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Frank Bealer on Working Across Teams at Your Church



Once again, Frank Bealer from Elevation Church is joining me on today’s podcast. Elevation Church is doing a lot of exciting things in their growth and Frank is here to tell us how they’ve learned to help each other.

Helping each other grow

It can be hard sometimes to work across departments within a church, trying to work with everyone’s schedules and make sure everything is communicated thoroughly. But we need to remember that none of us are total experts in everything, so we need to lean on each other. You could try to do everything on your own, but that would probably just lead to a lot of stress and frustration. Why not try to support each other whenever you can?

So what does it look like to effectively work across departments? Frank is here to share these tips:

  • Get a room where you can get everybody involved. // Frank had an idea that would take help from several departments and people within Elevation Church. He floated the idea around to gauge the interest and reaction, and then began to work with each of those groups individually. But he realized later that his biggest mistake was not getting everyone together in one room to talk and plan. It led to confusion and things being overlooked because people thought others were taking care of certain parts. Save your church the confusion by getting everyone together in one room.
  • Timing is everything. // Know when each part is due and make sure that everyone involved knows when their part is due. Telling people when the final product must be completed without telling them when individual items need to be done can cause problems with rushing to finish pieces.
  • Listen to the experts. // If someone has a lot of experience in a certain field of the project you’re working on, go to them for advice and be willing to listen to their comments. People have their own knowledge about certain fields and they can help make things better, but you have to be open to listening.
  • Changes change things. // As leaders, we don’t always see the ripple effects our decisions can cause. Before you know it, plans can grow bigger than you originally planned. Sometimes the changes can be good and make the experience more fun, but other times they can completely change the overall project. Before making changes, analyze why you want to make it and how will it impact everyone else involved in the project.
  • Stick together. // Don’t assume that because someone’s part in the project is done they no longer want to be a part of it. The payoff is seeing the end result, and those involved throughout all stages of the project deserve to enjoy that moment. At the end, remember even the people working in the early part of the project who may really want to see that final moment and take part in it. Everyone involved in the project is involved because they love Jesus and they love the church, so let them celebrate it all the way to the end.

You can chat with Frank on Twitter @FBealer. Or check out work online at and

Episode Highlights

00:32 // Rich introduces Frank and welcomes him to the show.

01:23 // Frank tells us about Elevation Church.

03:29 // Frank talks about working with multiple departments within his church and introduces us to his current project.

06:57 // Frank talks about his learnings from working with multiple departments.

08:02 // Rich tells of a similar experience and his learnings from that.

09:08 // Frank talks about how he resolved issues during the process of the project.

10:11 // Frank gives examples showing the importance of communicating expectations and creating timelines.

12:40 // Frank advises people to listen to the experts and use their expertise.

15:41 // Franks talks about understanding the impact changes have on others.

20:56 // Frank highlights the importance of remembering everyone that plays a part in a project.

22:40 // Frank encourages leaders to share their visions and understand when faced with resistance.

25:21 // Frank offers his contact details.

Episode Transcript

Rich – Well hey everybody, welcome to the unSeminary podcast, my name’s Rich the host around these parts. Thank you so much for taking time out to give us some of your time this week as we head into this weekend at your church.

We’re in for a real treat today, a friend of mine from Elevation Church in South Carolina, we have Frank Bealer. Frank thanks so much for being on the show today.

Frank – Man I’m so glad to be with you Rich, you know I’m always learning from you, I love unSeminary, all that you’re doing and learning from all of these great guests that you have every week and thanks for letting me be a part.

Rich – No I’m so glad you’re here. For folks that don’t know, Frank is a part of… you know Elevation’s a great church, we’re going to get you to tell us a little bit of the story. Frank’s responsibility is within the kind of family ministry area at Elevation and he just does a great job leading. If you’re not following Frank and his blog and just everything he’s doing online you should be doing that. I’ll say it on the front but listen to the end and we’ll make sure we get contact information for you.

So for folks that are maybe unaware of Elevation, I’m not sure who those people are but why don’t you tell us about Elevation and tell us about your role there at the church.

Frank – Yeah sure, so needless to say we’re blown away by what God is doing at our church. We’re almost 10 years old now. We have 13 locations.

Rich – So old, you’ve been around forever.

Frank – Okay, we have achieved so much in 10 years and it’s a little awkward for us to have conversations like this Rich and share leadership ideas because we are so young and we feel sometimes that we’re just a big toddler, we’re knocking things over, we’re kind of figuring out, stumbling through this. But yeah, we’re trying to be faithful with what God’s given us and he’s entrusted us with a lot of people to invest in. We’re trying to build systems and structures to support that and I have a lean staff, so I lean a lot onto volunteers. Pastor Steven, our leader, is a great visionary, he’s a great communicator and he really helps keep us on track and making sure that we’re focusing on the right things. So we don’t do a lot of things, we do a few things and try to do those well.

So we’re so blessed, like I said, speaking to your listeners today and just kind of answer some questions, talk about some of the things that we’re learning along the way, some of the things we’ve done wrong and I promise you, even the things I tell you that I think are right, we might change them in a few weeks.

Rich – Alright, nice. Well you know, in my day job I spend most of my time working on the service programming, kind of communications of the equation and I know you spend most of your time on the family ministry side. You know, I think as churches grow, it may be one of those things that people are unaware, but sometimes tensions can come up between departments and that, regardless of the size of your church, can be a reality, working together with multiple different kinds of teams and different people can be a tension. Part of what I love about Elevation is, you guys seem to do a good job on that front or have learned a lot on that front and you are, like you said, staff lean and so you’re constantly having to work together. I wonder, how does that work for you guys? How are you working together with multiple departments within Elevation?

Frank – Yeah so the way we work, we lean on each other, it’s this whole idea of like, okay none of us are experts at everything and so we have some people around us that are either great at worship or they’re great at design. We’ve got to bring them into the conversation.

I have the privilege of running our family ministry and honestly, I could go a season where I didn’t interact much with anybody else at all. We keep trying to be inclusive, but we unintentionally isolate ourselves in ministry. I have a budget to work with them, I have a team to work with. We were trying to do this on our own but what we’ve realized really quickly as a church is that because of all the different gifts and talents, we should be able to cross pollenate and work together, support one another in a key way.

So what we’re going to kind of talk about today is just this whole idea that, what does it look like to effectively work across departments? When you start working with somebody, maybe it’s a department that you’re not familiar with, or a department that’s frustrated you in the past because you haven’t seemed to be able to click and be on the same page, not necessarily talking about competing for the same budget dollars, that can be a whole other conversation.

Rich – Right.

Frank – Let’s say take money out of the picture, but just working together to agree upon what’s going to happen in the adult experience that may highlight something that’s happening in our family ministry and how do you get people on the same page for that, or working on a project recently? We worked on a new CD for our children’s ministry…

Rich – Oh nice yeah.

Frank – Which was really cool, it’s called Undefeated and we were releasing it to our church and we were going to put it on our actual CD, physical copy and I knew that God wanted us in our family ministry to write some music, to write some songs. I also knew that, while I love music and may even have a little bit of an ear for music, I’m not very talented when it comes to music, but I know what resonates with kids. So if I were to try to get in a room and crank out some songs and so something with my team that would be a huge mistake, because we have this amazing worship ministry called Elevation Worship, they crank out great music. They don’t know a lot about speaking into kids, but they do know a lot about worship and how songs are supposed to be written and that there should be a chorus and there should be a verse and all, the words should be a certain feel and how it all comes together.

So instead of me going out and learning that we’ve got to work together and on this particular project we kind of stumbled through some things, because we had never worked together on a project like an album before. We were trying to figure out how to get the album designed, what content we were going to put on the album, who’s going to write the songs, produce the music, how much of it we were going to hire out, [Inaudible 00:06:13] we were going to do as a church, to promote the album to the world, work with the web to make free resources available to churches.

Literally this was one of my first projects where I don’t know any department that wasn’t involved in this project. So suddenly I had some learning to do because I knew the departments that I always worked with, that I was familiar with, I knew I could go to them and I got a few things right and a few things wrong Rich.

Rich – Nice well that’s good, well I look forward to learning from that experience. I think that’s a great backdrop or a great framework to think through. Okay so what did you learn, what were a few of the things that you kind of used that you learned through that experience in working across multiple departments in your church?

Frank – Yeah so I guess the first thing I would say, if you want to make notes this would be like point number one.

Rich – Yeah.

Frank – Just the idea of get a room. Get a room where you can get everybody involved and in the same room, at the same time together. See because we didn’t even know if this was a reality or a good idea, this particular project, I floated around between all the different departments and had all of these side conversations to gauge interest. Okay, this is what this would look like and this is about how long this takes. Before I presented a plan I wanted to at least understand how it worked.

Rich – Right.

Frank – Then everybody got excited, so we started moving forward. But I realized, looking back, that one of our biggest mistakes was, even though I spoke to every department, I got everybody involved, I didn’t have that one meeting where everybody came together in the same room. It was a pretty big mistake for us, because along the way it would sort of be like, “Oh I thought they were handling this,” I was like, “You are doing this,” and it just became so confusing between departments, not because they were unwilling at all, but because they thought somebody else was owning that.

Rich – Right it’s funny, we had a similar experience where, this year we did kind of a big Easter egg hunt, we fused the pagan, you know, kind of search for eggs into our services, it was great, it was a lot of fun. It really worked in the end but we had a similar experience where, from a kind of communications, service programming point of view, we made a decision that we were heading, going to charge ahead on doing an Easter egg hunt for families and we actually got up in a staff meeting and made this decision, or made this announcement that we were doing this and as we’re making this announcement, we were like, “You know we probably should talk to somebody in kid’s ministry about this since we’re going to involve a lot of kids in this process.” So we retrenched pretty quickly on that, but yeah, just even getting people in the room on the frontend, avoiding just saying, “Why don’t we send an email,” is super important to the process.

Did you retrench on that, did you eventually kind of midway through the project get everybody together, or what happened there?

Frank – Yeah so like halfway through I realized that while I’m having lots of side conversations, because this was a new project and a new element for us altogether, I wanted to be hyper involved. So emails were coming through me, way more than normal on a normal project where I empower leaders. I wanted to be empowered to go through this one myself, I wanted to do this project. So now all of a sudden I’m getting all of these questions or requests and I’m seeing gaps and I’m confused because I talked to everybody, I just didn’t talk to all of them in the room.

So solely on me, but about half way through I got everybody back together and I was like, “Okay let’s recalibrate this thing,” and honestly that recalibration came when one of the project managers from one of the departments raised her hand and said, “I could really use getting everybody back together,” and that’s when I realized, “Yeah I could do the same.”

So halfway through the project we got everybody back in the room together and got everybody back on track which was a good idea.

Rich – Nice, okay very cool. Now what’s next? So we’ve covered step one, getting a room, get a room, what’s step two?

Frank – Yeah so I learned that timing is everything and this goes down to setting a proper timeline for your project. I started by having a date that we wanted to ship and release the album, release the project which was great.

Rich – Yeah.

Frank – Like that made sense, but everybody department translated that as a different time that their part was due. So for example, we needed to ship the album on April Fool’s Day of this year out to the vendor, that was the last possible day that we could ship it out to get it reproduced.

So what our graphic design department heard was that, as long as everything was done by March 31st that we were good to go. Well that usually is the case because I give them lots of direction and I’m really involved in our artwork and what we do when we create curriculum.

Rich – Yeah.

Frank – But in this case I said, “Hey we’re going to call the album Undefeated, make it awesome.” It brought liberty and freedom to design something and really kind of enjoyed being creative but on the flip side of that I did want to see it before we had to ship it.

Rich – Right.

Frank – So fortunately they ended up doing a really great job, not sure if you can see it there.

Rich – It looks great, yeah it looks really cool.

Frank – It has a really cool vibe for kids.

Rich – Yeah.

Frank – But there was a few things, it was a little hard to read, the font was really edgy and cool but a little too hard to read. So we had to do redo that a little bit and make some revisions. So now it’s getting a few days before shipment and they’re just working on the project and we’re kind of scrambling through because we weren’t clear on those expectations.

So what we found is that you set the date of when you need to ship it but then you’ve got to have those touch points along the way where you’re circling back with everybody and we did a great job of doing that with worship, because that was the big idea right, getting these songs produced.

Rich – Right.

Frank – All this worship was in the middle of a weeklong Elevation of Worship tour in February and we were writing songs at that point, because we had all these milestones of when we were recording things and when songs needed to be finished, we got all the songs done in December. So we had got all of those milestones along the way.

Rich – Right.

Frank – But we didn’t do that for every department. So I had certain expectations of when I wanted to see things but I hadn’t communicated those, I just gave them a date, just get this to me by this day.

Rich – Right.

Frank – That created some unnecessary frustrations but that was on me because I gave them the end date but not all of the steps in between.

Rich – Right very cool, nice. Alright what else do we need to be thinking about?

Frank – Yeah, so I wrote down, listen to the experts. Allow people to speak to their area of expertise. I wrote one song on the album that, it’s called Get Together, it made it on the album, but we got in the studio to start producing this song, we had this really cool drumbeat and feel, it felt very Imagine Dragons and really, really big.

Rich – Yeah.

Frank – And one of the guys was like, “I like this, good job, this is really, really cool, sounds cool, I don’t know if it’s the right tone for the album,” and I’m like, “Tone for the album? It’s the tone for the song, I’m writing a song,” I’m not like putting them all together.

Rich – Yeah right.

Frank – He was like, “No, no, no, it’s all got to weave together,” and I get schooled on how all this stuff should sound and work and it’s really great but I was really passionate about the way we had made this song because I was so close to it and had been living it a while, but to have someone else speak in and go, “Nah, nah, nah, nah” don’t miss this, this is something that can get off in the project if you’re not careful.

So we started to work on that, we reeled it back in a little bit and ended up with a very good song, we like it a lot. Still not as much as I like my other version and the kids like it and it engages with families really well, it was an expert speaking into it. Then like, do you put lyrics inside, do you put credits inside, what do we need for our first project because we don’t want to spend a lot of money and we don’t want to buy booklets for CDs and this thing could get out of hand really quickly?

Rich – Right.

Frank – So just lay it on them say, “What do we need to put in our first one? How should we do this?” and just be willing to go, “You tell me how we should do this.”

Rich – Right.

Frank – And to get on the same page and you’re working together as a team, you know that they’re not looking for the easy way out and they’re not going for the way that creates less work for them, but they’re working for what’s best for the project.

Rich – Right.

Frank – As we worked through these things and getting in a room and setting the timing and everything, when we get to that place, where they’re not just trying to get it finished and off their desk, but they can move it forward as well, now we’re in a really good place with the project, so in this case an album.

Rich – Yeah very cool. You know I think that’s a good one for us to pay attention to. I think sometimes, and I’ve see this happen in churches where you have a competence in a certain area and therefore you assume that you have competency in other areas and that’s just not true. All of us have a domain area that we have a level of competence in and although there may be some transferrable skills, there may be some transferrable knowledge into other areas, we over assume that that competence transfers. So we need to be just really careful of that, self-police that and allow people around us, particularly if you’re the project manager or the person running whatever it is you’re working on, to allow, give other people a voice in the room and allow them to speak into it, because they have an area of competence that’s different than your area for sure. I think that’s important, I can see where I fall into the trap of not listening to the people who are actually around us.

What else do we need to be thinking about?

Frank – Well in regards to that when we were just talking about another area that was in, when we figured out how we were going to work this in to the adult experience, and have this album for families, obviously I had some ideas of what that could look like and a choir with all the kids wearing their Undefeated shirts, we could do this, we could do this.

Rich – Right.

Frank – We had something about balloons and I’m like, “I don’t know it sounds a little bit low key,” but then, “No, no, no we can make it look cool.” Then before we know it they had rented two little teeny bubble machines, electric bubble machines and mounted those in the ceiling.

Rich – Right.

Frank – So our service programming people, we went from having a choir to sing a couple of songs off the album to now there’s like bubbles falling from the sky and these balloons that were so big and honestly my request was, “Hey can we do two songs in the worship experience?”

Rich – Right.

Frank – That’s what I asked for and just mention it in your announcement time, that would be great, but they’re like, “No, no, no what about this, what about this?” and just letting them own it and it made it switch better and more fun than I would have made it because honestly I thought I was asking a lot, just having them do two of the songs, perform two of the songs.

Rich – Right.

Frank – So to think to that level is really awesome, but just get out of the way and let them push it.

Rich – Yeah very cool. That’s great, that’s a great example for sure.

Frank – I know this sounds obvious but I learned, in a real way this is true, changes change things.

Rich – Oh yes, oh gosh.

Frank – So changes that we’re making along the way or things that we decide when we want to do something different with the project can obviously slow down the project, they impact the overall project and they impact more people on the project than I think we realize. So for me, I would make what I thought like were subtle changes, it could be to something in the design or actually adding a song to the album as it’s released here than not having that song on what was released on iTunes. I’m like, “Yeah, just the internet, like just those [Inaudible 00:17:46]” just kind of off the cuff making some changes that if it was just in family ministry that would have been a lot easier to do, I do that all the time.

Rich – Right.

Frank – But I’m impacting all these other people, we’re getting all this feedback and thoughts and I wanted to add a bonus track for the families of our church because we had written a song for a series specific to our children’s ministry.

Rich – Yeah.

Frank – It sounded nothing like the album so I just called it Bonus Track. Well actually iTunes it’s kind of like a 90s thing.

Rich – Oh okay.

Frank – You don’t do a lot of that on iTunes. So I’m like, “Oh well just ship it this way.” It meant rendering the files differently, like suddenly things are changing.

Rich – Oh no.

Frank – I’m like, “Yeah just do it here but not here.”

Rich – Right.

Frank – Thinking that’s pretty insignificant and sometimes I didn’t really even come with the right attitude or tone to go, “Hey I’d like to make this change, here’s the vision of why I want to make this change. How does this impact you?” Instead of sending emails, “Hey, I’ve kind of dialed this in, here’s what I’m thinking,” and just kind of pushing it out there.

Rich – Right.

Frank – Instead of going back, probably circle back to that meeting we need to have with everybody in the room, but then I’m going to go and change and it was like I’ll tell this person but not this person and there’s certainly just a little bit of challenge behind that. Once again, I can’t emphasize enough, that the team that was working on this project from all the different departments were extremely supportive. So where the tensions were coming was literally out of my miscommunications.

Rich – Right.

Frank – It’s not because I was getting resistance because they’re difficult departments or whatever. We cut out on the frontend when we were first giving vision of why we wanted to do the project to begin with. So I think there’s something to be said of like, when I was kind of impacting this, the areas that I could improve as a leader and then we stumbled, what part did I play in tripping us up in that area of the project? Although we did ship the project in time, it was literally down to the point where I’m on vacation at Universal Studios with my kids and they had to edit some stuff because I had changed some stuff but it wasn’t ready yet.

Rich – Right.

Frank – So for me, I’m starting to get frustrated but then I realized while I’m standing in line to ride a ride that I did this, because I had made all of these changes.

Rich – Right.

Frank – And they’re more than willing to make the changes, so supporting me 100%.

Rich – Right, yeah I think we often, as leaders we’re unaware of the ripple effects of the unintended consequences of changes we make and looking for that collateral damage is super important.

Alright, any other lessons as we kind of head towards the end here?

Frank – Yeah, yeah last one for sure. We’re going to stick together. I’ve figured out that there’s some people in a project that their part of the project is actually really early on in the project but they’re not part, when you kind of get toward the end.

Rich – Right.

Frank – So for example, one of the guys that did some mixing for us or audio engineering for us, well he took it to a certain point but then once he was done, shipped it out to get the album, we started marketing and starting highlighting it in the adult experience and we didn’t bring him along for any of that, because his part was done and yet that’s kind of the payoff, seeing the kid’s faces light up, seeing the engagement with parents.

So the people that were on the early side of the project really helped us do so much work, we can invite some of them along through the payoff, to like get out there.

You know one of the guys, I don’t know how I missed this, one of the engineers, I didn’t even give him a copy of the CD.

Rich – No, oh my goodness.

Frank – I ran out of CDs, I had made notes to certain people and mailed it to people, I had given gifts to certain people on staff but I forgot our audio engineer that literally had spent, maybe more time on the project than anybody else.

Rich – Oh my goodness wow.

Frank – I literally forgot to send the T-shirt and the CD and he came over a few days later and he said, he’s such a great guy, he has a huge heart, he just came over and he said, “Hey, can I get a copy of the CD?” I mean his name was inside the CD and I am like, “Oh how did I do this?”

Rich – Yeah absolutely.

Frank – It goes to show like, literally even when you’re intentional and I was so intentional or trying to be, remembering people, thanking people, sending cards and gift cards, mailing CDs to the friends that had supported our ministry, like I was really intentional about it, you’ve got to slow down to make sure, “Am I forgetting somebody that early on in the project was a huge help that just didn’t have a part of the project that was later in the project?”

Rich – Right.

Frank – If that makes sense.

Rich – Absolutely. You know we’ve all done that right, I can relate with that for sure. Well this has been amazing, there’s been a lot for people to chew on here which is good stuff. Is there anything else, kind of as we wrap up that you’d like to let people know, kind of as we close down here?

Frank – You know, I want to encourage you that everybody that’s on your teams, everybody that’s serving in all the different areas, they got in it because they love Jesus, they want to serve the church. So sometimes when you’re getting resistance or getting pushed back, I am learning as I’m growing up as a leader, I haven’t got it figured out yet, but I’m just learning that I have a part to play in helping not only overcome that resistance but help bring them onboard with the project.

So sometimes you have a team that’s very willing, but you’ve just got to give them clarity and communication, or sometimes you may run into somebody in one of your departments or teams that it’s like the extra thing that they don’t have time for or they’re a little overwhelmed right now and maybe they’re in a huge project and you’re adding something else onto them, so maybe they come across like a little unwilling or a little frustrated with you.

I would just encourage you to know that, okay what part can you play, as a leader, in making sure that you’ve given them vision, why do you want them along the journey, you really help them understand how it’s going to lead the church and the kingdom forward instead of it being like, “If you could make 58 copies of this and collate them this way and do this and do this and do this tonight that will be really helpful.” Well yeah it might be but where did that come from and what’s the point and why are we doing something last minute or whatever it may be. So if somebody is getting pushed back or resistance, maybe we could slow down a little bit to go, “What part did we play in creating this or what vision aren’t we giving them that could help them move forward in the project?”

So as the project, it could be events, it could be initiatives that you’re trying to do going into the Fall, there’s all kinds of great growth initiatives we could be pursuing, preparation for when school gets back in.

So just make sure that we’re bring people along, communicating well but when you do run into a little bit of a wall remember they are in it to serve Jesus, they want to serve in the church or some facet in ministry or something.

Rich – So true and I hope if you’ve been listening in today, regardless of the size of your church, I know you may not be producing a CD for your kid’s ministry, but you’ve got projects, often times the things that have the greatest impact in your church are by definition things where you’re going to have to work together as a team. You’re not an individual department or a group or a cluster of leaders aren’t going to be able to accomplish it on their own. You know, a big Christmas Eve service or Easter or like you said, kind of fall kickoff.

So Frank, you’ve really served us today by providing I think some really good handles for folks as they wrestle through that.

So if people want to get in touch with you or Elevation or learn more about the CD or get in touch with your blog, that kind of thing, how can they do that?

Frank – Yeah so I’m active on Twitter, Rich that’s how we originally met.

Rich – Yeah.

Frank – So @fbealer on Twitter and then our blog is, we try to give away resources and volunteer information and point you to other resources that we’re learning from.

Rich – Okay.

Frank – Our church website for kids, You’d be able to check that out and from there you can get all the free resources that our team’s created to support the CDs. So if you want to use it in your family ministry, like there’s videos and all that stuff and it’s all free, you can go on and get that and use that for your church and hopefully that’s a blessing to you.

Rich – Very cool. Well thanks so much Frank, you have a great week and thanks for taking some time out to spend with us today.

Frank – You too Rich, thanks.

Rich – Thanks.

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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.