not ready to if I’m not okay with handing off some of the biggest authority responsibilities to my team and letting them run, not saying abandon them, but provide the parameters and go here’s what I need at the end of this, but whatever decision you may I’m not gonna overrun you. Um if we’re not doing that meaningfully in some ways, we’re actually without even maybe realizing that we’re building an empire around us. So that when we’re not in the room anymore, it can’t function and it can’t…

Heath Bottomly — I heard a leader say, yeah but it doesn’t it doesn’t feel like me. And I’m like that’s probably one of the best things that you can actually be bringing into an organization is that it doesn’t feel like you. Um, because if it feels like you, then if you’re not there the whole thing crumbles. And that should never be the goal of kingdom-based building. Um, but unfortunately that is the goal of empirical thinking.

Rich Birch — Interesting, interesting. Okay, that’s that’s good that’s good. I think that’s a tension we feel we sense in lots of things, right? We want to find a way to we all we should be developing people, but how do we, you know? I love that – some really good thoughts there.

Rich Birch — Let’s let’s, Scott, let’s talk a little bit about the book. So Fight for the Future. When I so when I checked this out I really did think this could be a great team resource. Could be the kind of thing, hey let’s let’s work on this together as our staff team. Let’s, you know, read through this; you’ve got discussion questions based right in there. Um, tell me what you were hoping its impact would have, you know, particularly maybe in the church context. That’s who’s listening in. How could you see this resource being used by church leaders?

Scot Longyear — Yeah, so you know I’ll go back to the, you know, implementing the dream. And you make such a great point. There’s so many good things to do. We need to you know you got to whittle those down and and do the right things. And so you know, I think it’s I think it’s a unique resource, Rich, because Heath and I come from some different perspectives. Um, but we’re all the the same direction, different voices. You know he is one of the most creative people that I know as you’ve heard, you know, in strategy and all that, and thinks like very he’s he’s like a right brain/left brain like creative. Like like sometimes like you got to break that down like for me a little bit more like it’s like so. And I’m like I’m the I’m the 3-point preacher guy, want tell you some stories and give you some practical like stuff, and and roll. And so…

Rich Birch — Yeah, yeah, sure.

Scot Longyear — Ah way we approached it was we said, man, hey here’s the framework out of Nehemiah. It is right things, right right reasons, right people. And so we each took a chapter in there um and spoke from our own voice in that. And then just ah, you know again, those discussions they’re real practical and I think like anything else they get some discussion going.

Scot Longyear — Because most of the time we’re moving like super fast and we’re just doing this stuff but we just got to pause and go, like now wait a minute. Are we going the right the right way? Are there new things that we need to be to be pursuing? What might that look like?

Scot Longyear — And we take a you know a super deep dive as we go down and and we talk about you know, being the kind of person that God wants to use. And ah you know your how how you know what’s what’s done in in quiet with the Lord really informs everything else. And so it’s it’s much deeper in the middle of all that. But, you know, our dream that people would would read it and go like yeah, let’s start taking action on these dreams that the Lord has. Because if it is his dream, he’s going to use somebody to do it. And so if he’s calling you, like do it. And if you if you pass on it, he’s going to use somebody else.

Rich Birch — Right.

Scot Longyear — And then if we can be a help to you in in that. Um you know I can tell you a thousand ways not to do things…

Rich Birch — Love it. Love it.

Scot Longyear — …you know or a thousand mistakes we’ve made it, like don’t do that. Don’t do that. You know we would.

Rich Birch — Yeah, yeah.

Scot Longyear — We’d love to come beside you.

Rich Birch — Love it. Heath, want to more add to that?

Heath Bottomly — Yeah, um, something that I really appreciate about about Scott, I mean at first off thank you, Scott, for those wonderful encouraging words; you you pet my ego.

Scot Longyear — You are welcome.

Heath Bottomly — Um, no, but no serious in all all seriousness. Ah you’ll see the chapters that that you know the ones that I’m penning or whatever that I’m writing, they’ll they’ll be very much this is how the structure will look. These are how the pieces move together. This is how these steps. And then you you flip the page and you go to Scott, and Scott really just penetrates right to the heart and he goes, and this is what God is going to need to do in your life in order for this to be something that’s lasting. In that that I love that that mindset um that Scott brings to that. Because at the end of the day, you know, there’s this tension that you hear a lot with strategy and and ministry – I’ll just call it that.

Heath Bottomly — Um, there are people going hey it’s not about strategy. It’s not about that, hey we’re too we’re too planning, you know, we have to be more Spirit. You know, let and everything as if these are two things that are opposite each other…

Rich Birch — Right. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Heath Bottomly — And actually they’re most efficient when they work in tandem with each other…

Rich Birch — Yeah together. Absolutely yeah, for sure.

Heath Bottomly — …and in the same way, what is ah the example of, you know, people go, well hey, you guys are strategizing too much on how to build, how to fight. I had someone tell them go this isn’t a fight for the future; God’s got this. And I’m like actually it is a fight because there’s an intentionality. God will build his church. How much, like Scott just said, how much you want to be a part of it is up to you.

Rich Birch — Right.

Heath Bottomly — You know in the same way the kid who had the, you know, the loaves and fish or you told me no one else there had any food. Um but he was the only one who stepped up. And because of that he’s the only one mentioned in that story, you know and was a part of that story.

Rich Birch — Yeah I love it. Right.

Heath Bottomly — When we’re talking about fighting for the future, it’s asking how much do you want to be a part of the story. God’s gonna do what he’s gonna do.

Rich Birch — Right, right.

Heath Bottomly — He doesn’t need us to feed the 5000, but he invites us in and going so what are we going to do with that. So.

Rich Birch — Love it. Love it. So good. Well this has been a great conversation. Could you give us you know a two minute shot as well, Heath, on the Experience Conference? So I think you guys do such a great job on this. If I’m an executive pastor—we know there’s lot of executive pastors listening—and to me I think this could be a great conference for you to say, hey I want to take my creative folks together. Let’s go and do this together. I think it could be ah, just a fantastic experience for your team. Ah, give us the you know why Experience? What’s unique about it? Why do I need another conference—those kind of things—but give us that that sense there, Heath.

Heath Bottomly — Yeah, absolutely. And what I love about Experience Conference and what drew me to it to begin with was the fact that it is less about the um, the stage in the floor, and it is more about peers talking to peers from experience, or from you know here’s the journey thus far that here’s some hurdles that I’ve faced. Um and sharing that with each other and in that room you have you have such an even blend of voices on so many levels, both in in speaking but also in you know singing you know in everything. the fact I love how Scott you know has shared in the past that it’s one of the few experiences where he’s been able to sit next to his team and worship together…

Rich Birch — So good.

Heath Bottomly — …you know in in song. Um, but that’s one aspect of it. The mindset, being able to talk to people and share a mindset that tells them you’re not alone in this. Oh you thought maybe you were the only one struggling with this, you’re not. You’re in a room full of people who are all doing this together. Ah, that community is something that’s truly I’ve found unique because it’s less about a concert, and nothing against concert – I love concerts and I think there’s something very powerful about just bringing people together and just celebrating together. Um I don’t I don’t downplay that at all, but this is not that.

Heath Bottomly — Um, this is much more about ah that communication and that bond peer-to-peer. And it’s a great way for whether you are in the music ministry or creative Ministry or any other area of ah your church ministry to come together with the same mindset together as a team. I think there’s a lot of potential there for your team to walk away with something truly unique.

Rich Birch — Um, love it. Yeah that’s just at experienceconference.com – like again friends I would encourage you to check that out. I know you know there’s a lot of it. It seems like there’s a lot of conferences going on obviously all this stuff kind of post pandemic is ramping back up. But I really do think this is one that you need to at least make the decision against like look at it take take a look is this the kind of thing that you could and should take your team to it’s right at the end of August beginning of September – August 29th to September 1st if I’ve got those dates right. Um, so yeah, and there’s discount cliffs and all that, so make sure you check that out.

Rich Birch — Scot, if people want to pick up copies of the book, I’m assuming they can get them at Amazon. I think Amazon still sells books; they seem to sell everything else. They can get them there. Is there anywhere else we want to sell send them online to pick up copies of Fight for the Future?

Scot Longyear — Ah, yeah, several places – you can grab you go through my website scottlongyear.com; grab them there. It is Amazon. Ah Heath, we also he did the other side of the the marketing – we’re on Barnes Noble, right?

Heath Bottomly — Yeah yeah and Apple Books of course for ebooks and everything like that are also available.

Rich Birch — Love it.

Heath Bottomly — Amazon provides both the the Kindle version and they do; they have the physical copies as well. Best way to get a physical copy though is scottlongyear.com.

Rich Birch — Yes, love it.

Heath Bottomly — Um so that that would be the and he’ll I believe he’ll sign copies of the books that leave his his establishment.

Rich Birch — Oh nice. Look at that – great.

Scot Longyear — I’ll sign Heath’s name too.

Heath Bottomly — He’s been doing that for a long time.

Rich Birch — Yeah yeah, yeah, that’s fun.

Heath Bottomly — [inaudible] checks. No wait.

Rich Birch — Well, this has been great. Scot, why don’t we give you the last word; what anything else you want to say just as we wrap up today’s conversation? I really appreciate you guys coming on and investing in us. And this has been super helpful. I’ve got a page of notes here stuff to to chew on. So I appreciate that. Anything else, you’d like to say.

Scot Longyear — Yeah, no I think I would just encourage leaders. Um man um, thanks for staying in the game. I know the latest stats are somewhere between 38 and 40% of us are like if we could if we could take and another job with the same benefits, we’d jump tomorrow. Um. and and I’ll go back to I was I was talking with a friend. I don’t want to name the ministry placement agency they were with, and they just said we’re just talking to a lot of folks and they’re a lot of folks who are looking for jobs and they’re no longer talking about calling. They’re talking about I want this position, and I want it in this city. And so I just want to say thank you for being true to the calling.

Scot Longyear — Ah, that your work, even though it is hard, it is not in vain. It is not in vain.

Rich Birch — Amen Amen.

Scot Longyear — Like this is a this is a holy work that the Lord has called us to. I know it’s hard, man. I know there’s a grind. I know there’s a frustration. There’s an exhaustion that has come. But it is not in vain.

Rich Birch — Love it.

Scot Longyear — And I want to just tell you you’re doing like well done now and we’re one day going to hear from the Father as he turns to us, you’re going to say well done. So keep up the great work.

Rich Birch — Love it. Appreciate you guys. Thanks so much. Again, friends, I would check out their book and you know and jump in with Experience Conference. These are great folks – you should be following along. Thanks so much. Thanks for being on the show today, guys.

Heath Bottomly — Thank you so much. Appreciate it.

Scot Longyear — Thank you, Rich; appreciate it.

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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.