Managing High Performance Multisite Creative Teams with Melody Workman

Thanks for joining us for the unSeminary podcast. We’re talking with Executive Creative Director Melody Workman from California-based Sandals Church – one of the fastest growing churches in the country for several years now.

It’s hard for churches everywhere to build high performance volunteer teams. Often our growth strategy for volunteer teams doesn’t match our growth strategy for church planting or campus expansion. Listen in as Melody shares about how to shift to a team-building mentality that will support growth at your church.

  • Make the shift to building robust teams. // At first Sandals Church had a great growth strategy for planting campuses, but no growth strategy for building high performance volunteer teams. Melody began putting a lot of emphasis around the idea that when hiring someone they can’t simply be really skilled at their job, but they also need to be a strong team builder, or they probably won’t work out at the church.
  • Who knows what you know? // Great leaders always ask two questions: Who knows what I know, and who can do what I do? As church leaders we may falsely believe that if someone else is as skilled as we are that we are devalued. But the truth is that when we reproduce ourselves, we have increased our value. Now we’ve trained others to know what we know.
  • What do you value? // When it comes to what the church values, Melody tells her team that if they’re not vocal about it and it’s not visible, it’s not really a value. Team building needs to be front and center all the time if it’s something a church values. Talk about team building in your meetings and cast vision around it for your team. People are not drawn to tasks, they’re drawn to vision. Recognize that team building brings value to the volunteers involved, the campuses, and to the church.
  • Show the volunteers you appreciate them. // You’ll find that volunteers will care about the work that needs to be done when you care about them. Recruiting is only part of the job; build time in your calendar to express gratitude to your volunteers. Let them know that you couldn’t do everything you do without them, and that you wouldn’t want to.
  • Growing pains of a growing church. // Growing churches are going to have growing pains. For example, it can be hard for the central team to be aligned with the campuses. First, celebrate the fact that you are growing. Then establish wins. Melody worked with the executive team at Sandals Church to outline the Weekend Win: what is the win on that weekend regardless of what campus you are at? They also have weekend evaluations that come from the campuses to the central network staff every weekend. Supervisors from both areas review these evaluations.
  • Look for the little wins. // When recruiting team members, every leader brings different strengths to the table. Work with leaders at each campus to set sizable, reachable goals. Melody underscores that it’s important to celebrate before you evaluate so that you don’t deflate your team. Leaders at Sandals know they will be evaluated on team building, so Melody makes sure they are offered constant encouragement when they take steps toward this goal. Every step is celebrated. Without celebration, a team will become deflated by evaluations, and a deflated team will underperform every time. Celebrate the small things and it helps evaluations become less of a nemesis.
  • Building and Caring For Your Team. // Sandals works to train up leaders from within, and one of the ways they do this is through ROGO school, which stands for Real with Ourselves, God and Others. One of the ROGO resources Melody has developed is called Building and Caring For Your Team. Help leaders build and care for their teams by watching the video below, and downloading this PDF.

You can visit Melody online at www.melodyworkman.com or on Instagram @MelodyWorkman. You can find out more about Sandals Church at sandalschurch.com.

The Vision And Heart On Building Teams | ROGO School | Sandals Church

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Thank You to This Episode’s Sponsor: Leadership Pathway

If you are trying to find, develop and keep young leaders on your team look no further than Leadership Pathway. They have worked with hundreds of churches, and have interviewed thousands of candidates over the past several years. They are offering a new ebook about five of the core competencies that are at the heart of the leadership development process with every church that they partner with…just go to leadershippathway.org/unseminary to pick up this free resource.

Episode Transcript

Rich Birch — Hey, friends, welcome to the unSeminary podcast. So glad that you have decided to tune in today. You know every week we try to bring you a leader who will both inspire and equip you, and this week is no exception. I am super excited for, been looking forward to this conversation. The Executive Director of Story and Experience from Sandals Church. Sandals is an incredible church – Dan Zimbardi was on in the past, executive pastor from there. It’s repeatedly on the fastest growing church list across the country. They are consistently there and have been there a bunch of times which means we need to lean in and learn from them. If I’m counting right they have 13 campuses across California, plus Spanish services, and church online. A robust online strategy that I’ve pointed to multiple times with Sandals Church Anywhere. Melody is ah the leader we’re talking to today. Melody welcome to the show. So glad you’re here.

Melody Workman — Hey Rich. Thanks so much for having me. I’m excited to be here.

Rich Birch — Yeah, this is going to be great. I why don’t you fill in the story. What am I missing about Sandals? I feel like it’s hard to keep up with – you guys are always moving, always shaking. There’s always something new.

Melody Workman — Yeah.

Rich Birch — So what what what do we what did I miss about the the Sandals story?

Melody Workman — Well I think you covered it pretty well. We we did recently just make a change on my team specifically. We we’ve been the story and experience team but we’ve just now moved over to being Sandals Creative…

Rich Birch — Okay, nice.

Melody Workman — …and that’s worship production video and design. And we have kind of our tagline is that we we tell stories and create experiences that connect people to Jesus in real life.

Rich Birch — Love it.

Melody Workman — Our vision at sandals is this vision of being real, and so I want to bring storytellers, and artists, musicians, people who love audio production, all of that stuff here who want to tell the greatest story ever told and connect people to Jesus in their real life. Not a weekend experience, but ah, a day by day experience that they where they love and encounter Jesus.

Rich Birch — Love it. You know for folks that are listening in Melody is at the center of a a church that does a great job on exactly what she’s talking about. You you have you know huge influence over this area. But when I hear all those areas; I’m like there’s a ton of people behind all of that.

Melody Workman — Right.

Rich Birch — Talk me through kind of what the you know you just which I loved just you know, rattled through here’s all these different teams – talk about those teams give us a bit of the scope, scale – help us think through that, give us ah a sense for folks that are listening in, on the team side…

Melody Workman — Sure.

Rich Birch — …when you think about here here are the kind of areas that you’re leading.

Melody Workman — Yeah, so worship and production. We run live services, multiple live services at our campuses. Right now we do have 14 – ah our latest campus that we’re launching in Santa Rosa which is north of San Francisco um isn’t fully launched, so we’re running one service there right now. But we have one part time person in worship, and one part-time person production at these campuses which means everybody else is a volunteer, so I’m excited to get into talking about how we do that, because it’s 52 weekends a year we got to keep this machine rolling.

Melody Workman — Video and design are really our teams around um everything that you see outward facing around our art, bumpers for video for sermon series, any videos that we create, story videos. They are the ones who are kind of thinking through how do we make this idea come alive. We work a lot with our senior pastor, Matt Brown. He comes into these conversations. Um, and it’s different for every senior pastor, but he really loves to sit in the ideation phase And we we kind of lean in and like what’s God saying to him. Okay, how do we bring this to life. So um, we have a lot of fun. But um, we we work really hard.

Rich Birch — Love it. Yeah, so there’s a lot of people wrapped up in there. A lot of teams. I love the you know the focus on volunteers. I think sometimes there’s this misnomer as churches grow larger that like well that’s like got all be paid people…

Melody Workman — Yes.

Rich Birch — …but you know Sandals has done so much of what you do is with volunteers. I’d love to learn from you on that. What what what is the ah maybe some of the the problem around building teams? When you think about, Okay, it’s difficult for churches to do that. Why is it? Why is it so hard for us to build high performance teams?

Melody Workman — Yeah, man, when I first moved into the role that I’m I’m in now, I recognize that we had a ah problem and that we had this growth strategy to plant campuses, but we had no growth strategy for our worship and production teams.

Rich Birch — Oh that’s good.

Melody Workman — So when you take them out of the equation, weekend services are going to really take a nosedive. You know you walk into a service you want a full band, you want a stage that’s alive, you want ah a full booth where people are running and in the lights, the lyrics, everything looks and sounds really good. So I recognized, we don’t have a growth strategy for this. And so when I was visiting campuses I was seeing really small teams and I I thought we’ve got to address this. So I kind of started putting a lot of emphasis around this idea that at at our core, when I’m hiring someone, they may be a great musician. They may be able to sing riffs ah around, you know, whatever. They may know everything about tech. If they do not value and understand that they are a team builder, they’re probably not going to work out here. And so it’s a unique person to find…

Rich Birch — It is.

Melody Workman — …musicians – you can find musicians everywhere, especially when you’re an hour outside of LA, But do do you have someone who wants to invest in people? And so that’s where I recognize our core problem wasn’t just, a hey you guys got to build teams and get people. I really had to help people see and embrace the value of it. What is it actually that we are trying to do? And that’s when I think we’ve made a real shift um, to have the robust teams that we have right now.

Rich Birch — Yeah I love this. And and for folks that are listening in, like I have found this same tension around ah particularly in our creative department where it’s like it seems like—and listen I love creatives. I love worship leaders. I love people that do creative things—but there’s like a um, I want to be the person on stage you know, kind of undercurrent with some – not with all – where it’s like and and the idea of replicating other leaders – finding, releasing, equipping, other leaders. It seems to be difficult for folks in that domain. is that true am I misreading that I feel like I bumped into that dynamic.

Melody Workman — Sure. Yeah.

Rich Birch — Have you seen that with some leaders?

Melody Workman — Absolutely. I think it’s difficult for leaders to think about it because I think that we are often thinking about it through the wrong lens. We think that if someone else is as good as we are, we have devalued ourselves. When the truth is when we when we when we reproduce ourselves, we have increased our value because now there’s someone else who knows what we know. I think I think great leaders are always asking these two questions: who knows what I know, and can do what I do.

Rich Birch — That’s good.

Melody Workman — This is what I this is what I burn into our team: who knows what you know and can do what you do? You need to that needs to get you out of bed, that needs to motivate you during the day. You need to be seen. I mean when Covid hit, we all had this weight to carry of who who can fill in? I’m I’m positive or I’ve been I’ve been you know exposed. What are we going to do? So that really did create a moment where I think our teams in a fresh way understood how important this is. People have to know what I know and can do what I do. if I’m the only one who knows this, I am not an asset to the organization the way that I could be, if not only I know it, but 2, 3, 4, 5 other people know it as well. So it’s been a shift to get people to see that. But here’s the other here’s the other beautiful thing too. Um. What I tell our team all the time is people are not drawn to task, people are drawn to vision.

Rich Birch — True.

Melody Workman — So throw this idea of asking people to help out the window. I say all the time – we are not asking people to help we are empowering people to serve. Um. You know 1 Peter makes it really clear that God’s given each of us a gift. He did the hard work of giving us the gifts and skills we need. We just have to empower people to use them. And so I’ve watched you know one campus in particular, our model is really around dying churches, and going in, and bringing new life to them. And so we had a campus where there were 8 people left…

Rich Birch — Wow.

Melody Workman — …in this in this certain congregation. Everyone was over 65. And so we had a part time worship lead. How’s he gonna build a team there?

Rich Birch — Right. Yes.

Melody Workman — Like what how is he going to do this? He he now has um, he now has 20% of the congregation on his team on on his team.

Rich Birch — Wow! That’s amazing.

Melody Workman — And and and they’re young, and they’re vibrant, and they’re full of passion. And when I interviewed him for a conversation not too long ago, I said what was the strategy? And he goes like this I just don’t quit.

Rich Birch — Right. Nice. Love it.

Melody Workman — That that was it. Like that was the answer. He just he… I hustle. And so I think too when it comes to team building, we can talk about things to try and things that you should do. But I think at the end of the day leaders have to be telling their teams, this is a grind. It is a grind. If you’re built on a volunteer structure like we are, this is a grind. It doesn’t go away. Volunteers get to quit whenever they want to, like Sunday morning at 7:30 they get to quit if they want to.

Rich Birch — Yes, yes.

Melody Workman — And so we have to know that we have to understand this is the reality of the situation.

Rich Birch — Yes.

Melody Workman — But when you’re empowering people to serve and you’re casting vision, man people want to be a part of that.

Rich Birch — Yes.

Melody Workman — And that’s how we’re seeing our teams grow.

Rich Birch — Love it. I love that you’re calling this out, you know. This is one of these things in campus expansion, you know, I coach churches around that – I’ve done a bunch of that myself – and oftentimes I come back, the way I say it is, like there’s a lot of this that’s just isn’t sexy.

Melody Workman — Right. Yep.

Rich Birch — Like it’s just a ton of work like. It is we’re going to call people. We’re going to get in front of them. We’re going to… when you talk about the grind, that team building is the grind. What would be some of those elements of the grind? With leaders that are really succeeding and building strong teams in your environment, what are those things that they’re kind of consistently doing that feels like, you know, wow we’re just we’re just pounding on this time and time again?

Melody Workman — Yeah, that’s a great that’s a great question. I would say I start with this idea of a value, like what is a value? And so here’s here’s what I tell my team: if you’re not vocal, and it’s not visible, it’s not a value. Don’t don’t say building a team is a value if you don’t talk about it and you don’t see it. My teams know, they know when we go into a team meeting or whatever, we aren’t not talking about team building. It’s it’s gonna show up. They you know they might do a little eye roll. But they know we’re talking about it because of the value. The value that it brings to their campus, and the value that it brings to our church, and the value that it brings to the person.

Rich Birch — Right.

Melody Workman — Um, when I meet our volunteers around our campuses when I travel, they’re so excited to be a part of the team. They’re so thrilled that they’re getting to use these gifts and skills. Someone had to go invite them. Someone had to go have a conversation. So one of the things that I tell my team is start with this idea that if this is a value, you’re talking about your team all the time, you’re casting vision for your team, because if it’s if you’re not vocal and it’s not visible, it’s not a value. Um, well.

Rich Birch — That’s so good.

Melody Workman — One of the second things that I tell our leaders all the time too is you’re going to find volunteers that care about the work when they feel that you care about them. And so don’t don’t like recruiting is just a part of it. Um, there’s this after piece to, you know, doing things that cost nothing, but mean everything. Text text your team, like build time in your calendar to, hey our weekend services were dynamic and you were a part of making that happen. We’ve adapted the phrase for volunteers, we couldn’t do this without you, and we say that – it’s true.

Rich Birch — Yeah, it’s absolutely true.

Melody Workman — Like we we’ve got a part time person, like on that’s who’s getting paid, and so that’s gonna last you for about a couple weeks until the congregation’s like where’s everybody at, you know? So let your volunteers know we couldn’t do this without you, and we wouldn’t want to. And so we’ve we do some strategy things, but I sometimes when I’m sitting with one of our campus leads in there like I’m having a really hard time building a team, I’m like tell me what you’ve tried. And a lot of times they’re they’re thinking up here like and I need to be doing this and spending a lot of money, when really put on your calendar: text everybody on your team.

Rich Birch — Yes.

Melody Workman — It’s gonna take you less than an hour. It’s it’s little things. And sometimes we we skip the little things, and then we miss big results as a you know because of that.

Rich Birch — Yeah, I love that. Yeah I love that. When when you say part time, how how part time is part time that those those people are? Does it vary depending on the campus size or what does that look like?

Melody Workman — Yeah, so if we have a campus that runs 3 services, sometimes you’re up it’s like up to 25 hours.

Rich Birch — Right.

Melody Workman — If they run 2 services, it’s 20 hours. They have a midweek rehearsal. But we don’t like these aren’t full time roles…

Rich Birch — Right.

Melody Workman — …like this is not the only thing these people have going on so it’s even more of a challenge. So we have to really sometimes sit down with them and say, you’ve got this many hours a week. Team building is our highest value. I want to see this reflected in your hours.

Rich Birch — Right.

Melody Workman — I want you to show me with your hours what you’re doing and and how you’re connecting with your team, reaching out to them, having conversations. Um, and and with our model, I often say to our campus lead, when you’re feeling a pain point here I want to know what your dialogue with your campus pastor is like. Because your campus pastor wants a full stage, I can tell you right now I know he does. So how many conversations are you having with him around this idea?

Rich Birch — Right.

Melody Workman — So in our model we’ve got we call it Network; a lot of people might call it central. Then we’ve got the campus. Our job at the Network is to resource, train, and equip these campus leads. So we resource them. We train them. We equip them. And so but it’s a very collaborative effort from a coaching perspective that you’ve got a Network supervisor and a campus pastor aligned with each other that team building is a value. It doesn’t work if one holds it and one doesn’t.

Rich Birch — Yeah, that’s very true.

Melody Workman — So we so we spend a lot of time with our multi-site model, making sure that networking campus supervisors are aligned with what the employee should actually be producing.

Rich Birch — Love that. Let’s talk about that a little bit more. We did so unSeminary for about a year we did this once-a month episode that was on multisite. And it was at what what we did was we had this like roundtable. It was the same people every month. People would send in their questions and the um after about six months I realized everyone is sending us the exact same question, which is exactly what you just talked about there.

Melody Workman — Yeah.

Rich Birch — Some version of, in your language, Network versus Campus.

Melody Workman — Yeah.

Rich Birch — It’s like, how do I get these people to work together? How do we get alignment? How do we get our Network Supervisors and our and our ah Campus Pastors, how do we get them working together? Talk us through what that looks like – it could be within you know this this particular area or more broadly. How are you doing that? How are you staying connected, ensuring that you’re aligned with those people?

Melody Workman — Yeah, this is the ongoing conversation in an organization, you know, the size of ours. And I I, like you, when I talk to friends in ministry who are multi-site, this is just an ongoing pain point. So I think one of the things that we have to recognize is if you’re in a growing church, you have growing pains. This is a growing pain of a growing church. So we shouldn’t go man, this isn’t working. We should say, hey we’re having growing pains.

Rich Birch — Yes, yes, yes.

Melody Workman — Let’s celebrate that we’re growing. Um, let’s not take that for granted so where I’ve put a lot of time and effort into this is as I visit the campuses and I understand, one, I established something called the Weekend Win. What is the win on the weekend regardless of what camp Sandals Church campus you’re at?

Rich Birch — Okay.

Melody Workman — Um and that started with ah a conversation with a guy on our executive team who oversees our campus pastors. We collaborated and said, we feel like these things are what are inside a Weekend Win: a team that’s well-prepped, a team that brings presence to the platform into the booth. They’re they’re they’re reading the room; they know what to do. And they’re they’re highly connected to people, so loving the volunteers, recruiting new people. This is this is what we want it to look like. We feel like when you’ve got these three components, a dynamic weekend service is is going to happen.

Melody Workman — So then we kind of had to take a step back from those and then go, okay, so then what does it look like for there to be collaboration around making… how how do we make this happen? So some of the some of the tactical things that we’ve done are, because we also have some dual role employees.

Rich Birch — Yep.

Melody Workman — They’re a full time employee with 20 hours at the Network 20 hours at the campus. So they’ve got two hard lines. So how how do we make that work?

Rich Birch — Yes.

Melody Workman — Um, we’ve we’ve done some things like two on ones. So there’s there’s a 1 on 1 but then once a month there’s a 2 on 1.

Rich Birch — Okay.

Melody Workman — And that looks like the Network Supervisor, Campus Pastor having a quick brief conversation…

Rich Birch — Oh that’s good.

Melody Workman — …before they sit down with the employee, and they go, hey from my perspective, she’s doing great. From my perspective, she’s really struggling. Okay, where? And then let’s we’re gonna address those. The second thing we do is we have weekend evaluations that come from the campuses to the network every weekend. And campus pastors and network supervisors both have eyes on those. So they know the campus pastor was at his campus so he could tell you, I felt like this went well. The Network Supervisor who may not be there can go, there was some behind the scenes stuff that you that you’re not aware of that we need to touch base on. So the weekend evals tell us a lot about how it’s actually going. And and they both have eyes on that.

Rich Birch — Yeah.

Melody Workman — Um and and and so we’ve had to address, how do we do performance reviews. Um, and we’re we’re still working through some of these, but what I have what I have said to our campus pastors and Network leads is, if we have a frustrated dual role employee most likely that’s our fault, not theirs.

Rich Birch — Oh so true. So true.

Melody Workman — We haven’t we haven’t created a structure that’s working for them, so they’re not doing great work for us. Let’s improve the structure. Let’s improve the process, and then let’s see if their performance grows. And and by and large it really has as we have addressed the the pain points with having the network campus, you know, fun, fun structure.

Rich Birch — Yes, tension tension to be managed.

Melody Workman — Yes, yes.

Rich Birch — Yeah I love that. So many times that’s that’s such great, friends, if you just listen and there’s some great coaching that we just went through there. Thank you so much you know for that, Melody. You know so many times that conversation degenerates down to who’s in charge. It’s like who gets to fire who. And that’s like the worst case scenario!

Melody Workman — Right, right.

Rich Birch — And I love that picture of let’s get together and agree on what the win is, let’s do the hard work at the campus leadership and network leadership to say, Okay, what is it that we’re actually trying to do? Because we both need to agree on that because we’re pushing at it from just different angles.

Melody Workman — Yeah.

Rich Birch — We’re trying to come to the same thing where as opposed to, you know, because oftentimes that’s where the tension is created. They both sides of that equation maybe think the win is different. They don’t…

Melody Workman — Yes.

Rich Birch — They don’t actually have alignment on what that is. That’s very good. When you when you…

Melody Workman — Well and one thing I would…oh go ahead.

Rich Birch — Sorry, go no go ahead.

Melody Workman — No one thing I was gonna say to that, Rich, because this is something that I hear a lot even when I talk to pastors and friends in in other churches. One of the things I think needs that needs to be addressed at the executive level is, if ah, if a senior pastor, an executive pastor, is visiting a campus and they hear something or see something they don’t like… I call it the power of the first text. Who are they texting when the stage isn’t going where they want it to, or there’s production issues? Whoever they’re texting first has to have a voice, and weight, and and say into how those things are going.

Melody Workman — So I’ve heard of churches that are structured where the campus pastor has full autonomy in terms of leadership over campus staff. But if someone visits their campus and and they don’t love how it went, they’re texting someone at the network but that network that person on the network doesn’t have a voice. They don’t have say into it. So I would I would put it back on executive level leaders to say if when you visit a campus and there’s something that you don’t like or something you want to see more of, the power of the first text. Who is that person? Make sure they have a voice and a seat at the decision making table. Um, otherwise you’re you’re creating the problem. And and you need to address that by giving leverage and decision making responsibilities to the people that you’re reaching out to to say, hey fix this.

Rich Birch — Yeah I Love it.

Melody Workman — So that’s ah, that’s a pain point that comes up a lot that I hear about.

Rich Birch — Yeah, that’s good. I love it. So on the team building, you know how do we build and release great teams volunteer teams. What is Sandals doing from a recruiting point of view? Like I think sometimes there’s this tension of like somebody else needs to get up and talk about this thing and that’ll solve my problems. Like and whether that’s in creative or in you know, other areas, what is what is kind of recruiting at kind of a system wide point of view look like and then how does that relate to you know what your particular team is doing?

Melody Workman — Um, I think we I think one of the things that we talk about is our our core values that we’re raising up within our own church the people that we want to see. I I want to I want to visit a campus… I will sometimes sit down with a worship lead and say. You know what a win looks like for you? A win looks like for you when you’re on but you’re off. Meaning you’re at your campus. You’re coaching your team, but you’re not on a position, because you have raised up and developed people who can do what you do. They know what you know, and they can do what you do. So you’re walking in a rehearsal with a coffee, you’re cheering them, on you’re highfiving them, but you don’t have to be on because of the work that you’ve done.

Melody Workman — So we’ve we’ve put a lot of training and resourcing around our own development. We have what we call ROGO school—that’s Real with Ourselves, God and Others—because that’s our vision, but it’s ah it’s a development. It’s a training school. We’re trying to train up from within. So I can tell you that for us on the worship side of things, um 70% of our most recent worship lead hires have all come through ROGO School.

Rich Birch — Hmm – wow.

Melody Workman — We’ve trained, and equipped, and resourced them, and then we’ve hired them. So just recently I was at an event that we were having and every single person on the platform was in ROGO school.

Rich Birch — Right.

Melody Workman — They were and so I’m I’m watching it work.

Rich Birch — Right.

Melody Workman — Um, you know you know we you know we’ll utilize some of the higher level things, you know if we want to reach out to a head hunter, creative staffing, church staffing – those type of things for higher level roles. Um, but when we’re looking for these part-time roles, a lot of that we’re doing internally…

Rich Birch — Right.

Melody Workman — …because we trust our own process.

Rich Birch — Yes, yes.

Melody Workman — Like we we know this person knows what they need to know. And sometimes when when you’re growing church The DNA of the church culture inside a person is more important than their raw talent or skill.

Rich Birch — Right, right.

Melody Workman — They they might be able to lead like crazy. But if they don’t understand the context in which they’re leading, it’s not going to work. So we’ve we’ve done a lot of hard work. You mentioned Dan Zimbardi before – he he really kind of birthed this idea of let’s train him up ourselves. And so we’re we’re seeing the fruits of that in in the past few years for sure.

Rich Birch — Love it. When you take it kind of a layer below that—so I’m at of campus, I’m one of these part time people, I’m ah—what ah what are we doing as a church or what’s the church doing ah to help me find a drummer? I need a draw I need more drummers. There always seems to be, you know, that seems to be an issue.

Melody Workman — Yeah.

Rich Birch — How much of that is just on that individual leader? Are you doing like a regular recruiting process at that level for like the volunteers on your teams? What does talk us through what that looks like.

Melody Workman — Well, what’s what’s been beautiful as as we’ve grown is, you know, everybody brings different strengths to the table.

Rich Birch — Yeah.

Melody Workman —So I might have a worship leader at this campus and they’re just the dynamic team builder. They’re a people person, they’re charismatic. They’re work in the lobby every week, they’re they’re they’re just that person. Then I’ve got a person who maybe is more introverted, conversations are difficult for them, and so what we do is we look at the size of the campus and then we set sizable reachable goals. So I might say, you know to to one of our worship leads, your campus is about 300 um, you’ve you’ve auditioned X amount of people, I want to set a 30 to 60 day goal. I want you to have 3 conversations and audition one person by the end of the month. Can you do that?

Rich Birch — Right, right.

Melody Workman — These bite size goals because then what happens is—and this is one of the key points I think when when you’re when we talk about hey team building is our thing, you’re being evaluated by team building—one of my core principles across the board as a leader is celebrate before you evaluate so that you don’t deflate your team.

Rich Birch — Oh that’s good.

Melody Workman — Since I want them to do this. They’re constantly being evaluated by how they’re doing. But ah, but a deflated team is going to underperform every single time. So I will reach out to that lead and say hey did you have the conversation, how did it go? Oh I was nervous, but I did it. Dude, you did it! You did it. That’s awesome. You had a conversation. Dude, you might have a new drummer in just a month. How think think about how awesome that’s gonna be.

Rich Birch — Right.

Melody Workman — And that celebration is like fuel in the tank for them. And so what I’ve what I’ve seen, Rich, and and this is how I know it works, is that through celebration, evaluation becomes less and less of a nemesis. It becomes less and less of like, ah oh I can’t stand this. And then when when they feel like there’s this, okay I’m celebrated so the evaluation is gonna come. They’re not deflated. A deflated team is a depleted team.

Rich Birch — Right, right.

Melody Workman — They’re exhausted even if the work isn’t too much.

Rich Birch — Right.

Melody Workman — They’re just constantly feeling your displeasure.

Rich Birch — Right.

Melody Workman — So I have we have to look for the little wins. When we started a campus up in the mountains, um, we we recognize right I mean right right off the bat, they’re gonna attract most of the same people all the time. They’re not gonna get the influx of visitors that are other campuses get. We’ve got to do things differently. So that leader we started going, hey what could you do? You could visit some coffee shops? Could you put together a jam night. Could you… and he just went into the grind. But every time he auditioned somebody, we we like went nuts. We were like you did it! Dude you did it!

Rich Birch — Ah, that’s great.

Melody Workman — And now he’s built this phenomenal team.

Rich Birch — Yeah, yeah, yeah, that’s so good.

Melody Workman — And so it’s a grind, but man when you celebrate the little wins, your team will go the distance; they will do the work.

Rich Birch — Yeah, love it. Can you talk to us… this is kind of a foundational question I probably should have started here, but you think 600 episodes in I could think through this these things but um, you know we’ve been talking so much about the fact that you have such you know part-time staff like that which is an amazing. Um why? Like why not just… so the church could afford it. Um, you know I love the decision. It’s not a challenging question from a like, I think you made the wrong decision – I love it. But explain why. What is the thinking behind that?

Melody Workman — Well…

Rich Birch — Particularly in this area, particularly in the worship and creative area. Why why not just because you could hire ah, band of 8 people and they could be there every weekend…

Melody Workman — Sure.

Rich Birch — …and and you wouldn’t have to do any of this.

Melody Workman — Well, it’s an interesting that’s that’s a great question. I think it what it comes down to is overall our church is is built on a model of discipleship.

Rich Birch — Yep.

Melody Workman — We think that we can we can equip people to do the work that they’ve been called to do, based on you know 1 Peter 4:10. And in doing so they’re becoming more like Christ, which fits within our discipleship model. You know we have something called a growth path. We want to move people through this growth path. And if they’re a contract musician that’s showing up on the weekend, that’s not a bad thing. I mean we we know they’re going to hold it down at electric guitar. We know they’re going to hold it down on keys, but are they becoming more like Christ in the process? We value that more than we value, sure we got a full team.

Rich Birch — Yes, yes.

Melody Workman — And so shat’s why the grind is there because spiritual growth is a grind, you know?

Rich Birch — Yes, yes.

Melody Workman — So we have to just kind of embrace that. Listen helping people become more like Christ is painful. It’s refining, it’s difficult, but I’ve got a guy on my team, Rich, who visited Sandals Church, was was deep into drugs, like he he was dealing them. He was he was a mule type of in in that. And his friends’s like, you dude, you gotta go to church. You gotta turn your life around. And I have watched him go from sitting in the audience, hearing a message, deciding to come back, auditioning for the team, and now one of the best worship leaders we have on our staff. And that doesn’t happen if we just go, hey we’ll pay you to play the drums.

Rich Birch — Right.

Melody Workman — Hey we’ll pay you to… and again I’m not putting that down…

Rich Birch — No.

Melody Workman — …because in some situations you have to do it. You can do but in this in this model is the work hard? 100%. But is the return the most amazing thing ever to watch people go you get to watch people on their growth path? It’s like nothing else. It’s like…

Rich Birch — Yeah, love it.

Melody Workman — And sometimes in Ministry you’re just you’re just dying for some joy. You know you’re just dying for some wins.

Rich Birch — Ah, yes.

Melody Workman — So when you get to see people come in where they come in and watch where God takes them through this discipleship process, it it makes it all worth it. As hard as it is, it makes it worth it.

Rich Birch — Yeah, so good, Melody. That’s fantastic. Yeah I’ve lived in both worlds where we’ve you know, paid a lot of creative people and and ah both approaches have lots of issues with them. What the the path you’ve taken um, yeah, it’s like you say it’s the grind. It’s it’s hard work. But I think it’s a better set of problems.

Melody Workman — Yeah.

Rich Birch — I think like you’re saying it’s actually pushing us towards what we’re supposed to be doing as a church. It’s it’s pushing us towards discipleship. And and, friends, you know we’ve talked about this in other contexts. Ah fast-growing churches have a lower per capita staff than slow growing churches. They have less staff per capita. That is just what happens. And you’re seeing the mechanics behind why that is because you’re attracting people, getting them plugged in, all of that. That’s fantastic. Well, Melody, anything else you’d like to share just before we wrap up today’s episode?

Melody Workman — Um I Just I think I want to just give a word of encouragement to to those who are in this grind of building teams, especially in this post-ish Covid world that we’re in.

Rich Birch — Ah, yes.

Melody Workman — Um I don’t want to I don’t want to move away before I just say, you know, there have been times where we’ve gathered our teams together and said, when’s the last time we prayed that God would bring us more people? Like we’ve got strategies. We’ve got you know tactics. We’ve got parties. We’ve got. But when’s the last time we got to get we got down on our knees as a team and said God, would you bring us people that you want to be here…

Rich Birch — That’s good.

Melody Workman — …to serve you with their gifts, but also to to grow into who you want them to be, and and that we would get to be a part of it. And so we’re in Christian world we’re in churchworld. We’re in ministry, so we kind of throw around prayer. Oh we got to pray about it. but I want to leave people with this idea that prayer changes things you know?

Rich Birch — So true.

Melody Workman — So lead by example as a leader and say, I’m committing to pray over this myself and we’re going to pray over this together as a team. And and don’t don’t negate, you know, the basics for for high level strategy. Um, you you need both. But one thing you got at your team’s got to see you do is lead by example, and so pray for your team, and then pray for their teams. Um that that’s been a that’s been a game changer here for us.

Rich Birch — All right, Melody. Just before we end, you’ve given us a resource here, Building and Caring for Your Team. We’re going to link to it in our show notes, but tell us a little bit about it.

Melody Workman — Yeah so I mentioned ROGO School which is how we develop our own leaders, and so I put this together for our ROGO leaders – all about how to build and care for your teams. And so if it’s if it’s a help to any of your listeners, I wanted to make it available to them. So theres’s a video teaching and then I think there’s a PDF as well that they can use. And man, I hope it’s a help. It’s been a help to our leaders here for sure.

Rich Birch — Yeah, friends, this is a great resource. This is a… now you’ve come to the end of the podcast, you’ve listened to this, you should dive in, watch this teaching. It’s the kind of thing you could share with your team. This could be a great like training thing – you’re looking for something to do on a staff meeting, this is like ready-to-go resources. So helpful. Yeah, thanks so much for sharing that with us.

Rich Birch — Well I really appreciate this, Melody. Thank you so much. Such great coaching and encouragement from you today. An honor that you would be with us. Um, if people want to track with you or with the church, where do we want to send them online?

Melody Workman — Yeah, so um, I have a website melodyworkman.com which you can get in touch with me there. Instagram I’m just @melodyworkman – no fancy names or handles that you know there and there.

Rich Birch — Yes.

Melody Workman — There’s direct links through my Instagram to both Sandals Church and Sandals Creative. Um, and so shoot me a DM. You can you know reach me through my website and I’m happy to connect; I’d love to.

Rich Birch — Great! Thanks so much, Melody – appreciate you being here today.

Melody Workman — Thanks, Rich. It was great.

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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.