Thanks for joining us on Season 7 of The Flourishing Culture Podcast, brought to you by The Best Christian Workplaces Institute. You’ll learn how to build a flourishing workplace culture that drives the ministry impact of your organization, your church, or your company brought to you by the Best Christian Workplaces Institute. Now here’s your host, BCWI CEO, Al Lopus.
When it comes to hiring, we believe a person’s character is the most important criteria. But how does an organization help build both character and competence into your people so your organization will flourish in the future? Well, listen in as we have an engaging conversation with a church leader on that very topic.
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The character and integrity of leaders are essential for a healthy, thriving church or ministry. We will explore the topics of leadership character, trust, and inspiration in today’s episode. Inspirational leadership is one of the eight drivers of employee engagement that we have identified at Best Christian Workplaces Institute. Our guest today is part of a large multi-site church that exhibits inspirational leadership.
I’m delighted to welcome Craig Walker. He is the human resources director at NewSpring Church, a thriving multi-site church in South Carolina. NewSpring has been participating in Best Christian Workplaces Institute employee engagement surveys since 2014.
Craig, welcome to the podcast.
I just believe that if human resources is actually proactively resourcing humans, to use one of your words, we’re going to flourish; our culture’s going to flourish; our companies, our churches are going to flourish; and the Kingdom’s going to advance.”
In this episode, you’ll hear about:
- Craig, you’ve had several roles at NewSpring Church before you became the human resources director, so what is it about serving in this role in this season that really makes you excited about your work? (02:09)
- “I get really excited about this idea of how do we transform H.R. from an administrative function to a strategic business partner, a strategic ministry partner, so that people aren’t avoiding coming and talking to me or coming and talking to my team, but they’re actually like, “Ooh, hey, I’ve got a problem. I want to go talk to H.R. because they add so much value to the conversation.” (02:53)
- “I just believe that if human resources is actually proactively resourcing humans, to use one of your words, we’re going to flourish; our culture’s going to flourish; our companies, our churches are going to flourish; and the Kingdom’s going to advance.” (03:19)
- What are some of the key leadership values and practices at NewSpring that create this high level of trust in leadership? (04:56)
- “And for us, one of the biggest things we’ve realized lately is that often getting staff to trust leadership starts the other way around. It starts with your leadership trusting your staff.” (05:29)
- “Three ways that we’ve practically played that out has been leading in team, transparency, and then using the BCWI Survey.” (05:45)
- “The second part, I would say, is this idea of transparency. And the biggest example I can think about that is our leadership team meets on a weekly basis, and out of every single one of those meetings, they have notes. And so what they do to lead with transparency is they’re going to share the full notes with everybody that reports to them.” (07:02)
- “And then the final one was the BCWI Survey. You know, like you said, we’ve been partnering with you guys for a long time, and getting that anonymous feedback is so valuable because it gives all of our staff the freedom to say anything that they feel like they need to say, anything the Lord impresses on them. And we can look at the areas that we’re winning with our culture, and we can come back and say, “Hey, guys, thank you. This is you. This is what you’ve done.” And it’s going to be a huge encouragement” (07:55)
- How would you define a leader of high character? how do you go about helping your leaders and your staff grow in the qualities of character and integrity? (09:53)
- “When you see both of those paired together when you have integrity and skill, that’s when you get to see the Kingdom impact of skillful hands, but then also a Kingdom impact that lasts because of the integrity of heart.” (11:01)
- “We’re going to be proactive in our approach with talking about this on a regular basis. So we have regular one on ones with all of our staff. Sometimes that’s weekly; sometimes it’s biweekly, just depending on teams’ flow.” (11:18)
- So in your one on ones, you actually have a process where you’re asking people about their relationship with God. You’re encouraging them to spend time with God, to build their Christian character, in a sense. So that’s a really positive action step. (13:39)
- Well, here at BCWI, we’ve been paying attention to workplace trends during the pandemic. And as we emerge, NewSpring saw some of your employee-engagement scores go up, even in the pandemic. In November 2020, more than six months into the pandemic, we saw that result, in your case. So did you change anything in your practices during that time to make sure that your staff felt connected and cared for? And how are you carrying some of these practices going forward, Craig? (15:19)
- “We kind of determined three areas we’re going to focus on. And so for us, that was pulling off an excellent Sunday experience. We called it NewSpring at Home, giving people the opportunity to have church in their house, with their family, so that they still had that community.” (16:32)
- “Care packages, support for our frontline workers.” (16:48)
- “And then developing an online connect class, which for us is similar to, like, a membership.” (17:01)
- “The other part of the pandemic really highlighted the importance and appropriately elevated the conversations around mental and emotional health.” (17:27)
- “And so we’ve had a budget for a long time where we pay for professional counseling for our staff when they need it.” (19:06)
- How do you encourage healthy interactions and relationships in your staff and church community, considering disagreements and conflict? (22:18)
- “So we realize that leaders, you’ve got to go first. You have to model the behavior that you want to see, because if people don’t ever see it modeled, then they’re not going to know what is appropriate.” (23:23)
- You have a large staff, with oh, gosh, hundreds, maybe probably thousands of volunteers, who serve throughout the church. And, you know, of course, in H.R., you’re responsible for the staff team. But there’s some common values and practices that are shared between staff and volunteers at NewSpring to create a really positive culture. So tell us a little bit about that. (28:56)
- “We also invite a lot of our people who are volunteers, but they’re maybe in, like, a leadership volunteer role, and we invite them to come to our all-staff meetings. And so they’re hearing the same information the same time the rest of the staff is, and that’s just helping, again, build trust, that we’re building trust from our leadership.” (28:58)
- Talk about spiritual leadership and the importance of God’s redeeming power and growing leaders of character, regardless of their role. I mean, that’s one of the things that, it’s different about a Christian organization, why Christian tools, like our Engagement Survey or the 360, is including that spiritual dimension. Tell us a little bit more about the importance of that. (31:21)
- “And there’s a lot of stuff that we should learn from them and leverage that in the church world, leverage that in any of our, you know, religious organizations. But Jesus is our standard for integrity. And that means we’ve got to look at Him and His Word, not the world, not even our own power, our own strength, to grow our character.” (32:28)
- “How would you encourage people in smaller organizations to shepherd their staff and leadership in ways that don’t necessarily cost money, but create an atmosphere of inspiration and engagement on their staff team?” (34:30)
- “Yeah. I mean, the first thing I’d say is just be encouraged. You’re doing exactly what Jesus did, exactly what Jesus did. When He was here, He didn’t have a big organization. He had disciples. He didn’t have a lot of worldly resources, but He leveraged the same resource that we all have: time.” (34:55)
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