Journey Beyond Burnout & Compassion Fatigue with Janetta Oni

Welcome back to the unSeminary podcast. Today we’re chatting with Janetta Oni, the Creative Director at The Summit Church in North Carolina.

Compassion fatigue is far more common in ministry than we might like to admit. It can be easy to wear busyness like a badge of honor while burning out in the process. But there’s a way to lead from healthy boundaries for the benefit of both you and your team. Listen in as Janetta shares about getting help in the face of depression, setting boundaries around your work and family, and paying attention to your team’s mental health.

  • Remember Who you’re working for. // Janetta fought through her own compassion fatigue when she didn’t set healthy boundaries and pushed herself too far in her work. As a church leader she now leads from boundaries and protects her team as well. Her job in stewarding creative people is to help them enjoy what they do and take it seriously for the gospel, but also to create margin and guard against the pressures that will come.
  • Receive outside help for your mental health. // Staying busy in ministry makes us feel valued and important, but it easily leads to overwork, burnout, and eventually depression and anxiety can take over. Mental health is not a DIY project and it’s important to talk with someone else, such as a professional counselor, to work through our pain and struggles.
  • Rest and create boundaries. // With the help of her counselor, Janetta realized that she had made an idol of her ministry work, and the importance she derived from her work. To take steps toward recovery, Janetta started to take God’s command for Sabbath seriously. Consistently rest on that seventh day and learn to say no. Then create boundaries around your work week. Identify the hours that you work, and then go home to your family and create boundaries around your time with them.
  • Enjoy a family Sabbath. // Janetta’s family has a traditional Sabbath that begins at sundown on Friday with a meal at home. They enjoy food that they love, and then on Saturday they put their devices away and rest. More than just a day off to catch up on errands or chores, the 24-hour period is dedicated time to enjoy the Lord.
  • Help others protect their boundaries. // In addition to setting boundaries in her personal life, Janetta leads her team from boundaries as well in order to protect them. Set boundaries with your team on what they can and can’t do and then give them creative space to work. In this way they aren’t being micromanaged, but there is still a fence to protect them. On the creative team, this looks like creating margin around events and paying attention to the capacity the team has in their work for different ministries.
  • Ask yourself the big questions. // If you’re struggling with compassion fatigue, burnout, or depression in your ministry work, ask yourself if you’re living with toxic habits, or working in a toxic environment. One of those things you can control. If your work environment is toxic, ask yourself how much longer you can stay there before your health is poisoned and you have to go? Examine yourself if you’re behaving in toxic ways, and find a good counselor to help you find healing.

You can find The Summit Church at summitchurch.com and reach Janetta on Instagram @JanettaOni.

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Episode Transcript

Rich Birch — Hey, everybody – welcome to the unSeminary podcast. So glad that you have tuned in. Super excited for today’s conversation with Janetta Oni. She is at Summit Church. If you don’t know Summit we’re going to get a chance to hear more about them. They’re one of the fastest growing churches in the country in North Carolina with nine locations, plus services in Spanish. It’s a fantastic church and Janetta serves as Summit’s Creative Director. So we’re really looking forward to learning from you today. Welcome to the show.

Janetta Oni — Thanks! I’m excited to be here.

Rich Birch — Yeah, it’s such an honor that you would take some time out to be with us. I know it’s always a busy time particularly in your seat…

Janetta Oni — Yeah.

Rich Birch — …so super honored that you would be here today. Why don’t you tell us kind of fill out the Summit story for folks that don’t know. Give us a little bit more detail there around the church.

Janetta Oni — Absolutely so I’m actually um, three years into The Summit. I um I guess I’m not as new here as I thought I was, so 3 years in pretty deep. But Summit has just celebrated it’s 20th anniversary. this past year and it was is really cool to be a part of that, seeing it it’s been a part of it came out of a church kind of ah ah just a regular old Baptist church, and then they decided to relaunch, and focus a lot on sending, and missions. And they brought in a newly seminary grad called J.D. Greear to come in and kind of he had all the zeal and the the mission zeal, and he um God really used him and a group of core—we call it the the 300—to really um take Summit in a direction of sending as many people as possible out into the world planting church churches.

Janetta Oni — In the three years I’ve been here I’ve been ah able to help with the communications department and now the creative arts department. So it’s is awesome to be a part of…I know it’s easy to say, oh God is doing something when you’re a part of something big like actually literally big. But honestly I I feel like the anointing on The Summit um … it’s not a perfect church, but that the Lord is doing something through the people who have, as we say, put their yes on the table.

Rich Birch — Love it.

Janetta Oni — And that’s just really cool to be a part of.

Rich Birch — Love it. Yeah that you know God’s doing is writing, as an outsider looking in, God’s writing a really unique story through you and through your team at The Summit. It’s been amazing to watch. I love the church planting stuff. You know on the on the path to planting a thousand churches, which is pretty amazing, and…

Janetta Oni — Yeah.

Rich Birch — Um, and just incredible. Just just love it. What why don’t you tell us about your role?

Janetta Oni — Yeah, we just hit the halfway mark on that, by the way.

Rich Birch — Amazing! Isn’t that incredible? Like that’s amazing.

Janetta Oni — Yeah, 502. Yeah.

Rich Birch — That’s yeah, that’s incredible. That’s ah, it’s amazing.

Janetta Oni — Yeah, it’s cool.

Rich Birch — Why don’t you tell us about your role? So Creative Director – what does that look like? Give us the kind of scope of that.

Janetta Oni — So um, I’ll back up like ah a year. Um I was ah I was the Communications Director, and I’ve been doing communications in the local church for about 10 years. I was serving at another church before I got to The Summit. And um communications for a church like this is ah a big undertaking. Um and communications is anything that people see, read… um content they consume from the church, about the church, for the church. And what I was noticing is that um in the day-to-day processes of just getting out all the communications, talking about events, the Creative Arts element was kind of on the to-do list, and not something that kind of took precedent. Um, and and if you think about it in the church world, Creative Arts for some reason seems frivolous. It seems like, oh well if we have time to do something like that we will.

Rich Birch — Right.

Janetta Oni — But I just don’t see that in the bible. I see creation and cultivation from the very onset. I mean God created something we see that in um, Exodus when ah God is giving the instructions for how to, okay people are going to meet with me – I’m gonna get some priest, but before we even get them in their role, I need some people who can make stuff in order to make that happen.

Rich Birch — Hmm, yes, yeah, yeah, yeah.

Janetta Oni — And so I just had a passion for creative arts. So I um, me and a couple people I kind of ah just asked my my supervisor, I was like you know what? Let’s just move creative arts to its own thing. We’re still a part of the whole system, but let it be its own thing so we can just focus on that. I love the arts; I love leading creative people. Um and creating um the margin for them to think creatively. And even just see how we can draw out some of that in the church. How do I not just be a creative arts director of a group of paid staff, but of our whole church. We got some really creative people in the church. So it’s been a cool 1-1/2 year journey so far creative arts.

Rich Birch — That’s amazing. That’s so cool.

Janetta Oni — Yeah.

Rich Birch — Yeah I love hearing that. I love I love how you created some space for this too. I love that story of like kind of there’s a ah leading up lesson there I think for folks that are listening in. Hey you saw an area and said hey, here’s something we need to do to kind of expand and push forward and I love obviously the fact that your leadership was like willing to say. Yeah, let’s let’s do that. Let’s make that happen.

Rich Birch — Now there’s a lot when I think about, man, The Summit – this is a big organization. A lot going on, a lot happening. I’d love to kind of get inside a little bit the personal side of kind of leading in that. What does that look like for you? I’d imagine there’s a lot of pressure in that. Talk to us about what that looks like for you.

Janetta Oni — Yeah, so first I’ll say, I am ah grateful for The Summit. I actually ah came into I I said I came in three years ago, and thus far The Summit has been a safe space um to thrive, even though it’s a big machine. The the leaders here are um, our even in our little department, one of our goals for the year is to care about people over product. Um, and that’s been really good. Um I think there’s a lot of potential for a lot of pressure.

Janetta Oni — But um, me, I have hit rock bottom before in ah church work. I have um I remember I was making a website for the church I was serving at, and I just hit rock bottom. And um I think I I was I was burning out. I had compassion fatigue. I was diagnosed with compassion fatigue. I was just trying to do everything, because we work for Jesus, right? We’re supposed to, you know…

Rich Birch — Yes, yes.

Janetta Oni — …when we we say we work for the church. So that means we got to sprint into the finish line and soon as God says, well done good and faithful servant, that’s when we can catch our breath. And…

Rich Birch — Right.

Janetta Oni — …and so coming into The Summit, having hit that rock bottom, went up um through some ah mental health. I got in counseling. I learned how to create boundaries and so now leading—and we can get into that a little bit more but—now leading, I lead from boundaries. I protect people.

Rich Birch — Right, right.

Janetta Oni — Um I think that’s one of my main jobs as a leader is to help protect their margin.

Rich Birch — Yeah.

Janetta Oni — Um they’re better employees when they’re not ah burning the candle at both ends. And so I think my my job in stewarding creative people is to help them enjoy what they do, help them take it seriously for the gospel, but also to to guard against that pressure that can come. Like people are watching, or people won’t like it, or um that pressure is there but to just say take a breath.

Rich Birch — Yes.

Janetta Oni — Um and realize who you’re working for. So yeah, the last three years has been up and to the right for me…

Rich Birch — Right. Love it.

Janetta Oni — …it has been mentally. It’s been, and I’m really thankful for that.

Rich Birch — Yeah I’d I’d love to pull that apart a bit a little bit and hear a bit more. When you say compassion fatigue, I’m sure there’s people that are listening in that are like…

Janetta Oni — Yes.

Rich Birch — …oh I think I have experienced some of that!

Janetta Oni — Right.

Rich Birch — Talk to us about what that looked like, and how did you, you know, how did that work itself out in your life? What did that look like for you when you were in the midst of that?

Janetta Oni — Absolutely. So I ah, like a lot of people who work in ministries and work for a local church, there’s this um I guess this unspoken rule that you have to be available 24/7.

Rich Birch — Right.

Janetta Oni — You are here to ah shepherd the flock and you never know what the sheep are going to need, so you just give everyone your phone number, you say call me at any moment. If there’s a fire, I’m the fireman, if there’s… and and the more we do that, the busier we are, the more important we are, right?

Janetta Oni — And so I definitely um, early on in ministry adopted that position, like um I was kind of addicted to the oh “I’m so busy today”. Because the more I was saying I was so busy that and maybe the more important I felt. And that’s kind of outside. No, that’s kind of um, something that we who work in ministry, for some reason need to feel important, especially if you’re on the fringes of when when your Grandma’s like, well my daughter she um, does… I don’t really know what she does.

Rich Birch — Right.

Janetta Oni — She works at a church all day.

Rich Birch — Sure.

Janetta Oni — So you you you lean on anything to make you sound important. So for me, it was, I’m slammed. I’m busy.

Rich Birch — That’s so true.

Janetta Oni — And one day I just was too busy.

Rich Birch — Right.

Janetta Oni — And um I remember just going into the children’s wing of a church, of our church. Left my office because I didn’t want to be found. And just hiding in like the middle school um room…

Rich Birch — Right, right.

Janetta Oni — …so that no one would find me. I didn’t even want to go home. I just didn’t want to be found. And after a few days of just really hitting that ah that rock bottom, that depression and anxiety – that’s when it started to manifest. And I remember telling my husband, close the doors. Close the blinds. Lock the doors. No one…

Rich Birch — Oh wow.

Janetta Oni — Like I just didn’t want to hear anyone else’s problems…

Rich Birch — Right.

Janetta Oni — …at that at that time.

Rich Birch — Wow.

Janetta Oni — I just felt so like I was drowning in everyone else’s problems, and then I started to sense my own. And it just my counselor um diagnosed me with um compassion fatigue. She was just like you’ve had enough. And I just didn’t care about anyone else’s problems. I didn’t want to hear it anymore.

Rich Birch — Wow. Yeah. Wow, that’s that’s powerful. So let’s talk about you know your counselor. How did you find that person? What did that look like? Tell us kind of what did that… how did you go from being in the middle school room to ah, to then you know, starting to take steps in the right direction…

Janetta Oni — Right.

Rich Birch — …talking with someone, processing it – what that look like?

Janetta Oni — That was I think this is an important ah part of especially the Christian walk. I remember sitting literally sitting on the on the kitchen floor. Um, and just talking to my husband and in with the depression, just saying things I’d never said before. Like um, just saying things like maybe life would just be better if I wasn’t in it, you know, and that was like a trigger.

Rich Birch — Oh wow.

Janetta Oni — Um and I also remembered um, not wanting to talk to a pastor for some… And I think what that was, I’m not saying that was right, but I think what it was is I didn’t want people to think I wasn’t a good Christian at the time.

Rich Birch — Right, okay.

Janetta Oni — Like oh well, what’s your sin? I didn’t I didn’t want Job’s friends to come…

Rich Birch — Right.

Janetta Oni — …and be like, well what did you do? What did you do to get here?

Rich Birch — Right.

Janetta Oni — I was in the word. I was doing my quiet time. I was going to… I was doing everything right, and yet here I was having this mental breakdown. And so I didn’t I just I think I feared someone coming into the house and telling me to have more faith, and telling me well if you just lean on Jesus and confess whatever sin you’ve done, things will start to write themselves. And that may or may not have happened but I just remembered being very defensive against it. So I told my husband, I will only talk to a counselor, because I know that something’s going on in my head and my heart. and I know that it is not um, God punishing me. I know that. And and there are consequences for our sin. But I knew that this was a mental thing. Um and now that had to be the grace of God. So I knew of this counselor. Um, and I’ve somehow got her and somehow my husband got her number, and…

Rich Birch — Right.

Janetta Oni — He called her and said, she’ll only talk to you. And by the grace of God she met me…

Rich Birch — Wow.

Janetta Oni — …that day and said let’s talk.

Rich Birch — Right. Wow.

Janetta Oni — And um, that was the journey that was the beginning of a journey to just really sort some things out. Mental health is not a DIY project. And I love DIY pro… I love doing it myself. I cannot do mental health by myself.

Rich Birch — Right.

Janetta Oni — And really no one can.

Rich Birch — Right, right. Absolutely. Yeah, I love that. You know you talk about boundaries, and this is ah such a critical piece of this story. Help me understand your own journey to that. What did that um, you know how did you start to identify, okay here are the the boundaries I need to set up in my life that are healthier for me for me to serve to serve well – all that.

Janetta Oni — Um I think it started spiritually. My my counselor, she was a professional counselor, but she was also a believer, strong believer. Um, so she sometimes when you get higher in um, in authority and influence in a church or a ministry, people stop telling you things, like hey you are in sin. Um, that’s just kind of people just look up to you and see, but she she made me realize the idol that I had made my Christian work. Um and the idol that I had made my importance in that Christian work.

Rich Birch — Mmm-hmm.

Janetta Oni — Um well if I don’t do it, um, what’s going to happen? People are… she literally asked me one day, she was like, are people going to lose their salvation if you take a day off? And I was like well no, but you know so she held…

Rich Birch — Is yes.

Janetta Oni — I think that was the beginning. It’s just putting myself in a proper place. You know, not thinking of myself more highly than I ought to, as scripture says.

Rich Birch — Yes, yeah, yeah.

Janetta Oni — Um and even in a way that that’s good for me.

Rich Birch — Right, right.

Janetta Oni — It’s not just good for the church, it’s good for me. And then from that taking God’s Sabbath seriously. Taking um I shall work six days um, as unto the Lord, and then I shall rest. Um I think Christian leaders are infamous for breaking the sabbath and thinking God is proud of them for doing it.

Rich Birch — Right, right.

Janetta Oni — And I was that that was definitely me.

Rich Birch — Right.

Janetta Oni — So that that was the beginning. Um taking 24 hours together, a group of 24 hours, not staggered on a couple days…

Rich Birch — Yes.

Janetta Oni — …but just saying no. That taught me to say no.

Rich Birch — Right.

Janetta Oni — It and it started with just one day. And then um, then that led into boundaries of the work work week. I work 9 to 5, and then I go home to my family.

Rich Birch — Right.

Janetta Oni — And 9 to 5 is is enough to get done what God has called me to do. And to believe that. And to have faith in the time that God has given me to work, and to have faith when he says that’s enough. And so yeah.

Rich Birch — Yeah I I love that let’s let’s talk about the sabbath a little bit more. I think this is you’re you’re so right. It’s one of those practices that unfortunately so many of us don’t actually practice…

Janetta Oni — Yeah.

Rich Birch — …that we, you know, we find a way to kind of squeeze things in. Um and and listen, friends that are listening in, listen The Summit’s a high capacity church. There’s a lot going on. This is a you know fast-growing church, large, all of that…

Janetta Oni — Yes.

Rich Birch — …and the fact that you’re choosing in such a key leadership role to do that. Maybe talk about what some of the pressures are of taking sabbath…

Janetta Oni — Yeah.

Rich Birch — …help help us understand, you know, what how have you had to kind of structure your life so that that could be a part of you know, kind of your regular rhythm?

Janetta Oni — Yeah, so first of all I want to say to the ministers out there, I get it. It it feels different to talk about a sabbath when you work on Sunday. You know, ah my husband is a pastor, and so our work weeks look different. We both work for The Summit. I work Monday through Friday. He works kind of Monday through Thursday, a little bit on… so you know it just kind of gets. Um, so there’s there’s the idea of what happens when there’s an emergency?

Rich Birch — Right.

Janetta Oni — Um, what happens when I am working at the place where I’m worshipping? And so all of those are factors but um, and there’s just we have three kids who love their devices, and feel like they can’t you know function without them, and so when we say here’s a day off from your devices. They think this is the good Christian life? This sounds this doesn’t sound really like Jesus to me. Um.

Rich Birch — That’s funny.

Janetta Oni — But the thing that we decided to do is we um, kind of have a traditional sabbath, so we ah sabbath at sundown on Friday.

Rich Birch — Nice.

Janetta Oni — And we have a meal um like a meal at home, and um, we try to make it everyone’s favorite thing. Like so what do you want? Um, what do you want to eat? What are you looking forward to? So it’s just an incentive, but to look forward to something. Then Saturday ah we we don’t we try not to buy things. We try and not we’re definitely put our phones away. That’s the hardest thing. It’s not just to be off from work. It’s not a day off. It’s not just a day off, so let me get that yard work done. It’s a day um to set aside and enjoy the Lord. A day John Mark Comer has been very helpful in this. I don’t know if you guys guys have read his book – Ruthless Elimination of Hurry is one of my favorite books and has been very formative um in this. But starting with the sabbath, choosing a 24 hour period that your whole family can sabbath together. Um, and then giving yourself grace, you know. Learn to um, ah recognize in it in emergency. Sometimes there aren’t emergencies. Not everything can be an emergency.

Rich Birch — Right.

Janetta Oni — If it’s an emergency, I I jokingly say if it’s an emergency call 911, first of all.

Rich Birch — Yes, yes.

Janetta Oni — And if it’s the kind of emergency that only I can help, I know you’ll find me.

Rich Birch — Yeah.

Janetta Oni — And that’s actually been pretty rare…

Rich Birch — Right.

Janetta Oni — …and even for my husband who’s a pastor that’s that’s kind of rare it’s it’s more rare than we um, have made allowance for, so have faith that um God wants us to have a sabbath. Have faith that it’s his idea, and then just give it a try.

Rich Birch — Yeah, love it. And yeah, that’s a great that’s a great encouragement. You know if there’s ah if there’s an emergency every time you’re sabbathing, then there’s a problem with the way you have the rest of your life structured.

Janetta Oni — Right. Exactly.

Rich Birch — You know there’s some other issue we’ve got to address there.

Janetta Oni — Yes.

Rich Birch — Now you you commented or talked about leading, particularly creative folks. I’d love to lean in on this from this perspective, from that perspective. So I think we all struggle with this regardless of our kind of what we do in in ministry. But I think particularly folks who are creative um, and they so they are constantly kind of there’s a self-expression portion of what they do that it can be very difficult to turn it off.

Janetta Oni — Yes.

Rich Birch — It can be very difficult to say, oh I’m going to rest. Help me understand now from a management point of view, how are you leading other people to create healthy boundaries? How are you helping them to to not end up in a place where they’re…

Janetta Oni — Yeah.

Rich Birch — …you know, hiding in the middle school wing?

Janetta Oni — Right.

Rich Birch — How how are you doing that?

Janetta Oni — Um it it is um, it’s a tough thing. I think working at a church is hard work. I don’t um I don’t ever want to gloss over that. It’s hard it’s hard, rewarding work and there are certain pressures. And pressures aren’t always a bad thing. You know, there’s there’s deadlines and putting a creative process and a deadline together can be very… it seems counterintuitive. Um, so for me I think what’s important is to to have a a lot of white space – a lot of margin around the piece of paper. Um and to give give them set times and say, at this time I want you to do something that gives your brain a rest. Whether that’s reading, I make our team takes more walks around our building than any other team. Like…

Rich Birch — That’s great.

Janetta Oni — Like go walk around the building. Um it’s it’s it’s something that’s very important because your brain is always it’s it’s a different kind of work. Like there’s the kind of work where you’re doing physical activity and you’re producing something, you’re sitting and and you hold it up and say this is what I’ve done. I think we don’t account for things like decision fatigue. The kind of work where you’re trying to decide what’s right? What’s wrong? Do this, don’t do that. Um, those are the things that are that make us more prone to stress.

Rich Birch — Right.

Janetta Oni — And so my job as a leader this is—um, anyone on my team will tell you—what I do is I say here’s the fence. This is where you don’t go. This is the yard; here’s the fence. My job is to make the fence. Don’t go outside the fence. Now in the yard you can do whatever you want. I’ve set the boundaries of what not to do. And and I actually came up with this when I was with my kids and I’m like if I just have this area where I know my kids can’t wander off to, they can have at it. They can have as much fun as they want to.

Rich Birch — So true.

Janetta Oni — And they’re not being micromanaged. I’m not burning out from micromanaging them, and they have creative space without feeling like they’ll float out float off into outer space. You know like when everything is a um, available, then nothing’s available, you know? And so I think good leadership, I try to be a good leader I don’t. I try um, but I think giving people boundaries…

Rich Birch — Yeah.

Janetta Oni — …as to what they can and can’t do helps protect their boundaries too. If you say, this is…

Rich Birch — Right.

Janetta Oni — …this is what I want you to do, but I want you to do it the way you were designed to do it, is the safest thing for a lot of people. Give them give them a yard to play in, and give them a fence to feel safe.

Rich Birch — Yeah, what would be some of those those boundaries, because again I think particularly within the creative world, Sunday is always coming…

Janetta Oni — Amen.

Rich Birch — …or the weekend is always coming, right? Like there is a relentless and it seems like we go from Christmas to Mother’s Day…

Janetta Oni — Yeah.

Rich Birch — …to something in the summertime, to the fall launch to, Christmas to mother…

Janetta Oni — Yes.

Rich Birch — …like it’s like it just keeps going. It just is now it’s never ending. So yeah, what are some of those practically? What are some of those boundaries look like?

Janetta Oni — Um, so one of some of the boundaries is saying no. Um that that um I know there are a lot of ministries out there who feel like the gatekeepers, and the bad guys, because everyone has great ideas great ideas…

Rich Birch — Sure.

Janetta Oni — …and they really are great ideas, but we can’t do all of them.

Rich Birch — Right.

Janetta Oni — And so one of the boundaries is saying, hey this is what we’re working on Easter, you know what we’re working on in Easter? Easter.

Rich Birch — Yes, yes.

Janetta Oni — Um, we have done the the creative work for the sermon series that we’re doing, and we we have to limit the capacity of what we’re called to do. Um and sometimes that’s staff staff to staff. So just having a good relationship with other staff to realize we’re not doing this to be mean…

Rich Birch — Right.

Janetta Oni — …we’re just doing this because there’s 10 people on this team that and they can’t do everything. And so learning to say no to projects. Or saying wait to projects. Let’s wait and do this. We don’t have… we do have to do Easter on Easter Sunday.

Rich Birch — Yes.

Janetta Oni — We can do that maybe in the summer? Um…

Rich Birch — Right, right, right, right. Yes.

Janetta Oni — So so just having boundaries with your calendar, with our calendar, saying these are the events. This is what it’s going to take. Working together, um, having people from other departments in our church come in and say, hey you’re creative too. I know you don’t get paid for this, and you don’t have that much to do for this, so hey you want to help with this project a little bit? That helps have fun with it to actually do something new.

Janetta Oni — And um I think the most important thing is just to plan.

Rich Birch — Right.

Janetta Oni — Ah the plan out if like like we said before, if everything’s on fire, then eventually we’re gonna be on fire.

Rich Birch — Yes, yes.

Janetta Oni — So let some let’s take some… We’ve been working since I got here and I think we’re finally there to ah, bump everything back, like to the point where we’re gonna start talking about Christmas this month…

Rich Birch — Yeah, good. Great. Yeah.

Janetta Oni — …you know, instead of oh wait! It’s November what’s that thing we always do December?

Rich Birch — Yes, yes, yes, yes.

Janetta Oni — Oh yeah, Jesus was born – we should probably um, but just ah remember the things that are coming up and talking about them in advance. And I think we finally – it’s possible guys, I know…

Rich Birch — Yes.

Janetta Oni — …working at a church is like, now we’ve been trying to get things backed up like four weeks out, three months out forever. You can do it. You can do it.

Rich Birch — Yes, yeah, absolutely. Yeah, particularly for some of those big days. I think on the creative side, there’s some of that that we know, like you say at Christmas, Easter. Every church has 4 or 5 of those days a year that you know are are big deals…

Janetta Oni — Yes.

Rich Birch — …and you know you can kind of keep them on the on the burner so they don’t surprise us right, and we can get ahead and be amazed, right?

Janetta Oni — Right.

Rich Birch — The things we can work on ahead of time. Yeah, that’s great. What would you say to someone who’s listening in, you know, there’s someone who’s listening in who has had the experience that you had of hiding in the middle school room, might have been something different.

Janetta Oni — Right.

Rich Birch — What would you say to them… but they’re still there. They’re still like um they don’t want to talk to anybody. They they heard “compassion fatigue” today and they’re like, I think that might be me. What would be some of those first steps you would you would encourage them to take?

Janetta Oni — So I think ah the first thing is to determine um, is it am I living ah with toxic habits, or am I in toxic environment? Um one of those things you can control. Um I am I am a person who loves the local church, and I say if you are in a place where, you know, your your church is maybe in the awkward teenage phase of and it’s just trying to figure itself out, and trying to grow into its body, have some patience, and you know stick with it. If you’re in a toxic environment, I think with a literal toxic environment, if there are actual chemical toxins in the air, you have to ask yourself how much longer can I stay in this environment before my health is poisoned, and I am not okay? So that’s between you and the sermon of those wiser people around you and God whether it’s time to stay or go.

Janetta Oni — Now, the second part is to say am I just behaving in toxic ways? Is is this kind of self-inflicted? It could be both, but to look in and say, what am I doing…

Rich Birch — Right.

Janetta Oni — …to contribute to this? Like do I need help? And have I been trying to DIY this for a long time? Do I need some objective help? I would say probably the answer is yes. Get it get the counselor get somebody get ah a good counselor. There are bad counselors out there; get a good counselor. Um, preferably a Christian counselor someone, or a counselor who is a Christian um, if they’re a professional counselor. And get some objective like, here here’s my story, what do you think is going on here?

Rich Birch — Right.

Um, and I think those are the first two steps. What’s going on? Is is the environment toxic? Am I behaving toxic? Is it a little bit of both? And who can help me sort this out?

Rich Birch — Yeah.

Janetta Oni — I think that’s our very first steps with it.

Rich Birch — Love it. Janetta, this has been fantastic. So helpful. Anything else you’d like to share just as we wrap up today’s episode?

Janetta Oni — Um I think I just want to just remind everyone who works at a church, your work is so important. Um, and you are the church too. Um I think when we start to become leaders in the church, we forget that we’re also the flock. And and it is a great thing to lay down your life for those you love. Just make sure it’s the way Jesus would want you to and not the way um, unhealthy habits is. Don’t sacrifice your health just due to bad habits. Do it. Don’t sacrifice your health at all. But if you if you’re picking up your cross and bearing it and laying down your life for others, make sure it’s Jesus ordained, and not due to just unhealthy habits. Really, really parse that out.

Rich Birch — Love it. So helpful. I think this’s been such an encouraging conversation today. I know that’s our hope, that’s our prayer.

Janetta Oni — Yeah.

Rich Birch — I know that’s your hope as well. Thank you so much. If people want to track with you or with the church where do we want to send them online to just kind of connect with you know…

Janetta Oni — Yeah

Rich Birch — …what’s going on the church and all that?

Janetta Oni — You can follow The Summit, um mostly on Instagram. That’s where you’ll see most of us is Summit RDU um, that’s where ah, um, we are on all the channels. Um I’m Janetta Oni everywhere – Janetta Oni on ah if you follow me on Instagram you’re just gonna see a lot of funny memes because I like to go to social media and giggle.

Rich Birch — I love it.

Janetta Oni — Because so much of my work is in in in social media and it can be a dark place. So I’m just gonna go there and giggle.

Rich Birch — Yeah. Yeah, I love it.

Janetta Oni — Um, so yeah, you can follow us. You see some of our creative work there.

Rich Birch — Great thanks so much, Janetta. I appreciate you being here. Thanks for helping out today.

Janetta Oni — Absolutely. I’m just… thanks for letting me be here, Rich.

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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.