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Rebuilding a Team Culture That Was Broken with Jesse DeYoung

Thanks for tuning into the unSeminary podcast. We’re talking with Jesse DeYoung, the executive lead pastor at Flatirons Community Church in Boulder, Colorado.

Jesse is talking with us today about how Flatirons Church worked through a difficult season of ministry, addressed their broken team culture, and witnessed God’s redemption among the staff.

  • Recognize what’s not working. // The culture at Flatirons is self-described as anti-corporate and so for years the staff largely resisted structures and systems. As the church grew, however, it became difficult to uphold the vision without systems. The culture on the staff at this point was to push off blame and responsibility to the lead pastor. As a result, more and more pressure fell on the lead pastor and he was forced to take a six-month sabbatical.
  • Acknowledge the need for repentance. // At first in the lead pastor’s absence, the staff felt confident that everything would be sorted out and fixed with regard to issues in the church. But those same problems came back a short time later, making it clear that the issues didn’t come solely from the lead pastor, but from the church culture itself. The first step in moving forward was that everyone acknowledge a need for repentance and growth.
  • Offer severance. // When the lead pastor returned at the beginning of 2020, Flatirons knew they would need to reduce staff, partially because there were some staff that just weren’t aligned with where the church was headed, and partially because of covid. So one of the things Flatirons did to begin the changes needed for the church was to offer a voluntary five-and-a-half-month severance plan that church staff could take. The leadership had conversations with people to guide them in what was best for them and expected a small number of people to take the severance. It turned out that a third of the staff members stepped down, demonstrating that change was needed.
  • Redistribute responsibilities. // To help the lead pastor level up and teach and lead in a way that is sustainable, Flatirons realized that they needed someone who was going to carry his other prior work and responsibilities. This decision led to Jesse becoming the executive lead pastor and managing the rest of the lead team. Now Jesse and his team work together to solve most of the issues within the church and keep it running. This structure allows the lead pastor his time to focus on his ministry.
  • Stay relationally connected. // Jesse meets with the lead pastor once a week so that he can tell the pastor about everything that’s going on before they meet with other staff. Four or five times a year they go on a day trip together to have more unstructured conversations. This time allows them to relationally stay connected.
  • Four things to keep in mind. // Jesse keeps four things in mind in his relationship with the lead pastor: Emotional awareness in the moment between each other. Honoring the lead pastor with generous empathy toward what baggage he carries in his work. Trying to spend five to ten percent of his energy to help his lead pastor win. And confronting each other when your opinions on matters disagree.

You can learn more about Flatirons Community Church at www.flatironschurch.com.

4 Keys to a Thriving Executive Pastor & Lead Pastor Relationship

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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.