Residency Reflections: Saddleback Church’s Brittany Crimmel on Her Leadership Pathway So Far

Welcome back to the unSeminary podcast. Today we’re talking with Brittany Crimmel, a Production Director at Saddleback Church in California.

There is a leadership crisis in the local church with so many churches struggling to know how to find and develop people. However, by participating in internships and residencies, churches can contribute to developing the next generation of leaders. Listen as Brittany shares how her experiences as a resident helped to grow the leadership and people skills critical for her current role.

  • Internships vs. Residencies. // While an intern at a church is usually around for a summer or a semester, a resident is around for one or two years. Residents are a long-term investment in leadership development where there is a leader who is invested in the resident as a person, as a Jesus-follower, and a kingdom worker, so they are not left on their own wondering what to do.
  • Invest in growth. // In addition to receiving mentorship, residents are given opportunities to lead projects, preparing them for future roles. Residencies are also a critical time to help future church leaders develop soft leadership skills, such as how to communicate with people in different positions in the organization, or how to win volunteers to a cause. All of this preparation is to set the next gen leader up for success when they go to their first ministry job.
  • Set expectations. // Clarity is critical in working with residents and interns. Remember that residencies and internships are seasonal and they have a hard start and end date. Make the duration and content of these programs clear to help both the church and the participants understand the expectations and prevent confusion. It’s important not to promise people a job at the end of their residency or internship. A partnership may come at the end of the residency if you decide to offer a job, but to protect feelings and expectations, don’t promise it at the beginning.
  • Set your pride aside. // People may be tempted to develop a resident for selfish reasons, wanting to keep them at their own church. However, leadership development is operating in kingdom currency; it doesn’t matter if the resident or intern stays at your church. It requires us to set aside our pride and embrace a mindset of abundance, focusing on developing leaders who can make a difference anywhere. Supporting and championing the growth of these future leaders benefits the global church as a whole.
  • A heart for people. // In the production world, technical skills and people skills tend to be in tension. As a production director at Saddleback, Brittany values people skills and system skills more than technical skills. Technical skills can be taught, but having a heart for people and the local church is crucial. If someone has a heart for ministry, they will be teachable and can be paired with more experienced team members until they learn the role.
  • Show appreciation. // In Brittany’s experience, she’s found that production teams usually get the short end of the stick. As church leaders we need to show appreciation and value the work of our technical teams, as well as offer support so they can do their jobs well. Many times they don’t want to be called out during the service, so instead stop by afterwards to thank them personally. Offer your help with set-up or tear-down. Lavish value on them as sons and daughters of God and members of your church family.

You can learn more about Saddleback Church at www.saddleback.com and find Brittany on Instagram.

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Episode Transcript

Rich Birch — Hey, friends, welcome to the unSeminary podcast. So glad that you have decided to tune in. Listen, I’m really looking forward to today’s conversation. We have got Brittany Crimmel with us. She is a Production Manager at a little church in California you maybe have heard of, Saddleback. Ah, if you’re not familiar, Saddleback was planted ah back at their first public service in 1980 was planted by Pastor Rick and Kay Warren. They now have, if I’m counting correctly, 14 locations in California, Mandarin ah venue, 5 locations internationally, and a robust online community. We’ve had a couple different team members from Saddleback in the past. But super excited, been really looking forward to getting Brittany on the show. Ah, welcome. So glad you’re here.

Brittany Crimmel — Thank you! I’m excited to be here.

Rich Birch — Okay, so tell us about your role first. If people were to say like what is a production manager? Give us a sense of kind of what what do you do there, give us a sense of that that kind of thing.

Brittany Crimmel — That’s a great question. Um a production director at Saddleback really just gets to work with our audio teams, our lighting teams, video teams, our worship team, our teaching pastors, our hosts here at our broadcast campus, gets to work with all sorts of people to help make the weekend experience ah, really seamless.

Rich Birch — Love it. So good. Well I um today we want to drill in specifically to kind of your leadership journey and how you ended up where you’re at. I was referencing talking about you behind your back recently and we were talking about Saddleback. We’re talking about kind of succession situations in general. And I said, well you know the good there’s lots of good things going on at churches all over the country, and I said, including Saddleback and I thought of you and your leadership there. But kind of tell us a little bit of how did you end up landing where you are today. What was kind of your journey to Saddleback like?

Brittany Crimmel — That’s a great question. Um, so I went to a really tiny bible college out in Nebraska. And I remember asking our department head, hey I want to do these kinds of things. I want to sit in a seat between worship and production. Is there anybody who’s kind of done that journey before? And he said, well you should go work for my friend at a church in Baltimore. And so I did that. I was her resident, um got to be there for ah 3 years. They ended up hiring me on staff and it was awesome, a really great growth opportunity. And then during covid at the end of 2020 had a great conversation with Dennis Choi, who I get to work with now at Saddleback, about coming out here to be the production manager. Um, so it has been a whirlwind, but such a joy.

Rich Birch — Okay, so use the term there resident. Help define that. What, there’s, you know, you sometimes hear like resident, intern…

Brittany Crimmel — Yeah.

Rich Birch — You might hear different kind of terms. Help us pull apart what does that, how what’s your understanding of the of that? What what what does it mean to be a resident?

Brittany Crimmel — Totally. Everybody has their own descriptions. I think resident is most helpful when you think of a long-term investment, right? Interns tend to be spring semester, fall semester, summer interns. Residents are typically around for 1 to 2 years. You’re getting not just the, let me introduce you to people. But, let me introduce you to people and then pass you off and you will lead projects. So you’re a longtime investment.

Rich Birch — I love this. And you know, let’s pull that apart a little bit, Talk us through what that experience was like. How is being a resident in that first church in Baltimore, how is that different than just being like, okay I’m a team member here? I’m just, you know, go and take this area and run with it.

Brittany Crimmel — Yeah, I really appreciated my residency opportunity because I had somebody that had gone before me, right? There are not a lot of people who sit at the intersection of worship and production that are female church leaders, and so I happen to get to work for one of those. And she was awesome. And so she had already walked ahead of me. And so as we were going through, you know, opening a campus when I first got there, she talked me through, here is you know, the things you need to be aware of with this. Here’s why we chose to do it this way instead of just being like, Okay, yeah, you’re a warm body. Go, you know, push buttons, or do this or whatever that would be. So a lot of investment, a lot of talking through why those things mattered, understanding the why behind the what instead of just doing stuff for her.

Rich Birch — I love this, and you know I think we all know that there’s a leadership crisis I would say in the local church…

Brittany Crimmel — Totally.

Rich Birch — …that you know so many churches we’re struggling with how do we find people? Where do we find them? How do we develop them? Um and you know there’s a unique thing, there’s lots of people that are listening in from churches of a few thousand people, 1-, 2-, 3000 people, and there are these super unique roles that that you you can’t really just like pull with somebody off the shelf and say like, okay, you know, come do this. There isn’t like ah a specific kind of program that ultimately teaches, hey how do I be a production manager. That…

Brittany Crimmel — Right.

Rich Birch — …that is it is a unique thing to the local church. Um, would you say, or or help me understand how the residency prepared you even for what you’re doing today. What did that what did that look like?

Brittany Crimmel — Yeah, I think residency, because you’re right – there are a lot of specific skilled roles in church world. And so finding somebody that fits your specific skilled role is really challenging. But if you go back to leadership basics and development, there are soft skills that everybody needs that everybody can learn in residency. And that was a lot of a large part of my beginning time in that residency, was talking about understanding um communication systems for large organizations. That’s something that is still helpful for me today. Ah, how do I communicate to people who um, are above me, below me, beside me – how do I do that? How do I make sure I’m clear and kind, how do I win volunteers to a cause – all of those things are soft skills that I I wouldn’t be able to do what I do now without them.

Rich Birch — Interesting. So I love this. You know if I um can speak ah, um, you know, maybe with a little candor. Yeah I think sometimes organizations, we struggle with folks in their first role. It’s like they come out of school and it’s like man, how ah, we struggle with, because it’s some of that just normal like how to have a job sort of thing…

Brittany Crimmel — Yeah.

Rich Birch — That is difficult. Talk about that. How did that, you know, kind of making a step into residency rather than jumping directly into maybe a role somewhere. Did that help you through that transition? What… because from my seat, I would say, man, it would seem like it accelerated your leadership. It accelerated good things that were already happening. But how, obviously, you can’t you didn’t live ah two worlds where you went into a job and then you went into residency.

Brittany Crimmel — Yeah.

Rich Birch — But how do you think that might help, either you specifically, or as because you currently engage with residents…

Brittany Crimmel — Right.

Rich Birch — …you know, at Saddleback, so help me talk that through that, some of those initial, you know, years of work. How does it help that situation?

Brittany Crimmel — Totally. I think when you jump into your first job, it’s a lot of like, “I’m learning how to become an adult.”

Rich Birch — True.

Brittany Crimmel — And so you have that on top of, “I’m learning how to become a church leader.”

Rich Birch — Yep.

Brittany Crimmel — And that can be a really rough transition for people, right? You’re holding things you’re not used to holding. You’re leading at a level you’re not used to leading. Things are being asked of you mentally, emotionally, spiritually that are just beyond what you’re able to handle.

Brittany Crimmel — And the beautiful part about residency is there’s a leader who is invested in you as a person, you as a Jesus follower, you as a kingdom worker, and so you’re not left to your own devices to figure out: what is what am I supposed to do? You have this person who is caring for you, shepherding you, pastoring you, developing you, so that when you go out to your first job, or your whatever your next seat on the bus is, you’re not set up for failure. You’re set up for success.

Rich Birch — Very good, very good. Well let’s take a step back. Now you’re in a role where you’re leading. You know you’re you’re managing lots of things, lots of moving parts. When you think about developing leaders now in your area, how has your experience shaped that? What, you know, what has how has kind of the journey you’ve been on personally, where has that brought you to, how has that helped you when you think about ah you know developing the leaders around you?

Brittany Crimmel — Yeah. I would not be able to lead at the level I lead at without having developed other leaders. Like I just got my first intern this summer…

Rich Birch — Love it.

Brittany Crimmel — …and we had so much fun and it was so, so wonderful to get to develop her in that way, um and get to just run alongside her, cheer her on, champion her. And part of what allowed me to do that was I had developed leaders in volunteer spaces, and so it freed up a lot of my time to not worry about them because they could lead themselves and run themselves. And so I had more time for an intern who needed more of my time, because you’re walking with them in such a deep way. Um, leadership development is just it’s so important in every facet and it tends to be the I think the intersection of evangelism and discipleship, if you really want to go down that road.

Rich Birch — Oh tell me about that. That’s interesting. Yeah, yeah, yeah, let’s hear about that. Tell me about that.

Brittany Crimmel — I I think what we do is way too important to leave it to just mediocre leadership, right?

Rich Birch — So good.

Brittany Crimmel — When you are talking about Jesus and the hope of heaven…

Rich Birch — Yeah.

Brittany Crimmel — …leaving it to meh-schmeh. It’s fine. Like it’s not. It’s way too important. There are people who will spend eternity apart from Jesus because we did not put our best effort into developing leaders who would go radically change the communities they serve.

Brittany Crimmel — It also disciples people, and discipled people disciple people, disciple people. And so leadership development tends to just be, I think, a beautiful intersection there, and really allows us to champion the gospel in ways maybe we hadn’t thought of before.

Rich Birch — Um, that’s so good. When you think about from your seat um, as a resident who then ended up transitioning into ah you know, ah a full time career, and then now as intern maybe a resident at some point here in the future, you know, there’s a number of things that we’ve got to be very clear with our with our people that we’re leading that we’re trying to develop in this intentional way.

Brittany Crimmel — Yes.

Rich Birch — What would be some of those areas where you have, you know, found it either it was good for you to receive that clarity, or man, I wish I would have had more clarity. Ah, you know, talk us through that. What what give us that some of that insight.

Brittany Crimmel — Yes. I think it’s really helpful to remember that residencies and internships are seasonal. And seasons have a hard start date and they have an end date.

Rich Birch — Oh that’s good.

Brittany Crimmel — And so they don’t just go on forever. And I think sometimes in the church world we allow things to get really fuzzy. When when it comes to people, we need to make it really clear. So when you think about a two-year-long internship, right, you’d start in August of one year and then two years later by that end of July, we’re done. Everybody knows that going into it, so that that that resident isn’t going, I’m here for, you know, maybe forever. Or I’m here for maybe six months. They go, I know what the next two years look like; this is where God has me. And should something change towards the end and you go, it’s a mutual agreement between a church and a resident that go, you know, I think we want to partner together in kingdom work here. That’s great. But it’s because we know there’s a hard end date. Not just we’re not floundering around. Um so clarity is a huge, huge win when it comes to residents and interns.

Rich Birch — Yeah, let’s stick with there for a minute around um, you know, where we would develop residences. There’s really two—I always think of these things, well there’s lots of different ways to think about—but, two things that come up often when I think about residents, is we want to be involved in developing leaders because we think that’s the right thing to do for the kingdom. It’s important for us to develop leaders. And then there’s the, frankly, selfish side of it which is, as an organization we’re trying to develop people who may eventually end up on our team…

Brittany Crimmel — Yes.

Rich Birch — …but not necessarily. And that that feels like one of those areas that could be very spongy and end up like, you know, misunderstanding or lack of clarity. Um, give us some coaching or thinking around that. You know, assuming hey we maybe we have maybe we’re a church of couple thousand people, we have 3 residents, and we don’t intend on hiring three people at the end of this. We might hire some. Help us think through how could we approach that…

Brittany Crimmel — Yeah.

Rich Birch — …to be the most clear, the most kind to the people that we’re working with.

Brittany Crimmel — Right. Um, we have a great internship and residency director here at Saddleback and one of the things she first told me when I was in my internship supervisor training was she said it’s really, really important that we don’t promise people a job at the end of this.

Rich Birch — Yes, so good.

Brittany Crimmel — It’s really, really important that we protect their expectations, their feelings, our expectations, our feelings. We may love them and if it becomes time where we are actually offering them a job, that’s a totally different ballgame.

Rich Birch — Right.

Brittany Crimmel — But we we don’t lead with the, but one day you could work here or whatever.

Rich Birch — Yeah.

Brittany Crimmel — We say, this is an internship and a residency and we are so glad to partner with you for this season. And I think that is really helpful, right? We’re all on the same page that way. The other thing with churches, and really just because it’s a run human-run organization, is you have to set your pride aside to supervise an intern, or residency, or a resident, right? There are a lot of people you talked about who can get into the like, I want to develop you so you will be on my staff, or so you will think like us, lead like us, be like us… when leadership development is operating in kingdom currency, which means it’s abundance mentality.

Rich Birch — Oh so good.

Brittany Crimmel — It does not matter if that intern, that resident stays here, right?

Rich Birch — Right.

Brittany Crimmel — If they go to lead at another church and they radically change the spiritual landscape of a different town, we are cheering for them. We are championing that cause. Just because they don’t stay with us is not a loss for us. It is a win for the global church. And that is way too important to just white knuckle our pride when it comes to interns and residents.

Rich Birch — Oh that’s so good. I love that encouragement of like, hey it’s not, you know, we’re not just going to do this because we’re trying to, you know, it’s it’s not just a potential, you know, hiring pipeline. It’s it’s an opportunity for us to develop leaders who could be used anywhere and we’ll have these people, you know, for a season, ensure that we’re um, you know we can care for them and see them grow in the season that we’re with us…

Brittany Crimmel — Yeah.

Rich Birch — …and and we’ll see what happens from there. Is there any other areas that would be that we need to be thinking about around trying to drive to more clarity. So totally understand this whole thing around hiring. Definitely you need to think about that. But but there are other areas that you’d say, hey here’s a potential pitfall to avoid um, you know, around clarity?

Brittany Crimmel — That’s great. I think every church is different. Um and so being really clear about the expectations of what are the opportunities, options, resources, available at your particular church, right? I was at a church where um I never saw my supervisor. And that was really challenging because I didn’t know what I was supposed to be doing, where I was supposed to be developing. Um I felt really far apart from the church because there was no one to help me get plugged in. Um and I’ve been at a church where I had an amazing supervisor, and I talked to them daily. They help me get plugged into the church in a small group. Um, they helped leverage opportunities of skills I needed to develop, things I was already really good at.

Brittany Crimmel — And so being really clear about the expectations – will you get to talk to a church leader a lot, um or at a at us pace that makes sense, right? Frequent, consistent, clear communication. Um, what are the leadership available opportunities, right? Maybe you’re there for summer camps. And so will you get to lead a summer camp, or are you there just to run games? Or are you leading groups, are you leading a devotional? Whatever that may be for your specific area, being really clear about what the opportunities are. And then being really clear to the rest of the staff.

Rich Birch — Good.

Brittany Crimmel — There are some churches that tolerate interns and residents, right? Because it’s an inconvenience. It truly is.

Rich Birch — Sure, right.

Brittany Crimmel — Leadership development is an inconvenience to us because it asks us, it costs us something mentally, spiritually, emotionally, physically, churches financially. It is inconvenient to do this, but it is way too important to not do this. And so being really clear with your staff teammates about here here’s how we’re going to treat our interns. Here are the opportunities they are allowed for. Here is how we coach them. So you don’t critique them in the hallway; you talk to their supervisor, their supervisor talks to them. Whatever those boundaries may be, that clarity is so so important for for everyone being set up for success. Otherwise both parties just end up frustrated.

Rich Birch — So good. I love that. Um you know, I think when we think about the kind of day-to-day or week-to-week management of a resident, I know ah we got connected through Leadership Pathway…

Brittany Crimmel — Yeah.

Rich Birch — …an organization that helps churches ah, you know, with these. And a part of what they do is provide coaching to people who are going to have a resident…

Brittany Crimmel — Totally.

Rich Birch — …around even just what to talk about, like here’s a conversation or two. When you think back to that phase as a resident, were there any conversations that you had that were particularly prescient, could have been the kind of things we’ve talked about here that were particularly helpful for you as you were serving that were like, oh man, that was like a light bulb moment, did not think about that before ah, you know, we got in on that?

Brittany Crimmel — Yeah, I think both emotional intelligence and conflict management skills…

Rich Birch — Oh so good.

Brittany Crimmel — …were huge soft skills um, that I was equipped with, right? My supervisor had to receive those materials and was ready to help me walk through them. Because it’s not if you run into a situation where you are managing conflict, it’s when.

Rich Birch — Yes.

Brittany Crimmel — And so as a you know 19 year old I was like I am not going to go fight with that worship leader or jump into conflict there. No thank you. And so having my supervisor kind of walk me through like, conflict is not the problem. The problem is when we are take things personally, or we get aggressive…

Rich Birch — So good.

Brittany Crimmel — …and it’s not the other person’s best interest at heart. And so that has served me very well um, as a leader today, both in that time now and in the future. I’m really grateful for that.

Rich Birch — So good. Okay, so pivoting in a slightly different direction. So as a production director manager in in your church, there’s like the hard skill side of what you do, which is making it’s the ministry to machines making the things happen. You know, it’s the you know the scheduling all that kind of stuff.

Brittany Crimmel — Yes.

Rich Birch — And then there’s the soft skill…

Brittany Crimmel — Right.

Rich Birch — …all the things we were just talking about, there interacting with people, how do we care for them, building a kind of culture where you know an attractional culture people want to be a part of, all that kind of stuff. Um, talk me through, in your your current role at at Saddleback, talk me through how those interact with each other. And you know how how as you lead are they you know which of those do you worry more about, how do you think about them, you know because I think the kind of role. We all have that in our we all have these less technical side of what we do…

Brittany Crimmel — Right.

Rich Birch — …and then we have the soft skill side of what we do. Um, and how do they intersect in your current your current role.

Brittany Crimmel — Oooo. That’s a tough one. Um, especially in the production world. The technical skills versus people skills seem to always be in tension. Um I think part of the way I am wired is I value the people skills and the system skills higher than technical skills. We can teach you technical skills, but if you don’t have a heart for people or the local church…

Rich Birch — Right.

Brittany Crimmel — …that’s going to be a huge problem.

Rich Birch — Yes.

Brittany Crimmel — Um, and so I tend to value those. I also get to support our technical teams and so I am pairing people up with people who are very gifted, very technical. They are the experts in their field. And so there’s no lack of resources. That is not true at every church.

Rich Birch — Right.

Brittany Crimmel — Um, there are definitely some things where you have awesome volunteers and it’s just this one guy named Joe and he runs sound every week for you.

Rich Birch — Yes, yes.

Brittany Crimmel — And so developing somebody in that space is really hard. But if you can teach um somebody who has a heart for ministry, if you can teach them, here is how you schedule people and planning center. And it matters because we’re clear and it means we’re stewarding them and their time and their gifts well.

Rich Birch — That’s good.

Brittany Crimmel — That will set them up for success far and above anything else, because you can still teach the technical skills. You don’t have to know that. There are plenty of resources and systems and other churches in your area who are operating in kingdom mentality, which means we are sharing everything. There are plenty of resources online. If you go oh I really need to know how to do this. Great! We’ll just Google it.

Rich Birch — Right. Yes, exactly. You’d be amazed what you can find on YouTube. Yeah.

Brittany Crimmel — You’d be amazed. Yeah. So I definitely think you know they can be somewhat even and we want you to be highly competent and a great culture fit. But I think that those people skills have to win out, especially when it comes to kingdom work, right?

Rich Birch — Yes, yes.

Because we’re people helpers. So it matters way more that you can sit with someone who comes to the booth sobbing than whether or not you are Dante certified.

Rich Birch — Love it. Love it. I’m not even sure what that means but it sounds fancy. Um, so so give us a little coaching here. I’m going to take advantage of the fact that you’re here and you’re an expert in this area. So ah, picture this, this is a very theoretical situation.

Brittany Crimmel — Of course.

Rich Birch — You know, church of maybe a thousand people and yeah, we have that Fred or Joe, we have that like tech person and maybe we have a few of them even. And um, they’ve become prickly pears. These people are, you know, they’re very good at what they do, and they are not um they’re they’re not like begrudging doing it. But it’s like the worship people don’t want to talk to them. The the pastor kind of they see them walk in the room and they walk the other way. You know like they’re kind of avoiding interacting with these people. How do we win these folks back? What can we do to try to create a culture? How would you help us maybe diagnose that situation, help… Again, very theoretical – I know you cannot imagine technical leaders…

Brittany Crimmel — No, never.

Rich Birch — …that struggle with those kind of things.

Brittany Crimmel — Um, well first there is a we have a great friend. His name is Todd Elliot. He runs the FILO community, which is first in last out for production teams around the world. And that that really is his heartbeat. So if you need a deep dive into that I would point you to all of Todd’s resources. Um I would also think about the fact that production people usually get the short end of the stick. Um, in that…

Rich Birch — So true.

Brittany Crimmel — …who is emailing them at, you know, 8:55am when there’s a 9am service. It’s usually a lead pastor going, I actually want these slides instead. Or ah…

Rich Birch — Yeah, yeah.

Brittany Crimmel — Not that that ever happens. No.

Rich Birch — No, theoretically, theoretically.

Brittany Crimmel — Theoretically in theory that never happens.

Rich Birch — Yes.

Brittany Crimmel — Or you know, a worship leader who goes, well those lyrics aren’t right. And then you realize well actually the lyrics you provided me were incorrect. I’m happy to change them. But the resource wasn’t right from the start.

Rich Birch — Yep.

Brittany Crimmel — Or your community gets a power surge. Well whose problem does that become? Your volunteers.

Rich Birch — Yeah.

Brittany Crimmel — It’s your production teams. And that’s not usually something they know how to deal with.

Rich Birch — Yes.

Brittany Crimmel — And so there they are catching a lot of things and they get um, ah really the raw end of the deal most of the time. It, when you’re talking about winning them back, I think about just really the words a lot of them are introverted people. And so they do not want the wow we’ve an amazing production team. Let me call them out. That is their nightmare. Don’t do that to them.

Rich Birch — Yes.

Brittany Crimmel — They think more about you stopping by after service and saying, thank you so much for what you did today. I know it cost you something, but it matters.

Rich Birch — Right, right.

Brittany Crimmel — Or when they are flipping the stage, coming and going, I have two hands and I am just here to help.

Rich Birch — Yes.

Brittany Crimmel — You tell me whatever you need and I’ll do that, right?

Rich Birch — Yeah, point me in the direction of stuff to move. Yes.

Brittany Crimmel — Right. If you are wrapping cables, don’t wrap it around your elbow. They’ll show you; I promise. Um, but things like that ask…

Rich Birch — And even if you have to ask it 12 times in a row, what’s the right way again?

Brittany Crimmel — Yes, yeah, right.

Rich Birch — They will appreciate that you’re, you know. Yeah, absolutely, that’s good.

Brittany Crimmel — People don’t want to feel alone. The production people being bitter and resentful, tending to, right, in theory be bitter and resentful is a people problem, right?

Rich Birch — Yeah.

Brittany Crimmel — They become undervalued and underpaid because a lot of them are volunteers. And so if you can lavish value on them as both as sons and daughters of God, but also valued members of your church. I mean that that will speak volumes, and you’ll see a significant shift in your culture.

Rich Birch — Yeah, I love that. And you know, I think going like you’re saying encouraging us to go out of our way to communicate their worth. And I think sometimes these folks, unfortunately they’re like they understand that they’re ah, you know, a bottleneck…

Brittany Crimmel — Yeah.

Rich Birch — and they don’t and they they feel that as a ah real weight…

Brittany Crimmel — Yeah.

RIch Birch — …and they’re like you know they they love the Lord dearly. They love the church. And so they’re like I better show up and make all this stuff happen.

Brittany Crimmel — Yeah.

Rich Birch — But someone coming alongside, first to show appreciation, and then hey how can we help build some more people around you. Um, you know they they might not have the ah, you know they may not have the ability to do that. And so us helping them with that can be, you know, a huge huge deal. That’s super…

Brittany Crimmel — Yeah, and reminding them. It’s not it’s not about what we want from you. It’s about what we want for you.

Rich Birch — Yes, yes.

Brittany Crimmel — Like if that and that also asks a lot of your pride to be set aside, right? Do I actually value this person as a person instead of being the person that can run lyrics for me. That’s a huge deal.

Rich Birch — Yes, yes, absolutely. Absolutely, yeah, that’s great. Yeah, and there is a weird thing there, isn’t that true? Like again I we’ve been joking about the theoretical thing, but there is ah there’s a common trope there…

Brittany Crimmel — Yeah.

Rich Birch — …of technical people that are driven, you know, overridden by teaching pastors or by, you know, demanding worship leaders or whatever. And some of us, particularly folks that are in executive seats that oversee all of those people or have the ability to push back with that teaching person, like it’s our job to create the culture…

Brittany Crimmel — Yes.

Rich Birch — …of respect for those people and to come in and advocate and be an ally and say, hey like you know, when we have emailed these people, you know, use an example used, for the last four weeks at 8:15am, I want to help us not do that this week.

Brittany Crimmel — Yeah.

Rich Birch — How can what can what system can I help get in place so that we give this to them at an appropriate time?

Brittany Crimmel — Yes.

Rich Birch — I think that’s a part of our job.

Brittany Crimmel — I will never forget building um teaching graphics during a run through for months straight for a lead pastor. He would just send in his slides um later in the day then I would ah prefer, but that’s ok. And I will never forget our executive pastor telling him like, hey this is really challenging because then I’m not available for other things. And him going, Okay I’ll I’ll talk to our lead pastor about that. Let me go fight that battle for you, and then seeing a shift. That that was such a meaningful moment to me, and made me believe a lot in his leadership more.

Rich Birch — Yeah, I was talking to an executive pastor just recently in the last week or so where there was like a bit of a train wreck on a Sunday. It was one of those like, hey how’s, I was having the like hey how’s it going conversations. And they were explaining, you know, all of this, you know, kind of stuff that was that happened. It was one of those Sundays where it was like a series of dominoes that fell.

Brittany Crimmel — Yes.

Rich Birch — And and they were and this executive pastor was like reflecting on it, this is not even my area like I understand obviously all of it is my area. I’m supposed to oversee all these things, but I’m not the expert on this.

Brittany Crimmel — Yeah.

Rich Birch — Um, but I was really encouraging them. I was like man good for you stepping in to say, hey what can we do? How can we create… how do we make this a better? You know, how do we try to, you know, inject some care in the midst of this tricky situation?

Brittany Crimmel — Yeah.

That’s really our job in the midst of all that. So yeah, that’s interesting.

Brittany Crimmel — Yeah.

Rich Birch — It’s cool. Well, I really appreciate this conversation. This has been fantastic to get to know you a little bit better and to hear a bit of your story. As you think to the future, you think about residency, you think about internships, um, what do you think about in the future in this area? Is there would there be some kind of coaching or advice you’d give us? Or or as you think about and leading in your area, are there things that you as you look up over the over the horizon that you would that you’re kind of looking forward to in this area?

Brittany Crimmel — I am definitely looking forward to more interns and residents. I email our director all the time, and I go, hey when is your next whatever? Because I just want to know what the odds are that I could get, you know, an intern or resident.

Brittany Crimmel — She always goes, well Brittany, you know, when God aligns both the right people in the right time, of course, that we’ll do that.

Rich Birch — Yes, yes.

Brittany Crimmel — So she so kindly reminds me. Um I am just so looking forward to more people caring about interns and residents. In the last year we’ve seen so much fruit come of that both for our church and then other churches, and it has fueled my heart to go like, man, the church is in such good hands and such a good trajectory if we can keep going. Because we need need, need, more leaders who are good leaders, not just leaders. And who are good leaders who are here for a long time.

Rich Birch — So good. Well, Brittany, I really appreciate you being here today. You know, cheering for you as you lead at Saddleback and, you know, influence things there. I’m really honored that you would be on the show today. If people want to track with you, ah, where do we want to send them if want to track with the church, where do we want to send them online?

Brittany Crimmel — Yeah, um I mean you can find me at Instagram it’s just @brittanycrimmel. It’s nothing crazy. Um, and you can follow all that God is doing through Saddleback at saddleback.com and we would love to let you in on that.

Rich Birch — Love it. Thanks so much, Brittany. Really appreciate you being here today.

Brittany Crimmel — Of course, thank you so much, 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.