Happy 367th Day of March!
Welcome to the 367th day of March!
Remember that kid’s song: This is the song that never ends?
Thankfully that song does, in fact, end (though, you’re welcome, it’s now stuck in your head).
The song ends, and so will this pandemic. We just don’t know when exactly (are we in the lull before the fourth wave or at the start of herd immunity? Well, we don’t know – we just gotta wait and see if the chorus, “This is the pandemic that never ends” kicks back up!).
But, while we are waiting, we are not idle.
I wanted to let y’all know what we’re working on – both so you are in the loop and so that you can be praying for some pretty important changes coming up!
First, let me set the stage:
The transition from 2021 to 2022 is going to be one of significant transitions Trailhead has had.
From the start, I’ve believed in and tried to build robust systems of volunteer leaders. Our deacon team functions much like a volunteer staff for our community, where our deacons lead out of their passion for the good of the church. These leaders are in many ways the backbone of Trailhead’s ministry model and are about as faithful and sacrificial as they come. But the pandemic has drained our team – both of energy and volunteers. We’re going to be looking at the need to do a major rebuild of the teams at the end of 2021 and start of 2022.
In addition, two critical changes are impacting our core staff and how we handle responsibilities: Dan Free launched Compass Counseling and is transitioning into leading this new ministry, and we’ll be sending Brian and Melinda Pacheco out to plant a church in AZ. Both of these things are the result of years of working, planning, and praying – both are exciting – and both are going to leave huge gaps in our core staff.
Most people have no idea how much work these two guys do or how much weight they bear. Both of these men have been faithful and dependable servants of the church over the last decade. Brian has not only built up a solid worship team, he has started and led our student and college ministries (and then raised up, coached, and led new leaders over the ministries he started). He’s also always been willing in a crunch to take on more work (like his recent step into helping me envision and implement pandemic-appropriate Family Ministry support). He’s one of the hardest working guys I know. His departure is going to leave a huge hole in our staff!
Dan has been just as invaluable to our ministry over the years. While working on his seminary degree and counseling certification, he has also invested his energy into whatever the church most needed. He has led our Community Group ministry, led addiction support groups, taken on supportive pastoral responsibilities, and has been a critical lead in sensitive and demanding situations where our people have been in crisis. He has even preached when the situation demanded it – a real demonstration of courage and devotion for a guy who does not enjoy public speaking! Thankfully, Dan isn’t going anywhere, but as Compass continues to grow, Dan’s focus will increasingly shift to leading this new and important ministry. This also will create a significant hole in our leadership responsibilities.
So, to be clear, this means that we have a number of important leadership roles that are going to need to be potentially or positively reassigned (not listed in any specific order):
- Worship Leadership
- College Ministry
- Development and Oversight of Youth Ministry
- Community Group Development and Leadership
- Member and Regular Attender Crisis Care
- Family Ministry
- Trailhead Kids
Thankfully we are in a healthy financial position (thank you for your faithful giving!) and are able to not only replace Brian’s full time position, but it looks like we’ll be able to add another full time or several part time positions.
I’ve had quite a bit of experience over the years leading staffs, writing job descriptions, hiring (and firing), and leading through times of transition… but this transition is about as tricky as I’ve worked with. Usually, hiring a single new person to join a small staff can be turbulent for an organization, but seeing a 50% turnover? Oh man. That could be an incredible new infusion of energy and leadership – but it could also create all kinds of problems if we don’t clearly define and order our needs and find the right people.
Add to this that I am taking a three-month sabbatical this summer from mid-May to Mid-August and it gets really messy. (I’ll write about my sabbatical – its purpose and plan – in a future weekly newsletter).
Second, let me tell you what we are doing to prepare for this transition:
So, here’s our plan and where we’re at in the process.
The elders and I decided that we could use some outside experience and wisdom to help us navigate the upcoming turbulence in our staffing structures. So, we hired a proven consultant, Lisa Haase of Rise Consulting, to work with us through the critical formative part of this process. I worked with her at The Journey and have real trust in her ability to help us think through these challenges clearly and wisely.
Lisa is helping us evaluate current organizational needs and how to prioritize the opportunities ahead. She has met with Dan, Brian, Lori, and I both to examine organizational health as well as to determine how our own job descriptions may need to be tweaked for the overall good of the church. In addition, she is meeting with a number of lay leaders to get a good sense of where we stand and what we need.
The goal coming out of this is to have a strategic restructuring and hiring plan before I leave for my sabbatical along with a working strategy and timeline to unearth new leaders. We’ll need to clarify what we are hiring for, what constitutes a full or part time position, and how we work through a process that helps protect the essential DNA of our culture while encouraging us to grow in ways we need to grow.
My guess is that this fall is going to be a very busy time for us as we work to implement the plan we develop over the next two months!
In the meantime:
We will continue to open up our gathering capacity as we are able (we are currently limited by both the state of IL and the state of our volunteer teams). We are hopeful that there will be no fourth wave and that we’ll see a lifting of restrictions soon that will allow us to start working toward offering Trailhead Kids on Sunday mornings again. It would be incredible if we could be back to “gathering as usual” by the fall.
The months between here and there will be challenging, though, and I’d definitely love both your patience and your prayers. We continue to recruit to rebuild our volunteer teams as well as raise up critical new lay leaders for essential ministry positions (like organizing and overseeing Trailhead Kids). Meanwhile, both Julie Free and Melinda Pacheco will be having babies in the next couple of months and Dan and Brian will be taking some time off to be with their families… and, of course, Lauren and I will be intentionally taking time away from ministry for refreshment and renewal.
So, there you go. I hope this was helpful to understanding where we are and where we’re heading. Feel free to shoot me any comments or questions you have connected to any of the above! I am excited about the future of Trailhead Church and absolutely believe our best days are ahead.