A Day in the Life of a Pastor – What are You Looking At?

(I am working on a couple of entries around a series of questions that I answered when I shared with Grace Family Church’s Next Level Leaders.  This is a group of lay adult leaders who are interested in growing and stepping up in their leadership role at the church.  When I was scheduled, I asked them to submit questions about what they wanted to discuss from the day to day workings of the church.  This was an amazing night!  Their questions were broken down into two categories:  personal and ministry. This was the first question…)

What are you watching and looking at and thinking about when you stand at the bottom of the stairs every weekend?

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The only picture I could find of me at the GFC Grand Staircase. My mouth is open and I am not looking at the folks – not what I would recommend.

This was the first question on the two pages given to me.  I read it while sitting in an airport with Pastor Craig and laughed out loud because I thought it was so good.  The night I spoke, I gave the person who asked it, a $5 gift card to Starbucks for asking the “best question of the night.”  If you remember in an earlier post, I talked about the importance of asking questions and learning to ask the “right question.”  There is only one person in the world who could answer this question – me!

Here is my answer:  EVERYTHING!

When GFC built the Van Dyke Sanctuary, I decided in the building process that I needed to find a location that I could stand which would allow me to get information quickly, keep a pulse of environments, greet as many people as possible and be accessible.  I actually walked the building and courtyard as it neared conclusion and came up with this area.  I work hard to get to this spot as much as I can.  Every so often, someone or a group of people will settle there to talk to wait for someone.  I will wade right into the spot with them because I value this location so much.  It sounds petty but the reasons I listed above are very strategic to me doing my job on the weekend.

One of my responsibilities is to oversee everything that happens on a weekend.  With so many tremendous staff and volunteers doing great things in their ministries, I am very comfortable sitting back and letting them run with it.  Yet, you still need someone who is the “umbrella” to all that is happening at the campus.  I get feedback on traffic flow, air temperature, people counts, live streaming, sound levels, lighting, volunteers, resources, “situations” and even the sermon all in real-time during the service.  You can imagine that the 5pm is the most chaotic because it is the first.  A minute before that service begins, I will run up to the tiers so I can get the service related information.  The other three services, I am at the stairs or walking around gathering information about how GFC is serving those who are on the campus.

The second thing I am looking for at the bottom of the stairs are environments.  I know I can’t be everywhere but I can see how the traffic is flowing, first time guests are being greeted, the Starbucks in the lobby, the music is flowing, the preschool check in, the courtyard activity is developing – all by standing in the one spot.  I am always looking for the environments and if we can improve them.  (I am a maximizer – it is what I do.)  For example, I am looking for garbage and stray items all the time.  Do our sign up areas have people and resources so guests can get information from a friendly face, quickly?  Is someone hurrying and if they are, why so? It sounds intense but after a few times you learn to scan and pick up stuff pretty quick.

Thirdly, is I get to greet people.  If you only knew how I have grown 180 degrees on my interaction skills with people.  I used to really hate greeting.  In fact, early in my arrival at GFC, Pastor Craig pulled me aside and told me I need to “change my face” as I walked through the crowd.  He said, “I know you have things to do but you are looking so intense, people think you are angry.”  Now, I love to see the people who come to GFC.  Diverse in race, personality, career, age, talents, gifting – we have some of the most extraordinary people who call us their church home.  It is humbling.  So, I want to greet as many people as I can.  Beyond that, I ask a ton of questions while standing there to learn more about them and their lives.  It really charges me up now.  Also, I do ask about their interaction with the campus ministries. (Another way to get data and check the environments.)  The funniest thing about this part is that there are still people who do not know that I am on staff.  They think I am the most dedicated volunteer and greeter.  I started wearing a name badge a few years ago and you can see them realize “Oh, now I get it.”

Finally, I stand there for a purpose most would overlook.  On the 17 acres of that campus, sometimes it is nice to know there is a constant place to find me.  (Sounds weird)  I actually had a sweet, older woman come in one day after dropping off the 6 kids was watching.  She walked up to me and asked, “where were you the last two weeks?”  I said, “I was on vacation for one and at one of our other campuses the following week.”  She said, “Don’t do that to me…you have to be here.”  We laughed and I gave her a big hug – it was nice to be missed.  Most of the time, if a person has a question – guest, volunteer, or staff – they will head to the stairs to see if I am there.  It makes a large church  a lot smaller.  Yes, I actually thought of that a long time ago.  And yes, that means Pastor Craig knows where to find me too and he does that when he needs it.  We both can appreciate that.

So, next time you are at GFC on the Van Dyke campus, stop by the stairwell.  I will probably be there…talking, laughing, asking a question, giving a hug, picking up litter…it is what I do and where I do it!


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