My Transition From A Small Church to COTM

When I came on staff at Church on the Move, coming from my dad’s church of about 250-300 people in Wisconsin, I expected the budget would be larger and team would be deeper, but what I didn’t expect were some of the mindset changes I’d have to make to be a part of the team here at COTM.

Being on staff at a small church for many years, I know it isn’t always easy, and sometimes you find yourself thinking about what you could do with a bigger team and a bigger budget, but here are few mindset changes I wish I had made in my time there that wouldn’t have cost us a dime!

Just Do It!
One of my biggest struggles while on staff at my dad’s church was not making the time to develop new systems and ideas. There were always good reasons why I didn’t, but it boiled down to focusing more on the “urgent” tasks instead of the important ones. That’s easy to do when you do EVERYTHING!

Here were a few of my favorite excuses:
- If I had more money to spend…
- If I didn’t have to wear so many hats…
- If someone would just push me harder…
- If I just had one more person on my team...

Any of these sound familiar?

When I came to COTM, I saw that it didn’t matter what day of the week it was or what else was already on the docket to get done for the weekend—if a good idea came up, we implemented it quickly!

I remember being in a Thursday meeting talking about a project that I assumed was for the following weekend, only to find out that it was for that weekend! That blew me away.

Honestly, it was a breath of fresh air compared to my usual delays and as I realized this was a part of the culture here. It made me wonder what had been so pressing at my dad’s church that kept me from implementing the things I wanted to!

The bottom line is, none of us are in the perfect situation but we’re accountable to do the very best with what we have—not what we wish we had. Get out of the habit of thinking, “that would be nice someday”, and make that someday today!

Everyone says they evaluate, but when I came on staff at COTM I found out just how little evaluation I actually did.

For me, rather than just acknowledging that there was room to improve I would immediately go to my list of “limitations” (excuses) that kept me from having a fully open mind to new and fresh ideas.

If someone said my band wasn’t tight, I would say they were the best I had. If someone said our transitions weren’t smooth, I would point out that my A/V team was volunteer with no prior experience. If someone said my voice needed polishing, I’d say that I was trying to make the most of it because I didn’t have the time to fully invest in it.

When I came to COTM I was amazed by how open, honest, and comprehensive the evaluation is. Almost nothing is off the table for discussion and I’ve seen us change things up when they were working really well just to make them that much better!

Honest evaluation means checking your ego at the door and being committed to improving and perfecting everything we do. Here, questioning something isn’t seen as an attack, but rather pushing the conversation forward for the good of the church. It takes mutual respect and a strong team mentality for it to thrive, but I’ve seen the incredible benefits of pushing for it!

Take A Weekend Off.
I was terrible at this, and for good reason. I hadn’t trained a backup worship leader so if I was out, it was very subpar. Because of that, my vacations were between Sundays. In hindsight, I just didn’t fully appreciate the benefit of having even just one weekend off so I didn’t spend time developing a replacement.

Here’s what I know now: It’s refreshing to visit your church as a regular attender! Additionally, it’s amazing how fresh a perspective you can gain by visiting another church in your area. Now that I have regular weekends off at COTM, I see what I was missing out on. So, take my word for it, just having one weekend free is well worth the time it may take to work yourself out of your responsibilities.

Focus on YOUR Strengths.
It’s easy to look at larger churches as a model for how your church should be. The problem is that the scale is different. A larger church may have IMAG in their auditorium but does your room mandate that you have to have it? Is live streaming really benefiting your church or is it taking resources away from something else? The real question is: is this enhancing YOUR experience and can you do it well?

Before my transition, I looked to COTM as our model and while it’s great to think bigger, I found myself trying to squeeze their success into my situation. What I see now at COTM is the things that influence us go through the filter of whether it fits our DNA, our leadership, and our capability. The goal isn’t to mold your church to fit new ideas, but rather to mold the ideas to fit your church and your strengths.

So don’t get caught up drooling over the gear, the technology and the programs of your favorite big church. Instead, seek to understand the mentality behind what they do to see if it fits your church!

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