As many of you know, Substance has been growing! Based on our recent surveys, we probably average close to 110 visitors a week. In fact, in the last eight months alone, we’ve had over 1000 new people fill out connection cards for getting involved. Not surprisingly, we’ve been very intentional about building up our staff. And for the first time in years, it feels like the organizational chaos of Substance has been replaced with organizational clarity (& a new website!! : ) I cannot even begin to tell you how much fun it is to be landing rock-star star staff from all over the U.S.! But before I introduce you to a few new faces, let me give you a little backstory.
Many of you know I’ve been super-slow to make hires in our worship department (& in every department, for that matter). Part of it is because we’ve had a lot of applicants from amazing churches across the country. The nice thing about having a best selling book is that our church catches the eyes of a lot of up and coming talent (which is also the downside : ) For years, record labels have been knocking on our doors wanting to do projects; and, I’ve had a good number of national & international requests to DJ & tour with our worship band. But, for much of the last 3 years, I’ve felt the Lord telling me “No, …for now.”
In fact, I haven’t even shared many of these opportunities with our church or volunteers. After all, like many fast growing churches, it’s easy to attract people with all sorts of weird motives and contentment issues. I’ve been learning the strange art-form of “hiding our biggest ministry opportunities” lest they become fresh meat for wolves — or any other kind of Christian who’s motives are confused. As an immature leader, I used to try to woo people into our church by telling them about our fanciful upcoming opportunities. But, like Dietrich Bonhoeffer often warned, we don’t want to create a church of intoxicated mercenaries, held together by tenuous vocational and aspirational dreams; rather, we want to create a family of committed people — lest, when those dreams cease to fulfill us, we scatter as every man for himself. As Henry Cloud recently put it: You never want to add fertilizer without pruning. Or as a brilliant CEO once said: “Great leaders make their organizations uncomfortable before giving raises.” And these philosophies of management and vision casting have become quite an obsession for me over the last couple years.
Yet, that being said: our church leadership & facility climate is strengthening so rapidly that, by this Fall, the staff and I are about to unleash a 3 year vision that will take your breath away. Its always fun when the Summer-time of our vision starts coming to pass. In fact, I’m still a bit shocked over the opportunities that are happening to us. (I am literally doing a happy-dance right now : ) …I’m so glad you cant see it : ) But, back to our staff!
A year or two ago, I spoke at a conference in New York with around a thousand college students (it felt just like Substance : ) Of course, the worship was off the hook… full of loops, progressive tunes, and drenched in the Spirit of God – led by a young hipster named Greg Best. My wife and I both said: “Wow! We could really use a guy like Greg Best.” But, knowing that Greg was happy in his full-time ministry gig – we never imagined that, a year and a half later, Greg and his super-fun wife Kim, would be relocating to be on staff with us! (Kim is from New Jersey – & has adorable accent – although she’ll probably deny it : )
Greg has played drums for pro-level jazz, punk, and worship bands since graduating from college with his degree in music business. And more recently, he ran the media and worship for BASIC – and helped produce worship albums.
But what impresses me most is his penchant for song-writing…WOW! I can’t wait for you to experience his gifts. (And I want to thank everyone at The Father’s House Church and BASIC in New York for sending us your very best. I know how hard it is to send-out people like them!)
And by the way, our very own “Aussie-turned-Minnesotan,” Sharna Pedersen, is also now full-time in our worship department too! (In fact, she’s been laying down tracks for some of my EDM projects… & Dude, she’s a natural : ) So, get ready Substance: we are gearing up to do some incredible original music – especially in our soon coming multi-media auditorium – which will be specifically designed for immersive worship experiences! But, allow me to brag up some of our OTHER departments!
Another rock star hire has been Courtney Goetsch. She’s a “recovering pastor’s kid” who rose through the ranks of our intern program. But she’s also a smarty-pants who graduated from the infamous Carlson School of Management as well as Manchester Business School (England). Not surprisingly, she was snatched up by Target Corp (where she probably managed a budget that was probably 10x’s our annual income : ) None of us, including Courtney, imagined that she’d give up her cushy job and swanky downtown apartment to come work at Substance; but, alas! God has smiled upon us again! And our church now gets to benefit from her many skills!
But what will she be doing? Every year, Substance is implementing more and more metrics for both church health and church growth. Having learned the hard lessons of cheap growth and fast expansion, we’re girding up the internal accountability of every department of our church. As we dream of launching campuses all over the world, we are attempting to get more systematic. And Courtney is a part of that mandate. So, if you see her cranking through her to-do-list, make sure you give her a big “howdy.”
Last, but not least, Kenna Stieve is the newest addition to our media-team. Aside from having the coolest red hair you’ve ever seen, she’s been attending Substance since 2009. As the Substance staff & I dream of missional restaurants, albums, and films, we’ve realized: We’ve GOT to gird up the depth of our creative design teams. So, the next time you find yourself appreciating the hip Substance aesthetic, you can probably thank Kenna!
So be praying for our teams! As we embark upon buildings, campuses, and other fun projects this coming year, we are going to need extra prayers. As I think about our three year vision (& the massive ground we’re about to take), this will not happen without resistance. “Substance 2.0” is going to snatch thousands of future church leaders out of the clutches of the Evil One. So let’s give extra time to staying in sync with our Lord and commander, Jesus Christ!