When a longtime pastor retires, the elephant in the room is the curious congregation, sizing up the new head of staff and asking, “Can we trust you?” Meet an incoming pastor who answered this question with 6 stellar commitments to his staff and congregation.
In 2012, Shan Moyers (pronounced “Shawn”) stepped into his unforeseeable dream job of Lead Pastor at Rocky Mountain Christian Church outside of Boulder, Colorado. As he followed in the footsteps of a revered, longtime lead pastor, it raised the congregation’s natural question, “How much can we trust you?”
Questions of trust and communication surfaced among the staff, who said even though they understood leadership’s vision and goals, they weren’t sure what it looked like or how to make it actionable. There were some doubts in the air, especially since Rocky’s growth had stagnated for eight years and counting. One church member told Pastor Shan, “You’ll never grow this church unless you resurrect the choir.”
Without trust between leadership and the congregation, much less between fellow staff members, Rocky’s culture, congregation and its numerous ministries would be up for grabs.
Aware that the health of Rocky’s organizational culture was three ticks from toxic, Shan and his team prayerfully, intentionally and diligently went to work.
Rocky’s culture transformation rested on six commitments, as Shan describes:
1. Be honest.
“We had to be honest and admit that our culture had some people who were in the wrong place, in transition, disgruntled and tired.”
2. Be transparent.
“People wanted us, as leaders, to be honest about our own faults. Being transparent helped earn trust.”
3. Be humble.
“Being free to admit my shortcomings felt difficult and personal. Serving in humility, as Christ calls us to be, helped turn the tide with the congregation, who said collectively, ‘We’ll go a little bit further with you.’”
4. Be clear.
“To earn the trust of the staff, we clarified our vision and values in a way that would hold each other accountable.”
5. Be united.
“With two campuses and one video venue, it’s been tempting for staffs to feel a bit competitive. That changed when we all came to believe, ‘We are on the same team.’ Today, a win for ministry on one campus is really a win for all three.”
6. Be together.
“Our weekly staff gatherings bring all our people together in one place for news updates, individual and team affirmations and celebrations, as well as timely biblical teaching. Laughter, cooperation and good-hearted ribbing now fill these meetings.”
In a word, creating, growing and sustaining trust in the workplace culture and with the congregation has helped Rocky Mountain Christian Church move from being a near-toxic to flourishing workplace.
- “None of us is perfect,” says Shan, “which means when we bump into each other, we’ve learned we need to treat each other with humility and forgiveness.
- “To know Jesus in our workplace culture means to love each other like Jesus by demonstrating grace and truth. I like what Mark Batterson says in his book If: Grace means, ‘I’ll love you no matter what.’ Truth means, ‘I’ll be honest with you no matter what.’
- “Healthy staff culture promotes healthy people. The more transparent our people were, the more we learned how to help them be the best they could possibly be in their job.
GRACE means, ‘I’ll love you no matter what.’ TRUTH means, ‘I’ll be honest with you no matter what.’
Says Shan, “People want to be part of a staff that’s healthy. People want to go a church that’s healthy. You just can’t read a book and adopt someone else’s values. You’ve got to own the challenges before you and do the work, together. When change happens, your people will want to add their voice to the overall story of a transformed culture and say, ‘Look what Jesus can do.’”